Bi signal
February 6, 2019 5:39 PM   Subscribe

How does one present as bi?

I have pretty excellent bidar, (at least when it comes to women,) but nobody assumes I am. People are routinely shocked that I’m not straight or else shocked that I’m not gay. Is there a secret signal?
posted by Sterros to Human Relations (19 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
There’s a flag, and ribbons of the flag colors one could attach to ones keys, phone, wrist, jacket, bag strap, etc.
posted by tilde at 5:53 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]

Accessories can help - a pride pin or pride-flag-colored scarf can go a long way. (In the summer, I tie a small scarf to a strap of my bag.) Might be something you could do haircut-wise, depending on your gender presentation - I’m not sure “purple undercut” is The Official Bi Woman Haircut anymore, but a bit of time poking around a queer fashion site or two might help clarify that, or help with finding a male equivalent if you are a dude and/or lean more masculine in your presentation.

Not sure if you’re thinking about online or off but either way this is probably adaptable advice - do you read or watch or talk about or share things about or by bi people? You do not have to go out of your way to consume certain things for Bi Street Cred but if you are doing so anyway for your own enjoyment, maybe talk some more about what you’re enjoying, and/or how it relates to your experience.

Some of it, honestly though, is not even slightly about you or any signal you are or aren’t giving off. Bi invisibility is a hell of a drug. You could change your name to Sterros McBisexual and tattoo BI PRIDE 4EVA on your face and some straight or gay people will never reach the obvious conclusion without a great deal of handholding.

Sometimes the signal is just standing around yelling BI INVISIBILITY IS A HELL OF A DRUG until a fellow bi comes and finds you and is like, “yeah, it really is.” So: hi, fellow bi. Sorry about the invisibility thing, it’s not you, it’s the world. Pride-flag it up, and I hope you find your people.
posted by Stacey at 6:00 PM on February 6 [31 favorites]

I talk a lot about past partners male/female/genderqueer, but I still have to actually say "I'm bi/pan" (depending on the audience) for them not to assume I'm a mid-life team switcher (gross, but that is exactly what people say [to my face], as I'm married to a woman. If there's a secret signal, I did not get my copy of it or the agenda, alas. :)
posted by joycehealy at 6:04 PM on February 6 [7 favorites]

Is there a secret signal?

No. Many bi people don't even know there's a flag, and there are people out there who wear lots of various flags to demonstrate allyship rather than personal identity. I've learned from personal experience not to assume anything based on a flag or a t-shirt that says queer. If it's important for people to know, then you might have to tell them (and be prepared for them to insist you're really gay or really straight).
posted by betweenthebars at 6:07 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]

No, I wish there were. My typical self-declaring-method is to be like hey want to look at my Pinterest boards dedicated to the male and female celebrities I want to marry but that requires action on my part

Also sometimes people don't understand how much I want to marry both Chris Evans and Kate McKinnon


So much
posted by Hermione Granger at 6:23 PM on February 6 [20 favorites]

Can't say for sure... I somehow came across bisexual flag - Google Search sometime in recent memory. There is a bi-flag just as there is the rainbow flag.
posted by zengargoyle at 7:25 PM on February 6

Apparently a certain kind of bob haircut (of which I have the non-bangs version).
posted by matildaben at 8:13 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]

I opened this thread sort of hoping there was a secret that signal that I'd missed out on, but alas! I think my gender presentation (usually very short hair, tho currently a bi bob, plus very femme clothing) tends to read as some flavor of queer, at least for people who are looking. I have a cute pin and I dress like the bi flag at Pride, but mostly I also practice the stand around declaring things like MY IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DAY TO BE BISEXUAL and IT SURE IS FUN TO KISS PEOPLE OF MY AND OTHER GENDERS method of visibility.

It's pretty exhausting to have to come out over and over and over again, but it's also important work that will make it easier for all the baby bi folks who come after us.
posted by mostlymartha at 10:01 PM on February 6 [9 favorites]

Retweet lots of purple shit all the time.
posted by Artw at 10:08 PM on February 6

> Apparently a certain kind of bob haircut (of which I have the non-bangs version).

Direct version of that Autostraddle link, for the Google-avoidant.
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:19 AM on February 7

We have a flag. I have a pin that says "bisexual invisibility is my superpower" that a friend of mine made. There are t-shirts. There's a lot of coming out, over and over and over, for all of us, even those of us who are super obvious because mainstream American culture is so intent on treating women's bisexuality as a fetish activity for men and men's bisexuality as something that doesn't exist at all.

I know a lot of people are like "oh allies wear the flags" blah blah but I haven't found that to be true at all. I've found a lot of frustrated bisexuals and other queer folks who are trying to be visible and getting erased, and I would feel very safe assuming that someone wearing a flag is actually one of us.

A couple of years ago a friend of mine who is a bi woman but has only been involved with men asked me for help being visible at work, and I wrote a thing.
posted by bile and syntax at 5:34 AM on February 7 [6 favorites]

Just here to say hi, you're not alone, I'm another one.

I do bi-pride makeup at like every Pride event I go to and there is a lot of coming out over and over again. I've been lifting with an LGBTQ+ group for over a year and I still get asked there what my flavor is. C'est la vie.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:40 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]

I know a lot of people are like "oh allies wear the flags" blah blah but I haven't found that to be true at all.

Ehhhhh...Sample size of 1, but I wear this patch and technically the rainbow flag belongs to gay men?, plus I am not two tiny lesbians in a trenchcoat last I checked.

I was going to say, I have terrible gaydar that only pings "bi/pan" if you:
a) signal queerness in some fashion (hair, flair, whatever - it should look intentional/open and varies by your gender; try to break the binary stereotype if you're a man or a woman)
b) mention past or present partners of different genders than you
c) do not come off as a defensively closeted person

But that's like painfully obvious, klieg lights and sirens level signalling.
posted by cage and aquarium at 8:33 AM on February 7

technically the rainbow flag belongs to gay men?

What? No. It belongs to all of us. Just some of us get other flags too.
posted by bile and syntax at 10:22 AM on February 7 [5 favorites]

Cool, thanks for the clarification!
posted by cage and aquarium at 11:42 AM on February 7

Surprised to learn that 1) there's a haircut, and 2) that I have it (but with a center part and no bangs)

I don't often want to draw attention to my sexuality, but when I do, I paint my nails in bi pride colors. Accent nails (one nail a different color from the others) is an older signal of WLW-ness that's fallen out of fashion, but it's one I like and think needs to come back.

You might also want to start collecting pins and buttons to stick on your purse/shoulder bag, or stickers for your laptop. (I don't have any external confirmation that pins and stickers are specifically queer things, but that's my general anecdotal sense.)

I have no sense of whether these are subtle or not, because my sample size is about equally divided between people who already know and people who wouldn't understand what it meant even if I explained it.
posted by dialMforMara at 2:30 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]

I tend to rock purple/pink/bright red dye on my pixie-creeping-more-and-more-short-undercut hair. I wear bi pride colors a lot; I have some buttons for my bags and such, and I also have a necklace that is the Captain America shield but pink, purple and blue instead of red, white, and blue. But it's one of those things where people who KNOW are like "omg I love your bi pride Captain America necklace" and people who don't just... assume I wanted a pink one, I guess? IDK. I have some bi pride socks I got from Sock Dreams, those are cool. I have some rainbow stuff as well.

It's tough because I'm in a relationship with a cis man, so I just get read as straight, and sometimes you just. Don't feel like coming out all the time to everyone.

I do find that in addition to queer-coded hair/dress styles, there is also the Covert Queer Solidarity Compliment, where you compliment their haircut or their boots or whatever that is strongly queer-coded? And you kind of exchange that smile of I See What You Are Doing There, Friend, We Are The Same In This Way, Cool.

(Also to Hermione Granger upthread, I HEAR YOU MY FRIEND, the first Captain America movie is an embarrassment of riches between Evans and Hayley Atwell (swoooooon).)
posted by oblique red at 3:01 PM on February 7 [4 favorites]

Totally coincidentally came across this academic article "Creating a Bisexual Display: Making Bisexuality Visible" while working on a paper this afternoon.

Hartman, J. E. (2013). Creating a bisexual display: Making bisexuality visible. Journal of Bisexuality, 13(1), 39-62.
posted by forkisbetter at 3:01 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]

The bi pride Cap shield! I have that necklace, too! It garners many compliments. Do rec.
posted by Stacey at 6:44 PM on February 7

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