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While the term in its modern usage existed earlier, the word “bisexual” consolidated its meaning as a sexual identity during the 1970s. In the following decades, the term became the source of much consternation in the gay and lesbian communities, in part due to the pressures of political lesbianism and the stigmas of the AIDS epidemic. The first bisexual-specific organizations in the US and the UK formed in the early 1990s, yet bi people continue to struggle for visibility, representation, and acceptance, even within the LGBTQ+ community. For these reasons and others, bisexuality identity presents complicated rhetorical situations for people of all genders. This chapter examines the history of and factors contributing to the bisexual rhetorical situation (such as representation, stereotypes, and debates within the community) and then analyzes some of the strategies that today’s bisexual people have developed to express (and/or hide) their identities and cope with biphobia across different contexts. These strategies include using bi pride colors as covert signals, jokes that explicitly acknowledge rhetorical invisibility, evasive (or in contrast, highly specific) language, and the #StillBisexual hashtag used primarily on Twitter and Instagram.


Wood, Olivia. “Rhetoric of the Invisible (Or, How Bisexual People Demand To Be Seen).” The Routledge Handbook of Queer Rhetoric, edited by Jacqueline Rhodes and Jonathan Alexander, Routledge, 2022.



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