This isn’t the first time Halsey has publicly pointed out the toxicity of bi-erasure. In 2016, a Buzzfeed article titled “What Does A Queer Pop Star Look Like In 2016?” claimed that despite her openness about her bisexuality online and in interviews, much of the singer’s music did nothing to highlight her sexuality. Taking to Twitter once again, Halsey strongly defended herself in a now-deleted string of tweets, saying “Sorry I'm not gay enough for you … [the article] is part of a mentality so engrained [sic] in the erasure of bisexual 'credibility' even within the lgbt community."
Even simple, public recognition of the bisexual identity can be extraordinarily helpful in dismantling erasure. Earlier this year, singer/songwriter Jason Mraz penned a poem to the LGBTQ community for Billboard. After thanking the community for constantly supporting and inspiring him, he ended his note by saying “But know I am bi your side. All ways.”
The specific reference sent fans into a speculative tailspin, with multiple outlets and Twitter users openly wondering if the artist’s letter was his official coming out as bi. In a later interview with Billboard, Mraz confirmed that the letter did effectively serve as his official coming out. “I’ve had experiences with men, even while I was dating the woman who became my wife,” he said. “It was like, ‘Wow, does that mean I am gay?’ And my wife laid it out for me. She calls it ‘two spirit,’ which is what the Native Americans call someone who can love both man and woman. I really like that.”
Had Mraz simply come out as bi, that would have been a wonderful moment for himself and his fans to share in. But in his interview, Mraz did more: he opened up about the process of determining his sexuality, specifically pointing out that thanks to the way our society frames the sexual binary, he was originally conditioned to think he was gay. His honest account of coming to terms with himself not only serves as a beautiful personal story, but as a representation of what the actual coming out process for bisexual people can feel like in a society that doesn’t talk about bisexuality.
Even though the practice is commonly referred to as bisexual erasure, the act of delegitimizing a person’s sexuality is not contained to specifically bisexual people. Those who identify as pansexual, omnisexual, sexually fluid and the many other arrays of sexuality falling under the “bisexual umbrella” are affected by the stigma on a daily basis.
A few stars have already helped create more visibility and understanding for some of these even less talked-about identities. In a cover story for Rolling Stone, funk icon Janelle Monáe came out as queer, specifically highlighting pansexuality as an identity that she found her identity in. “I read about pansexuality and was like, ‘Oh, these are things that I identify with too,’” she said. “I’m open to learning more about who I am.”