Our guest for Ethioqueer Podcast this month is Helen, a bisexual woman who calls Addis Abeba home. Our conversation with her in regards to the lived realties of bisexual people within the LGBTQ+ Ethiopian community was important because it pointed us to the challenges bisexual people face due to biphobia. Helen speaks about the multiple ways that her bisexuaity is seen as one that is not a “valid” sexual orientation. She also emphasised the need to create an LGBTQ+ community that welcomes all of us as we are and how that space could allow all of us to bring our authentic self to the front.
Below are excerpts from our conversation:
“A lot of people see bisexuality as something that one does because they are either bored or need something to pass the time.”
“We only listen to what we want and not to what someone is actually saying. … No, she can’t be one; no, she just thinks she is; no, she is drunk. … For a lot of reasons, “she is not” takes precedence. Instead of accepting when she says “I am [bisexual]”, people find it easier to say she just thinks she is. It is a bit insane. As someone who is femme, this takes different forms: When you talk to people, when people talk to you and even in group settings within the community. I have actually left queer spaces because I have felt uncomfortable in these spaces because I felt that I was not welcomed and even more that I was making others in the space uncomfortable. Although I was not asked to leave, I felt as if my identity and I were viewed as a “joke”. So I have actually left queer spaces for lack of feeling wlecomed. There is a bias [againist bisexuals] in the community.”
“Anywhere you go in the world, any place that you go, you will find people who are oppressed. And for as long as we are in that community, we need to see each other. … One has to have the right to live as they are based on an identity that they have chosen. I should also have that right.”