Biphobia or "innocent ignorance"?

Publish Date: 19/09/2011

Made in Manchester's Ashley Byrne says, "All credit is due to Radio 4 for having the courage to commission It's My Story: Tom Robinson - Getting Bi - but why has it taken six years to convince a mainstream broadcaster in the UK to do a programme about bisexuality?

Some bisexual activists will be convinced there's a concerted media conspiracy to erase the subject from the airwaves but I put it down simply to innocent ignorance.

We did get TV people in particular wondering if it was a bit risqué - 'I don't think we're ready yet for a big bisexual expose" was one retort.

And in more than one instance people would say "but the gay thing is passé now, it's nothing new. It's been done."  When we said "but it's about bisexuality, not being gay", they'd just look at you with a rather confused expression.

I simply think that for many people, for whatever reason, bisexuality just isn't on their radar because it's largely invisible. I mean unless someone shouts it from the rooftops, how do you know they're bisexual?

If a man and a woman walk hand in hand in the street, people will assume they're straight if you see a same sex couple canoodling, most people will assume their gay or lesbian. But as I discovered in making this programme, you really shouldn't assume anything.

Statistics on the prevalence of bisexuality are contradictory, scientists disagree about its true existence and there are still those who dismiss bisexuality as merely 'trendy' or a phase on the way to being gay.

Whatever the academics or cynics think though, the fact remains that some people do not define their sexuality as 100% straight or gay.

But where and how do they freely express those feelings in a society where, with the exception of John Barrowman's character in Torchwood there are few media portrayals - and where the issue is rarely raised either in the broadcast or print media - and when it is, it's dismissed as 'really gay', 'confused', 'greedy' or, quite often in the case of female bisexuality as a trend for the titillation of straight men?

In 30 minutes you can barely scratch the surface of an issue like bisexuality but I hope, if nothing else we have made people think before they rush to define their relatives, friends and acquaintances in the future."

Tom Robinson - Getting Bi airs tonight at 8pm on BBC Radio 4


LGBT Citizen Manchester on September 26th (9pm) will feature a debate on bisexuality on BBC Radio Manchester