Release Date: April 29, 2014 | Artist: Daniel Arzola
About the BETTERMedia Illustrations Project
Illustrations is a collaboration between the It Gets Better Project and artist, Daniel Arzola. This series of seven illustrated themes will be released over the course of the Spring of 2014 and will highlight important issues facing LGBT youth worldwide. Each theme features a core shareable graphic, accommodating story, video and an international take from one of our many international partners. Additional illustrations to be released soon!
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"It takes time to create the relationships that we want to have in our lives and get clear about what really matters."
– John R. Sylla, President and a member of the board of directors of the American Institute of Bisexuality
It takes a few moments for you to grasp Daniel Arzola’s striking “I’m Not a Joke/It Gets Better” bisexuality poster—just as it takes extra time and thought to grasp bisexuality. But it’s worth grasping and understanding.
The poster proclaims: “Yes, the princess could end up with a woman and still be bi; yes, the princess could end up with a man and still be bi.” And, “Bisexuality is Not a Phase.” All against the backdrop of pink and blue, and fairytale happy endings.
The contrast between the possible futures—the princess being swept off her feet by a man or a woman—is echoed by the stark colors, which practically suggest there are two separate works of art—connoting, again, two possible futures. But, it’s one work, and one bi princess.
Your eyes almost feel the need to adjust to read across the two colors where it says “This Princess Could Have Two Happily Ever Afters.” Just as we must adjust our eyes to see most bisexual people, even though in reality they are probably all around us.
We don’t always “see” bisexual people as such around us. My bi friends in same-sex relationships don’t often correct people who think they are gay. My bi friends in different-sex relationships are even less likely to acknowledge attractions to, or past experiences with, the same sex. This poster can remind us not to assume only either gay or straight. And remind us to make it easier for bi people to be honest to us.
Furthermore, because there are so few bisexual role models, many bi-identified people do not live their lives openly. This leads to a situation in which the average person doesn't believe they know a bisexual person or that bisexuality even exists.
But, this princess is bi and out. And she’s helping It Get Better for bi people and non-bi people alike. Many of us including Daniel Arzola are working on changing things so “It Gets Better” ever faster.
At some point, the question of why we even need labels comes up. My answer is that we need words and language to talk about a thing, especially scientifically. I also believe bisexuality is an incredibly wide and diverse category, ranging from people who say they’re “mostly straight” to those at score five out of six on the Kinsey Scale, who are mostly gay and only incidentally straight. Even incidental means non-exclusive, so a little bit bi.
Bisexuality empowers one heart to lead in either of two directions. I won’t tell anyone how to label, but if you have not always been 100% exclusive in your sexual attractions, behaviors, fantasies, emotional closeness in whom you love and like, your social life, your gay or straight lifestyle and your self-definition, then maybe just maybe you’re a little bit bi too. You like many others. It doesn’t have to be exactly 50-50.
John R. Sylla is a venture capital lawyer and teaches part time. He is also President and a member of the board of directors of the American Institute of Bisexuality, which was recently featured in the New York Times
"There is a real task for us to bring the world to understand there are, at least, two possible happily ever afters for any princess and any prince, for every prince and princess."
– Jen Van-Achteren, Australian Bisexual Network
As a little girl, like most little girls, I grew up with tales of princesses and princes and "happily ever after". Fortunately for me, my mum was at pains to point out life is far more interestingly tangled than the notions of good and evil portrayed in those tales. She encouraged me to consider any situation from the perspectives of all affected, to view the truth as simply a matter of each individual's understanding.
Most of us are raised to view the world as a dichotomy, when it really isn't. The need to caterogise things into neat boxes of opposites is so very, very strong. Right/wrong, gay/straight and black/white, examples of how we seem to need to package up our world view.
Luckily for me, Mum showed me there are many shades of grey.
The reality is some people are attracted only to the opposite sex, some only to the same and others to more than one. Strangely, only one of the three is most frequently considered a phase. Sadly, bisexuals are often viewed - within both heterosexual and same-sex-attracted communities - as being on a journey to one or the other. There seems to be a reluctance, amongst monosexuals, to consider bisexuality as a legitimate place to live. Or to recognise the fact bisexuals, like the rest of humanity, express their sexuality through so much more than their sexual behaviour. That their identities are as multi-layered and complex as those bearing any other label.
Often humans fear what they can't comprehend, or refuse to believe could be so. And we all, to varying degrees, base our understandings on experiential knowledge. As a result, people may refuse to acknowledge something outside their personal box, even attack something different to their own experiences. This has frequently been the plight of bisexuals across Western society - either their legitimacy not accepted or their identity understood. Instead, they find themselves attacked or ignored by straight and gay communities alike.
My thoughts here barely touch upon the many potential shades of grey. The word bisexual itself is often thought to imply a dichotomy in relation to sex and gender. It is now recognised that there are more than two biological sexes and innumerable combinations of sex and gender identities. In reality, bisexuality encapsulates an individual's capacity to fall in love with another, unimpeded by any limits of biological sex or gender identity.
While the word bisexual does little justice to the broad expanse of human relationships it purports to represent, it does - from a political and social perspective - provide a constant reminder that there is a place between straight and gay. The difficulty lies in ensuring those who don't inhabit that place are willing to recognise its existence.
There is a real task for us to bring the world to understand there are, at least, two possible happily ever afters for any princess and any prince, for every prince and princess.
To learn more about the Australian Bisexual Network, click here.
It Gets Better Australia was founded in 2011 and has participated in numerous festivals and activities that support LGBT youth in Australia. The organization will be co-convening the United Nations Youth Summit in Australia beginning on May 16th.
To learn more about the work of our Australian Affiliate, visit http://www.itgetsbetter.org.au.