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Dear Bi TikTok, Stop Promoting Harmful Stereotypes

TikTok knew I was bi less than a week after I downloaded the app. Videos like “How do you know you’re bi?” and lighthearted ones joking about “bi wife energy” gave me validation. And as if there was any doubt, after a night of scrolling through TikTok with a glass of wine in hand, this creator wearing an oversized green shirt stared directly into my soul and affirmed, “You’re on bi TikTok!!” 

Most videos on bi TikTok contain jokes, insights, and truths about what it means to be bisexual. From watching videos about commonly shared frustrations within the bi community to the inside joke that every bi woman’s first crush was Jade West, scrolling through bi TikTok makes me feel seen, and has become a way for me to learn (and sometimes, laugh) about topics within bi culture. The longer I spend on the app, however, I’ve realized that bi TikTok also promotes harmful stereotypes about what it means to be bisexual that must be addressed.

While scrolling through my For You Page one day, I came across the term “baby bi,” a label given to those who have recently come out as bisexual, as opposed to people who have been “out” for a while. While the term may seem harmless at first, the more I saw “baby bi” appear on my FYP, the more uneasy I became. In my opinion, differentiating between bisexual people — whether they’ve recently come out or have been out for a while — seems divisive. It’s almost like saying, “you’re not quite like the rest of us.” Why should someone who recently came out be categorized into a subset of the bisexual community, instead of simply being viewed as bi like everyone else? Whether you’ve been out for a few days or a few years, you deserve to be welcomed into the bisexual community as a whole.

Recently, I’ve also seen multiple creators on TikTok implying that bi women are typically attracted to all women, and just one “type” of man, like an attractive celebrity. TikTokers have even suggested that if you’re a bisexual woman who likes men, or if you’ve only been with men physically, that it’s gross or embarrassing. While TikToks like this are meant to be funny, implying that your bisexuality is dictated by your past relationships or your attraction to a particular gender is misleading, and has no place on TikTok (besides, there are many bisexual women in happy, healthy relationships with men!). Gatekeeping the “bisexual” label isn’t something anyone asked for and is unnecessary on an app meant for 60 seconds of entertainment. We need to help educate and uplift each other, not compete to see who is more bisexual.

Another pattern I recently witnessed on bi Tiktok is the instance of creators labeling major celebrities (like Taylor Swift) as bisexual, even though they have never publicly spoken about their sexuality. Yet again, bi TikTok appears to be promoting the idea that you can assume someone’s sexuality and categorize them. Not only is labeling others’ sexuality intrusive and not our place, but behavior like this can actually lead to outing someone — AKA exposing someone’s identity without their permission, which is a pure violation of privacy and security. Because of videos like this, and others that promote misleading ideas about bisexuality, I’ve learned to become skeptical of bi TikTok.

While bi TikTok is an accepting corner of the app overall, bi creators need to (at least) give a disclaimer that not every bi person has the same experience. They need to disclose that no one is “more” bisexual than anyone else, try to stop labeling people, and be more accepting of the diverse experiences that exist within the bi community. The bisexual community already receives hate and judgment, and doesn’t need any more, especially not on TikTok, an app meant to entertain or distract us from everyday life. I believe bi TikTok can be a place to make connections with others in the bi community, explore niche bi entertainment, and gain legitimate education about what it means to be bisexual. However, it’s time to acknowledge that a large portion of the content on bi TikTok doesn’t actually help bisexual people; rather, it can be pretty exclusive and promotes harmful stereotypes.

Although bi TikTok isn’t perfect, I still find it to be a platform where I can engage in content that, after years of being exposed to straight-washed media, I finally see a part of myself represented. In contrast to straight or gay culture, bi culture has never really been established or openly discussed, so seeing creators on TikTok cultivate a space to bond and share common experiences is refreshing. 

As a bi person, I plan on continuing my streak of liking, saving, and uplifting bi TikTokers. Whether scrolling through bi TikTok means that I can experience someone’s coming-out story or hilarious commentary on Target’s atrocious Pride merch, I know I can relate and feel seen, even if in a small way. Representation of bi creators and feeling included in a tiny piece of the LGBTQ+ community matters, even if some of the videos are flawed.

Emily is a summer 2021 Editorial Intern, writing her heart out between sips of coffee and scrolling through TikTok. Having a love for reporting what her 10-year-old self called "the news" (AKA family gossip) since she learned how to use a keyboard, Emily is a senior journalism major at Lewis University. In her free time, Emily can be found reading the hottest thriller, doing plant mom things, or taking pictures of beauty products for her skincare Instagram, @emilyaspiringblog.
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