Tag Archives: Kate Brown

New Study Concludes That Stereotypes Make Coming Out Harder for Bisexuals

When US Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon came out as bisexual to her parents, they reportedly told her they wished she’d come out as a lesbian instead, because it would be easier to understand and accept.

Reactions like this are pretty common, and according to a new study co-authored by UNL sociologist Emily Kazyak, cultural perceptions and stereotypes have more impact on bisexuals’ coming-out experiences than those of gays and lesbians.


Also read: Bisexual Women Myths Busted

Bisexual stereotypes are often pervasive, negative or over-sexualise individuals. Kazyak highlights that most research ignores bisexual identity or lumps it together with gay and lesbian sexual identity, so she and co-authors Kristin Scherrer of Metropolitan State University in Denver and Rachel Schmitz of UNL looked at how people who identified as bisexual might have different experiences when coming out.

We know that there are certain stereotypes about bisexual identity that are different from gay and lesbian sexuality. Our hunch was that bisexual people really have a distinct experience in coming out to family members, given those stereotypes attached to bisexual identity.”

Emily Kazyak

Researchers interviewed 45 people who identified as bisexual and found that perceptions of how family members viewed bisexuality caused the interviewees to react in one of three ways: to not come out at all; to come out as gay or lesbian; or to come out as bisexual.

Perceptions of bisexuality also affected to whom the person decided to come out, and how those family members responded.

Bisexual identity may be more difficult to accept because of mono-sexism, the belief that people can only be gay or straight, Kazyak said.

We really have this sense that sexual orientation is something that is black and white and that you’re either attracted to people of the opposite sex or you’re attracted to people of the same sex.”

Such beliefs often leave bisexual identity open to re-interpretation and misunderstanding.

Family members will say, ‘Oh, it’s just a phase,’ or, ‘You’re confused. That’s why a lot of people came out as gay or lesbian. They would say things like, ‘I think this will be easier for my family members to understand.’ They thought coming out as bisexual would be too confusing to their family.”

While Kazyak had hypothesized that the experience of coming out would be different for bisexuals, she was surprised at how much stereotypes and perceptions mattered.

We were struck by how much people really thought about this. People put a lot of thought and energy into how they were going to come out. It’s not necessarily easier or harder to come out as bisexual, but there’s a different set of negotiations that bisexual people have to go through.”

The study was published in March in the Journal of Marriage and Family.

bisexmonth-and-oew-site bisexphotographic1

First Openly Bisexual US Governor Takes Charge In Oregon

In the wake of former Oregonian governor John Kitzhaber resigning from office, Kate Brown will become the first openly bisexual governor.

Kate Brown, is currently Oregon’s secretary of state. She is set to replace Democratic governor John Kitzhaber, and become the U.S.’s first openly bisexual governor.

Governor Kitzhaber is stepping down from office in the midst of an ethics scandal about his fiancee working as a consultant for the state.

Brown has been the Secretary of State for Oregon since 2008. She lives in Portland with her husband and two step-children. Before becoming Secretary of State, she worked for years in the state legislature and was known for supporting LGBT issues and finance reform.

She wrote an essay about her bisexual identity for the anthology, Out and Elected in the USA, which documented LGBT politicians from 1974-2004. In her essay she describes her “very public coming out as a bisexual,” when The Oregonian published reports about her sexuality. She said that moment meant, “I had to face the inevitable and let those around me know.”

In a blog post, Alexandra Bolles, a leader in GLAAD, an advocacy group for LGBT issues in the media, wrote,

“As an openly bisexual woman and advocate for LGBT equality, Brown is bringing visibility to the bi community like never before … As an established politician, she (like first openly LGBT Senator Tammy Baldwin) is modeling the heights that LGBT woman can reach in shaping the nation’s culture.”

Alexandra Bolles