By: Katrin Johannessen
Many bisexual people experience bi-erasure or negative comments not only from outsiders but also within the LGBT community. This is true for bisexual singer Janet Devlin, who in turn has struggled to find her place within the community.
Northern Irish singer Janet Devlin first came on to the scene in 2011 when she appeared on X-Factor and made it to the quarter finales. Since then she has released three albums, the latest being ‘Confessional’, which came out in June last year.
She has been out as bisexual for many years, publicly since 2013, but admittedly still struggles with feeling completely at home in the LGBT community.
“I’ll be honest – I’m still trying to figure out my place within the community. This is because of a few negative experiences of bi-erasure from dating a few girls. The whole “I like you, but I don’t think I can date you because I feel like I’m in competition with men.”
“Although this only happened twice to me, I still hear a lot of people saying they would never date a bi girl for different reasons. Which leaves me feeling not straight enough to be straight and not gay enough to be accepted.” she said.
She is not alone in this, it seems. The report ‘LGBT in Britain – Bi report’ released by Stonewall and YouGov earlier this year, shows that bisexual people struggle with certain issues such as their mental health and discrimination to a higher degree than their gay and lesbian counterparts.
For one the data shows that bisexual people’s self-reported mental health in terms of depression and self-harm was worse in comparison to gay men and women.
It also shows that Janet Devlin is not alone in her negative experiences as a bisexual woman within the LGBT community as 27% of bisexual women reported experiencing discrimination from others in the community compared to 18% for bisexual men, 9% for lesbians, and 4% for gay men.
Previous research has also shown that LGBT people and bisexual women in particular are more likely than others to suffer from issues of substance abuse such as alcohol abuse. Some have suggested that this is specifically linked to the erasure and discrimination of bisexual people. It has also been suggested that the fact that many queer spaces and events are centred around alcohol and bars might have something to do with it.
Janet Devlin herself has been very vocal about her struggles with alcohol abuse both on her Youtube channel and in the media, especially in connection with the release of ‘Confessional’. She is now sober but does not necessarily contribute her struggles with alcohol to bi-erasure.
“As for the parties, I don’t usually mind the booze as most of my drinking was done in the confines of my bedroom. So I’m actually finding lockdown harder than I ever would’ve felt in a bar or club.”
As for finally finding her place in the LGBT community she is starting to become quite hopeful.
“I’m working on it though! I have started making more friends within the community and so far so good!” she said.