Bi+ Visibility Project

Bisexual individuals (and those who use similar labels, such as pansexual; collectively referred to as bi+) are at increased risk for negative health outcomes compared to both heterosexual and gay/lesbian individuals. These disparities are largely due to the unique stressors they experience, such as dual discrimination (i.e., discrimination from heterosexual and gay/lesbian individuals). Additionally, many people do not even recognize being bi+ as a legitimate sexual orientation (e.g., they view it as experimental or transitional), making it effectively invisible in society. This invisibility is of great concern to bi+ individuals, but little is known about if and how they attempt to gain visibility.

The overarching goal of the Bi+ Visibility Project is to advance our understanding of bi+ individuals’ attempts to make their sexual identity visible to others (referred to as visibility attempts). Specifically, the Bi+ Visibility Project aims to answer the following questions:

  • How frequently do bi+ individuals use different strategies to make their bi+ identity visible to others?
  • Does the frequency of making visibility attempts differ across contexts (e.g., in different environments, with different people)?
  • What motivates bi+ individuals to make visibility attempts?
  • To what extent do bi+ individuals perceive different types of visibility attempts as successful in communicating their bi+ identity to others?
  • How do different types of visibility attempts relate to bi+ stressors, aspects of bi+ identity, and health?

These questions will be addressed in two phases. First, 500 bi+ individuals will participate in a survey focused on visibility attempts, bi+ stressors (e.g., discrimination, internalized stigma), aspects of bi+ identity (e.g., centrality, pride), and health (e.g., depression, anxiety, substance use). Then, 125 bi+ individuals from the larger sample will participate in a 28-day daily diary study. The daily diary data will be used to examine antecedents and consequences of visibility attempts in close to real time.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Brian Feinstein
Collaborators: Dr. Christina Dyar and Dr. Joanne Davila
Funder: The Sexualities Project at Northwestern and the American Psychological Foundation