As the LGBTQ community grows in strength and visibility, bisexual identities are often erased and marginalized under gay or lesbian labels. In celebration of Bisexual Visibility Day and the bisexual community and its icons, here are 10 bicons you need to know.
1. Josephine Baker
Celebrated dancer, singer and all-around performer Josephine Baker not only captivated Parisians in the 1920s, but slyly fought Nazis as a secret agent during World War II. She subverted sexual and romantic stereotypes of her age, taking men and women alike as lovers throughout her lifetime.
2. Hafsa Qureshi
Named Bi Role Model of the Year in 2019 by Stonewall, Hafsa Qureshi brings awareness and visibility to bisexual and queer people of faith. In an articulate and informed voice, she speaks about LGTBQ+ on social media platforms through her lens as bisexual, Muslim and disabled among other adjectives.
3. David Bowie
David Bowie had shifting sexual identities throughout his lifetime, and in 1993 he told Rolling Stone that while his Ziggy Stardust identity was associated with bisexuality, Bowie himself was in a state of sexual fluidity and experimentation. Regardless, his unapologetic swagger, drag and androgyny remains an inspiration.
4. Virginia Woolf
A forerunner of modernist literature and feminism, Virginia Woolf belonged to the Bloomsbury Group. This circle of intellects and friends challenged the conventions of sex and relationships of the time, and Woolf herself maintained a passionate relationship with Vita Sackville-West (while married to fellow Bloomsbury member Leonard Woolf) that inspired one of her most celebrated novels, Orlando.
5. Alan Cumming
Award-winning actor of Cabaret and The Good Wife says of his bisexuality and of the limitations of labels, "I'm not going to close myself off to the possibility of experience just because society says we must stick within these rigid boundaries."
6. Alia Shawkat
Alia Shawkat is known for her performances in Arrested Development and Broad City and credits her balance of "male and female energies" as a part of her growth as an actor. She also states that as a woman, Arab-American and a member of the LGTBQ+ community, she's obligated to be outspoken and fearless with her platform.
7. Freddie Mercury
Freddie Mercury's bisexuality is often regarded as a complicated matter, but when is sexuality ever simple? Mercury grew up in a deeply heteronormative and homophobic society and hid his sexuality for most of his life. Even so, he connected to and inspired the LGBTQ+ community by challenging gender and societal norms with his stage outfits and expressive music.
8. Billie Holiday
A legendary musician with a lasting cultural impact on the music industry, Billie Holiday was an openly bisexual woman who was connected to several high profile stars. In The United States vs. Billie Holiday, Andrea Day portrays Holiday's resilience as a Black bisexual woman in a tumultuous America.
9. Janelle Monáe
Janelle Monáe embodies queer artistry and unapologetic subversion of gender and sexual conformity. She dedicated her album, Dirty Computer, to "young girls, young boys, nonbinary, gay, straight, queer people who are having a hard time dealing with their sexuality, dealing with feeling ostracized or bullied for just being their unique selves."
10. Frank Ocean
In 2012, Frank Ocean wrote a meaningful and honest letter in which he opened up about his bisexuality. Although he's never claimed any labels, his work continues to flex on anti-heteronormativity, embracing and normalizing sexual ambiguity. In his song Chanel, he opens, "My guy pretty like a girl and he got fight stories to tell."