Bisexuality and ageing : Why it matters for social work practice
Jones, Rebecca L.
Scicluna, Rachael M.
In relation to the commonly-used sexual identity labels ‘gay’, ‘lesbian’ and ‘bisexual’, bisexual is often the most invisible category. This invisibility and lack of recognition of the needs of bisexuals across the life course is important to address in the practice of social workers. Taking a life course approach, bisexuality is particularly illustrative of the complex and changing relationships between sexuality and sexual identities. As we shall discuss, it can also make bisexual identities across the life course more visible even if people don’t use the identity label of bisexual. Social work has a key role to play in tackling inequalities and their impact in people’s lives. In this chapter, we highlight why bisexuality is an urgent matter for social workers to engage with and outline recent empirical evidence that bisexual people are at higher risk of poverty and poor mental health across the life course than lesbians and gay men (Fredriksen-Goldsen, Shiu et al. 2017). This chapter begins with a brief discussion of existing theoretical perspectives on bisexuality. We then introduce empirical research focusing on the lives of bisexual people (albeit it is sparse in contrast to bodies of empirical work addressing the lives of lesbians and gay men). In particular, we focus on what is known about the life course effects of bisexuality and finally we outline the implications for social work practice.