Both Sides, Now: Bi Visibility + Cannabis CultureAs a queer Black woman, I’ve come to realize that my peace of mind is priceless, and my quality of life is tied to my freedom. Coming out as a bi cannabis consumer and advocate means stepping into my own power, and living life on my own terms.
Pride Month has a special meaning for me this time around. After experiencing the loss, trauma and uncertainty unleashed over the past year I feel a renewed sense of urgency to express my whole identity. As a queer Black woman, I’ve come to realize that my peace of mind is priceless, and my quality of life is tied to my freedom. Coming out as a bi cannabis consumer and advocate means stepping into my own power, and living life on my own terms. I’ve also learned that understanding the magnitude of bi visibility within the LGBTQ and cannabis counterculture movements is key to their evolution.
We’re Here, We’re Queer, and We Love Weed
Queer folks play a pivotal role in cannabis culture, and the roots of the cannabis movement can be traced to LGBTQ communities. Organizers like Harvey Milk and Dennis Peron fought for compassionate care via medical marijuana during the AIDS epidemic. Through a federal program set up by the Carter administration - The Compassionate Investigational New Drug Program (IND) - patients were able to access cannabis from the University of Mississippi to alleviate their anxiety, nausea, and pain. Thanks to the work of key LGBTQ figures advocating for the plant, California became the first state in the US to legalize medical marijuana in 1996. The current legal cannabis industry owes a great debt to the efforts of LGBTQ advocates. Interestingly enough, one group in particular contains some of the biggest cannabis consumers.
Did you know bi women really like to smoke weed? Actually, we love to smoke weed. According to a 2019 study from Columbia University’s School of Public Health, cannabis use among bi women was seven times greater than among straight women. While 1.5 percent of straight women consume cannabis daily, 10 percent of bi women have a daily smoke session. We have the highest (pun intended) rates of cannabis use, and 40 percent of bi women stated they had consumed cannabis in the past year.
We’re in good company, too. Artists and performers like Billie Holiday, Josephine Baker, and Frida Kahlo all enjoyed lighting up. The legendary Grace Jones even promoted the plant. Let’s not forget Abbi Jacobson of Broad City fame, who gave us tons of 420-friendly, feminist comedy. Throughout history, famous bi folks have shaped the cultural landscape and smoked while doing so. That’s really impressive, especially considering the obstacles many bi people face when we stand in our truth.
The Biphobia Is Real
Coming out can be an extremely intense experience for all queer people no matter how they identify. However, people can be especially judgmental and dismissive of folks who are fluid in our sexuality. Being bi is often incorrectly assumed to be a choice or a phase. It’s very common for other people to make insensitive statements like “stop being greedy,” or “just make up your mind!” I once had a disapproving family member tell me that they thought bisexuality was decadent, which I found comical because it made me think of an indulgent dessert. Who in their right mind could hate something so lovely and delicious? All jokes aside, when people have a cavalier attitude about bisexuality it can be frustrating and harmful. Sadly, we can even be excluded from pride celebrations, or ignored in queer spaces in general.
Bi visibility is meaningful and important within the cannabis community and society at large, and there are many parallels between cannabis culture and bisexuality. The push for more informed and outspoken cannabis advocates in the movement aims to snuff out harmful stereotypes, destigmatize and normalize the plant, and reform discriminatory drug laws. Similarly, the solution to changing ignorant and inaccurate perceptions about bisexuality is for more bi people to be out and visible. I, for one, refuse to be mocked for my cannabis use or my sexuality, and nobody’s shaming me back into either closet.
At the End of the Rainbow
As I've been loud and proud about my cannabis consumption and decided to come out as bi, I've learned more about just how powerful standing in these two truths can be. Bisexuality is broad and inclusive by nature, and it’s so important that both the cannabis movement and LGBTQIA+ spaces are inclusive as well. I’m grateful to be one of the many queer voices advocating for the plant. Working in this industry gives me such a deep sense of pride. I'm here to tell you that if anyone tries to invalidate your relationship with cannabis or your sexuality, you should feel empowered to school them as you see fit. I’m sending my love to anyone who’s contemplating coming out of the closet during Pride and beyond, coming out of the green closet, or both. I hope you’re able to do so in a brave place, in your own time, and in a way that honors your unique journey and your incredible heart.
- Staggs, Brooke. “Pride Month: Celebrating ties between California’s cannabis and LGBTQ movements.” The Orange County Register, https://www.ocregister.com/2021/06/06/pride-month-celebrating-ties-between-californias-cannabis-and-lgbtq-movements/
- ScienceDaily. “Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. "Medical marijuana laws impact use among sexual minorities differently than heterosexuals: Daily marijuana use is seven times higher among bisexual women than heterosexual women."” ScienceDaily, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/09/190904113222.htm
- bi.org. “Coming Out.” bi.org, https://bi.org/en/coming-out
- bi.org. “The Bi Umbrella.” bi.org, https://bi.org/en/101/bi-umbrella