How Tom Daley's Public Announcement Turned Into #BisexualFacts

I’m not always a fan of hashtag campaigns, but in this case, too much fun was going on for me to maintain my usual stodgy position on such matters.
Publish date:
December 5, 2013
I am a crochety curmudgeon, bisexuality, cheap fun, excessive silliness

All hail @verylemonade, who gave us much happiness and joy on Monday when she revived the #bisexualfacts hashtag and managed to make it trend. It was a stroke of inspired genius, and my only complaint was that it was increasingly hard to work as I kept checking to see the hilarious Tweets rolling in as people took it and ran with it.

The hashtag was a response to athlete Tom Daley’s announcement that he’s in a great relationship with his current partner, a man, after historically dating women. Naturally, the entire world flipped its lid over a star of British swimming openly discussing his evident bisexuality, and they rushed to assure everyone that he’s not really bi, he’s gay, he’s just confused, bisexuality is a myth, and he probably drank the last of the milk from the carton and put it back in the fridge empty.

Daley himself noted that some people would probably respond negatively to his revelation, saying that: “Of course I still fancy girls but, I mean, right now I'm dating a guy and I couldn't be happier. It feels safe and it really does feel right.” Notably, he didn’t use the B word. Neither did a lot of the media, which appear to be framing the story as though he’s gay, when it’s clear his sexual attraction includes men and women.

Discussions like this can get immensely frustrating, as the ignorance piles up and people struggle to find a way to deal with it in a way that hopefully educates people, but also maybe has some fun and lets off steam. Viral hashtag campaigns can totally become a valued way for people to protest, fight back, share ingroup jokes, and challenge social attitudes.

Thus, @verylemonade was the one who came up with the idea to counter the myths, lies, and slander being slung at the bisexual community with the #bisexualfacts hashtag, which promptly blew up. I’m not always a fan of hashtag campaigns, but in this case, too much fun was going on for me to maintain my usual stodgy position on such matters.

Some people went for the science jokes:

“Bisexuals work by rapidly flickering between hetero and homo several thousand times per second. #bisexualfacts” (Mallory Doe) “A monogamous bisexual experiences wave function collapse and becomes gay or straight once observed. #bisexualfacts” (M.A. Melby) “Possessing north and south magnetic poles, bisexuals rarely get lost during migration, but shouldn't handle video cassettes. #bisexualfacts” (Steph Robesdottir) “CERN is a physics project in Switzerland designed to isolate and observe the Higgs Bisexual, called "The God Orientation". #bisexualfacts” (Natalie Reed)

Nerdiness was also out in force:

“Schrödinger's cat was straight, gay AND bisexual. And wasn't. #bisexualfacts” (John Appleton) “Bisexuals are the only ones who can love Star Trek and Star Wars equally. #bisexualfacts” (Capn Marrrrk) “Every game ever made has a secret "bisexual" mode which no gamer has never beaten. #bisexualfacts” (Breendon Phaser)

Others brought astrology and other facts of life into the mix:

“The astrological sign most likely to be bisexual is a #Gemini #BisexualFacts” (That Bi Guy) “Bisexuals sometimes wear itchy knitwear #bisexualfacts” (Robin) “Bisexuals made that Neapolitan ice cream. #bisexualfacts” (Chance Furlong)

Along with bisexual biology:

“A bisexual must revert back to its gelatinous state at least once every sixteen hours. #BisexualFacts” (Tom West) “#bisexualfacts although bisexuals can mimic monosexual speech, we primarily communicate using smells and colors” (Lillian Behrendt) “Bisexuals cannot smell honey or see floral lampshades in colour. #bisexualfacts” (David) “The rump is protected by a bony plate and acts as a defensive shield if the bisexual is chased down its burrow #BisexualFacts” (Bleats by Bre)

And politics:

“Bisexual women can will themselves unpregnant by clicking their heels together & saying "there's no place like home" #bisexualfacts” (Abortion Rights Edin)

A stroll through the hashtag (which is constantly filling with new Tweets) is a showcase of the amazing range of wit, hilarity, and bittersweet nature that people can bring to discussions like this one. As members of the LGBQT community engaged in #bisexualfacts, they had a chance to express themselves within their own cultural and social group, an opportunity to be themselves in a whirlwind of in-jokes and silliness.

For people outside a given social group, the importance of in-jokes may not be fully understood. Clearly outside observers found #bisexualfacts entertaining and even joined in themselves, but for bisexual people, and other members of the queer community, it carried an extra bite: a chance to be openly snarky about hateful attitudes, all through lighthearted and fun Tweeting.

And sometimes, that’s the best social revolution of all: one made with laughter.