‘If a married man has an affair, it may not be with a woman’: Bringing bisexuality into histories of HIV/AIDS
The only English AIDS public health advertisement that explicitly discussed bisexuality and attraction to multiple genders presented tropes that have become familiar in bisexuality studies, linking bisexuality to non-monogamy, secrecy and threat – the ‘married man’ who transmits HIV to his unsuspecting wife. The figure of ‘the bisexual’ was a source of fear during the AIDS epidemic, raising the possibility of transmission between gay men and ‘innocent’ heterosexuals and lesbians.
This paper will discuss the origins of this framing, and its long-lasting impact on bisexual people and politics, drawing on oral histories and archival sources from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.
Dr Martha Robinson Rhodes (she/her) recently completed a PhD in Modern British History at the University of Birmingham, focusing on queer oral histories of bisexuality and multiple-gender-attraction. She is currently working as a Research Officer at Stonewall and is the Membership Secretary for the Oral History Society’s LGBTQ+ Special Interest Group.
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