This is what I think happens. This is how I believe it works. The whole world “Knows” something and it is wrong. What? Take the case of American film actor Montgomery Clift (1920-1966). Another poster child for bi erasure at work. The sequence of understanding, in my mind is this:
given he died almost a half-century ago, I am not sure how much the average person on the street knows of this wonderful, great actor. O sure, maybe they have heard of him, if they are a certain age (well the older generation would for sure) but the younger generations (however you define it) might well give you a blank stare.
So the presumption with people who barely have heard of him would be, the default position of; American, White, Heterosexual. And why not, since most are that.
However if you drill down into the world of film goers, your cognescenti of the screen, your cineastes they would say with confidence “Oh yes he was gay.”
That would be the first level of awareness that Montgomery Cliff was not just your average dull cookie cutter matinee idol but it would also be incorrect in my opinion.
Why? Well, it is well documented that he had serious relationships with both men and women, thus by sexual activity he would seem to be bi.
Wiki helpfully weighs in with the following sentence;
Patricia Bosworth, who had access to Clift’s family and many people who knew and worked with him, wrote in her book,
“Monty carried on affairs with men and women.
What is it? What is going on (again!)? Is the Gay-Lesbian community so powerful, so much better at claiming people for their side as it were and/or is it that the bi people are so falling down on the job identifying people whose lives manifested a bi nature? It is not about scoring points, in some grand sexual database but it is frustrating as someone who is bi to have famous people, who might be role models continually excised from consciousness. Growing up, say as a teen if someone asked me
“Who are the great, well known bi people in society today?” I would be able to name “David Bowie” and cringe. Talented musician, strange person to put it mildly way back then.
The fact that bisexuality was barely on the radar as any kind of legitimate sexual orientation for so long in human history obviously plays the biggest role in all this.
But now what you have are some historical, famous people in history (more current but also from the distant past) being poached by the Gay-Lesbian crowd. I don’t know that these numbers are true, but this is what it feels like; 90% of people would barely know anything at all about Montgomery Cliff and if they did, it would be the most sensational-superficial aspects such as, “I think he was involved in a car crash” (true) or “Didn’t he abuse drugs-alcohol?” (true) but as to his sexuality, the not foolish reasoning would be a default = straight, given how society is overwhelmingly made up.
Then maybe a very small minority, say 10% would say “he was gay, don’t you know?” and that would be a shocking revelation and wrong.
Finally, maybe 1% (if that) who go out of their way to learn about his life story, delving into his relationships would discover the truth, that he was bi, if you count what he actually did between the sheets.