DIVA spoke to the viral content creator about the stigma that bi and poly people face
BY ELLA GAUCI, IMAGE BY LEANNE YAU
Leanne Yau (they/she), better known as @polyphiliablog online, has quickly become the face of polyamory education on Instagram and TikTok. Amassing over 147,000 followers, Leanne has been creating bite-sized clips about polyamory, bisexuality, and other LGBTQIA issues since November 2020.
Since making their account, Leanne has been named as one of the top 60 influencers to follow by Men’s Health and has launched their own Happy Polydays podcast miniseries. To put it simply, if you’re interested in learning about non-monogamy, Leanne’s channel is something of an encyclopaedia.
As we get ready for Bi Pride this weekend (2 September) where Leanne will be speaking on a panel about polyamorous relationships, DIVA sat down with the content creator to talk about their coming out, biphobia, and misconceptions about polyamory.
Leanne knew they were non-monogamous before they knew they were bi. Despite founding the LGBT society at their high school, Leanne was convinced that they were just interested in being a “really, really good ally”. When Leanne got into a long-distance relationship at 17, it made sense to open up their romantic dynamic. Ever since then, they’ve been practising non-monogamy in all of their relationships.
It wasn’t until Leanne went to university that they realised that they were bi. At sixth form, they had been surrounded by so many boys that any exploration outside of heterosexuality was nearly impossible. But at university, everything felt freer. Prompted by a threesome with their partner at the time, Leanne began identifying as bi.
“Growing up on the internet and Tumblr and watching queer-coded shows helped me accept myself without that much shame,” Leanne said. “I think shame has always been externally imposed rather than being internalised for me.”
While Leanne was able to come out to their friends without any issues, coming out to their parents felt like a slightly larger task. Having grown up in Hong Kong until they were 16, the conservative values of the city – coupled with her mother’s Catholicism – still remained prevalent in their household.
Despite this, Leanne had one last hope that their coming out would run smoothly: Leanne’s mother had previously accepted a gay family member coming out to her. “I thought my mum was down with the gays!” Leanne joked.
However, when Leanne came out as bisexual, their mother’s response was slightly different. “My mum’s rationale was that my family member couldn’t date men even if she wanted to, but I could date men,” Leanne explained. “In her mind, if you have the option to date men you should just do ‘the right thing’. She didn’t see my bisexuality as its own thing. Instead, she split it into this half-gay, half-straight thing where I could choose to be straight if I really wanted to appease my parents and not cause a fuss.”
This sort of biphobia is exactly the reason why events like Bi Pride are so important for the bisexual community. Time and time again, bisexual people are viewed with suspicion.
“I think bisexual and polyamorous people experience similar stigma,” Leanne said. “There’s an overlap. Both groups are perceived as sexually promiscuous. Both groups are seen as untrustworthy. As cheaters. As easy. Both are seen as bad things. A lot of the time I feel like there isn’t an acceptable way for bisexual people to just exist in a relationship/s.”
Content creators like Leanne are vital for reshifting this narrative with educational content. While @polyphiliablog started out as a meme page in 2020, it has grown into a library of bite-sized, accessible clips explaining everything from spotting red flags in poly relationships to consent.
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