It was in 1892 when Krafft-Ebing’s Psychopathia Sexualis coined the term “bisexual” where it was used to describe an individual’s tendency to be attracted to both the male as well as the female. The usage of the word was made even more common when Charles Gilbert Chaddock used it.
The usage of the word prior to its usage in Psychopathia Sexualis was to describe hermaphroditic tendencies that were commonly found in plants. Being openly gay or bisexual in times such as these were extremely rare or almost none.
It was only when Edna St. Vincent Millay openly claimed to be bisexual that people began to notice the existence of the sexuality. Early 20th century singers such as Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith were also notable exceptions to the norm when they made it public that they were attracted to both sexes. Songs such as “Freakish Blues” or “Sissy Man Blues” openly spoke of being in bisexual relationships.
Since cinema was a growing medium, bringing bisexuality as well as homosexuality in a new light became an easy ordeal, and in 1914, the movie A Florida Enchantment which was directed by Sidney Drew had characters that were bisexual. But this was met with criticisms from the censorship department which didn’t allow explicit portrayal or utterance of bisexuality. Hence, the appearance of bisexual characters was only seen until the beginning of 1934.
Although public homosexuality or bisexuality was something of a taboo, studies were carried out by Alfred Kinsey, a bisexual himself. In the study, almost 30% of women and 50% of men were found to be sexually attracted to both males as well as females.
Activism on a large scale also began in the 20th century where historic landmarks saw public demonstrations in the state of New York. Protests gained further moment when activists gathered in front of the White House in DC as well as the Pentagon.
A significant breakthrough was achieved when the famous LGBT activist Robert A. Martin started the Student Homophile League, a college level student group in New York as well as Columbia University. The group was later recognized and made official in 1967 by Columbia University.
The inception of the 80s saw AIDS becoming a more significant problem among the LGBT community, and it was during this time when bisexuals began educating the masses about safe sex in order to combat the deadly disease. Key members of this movement included David Lourea and Cynthia Slater.