So, once upon a time--about 10 years ago--I was in a room with three other people we'll call Sunshine, 3PO and Booger. (Why do I call him "booger"? Because I picked him! HA! *rimshot*) All of us come from upper/middle class white upbringings. Essentially, we were a coffee house sofa and two cans of hairspray short of an episode of FRIENDS. Anyway, the four of us were talking about all things mundane. The weather. Music. Work. Plans for the future. I'd just told them how I was planning to move to Arizona soon and got an earful from Sunshine about how my wayward tendencies to let the wind carry me would end in me never getting married (as if this was the single worst fate imaginable).
But I digress...
...I hadn't been out as bisexual for very long at that point. As it was, I think Booger knew, but I wasn't so close to Sunshine or 3PO (who were dating at the time) that I would have made that blatantly clear. So, somehow the discussion turned to the growing political movement to legalize same-sex marriage. When Sunshine rather aggressively commented that same-sex relations are an abomination. She decried that those who do such things make baby Jesus sad and God wrinkle up his nose, and that all of these things made gays, lesbians and those damned greedy bisexuals a sinful blight on society.
She had no problem saying this in front of a man who was an out-and-practicing, self-proclaimed fag and a quietly-out bisexual woman. I remember that Booger kindly disagreed with her, but didn't outright engage. I remember 3PO being mostly silent. And, being me, I got loud and told Sunshine that she had just insulted 50% of the room. I outed myself to her right then and there and told her that everything she'd just said about gays and bi-people was an outright insult to me personally. That she wasn't just saying these things about a demographic but about the people right in front of her.
Sunshine excused this by saying, "Well, you're bisexual, you're not really part of the argument anyway. You can still marry a man. Besides, I know you and who you've dated in the past. You'll end up with a man anyway."
And then she carried on unabashedly taking the "moral high ground" to defend the sanctity of marriage against the queers, never once thinking to apologize to her friends she'd just belittled and dehumanized.*
Life went on. I moved to Arizona not long after that. Have my own husband and daughter. (I'm sure that Sunshine sees this as some miracle or triumph.) I'm friends with Sunshine and Booger on Facebook, but otherwise, haven't seen them since. I'm surrounded by people who--if they aren't bisexual themselves--understand that though I'm in a monogamous relationship with my husband, I still identify as one who is sexually/spiritually attracted to both men and women. I am blessed to be accepted as I am and never made to feel like LESS.
And then I read articles like this, and that conversation with Sunshine comes back. A decade later--when leaps and bounds have been made in the fight for LGBTQ rights--and yet, the "B" in that equation is still catching a shit ton of the same old song.
For those who can't read the above link for whatever reason, the popular Slate.Com advice column "Dear Prudence" recently suggested that a woman keep her bisexuality in the closet.
The bisexual woman wrote in asking for advice on if she should come out to her friends and family about her sexuality. (She's already told her husband.) The woman also asserted that even though she is attracted to women, she will not pursue this as she is in a committed, monogamous marriage with a man.
So basically, she's just asking, should I tell people that I'm bi even if I'm not going to "practice"... and Prudie's dissertation on the matter was rather disgusting.
"Let’s say you discovered a late breaking interest in plushophilia, or you now realized you were turned on by being a dominatrix. This would not be news you’d be required to announce...you are confusing your personal sexual exploration with a social imperative. It would be one thing if you left your marriage because you were pursuing relationships with women. That would be worth talking about—if you wanted to—as a way of explaining the dissolution of your marriage."
I have so many problems with that paragraph.
1) First of all, even though she remains conservative in her word choice, our Dear Prudence, she somehow manages to perpetuate the stereotype that bisexuals are somehow salacious ass-grabbers with a constant desire to fuck anything we see. (We're not all Captain Jack Harkness, people!) As the GLAAD author points out, the columnist fetishizes bisexuality rather than treating it as an identity like homo/heterosexuality, asexuality, or transexuality.
2) Along the same lines, Prudie's comments not only fetishize but trivialize the woman's self-discovery of coming out as bisexual. More often when a woman--(I can't speak for men, here)--comes out as bi, it is either greeted with leering jests because she is clearly of loose moral fiber, or she is patted on the head because this was likely "part of a phase". Her "personal sexual exploration" is treated like a decision to take up yoga or try the latest fad diet.
3) "Now THAT would be worth talking about". Yes, the emphasis is mine, but holy shit it's implied. So let me get this straight...(heh, straight)... this woman has just come to a pretty big realization about herself and asked for advice on if/how to broach the subject with her friends and family. And you've not only likened her identity to something naughty and fringe (dominatrix), and told her that it doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things (bullshit), you're now telling her that the only way her sexuality IS noteworthy, is if it destroys her marriage. Wow. That's not just insensitive, it's blind. Furthermore, it plays into the whole "if it bleeds it leads/sex sells" mindset. Clearly, she can't come to such a big understanding of herself (oh, but it's not big, my mistake), unless it rocks her world to its very foundations and destroys everything and rips apart her happy, pristine marriage. The horror! /sarcasm
Seriously, what the everloving fuck is this about?
Look, it goes like this: I'm bi. My husband knows. My parents know. My friends know. I've never had a sit down meeting with everyone and said, "So, you know how Cousin Jared is a respiratory therapist? Yeah, I'm half-queer." NO, it doesn't work like that for most people. I didn't stand up at Thanksgiving and make some big announcement. I chose to live outwardly and not deny, not hide and not mince words. I'm out about it on social media (as evidenced by this blog) and make no attempts to cloak my sexuality for the comfort of others. *waves* Hi there!
Being Bi and in a committed hetero relationship does not mean that my attraction to women vanished. It doesn't mean you get to ignore that part of me or put an asterisk by "straight" when you're classifying me in your head. It doesn't have the same seedy clickbait news vibe to say I'm bi and happy with my man, but sorry, it's true.
Bi erasure is a thing. Capricious, greedy, confused: this is how we're described. Our collective sexual identity is seen as transient, no more stationary than the phases of the moon. Surely it's a phase that will pass. More than that, though, we blur the lines of what sexuality entails. Love for both? Sexual attraction that includes multiple options? We're not black-or-white enough for a headline, so often our sexuality is defined (by others) by who we're with. This is no more true about me than it is about you. *I* am not my relationship status. *I* am not a demographic check mark. *I* am not given worth or value solely by the company I keep. I am no more my husband's wife than I am my father's daughter or my brother's keeper. These things add to the grand total, but I am greater than the sum of my parts.
Gay, straight, bi, trans, queer, deciding, other or whatever... be who you are and be proud. You are amazing. You are stardust. You are worthy. Be out and proud. Shine.
Sorry, Prudence, but in this particular case, silence is not golden.
*-Funny thing. Sunshine and 3PO broke up after a while...she married someone else and has had many babies to fulfill her ultimate feminine destiny and he is now in a happy relationship....with another man. So, 75% of the room during this conversation did not identify as 100% hetero.