LABELS: Marcus Morgan of The Guardian wants to “Put the B back in LGBT” because “bisexuality is often dismissed or disparaged, so many come out as gay instead.”
Morgan has some progressive thinking and worthwhile analogies, especially when talking about the confusion over labels:
Oddly, the only people not confused about bisexuality are the bisexuals themselves, with groups like The Bisexual Index advocating a clearer definition – they simply suggest anyone who is attracted to more than one gender should consider identifying as bi. It’s not about amount of attraction either, just as simply preferring lettuce to liver doesn’t make you a vegan.
He’s also aware of the scorn bisexuals can face from both the straight and gay communities:
For a bi on the gay scene, the closet has two doors, a bit like an airlock – behind one of them is a cosy atmosphere with no pressure, and behind the other is what appears to be a vacuum.
However, his primary point is a little problematic. He suggests that everyone is bisexual — but he’s not talking about Girls Gone Wild, he’s talking about y’all homos who claim to be all-homo and apparently are not. Who knew?
A lot of the people using the LGBT scene are bisexuals in the closet – they came out as gay or lesbian because they knew that would get a good reception.
We’re all told bisexuality is a phase that everyone goes through and grows out of, and no one’s a ‘proper’ bisexual, even though everyone’s bisexual really.
So basically the spin to his argument is that more gays should admit that they are also bisexual, because once upon a time they dated people from the opposite gender. This is similar to the case recently made by Michael Eurie of Ugly Betty, who identifies as “queer,” in the February Advocate:
I’ve been in a relationship for a while now, and if you just met the two of us together we’d be ‘gay.’ But that somehow means anything that happened before [we met] didn’t count-and I don’t feel that way. I know that some people feel that way. They were with women, but it always felt wrong. But it didn’t for me. It felt right at the time. It didn’t work out, but it also didn’t work out with other men-many times. That’s why ‘gay’ never seemed right.
So is everyone bisexual? in Jezebel’s reaction to Morgan’s article, they say “no.” In general, labeling anyone — without their consent — is a bad idea and takes away individual agency. Labels aren’t all bad, especially when they’re self-defined. I appreciate that Marcus Morgan is trying to destigmatize bisexuality, but it’s just as limiting to call everyone bi as it is to say that bisexuality is a myth. Jezebel adds:
Someone who identifies as bi would be more qualified to answer these questions than I am. But I will say that while a label can limit, being part of a community can empower — and it might not be entirely beneficial to define a community so broadly that it includes people who would never admit to being part of it.
I’ve discussed bisexuality with a lot of people over the years, including our Editor-in-Chief Riese (who has much more informed views on the subject, as she once wrote a book about female bisexuality and identifies as ‘queer’). It seems to me, based on limited observation and a few original thoughts, that the Kinsey scale is still a pretty useful tool. Sexuality (and gender, too) isn’t black and white, and as Morgan points out, the myths that accompany even the popular definition of bisexuality are incredibly rigid as well: “Bisexuals are supposed to be equally attracted to men and women – always androgyny, but never to trans people – and always at the same time. They supposedly need to have identical amounts of sex with both, and don’t notice the differences between them (which might get painful in bed, I reckon).”
We’re all special snowflakes, right? It’s hard to imagine that two categories — or three! — would ever be sufficient for any aspect of identity — and gays and bisexuals alike benefit from expanded definitions of sexual expression. The idea that there’s only one way to have sex or have a relationship is at the core of our legal & cultural struggles.
Invalidating other people’s identity should be something the queer community avoids at all costs — and trying to tell gay people that they’re actually bisexual seems a bit counterproductive as well, and not exactly as expansive as it is when approached from the opposite direction. In the end, we’re all fighting for the same things: the freedom to self-identify without consequence.
+ The Klein Sexual Orientation Grid. (@klein institute)
+ The Bisexual Resource Institute
+ Look Both Ways: Bisexual Politics by Jennifer Baumgardner.
+ Interview with
+ Bisexuality and the Eroticism of Everyday Life (Riese says she read this entire book, it is like 5,000 pages long), by Marjorie Garber.
+ Bi the Way: a documentary about bisexuality (the trailer is here)
MARRIAGE: As a performance art piece supporting marriage equality (two of our fav things!), two straight strangers got married in Florida. Brian Feldman, the artists, put out a call for willing ladies on Craigslist. [Hannah] Miller turned up for her courthouse ceremony in a short thrift-shop bridal gown and a veil, with a rainbow-colored bouquet of paper flowers to toss. When someone congratulated her, she demurred.
“Actually, I think you should be shaming me. This is a disgusting thing I have to do. It’s terrible — no offense to Brian.” (@orlandosentinel)
SINGLE MAN: The Guardian also has an article looking at the treatment of gayness in Colin Firth’s latest movie, A Single Man. The promotion materials have been, predictably, de-gay-ified. What’s less obviously explicable is the attitude taken by some of the supposedly enlightened. A widely approved line seems to be that A Single Man is about grief as anyone would experience it. Its protagonist could just as easily have been heterosexual. To suggest otherwise would imply that gay people are different, and we’re all now much too grownup to think along such distastefully primitive lines. (@guardian)
MADDOW: A Washington Post profile of Rachel Maddow focuses on how her sexuality affects her coverage, focusing on the DADT issue. Her show may have launched Dan Choi’s activist career, but Maddow says she doesn’t see herself as an activist, just a journalist. “It is useful for me to tell my opinion on some things I cover. But I’m not trying to get people to march in the streets or call their congressmen. I don’t believe that’s my role.” (@wapo)
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Just months after the loss of marriage equality in Maine, as well as New York and New Jersey, the New Hampshire House will vote Wednesday on a proposal to repeal gay marriage in the state. The judiciary committee has recommended the House kill that measure, as well as a proposed constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. (@wcax) (@ap)
STILETTO: Sunday night, Team Autostraddle attended a Valentine’s Day benefit for The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation at the Maritime Hotel/Stiletto. Our BFF Grace Chu was also there and has a cute recap of the night. Don’t miss the picture of our photoblogger Robin, for reals! (@gracethespot)
[riese add thoughts here? i wish i could insert a screenshot of your wonderful email, as i feel that about wraps it up]
um, so riese wrote a book? why aren’t we linked to this amazing accomplishment?!
i clicked on the 5,000 page book (which MUST be a fence-sitting book with THAT much to say) and am super tempted to buy it. Riese…is it worth it???
oh b/c my life fell apart and i decided i didn’t want to write it anymore, then had like five more crisis situations, decided to write a novel instead, and then um, a few months later, Autostraddle was born! it’s sort of a longer story than that. but i left the project when i was at a mid-way point w/my agent and potential editors and stuff, for better or for worse.
The Marjorie Garber book is realllllyyyy long and super academic. I mean I found it worth it. I actually had to photocopy the whole book so I could read it in sections and carry it around with me.
But it’s a great reference and is also heavy when you need a heavy object.
photocopied sections? yikes it is huge.
it’s gotta be better than the bisexual’s guide to the universe…
thanks for the response! :D
Oh yeah, bisexual’s guide to the universe sucks. i’ve really read them all pretty much. the marjorie garber book is really academic, it’s not an easy read.
I mean part of the reason I was writing my own book is ’cause I didn’t like any of the ones out there. But there are some diamonds in the rough.
Honestly I have really enjoyed reading Mary Gaitskill’s fiction, her short stories particularly in Because They Wanted to: Stories have female characters of different orientations, I think Gaitskill herself is bi, she is married to a man now. There’s also some bisexual themes in Maggie Estep and AM Homes.
I would recommend checking out some essay collections: Surface Tension: Love, Sex and Politics Between Lesbians and Straight Women is a great one, and so is PoMoSexuals: Challenging Assumptions About Gender and Sexuality.
you guys should start a column on neat lezzie books, whether they’re heavy academic doorstoppers, trashies, literary fiction, crime and action stuff, romances, since there’s already a music & TV column.
Thirded! Reading is fundamental. And also sexy.
we’ve done a few books posts! they take a long time ’cause we have to read the books first! This is everything we’ve done under the books category.
you guys have to comment when we do books stuff so we know you care, ’cause that’s how we decide what to do more of or less of, and book posts take a LONG time ’cause it’s a lot of books to read:
Riese & Green Read Books: Lesbionic Young Adult Novels, Part #1
Riese & Laneia Read Books: Part #2 of Lesbionic Young Adult Novels
Autostraddle’s Reading Rainbow Fall Book Preview 2009
Sister Spit’s New Generation of Queer Poets & Rebels: The Autostraddle Interview
Green-on-Carissa Halston: Just This Cute Bisexual Writer I Found On Etsy
we also brought over some randomly assembled top ten lists when we launched AS last year that probs have missing pictures and bad formatting:
Ten Lesbian/Bisexual Books You Haven’t Read Yet
Top Ten – Lesbian Literature – The Classics
When I was looking at this comment in the tiny sidebar, I totally thought it said “boobs Post” and I got really excited for a minute there.
I’m really interested in talking about books, too. (Hey, JentheJew, I bet we can find books about/featuring boobs…plenty to get excited about still!)
Also, I was looking around the site for an update on the “Annie On My Mind” piece that was mentioned in a post last year. (I only just joined AS and I’m playing catch up – have I missed it? Is it here somewhere?), and I put a comment at the end of the YA fiction post, with a link to teen LGBTQ fiction, if anyone is interested: We’re Here, We’re Queer, What the Hell do We Read? http://www.leewind.org
whoops – “I’m Here. I’m Queer. What the Hell Do I Read?”
Better. linky bit is still http://www.leewind.org :)
Hi Missy! No you have not missed it, as it never happened. Email green [at] autostraddle dot com and harass her about it right now
Is Garber’s “Vice versa: bisexuality and the eroticism of everyday life” the same as “Bisexuality and the eroticism of everyday life?” I can’t tell if they are completely different or just different editions. Thanks!
Yup, same exact book, just a newer edition.
Wonderful. Y’all are so cute and that email is gold.
“A widely approved line seems to be that A Single Man is about grief as anyone would experience it.”
Wow, interesting. I’d say that line is in direct conflict with the actual movie, in which the character’s exclusion from 50s society–and by his partner’s family–is an enormous part of his grief process.
good catch, because grief would be way different when society refuses to acknowledge/respect your loss.
maybe that sentence refers to the personal experience of grief, which would be pretty diverse but universal across the board?
I haven’t seen the film, but I wonder if part of the problem is that the straight people who see it cherry-pick out the universals and block out the more uncomfortable bits?
The thing that I find problematic about the Kinsey Scale, is that while it certainly accounts for otherwise-inclined folks, the scale is still anchored by “straight” or “gay.” These two identities are the points of entry to the scale, and is how everything else is defined. I kind of prefer a sexual galaxy. That way, every identity can be defined separately from everything else and stand on its own. The possibilities are endless.
And, much more importantly, mad props on writing a book! That’s awesome!
Bisexuality is a complicating “label”. it’s something I’ve struggled with for the past few months. It may be a sort transition for some people but finding yourself attracted to men and women is kind of scary. Your constantly thrown labels of either your “straight” or “gay”. Yeah we know there are bisexuals but at my age (highschool) they’re categorized as easy. I just hope more people realize the actual struggle people have with having a label. It’s not that difficult.. You like what you like.. And love is love
I feel bad that you have to be in a society that has turned bisexual into “slutty”, in high school especially. As a 29 year old bisexual, I will tell you that HS and College are going to label you that way as well, most likely. I mean, of course it will depend on your friends and the social group you hang around with, but for the most part it’s hard. This is not to say don’t identify as that; I just find myself using “gay” to eliminate the questions and the “Oh, so you do it for free drinks from guys”. Yuck.
Stay strong girlie!
Thanks alot Leah your response means alot to me!
I have struggled for my entire life trying to find some sort of identity and the only one that seems to fit is bisexual. However my friends and family and even strangers all seem to categorize me differently according to the situation I am in at the time we cross paths. If I’m with a woman than obviously I’ve figured out that I’m a lesbian. In the same way if I’m with a man I’ve ended that “faze”.
I think that no matter what you identify as personally there are still going to be people categorizing you differently.
I’m glad you guys are writing about bisexuality
“We’re all told bisexuality is a phase that everyone goes through and grows out of, and no one’s a ‘proper’ bisexual, even though everyone’s bisexual really.”
When I first read the article I thought that he was being sarcastic about both these thins – like “blah blah bisexuality’s not real, blah blah everyone’s apparently bisexual” Rereading it, though, you might be right that he’s actually trying to push the latter point of view, which is defo problematic.
also this is unrelated but sam: great sweater/collared shirt combo, i love it for real.
In the update on the Jezebel article he says he was being sarcastic about the “everyone is bisexual” remark.
Where is this book of Riese’s and where can we buy it? :D
I define myself as queer/pansexual.
I like people across genders, including trans people and genderqueer people (damn you all you pretty ones!!), and found “bi”sexuality limiting since it implied only 2 gender expressions.
I have had only one relationship, which I’m currently in, with a straight guy.
I have kissed a girl, and have been assaulted by a woman in an attempt to explore the lesbian side of my sexuality.
I have had (and am currently) crushing on straight girls, straight guys, queer girls, queer guys, and a couple of transmen and genderqueer people whose orientation I’m not sure of yet.
Straight people tend to just assume I’m straight (mainly due to said boyfriend) though they don’t flinch when I mention my involvement in the queer world. (Well, the ones I associate with anyway.)
My parents are somewhat homophobic, but they’re more phobic of ever acknowledging the concept of sexuality in general so who knows?
I have been to lesbian events and been asked by friends “what are you doing here?”. I have also been welcomed with open arms by other lesbian groups and communities (including Autostraddle! hello!).
I’m currently performing in a drag king troupe headed by a lesbian couple, and volunteering with the Lesbian Health Action Group.
My boyfriend sometimes gives me dating tips – he finds it amusing that I am currently crushing on his fling from way back. (Soft butch possibly-queer redhead with an awesome brain and hot in suits. GUH.)
I’m glad you mentioned the article on bisexuality, and would like to see more discussions and representations of it beyond the oversexed/confused stereotypes. There are many people like us for whom sexual attraction doesn’t fall on gender lines, who sometimes feel like a fraud in both straight and gay circles, whose existence people still deny, who can’t really relate to the butch/femme division, who is balancing multiple privileges and expectations. Perhaps it’s time for a Bisexual (++) Roundtable?
>>Perhaps it’s time for a Bisexual (++) Roundtable?>>
I like your ideas and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.
Yes, that’s definitely something we’ve been thinking about. I admit (because it is 3am, most likely) that sometimes I’m afraid to write about this topic and feel we can’t do a roundtable unless we make it specific.
I have about 400 pages written on bisexuality already — both my own experiences and a historical/psychological/sociological perspective as well as interviews with other women, work by other bisexuals — and have read every magazine, newspaper and online article on bisexuality published by 2007, every movie and tv storyline about bisexuality, as well as undertook my own sociological study where I gathered responses from 500 women who all identified as something other than “straight.” So it’s like all of this stuff sitting there, and it’s been sitting there since about ’07, when I sort of let go of the project. Oddly it wasn’t totally my idea for me to do it in the first place, which is another story. I do still hope to finish my novel though!
I think what i’m trying to say is that I don’t know if I can participate in the roundtable without writing an entire book! and then everyone will be like tl;dr.
I also do want to do something with all that research I did, the survey. I think we need to think of something really specific for the roundtable.
Make a website then. A subdomain of Autostraddle – a growing project, if you will. Like your videoblogs and the Calendar Girls, just slightly more academic and word-based.
You can write the intro for the roundtable, and have the rest of us contribute stories. That way you don’t have to write a book if you don’t want to, and the rest of us can find out how our peers deal with the world.
haha i think if our webmaster saw that suggestion she’d have a heart attack! something to think about though for the future!
i just remembered the questionnaire i filled out for you. it was pretty extensive. you better do something with it :)
holler guls old school autostraddle 0.0
Wow, this is VERY interesting. I had an idea about doing a survey last year and I developed a questionnaire + topics for a semi-structured interview. The two most important scientific books that I know of are the following:
1) McWhirter, Sanders, Reinisch (1990) Homosexuality / Heterosexuality: Concepts of Sexual Orientation, Oxford University Press; and
2) F. Klein (1993) The Bisexual Option, Harrington Park Press
Mostly I was interested in creating more informative scales than the Kinsey one.
For the moment I have abandoned the project due to other commitments (projects for my public policy research job), but I strongly hope I’ll be able to continue working on it, one day. So I really wish you can do the same and share whatever results or instruments you can.
Woah, I just mistook Julia (aka Miss February) for Holly Miranda. Just me? (Not in a bad way, HM’s uber cute too!) Well, either way, you all are really cute. Cheers.
i just saw holly miranda tonight and not only is she perfect, her laugh makes me want to dance on clouds.
I’m seeing her tomorrow. Shoot, her voice makes me wanna dance on clouds, but I’ll def be looking out for the laugh now. =D
The term “bisexual” implies a binary. Since gender is a spectrum and most definitely not a fixed binary, I find the term rather exclusive and limiting. It doesn’t account for attraction to genderqueer and trans people who don’t fit inside one or the other neat little gender boxes.
Genderqueer and pansexual all the way, baby.
I have exactly this problem too, although for some reason the term “pansexual” bothers me. Maybe it’s because my brain turns it into wanting to have sex with fauns? I dunno. But, uh, yes. I go with “queer”.
I like the idea of “pansexual” but feel weird about it too — I think it’s because I think about “panning” the room? Like because that is the term in photography? Hm. Panning? Anyone?
Yes, the binary implied by bisexual is annoying, and I actually think it also hinders your sexual development when you first begin to identify as such. It’s almost like somehow it’s become a part of our cultural code that bisexual girls only go for “straight-looking” “feminine” girls, which I think is owed to the binary implicated by the term, that somehow you must like traditional representations of each “gender” rather than just you know… whatever you like.
There’s actually some really interesting bits in Pomosexuals and Bisexuality and the Eroticism of Everyday Life about the linguistic problems presented by our terms for sexuality — and gender. How the root words define everything else as they relate to the root word (e.g., “man”) instead of on their own terms.
Actually, people insert the binary into bisexuality, but bisexual is just attraction to 2 genders, not necessarily men & women (though that is one possible combination). This explains it pretty well: http://genderbitch.wordpress.com/2010/10/11/bisexuality-binarism-cissexism/
Bisexuality is just another sexual orientation–it’s no more limiting or binary-enforcing than any other.
Just read the Jezebel article, and Morgan wrote into them to clarify that he considers “everybody is bi” to be another bisexuality myth. Which I guess means I’ll spare you my rant about how much I hate that myth. Partly because I’m 100% homosexy, for reals, yo, and partly because it really does degrade the word and render the concept of bisexuality meaningless.
yeah it also is great fuel for the ex-gay movement who says that homosexuality can just be a “tendency” that you can control and become straight if that’s what you choose to choose.
True story: I sort of bought into the ex-gay ideology at one point in my life. I was young and in the closet and terrified of my same sex desires and when I encountered the “everybody is bi” idea from both ex-gay Christian types in church and sexually progressive friends at school, it sent me haring desperately after my latent hetero tendencies for years. I felt like there was something seriously wrong with me when I never found them.
Then I realized some people are just big ol’ homos and ex-gays are full of shit and well meaning but clueless high schoolers aren’t always the best people to take advice from either.
So that’s my oversharey way of saying Yes, Riese, you are right.
I get that all the time, “You could just have a normal life if you wanted. You could be with a man”.
Really? Where would that leave the woman I have been with for 3 years and love to death?
I think this is why my family has such an issue with it. They think I am choosing this because they have seen me with guys before. They had no idea about girls earlier in my life, so they think it is some switch I have just turned on. If I said “Lesbian, always have been, always will be, all the guys were just a cover-up”, it may actually be easier for them.
Has AS already posted on the topic of “choice”? Any roundtable, any article? Because it never ceases to amaze me how people want freedom in any aspect of life but THEN they’ll give you a hard time if you declare you have CHOSEN the gender of the person you are sleeping with, which should be one of the most important of the choices you’ll ever make, right?
Why do people assume it is your sacred right to freely choose a partner, but then NOT their gender? I just don’t get it. Am I the only one?
My point is, rather than insisting on the biological-grounded view that one is “born” gay or straight or bisexual, etc. and there is nothing you can do about it, we should simply point out the flawed reasoning lying behind the imperative that one cannot choose the gender of their liking, the way one makes a thousand other personal choices, including that of their own partner (within one gender).
Well, in other discussion you stated that you are sexually attracted to men, yet you identify as a lesbian because you don’t see yourself with a man, so for you it was indeed a choice, but there are women who are only attracted to women and they have no choice about it at all.
It seems to be a backslash from that “everyone (especially every woman)is bi” argument. Everyone, so no one, and some women see in it a permission to call themselves lesbians, even while they are not exclusively attracted to women. But hey, no woman is – as they think their experience is universal.
Thanks for that – I was reading it as this too. I think the problem is Jezebel’s not quoting it as it appears on the original, he puts ‘everyone’s bisexual really’ in quotes but they’ve taken those off.
Can’t think why, except to twist what he’s saying into something more exciting to get annoyed about!
Aaand I read some of the comments over on Jezebel and now I’m back to ranty mode. I swear, if I hear one more person talk about how identifying as gay or straight is “putting artificial limits on yourself,” imma cut a bitch. Shock gasp horror some of us identify as gay or straight because we ARE gay or straight and no amount of “keeping an open mind” is going to magically make the opposite (or same) sex attractive to us. I mean. Duh. This is basic stuff, isn’t it?
you’d think so, yes.
Queer kid here lol
labels kind of suck, but they serve an extremely necessary function for most people.
I’ve always thought of my orientation in terms of percentages. Of the people I’m attracted to 80% are women, 15% are FTM transgendered/transexuals and 5% are men. Of those, I’m involved with 0% which sucks, but whatever… ANYWAY… I wouldn’t feel comfortable telling anyone I’m bisexual, because to me, the bisexual ratios fall closer to the 45%-65% range.
Plus my sexuality is not only fluid, but it is fickle.
So I identify as queer, because it kind of encompasses everywhere my dirty mind goes and covers my gender variations as well.
Speaking of bisexuality and A Single Man, I love it so much when movies are released that not only look good, but also have actors that I’m attracted to of both genders. In this case it’s Julianne Moore and Colin Firth. Yes please on both counts. And there’s gayness! It just keeps getting better.
Also Erin Daniels was in it, so that’s like 100,000 bonus points.
oops i just woke up roommate up laughing at the email.
Fuck labels, I love to love.
Ehh. (holy shiznit this is my first comment evur on this site! >.>)
There have been days where I have woken up and thought I was 100% lesbian–absolutely no sexual, emotional or physical attraction to the opposite sex. [though being in a r/ship at the time is a factor that should be considered)
There have been days where I have woken up feeling 100% straight–at least for a few moments. My attraction to men being much more intense, for those periods, than my attraction to women.
Thus, I am bisexual. I have been in relationships with both genders. I think from there it gets simpler and simpler; there are people across the world who fit into so so many boxes and there are literally endless combinations of personality-types and backgrounds and cultures to seriously and honestly limit oneself to ‘male’ and ‘female.’ Thats my honest opinion.
I do believe, however, that there are people who swing to one side and stay there–obviously. Of course.
A way to regard bisexuality is that its all in reverse: people find it easier to adopt the black/white mentality (gay/straight) instead of tredding into the murky, unpredictable grey area that most human-beings likely find themselves in during their lifetimes.
So yeah, bisexuality as a label is the closest to how I feel.. I also just absolutely ABHORR the notion of limiting oneself, in any way. I’m a very specific person as it is, and I don’t want to make finding happiness with another even more difficult by limiting a whole gender. Does not compute.
Just my $0.02.
Wowwww my comment was kinda OT. My bad xP
I think part of the problem vis a vis bisexuality is that people tend to conflate sexual BEHAVIOR with sexual IDENTITY.
Yes, I agree, it’s probably the biggest part of the problem. It’s kind of understandable; identity is as complex as it is obscured, behaviour can be poor at providing a way of decoding identity, but it’s all we’ve got to go on.
Bisexuality does seem to get the short end of the stick in this respect, because of people’s rather stereotyped views of their sexual behaviour (i.e. shag anything that moves).
beyonddeities – I feel totally the same!
I’m in a long term relationship with a girl right now and all of my friends and family would call me a lebian… then some days I have these daydreams where I’m having some major crush on a guy!! I even feel guilty for having them!
I didn’t have a particularly hard time coming out, but my parents had a lot of mind opening to do, shall we say. Imagine now, if after being with girls for a good number of years I turned round and started seeing a guy?! Not for me, but for my family and friends, it would be like coming out all over again. Then they would have even more ‘mind opening’to do! (Just think of all the awkward questions from my mom when she got drunk… cringe!)
I am now a lesbian because I’m in a long term relationship with a girl, but if I weren’t in this relationship, then I would absolutely be whatever the heck I felt like being at the time. Not heterosexual, not homosexual, not bisexual… just… sexual!
Why labels bother me:
1. It makes everything way harder to figure out, and it makes it harder to change as you do.
2. There are so many stereotypes within a label. It’s almost as if we stopped labeling sexuality and started labeling cartoon characters. Although my sexuality is a part of my identity, it doesn’t define me. I don’t feel like a lesbian, a bisexual, a queer or a gay. I like girls. Not always, but I do, and it’s a part of me, it’s just not all of me.
Yes! I mean, I’m gay, but it’s not like that’s the entirieity (that’s probably spelt wrong) of who I am. If it was, I would’ve had a serious existential crisis. Multiple times. And I’d be a catatonic vegetable. And that would suck.
I wish labels didn’t exist and people were just people, but humans suck so that’s never going to happen. Oh, well… A girl can dream.
I AM AT A PARTYHU
well that just cracks my shit up.
This is why the Autostraddle team/readers are the best.
Thank you for including the Klein model in your “see also section”. Although Klein’s work doesn’t push the envelope as far as it probably could, what he is brilliant at is expanding on Kinsey’s scale to acknowledge that “attraction” cannot be so easily defined. It is a shame that Kinsey’s useful but over-simplified model has remained the most popular when Klein’s is so much more recent and useful.
As a bisexual/queer identifying person, I absolutely agree with you…bisexuality is real and needs to be part of the community/discussion…but it is also not appropriate for anybody to tell somebody else how they should identify.
I recently went to a dinner party for a club for the French Language. So I didn’t expect the topic of sexuality to come up, but it did. There were about 7 people involved, two of whom were lesbians, one being my girlfriend. I was taken aback when the other said that she didn’t believe that there was such a thing as bisexuality and the remaining straight people at the table agreed. I was not “out” with my girlfriend at the dinner, but was obviously bothered by this comment and said, “As a person who identifies as bisexual I would like to defend its existence” I proceeded to explain that I felt, as a bisexual that I had twice the opportunity of a gay or straight person to find someone that I truly clicked with and could love. And that to me, that is beautiful. I always considered myself straight, but yesterday was my ten moth anniversary with my girlfriend. I have, at this point, had satisfying relationships with both genders. In fact, there are things that I prefer with both people as well. Basically, I can’t even decide which I like more so obviously I’m bisexual haha. Some days I really miss men and feel this intense desire to flirt with my waiter or someone at the supermarket and then others I’m just so content with my girlfriend and can’t imagine what I saw in my previous relationships. But it is incredibly hurtful to hear from people (especially LG ppl) that my identity doesn’t qualify when it is so intrinsic in who I am. Bisexual people need the same support of the Gay community because we deal with having to come out and the rejection of certain family members and peers as well. And I had an intense love for the gay community even when I was identifying as “straight”, and I feel almost less a part of it since determining my sexuality because I either am gay or being unfair to my girlfriend because I will supposedly be eventually leaving her for a man…when the reality is neither. So…sorry for my rant, but its just a frustrating position that is rarely justified in the straight or gay community.
About time bisexuality gets showcased. I feel like it gets shoved out of the closet at times. It’s quite limiting (the perception of bisexuals) that some people refuse to date bisexuals because of the stigma attached to this manufactured label. I believe that this is an issue within the LGBTQLMNOP community that needs to be discussed..along with pansexualism, queerdom and people of color (lol, just threw that one out there)…
Go Queerios! )
Ironically, I just got the bisexual bracelet and flag I ordered in the mail today. Yes, I HAD to order them because I couldn’t find them in the Village. THE Village, guys.
I obviously define myself as bisexual, but I don’t agree with this guy %100. Yes, we do need to be be destigmatized, that is for damn sure. Straights don’t like us, gays don’t like us (especially on the urban/black lesbian scene). It’s a big misfit mess. I despise when people call me “confused” or tell me to “pick a side” which happens more than you think. It’s infuriating. This is not a phase; this is who I am.
Now, I don’t know whether I can say have equal attraction to both sexes. To be completely honest that fluctuates every day; if you wanna know the truth. Some days I like men more, most days I like women more. But it never gets to a point where I don’t like one side at all. I also, definitely see a difference in the sex between men and women. I mean they both give me pleasure, but they definitely give me different energies. So um, yeah.
For a second there, I was tempted to go along with Riese and my friend Ian (whose last name is Riese, actually) and consider labeling myself “queer”. I remind myself to stick with the title bisexual, because if no one is willing to stand up for it, it’ll fall faster.
I must admit that I have said “everyone is bisexual–to a certain extent” in the past, but I don’t think we should go around labeling other people. That’s a big no-no.
You guys are so so cute by the way. Like, adorable.
I’ve probably missed the discussion on this, but I applaud you all for starting it!
As a woman who identfies as queer or bisexual, I think these myths are prevalent and have alot of social currency. I can’t count the number of times that someone has assumed that my bisexuality also means I’ll shag anything that moves.
I think more hurtful is rejection from the gay community, which I think for many stems from something more complex and visceral. I see alot of the conflict stemming from two conflicting ideas about gaining acceptance for queers within broader society – one is that is homosexuality is absolute and inalienable, a discrete and bounded identity category that has to be accomodated, and bisexuals etc drain away from that, and the other is a queer theory perspective that basically states that the more identity is seen as shifting and fluid, the more discrete identity categories are challenged, the less people can discriminate against any one category. My identification as queer is also a political statement about belonging in the latter category, but I’m interested to know what other people, of all orientations think…
I really like the way you frame this. I’ve totally noticed the tension between those two approaches too, although I’ve never been able to articulate it like you do. And I don’t think these approaches need to be in conflict. My own personal experience falls squarely into the former category, it’s obvious from this thread that many people’s experience falls into the latter… but wherefore the conflict? Both experience are true. Both chip away at straight hegemony in their own way.
Kinsey 6 homos put the lie to the idea that everyone has the option to pursue a straight relationship (which is ridiculous, anyway, as Leah notes above, but we make it extra ridic). People who exist along the bi/pan/omnisexual spectrum put the lie to the idea of sexuality and gender falling into discreet categories for everyone, and raise the question of what exactly gender is, anyway (as do transfolk, to an even greater extent). Gays and bi/pansexuals could be an awesome kickass one-two-punch to heteronormativity if we worked in tandem, instead of always looking askance at each other and disbelieving each other’s personal narratives.
Oh, I totally agree with you about them not needing to be in conflict, but I didn’t really say so in my earlier comment, so thank you for helping me make my point much better.
Queers of all varieties working to destroy heteronormative hegemony! (I think this should be a tagline for a website…)
I like your point about the importance of believing in personal narratives too, I think both the hetero and homo communities can tend to have very narrow definitions of queer narratives, and anything that falls outside that limiting scope is disregarded, which is ridiculous because there are as many queer narratives as there are people in the world.
All these comments about bisexuality are really interesting.
I find bi-bashing in the gay community really…ugly, and while I can objectively understand the psychology behind it, it brings out the same facepalm reaction as when I read about feminist in-fighting, or conflict between denominations of the same religion.
It might just be grass-is-greener syndrome, but I actually think I have a case of bi-envy. I have so many great friends that are blokes, and while platonic relationships are great and all, I can’t help but think I’m missing out on something by being unable to fancy them. Although I’ve never felt any flicker of sexual attraction to a man in my life (which makes me feel prehistorically unary), I would never rule out the possibility of it happening, because I don’t think we should limit ourselves.
I long for the day when the word sexuality no longer contains any gender connotations, and the word gay has disappeared from all languages because people find it strange that anyone would care about whether you’re intimate with men, women, anything in between or out the other side.
i have to be honest, i expected a bunch of haters to appear on this thread to talk about how bisexuality is dumb and made up and we have too many feelings/are too whiny, but they haven’t! that makes me so happy. great discussion and awesome supportive statements, guys, let’s all hug.
god slutty bisexuals always wanting to have physical contact with EVERYONE AT THE SAME TIME. hugging. you know what that leads to, rachel rum-punch.
SAFETY SIDE-HUGS ONLY
Aww, man!! …this close…I was THIS close to some good, anonymous, caught-up-in-the-moment-and-spirit-and-joy-of-community-group huggin’! Side-hugs suck.
I’m with ya- we should institute an International (Full-on) Hug a Bisexual Day.
How do Tuesdays look for everyone?
RachelwasHere – Tuesdays are CHARMIN! So squeezable!
Tiara the Merch Girl – Omph…good glomp!
*mutters about aching back*
Awesome. Thank you very much. Hugs make me happy.
Even, side-hugs, I suppose. :)
Ok, I’ve considered myself a lesbian for quite sometime. I’ve felt both a physical and sexual attraction to females and have felt somewhat of a physical attraction to males, but have not felt a sexual attraction to a single male in a super long time. So I started a new job and met this guy who is the male version of me. We are exactly alike in every way. The only problem is that we have attraction to women as a common ground. But he got me to agree to go out with him, both of us understanding that it probably won’t work out in the long run and that we have to play it cool if it doesn’t work out because we do work together. But now my family is all up in arms in trying to label me, but I supposed I’ve crossed into Tina Kennard territory… lesbian self-label, bi-lifestyle… Ugh, it’d be easier if these territories had a little more gray area. I hate explaining this stuff to my family. Like, they’re totally cool with it, but it takes awhile for them to understand what’s going on. Especially after I swore off guys altogether. I love dudes, I just don’t love dating them.
Seriously – I just read the article and he says “We’re all told bisexuality is a phase that everyone goes through and grows out of, and no one’s a ‘proper’ bisexual, even though ‘everyone’s bisexual really'”
I kinda think the quotes on ‘proper’ and ‘everyone’ are meant to mean he doesn’t believe them? The research he quotes says 2% of people, why would he quote that if he thought everyone was?
that riese email is fucking hilarious! AND IT IS REVENGE FOR YOU MAKING FUN OF MY DRUNKEN IPHONE EMAIL THE WEEKEND PRIOR, RIESE. SO THERE.
Has anyone else noticed the girl in yellow pants, that looks like she’s sitting on Riese’s head in that last picture.
I am going to respond to this using my bigender feelings: There is no point during the day i feel as though i represent either gender in any context. So with bisexuality i assume that it kind of runs the same way. You feel attracted by people. It should have to feel like anything it just is. I think the scale can be confusing for some because the thing is it just is: you just are attracted by people and that is all that needs to be said. If you are basing your attraction on gender alone you have to understand that gender itself is a spectrum. Mind fucked? i think so.