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199 Responses

  1. Ashley
    Ashley May 13, 2013 at 9:25 am |

    Very informative, thank you. :)

  2. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune May 13, 2013 at 9:38 am |

    Thank you so much for this post!

    One conversation I’ve always hated:

    Me: I’m bisexual.
    Them: YOU’RE GAY???
    Me: Damn it, what did I just say?!?

    So, please, allies, tell people not to do that.

    Also:

    Unless you know for a fact that both members of a couple are gay, refer to them as a same-sex couple, not a gay or lesbian couple.

    Huh. My wife’s pretty evenly bi, I’m heavily lesbian-leaning bi. But we’ve identified as a a lesbian couple (just not a couple of lesbians), as well as a same-sex couple. I always read “gay couple” and “lesbian couple” that way. Didn’t know others thought it was odd…

    1. EG
      EG May 13, 2013 at 3:14 pm |

      I do too, because I’m identifying the couple as its own entity that is gay or lesbian, not the individuals in it. My bi friends in those relationships have never said anything to me about it–and I have asked, though in slightly different contexts (“Blah blah blah lesbians–wait, does it bother you if I say “lesbians”? I know you’re bi, but I was thinking in terms of how you experience the world and the world experiences you in your ltr with Girlfriend.” “No, ‘lesbians’ is fine–functionally that’s how things are.”).

    2. Sarah
      Sarah May 14, 2013 at 8:00 am |

      I think that’s mostly just sloppy, rather than malicious, allthough I agree it can be annoying.

      Two women in a relationship are having a lesbian relationship. So calling them a lesbian couple sounds like the same thing, except the latter implies that both of them are lesbian, which they may or may not be since it’s perfectly possible that one or both of them are bisexual.

  3. Mym
    Mym May 13, 2013 at 9:53 am |

    … “LGBT rights” rather than “gay rights,”…

    Please don’t do this unless you actually mean the T as well – consider using “LGB” instead. Countless publications trumpeted the abolition of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell as an LGBT victory, yet trans people still cannot serve openly in the military. Several states offer employment protection based on sexual orientation but not on gender identity. While there is considerable overlap both in people affected and in oppressions faced, we are not identical.

    1. Kasabian
      Kasabian May 13, 2013 at 2:02 pm |

      A good point.

      1. moviemaedchen
        moviemaedchen May 13, 2013 at 4:07 pm |

        Yes, definitely a good point.

  4. A4
    A4 May 13, 2013 at 10:03 am |

    I imagine it can be very difficult to make sure your sexuality is not erased when you’re bisexual. People are fairly obtuse, and have difficulty accepting when others do not conform to their preconceived binaries. Given people’s tendencies to create strict binaries and cast out those who do not adhere to them, I’m sure many bisexual people are not welcomed in some gay communities for being “not gay enough” and not welcomed in some straight communities for being “not straight enough”, or their same-sex attraction is erased without constant insistence and reinforcement of it.

    I’m interested in hearing experiences of biphobia if anyone wants to share. I’m wondering what unique types of bullshit the patriarchy comes up with for bisexual people.

    1. Outrage and Sprinkles
      Outrage and Sprinkles May 13, 2013 at 10:19 am |

      I’m a woman and my partner is a man, and we’re both bi. What tends to happen to us is just flat-out erasure. He works with a bunch of men, all very stereotypical manly men who are pretty much all homophobic/racist/sexist, and he has to hear their bullshit because they all assume he is straight. I don’t even want to know what it would be like for him there if they knew he was bi. He’s had male friends question his sexuality and question whether he’s really gay. I don’t get that kind of thing as much but it’s insulting when people question him, because we’ve been together almost six years and when they think he must be secretly gay they are questioning our relationship.

      We haven’t been excluded from any communities for our identity, but there is a certain level of awareness we need to have. Like, we enjoy going to the gay bar because we feel safer and more comfortable there (we live in a conservative town in a liberal state, so a lot of bars can be breeding grounds for homophobic, racist, and sexist behavior) but unless we go as “friends” and don’t present as a couple, we could very well be seen as a straight couple in a gay bar, which in turn can make the gay and lesbian patrons feel unsafe or make us feel unwelcome.

      A couple years ago at the local Pride fest the MC asked the crowd to cheer if they were gay men, then to cheer if they were lesbians, and that was it. We both looked at each other and went “Nope!”. I dunno, it’s the little things. We are both aware of our privilege as a couple that appears straight, but it’s a complicated privilege because it comes from our identities being hidden or erased.

      1. A4
        A4 May 13, 2013 at 10:29 am |

        Thank you for sharing!

      2. Mike
        Mike May 13, 2013 at 2:03 pm |

        A couple years ago at the local Pride fest the MC asked the crowd to cheer if they were gay men, then to cheer if they were lesbians, and that was it. We both looked at each other and went “Nope!”.

        Wow what kind of fail Pride MC was this?

        1. Outrage and Sprinkles
          Outrage and Sprinkles May 13, 2013 at 2:08 pm |

          Haha, I know right? It really is a great festival and we love going, it just kind of sucks to be left out of the spectrum. I get that he and I have tons of privilege since we appear straight to most people, but I want to feel like it’s our fest too.

        2. Fred
          Fred May 15, 2013 at 12:36 pm |

          Yes, there’s a lot of missing identities in that statement! I’m in my forties and currently attending UW-Parkside in Wisconsin. I’m very proud of our LGBTQ center here because of how they go out of their way to be inclusive of all identities. I remember quite well the “gay community*” of 20 years ago … and while I can’t say I was ever actively excluded, I often felt like I wasn’t exactly completely welcomed.

          * – numerous identities purposely left out. Believe me, it’s an accurate description of the situation at the time.

      3. Palaverer
        Palaverer May 13, 2013 at 5:14 pm |

        Yeah, a couple of years ago I went to a show at a gay club. We were asked to clap if we were straight, and then if we were gay. I kept waiting for my turn to clap.

      4. queenrandom
        queenrandom May 13, 2013 at 5:52 pm |

        it’s a complicated privilege because it comes from our identities being hidden or erased.

        Yes, this is exactly how I have felt as a bi woman in a dual-sex marriage. I realize it’s mostly self-imposed, but I often feel that I don’t really have a right to even identify/participate as non-straight because of the very real privileges that I experience because of my relationship. But those privileges do also come with a very real cost.

        1. snorkellingfish
          snorkellingfish May 13, 2013 at 7:21 pm |

          For what it’s worth, I’m a lesbian and I think you have every right to identify as non-straight and to talk about how you’re hurt by the heterosexist society we live in. That erasure and marginalisation is real and it’s a shitty thing to have to deal with. (Not that you should need my permission or anything.)

          I mean, I sometimes get frustrated at bi people in opposite-sex relationships who don’t acknowledge that their relationship has privilege over any relationship that I enter into, but I’m even more frustrated at how heterosexism and homophobia encourage us to fight with each other over the scraps we’re thrown, when we’re all just trying to get by in a world that doesn’t accept a large part of our identities. I know that I need to make more of an effort to point a finger at the real source of the problem, and that isn’t LGBTQ people of any flavour.

        2. Jet Silver
          Jet Silver May 13, 2013 at 8:53 pm |

          Yes, this exactly. It’s a peculiar but very real grief, feeling divorced from my actual sexual identity.

    2. Kim
      Kim May 16, 2013 at 4:38 pm |

      In my undergad’s Queer Student Union, we held a yearly panel on bisexuality. My very first one of these panels quickly devolved into several gay members attacking the panelists, claiming they were actually gay but ashamed of it, were constitutionally incapable of monogamy, were “greedy” for hogging the dating pool (especially laughable, given that my experience as a queer/bisexual woman has been that many fewer people are willing to date bisexuals for aforementioned “reasons”), or were flat-out deluding themselves because bisexuality doesn’t exist. It pissed me off so much I wrote an extensive paper on biphobia in the LG”BT” community (the inclusion of B and T in the acronym is laughable in many organizations), and volunteered as a panelist in subsequent years.

      I have to say I’ve faced far more biphobia from the queer community than I have from straight people, although a guy I went on a date with once, upon learning that my most recent relationship had been with a woman, immediately wanted all the details about what we’d done together. I have a sneaking suspicion he wouldn’t have wanted to hear any of it if I’d formerly been with a guy. The idea that women date/fool around with women for the benefit of men is incredibly insulting, and it’s a mindset I’ve mostly run into with the straight crowd.

  5. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar May 13, 2013 at 10:08 am |

    Interesting. Do you use “bisexual” to imply attraction only to binary-gendered people? As distinct, for example, to terminology that does not reference a binary?

    1. A4
      A4 May 13, 2013 at 10:14 am |

      Yes! I second this question, and would also like to hear people’s answers to it.

    2. ashurredly
      ashurredly May 13, 2013 at 10:14 am |

      I don’t know about the OP, but I use bisexual to mean “my attraction to someone is not shaped by what may or may not be in their pants.” It’s not a great word, but I like that people actually know what it means.

      1. Outrage and Sprinkles
        Outrage and Sprinkles May 13, 2013 at 10:21 am |

        This is how I use it as well. I’m attracted to people that I am attracted to, including men, women, and GSM.

        1. Donna L
          Donna L May 13, 2013 at 1:01 pm |

          I’m attracted to people that I am attracted to, including men, women, and GSM.

          I know you’re trying to be inclusive, but please try to keep in mind that since GSM (a term I don’t use myself) supposedly includes trans people (including binary trans people), there are plenty of GSM who are men and women. My gender isn’t “trans,” it’s female.

        2. Donna L
          Donna L May 13, 2013 at 1:04 pm |

          To clarify further: trans (or transgender or transsexual) all refer to my history; they do not refer to my gender and never have.

        3. BHuesca
          BHuesca May 13, 2013 at 5:15 pm |

          I’m sorry, but what is GSM? Google was no help. Thanks!

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune May 13, 2013 at 5:17 pm |

          @Bhuesca

          Gender and sexual minorities.

        5. moviemaedchen
          moviemaedchen May 13, 2013 at 5:20 pm |

          @BHuesca: I believe it means ‘gender and sexual minorities.’

      2. moviemaedchen
        moviemaedchen May 13, 2013 at 11:33 am |

        This. One of the assumptions about bi people that I personally find most irritating is the assumption that bi means attracted exclusively to men and women. While there may be people out there who lean this way, I don’t, and nothing about bisexuality inherently means this.

        I think of the ‘bi’ as referencing ‘people who are gendered like me’ and ‘people who aren’t gendered like me.’ I ID as basically genderqueer/gender fluid myself, as well.

        But the assumption gets annoying, and is one of the many reasons I often ID as queer instead, though I use both labels interchangeably for myself.

        tl;dr answer to Thomas’ question: no.

        1. DouglasG
          DouglasG May 13, 2013 at 8:10 pm |

          I had never come across this at all until about two or three months ago when I saw a poem purporting to explain umpteen different orientations in a semi-cutesy way. The couplet:

          “Bis only like boys and girls
          But queers give everyone a try”

          nearly made me lose my lunch. No. Just, no.

      3. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune May 13, 2013 at 12:12 pm |

        Yep, seconded. Although it’s more complicated for me because I am more or less attracted based on what’s in the head of the person (cis men trust issues, yo). I guess if someone isn’t a woman (cis or trans) they’re less attractive to me – I don’t know how to say that in a non-icky way, sorry – and straight cis men are probably the least attractive to me on the whole. So… I do care about gender. I don’t know. It’s complicated, I guess. And it’s also why I tend to say “homoflexible” when asked about my orientation.

        1. ashurredly
          ashurredly May 13, 2013 at 3:18 pm |

          Yeah, the definition I gave is the one-liner I use for a quick explanation, but in reality things break down differently. For example, I’ve started thinking of myself as bisexual, but probably homoromantic. The number of cis-het men who *get it* when I talk about sexism/racism/homphobia, or who don’t get awkward when I talk about teaching women’s studies is really low. Sleeping with them is fine, but that’s not what I want in a long term partner.

          Also, I don’t think it’s icky to say that if someone isn’t a woman you’re not attracted to them. Why would it be?

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune May 13, 2013 at 4:02 pm |

          @ashurredly

          Yep. Same here, really. Also, I’m on the ace spectrum, so… I don’t know. It just feels like too much of an effort to actually turn my attraction switch on (so to speak, I’m oversimplifying massively) for someone who’s never really going to get where I’m coming from on things that are incredibly close to my heart. The thought of dating cis men (much less the straight ones) just feels like wading through a sea of Schroedinger’s Assholes to me.

        3. moviemaedchen
          moviemaedchen May 13, 2013 at 4:09 pm |

          mac, I hear you. I’m simplifying things for myself here too, so I think I get where you’re coming from. Things are rarely easy, yeah?

        4. konkonsn
          konkonsn May 13, 2013 at 9:53 pm |

          mac, would you be interested in talking outside of Feministe? I did not know that other people felt like that, and I’ve been kind of embarrassingly floundering around with a semi-special snowflake (I keep doing that! When will I grow up?), semi-damaged feeling when contemplating my sexuality. Because that’s it exactly; I have no attraction to anyone identifying as male and every attraction to those identifying as female or genderqueer.

          Or maybe I just need to find a bisexual form. I just kind assumed bisexual did mean that binary type of thing, and I guess I got it really, really wrong.

        5. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune May 13, 2013 at 10:43 pm |

          konkonsn, sure! My address is my handle at gmail. (Just getting past the spambots.) Please do poke me; I get very weird about emailing people first because anxiety. -_- It’s stupid, I know.

        6. Kerandria
          Kerandria May 13, 2013 at 10:48 pm |

          The number of cis-het men who *get it* when I talk about sexism/racism/homphobia, or who don’t get awkward when I talk about teaching women’s studies is really low.

          Oh, THIS. My fiancee and I would like to have a male partner, but.. the above pmuch sums up why it’s unlikely to happen.

      4. CBrachyrhynchos
        CBrachyrhynchos May 13, 2013 at 12:26 pm |

        One of the things that we discovered when we were forming an explicitly bisexual community in the 80s and 90s is that the traditional models of bisexual = heterosexual + homosexual spectacularly failed to describe our lives and relationships. So we reclaimed and redefined bisexuality as something both different and not-different. Different from the traditional formulations of heterosexuality and homosexuality, and not-different in that that many of those theories turned out to be bad descriptions of heterosexuality and homosexuality as well.

    3. CBrachyrhynchos
      CBrachyrhynchos May 13, 2013 at 11:50 am |

      Answers:

      1) No.

      2) Bisexuality as defined by the bisexual community, activists, and culture since the 1980s no more references a binary than “gay” a state of emotion or “lesbian” citizenship in the Hellenic Republic.

      1. moviemaedchen
        moviemaedchen May 13, 2013 at 3:14 pm |

        Bisexuality as defined by the bisexual community, activists, and culture since the 1980s no more references a binary than “gay” a state of emotion or “lesbian” citizenship in the Hellenic Republic.

        LOL. :) This.

        Though if being a lesbian gave me time-traveling powers that would be pretty cool. ;P (Now I have to write something about steampunk time-traveling lesbian adventurers….)

        1. CBrachyrhynchos
          CBrachyrhynchos May 13, 2013 at 3:29 pm |

          Hellenic Republic is the modern name for the government, although most people just say Greece. I’m a bit of a recovering philatelist in that respect.

        2. moviemaedchen
          moviemaedchen May 13, 2013 at 4:05 pm |

          Ah, ok. Learn something everyday.

          Time-traveling would still be cool, though. :)

      2. TJ_Rowe
        TJ_Rowe May 21, 2013 at 2:11 pm |

        “Bisexuality as defined by the bisexual community, activists, and culture since the 1980s no more references a binary than “gay” a state of emotion or “lesbian” citizenship in the Hellenic Republic.”

        Woah, can I spread this all over the internet, and if so, how should I credit you? This. Yes.

    4. EG
      EG May 13, 2013 at 3:18 pm |

      I do when I describe myself, which is why I don’t use “omni-” or “pansexual.” But it seems that I am in the minority in this case! It’s not an assumption I make about others who use the term.

    5. Bunny
      Bunny May 13, 2013 at 6:37 pm |

      I used to identify as bi, but changed to just calling myself “queer”, simply because I don’t see my attraction as being based on binary sex or gender notions. Simply put, I want to leave room for people who fall pretty much anywhere on the sex and gender spectrums.

      Of course, “queer” raises as many questions as it answers when you use it, which kind of misses the point. Sigh. I’d use pansexual if the term didn’t have even worse stereotypes and connotations than bi does.

      1. Bunny
        Bunny May 13, 2013 at 6:39 pm |

        That’s not to say there’s anything exclusionary about people who do identify as bi, of course. It’s just how I feel most comfortable.

        Then again, sometimes I think the best label for me is “fuck if I know”, so I might not be the best authority on labels!

    6. Buttered Lilies
      Buttered Lilies May 13, 2013 at 10:37 pm |

      I use bisexual mostly because it’s the one people know, and I think the point of labels is to communicate a large amount of info quickly, rather than to be totally 100% accurate. Bisexual is a little bit more on the mark than pansexual, for me, because a lot of times pansexual isn’t just being attracted to all genders, but having gender be irrelevant to attraction, and someone’s gender is normally a large part of exactly how I’m attracted to them. But mostly, it’s just that I don’t think there will ever be one word that perfectly describes all the nuances of sexual orientations, so I’d rather just stick with the one that makes conversations the easiest.

    7. Primrose
      Primrose May 19, 2013 at 4:43 am |

      I also have trouble with the term “bisexual,” although I often use it to describe myself. I’m uncomfortable because I don’t feel it’s inclusive of non-binary people, and I use it because sometimes it’s the term I think people will understand best. I also use “queer” frequently, although I’m currently living in a country where English isn’t the native language, and few people know what “queer” means.

      Mostly I’m commenting to share this “Girls with Slingshots” comic, which has my favorite term ever, “whateversexual.” We should all start using whateversexual whenever we can! If it applies to us, that is.

      http://www.girlswithslingshots.com/comic/gws-1570/

      1. Palaverer
        Palaverer May 19, 2013 at 10:38 am |

        Except for the fact that I live in the US, I could have written your comment. I love that GWS strip.

  6. jemima101
    jemima101 May 13, 2013 at 10:26 am |

    Pretty good 101 post, most of the assumptions about what me being bi means (indecisive, greedy, really gay) have come from the gay community so i think someone laying on the line that these are not OK is really important.

    1. A4
      A4 May 13, 2013 at 10:36 am |

      most of the assumptions about what me being bi means (indecisive, greedy, really gay) have come from the gay community

      Straight people do not make these assumptions about you as well?

      1. Barnacle Strumpet
        Barnacle Strumpet May 13, 2013 at 11:04 am |

        I’ve heard more of the “bisexual people are extreme sluts/horndogs” line of assumptions from straight people than the “they’re really gay” line of assumptions, but that’s just me.

        1. Clytemnestra's Sister
          Clytemnestra's Sister May 13, 2013 at 2:41 pm |

          I’ve heard more of the “bisexual people are extreme sluts/horndogs” line of assumptions from straight people

          That’s a very common thing that folks seeking to be ugly to other folks (even subtly, politely ugly) do…..reduce a human being in all of that person’s complexity to the worst possible assumption of that person. For bi people, it’s sexual appetite. (Compare to, say, gay men, where it’s pedophilia.)

      2. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune May 13, 2013 at 12:21 pm |

        I’m not speaking for Jemima, but the “really gay” has come exclusively from gay people for me. The rest is pretty evenly distributed between gay and straight people.

        1. miga
          miga May 13, 2013 at 2:55 pm |

          Same here. I was once flirting with this black woman in a bar and the convo basically went:

          Me: Blah blah i’m mixed-

          Her: You look like a black woman so that’s what you are…

          Me:…

          Her: blah blah lesbians, amiright?

          Me: I’m bi

          Her: ohhh such a cute little baby! When you come out as lesbian you’ll understand-now about your misguided career choice…

          Oh, her gay male friend also asked me if I was a Katy-Perry bisexual. I almost had a fit.

          I’ve had so. many. people ask me if I’ve had sex with a girl and then use that info to label me/perv about it. It happens with lots of people, but it’s more hurtful when lesbians do it.

      3. Donna L
        Donna L May 13, 2013 at 1:05 pm |

        The only people I’ve ever heard make the claim that men aren’t really — and, in fact, cannot be — bisexual, are gay men.

        1. Alexandra
          Alexandra May 13, 2013 at 2:18 pm |

          Yes, the first time I heard that all bisexual women are really just straight and all bi men are in fact gay was at a campus “LGBT” event.

        2. miga
          miga May 13, 2013 at 2:33 pm |

          Grumble grumble….d-Savage…grumble grumble…

        3. Outrage and Sprinkles
          Outrage and Sprinkles May 13, 2013 at 3:02 pm |

          Yep. I got into a heated argument in the comment section of an article with the author who wrote that she wouldn’t date bisexual men because a gay friend of hers said they are all secretly gay. It’s tiresome.

        4. Alexandra
          Alexandra May 13, 2013 at 9:32 pm |

          @OutragedSprinkles – that just drives me up the wall. Best sexual partner I’ve ever had was a bisexual man. There was so much explaining that neither of us had to do; it made things so much SIMPLER.

      4. CBrachyrhynchos
        CBrachyrhynchos May 13, 2013 at 2:36 pm |

        Occasionally yes. I’ve also had straight partners assume that I was just “heteroflexible” and open for swinging with the right threesome combination.

      5. A4
        A4 May 13, 2013 at 3:00 pm |

        Thank you to everyone for the responses!

  7. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin May 13, 2013 at 10:44 am |

    The process of accepting myself as bisexual has been lengthy and I’m not entirely there yet. I wish it were more easy for me to reconcile the heterosexual world I inhabit alongside the homosexual world.

    I feel like I’m a bilingual speaker constantly shifting back and forth in conversation, knowing that I identify exclusively with neither one, nor the other. It’s frustrating. I seek to unify the two together, but until our societal definitions of straight and queer change, I’m stuck somewhere in between.

  8. Angelia Sparrow
    Angelia Sparrow May 13, 2013 at 11:30 am |

    I hate the “It’s a phase,” thing.

    I tend to look at people and say “Thirty years is a helluva long PHASE!”

    It doesn’t mean I have to have a male and a female partner at the same time. It doesn’t mean I can’t love my husband. It doesn’t mean I didn’t love my girlfriends.

    It just means the person I am with right now is the right person for me, regardless of their physical attributes.

  9. saurus
    saurus May 13, 2013 at 11:47 am |

    On the trans/genderqueer issue:

    If you’re attracted to multiple genders, but don’t want to use a term that suggests there are only two genders (bi) – either because you consider it inherently oppressive or because you’re simply also attracted to non-binary people – you can say pansexual or omnisexual instead. You can also just say “queer”.

    (Note: I didn’t make those terms up. They have a Wikipedia entry and everything.)

    To me, “bisexual” denotes that you’re into both cisgender men and cisgender women. That much is certain. Whether you’re also into trans women and trans men is ambiguous, because it depends on whether you “count” trans women and trans men as…women and men. Which you should, but many cis bisexuals don’t. Finally, “bisexual” suggests you probably aren’t into any trans or genderqueer people who don’t identify as “man” or “woman”, because that falls outside the two-gender binary that your chosen terminology is based on.

    (Note: there are plenty of bisexual people who will argue with this. I’m not saying that description is what you are, I’m saying it’s what the bisexual label suggests to me.)

    Also, being into multiple genders can mean that gender in general isn’t very important to you, but it doesn’t have to. I commonly hear pansexual people saying, “I’m looking for someone XYZ qualities, it doesn’t matter what gender they come in.”

    But personally, I actually care quite a bit about the interaction between someone’s qualities and their gender. There are qualities I’m attracted to (like being “high maintenance”) in some genders that I find revolting in other genders, for example. What’s oppressive and tiring in one gender can be refreshing and subversive in another…so although I’m attracted to multiple genders, gender does matter a lot to me.

    1. CBrachyrhynchos
      CBrachyrhynchos May 13, 2013 at 12:19 pm |

      Finally, “bisexual” suggests you probably aren’t into any trans or genderqueer people who don’t identify as “man” or “woman”, because that falls outside the two-gender binary that your chosen terminology is based on.

      The question is, why are you choosing here to champion explicitly anti-bi definitions of bisexuality over the definitions that the bisexual community has adopted over the last 25 years?

      Here’s an example of why I identify as bisexual. “The switch-hitting, bisexual, senior ctizen from London has resurfaced,…” When my sexuality is used as a slur, half the time it’s due to anti-gay bigotry, and half the time it’s due to anti-bisexual bigotry. Because I experience anti-gay-male bigotry and anti-bisexual bigotry as part of my culture, refusing to be identified as either is passing the buck, probably onto someone who’s not been out for as long as I have, and doesn’t have the kinds of social support and defenses I’ve built for myself.

      The this-or-that or “instead” framing of the big neo-pansexual label fight demands a framing of human sexuality that I explicitly reject socially, politically, and spiritually. To use an old slogan from my radical bisexual roots back in the 90s, pigeonholes are for pigeons. I am bisexual, pansexual, omnisexual, queer, gay, straight, yes, no, none of your business, all of the above, any of the above, and why do you ask in various contexts, flavors, lights, days of the week, hours of the day, and barometric pressures. Bi is mercurial, protean, flexible, and unpredictable. I say neo-pansexual because the current argument that pansexuality a different box altogether is radically different from the view I came out into that these labels were socially constructed, contextual, and utilitarian and/or decorative, like our hats.

      1. saurus
        saurus May 13, 2013 at 2:23 pm |

        CBrachyrhynchos – I am not “choosing here to champion explicitly anti-bi definitions of bisexuality over the definitions that the bisexual community has adopted over the last 25 years”.

        First off, as I said twice in my comment, that’s what that word means to me. I acknowledged in my comment that others may feel differently.

        And I do not see my definition as “anti-bi”, instead I see it as acknowledging the ongoing history of transphobia in the LGB community, and the transphobia of the medical establishment that chose these labels for us originally. You’re welcome to your own interpretation of “bisexual”. I never said mine was the only valid one.

        Also, “the bisexual community” certainly does not have any consensus on the correct definition of the word “bisexual”, and as someone who is into multiple genders, I don’t see why my opinion is any less valid than this supposedly united “community” (which I am, theoretically, part of).

        1. CBrachyrhynchos
          CBrachyrhynchos May 13, 2013 at 2:40 pm |

          I think if you’re expressing a definition that erases non-binary identified bisexuals and our partners, then it’s no longer about you.

        2. moviemaedchen
          moviemaedchen May 13, 2013 at 3:09 pm |

          I think if you’re expressing a definition that erases non-binary identified bisexuals and our partners, then it’s no longer about you.

          THIS.

        3. Tyris
          Tyris May 13, 2013 at 4:40 pm |

          On top of which… if you’re taking the “bi” prefix that literally, then exactly how literally are we supposed to interpret the “omni” prefix? Just all humans? Or everything?

          Because that would be really silly.

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune May 13, 2013 at 4:48 pm |

          @Tyris

          And I guess pansexual people are only attracted to cookware? Since we’re playing the literal game today, and all….

        5. EG
          EG May 13, 2013 at 4:53 pm |

          How very anthropocentric. You’re probably only limiting yourself to humans because of your assumptions that other animals couldn’t pass a driving test and things like that…

        6. A4
          A4 May 13, 2013 at 5:04 pm |

          At the risk of being off topic, I’m very disturbed by this blog’s use of unpaid giraffe labor. We need a giraffe but did we ever consider the giraffe might sometimes need us?

        7. miga
          miga May 14, 2013 at 3:40 am |

          I do know of omnisexual people who use that term to include everything, as in when they have sex it’s not just an exchange with the human partner it’s with the bed, the walls, etc.

          I’ve never understood it, but I’m really not one to judge.

    2. Kitty
      Kitty May 13, 2013 at 12:48 pm |

      Do you assume straight, gay and lesbian also mean “only attracted to cis women/men”?

      I don’t know. I identify as bisexual because that’s the only term that was even vaguely available to me as a teensy, internetless child but I’m certainly attracted to more than two (though not to every) gender. The way I see it, I don’t take “bisexual” entirely literally. I mean, words can acquire definitions that are not necessarily literally related to their root words. I don’t expect most homophobic people to start hyperventilating when they see a gay person the same way my arachnophobic self starts hyperventilating when I see a spider, because we all know homophobic doesn’t literally mean “phobia of same” but rather “dislike or hatred of people who sleep with the same sex”.

      If we ARE going to take labels literally, “homosexual”, which literally has a word for “same” in it means what it says, sure: gay men and lesbians are attracted to people of the same gender as they are. But “heterosexual” refers to “different” so if we take the label literally, a heterosexual man should be attracted to every gender EXCEPT men, since they’re all different from his own gender, right?

      Except nobody ever, ever starts out from that assumption when they’re taking about heterosexuals. The only label that people seem hell-bent on taking literally is “bisexual”, even though the VAST majority of bisexuals I’ve met are attracted to more than just ultra-feminine cis women and ultra-masculine cis men. To me, it ties in so neatly with

      1) bisexuals are shallow and stupid so there’s no way their politics can extend beyond “tee hee boobs tee hee biceps” and
      2) bisexuals must split their attractions, relationships and sex life perfectly 50-50 between men and women to merit their “bi”-ness

      that I find it a bit suspicious.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune May 13, 2013 at 12:54 pm |

        Everything you just said. THANK YOU.

      2. moviemaedchen
        moviemaedchen May 13, 2013 at 1:06 pm |

        Thank you. I find it suspicious as well.

        I’m also, honestly, disappointed (to put it mildly) that the whole ‘bisexual means only attracted to cis men and women’ bullshit trope has to yet again be raised on a thread explicitly concerned with how not to be a goddamn biphobic asshole, and after several comments explicitly repudiating that interpretation. It’s not like it’s a new trope after all. I mean for fucks sake. Do we have to have sharp sticks thrust in our faces on the actual thread that says ‘don’t hurt people with sharp sticks’!? It’s not like this was framed as a discussion of what bi means – it was framed as here’s how not to be an asshole to bi people.

        Sorry for the rant, but this is a sensitive topic for me.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune May 13, 2013 at 1:11 pm |

          Well, but if people aren’t assholes to bi people, mass hysteria and dogs and cats living together!

          Yeah. FUck this biphobic bullshit.

        2. Donna L
          Donna L May 13, 2013 at 1:19 pm |

          dogs and cats living together!

          And driving.

        3. A4
          A4 May 13, 2013 at 2:02 pm |

          And driving.

          tee hee!

        4. saurus
          saurus May 13, 2013 at 2:36 pm |

          As I said upthread, I identify as someone who is attracted to multiple genders. I am not a straight person taking bisexual people to task over their label. I’m pretttttttty sure I’m not biphobic, and that it’s possible for someone like me to have issues with the label “bisexual” without biphobia being the reason.

          I’m saying that for me personally, the bisexual label doesn’t work because for me personally it doesn’t fit my personal understanding of gender.

          In answer to Kitty’s question – “Do you assume straight, gay and lesbian also mean only attracted to cis women/men?” – I assume the same as I do for bisexual people; that unless they say otherwise, they are almost definitely into cisgender people and are maybe into transgender people.

          Most people are transphobic, especially towards trans women, so it’s pretty safe to assume that when someone talks about being attracted to ‘women’ it doesn’t necessarily include trans women.

        5. moviemaedchen
          moviemaedchen May 13, 2013 at 3:06 pm |

          Except, saurus, that your post is couched heavily in “your” language rather than “I” language, and this

          Finally, “bisexual” suggests you probably aren’t into any trans or genderqueer people who don’t identify as “man” or “woman”, because that falls outside the two-gender binary that your chosen terminology is based on.

          pretty clearly implicates people who ID as bisexual in general and the word itself, rather than just your personal interpretation of the word as it applies, or not, to yourself. (If you understand that not all people who ID as bi are attracted to only cis men and women, then you have no good reason to apply that interpretation of the word to other people ID’ing as bi.)

          Plus, as I pointed out upthread, this is not a post on what being bisexual means. It’s a post on avoiding specific biphobic behaviors and attitudes. So throwing out a very old biphobic trope, in language that slips into generalizations and uses ‘you’ more than ‘I’, without even engaging the OP actual topic first, comes across pretty easily as a slap at people who ID as bi, regardless of your intent.

          It’s great that you ID however you feel comfortable, but your original comment goes further than that, and the last thing bi people need is to be shamed – even implicitly – for how they ID on a thread about avoiding biphobia. There are certainly ways of approaching the question of attraction and gender that don’t rehash an already very old argument.

        6. CBrachyrhynchos
          CBrachyrhynchos May 13, 2013 at 3:19 pm |

          We’ve been through the debates about the limits of existing language to describe the diversity of our community along with gender and sexual flexibility since the 80s. (Feminism has been through a similar wringer.) If you’re going to argue about the meaning of the word, you need to engage in the prior writing and work on these questions.

        7. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune May 13, 2013 at 3:52 pm |

          I assume the same as I do for bisexual people; that unless they say otherwise, they are almost definitely into cisgender people and are maybe into transgender people.

          All right, points for consistency. But it also makes you comment that much more odd. Would you come into a thread speaking about how not to be assholes to gay men and chastise all the gay men there on their vaguely-transphobic label? (Because, I mean, if “bisexual” is vaguely trans-erasing, then so is “homosexual”, right?)

    3. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune May 13, 2013 at 3:36 pm |

      Finally, “bisexual” suggests you probably aren’t into any trans or genderqueer people who don’t identify as “man” or “woman”, because that falls outside the two-gender binary that your chosen terminology is based on.

      Saurus, when someone says they traveled coast to coast, do you assume they have no idea of the continent in between?

      Bisexuality isn’t a matter of “x pole and y pole of the gender binary”. It basically amounts to “x, y and everything that falls in between”. At least, that’s how pretty much everyone I know who’s bisexual identifies it.

      1. a.
        a. May 13, 2013 at 7:26 pm |

        Except that many non-binary or genderqueer people, including myself, don’t think of themselves as being between ‘male’ and ‘female’ at all, and feel really misrepresented and upset by that implication.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune May 13, 2013 at 7:47 pm |

          Fair enough, and that’s a very valid point. I wouldn’t be remotely averse to dating someone who doesn’t fall within the binary spectrum, nor, I suspect, would many/most bi people, but that analogy really doesn’t work. Sorry if it upset you.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune May 13, 2013 at 7:52 pm |

          Crap. I hit post and immediately rethink my definition to: “and so on”. I like men “and so on”, women “and so on”, people who aren’t either “and so on”. Does that make more sense?

        3. Donna L
          Donna L May 13, 2013 at 7:59 pm |

          Sometimes I think there’s no such thing as a binary spectrum with respect to either gender or sexuality. It’s more like an infinitely-dimensional matrix.

        4. moviemaedchen
          moviemaedchen May 13, 2013 at 11:41 pm |

          Sometimes I think there’s no such thing as a binary spectrum with respect to either gender or sexuality. It’s more like an infinitely-dimensional matrix.

          This.

  10. Anna P
    Anna P May 13, 2013 at 11:53 am |

    So glad for the opportunity to have a post up!

    don’t know about the OP, but I use bisexual to mean “my attraction to someone is not shaped by what may or may not be in their pants.”

    Yes, that’s what I meant, for the record. That’s also why I don’t think bisexuality is transphobic or reinforces the gender binary – to me it means not “I’m attracted to both sexes” but “I’m attracted to people who are like me and people who are different from me.” Which is not unheard of as a definition of bisexuality, if you want to google it.

    I thought of a few more things while I was at it:

    1. Don’t tell bisexual people they can just choose to date only the opposite sex and therefore never face homophobia/biphobia. Aside from facing that just because people know you’re bisexual, which I already mentioned, and which people shouldn’t be expected to hide, you can’t choose to only be attracted to or fall in love with some of the kinds of people you’re capable of being attracted to or falling in love with. It’s like telling a straight woman, hypothetically, “There’s more prejudice against you when you date brown-haired guys? Simple, never date them.” Well, what if she meets a really awesome, really hot brown-haired guy and falls in love?

    2. The fact that (at least some) bisexual people can be monogamous is not just proven by the fact that happy bisexual monogamous couples exist , but that people don’t all have to date/have sex with every type of person they’re attracted to to be happy. Straight men don’t hear, “Oh, if you’re attracted to thin tall women and short busty women you’ll just have to date/marry one of each to be happy.” And if a bisexual person leaves a man for a woman – or vice versa – it’s not necessarily because they wanted to be with a different sex. It’s probably that they wanted to be with this specific person instead of that specific person. They might just as likely have fallen in love with another man – and if that happens to a straight woman and she leaves her husband for the other man, people don’t say, “Straight women who are attracted to more than one type of man can never be monogamous.” Most monogamous straight people are sometimes attracted to people or types of people other than their partners, for that matter. That doesn’t mean they can never make monogamy work.

  11. moviemaedchen
    moviemaedchen May 13, 2013 at 11:58 am |

    Pretty good intro – thanks for posting this!

    Allies not assuming that someone is straight or gay rather than bi is important. Basically, allies, stop assuming you can tell someone’s orientation from the gender presentation of their partner/s.

    Also, I’d add the following:

    — when someone first comes out as bi to you, please, PLEASE don’t suggest in any way that someone needs to have had any particular kind of sexual experience with members of X Y or Z group before they are ‘allowed’ to be sure of their orientation. The second person I came out to told me to my face that I ought to ask a guy friend of mine to have sex with me before I decided I was really bi – as if this would somehow cure me of my feelings for girls. (The person doesn’t know my gender ID, and I present as female.) She also told me it was ‘normal’ for girls to have crushes on other girls while still being straight and so it didn’t really mean anything. Please don’t do that.

    — Don’t make someone’s coming out to you all about your feelings about it. Someone is trusting you with something very important about themselves, something they can be easily hurt with due to our bigoted society, and it’s not about you. If you’re surprised or confused or hurt that they waited to tell you or anything like that, don’t let that dominate the discussion. Deal with your feels elsewhere, and treat the other person with respect. The last thing that should happen is the bi person trying to comfort you over how confused/hurt/etc you are when zie is the one to have just taken a giant emotional risk in coming out to you.* Yes, even if you yourself are gay or lesbian, it’s still a risk to them.

    — Don’t engage in ‘queer/not queer enough’ thinking or joking. Don’t shame someone for how they handle when, where, how or to whom they come out.

    *And not always just emotional, too.

    1. Alyson
      Alyson May 15, 2013 at 8:37 pm |

      – when someone first comes out as bi to you, please, PLEASE don’t suggest in any way that someone needs to have had any particular kind of sexual experience with members of X Y or Z group before they are ‘allowed’ to be sure of their orientation.

      YES. I came out as bisexual to my college boyfriend in 2007. He was the first person I told. I had had plenty of crushes on girls over the years, but had pushed them all down and dated only guys. Finally acknowledging my orientation was HUGE, but I was in a monogamous relationship and I wasn’t going to act on these feelings.

      His first reaction: “No you aren’t, you haven’t been with any girls!”
      Well DUH. I DIDN’T WANT TO CHEAT ON YOU!

      A later reaction, interspersed with the first: “Well, let’s call [your [always straight or lesbian, never bi] friend] over for a threesome!”

      NEITHER OF THESE IS COOL.

      Following this, my two best relationships have been with bisexual guys, but I have been with girls, and I now have close bisexual friends. SO much better.

  12. CBrachyrhynchos
    CBrachyrhynchos May 13, 2013 at 12:49 pm |

    Bisexuals have a community, a history (beyond Madonna, Gaga, and Wood), a body of theory, and activist organizations. A fair bit of that includes the evolution of how we define and talk about bisexuality in non-binary ways. Some key sources:

    * the soc.bi faq
    * Bi Any Other Name (Hutchins and Ka’ahumanu)
    * Getting Bi (Ochs)
    * At least two manifestos 2009 and 1990 (from Anything that Moves)
    * Organizations: BiNet USA and the Bisexual Resource Center.

  13. anna
    anna May 13, 2013 at 1:39 pm |

    Wikipedia also has a pretty good article called “bisexual american history.”

    Nothing yet for other countries.

    1. Anna P
      Anna P May 14, 2013 at 11:03 am |

      Here’s the link to the Wikipedia article if anyone’s interested: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bisexual_American_history

  14. Outrage and Sprinkles
    Outrage and Sprinkles May 13, 2013 at 2:12 pm |

    Hey Donna-Sorry, I can’t reply to you from my original comment so I’m just making a new comment. I appreciate your reply, I wasn’t thinking clearly when I picked the term GSM and I was, in my own mind at least, including trans* people when I said men and women, and thinking more like intersex and genderqueer identifying people when I said GSM. I will be more careful and thoughtful with my words in the future.

    1. Donna L
      Donna L May 13, 2013 at 5:04 pm |

      Thanks — no problem. I think the GSM term is relatively new, and I’m not sure that there’s any consensus on what it encompasses, but I’m at least fairly certain that it’s supposed to encompass trans people!

      1. Outrage and Sprinkles
        Outrage and Sprinkles May 13, 2013 at 5:42 pm |

        Well that is very good to know and I will definitely remember that.

  15. ashurredly
    ashurredly May 13, 2013 at 3:32 pm |

    Usually when I read criticisms of stereotypes about bisexual people, I end up feeling a bit pressured to be a “respectable” bisexual, as if by being non-monogamous, having no-strings-attached sex, and not wanting to be in a relationship that requires me to have exclusively hetero or same-sex sex I’m “proving” the slutty bisexual stereotype. I don’t think that’s happening on this thread, but I’m curious if others ever feel the same way.

    1. afb1221
      afb1221 May 13, 2013 at 4:59 pm |

      Yeah it’s a shame — I feel like I might be hurting other bisexual people by reinforcing the stereotypes, being nonmonogamous, “slutty” and bisexual. It’s a difficult thing to navigate. I’d be curious to hear what others think.

      1. moviemaedchen
        moviemaedchen May 13, 2013 at 5:31 pm |

        I’m sorry you both feel caught in the trap that the stereotype sets up, because yes, the pushback against it can often come off as shaming and slut-shaming. One thing that might help, I think, would be for anyone addressing the issue directly to be careful to push back against both the idea that all bisexuals fit the stereotype, AND against the notion that there’s anything wrong with being non-monogamous or ‘slutty’. Because both the stereotyping and the shaming implied in it are hurtful, and turning around to shame fellow bis another way in response isn’t something I’m a fan of. (I’m fairly monogamous myself and not terribly attached to sex of any kind, but that’s just me. Being bi brings enough challenges – I don’t want to add to them for others.)

        But as you say, it’s difficult to navigate, and I don’t know of any comprehensive solution. Kyriarchy = you can never win, yeah?

    2. Outrage and Sprinkles
      Outrage and Sprinkles May 13, 2013 at 5:49 pm |

      I totally get that. We are in an open relationship. We are rarely with other people, it’s been ages for either of us, but a part of me is like “Great, I’m just reinforcing the idea that we’re ‘greedy’ or whatever”. Then I feel bad for feeling bad because we’re not doing anything wrong, and the behavior of two bisexual people should not be held up as anyone’s example of how we all act, and blah blah blah, vicious circle…

    3. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune May 13, 2013 at 6:13 pm |

      Ashurredly, I totally feel your pain. Well, Val does more than I do, being more evenly bi, but I feel her pain, sort of, so…

      Personally, I think bi people are about as capable of monogamy as straight people. I also would rather see a move towards normalising non-monogamy of all kinds than place any pressure on fellow bi folk to be Respectable. (Somehow, I always hear Puddleglum from the Narnia books, calling himself a “reshpeckabiggle” while drunk, when I’m talking about being Respectable, lol.) But yeah, the pressure is definitely there and it’s definitely bad.

    4. Anna P
      Anna P May 14, 2013 at 10:54 am |

      I was definitely not trying to be slut-shaming, FWIW. When I say “it’s not true that most or all bisexuals are polyamorous and/or have more sex and/or more partners than the average person, so don’t assume that”, I just mean it as a value-neutral fact. Like “it’s not true that most or all bisexuals love the color green, so don’t assume that”.

  16. Kaia
    Kaia May 13, 2013 at 3:49 pm |

    I’d like people to stop saying.
    “You’re not Bi you’re just greedy”

    1. Donna L
      Donna L May 13, 2013 at 6:02 pm |

      I’d like people to stay away from the old joke that what it really means is being “trisexual” — as in, they’ll try anything.

  17. Πενθεύς
    Πενθεύς May 13, 2013 at 4:08 pm |

    As I bisexual, I find myself perplexed that I require a day upon which to celebrate and be proud of my bisexuality. I suppose I should also dedicate a day to celebrating and taking pride in the length of my nose.

    1. A4
      A4 May 13, 2013 at 4:27 pm |

      If only everyone could reach your glorious heights of self-acceptance and nonchalance in the face of real institutionalized discrimination.

      And also, it’s actually taken a while for me to be proud of my nose given the negative Jewish stereotypes associated with nose size, so I really don’t appreciate your blase above it all attitude OR the example you used to illustrate it.

      1. EG
        EG May 13, 2013 at 4:32 pm |

        For real. I love my nose now, but when I was younger…I did not.

        Funny thing is that I’ve always found other people with large noses attractive, but it was different for me, of course! When I realized I had my mother’s nose, I began feeling a lot more positive about it.

        1. A4
          A4 May 13, 2013 at 4:59 pm |

          I focus on all the amazing things my body does that I take for granted and it really does make things like a thinning hairline and the zits totally inconsequential in the face of like, a beating heart, and hands. Dance heals me of that stuff like nothing else.

        2. Donna L
          Donna L May 13, 2013 at 5:35 pm |

          I still don’t really like my identifiably Jewish nose (especially in profile, where it’s most noticeable), but don’t loathe and despise it nearly as passionately as I once did. I can’t say that I’ll ever be able to rid myself entirely of the influence of internalized Northern European standards of beauty, but at least I no longer believe that my nasal configuration prevents me from being generally perceived as a woman. It may be “Jewish,” but 8 years of experience since my transition tells me that there’s nothing inherently male about it!

        3. Donna L
          Donna L May 13, 2013 at 5:37 pm |

          Also, like EG, I have never had any negative feelings whatsoever about anyone else’s visibly Jewish noses. Just mine. Recognizing that fact helped me a lot in changing my feelings of self-loathing about it.

      2. Πενθεύς
        Πενθεύς May 13, 2013 at 5:00 pm |

        If only everyone could reach your glorious heights of self-acceptance and nonchalance in the face of real institutionalized discrimination.

        There lies here no attempt to remedy my perplexity. Perhaps, as I suspect, you are not able to tell me why I require a day upon which to celebrate and be proud of my bisexuality.

        It is amusing, nevertheless, that you seem here to imply that I face “real institutionalised discrimination” (as opposed to the fictional kind, presumably), whilst simultaneously chiding me for not feeling sufficiently downtrodden. I suggest you think about that for a moment or two.

        And also, it’s actually taken a while for me to be proud of my nose given the negative Jewish stereotypes associated with nose size, so I really don’t appreciate your blase above it all attitude OR the example you used to illustrate it.

        I didn’t refer to this stereotype, nor allude to it, so why you are is something of a mystery. I can say “length of my finger” if it makes you more comfortable, though I daresay you’ll find cause to complain regardless!

        1. EG
          EG May 13, 2013 at 5:07 pm |

          That is because your perplexity is entirely the result of your own egocentrism and the answer to it is obvious. Nobody is suggesting that you do not feel sufficiently downtrodden. If you cared to look past the end of your own quite normative nose, however, you might notice that there are plenty of bisexual people who do not feel as you do, and who do wish to have notice taken of their sexuality. If you read the post and the comments, you can even hear from some of them.

        2. tigtog
          tigtog May 13, 2013 at 5:17 pm | *

          Do you feel that all Irish are “required” to celebrate St Patrick’s Day? That all Americans are “required” to celebrate Independence Day or Thanksgiving? That all QUILTBAG-identified folks are “required” to march in Pride parades?

          I very much doubt that you do. Your sneering misrepresentation of a day of celebration as “requiring” anything from those who do not wish to celebrate it is not appreciated, and the giraffe is watching you carefully.

        3. A4
          A4 May 13, 2013 at 5:20 pm |

          I wasn’t trying to remedy your perplexity. I just wanted to be the first person to make fun of your above-it-all attitude. I hope you boycott bi pride by staying home and turning hand outlines into turkey pictures.

        4. moviemaedchen
          moviemaedchen May 13, 2013 at 5:36 pm |

          I hope you boycott bi pride by staying home and turning hand outlines into turkey pictures.

          That got a laugh from me. I think ‘go make turkey pictures!’ needs to become a Thing. :D

    2. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune May 13, 2013 at 4:45 pm |

      Today in “if you don’t care, why are you whining on the internet?”.

      1. Πενθεύς
        Πενθεύς May 13, 2013 at 5:02 pm |

        Today in “if you don’t care, why are you whining on the internet?”

        I am not whining (or, if I am, you surely are also), and clearly I “care” (in a limited sense) enough about the blog post to respond to it. In any case, you offer nothing of substance here.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune May 13, 2013 at 5:07 pm |

          Whereas your comment was full of substance and layered intricate meaning.

          Look: if you don’t want to celebrate bisexuality day or whatever (Honestly, I didn’t even know there was one until this post) that’s your deal. Pretending that just because you don’t want to do it that it’s unnecessary for everyone? That’s just douchey. Stop, please.

          Also, if you’re going to compare bisexuality to finger length or nose size or whatever, please get back to me with a list of countries where you can get jailed, killed, fired, denied housing, not allowed to adopt or marry, etc, etc, for either of those things. I’ll be waiting breathlessly.

        2. Donna L
          Donna L May 13, 2013 at 5:48 pm |

          There was a time and place within living memory when you could definitely be arrested, and probably killed, because of the appearance of your nose. It certainly was something that could make being a U-boat virtually impossible.

  18. Darnnabit
    Darnnabit May 13, 2013 at 4:43 pm |

    I think one of the hardest things is it’s really hard to get new language going fighting binary assumptions is friggin hard sometimes. I’m in the midwest omnisexual is not a word anyone uses. Pansexual maybe I can use if the people I’m with are still in college but it’s pretty rare. I dated a trans lady very serious for a while. I kept getting pitying looks, and weird comments like ‘but you’re straight how does it work’ or weirder ‘so it’s ok you’re like a dyke right?’ I don’t think any of those people really got that what was going on downstairs was the least of the things I paid attention to when I picked someone to date. I prefer what’s between the ears over gender cues.

  19. Πενθεύς
    Πενθεύς May 13, 2013 at 5:21 pm |

    Whereas your comment was full of substance and layered intricate meaning.

    Certainly the former, though not the latter.

    Look: if you don’t want to celebrate bisexuality day or whatever (Honestly, I didn’t even know there was one until this post) that’s your deal. Pretending that just because you don’t want to do it that it’s unnecessary for everyone? That’s just douchey. Stop, please.

    But of course I would say that it is in fact wholly unnecessary for anyone to dedicate a day to celebrating or taking pride in their sexual orientation. I am not articulating some sort of subjective preference here. I am asserting that it is just daft for anyone to so dedicate a day.

    Also, if you’re going to compare bisexuality to finger length or nose size or whatever, please get back to me with a list of countries where you can get jailed, killed, fired, denied housing, not allowed to adopt or marry, etc, etc, for either of those things. I’ll be waiting breathlessly.

    But I did not compare these things in this sense, so I needn’t meet your request.

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune May 13, 2013 at 5:28 pm |

      Certainly the former

      Oh, aren’t you clever!

      But of course I would say that it is in fact wholly unnecessary for anyone to dedicate a day to celebrating or taking pride in their sexual orientation.

      Yes. It’s also unnecessary to comment on Feministe. I hereby shame you for being here. I see no requirement for you here. Shame on you for commenting. Shaaaaame.

      I am asserting that it is just daft for anyone to so dedicate a day.

      Ooh, ableism! Tell me more! I must know more about your assertions.

      Also, no, I’m not going to answer your question. Why? Because I’m a jerk like that, but mostly because it should be perfectly obvious to you why massive institutionalised discrimination often requires a dose of community support and awareness.

      1. Πενθεύς
        Πενθεύς May 13, 2013 at 5:37 pm |

        Oh, aren’t you clever!

        Not especially, no.

        Yes. It’s also unnecessary to comment on Feministe. I hereby shame you for being here. I see no requirement for you here. Shame on you for commenting. Shaaaaame.

        Clearly, I was suggesting that there is no reason to dedicate a day to celebrating or taking pride in one’s sexual orientation. Discussion can be ambiguous enough without one interlocutor purposefully misreading the other.

        Ooh, ableism! Tell me more! I must know more about your assertions.

        I don’t follow.

        Also, no, I’m not going to answer your question. Why? Because I’m a jerk like that, but mostly because it should be perfectly obvious to you why massive institutionalised discrimination often requires a dose of community support and awareness.

        I don’t know what you mean by “community support and awareness”. If by this you mean dedicating a day to celebrating or taking pride in one’s sexual orientation, then it is not at all obvious why this is required, I’m afraid.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune May 13, 2013 at 5:46 pm |

          Not especially, no.

          Yes. I know.

          Clearly, I was suggesting that there is no reason to dedicate a day to celebrating or taking pride in one’s sexual orientation.

          You also have no reason to comment here, do you? Some people like commenting; it makes them feel better, or enables them to make a point, or add to a dialogue, or make their own perspective felt, or stand up for others who might have the same view but feel threatened for speaking. This is exactly the same as why some people celebrate bisexuality day. Okay? I can’t actually use smaller words to describe it.

        2. tigtog
          tigtog May 13, 2013 at 5:50 pm | *

          that there is no reason to dedicate a day to celebrating or taking pride in one’s sexual orientation

          Do you feel the same way about Pride parades/celebrations generally? Because if you do, then I’m going to write you off as a contrarian without a worthwhile argument. If you don’t, then I’m going to write you off as a hypocrite without a worthwhile argument.

          To be bluntly explicit: you are wasting pixels and making this thread all about you without contributing anything substantive. You are on notice that continuing this line of argument without adding substance beyond mere contrarianism/hypocrisy will see you speedily making the aquaintance of the automod filter.

        3. SophiaBlue
          SophiaBlue May 13, 2013 at 5:55 pm |

          Clearly, I was suggesting that there is no reason to dedicate a day to celebrating or taking pride in one’s sexual orientation.

          And people told you why this was stupid (to reiterate, because bisexual people have been told that their bisexuality is something to be ashamed of, so celebrating bisexual pride is a way to overcome that). You responded by pretending that no one addressed your points, so perhaps you can understand why people aren’t taking you seriously.

    2. EG
      EG May 13, 2013 at 5:38 pm |

      Try reading Foucault on how persecution and medicalization creates a sense of sexuality as group identity, and then get back to me.

      1. Πενθεύς
        Πενθεύς May 13, 2013 at 5:44 pm |

        Try reading Foucault on how persecution and medicalization creates a sense of sexuality as group identity, and then get back to me.

        I don’t take Continental philosophy very seriously, so I don’t expect I’ll be getting back to you any time soon.

        1. EG
          EG May 13, 2013 at 6:01 pm |

          You ask for answers, and then you reject the ones you get, because the entire continent of Europe has not produced any thought worth your attention?

          You crack me up.

        2. tigtog
          tigtog May 13, 2013 at 6:31 pm | *

          From somebody using a nym from Greek mythology to boot.

        3. tigtog
          tigtog May 13, 2013 at 6:33 pm | *

          P.S. It’s well past time that this sub-discussion was taken to #spillover.

    3. Donna L
      Donna L May 13, 2013 at 5:50 pm |

      Is there any group identity that you feel does merit pride or any kind of commemoration by means of a parade or other public celebration?

    4. A4
      A4 May 13, 2013 at 5:58 pm |

      Contrary to popular misconception, reason is not the primary motivator of human behavior.

  20. Phi
    Phi May 13, 2013 at 5:31 pm |

    I’m bi, but I’m NOT a member of the queer community. ‘Queer’ is a horrible word to my ears and I don’t see why I should put up with you calling me that. Also, just because I have a certain sexuality doesn’t mean I’m part of some mythical community. I’m part of the normal community, thanks.

    Anyway just for a bit of an alternative point of view, I’m actually loving the ‘erasure’ of sexuality you’re all complaining about. I wouldn’t really call it that, but it seems to be the same thing as you’re talking about. I thought I was a lesbian until very recently (wayyy too late in life to have such a revelation, really!), when I met my current, male, partner. This is the best relationship I’ve ever had, for reasons that absolutely do not directly involve his gender. But indirectly? The reason I’m not so stressed and worrying in this relationship is because we don’t have to keep anything secret or be nervous and hide it when we’re outside in case someone makes a comment. Being in an opposite-sex relationship is amazing. I’m sorry it has to be the case, but it really is true. I think I’m probably about 99% gay and 1% straight… ish.

    1. Donna L
      Donna L May 13, 2013 at 5:45 pm |

      Heterosexual privilege can feel wonderful indeed, when it’s something you aren’t used to. I sometimes wonder what it would feel like to be with a guy and have it again, albeit in a different way from how I felt it before — and noticed its loss when I was in a publicly same-sex relationship for a year or so after I transitioned, as compared to the publicly different-sex relationship (so far as the world was concerned) that I was in prior to my transition.

      1. Donna L
        Donna L May 13, 2013 at 5:53 pm |

        I should add that I do sort of identify as bisexual, even though I have never in my life been with a guy, either before or after my transition. I assume that it’s OK to do that.

        1. moviemaedchen
          moviemaedchen May 13, 2013 at 6:01 pm |

          Completely ok in my book. I don’t hold to the notion that experience is required before anyone gets to ID as a particular orientation, and I’ll push back against anyone who does. Welcome to the bi club. :)

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune May 13, 2013 at 6:15 pm |

          Me neither, maedchen. Bi is, in my book, people who have been attracted to <1 genders. No sex, dating or relationships required.

    2. SophiaBlue
      SophiaBlue May 13, 2013 at 5:59 pm |

      I can certainly understand not wanting to be part of the queer community, especially given the bad history of the word queer. I wonder though what you meant by this:

      Also, just because I have a certain sexuality doesn’t mean I’m part of some mythical community. I’m part of the normal community, thanks.

      since the queer community is neither mythical not abnormal.

    3. A4
      A4 May 13, 2013 at 6:00 pm |

      How nice for you.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune May 13, 2013 at 6:17 pm |

        Yeah, that was my reaction too. I freely admit that it’s mostly spurred by bitterness.

        Also, I really fucking resent Phi’s notion that the opposite of queer is normal. I don’t ID as queer myself, but seriously, fuck that bullshit.

        1. moviemaedchen
          moviemaedchen May 13, 2013 at 6:32 pm |

          This.

        2. A4
          A4 May 13, 2013 at 8:42 pm |

          I just couldn’t think of anything else to say to someone who’s like “I just discovered how excellent it is to be closeted!”

        3. Alexandra
          Alexandra May 13, 2013 at 9:25 pm |

          Yeah; I’m sort of shocked by the comment too.

    4. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune May 13, 2013 at 9:42 pm |

      Being in an opposite-sex relationship is amazing. I’m sorry it has to be the case, but it really is true.

      Or, rather, the heterosexual privilege that you’re able to access is amazing. I’m very glad for your ability to no longer associate with us “abnormals”. And I would also like to thank you for your recommendation of Magical Penis Person! As a bisexual woman, I had never heard of the Magical Penis Person, but will be sure to divorce my wife and get my very own as soon as possible after reading your glowing testimonial of its awesome amazingfulness.

      1. moviemaedchen
        moviemaedchen May 14, 2013 at 11:22 am |

        Is it wrong that the phrase Magical Penis Person made me think of My Little Ponies? Now I’m imagining some little pocket-sized Magical Penis Person drawn in bright colors.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune May 14, 2013 at 2:38 pm |

          Are they made from hand outlines?

        2. A4
          A4 May 14, 2013 at 3:34 pm |

          Magical penis, maaagical peenis, ma-a-a-a
          Magical penis person!
          I used to wonder what straightness could be

          Magical penis person!
          Until you all shared it’s magic with me!

          Super normal,
          can’t be beat!
          gives you privilege,
          rubs your feet!
          Super real
          Not a myth at all!
          He’ll hold your handbag at the mall!

          you have Magical penis person!,

          Don’t you know you are my very beeeeest friend!!!

          …i think I just outed myself as a Brony

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune May 14, 2013 at 7:43 pm |

          BAHAHAHAHA

        4. Alexandra
          Alexandra May 14, 2013 at 8:15 pm |

          A4, I have that stuck in my head now. I’m only half way through the second season.

        5. A4
          A4 May 14, 2013 at 9:23 pm |

          I watched that show first while recovering from surgery and I try to find something not to like about it as a kids show and I really don’t come up with much. I even think it’s about as racially and sexually nuanced as a children’s show about ponies can be. It’s not even anthropocentric! Some ponies drive!

    5. Anna P
      Anna P May 14, 2013 at 11:00 am |

      ‘Queer’ is a horrible word to my ears and I don’t see why I should put up with you calling me that. Also, just because I have a certain sexuality doesn’t mean I’m part of some mythical community. I’m part of the normal community, thanks.

      You don’t have to use the word queer, but what I meant was that bisexuals are a minority group. Just like, say for example, Chinese-American people are part of mainstream society (or “the normal community”) but they’re still a minority group also, whether or not a particular Chinese-American person feels themselves as part of a united community.

    6. armillaria
      armillaria May 14, 2013 at 10:44 pm |

      Also, just because I have a certain sexuality doesn’t mean I’m part of some mythical community. I’m part of the normal community, thanks.

      Word, that’s where it’s at. I’m not part of any “normal community,” but nor am I part of any other community based on how I get off.
      Yeah, I guess we shouldn’t call people queer who aren’t down with being called that, it’s a self-identification thing.

  21. Πενθεύς
    Πενθεύς May 13, 2013 at 5:50 pm |

    @TigTog (the “reply” option seems to have disappeared)

    Do you feel that all Irish are “required” to celebrate St Patrick’s Day? That all Americans are “required” to celebrate Independence Day or Thanksgiving? That all QUILTBAG-identified folks are “required” to march in Pride parades?

    I very much doubt that you do. Your sneering misrepresentation of a day of celebration as “requiring” anything from those who do not wish to celebrate it is not appreciated, and the giraffe is watching you carefully.

    You have misrepresented me here. I did not accuse the author of the blog post of saying that my celebration of some sort of “bisexual day” should be necessary. Rather, I accused her of saying that I-and, by extension, other bisexuals-stand in need of such a day, for some reason or another which remains unknown to me.

    1. tigtog
      tigtog May 13, 2013 at 5:53 pm | *

      You are the one who chose to use the word “require”, so quoting your own word is hardly misrepresentation. If you don’t want people to think you mean exactly that, then be more careful about your word choices.

      Here is a moderator instruction for you: stop commenting for at least the next hour. Let other parts of the discussion on this thread have some oxygen.

      1. Πενθεύς
        Πενθεύς May 13, 2013 at 6:03 pm |

        You are the one who chose to use the word “require”, so quoting your own word is hardly misrepresentation. If you don’t want people to think you mean exactly that, then be more careful about your word choices.

        You aren’t following. The fact you quoted a word I used in my post does not mean that you are not guilty of misrepresentation. The way in which you did misrepresent me has been explained: I did not accuse the author of stating that my participation in such a day was mandatory (as you contest), but rather accused her of saying that I and other bisexuals need (“require”) such a day, for a reason which remains unspecified.

        Here is a moderator instruction for you: stop commenting for at least the next hour. Let other parts of the discussion on this thread have some oxygen.

        Sure.

        1. tigtog
          tigtog May 13, 2013 at 6:14 pm | *

          You aren’t following. The fact you quoted a word I used in my post does not mean that you are not guilty of misrepresentation. The way in which you did misrepresent me has been explained: I did not accuse the author of stating that my participation in such a day was mandatory (as you contest), but rather accused her of saying that I and other bisexuals need (“require”) such a day, for a reason which remains unspecified.

          I see where you’re coming from more clearly now. I still think it’s a nonsense argument, it’s just a different type of nonsense. Once any group decides that enough of their members would show up for a day of celebration/awareness-activism, then there is absolutely no reason to not have that day of celebration/awareness-activism. There is not one single human activity where not one single person thinks it’s unnecessary/pointless, but that’s just a perfectly valid reason for the not-interested folks to ignore it, not a valid reason for others who want to be part of it to cancel their plans.

        2. tigtog
          tigtog May 13, 2013 at 6:14 pm | *

          P.S. Thanks for agreeing to abide by the break time.

    2. Fishing for Insults
      Fishing for Insults May 15, 2013 at 11:34 am |

      (the “reply” option seems to have disappeared)

      Take a hint.

  22. tigtog
    tigtog May 13, 2013 at 6:04 pm | *

    Since this thread has reached over 100 comments in only 9 hours, and a touch of acrimony has begun to rear its ugly head in places, I’m placing this thread into full pre-moderation from this point onwards i.e. all further comments will be held in the moderation queue until a moderator can release them.

  23. Alexandra
    Alexandra May 13, 2013 at 9:39 pm |

    Frankly as a bisexual woman I feel like a fraud a lot of the time. While I’ve slept with women before, it was always casual; all of my relationships have been with men. It’s much, much easier to date in the “straight” world than in the queer world, particularly because I live in an area with precious little LGBT activity, and campus LGBT stuff tends to be heavy on the G and L, and light on the B and T.

    I spend a lot of time feeling like if I don’t try to – I don’t know – be “more butch than thou” then I have no business being in LGBT spaces and around other LGBT people. As a result, I keep myself out of the places where I might meet other bisexual folks, and other gay and lesbian and trans folks, and wind up fairly isolated in real life.

    The other thing is, aside from some nasty fights with my parents when I came out five years ago, I have never faced any practical discrimination for my sexuality. I always worry how much, if at all, I should participate in discussions about LGBT issues by LGBT folks, because I don’t feel like I’ve “earned” the right to participate. While I’ve certainly experienced some mild variations on biphobia, they hardly meet the standard of institutionalized oppression, and I am so universally assumed to be straight by people who don’t know me that I’m not facing any homophobia in my daily life.

    This, I think, is why it is valuable to carve out at least a little separate space for bisexual folks to talk about the experiences particular to bisexuality. Many of us do not fit neatly into existing “LGBT” spaces which tend to emphasize gay and lesbian members’ interests and experiences, and I am always afraid of pushback, subtle or overt, against a straight-appearing person who’s had mostly opposite-sex relationships, participating in queer spaces online and in real life.

    1. Kerandria
      Kerandria May 13, 2013 at 10:23 pm |

      @Alexandra: IMO, you definitely have the right to speak, but I think a huge thing to remember for the bi people who typically end up in relationships that pass for cis+het is to be aware of intersectionality and to not speak so loudly that other oppressed people’s voices are drowned out.

      I came from where you are now — for years and years, my relationships with other females were either romantic and non-primary or strictly sexual, while my long-term relationships and primaries were with males. It is a completely different world to be building a home with and engaged to another female.

      1. XtinaS
        XtinaS May 14, 2013 at 1:18 am |

        Oddly, both true and irrelevant in this thread.

        1. Kerandria
          Kerandria May 14, 2013 at 8:44 am |

          In that case, I beg your pardon.

    2. victoria
      victoria May 13, 2013 at 11:01 pm |

      All of this makes a lot of sense to me. Thank you for articulating it so well.

    3. XtinaS
      XtinaS May 14, 2013 at 1:17 am |

      My brains are too full to fully reply, but your second and third paragraphs… yes, precisely.

    4. Computer Soldier Porygon
      Computer Soldier Porygon May 14, 2013 at 3:39 am |

      This is similar to how I feel although you’ve defs got more ~street cred than I do – but my experience with women is really limited in comparison to my experience with men. All of my Relationships have been with men. I’m currently in an LTR with a man. I am read as straight. I have never come out to my family. I have experienced very little in the way of direct hits to my sexuality besides, like, one guy kind of ribbing me about it one time when we were like fourteen (and he came out eight years later, so I don’t really hold that against him). I mean, I fully benefit from het and cis privilege although I feel completely fucked in the head about my sexuality and my gender.

      But also, I feel a little angry that I just let myself default to straight… because I am not straight, and I am just becoming comfortable saying that as an adult, although I was vocally bisexual when I was a young teenager in a small town in TX. But it’s just really easy. My attractions do skew more towards men. I feel, in some ways, ‘too old’ to start identifying as bisexual and expanding my dating pool beyond men, which I KNOW is ridiculous, because I’m really young actually. I mean, mid-20s. But it’s just that I feel somewhat behind in LGBT/queer scenes… tardy to the party, and in a het relationship to boot. I feel ‘appropriative’ of the identity although on some level I have been aware of my attraction to women for well over ten years, despite the weird stuff I would make up in my head (‘not WOMEN, just HER’, ‘it was college,’ ‘I was really young to identify that way and I just didn’t know how to differentiate between friend-affection and romantic-affection’) to explain while I was really straight… and it’s not that I was angsting over it or struggling internally, really, it just seemed more plausible.

      Well, that was a ramble. Where’s my melatonin?

    5. DouglasG
      DouglasG May 14, 2013 at 8:29 am |

      Ms Alexandra – I’m sorry you feel less entitled than people who have experienced more homophobia than you have, but hope that you’ll come to feel more comfortable participating in LGBT(…) circles without having to have “earned” your way in. It certainly feels as if you have a strong sense of wanting to be a good bi ally to non-bi LGBT(…) people, and that counts for a lot. The increased participation of people like you perhaps may do more to help lead out a return than that of those who think that in this instance Good Ally-ism only goes in one direction. (I’m not clear, for instance, where the OP would stand on the possibility of a corresponding list.)

  24. DouglasG
    DouglasG May 13, 2013 at 9:59 pm |

    Speaking as someone fairly scrupulous about avoiding bi-erasing terminology, I have a minor quibble with one part only of point 5; homophobia and biphobia are different enough that trying to keep them together under the Inclusive Language Umbrella feels as if all it will do in the end is make homophobia a subset of biphobia. My first instinct would be to add a blanket inclusive term, in order to retain the distinction between biphobia, homophobia, transphobia, etc.

    1. Kerandria
      Kerandria May 13, 2013 at 10:25 pm |

      It’s too bad that ‘when being a decent fucking human being is impossible’ can’t be the name of that wretched umbrella of bigotry.

    2. thinksnake
      thinksnake May 14, 2013 at 2:09 am |

      At least in the Australian student movement, we’ve begun using ‘queerphobia’ as an umbrella term. But I fully understand that that’s not something usable for all people.

    3. miga
      miga May 14, 2013 at 3:52 am |

      My therapist uses the terms heterosexism and cissexism, and I think they both work nicely here.

  25. trees
    trees May 13, 2013 at 10:32 pm |

    Thanks for posting this, it’s a wonderful 101 for me. Also thanks to all for sharing your divergent perspectives.

    CBrachyrhynchos
    Thanks for the additional reading suggestions.

  26. Πενθεύς
    Πενθεύς May 14, 2013 at 12:58 am |

    Just as a note, I won’t be participating in discussion of this issue further in this thread. However, I believe there is some sort of overflow facility available here; should anyone want to pursue conversation there, I will be happy to do so.

    @macavitykitsune

    Given that in your last comments to me you’ve resorted to explicit abuse, I consider you someone unable to control her temper. For that reason, our dialogue is concluded. Cheers.

    @EG

    You ask for answers, and then you reject the ones you get, because the entire continent of Europe has not produced any thought worth your attention?

    You crack me up.

    I reject the ones I receive when they’re inadequate. I don’t take the Continental philosophical tradition seriously (nor, on the whole, the Analytic one, for that matter); ergo, I will not be accepting your invitation to read Foucault. Moreover, it is not remotely clear how Foucault’s view, as you articulate it, answers the question of why there should exist a day dedicated to celebrating or taking pride in one’s sexual orientation.

    @SophiaBlue

    And people told you why this was stupid (to reiterate, because bisexual people have been told that their bisexuality is something to be ashamed of, so celebrating bisexual pride is a way to overcome that). You responded by pretending that no one addressed your points, so perhaps you can understand why people aren’t taking you seriously.

    There is no pretence, I assure you. As far as the answer you give here is concerned, there seem to be much better ways of overcoming the shame some feel at being bisexual than dedicating a day in the aforementioned manner.

    @Donna L

    Is there any group identity that you feel does merit pride or any kind of commemoration by means of a parade or other public celebration?

    Yes.

    @tigtog

    Do you feel the same way about Pride parades/celebrations generally? Because if you do, then I’m going to write you off as a contrarian without a worthwhile argument. If you don’t, then I’m going to write you off as a hypocrite without a worthwhile argument.

    With respect to sexual orientation, yes, I regard all pride parades/celebrations as irrational. I responded to this topic in particular since it has some personal associations for me, as explained above.

    I see where you’re coming from more clearly now. I still think it’s a nonsense argument, it’s just a different type of nonsense. Once any group decides that enough of their members would show up for a day of celebration/awareness-activism, then there is absolutely no reason to not have that day of celebration/awareness-activism. There is not one single human activity where not one single person thinks it’s unnecessary/pointless, but that’s just a perfectly valid reason for the not-interested folks to ignore it, not a valid reason for others who want to be part of it to cancel their plans.

    I suppose I find it folly to celebrate one’s sexual orientation, just as I find it folly to celebrate the length of one’s nose. I can just think of no good reason not to think it is, as I said before, daft. This, then, would constitute a good reason not to hold such a celebration. The shame some feel at being bisexual should rightly be combated, but by methods far more sensible than this.

    1. tigtog
      tigtog May 14, 2013 at 3:16 am | *

      I believe there is some sort of overflow facility available here; should anyone want to pursue conversation there, I will be happy to do so.

      There’s a link to the spillover post archive in the sidebar. I strongly recommend that anybody considering a reply to this latest from Pantheus (Πενθεύς) resist the urge to reply to any points in this thread.

  27. karak
    karak May 14, 2013 at 1:54 am |

    About a year ago I was talking to my mother about some kind of interesting perspective within the LGBT community I was unaware of, and she started snapping at me as I pontificated and patronized her on the issue (can’t for the life of me remember what it was). And she finally said, “You KNOW I’m bisexual, right?!” and I was stunned.

    Because I did know my mother dated women, and I did know she was really active in our local LGBT community when I was a child, and I had never even considered “hey my mom might be bisexual” because, of course, she was my mom and she married a man and had a child.

    That is an anti-bisexual bias in action, right there. That is a product of heteronormativity. And I was, and am, ashamed of myself for it. My mom was surprised I hadn’t put the obvious puzzle pieces together, and she said, “Well, for most of your life, I’ve been with one man, why would you think otherwise?” and that was nice of her, but it’s still biphobia. There’s no excuse.

    Biphobia and bi-ignorance are very real things, and it is my hope to start being a better ally.

  28. The Round-Up: May 14, 2013 | Gender Focus – A Canadian Feminist Blog

    […] guest blogger at Feministe takes us through how to be an ally to […]

  29. AMM
    AMM May 14, 2013 at 10:02 am |

    I have a hard time feeling like I could be a “bi ally” because I don’t know anyone who I know to be bi.

    If I don’t know anyone in group X, trying to be fair and supportive and whatever to group X feels so much like an abstract exercise, and I know how much I hate being treated like an abstract exercise rather than as a human being.

    Back when simply being “homosexual” was enough to get you arrested, I remember thinking how unfair it was, but I didn’t know anybody who was gay, only the caricatures. It wasn’t until the 1980’s, when I was in social circles with a lot of gay men (and a few lesbians) and got to know some of them as people that I could replace those caricatures with images of real human beings, and only then did I start to feel like I could say anything that wouldn’t turn out to be patronizing or clueless.

    I guess I’m saying that there’s something to be said for events and formal identifications for bisexual people simply so non-bisexuals will begin to attach faces to the term “bisexual.” So that when they hear “bisexual,” they won’t think in terms of caricatures, but of neighbors, coworkers, bus drivers, even family members.

    1. Anna P
      Anna P May 15, 2013 at 8:04 am |

      I have a hard time feeling like I could be a “bi ally” because I don’t know anyone who I know to be bi.

      You could give to bi rights organizations like the Bisexual Resource Center or BiNet Usa, or volunteer there. Or just speak up when people say ignorant things about bi people.

  30. Anna P
    Anna P May 14, 2013 at 11:10 am |

    Here’s a documentary about bisexuality on Kickstarter that could use some support: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/644991349/the-outsiders-of-the-outsiders

    Supporting it would also be a good way to be an ally, by the way. If you’re so inclined and you’ve got the money, of course.

  31. Jennifer
    Jennifer May 14, 2013 at 11:23 am |

    An interesting NYT Q&A about this today where someone asks about how best to come out as bi at work (to make bisexuality more visible). The author notes that he posted it on his facebook page and got a lot of very negative comments about bisexuality: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/14/booming/what-is-the-right-way-to-come-out-as-bisexual-at-work.html

  32. discoqueen
    discoqueen May 14, 2013 at 3:35 pm |

    What I would love is to for people to not use so much distancing language when identifying as bi. “I’m bisexual but I’m not a slut”. It makes me cringe when people use so much care to positively identify themselves as bisexual but make sure to also identify what they are not. “We’re monogamous” or “I don’t HAVE to have one of each.” It is really great to uphold that one can be bi without needing to be actively in a relationship with “both” genders (and isn’t that promoting the gender binary anyway?). However, in doing so, it marks the “sluts”, the “poly people”, the (gasp) “swingers” or non-poly-fidelitous “poly people” as other, different, transgressive. It puts the speaker into the “good”, “non-slutty”, “really-just-like-you-straight-and-monogamous people” territory. In the process, it puts anyone who is bi and also any of those other things in the out-group. It codifies sex-negativity and slut-shaming.

    No, please. We do not need to do that, even in the name of getting society to be more accepting of bisexuality.

    1. Alexandra
      Alexandra May 14, 2013 at 6:12 pm |

      I hear you, but I’m also still frustrated by the number of people who are or want to be polyamorous whom I’ve met who view me, and other bisexual women, as objects for enacting their desires. How many “poly” couples are there with a straight man, his bi girlfriend or wife, who will aggressively pursue any unattached bisexual woman whom they come across? I have an online dating profile; I explicitly state in the first paragraph that I am not looking for casual sex or to be a third in a threesome, and yet I regularly get messages from men and women alike asking me whether or not they will be the exception. I am a little jaded at this point.

      1. EG
        EG May 14, 2013 at 8:07 pm |

        Yep. Co-signed.

      2. Kerandria
        Kerandria May 14, 2013 at 10:05 pm |

        Seconded. I hate that my fiancee and I are referred to as a pair of unicorns. We aren’t a prize to be won!

      3. discoqueen
        discoqueen May 15, 2013 at 12:00 pm |

        I guess I don’t see how treatment at the hands of “unicorn-seekers” is relevant to not wanting to have my slut identity trod in the mud when people discuss their orientation.

        I think most of us have seen the prurient gleam in someone’s eye when we reveal our orientation, or have gotten myriad lame wanna-f*cks (if we have an apparently-female, or male-female couple profile on a dating site). I think that it’s absolutely someone’s right to not want that, and to push back against it. But I see that as completely separate from not shaming those of us who do have a non-monogamous lifestyle.

        1. EG
          EG May 15, 2013 at 1:45 pm |

          It’s relevant because what seems like identity-trodding to you can be pre-emptive filtering out of asshole requests to me.

      4. Alyson
        Alyson May 16, 2013 at 11:39 am |

        Yep, I’ve gotten it too, both from random online strangers and from people I actually knew. The latter is theoretically better, but it’s still awkward to get a phone call where the other person starts with “Hey, you’re bisexual, right?” and then proceeds to explain that he and his new girlfriend want you in their threesome. SO awkward.

  33. annajcook
    annajcook May 14, 2013 at 9:54 pm |

    Thanks for the OP and thoughtful in-thread commentary.

    Since early adolescence, I’ve been very person-centered in my attractions, though I shied away from identifying as bi for a long, long time due to not feeling bisexual “enough” and because of all the prejudice against bi folks I witnessed and internalized at my conservative undergrad. It took falling in love with a woman (now my wife) to kick my butt into gear in getting the fuck over not feeling queer enough to be legitimate in my desires.

    I’ve never settled on a single word with which to identify myself or my relationship and tend to code-switch a bit depending on who I’m talking to. I’ll use lesbian/gay in conservative spaces where that’s basically the terminology for anyone not-straight … but I’ll also throw queer and bisexual in there sometimes to confuse them and/or educate them. I use fluid sometimes in queer company, and dyke if I’m feeling slangy. My wife (who also identifies as bi) and I routinely refer to ourselves as lesbians and as “gay married,” though I also use the terms same-sex marriage and marriage equality.

    I’m not really advocating for a particular approach here, just pointing out that even as someone who is bisexual I wander around amongst terms for myself and my life.

    I do think I’m more comfortable waffling about than I am with other people assuming things about it. It was really hurtful all those years when I was single to be assumed straight and to not have my queer desires taken seriously (passively through culture or directly to my face). I notice when people hear me say “bi” and then later refer to me as “gay” the same way I notice when I introduce my wife as my wife and the person later refers to her as my “partner.” Like, I’m not saying I’ll unfriend them forever and blackball them on the Internets for imperfect terminology use, but I do notice when they don’t pay attention to how I articulate things about my own life.

  34. FYouMudFlaps
    FYouMudFlaps May 14, 2013 at 10:06 pm |

    I got you here. I’m a bi male, and notably feminine presenting at that. Still, in gay male spaces sometimes my bisexuality is questioned or even bisexuality itself is doubted as real. Sad but true.

  35. Sweet and Sharp, Vol. 21 | In Our Words

    […] Here is a refresher on confronting your own and community biphobia. […]

  36. MH
    MH May 15, 2013 at 1:56 am |

    Ugh. SUCH good post. In a lot of ways, this is all sort of “yeah, duh.” I think of myself as pretty progressive, and if someone asked me if bisexual people deserve the same rights, acceptance, etc as either gay or straight people my answer would instantaneously be “Yes, obviously. Why would you EVEN ask??” But I know that I’m super guilty of simplifying to the gay/straight dichotomy in some conversations. And sometimes I’m guilty of just wanting to clearly categorize people. All of which I think is human, none of which I think is good.

    Thanks for calling all of us out on this!

  37. Allison
    Allison May 15, 2013 at 11:58 am |

    For all those questioning the meaning of the term “bisexual,” it does not reinforce a gender binary. The word has been defined time and time again by bisexual people and organizations as the ability to love people of one’s own gender as well as people not of one’s own gender. Those are the two parts being referred to: same and other. There is no need to use a different word.

  38. Jen
    Jen May 16, 2013 at 4:37 pm |

    Excellent article.

    Re. September 23rd, there is more information about Bi Visibility Day on the september23.bi.org website and its associated twitter / facebook pages.

  39. Tracey
    Tracey May 17, 2013 at 9:46 am |

    My partner and I write books for women who are coming out as lesbian, bisexual or questioning. We also have an online support group, and since 2003 our group has supported over 5,000 women worldwide. I just wanted to write that this is an excellent article, and I am going to send a link to it to our support group members and also post it on our social networks. We have over 1,000 members in our group right now and around the same in our social network : )

  40. TheSeize
    TheSeize May 28, 2013 at 10:07 am |

    This is interesting. I’ve always thought of bi being part of the terms gay, homophobia, etc. So, when I’ve used them, I never intended to be exclusionary.

    Words are a tricky thing. Even the most well intentioned people who think they are well informed can still say the wrong thing.

    This specifically makes me think of a situation recently where my boyfriend asked someone he’d been talking to for a long time if they’d prefer to be referred to as ‘he’ or ‘she’ since my boyfriend was sincerely not sure and wanted to say the right thing. In this case, the person in question said that whenever possible the best thing would just be to actually use their name and avoid those words, but otherwise, either was fine. They were also just really happy they were asked rather than some assumption be made.

    I find it interesting that the question asked was an “A or B” question, and the answer was something like “C and either A or B is also okay”. We think we’re well informed people, and then we realize we actually don’t even know enough to ask the completely correct question. There are so many different variations on identity. The important part is caring enough to ask, keeping an open mind, and trying not to make too many assumptions (and letting them go when you find out you did).

    There are a lot of caring people out there who want to get 100% behind the rights of all people, but get lost in the language.

    Thank you for writing this article. I support bisexuals and want to do what I can to make sure I’m communicating this.

  41. Gay marriage is still an exclusionary term

    […] Use inclusive language. Unless you know for a fact that both members of a couple are gay, refer to them as a same-sex couple, not a gay or lesbian couple. Likewise, use “same-sex marriage” rather than “gay marriage”, “LGBT rights” rather than “gay rights,” “the LGBT community” rather than “the gay community”, “pride” or “LGBT pride” rather than “gay pride”, “homophobia and biphobia” rather than just “homophobia”, and so forth. When naming an organization or group, use “LGBT” rather than “gay” if applicable (for example, a “LGBT-Straight Alliance” rather than a “Gay-Straight Alliance”.) [Feministe] […]

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