Friday, November 29, 2013

What's so Great About Biphobia

I know, I know, biphobia is supposed to be this big, bad, ugly thing. But actually, biphobia is really great. Biphobia is a beautiful automatic filtering device that lets you know who you should not include in your life and why.

What's a great sign that someone has no imagination?
If they can't believe that other people can be something they are not.

What's a great sign that someone is ignorant?
If they say stupid things thinking they are being clever.

What's a great sign that someone is brainwashed?
If they dogmatically repeat what their religious group has told them without giving it further thought.

What's a great sign that someone is brain dead?
If they can't change their thinking no matter what anyone says.

What's a great sign that someone is bigoted?
If they think it's okay to judge others based on an inherent trait.

What's a great sign that someone is cruel?
If they get pleasure in putting down others.

What's a great sign that someone is arrogant?
If they think they know more about a person's sexuality than the person them-self.

What's a great sign that a someone has self-esteem problems?
If they think it's funny to hurt others with unkind words.

What's a great sign that someone doesn't really care about you?
If they want you to be who they want you to be instead of who you really are.

What's a great sign of pigheadedness?
If someone insists that they know how everything is, even things they have no experience with.

Another thing that makes biphobia really awesome is that the lack of it can tell you who to keep in your life and why.

What's a great sign that someone really loves you?
If they still love you even when they know you are something they don't understand.

What's a great sign that someone is open-minded?
If they are willing to listen to ideas that differ from what they've heard growing up.

What's a great sign that someone is intelligent?
If they let reason change preconceived ideas.

What's a great sign of an independent thinker?
If they don't automatically adopt the ideas of any group they belong to, without questioning.

What's a great sign of a kind person?
If they are there to comfort you when others are cruel.

What's a great sign of a selfless person?
If they don't put their needs above yours.

What's a great sign of an understanding person?
If they listen and hear you out.

What's a great sign of an educated person?
If they have learned things beyond that which their personal experience has shown them.

What's a great sign that someone is humble?
If they're willing to admit there are things they don't know.

What's a great sign of a thoughtful person?
If they think before they repeat potentially harmful things they may have heard.

Yeah, so okay, yes, the world would be a better place if there were no biphobic creepy crawlies; but since life gave us these damned lemons let's have another frosty cold glass of fresh squeezed lemonade and bask in some citrusey cool sweetness. In the end, at least it's good to know who our true friends and allies are, and who to write off as bitter seeds needing to be picked out of what would otherwise be a satisfyingly delicious orientation. Raise your glass, and Cheers! Here's to being thankful that at least we get fast-tacked in finding out who to keep and who to cut from the summer picnic that should be our lives.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Why Bother Coming Out as Bisexual?

A commenter responding to my blog post Quietly Coming Out as Bisexual said, “I can't imagine why sexuality would have anything to do with anyone other than the person involved. I have no desire to wear a sign saying I'm a non-practicing heterosexual.” I've frequently heard not only straight people, but also bisexuals, wonder why a bisexual should feel any need to make it a point to come out. A bisexual man on twitter so eloquently put it to me (as @BisexualBatman) this way, "Nobody cares who we fuck." While, gays and lesbians usually have a good grasp on the reasons why they should not live a closeted life - for example this would mean never publicly acknowledging the person they love - the issue gets more complex for bisexuals.

No one thinks twice when a man and a woman walk down the street holding hands, or go to an event presenting themselves as partners. When a gay couple does these things, they are automatically announcing their sexual orientation. But someone doing these things, as part of either a same sex-relationship or an opposite-sex relationship, may actually be bisexual, and thus still closeted about their orientation, despite being open about their relationship.

A bisexual woman (let’s call her Margret) may say something like, "I'm thirty-six and I've been in a committed monogamous relationship with my girlfriend, Joan, for eight years. I've self-identified as bisexual since I was sixteen, but aside from a few make-out sessions in college, Joan was the first woman I was with. Joan knows I’m bisexual and she’s totally accepting, but everyone else thinks I’m a lesbian who took a long time to come out. Since I intend to stay monogamous with my girlfriend, I don’t see why I should come out as bisexual. My mother had such a difficult time accepting my relationship with Joan that I didn't want to complicate things at the time by insisting I was bisexual. Now that she’s okay about me and Joan, I don’t want to cause her any more grief, or disrupt our new found harmony. Also, some of our lesbian friends sometimes speak negatively about bisexuals and I don’t want to alienate them. Yet being closeted keeps nagging at me.”

Like Margret, many bisexuals - contrary to stereotypes - are monogamous. For them, once in a committed relationship, it’s easy to pass as gay or straight. Ironically, bisexuals are criticized for both having this “privilege” (as if bisexuals are responsible for creating the social dynamic that makes this possible), and for insisting on “making a big issue” of coming out as bisexual anyway. As far as having the perceived “privilege” of passing as gay or straight, the truth is this is often experienced as a curse by bisexuals. Gays and straights alike are more than happy to tell a bisexual, “You are with Joe/Jane now so you’re gay/straight now.” This, and the tendency by the press to also automatically put bisexuals in a gay or straight box, is what is known as bi-erasure. We bisexuals are repeatedly shoved into these boxes against our will and then criticized for taking advantage of this “privilege,” and then further criticized - as overreacting - when many of us still insist on being defined as bisexual.

So what are some of the reasons why many bisexuals insist on being out as bisexual instead of obediently stewing in our "privileged" closets?  (I did a quick review of some reasons on Bi-Visibility Day, but I will elaborate here.) One reason is that when bisexuals remain closeted, there is no opportunity to counteract stereotypes.  Ideas that bisexuals always cheat, are always sexually promiscuous, always must have a partner of each sex, are really gay/lesbian and will not admit it, or are just trying to get attention, run rampant and unchecked.

In the case of my hypothetical bisexual above, Margret is in the position to show her lesbian friends that despite living in a proud and open same-sex relationship she still identifies as bisexual. It would be difficult for her friends to continue to believe that all bisexuals are really closeted self-hating-homosexuals. She would also show her friends that the stereotypes that bisexuals can’t or won’t stay monogamous, or will always leave a women to be with a man to have hetero-privileges, is also not true.

As Harvey Milk said during his coming out campaign“Gay people, we will not win our rights by staying quietly in our closets... We are coming out! We are coming out to fight the lies, the myths, the distortions! We are coming out to tell the truth about gays!” This massive push for gays to be out and proud and visible is hugely responsible for the incredible progress in gay rights since Milk’s assassination in 1978. Once the greater population saw what gay people are really like, how they really live, it was easy for the straight world to see there was nothing wrong with being gay. The fact that many bisexuals are closeted and living openly as gay (or straight) is, I believe, largely why bisexuals are still so heavily shunned or berated while gays and lesbians are becoming more and more accepted.

Like with everyone contemplating coming out, Margret has to assess the full impact of what that would mean for her and her loved-ones. Margret must consider her mother. She may choose to hide in a same-sex relationship, and appear gay, to protect her family. However, the price she may personally have to pay may not be worth it.

What is the price? For one, feeling guilty - guilty for taking advantage of the less complicated and less controversial label of lesbian, feeling guilty about not being a role model for the larger bisexual community, for participating in bi-erasure, bi-invisibility, for not personally being an example that would help fight bi-stereotyping.
However, the major impact to an individual remaining closeted is in the form of self-denial. Keeping a part of one’s identity hidden from the world can be agonizing. Imagine if redheads had to keep their hair dyed black least anyone find out, imagine if sailing enthusiasts had to pretend that their love for skiing is the only activity they've ever had a hankering for, imagine if art-lovers had to read books about famous artists in dark corners of basements. Imagine the hurt, the loss of intimacy, when one keeps a fundamental part of themselves hidden from their loved-ones. Imagine the anxiety over being accidentally “found out.” Imagine the constant battle of reminding oneself over and over again that even though many people are not okay with who they are, they really are not a bad person, not sick, not perverse. As with the main character in my novel, “Love, Sex, and Understanding the Universe,”one ends up asking themselves repeatedly, if there is nothing wrong with who I am, why do I hide? The guilt of further perpetuating the idea that bisexuality is so shameful or embarrassing that one shouldn't openly admit to this part of their personality, can be a heavy burden.

My hypothetical Margret may ask herself, what if my little brother is bi, or my niece, or my girlfriend’s cousin? Wouldn't me coming out make it easier for them? If she and Joan adopt a baby, Margret may wonder: will I be a better mother if I protect my child by hiding this part of myself that is unaccepted and misunderstood by much of society? Or will I be a better mother by being proud and happy and an example of standing up and trying to make a difference?

Sadly, there are often much worse things bisexuals have to consider before coming out – potentially losing a job or a spouse, being a target for a violent hate crime, etc. Certainly these factors may weigh quite heavily.

One of the self-perpetuating problems for bisexuals is that as long as so many of us remain closeted, so many of us will feel isolated, lost, lonely and afraid to come out. Only by being out can we find each other, encourage each other, and support each other. Every person has to decide what’s best for themselves, but one thing is for sure: the more bisexuals are visible and refuse to be re-categorized, marginalized, or mistreated, the sooner society will stop thinking it’s okay to erase us, box us, hate us, and bully us, and a lot happier a lot of individuals will be. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Adventures of Bisexual Batman

Years ago, I wrote a novel called “Love, Sex, and Understanding the Universe.” Believing that there were many who would get a lot out of the book, I recently decided it was important to finally publish it. To be sure that the people who would appreciate the book - which is about a fictional bisexual young man - would know it existed, I decided to open a Twitter account. On Twitter, I searched for what was being said about bisexuality. What I found appalled me. You can read the rest of the story on how Bisexual Batman rose from the mist here

Twitter, by far, has way more biphobia than any other social media I've seen. Though I've adopted the Bisexual Batman alter ego for Tumblr as well, I've found that site to be hugely bi-friendly and have very rarely seen any biphobia there.  

As @BisexualBatman on Twitter I reply to biphobic tweets with remarks pointing out the tweeter's bigotry or ignorance, or reply with links to accurate information about bisexuality. When they engage back with me, I try to educate and get them to see how harmful their words can be. I also retweet unique positive comments, and interesting non-phobic comments, about bisexuality. I “favorite” other positive remarks. I reply with encouraging or helpful comments to people who seem to be under some kind of distress about bisexuality. I tweet congratulations when appropriate. I inform those with questions.

Here are examples of the kinds of things I've come upon:

A young high school student came out to her parents as bi, they took it well but the experience has left her shaken and her friends are concerned.

A middle-aged man saying that studies have shown that all women are bisexual, and no men are bisexual. Two women were vehemently arguing with him. At some point he ends up saying women are only bisexual during their “non-fertile” time of the month.

Multitudes of tweets claiming “Bisexual men? Nah, niga, you gay!”

Many tweets proclaiming “I would NEVER date a bisexual.”

Claims are made repeatedly that girls say they are bisexual just to get attention from men.

Frequent mentions that giraffes are bisexual.

A young girl who once experimented with another girl is upset when her Girls Club leader proclaims that all bisexuals are "dirty sluts." She doesn't want to confront her for fear she will “look at her differently.”

Bisexuality is defined on a regular basis as “never being disappointed by what you find when you reach down somebody’s pants.”

A woman who repeatedly reminds Huffington Post Gay Voices to say “same-sex marriage” instead of “gay marriage.” Huff Post more often than not still saying “gay marriage,” and never replying to her tweets about that and other bi-erasure stuff she sees on their page.

Tons of tweets leading to porn sights with the hashtag bisexual.

Mentions that bisexuals ALWAYS cheat or “fuck you up.”

People laughing at and making fun of sexually inexperienced people claiming they are bisexual.

Many, many, tweets saying that it’s okay to be gay, or bisexual but not okay to judge people, some change that to “not okay to wear crocks”

Many tweets saying, gay, straight, bisexual, black, white, brown, if you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice to you.

People saying it's okay to be bi but not okay for men to say they love lesbians but think two men together is disgusting.

Proud proclamations of “I’m bisexual.”

Someone insisting that educational institutions have to recognize that there are gay, bisexual and transgendered kids.

People who say they wish others would stop insisting that they label their sexuality.

A bisexual girl complaining that bisexuals complain about gay people too much.

People declaring that they just came out as bisexual and feel great.

People wondering if they should come out.

People wondering if liking just some people of one sex or the other makes you bisexual or not.

A girl asking what the bible says about bisexuals.

Quips about bisexuals trying things and thus being trisexuals.

A lot of people saying they are confused about the meaning of the words bisexual, pansexual, and polysexual.

A proclamation that bisexual women will “always have relationship problems.”

People regularly announcing that other people (who they name) are bisexual.

Several times there were people vehemently arguing about whether someone they know is bisexual or not.

A woman declaring that "now every girl is bisexual, and you guys aren’t gettin good dick.”

A link to an Advocate article saying that Lou Reid was “perhaps bisexual” then describing his obviously bisexual life.

A link to an article where two men say they are proud to identify as gay then go on to describe their joint love-affair with a bisexual woman.

Arguments that not all bisexuals are binary any more than all gays are happy and all lesbians are residents of the isle of Lesbos.

Tweets that insist that bisexuals "fuck everyone."

Tweets that ask "why can’t everyone be bisexual?"

Tweets asking if the person they are tweeting to is bisexual.

Tweets from people wondering if they themselves are bisexual, and friends assuring them that they are not.

Tweets informing other people that they (the other person, not the tweeter) is bisexual, sometimes saying that's okay, sometimes laughing about it seemingly good naturedly.

Slews of tweets announcing, celebrating, or bemoaning (sometimes with great melodrama), that Lady Gaga, Zac Efron, Michelle Rodriguez, the Disney Princess Mulan, or the comic book character Loki ,have recently come out as bisexual.

Tweets declaring that celebs come out as bisexual just for publicity or to win fans in the LGBT community.

Men proudly announcing that their girlfriend is bisexual.

Men lamenting that their girlfriend isn't bisexual.

People saying that someone in their life is bisexual, but “that cool.”

Women saying they are tired of telling men, "yeah, I'm bisexual, but that doesn't mean I want to have a threesome with you and your girlfriend."

A man saying bisexuals are "immature hoes."

People saying "I'm bisexual, remember?" or "I'm BISEXUAL, not gay."

People saying that they forgot someone was bisexual.

A lesbian asking what's wrong with dating bisexuals.

A lesbian saying that all of her recent girlfriends have been bisexuals so "yeah, maybe I do have a type."

I, as Bisexual Batman have been accused of being MADDD, Crazy, a Bitch, a baby, a weirdo and an ass wipe. I've have been thanked, laughed at, laughed with, told repeatedly to Fuck off, and admonished "don't be a victim." There were a lot of “Who are you?” One young girl asked if I was a stalker. Quite often biphobic tweeters try to bully me by being even more biphobic and are stumped when I don’t crumble. A few times biphobic tweeters have apologized.

Bisexual Batman’s tweets and retweets have been retweeted and favorited several dozens of times.

I have gained many new followers, all of whom I’d never heard of before.

I had a man think it necessary to tell me that he has sex with men and women and does not identify as bisexual.

I've had a woman, who was saying terrible things about bisexuals, tell me she is dating a bisexual, and she hates bisexuals and I should fuck off.

I've been accused by a right-wing homophobic group as being part of the “gaystopo.”