Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Rant: People Who Hate On Bisexuals

Yesterday I was having a conversation with a male co-worker who identifies as bisexual and was venting about messing around with a guy at a largely gay work environment and then hearing a bunch of trash talk about "what the hell, isn't he STRAIGHT??" And then, in turn, facing disbelief/scorn over his bisexuality. And my reply was "Seriously? When the hell are people going to get over it?"

And I seriously mean it. I really cannot fathom how people who aren't homophobic to begin with (cuz that is a whole other ball of wax) can have SUCH a problem with bisexuality. Especially gay people. I feel like gay people who are really closed-minded/bigoted towards bisexual people are kind of colossal assholes. And also kind of clueless. We want people to accept our sexuality and not hate us for who we are but we can totally do that to someone else and it's all fine and dandy? Hunh?! My favorite part are the really tired excuses I have heard in the past from my fellow gays about this subject:

1) "I don't want someone to dump me for someone of the opposite sex (of me)."
2) "I don't want to deal with someone who is experimenting with their sexuality."
3) "I don't want to be with someone who also sleeps with/has slept someone of the opposite/same sex."

O RLY? Here's how I feel about those responses:

1) You know what sucks? Getting dumped! I don't really understand the fact that being dumped for someone of the opposite sex of you is really so much worse. I feel like so much of that is about how if reflects on the person being dumped and how insecure they are about their own identity. You're a gay man and you're dating a bisexual guy and he leaves you for another woman, well guess what? You're still a gay man! I think the same shitty feelings would come with that situation as would any dumping, especially one where you're being left for another person, and blaming it on the Evils of Bisexuality is just hateful.

2) So if someone identifies as bisexual then he or she is just experimenting? Statements like this totally point to people not seeing bisexuality as a valid sexual identity. Someone experimenting with their sexuality is someone saying "I'm not sure if I'm gay or straight or bisexual or what I'd call my sexuality at all and I am exploring this." Someone saying they're bisexual means, surprise, they're bisexual! Remember how it felt when you came out as gay and people told you it was just a phase and you felt so angry and invalidated? Ding ding ding!! Way to perpetuate that kind of feeling!

3) Why not? It's not like you'll "get any on you". I can see where some fear of HIV/AIDS can come in here if someone is speaking about a male bisexual lover and they assume that homosexual sex = extra exposure to HIV/AIDS but let's not kid ourselves into thinking you're safe from exposure if you live an entirely heterosexual life. I hear a lot of gay men making comments like this along with a bunch of bullshit misogyny about women's genitalia and fish smells and other bullshit. Seriously though? Like for real? Like not just joking around with your fellow fags but actually you mean it? Cuz when I hear gay guys going on and on about how gross women's body parts are I just assume they're masking their inherent curiosity about sex with women. I'm not gay because I think women are gross, I'm gay because I think men are hot. Again, your sexuality isn't defined by who your partner slept with before you or sleeps with after you. So don't put your insecurity on the bisexual folks.

The thing that fascinates me about biphobia is the way it intersects homophobia and misogyny and general fear of non-traditional sexuality so succinctly and in so many ways. I also think people are really afraid of something they can't define as THIS or THAT in a clear and distinct way with no gray areas. Heterosexuality. Homosexuality. Man. Woman. People who identify their sexuality or gender in a place that's seen as "in between" and not polarized are so often discounted as being uncertain or confused. And I think, in actuality, the people confusing them of being uncertain and confused are the confused ones. And the scared ones. And the ones who aren't even sure who they are and thus are thrown into a tizzy by a person or persons who highlight this uncertainty by so certainly claiming and identity that isn't totally polarized and therefore more acceptable.

When I first came out the only other queer person I knew was my best friend Sarah, who is bisexual. I never questioned her identification and it didn't even occur to me to do so. I felt such total love and acceptance from her and I was just glad to have someone in my life who could understand what it was like to experience being sexually different from the acceptable, social norms. As I get older I find that a lot of labels for sexuality (and gender) tend to both help us define ourselves as well as limit us in a lot of ways. But while we're still using these words and terms I want to see some folks step into the 21st century and get over their issues with bisexuality.

A lot of times when I call people on negative comments they make on the subject they laugh it off as if it's all frivolous and has no impact on their lives, especially gay men. But if you don't see how being prejudiced towards bisexual people is totally connected to the very homophobia that some people aim at you then I really don't know how to make you see it. Cuz you're clearly not very smart.


At 1/16/2008 12:36 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess it stems from the propensity of humans to react negatively to that which is different. Further, since most people who identify as gay once identified by default (ie. ignorance of self) as straight, most gays aren't as hostile towards straights as one might think they would be.

I think something about the nature of being able to "choose" which gender you want to be with at any given time as a bi person threatens the typical gays. We cannot assimilate the straight lifestyle as easily as bisexual people can (at least in our gay worldview). And fear always causes hatred.

So I'm not excusing those who look badly on bisexuals. I'm just stating why I think they are that way and what they need to understand about themselves to overcome that prejudice.

I myself don't know any bisexuals or even any lesbians. (Remember, I'm in WV. I'm the only gay in the village.) But I know I feel "icky" about lesbians. I try hard not to, but I end up feeling a kind of "otherness" about them that is hard for me to suppress. Just being honest. I'd like to not feel that way, but because I have no real exposure I can't acclimate myself. (I guess the difference for me is that I'm a fairly laissez-faire guy.)

And I am afraid that, even given the opportunity to become acclimated to bi folks, the typical gay won't give that any effort since... Well, you said it. "It doesn't have anything to do with them."

It's the sad reality of majority prejudice, even when the majority is itself a minority.

At 1/16/2008 12:40 PM , Blogger ohnochriso said...

I totally agree with your comments as to the why. I just want those people to do some thinking and self-reflection and get over their prejudiced world views!

As for your "icky" feeling about lesbians, you should go meet some and find out for yourself! There are cruddy people in this world ergo there will be cruddy lesbians. But I've always had a lot of dyke friends that I adore and bond with. But I have always had close female friends so it might be something that's generally easier for me.

But props to you for being really open about your limitations and your desire to change/rethink them.

At 1/16/2008 1:35 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My difficulty with lesbians probably stems from my difficulty with women. Unlike you, I find it difficult being friends with women to the extent that there are only five or six in the world that I care about. I just don't identify easily with them at all. (Not that I'm a misogynist. I don't spite them. I just don't click with them.)

I may meet some lesbians when I move to Universityburg, WV in the fall. There's a bar there run by a lesbian couple. It'll be a whole new world of queerness for me. Sorry for sounding country, but I'm country.

(Apparently a lot of bears and musclecubs frequent said bar, too! Ones who have JOBS and MORTGAGES and stuff! Yumblies!)

At 1/16/2008 3:44 PM , Blogger Michael C. said...

Great rant, Chris.

You know what I find so interesting, alien, hard for me to relate to, but totally cool? This whole fluid sexuality of the latest generation. There have always been people whose sexuality is fluid, but so many young men and women in their twenties today are much more fluid about their sexuality (or at least more open about it).

I've got a few friends who are young and polyamorous. They bond with a single person, then have sexual and emotional relationships with other people of both sexes. It's really fascinating, and I'm curious to see how some of these relationships will evolve. They don't call themselves straight, gay or bisexual... just polyamorous.

It's very difficult for me to wrap my head around. Not that I disapprove, or judge, or even worry, it's just that I'm 100% gay. Of course, then I think back to high school and college where I had sex with women and called myself bisexual. Even then I knew I was just kidding myself. I know bisexuals, and I know I'm gay.


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