Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Why put the B in LGBT?

I am sick and tired of biphobia. It’s bad enough that bisexuals’ partners are more often than not insecure in both themselves and their relationship to constantly fear that their other half is going to run away with someone of the same / opposite sex and that there’s nothing they can do about it because they don’t have the right body parts. A lot of people, both straight and gay, would refuse to go out / date a bisexual (wo)man because of the stigma that is attached to it. Unfortunately, that’s the way it often goes, the lines between bisexuality and monogamy happily blurred or erased by the ones it serves the less to do so. Newsflash: it IS possible to be bisexual, live your identity to its fullest, be in a relationship with either a man or a woman and not wanting to be intimate with anyone else. So get over it.

Unfortunately, this is not the only issue we have to contend with.

We are getting pounded on by our own community on a regular basis. LGBT(Q) is a marvelous concept. Inclusion, communitarism, political activism… For those of you who might not know it, LGBT(Q) stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, (Queer) and I guess the order of the letters is less than innocuous. Gays and Lesbians DO come first, bisexuals and transgendered people were “added” to the list and (more often than not badly) included in the LGBT community.

The problem is that bisexuals don’t have a community per se. Unlike gay men or lesbians, we do not have a community. We belong to both the "straight world" and the "gay world" or as perceived this way. We are tolerated in both worlds as long as we do not express whatever part of our desires and identity belong to the “other” world. Heterosexuals want to hear as much about same sex relationships as homosexuals want to hear about opposite sex relationships. As a result, a bisexual (wo)man’s identity is not defined by his own personality but by the intimate bonds (s)he forms, by his / her relationship. It makes it easier for everyone, I guess. If you’re in a same sex relationship, join the ranks of the oppressed and go with the queers, if you’re not, go with the breeders and enjoy the fact that you can blend in and whatever status or societal acceptance that gives you. Go on, take the easy road. Easier for everyone but bisexuals.

The worst biphobia I have experienced came from my own ranks, the community I live most of my life in due to my personal relationships: from lesbians. An argument has unfolded on an Irish forum a couple of days ago. This forum is purely made of female members, some lesbian and some bi but all having in common the fact that they love women. A long standing member of this forum and of the international lesbian community at large has recently had her sexuality challenged by what must be the best man on the planet… having lived as an “out” lesbian for decades and finding honesty the best policy, this member shared the news on a forum where I assume she expected support and encouragement from her chosen family.

The backlash didn’t start until a few days after. It has been suggested by people this woman would have until a few days ago called friends, that she WAS taking the easy way out, and I am sure that the fact that she’s currently going the long adoption road to have a baby has entered some heads as one of the reasons why she would do such a thing as degrade herself to pursue a man. In the lesbian community, if you’re not a hardcore lesbian, you’re next to nothing. It’s sleeping with the enemy, giving in to patriarchy. Lesbians who sleep with men can discuss it because it’s sex, they were horny and the poor guy was there. As long as we use them, it’s alright. But actually looking for a romantic relationship with one? It’s obviously denying who you are. Obviously.

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EWI said...

Interesting post. It reminds me in some respects of the disapproval of 'going outside the community' as regards, say, race or religion (or even social status). Obviously I'm thinking of extremes here, whereas in this particular context it's very much the norm.

Would you say that she is viewed as having betrayed her community? Is there really that much hatred and fear of heterosexuals? I accept that (as a heterosexual male) I have only a dim appreciation of what gay men or women must go through, living lives in amongst a heterosexually-oriented community.

p.s. I disagree with the "poor guy" bit. Firstly, it's sex with a woman who's presumably unafraid of sex (unlike so many hetero women out there). Some men would regard it as prime bragging-material, others might be carefully paying attention to pick up priceless experience ;-)

Morgan said...

That's a brave post, and thanks for sharing it.

Sadly, it just goes to show that many lesbians and gays are just as good at enforcing rigid group norms, and unable to view outside their own experience, as many heterosexuals. Treading the line between identities is risky.