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Monday, February 24, 2014

Closeted Bisexual Complains About Bisexual Invisibility

Posted by on Mon, Feb 24, 2014 at 12:23 PM

Maria Southard Ospina also complains about misconceptions about bisexuals—including those held by her own family members—and wonders where her out bisexual role models are. HuffPo:

Here's what I know: My sexuality has never been a black-and-white matter for me. I cannot remember ever explicitly identifying as straight, gay, or even bisexual when I was growing up. I've always felt that people are people, or rather that souls are souls—regardless of gender. I never had that voice in my head saying, "You're a girl, so you should like boys," but I also didn't have one saying, "You are attracted to boys and girls, and you should probably tell people that."

My partners knew; my friends and relatives, for the most part, did not. And I didn't feel bad about it. I didn't feel like it deserved a big speech or a sit-down dinner with my parents. It was just how I felt.

As I've gotten older, I've begun to wonder if this lack of disclosure is dangerous and oppressive.

You think? You think maybe the bisexual closet—including your own—has something to do with bisexual invisibility? Maybe just a bit?

Presumably Ospina is out to her friends and family now—it's not an anonymous piece—but she never takes responsibility for her complicity in bisexual erasure (she erased herself!). And she doesn't make the obvious connection between her own closet and the ignorance that flourished around her:

Just recently, my older brother said something to me about bisexuality. I'm paraphrasing, but the gist was, "I just don't get it. Surely it's just a transitional period for deciding which gender you are attracted to." Initially I was angry. I thought he was being incredibly ignorant and insensitive. But then I realized that his is the opinion of a lot of people out there.

I read that and thought, "Maybe Ospina's brother wouldn't be so ignorant if he knew his sister was bisexual? Maybe if his bisexual sister had made a big coming out speech at sit-down dinner he wouldn't still be so ignorant and insensitive?" If I had edited the piece, I would've asked Ospina to address that point.

But her conclusion makes it clear that Ospina hasn't given much though to her own responsibility to be out. Because Ospina's proposed solution for all the ignorance, insensitivity, and invisibility that bisexuals face isn't bisexuals coming out to their friends and families—which doesn't necessarily require a big speech at a sit-down dinner—but more celebs coming out as bisexual:

Bisexuals will never be accepted if we don't see more of them, and that's why we need bi celebrities to step up. Actress and musician Maria Bello's New York Times essay "Coming Out as a Modern Family" was a shining moment in which she details the process of telling her son that she is romantically involved with a woman. When Olympic diver and television personality Tom Daley told us in his December YouTube video that he is "happier than ever" dating a guy, all our hearts were throbbing.

But neither Bello nor Daley actually identified as bisexual. And while I understand why Evan Rachel Wood and Allan Cumming might not want to give speeches addressing their bisexuality, I'd certainly tune in if they did. We need more widely visible, openly bi people out there to show the world that bisexuality is a legitimate orientation, that it isn't wrong, and that it certainty doesn't mean you're an indecisive mess of a human.

We need our Ellen Page moment too.

Ospina call for bi celebrities to "step up" would carry more weight if she had also called on bisexual closet cases—herself included—to do the same.

 

Comments (81) RSS

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1
I have met a number of bi people who discovered this later in life when married to an opposite gender person. Often coming out to family for them would also mean coming out as non-monogamous and sometimes it means explaining that it's just sex. That can be a high bar and the payoff might be small.
Posted by wxPDX on February 24, 2014 at 12:50 PM · Report this
2
O_o Alan Cumming is bisexual? I am agog.

Indeed he is, according to wikipedia.
Posted by Marrena on February 24, 2014 at 1:32 PM · Report this
fletc3her 3
I am conflicted about the coming out process. I have never had a "big talk" with my family around the dinner table. I loathe the prospect. On the other hand my family knows I'm on the board of a gay pride organization and a PFLAG chapter, I've walked in several pride parades, and attended others with family, I campaigned heavily for R-74, I am friends with drag queens and gush about Jinkx Monsoon, and Facebook says I like men. I feels some guilt about never "coming out" even though I feel like I am living openly.
Posted by fletc3her on February 24, 2014 at 1:34 PM · Report this
4
Dan,

I am bi as is my wife (as she puts it, situationally bi) We only pursue our bisexuality when we are engaging in open marriage activities, which we do as a couple. I'd be happy to come out. But she doesn't want to. So now only a few couples know, and a few friends where it has come up in a relevant fashion.

We have discussed it, and my feeling of unease at being in the bi closet. If I make a stand on it, she says that our open days are over. It was a pre condition of our starting so I have to honor it.
Posted by wine-o on February 24, 2014 at 1:39 PM · Report this
forcrimeinitaly 5
I never felt the need to have the big coming out sit down with anyone. Just lived my life openly. Sometimes I had girlfriends, sometimes I had boyfriends. It wasn't ever a big deal because...it's not a big deal.
Posted by forcrimeinitaly on February 24, 2014 at 1:42 PM · Report this
yelahneb 6
I've been out as bisexual for years, but I'm also married, which has led some to say, "You've got a wife - so you made a choice which gender you prefer." To which I say, "I am no more or less a bisexual by marrying the opposite gender than you'd be a racist for marrying the same race."
Posted by yelahneb http://www.strangebutharmless.com on February 24, 2014 at 1:43 PM · Report this
7
@1, 4 You're bi whether you're fucking others or not so why not just say it? That's like saying "I can't tell people I'm straight because I'm single so it doesn't count"
Posted by ishf on February 24, 2014 at 1:44 PM · Report this
8
If one follows the link, avoid the comments.
Posted by vennominon on February 24, 2014 at 1:51 PM · Report this
9
@8 Thanks, wish there were more people giving advice like that.
Posted by puddles on February 24, 2014 at 2:05 PM · Report this
10
I'm bi and I'm in a monogamous opposite sex marriage. I am mostly out. I have handled the process by mentioning it casually when it comes up in conversation and that has allowed me to avoid the "why are you telling me about your sex life?" reaction.

That said, I am not out to my entire extended family because I am worried about the potential reaction. Most of them have finally come around to "it's not a choice for me so I guess it's not a choice for gay people, either." And that mindset has allowed them to support civil equality for same sex couples. If it turns out that they know someone who's attracted to the same sex and that person is married to a member of the opposite sex, I worry that will give some of them the excuse they want so they can go back to the old, comfortable bigotry.

So I really don't know how to handle that. If they were against LGBT rights, I would be out to them with bells on. But since they begrudgingly support civil equality, I'm afraid of rocking the boat. Has anyone had any experience with this sort of thing?
Posted by MiscKitty on February 24, 2014 at 2:10 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 11
You know what, closet cases? Go on and be closet cases. As long as you're not hurting someone else with your closeted behavior (a spouse who doesn't know that you'll never really want him/her, or that you're screwing around on the side), just stay in there, whatever kind of closet you've built yourself.

I just don't want to hear how hot and stuffy it is in there. I also don't want to hear you bitching about other closet cases, as Ms. Ospina does in this article, if you're not willing to set your own example. In fact, you know what? Just leave the closet cases alone altogether (unless they're hurting someone, see above). Their job is not to make your coming out easier.
Posted by MacCrocodile http://maccrocodile.com/ on February 24, 2014 at 2:15 PM · Report this
watchout5 12
I'll make sure to bring that up in the next meeting of the bi where we should get new stickers and buttons to make sure we're super visual.

What if my comfort level with how bi I might be on any given day isn't ever to the point where I want to brag to the rest of the world "I THINK ALL GENITALS ARE BEAUTIFUL EVEN YOURS". So many people treat their sexuality as a status symbol, a facebook update, something easily labeled and given away at any chance. If it's relevant I wouldn't hesitate to bring it up. It's largely never relevant. I don't feel like that makes me closeted, because I didn't have a sit down with all the parental units in my life and explain to them in detail what type of person I like to have sex with. That's never acceptable in heterosexually. To sit your family down and say, "I like opposite genitals, just making sure you knew". It only becomes relevant when you get into serious relationships. That's when they get to know. When it matters. Not just cause.
Posted by watchout5 http://www.overclockeddrama.com on February 24, 2014 at 2:23 PM · Report this
Ophian 13
I, like a lot of us, don't do the big announcement thing.

Since I began my sex/dating life as a teenager some 20 years ago, it never occurred to me to not find both sexes attractive, and I had the good fortune that it was never an issue socially.

Being out to family is moot for me, but I make sure that the people I live with know as it comes up, and usually answer "bisexual" if someone else asks [there are some people/circumstances for which my sexuality is just not up for discussion].

On the occasion that someone is being a bigot, I will introduce myself as queer [at a bar, on the bus, &c.], but that is usually an instance of general homophobia and not a time for the nuances of the queer spectrum.

I have to admit that I am not Out at work. My coworker is perfectly pro-GLBT, and we discuss queer issues all the time--no minds need changing. In the time that I have worked there my orientation has been theoretical [if one's sex-partners exhibit one's sexuality, I would count as asexual], and I'm not one to discuss my private life in much detail.

I've wondered if I have some obligation to turn to my coworker one day and say in so many words, "I'm bi," but it seems pointless as I know his response would be a shrug.

Posted by Ophian on February 24, 2014 at 2:27 PM · Report this
lucida c. 14
When gay people come out of the closet, they often find an open support network on the other side. Not so for bisexuals; we come out and face increased rejection amongst straights and queers alike. This will continue to be true until queer folks accept bisexuals. Stop blaming the victims of bi invisibility; it's not that we're hiding. It's that others refuse to see us. It's a bisexual celebrity's job to demand bisexual accountability; it's a gay celebrity's job to whip other gay people into shape on accepting us. You work on your side and we'll work on ours, okay?
Posted by lucida c. on February 24, 2014 at 2:32 PM · Report this
lucida c. 15
Ask a Queer Chick has a good point: "For whatever reason, people really struggle with bisexuality being a thing. Unless you drop it into every conversation—'As a bisexual woman, I wish it would stop snowing.' 'I'm feeling really overwhelmed and bisexual with all these work deadlines'—they will assume, ignore, and forget. If you date a dude, they'll figure you're straight. If you date a lady, they'll be like 'Wait, now she's gay? So weird!'" (http://thehairpin.com/2014/02/the-pubic-…)
Posted by lucida c. on February 24, 2014 at 2:44 PM · Report this
lucida c. 16
And honestly, Dan, it's pretty fucking disingenous for you to completely ignore the significant contribution you've made toward bisexual invisibility and tell us to fix what you helped fuck up.
Posted by lucida c. on February 24, 2014 at 2:45 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 17
Well, here we are, back with Dan Savage saying, "bisexuals are garbage and we should march them into concentration camps and bury them in mass graves."

I paraphrase, of course.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on February 24, 2014 at 2:57 PM · Report this
Alison Cummins 18
When your current is one sex and your exes are a different sex, people figure it out pretty quickly.
Posted by Alison Cummins http://cleanmyscreen.peghole.com/ on February 24, 2014 at 3:00 PM · Report this
Ophian 19
lucida c. @16, I think it is perfectly acceptable to take issue with a woman who bemoans the closet, yet gets angry and silent when her own brother hands her an opportunity to speak up.

And honestly, lucida, it's pretty disingenuous for you to completely ignore the significant contribution Dan's made toward bisexual visibility [e.g. this discussion right here].
Posted by Ophian on February 24, 2014 at 3:05 PM · Report this
20
@ 18 - Maybe. Or they assume you were either closeted or experimenting. Often, you really do have to spell it out. And even that is often met with a "we'll see" sort of response, especially when you're young.
Posted by MiscKitty on February 24, 2014 at 3:12 PM · Report this
Alanmt 21
@14 Please don't purport to be a spokesperson for me or any other bisexual. You suck at it. Also, whiny and bitchy are not persuasive communication styles.
Posted by Alanmt on February 24, 2014 at 3:13 PM · Report this
artdyke 22
I was just a guest on a podcast where I talked the bisexual host (another Savage, interestingly) into coming the fuck out already. Woohoo!
http://westcastnetwork.com/pulling-it-to…

(sorry if this is considered spam; I'm just stoked about it. :D)
Posted by artdyke on February 24, 2014 at 3:17 PM · Report this
lucida c. 23
It's not up to the oppressed minority to educate the ignorant, oppressive majority, Ophian.

Additionally, "coming out" happens differently for celebrities than it does for people who aren't famous (it doesn't tend to involve a big speech or single event for the non-famous), and it happens differently for people who are gay/monosexual than it does for those of us who are into more than one gender (mostly that we do it ALL THE TIME and people frequently forget, see quote in #15).
Posted by lucida c. on February 24, 2014 at 3:20 PM · Report this
lucida c. 24
Sorry, @21, did you have an argument under that misogyny?
Posted by lucida c. on February 24, 2014 at 3:21 PM · Report this
26
no one else is a trifle surprised about Alan Cummings being bisexual? Hours have passed and I am still pondering this.
Posted by Marrena on February 24, 2014 at 3:56 PM · Report this
Fortunate 27
@23, regardless if you think it is your job to educate the majority, it is pretty much the only way to effect change.

If you think the change in attitudes towards gay people happened just because a few gay celebrities came out of the closet you are sadly mistaken.

Gay people have been actively trying to educate straight people actively and blatantly for almost a century now. And gay people actually coming out to family and friends has probably had the single most significant influence on the increased acceptance of gay people.

Not some distant celebrity. They are an interesting bit of gossip. But when your son or daughter or brother or sister or best friend from childhood comes out that has a direct impact on straight people and influences their opinions. And that opens the door for those gay people to directly educate those people in their lives.

You can deny your role in educating others, but if you aren't going to do the work of educating, and of being open with family and friends, thereby being a REASON for them to take a look at their own attitudes in the first place, then you have no business whining about being invisible.

You want the majority to change just because. It's a nice idea. It may even be how it SHOULD be. But it isn't how it is. That's not reality.

In the real world the minority DOES have to educate the majority about their issues.

It sucks but it is the way it is, so stop moaning about it and just do it or accept that you did nothing and stop complaining.
Posted by Fortunate on February 24, 2014 at 4:00 PM · Report this
Fortunate 28
@26, no, because it wasn't really a secret. He came out years ago.
Posted by Fortunate on February 24, 2014 at 4:02 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 29
The problem Bi-sexuals face is two fold. They can easily hide behind a "str8" relationship, as most do and bask in the light of being "normal". Or they can live as a "gay" person and be with some one of the same gender. But that's not so easy. Most people see how you act, not what you feel. Tell them you're "bi" and your living with someone of the opposite sex and they think, "Oh str8". It's a dilemma for sure.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on February 24, 2014 at 4:26 PM · Report this
ThomZ0rz 30
I remember when I (a bi guy) came out to my parents and family. They were fairly confused, and the question was pretty much, " Well, what about (name of my then girlfriend)?" And I just had to say that being bi meant I could and would date people of either gender.

I also found that when I was dating a woman, people accepted my bisexuality at face value (I think the reasoning was: why would a straight dude lie about that, and why would a gay person uncloset himself and still date a woman). Later, when I dated a man for several years, the assumption became that I was gay. I had to be consistently out to people that I met who reasonably assumed that I was gay because I had met them while with my boyfriend. I encountered a fair amount of snarkiness from some gays and lesbians about bisexuals (bi now, gay later or UGH I am so done dating bisexuals) but all I could do was reiterate my bisexuality and metaphorically slap people down when they needed it.
Posted by ThomZ0rz on February 24, 2014 at 4:30 PM · Report this
ThomZ0rz 31
I remember when I (a bi guy) came out to my parents and family. They were fairly confused, and the question was pretty much, " Well, what about (name of my then girlfriend)?" And I just had to say that being bi meant I could and would date people of either gender.

I also found that when I was dating a woman, people accepted my bisexuality at face value (I think the reasoning was: why would a straight dude lie about that, and why would a gay person uncloset himself and still date a woman). Later, when I dated a man for several years, the assumption became that I was gay. I had to be consistently out to people that I met who reasonably assumed that I was gay because I had met them while with my boyfriend. I encountered a fair amount of snarkiness from some gays and lesbians about bisexuals (bi now, gay later or UGH I am so done dating bisexuals) but all I could do was reiterate my bisexuality and metaphorically slap people down when they needed it.

Interestingly, now that I'm single again and at an age where I am more serious about settling down/getting married, I feel that there are a lot of impacts to the gender of who I end up with long term. Sometimes I feel like even if I'm out about my bisexuality while I date or marry a woman, I'll feel a little bit like I'm going back in the closet. It's something I think about a lot.
Posted by ThomZ0rz on February 24, 2014 at 4:30 PM · Report this
32
I came out as bi to one friend as a time, but didn't tell my parents for a while. I knew they would be cool with it but it was a bad time to confide in them about things. Eventually, the way I did come out to them was by telling them I had a girlfriend.

After a number of years of identifying as bi, being out to my friends, and being out on facebook, I figured out a good way to combat bi invisibility without having to go "Hi, nice to meet you, I'm bisexual." I just drop it into conversation, casually, with no baggage attached. In addition to talking about my boyfriend, I'll mention "My ex-girlfriend and I had dinner..." or, "There was this really cute girl there and it got me all flustered and embarassed.." It makes it seem more normal, which is the whole point of encouraging people to be out in as many contexts as possible.
Posted by kellarules on February 24, 2014 at 4:35 PM · Report this
33
@28, came out as liking the ladyfolk? Really? This guy?

http://youtu.be/2dxxlXufFkY
Posted by Marrena on February 24, 2014 at 4:40 PM · Report this
wilbur@work 34
This predictable pissing match is exactly why most of us don't, and won't, give a shit about the need to publicly label anyone's variable sexuality, of whatever flavor. Not our issue.
Posted by wilbur@work on February 24, 2014 at 5:25 PM · Report this
35
@6
Right on.
Posted by vab251 on February 24, 2014 at 6:46 PM · Report this
36
I'm with wxPDX@1 -- when one's midlife bisexuality is limited to sexy one-offs, one feels stupid announcing it at the dinner table. My mom doesn't want to hear about my sex life, whether it involves hot threesomes or tight bondage or pegging.

If I started dating a woman, or if my husband started dating a guy, and it felt romantic, then it would feel more appropriate to bring that up with our family & colleagues.

But in the meantime, I also like kellarules @32's suggestion to say openly things like "man, Ellen Page makes me feel all hot and bothered," or for my husband to publicly admire Alan Cumming's sexy smile.

Thanks, Marrena @33, for posting that. Wow.
Posted by EricaP on February 24, 2014 at 8:19 PM · Report this
DAVIDinKENAI 37
@23 "It's not up to the oppressed minority to educate the ignorant, oppressive majority"

Perhaps. But no one else is going to be as motivated*.

"We're colored and they discriminate against us, so we'll wait for white folk to be nice to us." said MLKJr, never.

*But Dan and us straight allies come close.
Posted by DAVIDinKENAI on February 24, 2014 at 10:47 PM · Report this
Eva Hopkins 38
@ 14, let me back you up, a little. Yours was pretty similar to my coming-out experience as a lonely, confused teen girl. "I'm making out with girls! Oh wait, there's *more*! ..am I gay? Hmm, still like dudes too. What does it *mean*?" But I dove right into LGBT (though back then it was all Lesbian-Gay Alliances & ACT UP, not so much B or T yet) activism, & met with a similar experience. Being told I need to make up my mind, the "ugh, so done w/ bi people", etc. Got 'tude at Pride events, back then. My family was pretty uncomfortable when I brought home girlfriends (early 20's). My mom & I still don't really speak & I actually had to come out individually to each brother. They all had the hots for this one ex of mine. Awkward!

But that's not true for everyone. ;)

I even agree that Dan *used to* have a kinda shitty attitude about bi people, & I've complained about that. I have a theory as to why this is, but I'm not repeating it until after I've read Dan's latest book. ;)

BUT, as @19 points out..we're having this conversation right now. ;) Surely if we can accept that the President's position on LGBT rights has "evolved" (though he was actually prodded into moving forward by Crazy Uncle Joe Biden's speaking up first), then we can accept that Mr. Savage's position on bisexuals - or at least, trying to write about them more often & objectively - has changed? I'd say so. I can think of a couple of articles on the recent side where he's been talking about bi invisibility, & today's SLLOTD is from a bi guy. Dan even said if I can get back to Seattle & organize a bi-themed Slog Happy, he'd go. :)

Posted by Eva Hopkins http://www.lunamusestudios.com on February 24, 2014 at 11:49 PM · Report this
Eva Hopkins 39
I came out at 18? or so, & was out for awhile. Dated a guy who was controlling, abusive & repressive for a few years, so back in the closet I went (ish, I'd already come out to my family). But the moment I broke free of him I was dating a couple of ladies & was SUPER out, like, vomiting rainbows on everything, out, because I decided that I never would date anyone who wasn't OK with it, or take a job that would give me grief over it. A couple of years after that, I'd re-out myself, because it's harder to discriminate against someone you know then some vague stranger.

Posted something last "National Coming Out Day" about being bi & a snarky gay guy friend immediately - like minutes after - catted on his FB Wall about phony bi women, who are hetero married but "call themselves bi" because they want to share in the experiences of gay culture. He went on to say how such women had never experienced homophobia, never had the sort of life he & his husband have, had no place to speak of it. Since I've been bi..well, forever, & an activist for over half my life, and I'd been supportive of both his & his husband's ventures, this hurt my feelings.

Then he said the post wasn't about me. *eyeroll*

Thankfully, his husband spoke up for me. But I've had a hard time connecting with him since then. That felt a lot like the rejection I experienced form some G & L friends when I first came out as bi.

Perhaps that's why I'm extra grateful Dan has been giving bisexuals some word love lately.

...thanks, Dan..!
Posted by Eva Hopkins http://www.lunamusestudios.com on February 25, 2014 at 12:00 AM · Report this
40
Be bi and closeted as much as you like. Just don't complain about invisibility. It's quite simple.
Posted by JJinAus on February 25, 2014 at 1:11 AM · Report this
41
Ms Hopkins - I've had a not particularly serious theory that Mr Savage was on the nasty side about the Bs in an attempt to avoid being claimed by the more acquisitive members of that group. If so, it worked. None of my acquaintances who go in for pinning Bs on people usually regarded as L or G (I think I've only known three, though I sympathize with wanting to swell the numbers) try to claim Mr Savage.

I agree that your friend really ought to have added the It's Not About You Disclaimer, which is standard among some particularly considerate brands of feminists. It's not nice to erase the Good Cousin.
Posted by vennominon on February 25, 2014 at 4:36 AM · Report this
42
As far as relates to Mr Cumming, there is his novel of some years ago, which I think I recall reading was at least somewhat drawn from life, or perhaps the blurb identified him as bi. I've had to put most of my books in storage, so that I can't just go look it up now.

I don't really know why anyone would be surprised to learn that same-sexer or opposite-sexer X is bi. Does it surprise people because X seems such an enthusiastic [blank]-sexer? In a way, though, such a person could seem highly likely to have enough enthusiasm to encompass multiple genders.

Until someone addresses orientation specifically, bi always seems possible. If one thinks of monosexuality as disinterest in any gender other than A, it's easy enough to pick up on someone as an A-sexer, but rather tougher to declare definitively that the same person isn't also a B-sexer.
Posted by vennominon on February 25, 2014 at 6:57 AM · Report this
43
Wait... what?

The author of this article isn't closeted, and she isn't erasing herself. She isn't doing anything wrong at all. By Dan Savage's own admission, she isn't hiding her identity, yet at the end of this post he describes her as a closet case. What? I think Dan Savage had some kind of point in his head he wanted to make, and he's trying to twist this article to fit his point. Unfortunately, his point seems to be "bisexuals are fucking up."

I thought Dan Savage was over his anti-bisexual bias. I've actually tried to argue that he isn't biphobic, using the argument that all of the examples people find are from years ago. It's unfortunate that THIS seems to have been written yesterday.

If a gay person had written an article saying more gay celebrities should be out of the closet, admitting they have been in the closet in the past, would they be accused of erasing themselves? I don't think so, this is the kind of judgement that can only be applied to bisexuals.
Posted by TheLastComment on February 25, 2014 at 7:16 AM · Report this
44
My comment was too long, and it was cut off. Here is the second half of my comment:

I've tried telling gay people I'm bisexual, and it clearly makes them uncomfortable. Some of them tell me I'm wrong about my feelings, and I'm really straight/gay. I think there would be less closet cases if bisexuals were not subjected to such harsh scrutiny by gay people.

One last thing. On the article that was linked to, this is the comment with the most favs. It has 193 favs.

"Bisexuality is only a problem when you express the gay side, hence the invisibility. Bisexuality only needs legal protection when it's about homosexuality. Bisexuality, for me, is a lot like being asexual. Like everybody or like nobody, no one cares or wants to legislate your rights until you like the same gender. Plus, bisexuals are the reason the 'choice' myth is perpetuated. Anyone who espouses that homosexuality is a choice is, by definition, a bisexual. So actually, you have tons of bisexual spokespeople, from Congress all the way to the AFA. For me, the B in LGBT will always stand for baggage."

Again, the comment with the most favs is a comment by a gay person complaining that bisexuals are what, responsible for Republicans? This is really fucked up.
Posted by TheLastComment on February 25, 2014 at 7:19 AM · Report this
RTam 45
@39 - I'm sort of in the same boat. I know I'm bi-sexual because I am attracted to more women than just Angelina Jolie, but I'm more frequently attracted to men - and the fact is that I date so rarely that people would be less surprised if I came out as asexual. But since I've always been a vocal ally, I feel like I'd be eyerolled out of the room as a wannabe if I "came out" in any way other than a casual mention when the topic comes up with friends (which it does and I have).

So while I'd certainly announce my bi-sexuality to all and sundry if I started dating a woman, the fact that I'm more likely to date men (if anyone) makes me feel like saying anything would paint me as the girl that makes out with other girls at parties for attention (which I don't). I just don't think it would make a difference in the world.
Posted by RTam on February 25, 2014 at 7:54 AM · Report this
46
Dan is making a simple point here: don't be a hypocrite, and accept some personal responsibility.

Ospina's brother didn't know his sister was bi, and Ospina didn't like what her brother said about bisexuals, and Ospina did not have the self-awareness to blame herself, in part, for her brother's ignorance, since she'd never bothered to come out to him as bi.

Dan has repeatedly made the point that gays coming out to their families, friends, and co-workers was the "hero's journey" that made possible all the progress made by gays and lesbians. He is of the opinion that bisexuals would be well-served to follow that example. He is also exasperated by the hypocrisy of whining about bi invisibility when the person whining is himself/herself a not-fully-out bisexual.

So we arrive to what @40 said, which I paraphrase: be bi and closeted if you like, but if you do, you lose the right to credibly and non-hypocritically complain about bi invisibility.
Posted by Functional Atheist on February 25, 2014 at 11:09 AM · Report this
47
I guess that's a valid point, but I don't assume from reading the article that the author is still in the closet. I suppose she could have made that more clear. All of this hinges on knowing the life of somebody whose life I don't know at all. All I can tell you is I looked at the article and I saw an article trying to encourage bisexuals to come out of the closet, and saw it being construed as an article trying to absolve bisexuals from the responsibility for coming out of the closet.

Bi invisibility isn't all about not knowing bisexuals don't exist, either. It's about others DENYING that bisexuals exist, despite all evidence otherwise. It's like people who deny evolution, or the holocaust, or the spherical shape of the Earth. It's when bisexuals are denied the agency to declare their own identity, and constantly told they are something they are not. It's when the top voted comment in an article about bisexual invisibility says the "B" stands for "baggage," and argues that bisexuals are so harmful to the LGBT cause they might as well be fundies.

Bottom line is, I understand where Maria Southard Ospina is coming from. When Ellen Page came out as a lesbian, everyone was so happy she might as well have outed herself as secretly being Jesus. However if she had come out as bisexual, the response would range from not caring, to denying/insulting her identity.
Posted by TheLastComment on February 25, 2014 at 12:53 PM · Report this
marymc 49
For many years, most of my acquaintances assumed I was a lesbian. I was an out-loud queer activist, I sat on the board of LGBT groups, I worked with queer youth. I was never in a relationship with anybody for very long (I was a very late bloomer in that regard), so there were no clues there, but that didn't seem to matter to most folks. Why would anybody but a lesbian be so mouthy and concerned about queer issues? My friends and family knew different, but I just never saw the need to beat every casual acquaintance and co-worker and distant cousin over the head with a label.

Then I met a guy, fell in love, and got married. People who'd been sure I was a lesbian (even though I never told them so) were very confused. One lesbian friend jumped to reassure me that "you can still be an ally, we need those." Nowadays, I'm still an out-loud queer activist, I'm still involved with LGBT groups, I still work with queer youth. But because I go home to a cis-gendered man, most people assume I'm straight. My friends know different, but I still don't see a need to take out an ad in the New York Times to inform everyone who knows me, however peripherally, of the truth.

So perhaps we bi folks need to be a bit more vocal and precise in our self-identification...and perhaps everyone else needs to stop making such automatic, simplistic, stupid assumptions?
Posted by marymc on February 25, 2014 at 4:27 PM · Report this
50
I came out as bi at 17 in 1989. I was kicked out of my home. I went from home to home. My guidance counseler gave me a pamphlet that said "gay and bisexual" and said go find a place where you can be yourself. I moved to Chicago and got into school. I asked a male friend out and he said no, had a fling with a gay student. Then met a girl and we dated. I brought my girlfriend to an LGBU meeting and we were both kicked out of LGBU. Then all the gay students ridiculed me and tried to break up my relationship. At the end of it all I had two gay friends and was pretty much estranged from the gay male community. But I remained out as bisexual til the present. I dated mostly women. And on several occasions when I dated men I was ridiculed yet again for calling myself what I really was by gay men, straight women, and lesbian. I have been completely out as bi with not much of a community. I gay therapist told a bi girl I dated that I was really gay and in denial and she should not date me. I have had many supportive gay men and straight people in my life but the amount of hatred I have received from some straight people and some gay people had left me completely depressed by the time I was 39. Was it all worth it? Most of the bi men say they are straight, some of the bi guys I know lie and say they are gay. It was worth it but I would not wish the hardships I faced on anyone. I met so many great people by being out as bi, it was worth it. And now I have a bisexual girlfriend again and I occasional see a Transman. I implore the gay male community to accept people for who they say they are. You are making things harder for us and we desperately need the support of the gay community. And some of us are partnered to gay men, and yes they are still bi. Don't blame us for the oppression we face instead do everything you can to welcome us regardless of the gender we are dating.
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Posted by Hermes on February 26, 2014 at 12:42 AM · Report this
51
M? Last - Not everybody. I bestow the same "Good for X" shrug for a B as for an L or a G. I'll admit to something a little extra for Mr Buttle.

Ms Mary - We make much the same point. It's easy to confirm being a same-sexer or an opposite-sexer, but tricky in different ways to confirm being a multi-sexer or a mono-sexer. While I don't like the current default that X-sexing is taken to be exclusive until confirmed otherwise (the mononormative option), I haven't really been able to find a way to make this a pendulum rather than a coin flip. A binormative default assumption has a bit more difficulty in that monosexuals not wanting to be erased have to prove a negative - it's much easier for you to convince someone who'd assumed you to be either S or L that you're bi than it is for me to convince who'd assumed me to be bi that I'm G. Not sure there's a satisfactory answer to this one.
Posted by vennominon on February 26, 2014 at 12:49 AM · Report this
52
I also need to say something about invisibility. John Cage was married and had numerous relationships with women and said he was attracted to women but he is "gay", Robert Rauschenberg was married and had a relationship with his wife til he died and had a male partner in his last 25 years but he is "gay", Marcel Proust had several relationships with women a lot of relationships with men but he is "gay", his last male partner Alfred "preferred have sex with women" and is considered by one gay writer "a hetero libertine" he was "straight", Cy Twombly married his wife at age 30 and stayed married til his death and he is "gay", Lou Reed receives electroshock treatment for bisexuality and he is "possibly bisexual" one thing that would help on this subject is if the gay press and gay academia would get their head out of their arse and recognize that these historical figures including "the first gay man" Oscar Wilde was bisexual. I want bisexual visibility so stop erasing us.
Posted by Hermes on February 26, 2014 at 1:24 AM · Report this
53
Mr Hermes - I appreciate the wrongs done to you, but taking the Once Bi Always Bi line means that you close off sexual fluidity, or cram down people's throats such a wide definition of bi that you won't allow people to self-define. Why aren't you trying to claim Mr Savage, while you're at it? He meets your standard.

I'll grant you Alexander the Great. But, knowing several people who claim to have been bi but genuinely to have lost attraction to one gender, I feel bound to maintain that it seems a bit simplistic to claim visible history of M-relationships and F-relationships as incontrovertible proof of the big B.

Posted by vennominon on February 26, 2014 at 5:42 AM · Report this
Troy from IN 54
And to everyone who keeps telling me that Dan Savage is no longer biphobic, I give you this post where he again blames bisexuals for people erasing bisexuality.
Yes, more out bisexuals would make it easier for currently closeted bisexuals to come out, but let's face facts, whenever a celebrity comes out as bisexual the press (including places like The Stranger, The Advocate, and OUT) says that either they are really gay (see Alan Cumming) or that they are just pretending (see Lady Gaga)
Instead of blaming us, why not try helping us?
Posted by Troy from IN http://bipaganman.tumblr.com/ on February 26, 2014 at 11:16 AM · Report this
Lissa 55
People like taxonomy. It makes it easier if people stay in their categories, and bisexuals don't. That makes it uncomfortable for both straight and gay, and the easy thing to do is to make assumptions based on, barring any other information, what is presented. Bob is dating a man, Bob is gay. Is it reductive? Yes. Is the assumption understandable in our current culture? Also yes. Is it incumbent upon bisexuals to be persistent in self identification as bisexual, to change our current oh so binary cultural understandings? I believe so, but I agree that it is awkward and exhausting to have to do so.
Being a cultural warrior is not pleasant, but at least as bisexual one can take comfort that one's chances are doubled on a Saturday night.
Posted by Lissa on February 26, 2014 at 11:57 AM · Report this
56
Vennominon - I don't take the position of once bi always bi. In fact I have met a gay man who was married for 20 years and calls himself gay and is still attracted to women but rather just have relationships with men. And a good friend of mine whom I haven't seen for almost 18 years who has dated men and women til fairly recently and now calls himself "straight". For me I experienced my bisexuality as pretty stable from age 19 onward. But as far as the artists I mentioned above it is rather striking how as their peers really did take on a gay identity, artists like Rauschenberg, Cage, Twombly etc. actually refused to label themselves. It is apparent with John Cage that he was probably far more attracted to men then women. The issue is I want the gay and straight community to be more tolerant of the identity and behavior even if it is a phase, or person wishes to redefine themselves later. Instead people who need support are not getting support and in fact are being ridiculed for their identity and their relationships. I now volunteer for my LGBT center because the only people that really can mentor bi people are bi people. One guy in the group "said maybe I should come out as gay I really have stronger attractions to men and have boyfriend now etc." We are encouraging people to self define in anyway they feel comfortable. Is Dan's previous idea that "bisexual" is a transition from "straight to gay" or "gay to straight" for some people it is. But from what I have seen is the fluidity is still there but partly irrelevant to many people. And some people like myself find they have very stable yet fluctuating attractions but always interested in long term relationships with loving understanding partners. Here is what human rights look like to me 1) Call yourself whatever you want 2) Love whomever you want 3) Call yourself whatever you want while loving whomever you want. If some is a "gay man who feel in love with a woman" then that is what they are. Identity does not need to correspond to behavior always it needs to correspond to ones spiritual sense of self. A friend of mine never ever had sex with women only men but reported always having romantic crushes on women. So he called himself gay to gay people and bi to bisexual people and lived reporting to me who he had a crush on. He said he didn't want to act on the crushes he would rather be with men but he loved feeling the crushes. "Bisexual" was part of his spiritual identity you might say.
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Posted by Hermes on February 26, 2014 at 6:02 PM · Report this
57
Mr Hermes - Your previous post seemed to have a rather different tone.

There are numerous lists of (Anti-Bi) Myths About Bisexuality, and generally I don't disagree with their points. One of these days I may offer a counter list of Things (Many) Bi People (Appear to) Believe that don't help B-LG Relations, but that's not really part of this conversation, and I can appreciate that it might well be better addressed rather later on.

I'm not entirely sure whether to ask you not to mentor gay people if you really believe that only bi people can mentor bi people. I am sure about asking you not to treat monosexuals on opposite ends as alike. Even if the negative you've experienced (and I entirely agree you should not have experienced it) has felt identical, it's quite different in nature from one end than from the other, and the same remedy won't assist both.

If we accept that we hold compatible definitions of what constitutes support(and I'll suspecnd for now my suspicion that we don't), then we are more or less on the same page. My own practice is always to accept credible personal testimony, and I can be as credulous as the White Queen quite often.
Posted by vennominon on February 26, 2014 at 10:13 PM · Report this
58
@54--come on, that's just me in the comments saying that about Alan Cumming, who strikes me as about as bisexual as Elton John, who was also married to a woman earlier in life. But I'm not in his bedroom, so I'm going to take him at his word, even if my eyebrows are climbing into my hairline.

I think the word "bisexual" would have less stigma as a transitional adjective in men, if famous men who were bisexual in the way most people think of it were to come out, as in after having a serious relationship with a man, then having a serious relationship with a woman, etc. With famous out bisexual men, it always seems to only go in one direction--the gay direction. David Bowie is the only one I know of who seems truly bisexual.
Posted by Marrena on February 27, 2014 at 10:43 AM · Report this
59
Marrena - that is the reason most bisexual guys stay in the closet. Because the perception is that it really means "gay". The fact is I have had romantic crushes on both and pursued them both. If I was in a relationship with a man instead of a woman right now would someone say "Oh he seems as bisexual as Elton John". I actually come off rather butch and "straight" but so do a lot of gay men, while a good friend of mine wears dresses is genderqueer femme and mostly has dated women, has a girlfriend and definately does not pass. Earlier I spoke of friend who dated both M and F he now has an awesome girlfriend and reidentified as straight. But he also received very little support as he pursued the same gender and that was a big chunk of his life. A lot of this is quality of life issues. When I dated a man at age 31 after 80% of my life was with the opposite gender I really did not feel good being ridiculed by both straight and gay people because I still called myself bisexual. It would have helped if I had the gay communities support while dating a gay man. What bewilders gay men I think is this "if you can be straight why don't you be? Why would you want to be a minority? (same gendered relationship?) well the fact is I am not straight. The relationship I was in was brief BUT felt so good to be taken care of by an older gay man, after a very tumultuous relationship with a woman. We deserve to say who we are regardless of the gender we are with. We deserve to be active in LGBT without being kicked out constantly and questioned constantly. The bisexual debates really just weakens the LGBT community. And it is very male issue. My girlfriend was in a rainbow group that supporter lesbians, bi women, trans men and women, and intersex people. Gay male groups support gay men. And bisexual men are left out unless they lie and only date the same gender.
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Posted by Hermes on February 27, 2014 at 12:33 PM · Report this
60
@54: I'm not blaming bi people for bisexual erasure. Everyone contributes. But with more than 70% of bisexuals not out to their friends and family members, bisexuals are not blameless. These closeted bisexuals contribute to bisexual erasure and—while calling out the social forces that keep 'em closeted—they should be challenged to come out, just as closeted gays were and still are. The main image for for the 1987 March on Washington was a banner that read "Come Out, Come Out, Where Ever You Are," Harvey Milk exhorted closeted gay people to come out while pointing out that closeted gay people, by remaining closeted, were complicit in their own oppression. If exhorting closeted bis to come out is biphobic, then Harvey Milk was homophobic.
Posted by Dan Savage on February 27, 2014 at 1:01 PM · Report this
61
I agree with you Dan it is frustrating. My co-writer is a bisexual woman who is now engaged to a man. I asked her to do piece for my bi group and she said "I am engaged I am not feeling so bisexual lately". Which is actually real in that when I was with a woman for almost five years I wasn't feeling so bisexual I was in love with a woman. A friend who is partnered to a man for 12 years also didn't feel so bisexual (partnered to a woman for 9 before him). Then he realized he was checking out women again and came out again in the gay community. It is really like that. It is so unpredictable, spontaneous, and contextual. I can think "oh I only fall in love with women really" and then BOOM the right guy comes along. And in my group their is a gay identified man who just couldn't stop getting in bed with women. HOWEVER my female friend identifies enough as bisexual to actually come out to her fiancée, so why can't she come out to the rest of the world?
Posted by Hermes on February 27, 2014 at 1:43 PM · Report this
62
Mr Hermes - [The relationship I was in was brief BUT felt so good to be taken care of by an older gay man, after a very tumultuous relationship with a woman.]

I was SO with you until that sentence. But I am prepared to give you much more benefit of the doubt than I give most people, and am willing to file it under Things That Could Have Been Expressed Better - with a caveat attached that, if you can't see what's problematic about that sentence, then our common ground isn't going to go far.
Posted by vennominon on February 27, 2014 at 3:45 PM · Report this
63
This IS how it was. It was a wonderful thing. And the woman I was with before was not a kind loving person though we had great sex. Currently I am dating a kind loving woman. Then I was dating a kind loving man. A bi woman I know had a bad relationship with a straight man and then dated a woman and is still in that relationship. And what I am describing is NOT uncommon for bisexual people at all. I will add that I prefer dating certain gay men, bisexual women, and trans people rather than many straight women. Why? Well for one many straight women (not all) have an unconcious heteronormative expectations in regards to gender roles and will often want to implement a heteronormative problematic script which I have little interest in at all. But bisexual women are far more flexible and so was the guy I was with. I recently dated a transgender man and he was highly flexible in gender role play, for example I was financially better off than he was so I am paying for tickets, dinner etc. and it didn't hurt his male ego. Sexually he preferred to be dominant but not always, he wanted to be the man in certain areas. My current girl is femme and I am acting upon her sexually playing dominate male role but we arranged a rather simple financially independent relationship. Straight women (not all) will often be rather well "straight!" Queer people in general usually see through the paradigms of gender and can negotiate roles. And I listen to many of my straight male friends and their exhaustion because they can not negotiate these things well because in my opinion they are living out a toxic script.
Posted by Hermes on February 27, 2014 at 4:31 PM · Report this
64
To give you a better understanding of many bisexual people think of it like this: we are gays and lesbians who are sexually attracted and desire the opposite gender. One of my bisexual girlfriends was a blissful relationship because she was a construction worker (lesbian) and I was a great housewife (gay) and we had the hottest sex imaginable. And occasionally she had sex with a woman and occasionally I blew her best gay friend! But in general it was just us licking each others genitals.
Posted by Hermes on February 27, 2014 at 4:49 PM · Report this
65
The biggest mistake bisexual men and women make is we often think we are straight because we are attracted to the opposite gender. The biggest mistake straight people and gay people make is they think we are straight because we are attracted to the opposite gender. WE ARE NOT STRAIGHT! What I needed as a young man was to be around gay people because I was not straight, I needed gay men to support me in my journey regardless of the gender I was with. Not kick me out. I need the bisexual label respected so I can find other bisexual people. That is why it is important for people to respect the label so bisexual people can live healthier happier lives as NOT straight people.
Posted by Hermes on February 27, 2014 at 5:28 PM · Report this
66
@Hermes, for the record, I date crossdressers, who generally ARE bisexual. I know that bisexual men are out there, it's just that the famous ones who come out seem more to be rounding up from gay rather than actually bisexual. They need more celebrity representation.
Posted by Marrena on February 27, 2014 at 6:54 PM · Report this
67
I'm not sure what else she's supposed to do. She's writing publicly and putting her name on it, isn't she? Why is everybody in the community is expected to be a sandwich-board-wearing activist in order to be a good citizen of queerland?

Homosexuals essentially come out every time they mention their same-sex relationships to someone new--the very existence of the relationship does the work of the phrase "I'm gay." Bisexuals, however, have to "come out" in a literal way, every time, in order to stay visible. People who talk all righteously about our responsibility to the community have no idea how mind-numbingly awkward it is to just casually (or even not-so-casually) mention one's orientation just for the purpose of visibility/social justice.

I'm tired of being accused of being lazy, complacent, privileged, and even cowardly because I don't feel like talking generally about my bisexuality. Any time I'm in a monogamous relationship, my desire for the gender opposite my partner is relegated to fantasy--and that's no one's business. I don't go around letting everyone know that I still like brunettes even though I'm with a redhead partner, so why do I need to remind people that I still like pussy even though I'm riding the baloney pony? Trust me when I say, there is just NO place for that in 99% of conversations--even those among gay and gay-friendly folks.
Posted by g_l_B_t on February 27, 2014 at 8:06 PM · Report this
68
Mr Hermes - I'm not doubting you gave an accurate representation of that relationship, just stating that your presentation of it could trigger the stereotype-fueled "Bi=USER" warning bells that go off for many GLs. You expressed it better in the second post, but the original post would, for some gay people who, having had one bad experience with a bisexual person or perhaps two, wrongly extend that mentally into How All Bis Behave, have made it sound *to their ears* as if you were too bruised after a bad relationship with a woman, thus you gave a sad old gay straight-chaser a few thrills and let him buy you things until you felt ready to start seeing women again.

"I briefly dated a kind and loving gay man" is much better than "I loved being taken care of temporarily". Not that loving to be taken care of is exactly wrong, but it can be presented in an insensitive way, as if the presenter regarded it to be Gay Men's Naturally Ordained Purpose In Life. As you seem to be enjoying relating your own history (and why not?), may I ask, as you've specified gay men more than once, what differences you find between gating a gay man and dating another bi man?

I could take umbrage over "the hottest sex imaginable" but I'll give it a Rhetoric Pass. It does, though, tangentially relate to my counter to your Biggest Bi Mistake. However big an error it may people for bi people to think they're straight, it's rather a bigger error, at least for the sake of B-L/G relations, to underestimate/discount/disregard/erase the L/G capacity for and, for some, frequent need for, if not always outright separatism, at least safe or comfortable spaces. You should not have been kicked out, and it hardly seems fair to ask young bi people to have a full sense of same-sexer oppression. Does it make sense if I say that sometimes the dispreference is as important as the preference? (I've actually seen this slightly more often expressed as a bi idea.) I could certainly just as easily ask you to consider many gay men as bisexual men who aren't attracted to and don't desire women as you opened #65 the other way. I suspect the proportion of those in both camps who would take exception to those definitions would be fairly similar.
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Posted by vennominon on February 28, 2014 at 5:00 AM · Report this
69
@ Mr. Ven -

"I'm not doubting you gave an accurate representation of yourself, just stating that your presentation of it could trigger the stereotype-fueled "Gay=SWISH" warning bells that go off for many Straights. You expressed it better in the second post, but the original post would, for some straight people who, having had one bad experience with a gay person or perhaps two, wrongly extend that mentally into How All Gays Behave"

Kinda icky, right?
Posted by MiscKitty on February 28, 2014 at 8:45 AM · Report this
70
Ven - my life simply has unfolded. I spoke to Allen Rosenthal of Northwestern and of the men he studied 3 were in long term relationships with men, 9 with women, 19 were single. As far as dating bi men. I met tons of bi men who people that were "straight" who are not out. I don't want to date a not out person. I met a few out bi guys more in the gay community who are partnered with men. But it was really not until recently that I have been meeting a lot of our bi men and largely because of the Internet. I am in an open relationship and bot I and my girlfriend get emails from "straight" men and "straight" women (aka closeted bisexual people). I don't particular want to have a relationship with a closeted person. I fully understand the need to create gay exclusive and lesbian exclusive safe spaces as well as trans safe spaces and bisexual safe spaces. It has simply taken bisexual men and women a long time to get their act together and this happened fairly recently in my area and more work needs to be done. But up until this point in history there was no place to go. Over the years I found one safe enough space that was all gay except myself, it was a therapy group so if people had judgements of me I did not hear them overtly but mostly felt supported. But it has been rare to find those spaces.
Posted by Hermes on February 28, 2014 at 10:56 AM · Report this
71
I also think you have a very unfair assessment. I have been out as bisexual longer than many people my age have been out as gay. At my job I was called "a liar and coward and don't deserve respect" by my employer. I explained and let it go and thought things were fine. Then on my last day of work she (a straight women) said , "it looks like our closet case is finally leaving us", most of that time I was dating a woman. When I brought my boyfriend to a class A classmate said, "he's to big of coward to come out as gay he says he bisexual". I had job interview and a gay man asked my orientation (illegal) I said I was bisexual. And he proceeded to harass me in a job interview. This list as a very very out bisexual person is very very long and has resulted in depression. I also lived with 3 different partners nothing hidden. One with a gay man who is still a friend of mine. And two with "mostly straight" women. I was out to every male partner and every female partner I was ever with. But as far as the bi guy who uses gay men one of the biggest issues with bi men is it is very difficult to be out. Gay men actually have a community. I have had 3 relationships with women that gay men actively attempted to interfer with. so I have been required to judge people on a person by person basis "can I trust this gay man? Can I trust this straight person? Etc. i
Posted by Hermes on February 28, 2014 at 11:17 AM · Report this
Troy from IN 72
@60 You will never convince bisexual people to come out as long as you keep telling them that they aren't bisexual, and look through the comments here and you'll find lots of people saying that bisexuals are not real.
Honestly Dan, just shut up about bisexuality, we are better off with you saying nothing about us than you saying it's our fault that neither straights or gays accept us. (and not matter what you claim, that is how you sound)
Posted by Troy from IN http://bipaganman.tumblr.com/ on February 28, 2014 at 12:20 PM · Report this
73
Ms Kitty - But gay people aren't basing claims of homophobia leveled at straight people on those straight people's not wanting to date them.

Mr Hermes wants to end anti-bi myths, a goal I support. He made a statement about a relationship of his that fed one of those myths to the hilt. I gave him a huge piece of benefit of the doubt on it, and his clarifying post was much better, though he still didn't seem to get why anyone might have had a problem with what they could reasonably have inferred from the first post. I spelled out for him the sort of error in the direction of which his first post might have nudged them. I did make it quite clear that I was enumerating an anti-bi myth.

I maintain that many more gay men will be open to dating bi men if they believe that they will called kind and loving partners than if they believe they'll be treated as temporary caretakers with fully open wallets while someone is between women. Do you disagree?

I will not ding you for Loyalty Above All To The Home Team, because there are times when that's necessary.
Posted by vennominon on February 28, 2014 at 3:24 PM · Report this
74
Mr Hermes - I am refraining from trumping your status-based oppression because this isn't the Oppression Olympics and I don't want to send the conversation down that road.

I was interested in whether your dating experience with fellow B men differed from that with G largely because the dating arena is the foundation for so many accusations of biphobia, and you interested me as one of the few bi men I've come across who's seemed to have specific positive things to say about dating gay men that sounded as if they might not have applied equally to bi men. I misinferred; no biggie.

I suspect we can agree that one, if not the, answer is to have a thriving bi community quite separate. I'd have thought it would already have existed by now. (I have vague recollections from years ago of efforts to get such a community to coalesce, and of one erstwhile organizer [Michael Szymanski?] ruefully observing that a committee of six bisexual people would be almost certain to produce five distinct and different opinions on any issue imaginable.) The longer we keep trying to cram into one community, the more likely it is we'll just keep moving towards the position that only Capitulation equals Co-operation. Unfortunately, separatism doesn't fly well here in the US.
Posted by vennominon on February 28, 2014 at 4:11 PM · Report this
75
OK - I don't think I can explain all the details. But for the record I don't feel I ever used anyone. In fact if I wanted to I would have just called myself gay and would have had far many more opportunities to pick the pockets of gay men. Robert Mapplethorpe's relationship with Sam Wagstaff certainly fits that description. And Mapplethorpe alternated from calling himself bisexual, mostly gay, and gay.

As far as dating bi men. I have dated 3. One was out as gay and later said he was bi again when he dated women. It was good I was 19. Later a guy who would not commit ok so he fit your stereotype and was partly out. And the third Had an open marriage - he was super cool but not out in any way. The couple approached me.

But in general most bi guys actually "pick a side" what they do is pick a community and call themselves gay or straight and then stray from that community. Today I am running into more cis gendered bi men who are out are partly out. But recently I personally have enjoyed dating bi transmen because they seem much smarter and more integrated in their sexuality and personality. The big issue with biphobia if you are out is it can be crazymaking on ones psyche. If dating men I have to constantly explain "no I actual enjoyed dating women I happen to be with a guy now. Etc. or the opposite "no the men I was with were not gay experiments."

You see there is nothing more painful for me than having people tell me I did not love the people that I loved. Apparently I have phases with women (the gay point of view usually) or have gay experiments (the straight point of view). This makes having a real conversation about my life rather impossible with some people. Today I seek out other bisexual people in general for friendship and community. Oh as far as online dating bisexual guys I seem to have gone past their age requirements.
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Posted by Hermes on February 28, 2014 at 6:32 PM · Report this
76
Mr Ven - You have me literally shaking my head over here. I never expected to get into this kind of argument with you.

Okay, then let's switch from gay/straight/bi to trans*/cis, since you want to talk about fuckability. Some people aren't interested in having sex with trans* people. They're just not. That preference doesn't make those people anti-trans* bigots. No one has an obligation to fuck anyone else. But your post went beyond sexual preferences and into the realm of a value judgement.

If you announced "I don't date trans* men because they're not real men" any decent person within earshot would be utterly disgusted with you and would promptly (and correctly!) determine that you are a bigoted piece of shit. "Trans* man=WOMAN" is not a statement of preference. It is a declaration not about yourself and what gets your dick hard but instead about the group of people you have deemed to be unfuckable.

Now before you object, yes, I understand you were writing about a specific bigoted belief. But how would you respond upon overhearing someone telling a trans* gentleman that he shouldn't say he enjoys cooking because "[making] that statement about [himself feeds] one of those [trans* men aren't real men] myths to the hilt?" I sincerely hope you wouldn't smile and nod in agreement or suggest that the individual scolding the trans* gentleman was merely pointing out what "could reasonably [be] inferred" from his pro-cooking statement.

And yet that is what you did in the post with which I took issue. Tone policing the target of bigotry is not productive because it doesn't address the actual problem: the bigotry itself. And it's disingenuous to pretend otherwise.

As for who gets dinged and for what, well, I'm not objecting to your post to Mr. Hermes because he's a member of the "home team." I don't care about that and I never really have. When I was a kid, I attended a shitty, very-Southern, deeply-Evangelical high school. And even though I caught all manners of hell for it, I stood up for every stomped upon gay kid who was unlucky enough to be stuck in that hell hole with me. Because it was the right thing to do. Still is. So ding away.
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Posted by MiscKitty on February 28, 2014 at 7:24 PM · Report this
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Mr Hermes - I rather thought you hadn't used that particular partner in question, which is why I suspected there might be less misleading phrasing to describe that relationship.

If I saw evidence of your relationship with a man, I'd assume you were a same-sexer; with a woman, an opposite-sexer; with both, a multi-sexer (apologies to those of the non-binary persuasion; it's way past my bedtime and I am using a shortcut). Neither OS nor SS excludes the possibility of MS in my system. As I am unfortunately a bit of a recluse now, I don't really have the opportunity to call people out on presuming monosexuality; it's been at least three years since I've been in company with anyone who has done that. I'd say I'm willing to assist, but rather lacking in opportunity. I can only wish you luck.
Posted by vennominon on February 28, 2014 at 11:01 PM · Report this
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Ms Kitty - You've made up a completely neutral hypothetical and are comparing it to a stereotype-fueled myth which wrongly universalizes something that is genuinely bad behaviour, as well as equating a situation which is clearly Privileged/Underprivileged to one with two Differently Privileged sides.

Cooking is an entirely neutral activity. I don't think you really intend to maintain that mistreating a dating/sex partner is an entirely neutral activity.

Now I'll admit that one word in Mr Hermes' original post did wave a big red flag that might have been particularly so to me - "older". There were two possible interpretations that sprang to mind - the correct one in this case, that Mr Hermes was just throwing in an unnecessary descriptor, or one that I've seen to have been correct in other cases, that the younger bi man acted like trade, letting the old queen service him orally a few times because he lavished money on him. (There could be an equivalent to an opposite-sexer man saying he dated a fat woman, but it's way too far past my bedtime for me to do it properly)

Now, I may be wrong, but I consider tone policing to amount to, "What you're saying is right and justified, but you'll rouse the bigots." What Mr Hermes *appeared* to be saying was not right and justified. (It came across quite like that advertisement that was posted a few months ago by the straight bigot looking for a gay roommate to cook, clean and decorate for him and also to service him on demand while remaining entirely closeted about the arrangement. Mr Savage said that he could have taken exception to the whole thing, but that he knew there were many gay men who would jump through hoops for such an arrangement, which was a major contributing factor to my recent kick that straight-chaser should be an entirely separate orientation, or at the very least a highly distinct and specialized kink.) It was also not what I suspected he meant to be inferred, and I was right. I can acknowledge that perhaps it would have been more clear had I been explicit about Mr H's original statement appearing to be NOT right and justified, but I was trying not to be confrontational.

My position is that it might be biphobic not to want to date bi people who say, "I treat the gay people I date as kind and loving partners," but that it certainly isn't biphobic not to want to date bi people who say, "I use gay people for jollies and pampering when I've had a rough time with the opposite sex and need to recover before the next go." It is also bigotry to assume that encountering one or five or a dozen bi people of the user persuasion means that all or most bi people are users. But the fact that many gay people hold the bigoted opinion that Some Bi People Behaving Badly = All Bi People Behaving Badly does not mean that bi people of the user persuasion have any right to expect non-biphobic gay people to join lengthy queues for the chance to date them or to call them biphobic if they don't want to be used. This does not strike me as a question of tone, but I can see how, "That might have been expressed better," can come across as Tone Policing.

I have given you more than hour of my time in the middle of the night when I ought to have been asleep. At the very least, you can take away that I do not regard you as Elinor Dashwood regarded Robert Ferrars.
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Posted by vennominon on March 1, 2014 at 12:09 AM · Report this
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If you must know more details the man I dated is actually a collegue and still a friend. We occassuinally work together. The issue here is you are projecting a negative stereotype. And the fact is I was pursued which felt very good to be pursued, it felt good to be the "lovee" rather than "lover". I think the word older is very much important information because the status of age created the lover/lover phenomenon. Is enjoying being the "lovee" uncommon for gay men? NO, It happens all the fucking time! Ironically one ex-boyfriend, my longest relationship with a guy, was recently in a long term relationship with a recently divorced, older and financially better off bisexual man. My friend a gay man would readily admit that he enjoyed being cared for by this older recently divorced bisexual man. Is my friend a "gay-user- of bisexual men?" because he was the "lovee" in that relationship? Are straight women "straight male - users" because they enjoy being taken out to dinner?
Posted by Hermes on March 1, 2014 at 1:26 AM · Report this
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I'm addressing Dan's post rather than the thread, and I agree with Dan 100%. I'm a gay man in my late 50s, and Ive been out for four decades. When I started that process in the mid seventies, there was no Ellen, there was no Tom Daley, there was no Barney Frank. Even Elton John was being coy back then. Ospian is projecting her own fears onto nameless celebrities and blaming them.
Posted by Clayton on March 1, 2014 at 6:04 AM · Report this
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Mr Hermes - I am trying to close this part of the conversation. Remember, I accepted your clarification, and I wouldn't have suggested there might be clarification if I'd thought you were a User - *even though that is what your original sentence suggested*.

So you wanted to be Simon Doyle - "un qui se laisse aimer", as Poirot described him. Fine. Many people do. There's even a market for it, and it's not exclusively one-way - although gay men don't seek out older wealthy bi men because of just having come out of a tumultuous relationship with a woman.

You are right that there is a reverse gay-using-married-bi angle to the older-younger situation, but the dynamics are different. Myths related to that type of situation will have to wait for another time.

I shall not address the ageism in your assumption that an appreciable age difference establishes a Sugar Daddy relationship beyond saying that I've dated both a generation older and a generation younger and not experienced that; the only relationship I've had financially close to that model was with my closest contemporary in age. Yes; it does happen and there is a market for it, but it isn't the prevailing model or a fair default assumption for any intergenerational couple you happen to see.

There are tons of women who enjoy Using opposite-sexer men; from what you've posted, I'd have said you've met quite your fair share of them. That does not make every woman who enjoys being taken to dinner a User. I might require a bit of cross-examination before deciding if a particular woman who only got taken to dinner and never did the taking or some similar form of reciprocation deserved the big red U or not.

You dated the older gay man because he was a kind and loving partner. That he also happened to pamper you and that you enjoyed it is just how that relationship happened to play out as what was a pleasant perquisite after what just happened to be a rough relationship.

You did not seek out an older gay man specifically out of the belief that all older gay men love lavishing cash and attention on young bi men who are between women. Some younger bi men do that. You did not. I didn't think you did, even though your original description suggested so. You clarified and I accepted it.

We have bad eggs on both our sides. I don't deny mine, and I've assumed to this point you don't deny yours. If either of us were to do so, we'd be in a situation where only capitulation would qualify as co-operation
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Posted by vennominon on March 1, 2014 at 7:03 AM · Report this
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@ Mr. Ven - First, my apologies for the tardy response. The real world got the better of me.

Cooking is "woman's work." And down here is the South it's often still regarded as such. You only see it as "completely neutral" because you don't personally have any hangups about it. And while I agree with you about its neutrality, that point of view isn't universal. That's why I used it as an analogy. Similarly, being "taken care of" by a partner while one is on the rebound is a neutral activity: it's not limited to one spot on the sexual orientation scale nor to one spot on the gender scale.

It seems we agree that the word "older" potentially threw a red flag, but it seems we disagree as to why. If you had opted to dock points from Mr. Hermes for the apparent ageism in his post, I wouldn't have disagreed with you. Instead, you focused on his bisexuality.

When I read his post, I didn't find the genders of his partners to be of particular note beyond the point that they weren't all the same (because he's bi and that happens when bi people talk about past lovers.) It wouldn't have altered my interpretation if the pronouns had been switched ("the relationship I was in was brief BUT felt so good to be taken care of by an older straight woman, after a very tumultuous relationship with a man") or if they had been removed entirely ("the relationship I was in was brief BUT felt so good to be taken care of by someone older, after a very tumultuous relationship with someone younger.") Because like you said, "two possible interpretations ... sprang to mind - the correct one in this case, [is] that Mr Hermes was just throwing in an unnecessary descriptor, [the other] one [is] that... the younger [strike]*bi[/strike] [partner] acted like trade, letting the [older partner] service him [sexually] a few times because he lavished money on him." And you're right, being tacky about an older partner would be similar to being tacky about a partner who is a member of any other group that some people find distasteful. But straight and gay people use people and/or demean past lovers, too. It's not a bi thing.

Tone policing: "You'd best be careful about how you say that. There are people who would take it the wrong way. I don't take it that way of course but other people might. So you shouldn't say it that way." Affirmation of rightness and justifiably is optional. At the end of the day, it's just another silencing technique. But after reading your last post, I withdraw that accusation. Trying to politely correct someone who you believe is being (or may be being) an ass, while potentially similar in execution, is not the same thing as tone policing.

And I agree that "I don't date bi people who are assholes" is not biphobic. It's sensible. But it's also not the same thing as "I don't date Bi people because BI=ASSHOLE."

I'm not sure if you're damning me with faint praise with that Robert Ferrars comment or not but I'm going to choose to take it in the best possible way. So, in that spirit, I don't regard you as Stephen Dedalus regards Simon Dedalus. ;)

*The tag for "strike" doesn't work. Curious, since we can use italics and bold and underline. Oh well.
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Posted by MiscKitty on March 5, 2014 at 3:48 PM · Report this
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I just have to say I am human. And as a human I too project certain qualities on people whether that projection is real or accurate. I think this is what humans do. Not all projections are bad or wrong and in the very least in a romantic relationship it is a starting point. Projections are more often than not are very cultural. I have different associations with different genders and different ages different body types etc. In the past unaware I would project "mother" associations onto women, which is not a good or bad thing but has some negative consequences, and women have projected father and mother projections onto me. As one girlfriend said "you are being good daddy" etc. A gay man I know talks of his partner as "the father I never had and the brother I always wanted." Projections are a part of life and a part of living and can have positive, negative and neutral effects. I often wonder if any romantic relationship is possible at all without some degree of projection and positive association. As one matures the immature projections drop and one is able to more readily see a person. But stereotypes are collective projections that are highly cultural and toxic and is why we try to undo them. What is projected onto Jews in Nazi Germany, or any Queers during McCarthy, or African Americans etc. is an attempt to expell negative attributes of oneself onto another. But the best thing anyone of us can do to create a better world is take back our own projections especially the more generalized and toxic ones on "groups" of people.
Posted by Hermes on March 9, 2014 at 1:44 PM · Report this

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