Hi Guys/Gals/Groovy Ghouls,
It’s funny how you can care so much about the world yet not even know what’s up with your own soul.
It wasn’t that long ago at all that I confessed my unease with being considered “queer.” That wasn’t because I would be ashamed of being part of the LGBT world, but because I didn’t think my behavior and emotions, which run juuuust straight-of-center on the Kinsey Scale, qualified me to put myself in the same grouping as gay, lesbian, and trans people. Historically they have been marginalized in ways far harsher than anything I would ever experience, and I knew I could always “hide out” in heterodom if the Nazis or Christian Fundamentalists ever retake power.
I also knew that, while I loved to perform sexual acts with people of more than one gender (and yes, I’m good enough to use the word “performance”), I didn’t want to be defined primarily by that part of me. And I hated the binarism of “bisexual,” and the muddiness of “pansexual” or “polysexual,” and didn’t feel like certain behaviors or inclinations meant I had a right to join a movement.
You know those guys who say they can wear Native American headbands because they are 3% Cherokee? I didn’t want to be them. I felt alone and bereft in many ways, but I didn’t want to steal an identity that wasn’t mine.
I’m glad I started that conversation, though, because it led me to finally meeting others who have similar backgrounds and inclinations. And that led to my learning a lot about myself. I found, first of all, that I do belong to an identity, and I’m not the only one. I am part of a group that, perhaps more than other groups, has such a wide variety of feelings and emotions incorporated within it.
Perhaps that’s why so few bi people are out? We don’t feel a kinship with each other, much less with gays and lesbians or straights. And so there’s no sense of unity to help us feel strong, or brave? Compared to gays and lesbians in “America,” we’re the only group that still has its majority in the closet. And the schism is vast:
I’ve heard gay guys talk about coming out as “coming home,” but my experience felt like the opposite, like going out onto an empty stage. Even when you do come out as bi, recognizing that about yourself can feel a bit lonely compared to what, from the outside, it looks like to be fully straight, gay, or lesbian. “Bi” contain such a spectrum of people, e.g. men who mostly like other men and pass for gay but also like some vagina now and then, e.g. women who love other women but whose “straight” look traps them in a straight world most of the time, e.g. men like me, who like to feel androgynous and find receiving vigorous, tooth-rattling anal sex from other men is somehow much easier than forming relationships with them like the kinds we form with women.
And it is gendered. Aside from trans people, who face a prejudice still sharper than almost anything out there, bisexual men tend to have it the worst:
There are so many distinct ways to be bi that really, by comparison, “gay” looks like a large nation state, and “straight” looks like a whole continent, but “bi” is sort of like a sexual Micronesia.
And yes, I do now identify as bisexual because I want this to end! I want us to be seen as real, and I want not to tiptoe around my relationships and loves. And the only way to do that is through showing off our numbers.
With that in mind, I now see “bi” as a blanket term that includes the more specific terms and inclinations, basically anyone who does not fit info the gay or straight slots (in fact, Vee Ritchie has a great video explaining why “bisexual” actually means both “same” and “not the same” which actually does NOT imply a binary of merely two genders, and even though that may sound like loophole logic, it helped me feel at ease with the term a great deal).
At first even saying “I’m a bisexual activist” felt so antiquated, like saying the phrase “American Indian Movement,” or “United Negro College Fund.” But like those organizations’ names, the phrase “bisexual” contains all the history of the “B” in LGBT, our forefathers and foremothers, people such as Brenda Howard who was not only a pioneer in 20th Century bisexual awareness, but was at Stonewall and was a radical activist for queer folk in general. And who cares if the straight world thinks “bisexual” means we have to love women the exact same as we love men, or if they just think it means we’re gay. They were never going to understand anyway … but then again, if they want to understand, I want to make sure we’re represented, that we’re seen as real, that our true numbers are reflected–far from being rare, by some measures our numbers rival or exceed those of gays and lesbians:
So yes, I’m bisexual, and if you feel you are not a 1 or a 0 in the digital game of gay/straight, you could be, too!
I want to talk about this more, but I have to get in the bimobile and go do some bi things tonight… I feel like I’m rambling, so maybe re-watch this video I did for #StillBisexual a few months ago, open up your hearts and minds, and … I dunno, call me for a hot threesome.
-D. M. Collins
P.S. Did I say threesome? I meant “orgy.”
I made a video for the #StillBisexual Twitter-y YouTube video campaign thingie. The music is by the delightful Kyle Souza.
Mom, please don’t watch. There’s sex stuff mentioned.
Okay, so let’s talk about the term “queer.” How do you feel about its use as a self-identifier, as the “Q” in LGBTQ?
I’ve noticed that it’s gendered: many of my female friends identify as queer, whether or not they seem to date other women. Yet guys like myself who are generally straight but occasionally date (read: sleep with, make out with) other men don’t use that term to define it. Or maybe some guys do?
I actually don’t know very many guys like me. We don’t really have a community. Despite the last 20-40 years of broadening acceptance of homosexuality, passing between sexual gender preferences still seems far less acceptable for guys. We’re supposed to be straight, or openly gay, or secretly gay (“come on, just admit you’re gay/straight!”), but not bisexual. Actually, I like the term “bisexual” even less. It sounds too polarizing and falsely egalitarian at the same time. Who really is evenly ambidextrous with their preferences?
But I feel almost as uneasy identifying as “queer,” and not because I’m ashamed of people putting their gay-ass prejudice on me. It feels kind of false to claim such solidarity with my gay friends just because I occasionally have sex with them. I do not truly suffer from the same oppression. When push comes to shove, if the fundamentalists take over and anti-gay bigotry returns, I could always bunker down in a nice safe relationship with someone of the opposite sex, and my gay friends can’t. Calling myself “queer” feels a bit like the awkwardness of the MC5 in the 60s trying to appropriate the righteousness of black nationalism with their sympathetic “White Panther Party.”
That sounds harsh, and I don’t mean to be offensive to anyone regardless of how they identify. But I think we need another word. Hell, maybe we should navigate without a need for taxonomy, for specific words identifying people by the ratio of penises versus vaginas in their lives.
What’s your opinion? If you’re 110% gay, how do you feel about people who identify as “queer” but date primarily from the opposite sex? If you identify as “queer” but aren’t a full time, card-carrying homosexual, what about the term do you find useful or empowering? And does anyone feel comfortable identifying as “bisexual?”