Archive for July, 2008

tired and sad: what to do about biphobia?

July 12, 2008

I am feeling really sad and hopeless right now.  I just don’t know how to keep telling people how I feel, when it seems very few people are actually listening.  Maybe people don’t realize how much it affects me because I try to be calm about it, and I really haven’t gotten super upset in awhile.  Biphobia affects me, it affects my life.  I make choices everyday about how much to reveal about myself to every single person I interact with because of biphobia.  Biphobia affects my experience at work, and I am constantly conscious of myself as a bisexual person when I am working.  When I meet someone new, I have to decide when and how to come out to them, and they may never know that I am bi, depending on the situation.  It all depends on how many questions I want to answer, or myths I want to dispel.  Since most people don’t think they know anyone who is bi and/or have a lot of stereotypes about what that means, and the Queer community at large has not cared to tell straight people that bi people exist, it is generally acceptable for people to ask all sorts of weird questions.  Sometimes this is generally out of curiosity, but really, I don’t always want to be answering questions about my sex life or my identity.  Who would?  In additon to my public, work life, in my personal life I have to make the same choices.  Most of the people I hang out with know I am bi, but that doesn’t stop biphobic things from coming out of people’s mouths.  Most of the time this seems to be an issue of lack of understanding that biphobia is a true experience, and very separate and different from homophobia.  I experience homophobia too, but it looks a lot different, and to me, is easier to deal with because many people understand and are supportive when homophobia happens.  I am tired of telling people that something they said was biphobic in the gentlest way possible, or just taking it in until I can process it with someone who understands (there are two people currently on that list).  So, if you truly care about me as a person, you will do everything you can to be educated and aware and understanding, and not rely on me to tell you when something is biphobic.

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Dan Savage: Stop with the biphobia already!

July 4, 2008

http://www.gay.com/health/sexuality/qanda.html?coll=rela_fantasy&sernum=1053&page=1

http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/SavageLove?oid=2859

 

Both of these are littered with the incredibly common bi stereotypes that seem so ridiculous to me, I just have to roll my eyes.  Dan Savage sees himself as so much of an expert that all he references are “people he knows”.  That’s great and all, and maybe all of the bi people he knows fit the stereotypes, because a few people always will (I know I fit a few of them from time to time).  Its just like a straight person saying ‘all gay people are sex addicts,’ well I am sure there are some gay identified folks out there who are also sex addicts, but that doesn’t mean everyone is.  Basic stereotypes lesson, right?

Many of the reasons for using stereotypes against bi folks come from dating.  Gender and dating seem to be sensitive issues.  Most lesbian identified folks I have talked to about dating bi women say it would be more hurtful if the next person their ex dates was a man.  Interestingly enough, I have also had straight men say it would be harder if their ex (bi) girlfriend were to date another man after them.  Penises are threatening.  And these are expressions of insecurity tied to the sexism inheriant in all of us because it is still present in society.

When Savage tells gay men not to date bi men because they really want to be with women, he is pointing out that homophobia affects bi folks (thanks for that acknowledgment, at least).  However, what he doesn’t realize is that BIphobia affects bi folks as well, and many of the men who have bisexual behaviors simply do not identify as bi.  The gay men he is giving advice to might actually identify as bi if the word were given a little more credibility. Why would you use a word that gets you kicked out of the club?  Especially with advice like this floating around.  In addition to this, very few studies of queer folks focus explicitely on bi identified people and their behaviors, etc, so how do we know for sure what bi identified men are or are not doing/wanting/feeling, etc?  Even when studies do include bisexuality, or focus on bi people, many times those studies are filled with the same stereotypes seen in Savage’s articles and advice. 

Would it be too obvious to point out that bi men and married men are two distinct (and overlapping) categories?  Generalizing about all bi men, when you really mean to be talking about guys who are partnered in some way is simply ridiculous.  Wouldn’t the story contain the same heartache if the guy was in a long term (supposedly) monogamous relationship with a man? 

Dan, biphobia is outdated, stop repeating yourself and start thinking about the real issues behind people’s problems.