More Better Bi Blues

I wanted to share a comment along with my response, from my guest post on Diffuse 5:

Steph:

I don’t think the rejection of bisexual women by the “lesbian community” (not a monolith by the way) is as simple as lesbians not wanting to be left for a man. Of course it hurts to be left for a woman or a man, but I don’t think that’s what so-called “bi-phobia” is all about.

For me, a lesbian-feminist who admittedly has some prejudices about bi women, it’s about being left for heterosexual privilege, the comfort of passing and the likely better economic situation bi women find themselves in in relationships with men vs. two women together economically. I’ve actually heard a most of my bi women friends say it’s just so much easier to be with men for all those reasons (whether they are with men or not). And, it’s my feminist self just as much as my lesbian self that smells a privileging of identities here.

It is leaving the disrepute of lesbianism and embracing the respectability of the heterosexual norm (b/c unless you say otherwise, people are going to assume you are straight if you are dating a man) that makes the hairs on the necks of lesbians like me stand up when bisexual women start talking about how oppressed and misunderstood they are.

Me:

@Steph
Ah, just the kind of well articulated disagreement I was hoping for.

Before I address your points, I want you to do a mental exercise: the next time you, or your friends make a casual disparaging remark about Bi’s. Substitute the word Dyke. How does it feel when the hate is directed at you?

Maybe your comments about economics, respectability and privilege would be justified if I was attracted to the kind of “nice Jewish boy” my grandmother would have picked for me, but in my case I have not found much in the way of respectability or financial stability in my relationships with men.

I challenge the assumption that every heterosexual relationship comes with implicit comfort, privilege and financial gain.

Maybe that’s because everyone I seem to be attracted to is broke, (to be fair I’m poor too) and most of them are black. I was the sole breadwinner in the last serious “het” relationship I had, and believe me, straight interracial relationships carry a pretty heavy stigma as well! (Not to mention he was mentally and physically abusive–there goes comfort.)

I also come from a feminist background, and my mom was much more financially successful than my father, who stayed home with me when I was really young, so I always assumed that it was the woman’s role to be breadwinner, and have subconsciously tried to replicate that in my relationships to varying degrees of success.

It’s true that I found it easier to date men–but not for the reasons you give. Unlike women, they were just always around actively trying to get into my pants. On the other hand, for a long time I had no idea how to even get started with the women I was much more attracted to. (I’m still working on this one.)

You are correct that there is not one monolithic Lesbian community,and I apologize if I used that phrase as short hand, but a substantial number of Lesbians I’ve met are vocally Bi phobic. Calling myself a Lesbian rather than Bi has made a huge difference between making friends and getting the cold shoulder with a lot of women. (Believe me I’ve tried both.)

Maybe it is being a “poor me” to say: ‘when you say that nasty thing about Bi’s, you’re talking about me, and it hurts!’

But, well, it does. If you say a racist thing about me, (like how I’m white, so therefore rich, etc..) it hurts too. I don’t care that I am supposedly in some ‘privileged’ class, and therefore somehow have no room to complain. When people reject me based on things beyond my control; like my sexuality, race, gender, etc…it hurts.

I can only talk about what hurts me. This does not invalidate other people’s pain or struggle or oppression. Nor do other people’s struggles–even if they are much more difficult–invalidate mine.

 

Until next time! JA

They Want Me Back

So the guy I’ve been kinda-sorta seeing is actually a really talented musician in a local Hip Hop Group. I went to one of his shows on recently. The crowd was a little sparse, and a little stiff, but I guess the best you could hope for on a Monday night.

There were a few bands in the line-up, and while one was playing I hung out a little bit with my ‘friend’ but it was awkward. I wasn’t there as his girlfriend, and there were a lot of folks vying for his attention.

While I was dancing and searching the crowd for any attractive females whatsoever, I found my eyes drawn to a painfully straight thick woman who had more rhythm than most of the crowd put together. She was so out-of-place I asked my ‘friend’ who she was related to:

“She’s his cousin” Validating my instinct, he pointed to one of the three guys on stage. I looked at the guys, none of them looked like he was at all related to her.

“The black one” I peered at the guys, mentally sorting their European features for  African traits. Were any of them black? “Well he’s light-skinned” I decided he was talking about a light, mostly white featured guy.

After she hugged my ‘friend’, she introduced herself to me, and gave me a firm handshake which neither of us seemed to want to end…so I thought.

“Ow!” She said. “you have a firm handshake”
“But…” I said, easing up my grip. “I matched my handshake to yours”
“Well yeah,” she said, “I wanted to show I was strong.” Did I intimidate her?
“I can be as gentle as you want” I said, easing up and keeping her hand gently, not wanting to let go. I really need to stop flirting with straight women!

I left early at midnight–and was almost in bed when I realized I never paid my tab and they still had my card. So I headed back out.

I ended up hanging out with two of my ‘friend’s friends (one of whom is in his band). They both flirted with me, subtly insulted me (one implied I was a slut because I’m a single mom, the other that I’m rich because I’m white and live in a ‘good’ neighborhood) and then both asked to go home with me.

I was slightly tempted by the one in the band. He was kinda cute. But:

A) They’re in the same band–can you say awkward?

B) I don’t believe in sex on the first date, no one comes to my house, and the dude insulted me! What was he, trying to “white guilt” me into bed?

And C) I realized if I started something with either one of them they would expect me to interact with their dicks! And I really think I’m off dicks altogether. I tried, but the whole time I was touching my ‘friend’s penis all I felt was complete revulsion, and guilt for feeling that way. I think I just have to accept that while I may be attracted to some guys, may even like flirting with and kissing them, I just don’t like dick! (Fortunately my guy seems willing to just serve me like a stud…I guess we’ll see how long that lasts…)

So anyways, turned them both down. Went home and slept by myself.

I think I’ll dress butch next time I go out to a straight club…

In Response

This post is my response to some of the lovely comments on my guest post on Diffuse 5. Consider it a response to the equally thoughtful comments on my original post.

You’d think that having come out as Bi 16 years ago that I wouldn’t still be questioning my sexuality at 30. (Yes I came out at 14) But there it is.

I think that a combination of feeling rejected by the Lesbian community and ease of dating in the straight community pushed me into heterosexual relationships much more than I would have otherwise naturally been inclined. It was only by presenting myself as either a Lesbian, or as someone who formerly identified as Bi but was now only interested in women, that I was able to gain access to the woman-loving community that I craved.

I do think that I am far more orientated towards women, at least at this point in my life, but that doesn’t invalidate my feelings towards men or make me feel less ambiguous about how I identify. (Or feel less like a traitor for not championing the term Bi quite so much.)

Having said all that, there are communities that are very accepting of Bisexuals–my high school Gay-Straight Alliance was one of them. (It really was better in High School in some ways.)

If you’re in the Boston area I recommend checking out biresource.net and biwomenboston.org. (They both have links to other regions.)

If you’re really feeling adventurous you can check out http://polyboston.org. I find the local poly crowd to be very open-minded–if a bit on the nerdy side–and they throw nice family friendly parties.

Anyway, thanks for the intelligent and thoughtful comments and good luck on your journeys!

It Get’s Better–Unless You’re Bi

There’s a lot of Bi Phobia in the Gay Community. It’s easier to tell most straight people you’re a Lesbian then to tell some Lesbians that you are Bi.

When I rode on the Bi Float at Pride people did cheer, just not as loud as for the floats ahead and behind us. People also heckled us…

“You’re half way there” One man called out

A drag queen with a microphone lectured the crowd about how everyone should “give us a hand” because “being Bi isn’t easy.” I guess it’s true that even if they get shit from the rest of society, drag queens get a lot more acceptance from their own community, but it was painful to hear it spelled out so clearly

My best friend refuses to date a bisexual because she says they “don’t know if they’re coming or going.”

I get it–I do. Women don’t want to think about their girlfriend leaving them-or cheating on them with-a man.

I get that. But think about it–if I leave you for someone else, won’t it hurt whoever I am leaving you for?

A person can’t help who they are attracted to. They can control how they act on those attractions, but why should I have to cram my relationships into your box?

I had myself convinced for years that although I had this powerful attraction for women, I was fine with just appreciating them, but not actually acting on those feelings. I was convinced that on a day-to-day basis I would be happier with a man.

And then she kissed me.

And introduced me to Dyke Nights.

And I felt that there was no going back to men.

But then I met him.

Dammit still Bi!

And I feel like I can’t tell my lesbian friends about him.