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Bi Beginnings.

I came out as Bi at the age of 17. That was many years ago.

Here is what I heard.

  • You’re probably just a lesbian.
  • You’re confused.
  • You  just like sex too much. Editors note: Really is there a too much on that one. 😉
  • You just haven’t met the right man.
  • Have you even had sex with a man/woman?
  • How do you know?
  • You have to grow up.
  • Pray it away.
  • That’s sexy. Wanna have a threesome?
  • My boyfriend loves Bi girls.
  • I don’t want to date you. You just can’t make up your mind.
  • You’ll grow out of it.
  • Could you have sex with me so I can try it out. Editors note: This one always came from allegedly straight women.

I could go on but you get the gist. A lot of things have happened in the years since that day but suffice to say it was not a phase and I am still as Bi as I have ever been. I started using Twitter this year and what I found is very little has changed since I came out. Bisexuals still face the same Bi-phobia I did and, in some ways, it is worse because due to the proliferation of social media there is intentional ‘outing’ of those not quite ready to make their sexuality public, there is cyber-bullying, there is cyber-stalking. It almost makes the Bi-phobia I faced seem ‘quaint’ in comparison. However, the truth is that Bisexuals still struggle with their identity, still spend more time in the closet than gay men or lesbians, have a higher suicide rate than gays or lesbians,  and have difficulty finding a supportive community. It felt good, even in an online forum to dispel some of the toxic assumptions that cause so much pain and heartache for the Bi community and so I decided, perhaps, I could provide the same support in blog form to young Bis, to those just coming out at a more ‘seasoned’ age, to those who don’t have Bi friends in their geographical location or to those just tired of all the ‘weird bi-phobia’ that we have to put up with all the time. It also felt freeing to do so without the 140 character limitation. 😉

There are a zillion blogs out there…some that’ll help you with sex questions/some providing information about polyamory/some strictly political in nature/some with answers to kink questions/the list goes one. I don’t purport to be any Bi expert but I have been around a while and maybe (I hope) I have accumulated a little wisdom on the subject. This will probably be a mix of political/social information, hopefully some laughs,…but most importantly support for those struggling, those doing ok but could be better, those tired of the anti Bi bullshit, or those just looking for a place where it is absolutely ok, no…fantastic to be Bi. In my view, being Bi is a gift, a joy, a delight, a superpower and I would not change the way I am for anything or for anyone!

When only 28% of Bisexuals come out as compared with 77% of gay men and 71% of lesbians (per 2013 Pew Research Center survey) we know there is a serious problem. Bis don’t feel safe. Bis don’t feel supported. We have to work to change that. My personal solution is ‘radical visibility’. I make every effort to make sure the people in my life, the people at work, the people I come in contact with on a regular basis know that I am Bi. It may seem a small thing but almost everyday I have an opportunity to say nothing or say something. I choose to say something. I choose to speak for those who don’t feel they can.

If anything I share helps one person, supports one friend, heals one heart then my mission is accomplished. I just hope I can do more. ❤ Together we can create a community where Bis feel supported and where they feel safe enough to be visible.

Dear Bis. You are valid. You matter. You are important.  I see you. We can do this. ❤

 

Queerantine Continues!

The truth is far too often Bisexuals are isolated. Dealing with the challenges of Covid-19 may make us feel even more so. For our part, we had started baby steps to create Bi+ community locally. Now, our meetups, activities, and events are suspended. Indefinitely. Health concerns aside this was something which was beginning to sustain many of us. To be in connection with other Bisexuals really meant something. Pride festivities are even postponed. This is often a touchstone for many of us in the Queer community. I had suggested in another post that we take the time to inform ourselves about our community and try to maintain connection virtually. We are moving in the virtual direction. That is as soon as we figure out to be as inclusive as we can be virtually. More on that to come. Stay tuned.

In the meanwhile, how about using our Queerantine status to watch television shows with Bisexual characters and storylines.

If you need something to keep that mojo working I highly suggest Sense8. Sadly, cancelled by Netflix it definitely had some of the most luscious, diverse humans to be seen and a twist and turn type storyline which definitely keeps you guessing.

Another great TV show with a kick ass Bisexual character is Brooklyn 99. Rosa Diaz is a tough as nails detective in the 99th precinct of the NYPD. Her coming out story was very believable and will probably resonate with many of us who have been there. They continue to weave her bisexuality into the storyline. Rosa’s sexuality is just one aspect of her personality, an important one make no mistake, but not the only thing that defines her. It is treated in a matter of fact way. It is just who she is….not overly sexualized, not sensationalized…she is just Bi. Plus that word is used liberally and that is important for the audience to hear.

For a fun-loving, sexy af pansexual look no further than Captain Jack Harkness on Doctor Who and Torchwood. I am a lifelong Whovian and I have loved it as queer characters have been seamlessly woven into canon. If Captain Jack does not get you firing on all cylinders it is definitely time for you to recharge. ; )

Darryl Whitefeather (Crazy Ex Girlfriend) is probably one of the most charming later in life coming out stories I have ever seen. Darryl is a truly good guy and totally at ease with being a Bi guy. Bi men have a particularly difficult row to hoe sometimes and to see a character so at peace with who he is and so welcomed and supported by his friends and family is truly delightful. Valencia (another character) also later is Bi when she ends a relationship with her male fiance and later becomes involved with a girlfriend. The great thing is no one really bats an eye. Exactly how it should work. Enjoy Darryl’s very danceable video about gettin bi. It is a true delight.

Then there is GILLIAN FUCKING ANDERSON as Stella Gibson in The Fall. Feminist icon and kick ass detective she is a joy to watch. In addition, there are some truly torrid scenes to spice up your self-isolation. ; )

And of course, I would be remiss if I did not include Sara Ramirez’ Callie Torres from Grey’s Anatomy. This quote will always resonate with me: “So, I’m bisexual. So what? It’s a thing and it’s real. I mean, it’s called LGBTQ for a reason. There’s a ‘b’ in there and it doesn’t mean ‘badass’. Okay, it kind of does, but it also means ‘bi’.” For that alone, this Bi-fierce character is the stuff of legend.

Stay tuned cuz #BiRepresentationMatters. I will provide some more bi-watchable media in the coming weeks. Take care, my beautiful Bi+ friends!

 

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Being Bi in a Time of Quarantine

I doubt there is anyone reading this who is not aware of the Covid-19 pandemic facing the world right now. I live in the US and we are but taking baby steps to address, contain and try to control the virus. Other countries are facing the same struggles. I do not wish, in any way, to diminish the severity and importance of this crisis. It is serious and we need a surfeit of sanity to deal with it. My heart and soul goes out to anyone dealing with this. I can only hope this reminds us of the importance of community. Community really matters. Supporting our neighbors makes for warm and caring neighborhoods and it just mushrooms from there.

Community is on my mind due to the pandemic but also because it is Bi+ Health Month. I worry a lot about my Bi+ siblings. We suffer mightily from social isolation. We suffer from a feeling that we are not supported by the larger LGBTQ community. And, we often have the worst health outcomes of any other initial in the LGBTQ acronym.

Bisexuals are much less likely to be out to the important folks in their lives. Only 28% of Bi+ folks are out as opposed to 77% of gay men and 71% of lesbians. This narrowing of our own community leaves us alone and without a supportive cohort. The reason more Bi+ folks don’t come out is rampant and relentless biphobia but the outcome of our unlikelihood to be out means we are isolated. This results in the next extremely sobering statistic that we are 4 times more likely to commit suicide than straights and 2 times more likely to commit suicide than lesbians or gay men. There are many reasons for this and certainly bierasure plays a major role.

My real intention here is to point out that even as we self-isolate to prevent the spread of Covid-19 we can reach out to our Bi+ community. We can learn more about ourselves and find more peace and positivity in coming out, even if it is only to ourselves. The first step in being authentic in public spaces is allowing ourselves to say who we are to ourselves in our private lives.

If we start with elevating and celebrating who we are in private we can start to take a small step from a closeted life to one brimming with connection. Then, while you spend time at home take the time to educate yourself about Bisexual history, notable Bisexual folx and the challenges the Bi+ community faces. There is a college of knowledge out there and you should take advantage of it (links included with this blog post). Knowledge is Power.

Start with Bi.org and the information about notable Bisexual/Pansexual/Omnisexual/Polysexual folks in addition to articles and resouces and ways to get involved in our community and it is there for the reading.

https://bi.org/en

More resources here and an informative blog….along with info and research about the community.

http://biresource.org/

Another excellent site:

http://www.americaninstituteofbisexuality.org/

This gives you a little something to start with as you wile away the hours at home. It is always constructive to learn more about your community.

For my part, I will be spending as much time as possible working on organization and outreach for my own little local group, Bi+ Pride Mke. We are small but we are mighty and growing Bi+ diverse and inclusive community close to home. If you are interested in what we are doing check out our website or our Facebook page.

 

https://www.bimke.org/

Beautiful Bi+ Friends, wherever you may be, stay safe, stay strong and stay healthy during this challenging time.

 

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A Gender Journey Fairytale

Once upon a time a little human was born. This little human was happy and healthy. The parents of the little human thought she was a girl. They dressed her in dresses and pink and patent leather shoes. Those clothes felt uncomfortable for the little human but that is what they had to wear so they wore them. They were often told ‘girls don’t do that’, ‘girls are quiet’, ‘girls are weak’, ‘girls wear dresses’. A little time passes and the human decides they like short hair, they like wearing pants, they know they are strong and they also know that they don’t seem to fit in….anywhere. A long time passes and the human grows up and even starts to grow old. They dress as they like, they act as they like, they understand who they are, they are loved exactly as they are  and they are very happy. The End.

 

Goodness, if only it had all been that easy. My gender journey was nowhere near as linear and simple. When I look at pictures of myself as a child I see the short hair, I see the more masculine gestures, I see someone who feels very uncomfortable in dresses but I don’t really see a gender rebel. I see someone who ignores the gender binary, who ignores expectations but I don’t see someone who actively flouts them. Getting to the point of feeling comfortable in my own skin, expressing who I feel as though I am in terms of my gender and finding language to express who I am took many long decades. It also took a vocabulary which helped expand and express who I am. I think of myself as non-binary, genderqueer, genderfluid and, on some days, agender. I don’t feel particularly womanly but I don’t have a problem with the way my body is configured.

As a teenager, I refused to wear makeup, I would not wear high heels, I definitely stood out from the crowd at my all-girls high school as someone who did not fit in. I felt a little lonely but never felt as though anyone actively discriminated against me for how I chose to present myself. I was a little more likely to encounter bi-phobia than have someone question how I looked. I suppose, in retrospect, it could be that I was sort of dyke-y in my appearance and folks may have assumed I was a lesbian. Well, as much as folks in the mid-70s really thought in those terms regularly.

In college, I found some bi peeps and other queers with whom I hung out. I tried to express who I was, in terms of my gender, but androgynous did not really seem to match the abundant curves I had and using that terminology was something willowy demi-boys and demi-girls used. There just did not seem to be a vocabulary for who I was. Admittedly, being involved in ‘gay liberation’ as we called it back then took up a lot of my time and my sexual orientation took a front seat and my uncertainty about my gender sort of dropped off the radar.

As a working person, I ended up with a kind of ‘professional uniform’ which was mostly monochromatic, close fitting trousers, usually a white shirt or turtleneck or t shirt. Outside of work I expressed a dramatic flair that was not bound by gender, at all…berets, scarves, leotards, construction boots… I think it was my way of being a ‘character’ and by doing that no one expected me to look like a traditional female. It was about this time I started to feel that there was something missing in terms of language for how I saw myself and my gender. I spent time in the library trying to find a clue but didn’t. I am not sure I would have known what I was looking for but I spent time in the ‘human sexuality’ section thinking I might be able to find some information which would encompass me.

I married a cis gender man who never felt the need for me to be anyone other than who I am. There was comfort in that. We had three kids. My pregnancies were very easy and our kids were healthy. However, everything about pregnancy was sooooo gendered that for the first time in my life I felt truly dysphoric. I definitely felt ‘at variance’ with all the female terms and expectations pregnancy seemed to involve. Now, this was 3 decades ago and I know things have changed but while I found the pregnancies exciting and being a parent a welcome challenge the clothing and everything else associated with pregnancy just felt ‘off’. I managed by going back to more of a uniform look instead of the flowered and flouncy outfits available for most pregnant people.

And then slowly but surely, and thankfully, language started to expand. In high school, my daughter had friends who were trans and genderqueer. As always, if they were not welcome in their own homes they were supported in ours. I would hear them talking about their gender journeys and a great deal seemed to echo my experience. Even if, at first, the language and terminology seemed foreign to me I eventually had an ‘ah-ha’ moment when I realized that these young folx were experiencing precisely what I had done a long time ago. A feeling of discomfort with gender roles and a desire for a more encompassing universe for gender.  I started to see language which felt like a definition of me. Non binary, gender expansive, agender. I still was not sure where I fit in, exactly, but the language felt like home. I know I am not cis gender woman. I usually say I am a bisexual, non-binary woman. Although some days I feel more gender-expansive and some days I feel more agender. My gender is as fluid and on a spectrum as my sexuality. While this journey took a long time it is actually, still ongoing, and has definitely been worth the uncertainty. One thing I am certain about though….I am glad the language has evolved and is helping many folks, not just me, understand who they are.

 

 

 

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Are you an ‘active’ bisexual?

Me: I’m Bisexual.
Other person: Are you…actively bisexual?
Me: Well, I am certainly not passively bisexual. In fact, I am being ACTIVELY BISEXUAL right now.
Other person: Oh, umm, ah….are you attracted to me?
Me: No.
End scene.
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Are you actively bisexual? That is the silliest and, depending upon my mood, the most annoying question I get asked. It stems from the idea that to be Bisexual I must be concurrently engaged in a sexual relationship with someone of all the possible genders in the universe. Not only would that be time-consuming (and, yes, it might be fun for awhile) but the likelihood of my finding that many folks at one time I would like to date is unlikely (not impossible, mind you)
Of course, when folks use the term ‘active bisexual’ they are, without fail, thinking of sex. They are also functioning from the mythical notion that all bisexuals must be sexually involved with all genders at all times. As stated above, that would mean I would probably not doing much else other than having sex. Could I do that? I like to think I still have a fair amount of stamina. Would I want to 24/7? Probably not. I do, in fact, have some other interests.
It is ridiculous to think that if I am not currently engaged with folks of all possible genders that I am somehow being ‘passively bisexual’. That is not an option. My sexuality is always flipped on. It is something I carry with my physical body everywhere I go. It does not mean I am attracted to everyone. It simply means my bisexuality is a fully integrated part of my being….like having blue eyes, or being radically left on the political spectrum, or being a musical omnivore,or being a bookworm. Bisexuality is a complete and total part of who I am as a human being and something I am never passive about.
This idea that Bisexuals are always sexual is demeaning and diminishing. Many of us think about sex, a lot. But, as stated above, it is not the only thing we think about. Seeing us as simply sexual beasts does not take into account the wide spectrum in the community (from aces to hyper-sexuals) and that all Bis have their own way to express their sexuality.
It can also be isolating to think of Bisexuality as only the sexual aspect of who we are. It is much more than that. It is our unique way of seeing the world and the beauty of individual humans. I can see a beautiful, sexy person without thinking of every single one of them as fuckable. Bisexuals are not predators and we take consent as seriously as people of other sexual orientations.
So, yes, I am actively Bisexual every single day and like all Bisexuals expect acknowledgement and respect for exactly who I am. : )

 

Edit: This is a repost of an earlier blog post. Given it is Bi Health Month I think a little humor goes a long way. As Bisexuals we definitely have a challenge to educate but also to maintain our own equilibrium. Every one of us has to decide how much we are willing to provide regarding our sexuality, our sexual history, our relationship status and how we express our own bisexuality. We are under no requirement to share any of the above. The fact that we say we are Bi should be enough. It is for folks of other sexual identities/orientations. No one questions a straight person who says they are straight….whether they have been sexually active or not. It is simply expected that the person knows who they are. Bisexuals deserve the same acknowledgement and respect. So, my dear Bi+ folks, be yourselves because you are beautiful just the way you are.

 

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Bi+ Platinum

Ok, Bi+ Universe….I am looking for some ideas/suggestions.

I organize my local Bi+ group. Bi and large, I am the oldest person in the room at our events. I don’t mind being the sage elder…lol…but i often long to converse with folks closer to my age who have had a few more experiences under their belts.

I think this kind of group is important because Bi+ folks, of a certain age and experience level, have probably heard it all or at least most of it. By that I mean, the biphobia, the invisibilizing of their sexuality, the challenges that come with trying to maintain one’s Bi identity throughout the ups, downs and all arounds of life.

In addition, older Bis often have some unique challenges if they have never come out of the closet and may benefit from the support. I also like the idea of creating a sub-group in our larger Bi+ local community that can show younger folks that Bisexuality is not a phase and a beautiful, magical lifelong identity.

There are some groups for older Queer folks but, in general, they are comprised of gay men and lesbians. While we certainly would want to have a presence in our larger Queer community I also think there are unique delights and challenges for older Bi+ folks.

In addition, ageism seems to be the last discrimination society can employ with impunity and I think the cameraderie we could create for each other would be a wonderful template for younger Bi+ generations.

So, all of this said, I would love your ideas. What would be an appropriate name for such a group? I thought of Bi+ Platinum as it speaks to the value Bi+ elders should have in our larger Bisexual community. It has a little of a corporate credit card sound though….so, other ideas are truly welcomed. Silver Sages? Too witchy? I don’t object but others might. Bi+ Prime. It has a rather cool matrix type sound. B+ perennials? It gives the impression that we have ‘been around’….and that is certainly true. We have a long view.

Anyway, this is on my mind. I want to make it happen. It is on my vision board for this year….along, with a shit ton of other stuff.

I am just throwing this out to the universe and hoping inspiration will return. : )

In closing, Bisexuality is a lifelong gift. It does ebb and flow due to its fluid nature but it never goes away. It is always a vibrant part of our identity. Bisexuality should be embraced and celebrated no matter how old we are and I aim to create intergenerational Bi+ community that acknowledges and elevates the work done by our Elder Bis.

Stay tuned as I work on this project. : )

 

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Bi Activism Matters!

Today is Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday celebration. I always take some time on this day to reflect upon whether or not I am doing enough for my fellow humans. For the past few years,  my focus has been on my Bi+ family. I had started out in Gay Liberation back in the 70’s and there were definitely other Bisexuals involved but they were not always loud and proud about their bisexuality.

It is important to acknowledge that Bisexual people have always been involved in the struggle for LGBTQ rights. There are some very notable folks in that history and I have written about them before. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, were Bi+ trans women who were involved in the Stonewall Riot. Brenda Howard is known as the Mother of Pride for organizing the Christopher Street Gay Liberation celebration in June 1970. Stephen Donaldson, a Bi activist, organized the first Gay student organization called the Student Homophile League in the mid sixties. Bisexuals have never failed to support the struggle. Glaad has a wonderful synopsis of Bi activism over the decades and I recommend you read it. It is important to educate yourself on the contributions of Bi+ folks to the LGBTQ liberation movement as they are, far too often, erased.

We have a brand new year ahead of us. Another opportunity to express our sexuality as best suits us and to expand our universe by being bi-visible. There is always some way that you can shout your sexuality. They can be small ways such as wearing a Bi clothing or bling. There can be bigger ways such as organizing the Bi community locally. There are very personal ways such as coming out to one trusted person.

The main thing, and I am saying this for my own benefit as well as yours, is to do something. Large or small, loud or quiet….and if, nothing else, just be your Bi self. And, if over the next year, you feel the need to rest a bit, that is just fine. Take it all one day at a time. Be kind to yourself. It can be kind of tough to be Bi sometimes. We are not given our due respect. We are not seen even when we are shouting our existence. We seem to always be asked to explain ourselves. Even though who we are is not at all complex…we are people who can see and respond to the beauty of all people. It should not be that hard to understand but inexplicably it still causes confusion for non-Bi people.

If you can do it join a local organization for support and comradery. Make sure to follow some Bi+ sites and pages on social media. This all seems a little rambling to me but the main thing is to acknowledge within yourself who you are. If you are attracted to people of more than one gender you are non-monosexual. If you are non-monosexual you are a member of the Bi+ community. That acknowledgement alone is absolutely huge and monumental and important. So, at the very least, commit to be yourself and to not deny who you are. And, if you do that, activism and organization and community will follow!

Adding the link to the Glaad site for the brief but interesting Bi+ history lesson:

 

https://www.glaad.org/blog/us-bisexual-movement-biweek-history-lesson

 

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Bi-Intentions

The New Year is always a good time for reflection. Every one of us can benefit from taking time to think about what we have done, where we have been and where we are going. This past year has had some wonderful highs and some unfortunate lows. I always prefer to dwell upon the positive.

Being Bi is the aspect of my life which has brought me incredible joy but caused some challenges over the decades. I prefer to dwell upon the positive while not pretending the negative does not happen or does not affect me. I do have some plans/intentions for the New Year which I will share. If they are helpful to anyone else that would bring me great joy.

I intend to continue to be unapologetically Bi and Queer. This is not a change so much as a continuation of what I have been doing to varying degrees over the years. I will admit to some unintentional erasure which I have done to myself but those days are long over. Confidence in the way you present yourself really matters….or at least that has been my experience. While I find most people endlessly interesting I don’t need their permission to be who I am. If they affirm me that is delightful but I don’t need their affirmation to be myself. I have found the more confident and vocal I have become in my Queerness the more I garner respect from others, both queer and straight. It is interesting how rarely folks will challenge you if you look them right in the eye and own who you are.

I intend to do much more for my beautiful Bi+ community. This past year has seen tremendous growth for our local Bi+ Pride Milwaukee group. We were recognized at Milwaukee’s PrideFest by receiving a Pride award for our organization. It was a joyous moment for all of us. I was so honored to accept the award on behalf of  BPM and took the opportunity to comment on how the B has never been silent and has been an integral part of the fight for LGBTQ rights.  Sadly, we have continued to be met with biphobia and bierasure, very often from our own LGBTQ siblings. This is tremendously wrong and dispiriting. Our best response is to continue to affirm and support everyone who identifies as non-monosexual, no matter which label resonates with them. See prior comment about confidence….if we acknowledge our own magic for ourselves and each other we will demand respect. We are right to do so.

My plan is to find ways to grow our local organization and connect, at least regionally, with other Bi groups. I have started that outreach but there is much more to be done. The journey of a thousand miles starts with one step, or in this case, one email. ; )

On a more practical level I want to do more writing for and about our Bi+ community to counter much of the misinformation I see, far too often, in periodicals focused on the LGBTQ community. It is well past time for folks to say ‘oh it is hard and I don’t really understand bisexuality but I guess they are ok’ and move on to let’s celebrate the beautiful Bi+ community in all of their glory and let’s realistically look at the challenges we face, the research which needs to be done, the funding which needs to be given, and how to uplift the Bi+ community. I also hope to get a podcast in place to celebrate the amazing and joyful diversity of non-monosexuals.

I have quite a few other projects both for the Bi+ community, the Queer community and others that I want to pursue. More on that as the year unfolds. I want to walk more than I talk because the talk will take care of itself once my projects have come to fruition.

On a personal level I have a lot of growth I would like to see in myself as I take the first step and many more into the next decade. I want to rest when I am tired and take the time to return refreshed to the many issues of importance to me. I want to enjoy my family and friends without the kind of worry and anxiety I often experience. I want to acknowledge and celebrate the beauty which surrounds me. I definitely want to travel much more and try to connect with Bi communities wherever I go. We are all much stronger and more resilient together. I want to be a bit kinder to myself and know I have the ability to support myself as well as others.

I especially want to continue to celebrate, elevate and nourish myself as a Bi non-binary woman and shine my light for others who may have difficulty seeing the beauty in themselves.

All the love from me to you, my friends.

 

 

 

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