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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. ❤

 

Bi: All Day, Every Day

I met a woman recently who was close to my age (61) and was just coming out as Bi. Now when I say coming out I mean just barely cracking that closet door. Our conversation was a real eye-opener for me as she was a grown woman who had been hiding for her entire life. She knew who she was. She knew she was bisexual but she was hiding and pretending. All of her relationships had been with men even though she would have sex with women under a veil of secrecy. What truly shocked me is that she thought this was the way all bisexuals of her generation lived their lives. She thought this was standard operating procedure for  bisexuals of my generation. She was tremendously surprised to hear my story and learn I had been out for decades.

This really gave me pause as I had come out at 17 in 1975 and felt I was joining a vibrant and focused gay liberation (the verbiage we used then) movement. I did not feel I had to hide. I felt the world was going a seismic sexuality shift and my generation was at the forefront of that exciting moment. To be sure, there were challenges, there were times when I walked down the street holding a girlfriends hand thinking a group of guys outside a bar might hassle us. It happened. We dealt with it. I knew that there were many who did not accept gay men, lesbians, bisexuals….who did not even have non-binary folks, trans folks or genderqueer people on their radar. I cheered for every victory whether it was Harvey Milk winning an election as an openly gay man or Anita Bryant (an anti-gay religious zealot and orange juice spokesmodel) getting a pie in the face. I won’t say every experience of sharing my sexuality was a good one but the positives of being my authentic self far outweighed the negatives.

Here I was having a conversation of someone who had not lived their truth at all and it was humbling. It made me very grateful for the wonderful family and friends who have supported me and my activism all these decades.

In addition to not being out and proud she also had internalized so many biphobic tropes. She felt maybe she was ‘too sexual’ because she desired both men and women (she did not really seem to have a grasp of the concept of non-binary gender identity while I did try to explain it as a genderqueer person myself). She questioned whether she could ever be true to herself as her family would never accept her. She felt unless you were actively having sex with people of multiple genders you could not really call yourself bisexual. She wondered if perhaps she was just going through a phase. It was quite a laundry list of biphobia. For my part, I listened. Her experiences were not my experiences but we shared a sexuality and the least I could do was hear her story.

Now, doing as I do, I also directed her to resources I felt would benefit her in her journey. I jotted them down and encouraged her to make use of whatever resonated with her. I know she is not the only one who has not embraced their identity for fear of losing friends and family. This realization made me unutterably sad.

The last thing I said before we went our separate ways was to suggest she  reach out to those in her community who will embrace her, and disregard those who wouldn’t,  and finally to realize it is never too late to be who you have always been.

 

 

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We have a right to Bi-Privacy

As an out Bi person I have been subjected to many personal questions over the decades. For reasons which remain a mystery to me people seem to think that my Bi-visibility is an invitation to ask me the kind of questions they would never consider asking their straight or gay friends or acquaintances. They cannot seem to help themselves from asking very personal questions or expressing amazement that I can be Bi and in a long-term relationship.
Let me give you an example of the kind of scenario I have found myself in many times.
I am at a event hosted by some close friends. There is a fairly large crowd of family members and friends at this event some of whom I have not met before. I happen to be wearing one of my Bi Pride t-shirts. I don’t always carry a megaphone with me so I can make an announcement regarding my bisexuality when I arrive at social events . ; ) There are times I let my Bi bling do the talking.
I happen to be attending this event with my husband. A woman sidles up to me and mentions that she ‘noticed’ my t-shirt and what did it mean. I sort of thought that a t-shirt that says Rainbows, Unicorns, Bi-Pride and Love speaks for itself, but I take the bait. My response… it means I am bisexual and proud, delivered with a smile. The woman hesitates and then says sotto voce, oh so that means you have to do it with men and women. LOL. My response, well, we don’t have to we just want to. (Emphasis: mine) I always deliver that one with a wink.
Of course, I go on to explain that Bisexuals are attracted to their own and other genders and can be monogamous just as any straight or gay/lesbian couple. Or, they can be polyamorous and have ethical concurrent relationships with folks of their own or other genders. In other words, Bi folks inhabit a spectrum of sexual identity, are not defined by their partners and can have a variety of relationship situations. I continue on with my usual professorial tutorial about all things Bi. I mean you asked so you WILL be informed.
At this point, I realize I have not satisfied her curiosity with my facts and figures. She goes on. So, you’re married and you have relationships with other people including women. I mean, what does your husband think of that. OK. Here is where i draw the line. First of all, lady, my husband is not the boss of me, and why would anyone assume he is. Ha!
The truth is I am genuinely willing and happy to expound upon the infinite variety, joy, magic and transcendence that is Bisexuality. I am happy to be an out and proud Bisexual. I am happy to get pretty specific about the spectrum and fluidity of Bisexuality, the statistics indicating the toll Bi-phobia takes on the Bisexual community, and how often Bisexuals are erased by having their sexuality defined by their current partners or relationships.
However, my personal life is off limits. If you don’t know me well enough to know if I am involved with someone other than my husband or have been in the past or may be in the future this is clearly not information you will be privy to. It is not as though I conduct my life under a shroud of secrecy but it is invasive to ask questions you would not feel comfortable having someone ask you. I would not ask a married person, straight or gay, if they were swingers or lifestylers or maintained relationships outside of their marriage. I would think it rude and an invasion of their privacy. However, folks seem to think it is perfectly fine to ask Bi folks intrusive questions simply because they are Bisexuals. It isn’t and if we don’t feel comfortable answering the questions asked we can politely, but firmly, say ‘that is none of your damn business’.

 

Note: This is a reprise of an earlier post.

 

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Bisexuality: Busting the Myths

Recently, we have started to create a vibrant, valid, safe and supportive Bi+ community where I live. It has been wonderful and exhilirating and, at the same time, disappointing. Disappointing, not because I have met fantastic non-monosexual friends, but because so many of the myths and stereotypes I found challenging as a young person 4 decades ago still persist and are a stumbling block for young Bi+ folks.

So, let’s take a moment to bust the myths that persist:

Bis can’t commit: I have been married for 33 years. We have a relationship which has stood the test of time. We have had our ups and downs but, at the end of the day, I know my husband’s acceptance of me and my authentic self is very valuable. I am not the only Bi I know in a long-term, vibrant partnership.

Bis have to ‘pick a team’: Nope, we already have. We are non-monosexual. We know we have without ourselves the ability to love/lust/be attracted to folks of multiple and many gender identities. We aren’t gay. We aren’t straight. We know who we are and we are #BiCertain. We don’t need to be put in a box and we won’t be put in a ‘straight-jacket’.

Bis don’t have to have been in a relationship/have had sex with human-beings of many genders to know who we are. We feel who we are in our hearts and minds. We know that folks who are female-identified, male-identified, genderqueer and non-binary can make our pulses quicken. We have eyes to see and hearts to feel and we don’t need to prove anything to you or to anyone else. Don’t judge us and do not, ever, pigeonhole us. We are sexual rebels, we often live outside hetero and homo normative expectations.

Bis want attention: We are just living our lives, doing what we do…if you think that worthy of attention, well, so be it. Maybe you are just fascinated by our magical, mystical, ‘free ass motherfucker’ way of life. Not that we can blame you but you cannot try to be us…..we accept that you have a limited scope in terms of relationships…but don’t try to place your limits on us.

We want to emulate celebrities: Many of us have lived our Bi+ lives without any role models/celebrity icons to validate us and we have been ourselves without that. This is just a ridiculous notion. Do we appreciate Bi+ representation; we sure do but we don’t need it to be who we are.

We don’t exist: This is the most damaging myth there is. We have already established we know who we are/we feel it/we live it….and then we are ERASED. The pain and heartache this has caused for generations of bisexual human beings cannot be overstated. We are here, We are Queer, and your opinion of us is neither required nor desired. Ya feel me….we know we exist and we don’t give a flying freak what you think.

So, how to combat these myths….well, for us, we start the discussion, we share our experiences, we see how much we have had in common, and how much these stereotypes and myths have caused harm to all of us….and then we move on, we support each other, we reach out and try to heal our community. And, while we are healing, we have an awesome inclusive, loving, safe, enriching, bi-centric experience together. There is power and peace in numbers and our numbers are increasing everyday!

 

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Being Bi Takes Time.

In the interest of full disclosure, I do not recall a time I did not know I was bisexual. I may not have had the language to express my sexuality but, from very early on, I knew I found so many different people attractive and they always included folks of my own and other genders. However, my worldview has definitely been expanded when I have spoken to, corresponded with and, most importantly, listened intently to Bi+ folks who have lived a very different experience than my own.

There are so many reasons folks may not clue in to their sexuality at a young age.

First and foremost are societal and family expectations. People make a lot of assumptions about sexuality. The media is very heteronormative. Young queer folk are bombarded with images of hetero couples, hetero sex, hetero attraction and hetero expectations. When that is the lion’s share of what you see it is not surprising that, even if the mold does not fit, you try to conform. Parents have so many expectations of their kids and, very often, those expectations are of a traditional, heteronormative nature. It can be very hard to feel as though you are disappointing your parents….even if what you are really doing is expressing who you truly are.

Religion is a large part of many people’s lives, especially for Americans. Religion is usually pretty repressive about sexuality. There are, of course, exceptions to that rule but very often kids who are raised in evangelical, puritanical, rigidly dogmatic traditional religious families don’t feel any support from their families or from their religion. It is extremely difficult to break free of those religious chains and the negativity toward Queer folk inherent in many religions can take a lifetime to process if you are Queer.

Being ‘different’ is not always easy. We still live in a culture which, far too often, others LGBT people and not everyone feels comfortable expressing their authentic selves and even if the closet restricts who they are it seems too scary to open that door.

Bi folks will sometimes marry young (in a ‘straight’ appearing marriage) before they have had the time to sort out their sexuality. This creates another level of anxiety and challenge as they will have to come out to their spouse who may not be supportive of their sexuality.

All of these challenges can conspire to keep people from accepting and loving their beautiful Bisexual selves. The journey to self-acceptance and self-love can, far too often, be a very long and arduous one.

It is important to know that whenever you are ready to come out is the exact right time for you. You are the only person who can confidently share your authenticity and you are the only person who should make the decision when to do so. It could be you won’t tell your parents or your family initially….or, perhaps, ever. Even if coming out to your family is not an option know there are communities almost everywhere who are Bi-positive and Bi-accepting.

Uncertainty is part of human existence. We all have moments of self-doubt. Accept your uncertainty and take the time to allow yourself to learn who you are. You deserve the time to sort yourself out. It is not important to meet anyone’s expectations but your own.

I would be remiss if I did not share the website for BiNet. They have many resources to help. Reach out to them at Bi Net

 

 

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20BiTeen

I assume you have seen the same hashtag on social media that I have: #20BiTeen. I believe we are to believe 2019 will be our year. The year Bisexuals come out of the closet, refuse to be erased, and express our beautiful bisexuality openly. All I can say, if this is our year, it is long overdue. However, we can and will seize the moment.

How do we seize this Bi moment? There are so many ways. You should choose the way which works best for you.

Finally buy all the Bi bling. T-shirts, enameled pins, Bi color hair dye, Bi eye makeup, etc etc. While I am more of a fan of Queer Liberation than Rainbow capitalism it is true you can find just about anything on the Internet to publicly express your bisexuality. You really should…(of course, only if you feel safe doing so). As for me, I ‘Bi’ it up all day every day….finally get that Bi Pride tattoo you have been considering. We all have to do our part to be as radically Bi-visible as we can be.

Don’t assume. Yes, I have blogged before about how no one should assume anything about another’s sexuality but we also should not assume folks can see our magical bisexuality if we don’t tell them we are Bi (again, only do what you feel safe and secure doing). As for me, I do not miss an opportunity (and sometimes make the opportunity) to make sure my family, friends, coworkers, and casual acquaintances to proclaim my bisexuality. I have dealt with ignorance but it has been my experience that folks appreciate knowing who you are and, more and more often, have zero problem with my being Bisexual. You never know till you tell them. Every time a Bisexual comes out it makes it easier for the next person to do so. Quite often, when I express my Bi authenticity the person I am talking to or someone who was just eavesdropping will come out to me. It is always a joy to meet a new member of our Bi+ community.

Call folks out on their Bi-phobia. The more badass I become the more unlikely it is for someone to openly express Bi-phobia but it can sometimes be very subtle. For instance, it can be as simple as someone expressing incredulity that I am Bi because I have been married to a man for so many years. It is easy to disabuse folks of the notion that Bisexuals and bisexuality are defined by the gender of our partner.

Seek out Bi-community. I have done that….in fact, with other activists, I have created a Bi+ organization where I live. You can do it, too. You will be astonished how many people have been waiting for even a glimmer of Bi-activism and community and will wholeheartedly participate.

Demand that LGBT organizations provide services for the Bi+ community. Most larger cities have some kind of LGBT outreach. Call them out if they are not providing for the B in the LGBT.

Just be your magnificent Bi self: Trust me, if you are Bi and allow yourself to radiate your Bi beauty and authentic sexuality people will be drawn to your confidence. Whether you are looking for lovers, hookups or friends being yourself is always attractive. Be a good friend and you will find good Bi friends. : )

It has been a long journey to see Bi role models in the media and to have folks in the public eye come out as bisexual. I think we are at a tipping point and it is an ‘all hands on deck’ situation. To quote, Yoko Ono, A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.

Bisexual beauties, it is time to dream our Bi future together!

 

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Bi-Phobia:Queer Rage Edition

I have taken a bit of a hiatus from blogging because I have been busy in my day to day life organizing and supporting my local Bi+ community. However, just because I have not been writing regularly does not mean I have not been keeping up with the queer media and how it routinely erases and disrespects bisexuals. It pains me when I see the queer press, and even bisexual bloggers, using bi-phobic tropes.

For instance, I recently saw an article by a bisexual man who indicated he ‘prefers’ to date men because it makes him feel more queer and not too long ago I saw the tired old canard about how bisexuality is transphobic. This must stop and in 20BiTeen we must make it our goal to erase the bi-phobia we see all too frequently in social media and in real life.

We simply must not tolerate and must regularly ‘call out’ the biphobia which so subtly influences and invades popular (and especially queer) culture.

Here are some of the most egregious examples of damaging biphobic comments.

‘I would never date/marry a bisexual’: Really, why not? We are real, flesh and blood folks who inhabit a beautiful spectrum of sexuality. We are no more likely to cheat than any gay, lesbian or straight person. Being a cheater makes a person cheat not being a bisexual. This is tired and old and needs to be consigned to the waste basket which includes all the old stereotypes the LGBT community has been dealing with for decades.

‘Being Bi is just a phase’ ‘Being Bi is just a stop to gaytown’: Just. Nope. I am Bi, have been out for over 40 years and I am just as bisexual as I have ever been. Being married has not ‘de-queered’ me. It is just awful that folks in the LGBT community would ever say this to a Bi person. How would they have felt/how did they feel when their parents/elders told them being Gay/Lesbian was just a phase they would grow out of? Yeah, they didn’t like it.

‘Aren’t all women somewhat bisexual’: Just no and this is insanely stupid. Straight women exist. Lesbians exist. Are you calling into question their sexuality? So stop this. Women are no more likely or unlikely to have a fluid sexuality than men. Saying this just seems like ‘wishful’ thinking for potential threesomes on the part of straight men. Stop it.

‘Bisexuals are transphobic’: Again, just no. Most bisexuals are as likely to be attracted to a trans person or a non binary person as they are to be attracted to a cis man or woman. We are not constrained by the binary. In fact, most of us live our lives outside the binary and might be why we are deemed to be so sexually ‘dangerous’ (which we are not or if we are only in the best way)

Queer friends….stop doing this to your Bisexual sibs. It is painful for all of us but it is enraging how difficult this pervasive attitude can make it so much more difficult for young Bi people. Bisexuals are much less likely to come out of the closet and a major reason is that pop culture still propagates such virulent biphobia.

 

 

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Messy Bis?!

I have seen a number of Bisexual writers/bloggers writing about being ‘messy’ Bis lately. I am not really sure what to make of that terminology. I guess, the idea is — ok, we can not be’perfect bisexuals’, we may not conform to a societal idea about how Bisexuals should behave. My response to that is why should Bisexuals be any different than ‘messy’ people of any other sexual orientation. We are all individuals, with different life experiences and have the right to live our lives as feels authentic and comfortable for us.

Bisexuals have every right to not consistently be their best selves. And, if by ‘messy’, folks mean playing the field, being polyamorous, being sexually free and curious, and/or not always being one’s best ethical self in relationships it is a thing that sometimes happens. However, it does not happen only to bisexuals simply because we can be attracted to our own gender and folks of other genders. And, these behaviors are not relegated to young people….folks of any age can sometimes not be their most evolved selves when it comes to romantic and/or sexual relationships. I would argue following the golden rule and treating others as you would like to be treated is always the best route, however,  there are times when that does not happen. We should not berate ourselves for these behaviors simply because we are bisexual. We should learn from our experiences and try to be better people, and this is the case even if we may have a thing or two to atone for.

There are stereotypes about bisexuals which are not more accurate about us than individuals of any other sexual orientation/identity. There is no such thing as a perfect bisexual just as there is no perfect gay man or lesbian or straight person. There are folks in our community who are cheaters, use the excuse they are ‘confused’ to explain away inappropriate, immoral behavior, use people in a sexual way, and the whole nine yards of behaviors that are, at best, not nice or, at worst, immoral and unethical.

If we are promiscuous or polyamorous, that behavior alone does not make us ‘messy’ or bad people, but if we are unkind to other human beings then it does.

The truth is there are some bisexuals who really, truly need relations (of a sexual nature) with folks of multiple gender identities. This does not inherently make them ‘messy’ but how they address these needs could make them pretty awful.

Let’s not use language which diminishes who we are. We are real flesh and blood humans and being bisexual may create longings which we may or may not satisfy. That is up to us. What is also up to us is how we treat the important people in our lives. We should treat them with respect and maintain open lines of communication so no one is left in the dark.

We may not conform to heteronormative standards and that is just fine. We should be true to ourselves and recognize who we are and how we can ethically meet the needs we have. And, there are also folks in our community very happy, content and satisfied with a life long commitment to one person, regardless of their gender identity. We all belong under the same umbrella and should not judge each other for how we live our lives.

At the end of the day, we should ask ourselves if we are at peace with who we are and how we conduct our lives. If we are then what other people think should not matter to us. We have the magic of seeing a distinct beauty and sensuality in folks of many gender identities/orientations and we should embrace that. I consider myself very lucky to have that capability. I also feel I should hold myself accountable for my behavior. I should also be honest and transparent with my partner. That is only fair to both of us. ❤

 

 

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