Dear bisexuals, biphobes, homophobes, shopkeepers and amphibians.
Come one, come all (figuratively if you wish).
Let me tell you a tale, of a man. A man of musical royalty. A man with the voice of an angel and a heart of gold. A man whose face comes to mind whenever you mention the word ‘Queen’. That’s right, Freddie Mercury, folks. Now Freddie is famous for many reasons, but one of the most notorious was his homosexuality.
But wait, what’s this? He liked women too?
Well why wasn’t it ever mentioned? It was mentioned, it was just edited out of people’s thoughts. Homosexuality was far more radical, a bigger statement than something as ambiguous as being bisexual. It’s a far more interesting news article if his interests are narrowed down and focused on one gender. The more controversial, the better.
This is just a brief example of the phenomenon of bisexual erasure. Bisexual erasure is the dismissal of bisexuality as a legitimate sexual preference. A friend referred me to a genderqueer activist named Shiri Eisner who states in her book Notes of a Bisexual Revolution “I define bisexual erasure as the widespread social phenomenon of erasing bisexuality from any discussion in which it is relevant or is otherwise invoked ( with or without it being named)” I have touched on this briefly on a previous article ‘The Pros and Cons of being Bisexual’. But I felt it needed elaborating. Because this is a genuine thing, and it might not be the end of the world, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a vital issue that needs addressing instantaneously.
I came out as bisexual when I was fourteen or fifteen and the response I got was a few scared looking girls and quite a few wide eyed guys drooling at the mouth a little.
See, an interesting thing often happens when boys/men hear or see bisexuality in regards to a woman, they instantly figure that it’s finally their opportunity to seize one of those teenage boy ideas of a threesome. Because it’s just a turn on for them, not a viable lifestyle, but a fetish.
Maybe I’m just doing bisexual all wrong.
Maybe the only way it can be done is with a guy AND a girl in each sexual encounter.
Over the past three years whenever I have been spotted kissing and dancing with girls in clubs in a suggestive manner I’ve been dismissed by straight AND gay women as ‘attention seeking’. If seen flirting with men on the same night or basically interacting with males in any friendly kind of way, I get told that ‘they knew I was straight all along’.
Of course I’m just with girls for the sexual gratification of gross males. See biphobia is rampant. Even in popular supposedly liberal television shows such as Glee when Sue Sylvester (the infamous lesbian Jane Lynch) says “I just wish I’d had the authority to dispense medical care when Brittany was a student here. Who knows what kind of STIs she contracted, constantly cheating on her girlfriend with all the penises in this school. You know how bi girls are: Insatiable pork sword sluts.” Even The L Word gets in on the bi-bashing. The storyline with Tina and Alice being bisexual, and then receiving stick for every time they date a guy, from their lesbian friends. Even Alice joins in when she decides to stick with the lady team and states to Dana that “You’re right. Bisexuality is gross. I see it now.”
If you still don’t believe me, then think about this. When you see those celebrity gossip magazines, memorise the slug lines they use. “IS THAT GUY IN ONE DIRECTION GAY?” “IS THAT BLONDE ACTRESS LADY A LESBIAN?” these will always be written after a ‘curious sighting’ of two famous people of the same sex hanging out. Regardless of their sexual orientation, how does that make them gay? Can they only be assumed bisexual if they’re seen orally satisfying both sexes simultaneously?
Trying to decipher someone’s sexuality just by looking is problematic within itself. Assuming I am either straight or gay is offensive, because denying my identity to me is insulting.
Calling me straight is just as bad as calling me gay, I am neither, and please don’t tell bisexuals that when they’re in ‘hetero’ relationships that they get passing privilege. Because it is an assimilation of my entire sexuality. That’s similar to saying femme lesbians have passing privilege over butch lesbians because on some messed up scale, their invisible homosexuality makes people think that them passing for straight is a good thing.
In terms of safety, passing as straight is definitely more of a help than a hindrance, but it’s still problematic and hurtful. I have a large group of queer friends in the city I live in (funnily enough, England’s gay capital) and I am incredibly lucky for them to not only understand bisexuality, but who acknowledge and are angered by biphobia. But if someone not in my friendship group asks me about my sexuality –- especially if they’re homosexual –- I tend to shy away from the term bisexual because of the negative connotations that it holds and the backlash I’ve received after claiming the word.
So no, I don’t have the best of both worlds, I have the best of neither. Because when your brothers AND sisters are denying you your own sexual preferences then that leaves you with no identity at all. It’s time we bring bisexual back from extinction, and then maybe we can stop having an existential crisis every time someone brings up the subject of sexuality.