So I ran across this article this morning on my Facebook feed. I think the title is misleading, and although I don’t really agree with the article, I thought it was interesting and wanted to hear GT’s thoughts.
Here are mine:
1. This section is the number one thing I disagree with:
Yet, I do think that there is something to be said for intensity and frequency of desire. If you have an attraction to women that you’re not sure you’d ever act on or you could never see yourself in a relationship with women, I would encourage you to explore other language than queer or bisexual. Heteroflexible is a good one. Or push at the limits of what straight can be.
I think a lot of us aren’t sure if we could be in a relationship with a woman because we’ve never done it. I think I could. But I’ve also never tried. I think there’s a huge factor of internalized sexism for most bi women. When you’re told your whole life that your value as a woman is determined by whether men find you attractive, and you are attracted to men, it becomes a more fraught decision to be with a woman even if you are very much also attracted to them because you are then not getting validation from a man, which is something most of us are taught to need from a very young age. Anyway, my or other people’s doubts about their success in a same-sex relationship may not necessarily come from a lack of attraction, but from internalized misogyny. And yet, no one would question the sexuality of a heterosexual person who was also a virgin or had never been in a relationship. In short, I think people who do what this author is complaining about are probably not posing as bisexual, but more likely they are just not very comfortable with themselves.
ETA: another problem that’s been consistently pointed out in the comments is that bi people often don’t feel accepted by gay people in the same way this article addresses bi people, leading to many bi people not really pursuing homosexual relationships because they’re afraid of rejection or scorn.
2. I don’t think it’s relevant whether any person is “posing” when it comes to their own sexual identity. Like, I can definitely see how it’s annoying, and I think this author makes a good point when she says that bisexual people in heterosexual relationships are not helping gay rights by selectively coming out only when it benefits them. But still, your sexual identity is your sexual identity.
3. I think a lot of gay people, especially people who don’t “look straight,” probably find it frustrating how easily we can pass and sometimes feel like we’re trying to claim special privileges by identifying as queer even though we don’t face the level of discrimination they do. I also think, though, that making a hierarchy of “most gay” to “least gay” isn’t helpful. I see this author struggling with this. On the one hand, she seems to recognize that bisexual people are absolutely real and have their own real struggles, but on the other hand, there’s a little bit of resentment toward the perceived lack of discrimination her bi-identified friend deals with. I think it would help if everyone in the LGBTQ community was just a little bit more open and accepting of each other. Like, hey, I have my own struggles, we are fighting the same fight, but yes, I openly admit that lesbians, especially people who “look like dykes,” face more discrimination than I do. I’ll talk about my sexuality, but when it comes to talking about discrimination and how to deal with it, I’m gonna let them have the floor.
4. What’s important about this article, to me, is that the solution is to claim your identity. The author says at one point, “If you want to put dibs on queerness, put in some sweat equity.” I don’t think I think “sweat equity” necessarily has to do with “dibs” - I don’t think identity has “dibs” - but I think she makes a good point. Coming out and having hard conversations with people helps the entire movement. It also, as she says, greatly enlarges the dating pool!
In short, I think this author is off base in trying to police other people’s identities, and I can see her struggling with this in the article. I also don’t think she’s correct about her assumptions that people who claim to be bi and do the shitty things she mentions aren’t actually bi - I think, more likely than not, they struggle with internalized homophobia and misogyny and are dealing with it in kind of a shitty way. I think the way to combat this is for bisexual people to be more open about it, become educated, and be confident in who they are. Which may mean calling out gay people for being discriminating, as well as straight people.