Ok, i have been meaning to write this for some time, my own personal 'Bisexual Manifesto'. My thoughts, feelings, responses on identifying as bisexual, what that means, and why i think its important for more recognition of bisexuality. And beyond just writing about it. I want to create community in my hometown of Chicago! That's why i am here at meetup.com I want to create a place for bisexuals to come together, be social, be supportive, and ultimately just validate each other by our very existence!
Note: I do not have any privileged point of view. I am not a therapist nor academic. Nor am I part of a community of bisexuals. These thoughts, for better or worse, are just my own personal observations. Also, my point of view sometimes speaks to that of bisexuals in general, and sometimes that of bisexual men.
I AM BISEXUAL, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
That means i am capable (and often am) attracted to both men and women in a meaningful way. This attraction is/can be emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and of course physical. Simply put, I crave intimacy from both men and women.
BUT DON'T YOU HAVE A PREFERENCE?
No, or not in any meaningful or one-dimensional way. I can feel a meaningful attraction to men and not implicitly be saying I'm less attracted to women and vice-versa. Let me say more about what i mean by a meaningful preference. For most gay or straight people, their preference is meaningful, in that its a pretty good predictor of the gender of the next person they are attracted to. For me, its not such a good predictor. The next sexual urge could be sparked by a man or a woman - its not _meaningful_. Let me give one more example. Straight men are sometimes asked, do you _prefer_ blonds or brunets. They may in earnest prefer one over the other.. but if they end up dating/marrying the other type, no one would be like: "that doesn't make sense! you _prefer_ blonds!" That's because it may be a preference, but its not a meaningful preference - and people get that. Its in that sense, that i don't have a preference... its simply not a meaningful distinction for me.
MORE ON PREFERENCE
Preference seems to be a big deal, a real sticking point for people. Bisexuals are immediately setup for failure when terms like 'sexual orientation' and 'preference' are the benchmarks for sexual desire. 'Orientation' and 'Preference' imply desire that is for male or female only. For most people, this works. For most, desire gives an accurate map of orientation and preference. But for bisexuals, you cant make a simple leap from desire to preference. Preference implies One. Desire has no such restriction. But when people try to map desire to preference, it doesn't work, something gets lost in translation.
CAN YOU GENERALLY PREFER ONE SEX AND STILL CONSIDER YOURSELF BISEXUAL?
Yes. In my view, bisexuality is simply having a meaningful and intimate desire for both sexes. It doesn't mean that you have to be balancing precariously exactly in the middle of the spectrum. So absolutely, prefer one gender or the other if that feels right, but also identify as bi if _that_ feels right!
SEXUAL ORIENTATION AS A TERM FOR OTHERS RATHER THAN OURSELVES
Gay has the advantage of not only being an identity but also a label to others seeking partnership or community. In this sense its an outward facing word. Its an advertisement to the gay/straight world in addition to being a inward facing identity word. Bisexuality, in these times, is inward facing. It says something about our identity first, and is less concerned on letting the audience know what sort of community or lifestyle we are a part of. Many people are not interested in my identity statement 'I'm Bisexual'. Bisexuals, more-so than homosexuals, may feel a dis-connect between conveying information to an audience of the community they spend a lot of time with and a personal identity statement.
DON'T YOU WANT TO FIND A PARTNER? WON'T THAT DETERMINE IF YOU ARE STRAIGHT OR GAY?
No. I can say with confidence that i will always consider myself bisexual (i prefer queer.. more on that below). I really hope i can find a lifelong partner. And i hope there is a emotional and physical connection that surpasses any that i have known. I may even consider myself having a more meaningful preference at that point. Nevertheless, i have no doubt that my attractions will always be solidly on the spectrum between straight and gay. I feel i have lived long enough to say that just the way i am wired.
WOULDN'T IT BE EASIER JUST TO PICK A SIDE?
Yes! Well no actually... i think it would be easier to just _be_ on a side. But you cant choose your desire, so 'picking' a side (and denying the other) is like faking it; and we all know that doesn't work. Bisexuality seems to be a troubling concept for many. In a world that seems to want to put people in well defined groups, no one is really sure what to make of us.
HOW COME THERE AREN'T MORE BISEXUALS?
Its likely that having a stronger preference for one gender or the other is more common than having a more fluid preference - so its not unusual that there would be less exposure of bisexuals. However i believe there are strong forces at work keeping bisexuals in the closet.
WHY DON'T BISEXUAL ACTING/THINKING PEOPLE IDENTIFY AS BISEXUALS?
It comes down to the question: where is the incentive? On the upside, claiming bisexuality offers a sense of personal integrity. How about the downside:
-Same institutional and cultural obstacles and discrimination from the straight community as homosexuals face
-mistrust/hostility from some in the gay community
-little to no bisexual community to greet and support you
-lack of access to women (for a straight guy announcing his bisexuality)
-lack of access to men (for a gay guy claiming his bisexuality)
-separation from a sense of belonging and community
-potentially giving up roles that feel genuine and right (a married bi guy who earnestly loves his wife, both physically and emotionally)
Again, all of this for an explicit identity statement of "I'm bisexual'. It can seem a lot to ask oneself.
Apart of lack of incentive, there are bi acting and thinking people that just don't care about how they think of themselves. Identifying as bi is not really an incentive issue, its just not even on the radar. Making a stand based on identity is not for everyone. Many people just don't care.. and they are not counted.
HOSTILITY TOWARDS BISEXUALS?
Why does it seem there is more hostility towards bisexual men from the gay community?
I think historically, some gay men chose the bisexual label to maintain heterosexual privilege (fit in). Furthermore , this was back in an era were homosexuality was almost universally thought of as an abomination. A notion often held by gay men as well. An insecure gay man could claim to be superior than a gay man, in effect by being less grotesque, by still identifying with some social norms around sexual orientation. In this context, hostility and distrust were probably often warranted. But times have changed much since then. Claiming to be bisexual has no status advantage over gay men. In fact, there is less status in that there is no bi community to provide institutional support and affirmation.
ISN'T BISEXUALITY JUST A PHASE?
Yes. No. Maybe. For some it will be and some it wont. However, no matter where you came from or where you end up with regards to your sexual orientation, that in no way negates your sense of yourself right NOW. It often seems that the conventional wisdom is that bisexuality is a phase, and that gives a person the right to discredit your identity as bisexual. Everyone has a right to self-determination and that should be respected by others.
SO WHAT THEN? HOW DO YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR OWN ORIENTATION?
Personally i like the term queer. This word means "to deviate from the norm". The norm be straight. This fits. The queer label in my opinion can handle any desire i may have, and so is very liberating and not restrictive like other labels. Even bi-sexuality implies a duality and comes with a lot of baggage. Nevertheless i will claim the label bisexual as well.
WHAT IS YOUR POINT IN WRITING THIS?
Why is it important to be out? What is your point? What are you trying to do?
I feel compelled to help create a reality that doesn't seem to exist but i wish would. As i have struggled with ideas regarding my own sexuality, and not being satisfied with the straight or gay labels, i often wished for some validation/connection/community for people with a more fluid, bi, queer sense of sexual identity. The sad truth is that i haven't found that. I am not that unique of a person. If i am feeling this way, i am sure others are as well. And like me, they may be searching for some validation through community. So that's it. I feel like there is a big need here -and its not getting filled. I have an instinct to want to make this world a better place, and perhaps this is where i am best called to do it.
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