Submitted by P. Wozniak
There are so many manifestos about bisexual erasure on the Internet these days, and I want to state for the record that I support them 100%. Bisexuality absolutely does exist, and the way both the hetero and gay communities often treat it is ignorant and disrespectful. However, just as I also support the basic tenets of the Fat Acceptance Movement, I do still have a few bones to pick. Not because I necessarily disagree with anything being said, but because there appears to be a lack of nuanced discussion about this issue. To draw a further parallel, should obese people be shamed, bullied, or discriminated against? Hell no! But should we all pretend like obesity isn’t a gigantic health crisis that claims thousands of lives every year and costs billions of dollars? Um, no. Not at all. That’s destructive and promotes misinformation. In a similar vein, in this crusade to prove the existence of bisexuality and dispel the myths surrounding it, a whole hell of a lot of people are failing to acknowledge that some of the accusations leveled at bisexual people are legitimate, and that some bisexual erasure is actually a positive thing. I know this is an unpopular position, but hear me out. Members of the queer community will understand what I’m saying, and I hope we can get a dialogue going whereby we put an end to this “all or nothing” mentality in regards to bisexuality.
Gay culture is seen by many as trendy and cool, and there are a lot of straight people who want to carry a queer card for the cache it lends them. We’re all familiar with “party bisexuals,” and the “bicurious,” and people who lie about their sexual orientation so they can seem more open-minded or edgy or whatever. Those people aren’t as common as the queer community sometimes fears, but they definitely do exist. Let’s stop pretending like they don’t. I don’t think it’s enough to identify based on sexual desires alone; I think we need to look at the bigger picture and consider our deeper feelings. Romantic, rather than sexual, orientation is the real revealer of identity. There are tons of people who have queer desires, but only a fraction of those people actually experience queer love. Same-sex marriage is finally legal in America, and queer relationships the world over are steadily gaining the respect and protection they deserve. More people than ever are out, and even though our society has a long way to go before there’s true equality, the social landscape has improved to the point where we should all re-evaluate the way we contextualize our sexual desires, because now the stakes are higher than ever.
Unfortunately, bisexuality is the biggest culprit of romanti-sexual crises in the queer community. I know, I know; bisexuality has this totally unfair stigma attached to it, and we’re all working hard to change that (me included), but the ugly truth is that all those stereotypes and misconceptions about bisexuality are not always false, and we’re not going to legitimize bisexuality as a sexual orientation until we acknowledge and deal with that. There really are fake bisexuals in the world (for a super famous example, look at David Bowie. He once said that coming out as bisexual was the worst mistake of his career because it wasn’t true and people continued to believe it even after he took off his sequined leotards and said, “Just kidding! I never blew Mick Jagger or Lou Reed”). We’ve all met at least one or two. There really are bicurious people who vastly play up their curiosity so as to seem like honest members of the queer community, and then when someone is interested in them, they start backpedaling and backing off and acting weirded out by the attention. Um, hello, you’re in a gay bar! If you’re not open to the possibility of gay love or gay sex, get out. I mean, that’s just common courtesy. Nobody expects you to put out, but if you’re just barely okay with receiving sexual attention from a queer person, you need to exit our spaces. If we’re not safe from humiliation in our own spaces, where are we safe? And then there are the people who do it for attention, or to advance their careers (usually in music or showbiz – see above), and the list is just endless. The fact is, a lot of bisexual people do need to prove themselves, because there are a lot of pretenders. It hurts me to write that sentence, because it validates bisexual erasure, but goddamn, it’s fucking true, and as much as I want to, I can’t make it untrue.
Don't crucify me yet. Consider this:
People say that behavior doesn’t define your sexuality; desire does. Well, I agree completely, but nobody says you have to shout about your desires from the rooftops. When it comes to dealing with other people, and representing yourself to the world, you might want to consider only announcing what your behavior can corroborate. Otherwise, you end up looking like a big, fat liar. If you have secret sexual desires for people that you would never, ever allow yourself to fall in love with, please don’t tell the world about it. Your closest friends and family, sure. You confide whatever you want to your inner circle. I’m talking about the rest of us.
The vast (and I do mean vast) majority of bisexual people I’ve met say that while they’re attracted to multiple genders, they only have relationships with one. And I’m sorry to say, it’s usually bisexual woman who are most guilty of this. Most of the bisexual women I’ve met are romantically interested in men only. Though they feel physical desire for women and sometimes have sex with women, they do not want to seriously date women. They do not ever fall in love with women. They only fall for men and form relationships with men. This is a problem, folks. On one hand, a person’s sexual habits are no one else’s business, and I’m not proposing that we create some kind of queer police to evaluate just how queer someone really is. That would be fucked up beyond measure. On the other hand, there’s a huge difference between having the capacity to really love someone and merely finding someone sexually alluring, and most bisexuals do not acknowledge this. Most of society does not acknowledge this. Hell, think of all the horrible little straight fuckboys out there who think that women are living, breathing blow-up dolls that exist for the sole purpose of their sexual gratification. They don’t view women as people, and they don’t want to have relationships with them. Not really, anyway. They just want to fuck them. We don’t ever question whether or not they’re straight, and why not? They seem to love their male friends with a great big passion, while women are subhuman and only exist to drain their cocks. “Bros Before Hos” sounds an awful lot like a misogynist gay anthem to me. I mean, which is more meaningful? Real love or merely getting off?
Anyway, I digress. The point is, for someone who is romantically queer, dating bisexual people is a minefield. Dating in general is a minefield, and when you’re queer it’s just that much harder. Think of it this way: If you’re romantically queer and you go out with someone who is only sexually queer, what do you think is going to happen? If you’re both attracted to each other, and you spend enough time together, the romantic queer is likely to feel a real connection and develop real feelings, and the sexual queer isn’t. The sexual queer is going to enjoy the sex but never consider her partner a real love interest, and thusly the romantic queer will inevitably get hurt. Separating the people who want to use you for sex from the people who are genuinely open to a relationship is difficult. One of the things that makes it so difficult is that almost everybody identifies as queer now. It’s just too tempting not to. If you’re a straight woman who sometimes feels tingly when she sees Kate Upton’s boobs, then you must be bi! Hooray! You’re queer! Tell everyone! Throw a party! Except, maybe don’t do that, because there’s more to a romantic identity than just tingly genitals. Maybe examine your desires and try to figure out if they point to anything deeper, or if you’re just admiring the sex appeal of a sexy person (or, God forbid, supporting the sexual objectification of women). Sexuality is fluid, after all. We know this. Science has proven it again and again and again. Sexuality is fluid, and just because you feel turned on by someone it doesn’t mean that your romantic orientation includes that person.
There are bisexual, pansexual, and asexual people out there who are genuinely romantically attracted to multiples genders. They really do exist. I submit that we’re moving toward a future where the majority of the population fits one of those descriptions. As rigid sexual socialization falls by the wayside, and we move toward gender equality and gender neutrality, we may find ourselves in a future where our genitalia are the least important parts of us. That would be beautiful, wouldn’t it? Until then, we’re trapped in the now, and in the now most people have “preferences.” I think we should allow those preferences to guide us and be a little more selective about how we identify to others so as to minimize confusion, and to allow those of us who actually do include multiple genders in our romanti-sexual orientations to be recognized. The term bisexual has been used too loosely for too long, and it has caused nothing but problems. Whenever I read articles that justify this muddiness, I feel annoyed. I think, why the fuck are we counting people as bisexual when they’re obviously straight? I’m sick of meeting “bisexual” women who can’t love me because I don’t have a penis. They're straight. You’re straight if you’re a woman who only loves men. Admit it, own it, and move on. Stop thinking you need to be queer to be cool.
Women are people, not an assemblage of body parts. If you’re not passionate about the people who own the body parts you're lusting after, then your attraction is shallow indeed. If you like to eat pussy, but you could never fall in love with someone who has a pussy, then you are not really bisexual. You're just sexually fluid. This is why so many lesbians are leery of bisexuals, and why so many just refuse to even entertain the idea of getting involved with one. Treating women like sex objects and upholding the dominant paradigm of woman = sex does not make you queer. Loving women makes you queer, and I’m sorry to say, there are a ton of women who identify as queer who have never had real romantic feelings for another woman and never will. And know they never will.
There is nothing wrong with experimentation. Experiment all you want! Be bicurious! Be fluid! Come to the gay bar and hang out! Just. Be. Honest. About. It. Don’t tell people you’re queer if you’re romantically straight. That’s dishonest. If you know your interest in someone will never progress beyond the physical, be up front about it. Yeah, that might result in someone deciding you’re a waste of her/his time and declining to fuck you, but that’s fair. People who are interested in relationships should not be tricked into hooking up with someone who can’t or won't commit because of identity confusion/misrepresentation. Don’t lead someone on if they’re just a lay to you. Be honest about the fact that you want nothing but sex, and that said sex is not terribly important to you. That person may or may not go for it. If they do go for it, then they’re doing so with full consent. If they don’t, that’s their prerogative. They wanted something you couldn't provide and made an informed decision not to put their feelings on the line. That’s ethics, my friends. Does it mean you’ll have less sex? Yeah, probably. But it also means you’ll hurt fewer people, and that’s a good thing for everyone involved.