Apparently I haven’t written anything here in a while, despite the fact that so much discussion has been going on about bisexuality in the media… and not just because Tila chose Bobby over Danny for her short-lived insta-relationship. In the end does it really matter who she chose, whether she was a “real bisexual” (whatever that is supposed to mean), or that the show was painfully cheesy. It got people talking about bisexuality; both good and bad. So anyways think of the following as a sort of CliffsNotes for the good little bisexual advocate…
To step away from the pop-bisexuality trend for a second: I’m sure you’ve all heard about the ENDA controversy already. Briefly stated, congress reissued a version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that did not include protection along the lines of gender identity. While the implications for transgendered or intersexed individuals in the work force are obvious, many have implicated that this bears interests for some bisexual individuals as well. Frankly, I don’t see how one can protect sexual orientation and not gender identity since the two seem so closely linked. Those individuals who are at risk of being discriminated against in the workplace are those who are more visibly “gay” or “lesbian”… Rather, those who ascribe to the tendency to invert gender roles. For more information please read this bulletin by the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force.
Speaking of the NGLTF, they have recently incurred criticism from bisexual advocates regarding the name change of their organization to exclude the “B and the T”. I heard about this through Bi Writers Association Blog, which contains a link to this article. Not surprisingly, this entire situation seems to mimic the sentiment in a recent blog I made on Bi Chi. I live in Chicago’s gayborhood so I am constantly seeing signs and advertisements for all things “gay & lesbian” … most times there is no mention whatsoever of bisexuality. I hardly ever even see the LGBTQ or GLBTQ acronyms. When I was at the Reeling (*ahem* gay & lesbian) Film Festival I kept having the urge to write in “bisexual” on all of the posters and pamphlets! I’m thinking of making and distributing a bunch of Visi-Bi-Lity stickers. Please let me know if you would like some! It may be petty advocacy, but it is achievable. The point is not to deface anything, far from it. Rather just to include those which they had left out… us. In a way it is improving their message and doing them a service! :)
In other news, once again people are bickering over national percentages and sexual/gender orientation. However, this time it isn’t from the heterosexual community about the famed 10%. A survey conducted for the Human Rights Council by Knowledge Networks has faced criticism regarding its methodology. The survey was intended to gauge the LGBTQ community’s attitude towards ENDA. You can read more about it in this Washington Blade article. This survey also faced criticism regarding its claim that participants were “representative” of the national population. Following close its’ heels came a political survey conducted by Hunter College of which 49% of the participants were bisexual. This number was met with a predictably biphobic response. Some have said that the poll is not accurate/representative of the LGBTQ community and that very few are really bisexual (however they define that). Also, some have called this poll is “unfair” or said that it was “rigged for PC purposes to inflate the number of bisexuals“… for more information on this I recommend reading the following two contradicting arguments:
Controversial poll shows wide prevalence of bisexuality: Some say findings inflated, others claim ‘bi-phobia is alive and well’
JOSHUA LYNSEN, Friday, December 21, 2007
GNW Pick: Bisexuality unexplored
CHRIS CRAIN, December 26, 2007
* read the comments on this one
The bottom line is that as long as we live in a society and political climate that maintains a general negative attitude towards those of alternative sexual orientations or gender identity we simply can’t obtain on any level, let alone a national one, an accurate percentage of individuals who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Even then it becomes increasingly difficult to definitively draw lines between those who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, bi-curious, used to be gay but is now bisexual, used to be bisexual but is now gay, used to be bisexual but is now straight, and all of the levels in between. How have we drifted such a long way from the concept of fluid sexuality? Why is there such a need to quantitatively define and delineate everyone? Percentages and statistics themselves are not all that reliable. They are a temporal measurement of a particular population at a particular point in time based on certain conditions that either were or were not met and often times information is collected in an environment that doesn’t accurately reflect reality. Even then many things that the interviewer says or does … or for that matter doesn’t say or doesn’t do can influence the data collected. Asking someone to fill out a survey prompts a response in a certain way… etc etc etc. At the end of the day how much does a percentage really matter? That said, what would we do without them?