Bisexual Dilemma

{February 5, 2011}   Commentary on Zach Wahls Speech

This speech given to Iowa legislators by Zach Wahls in defense of same-sex marriage has been going around social media websites and I wanted to add my two cents to it. To start with, here is a link to the Huffington Post article and the video inserted below:

Okay 2 things: 1) This is awesome. I am not criticizing this guy’s kickass-edness. Bravo. He did a great job and gave a really poignant speech! That said, 2) he made his point (and perhaps the only way he could make his point) by proving that regardless of having been raised by two women, he was “American” enough. He depicts himself as hard-working, god-fearing and in pursuit of the anglo-saxon American dream. He goes to college, is an eagle scout, and owns his own small business. Is this not normalization? Further, its interesting how disability fits into his narrative… what role exactly is it playing? The Horatio Alger myth — overcoming adversity… only the adversity isn’t the sexual orientation of his parents, but rather his mothers’ disability…

By normalization I refer to his repeated emphasis on how he is just like every other Iowan. But he’s not. He goes to college, is an eagle scout, and owns his own small business. Instead, consider that women cannot be eagle scouts. A title that doubtless helped him get into college. The combination of education and social networking that the boy scouts provides (particularly to eagle scouts) probably facilitated his starting his own small business. All said, however, I think it is particularly interesting to recognize that here he is speaking from a position of privilege that his mothers do not have. He can say what he said, to the audience he did, in the way that he did because he has this status.

His speech illustrates the second-class status of not only non-heterosexuals in America, but also women and people with disabilities. I find it interesting that his argument effectively is that even though he was raised by second-class citizens, they prepared him to become a first-class citizen; one that the chairman would be proud to call his son. So they should therefore be recognized as full citizens… because they can produce…

I am writing to ask for your help.

Are you familiar with the Chicago Dyke March? The past few years I have been trying to have a conversation with the organizers regarding the fact that their mission statement does not include bisexuals. Last year they said that it would be an issue that needed to be raised at a meeting and never got back to me about it. This year I actually got a response… however, it was an empty one. It seems rather silly that they won’t add one word to their mission statement. Its a small word, but it means a lot. I really don’t understand their reluctance/resistance as the event is supposedly geared towards all women who love women and they boast an inclusive and accepting community. So when I was invited to their event on facebook I had to decline based on principle. I also posted a comment on their wall to the effect of “please include bisexuals in your mission statement” … general, vague and non-threatening… mostly because at least that brings visibility to this issue and makes others aware of the problem…. They deleted it. This has gone on for far too long and I feel it has crossed the line into active discrimination. Apparently they don’t feel they need to even respond or acknowledge this issue… let alone recognize or accept bisexuals as a part of their collective… that is, unless they are “queer.”

I know that some people believe bisexuals are included within “queer” … however, I am not one of those people. While a bisexual can identify as “queer”… not all do and that needs to be respected and recognized. I see this subsumation within queerness as one of the largest problems facing the bisexual community currently and one of the primary factors causing bisexual invisibility… which is precisely why this response (or lack thereof) from the Chicago Dyke March Collective is troubling.

Please help me with this advocacy endeavor and contact the administrators or post on their event wall at the links below and let them know that this isn’t something they can simply ignore and hope will go away… let them know that this is a problem and its something they need to change… and further, something they can change easily. Continuing to not make that change, however, leads to ignorance and discrimination.

{March 16, 2009}   Hate is Alive and Well

Bisexuals” are tearing the GAY and LESBIAN Community apart. We must stop them…

As a bisexual advocate, I am a member of a discussion forum for bisexual group leaders that is very active and, quite frankly, is the closest thing I’ve found resembling a bisexual community… even though it is a community of advocates. This morning I woke up to find the following discussion thread in my email. Unfortunately, I can not say that this is the first time I have read something like the following. Certainly I have been the target of such prejudice in the past and likely will be again in the future, which is all the more reason to raise visibility and social awareness about bisexual issues and in particular about biphobia… especially from within the LGBTQ community.

Posted by: “estraven53″
Sun Mar 15, 2009 10:12 am (PDT)
This was posted over on BiRequest.
hi i recieved a very biphobic message from a website that claims it supports “lgbt lisbean gay bisexual and transexual rights” they have a website:

the website starts out looking harmless but then talks about “the prospective, tragic threat, duplicity and danger of the “B” in LGBT, exposed.” They also have a site on youtube. com

i myself have a profile of bisexual fan made videos and i recieved alot of comments from em saying all the same thing! this is wat they wrote to me:

“SHAME ON YOU. Bisexuals are maintaining hetero-privilege and collaborating with the homophobes while simultaneously enjoying the gay lifestyle. Female bisexuals are attention seeking heterosexuals, while male ones are just self-denying homosexuals too afraid to fully acknowledge their true orientation. Bisexuals are actually closeted gay people who wish to appear heterosexual. Bisexuals want to undermine the GAY RIGHTS MOVEMENT. BI IS A LIE…..BEWARE OF THEIR VILE, HOMOPHOBIC AGENDA!!!!”

if u go to their home website, and click guestbook, u can see the

comments made from the creator like “BI RYHMES WITH LIE AND DIE” in their utube page, he says he wants to swipe the B out of the lgbt. i dont understand y there’s so much hate there but he wants to spread peace and unity between the str8 and gay community, while being terribly biphobic. i just though u shall all know abt this… And I agreed that this should go to a wider audience … He is on a free Website, and the hosts have a policy against their Websites being used in an offensive manner. The form to report that a Website is offensive is:

If a lot of us report him, we should be able to get him shut down.

This reminds me of the whole Micheal Bailey thing…

So the L Word is over (finally) … Sunday marked the death rattle of a show that has outlasted its available plot lines. Or perhaps the writers and director just made poor choices… who knows? Regardless many lesbifriends are irate over the finale and the number of loose ends and unrequited relationships it has left in its wake. On that note, I may as well throw in my two cents. Ilene Chaiken announced months ago that there would be an L Word spinoff based around the Alice character called “The Farm” … apparently this will take place in prison… yes, a lesbian prison drauma. If your mind went where mine just did I see we share similar apprehensions. Regardless, here is my concern. At the beginning of the series (though few actually remember it) Alice was bisexual. For a chronology of just when that stopped see here:

Before I have tried to overlook this (expected) turn of events because honestly its not worth getting upset at a show explicitly labeled as being for lesbians and the lesbian community … anyone interested in the antipathy within the lesbian feminist community towards bisexuals please message me and I’ll forward you a fascinating article about it. Furthermore, the show has done little to conceal its’ own biases towards bisexuality and negative stereotypic representation within its’ characters. However, that is besides the point here…

By explicitly targeting Alice for this new lesbian drauma Showtime, Chaiken, and her whole artistically incestuous team are actively promoting the erasure of bisexual identity. Such an endeavor is unacceptable. The bisexual community will hopefully be outraged by this … all four of them. Okay its a few more than four; however, bisexual advocates lack the power and capacity to be effective because of this very same bisexual erasure as an invisible identity.

{November 16, 2008}   Dyketastic!

I didn’t know Wanda Sykes was dyketastic! :P Okay here’s my thing tho… why isn’t it a choice? Isn’t being gay/straight/bi the most important choice? But notice I included straight there… see my whole thing is that we are all born with the potentiality to be attracted to either sex and it is through our experiences that our sexuality, sexual identity, and sexual attraction is shaped. So its all a choice. The only “essential” argument is that sexuality exists in general and the only alternative sexuality in that case would be people who consider themselves asexual. Soo yeah… chew on that.

* Vid nipped from Arlan at Your Daily Lesbian Moment

In response to an email I received through the university LGBTQ listserv (included at the end) I have sent the following email to the American Psychological Foundation. Perhaps I have worded it too viscerally, but I am fed up…

To whom it may concern,

I received the following announcement regarding the social science grant from your office through the — LGBTQ listserv and felt the need to respond. As a bisexual, social scientist, and former member of the APA I find it appalling that this endeavor is so narrowly limited to “homosexuality” to the extent that it only mentions bisexuality once and not at all as a keyword or possible focus. Furthermore, when bisexuality is mentioned it is done so in a manner that makes the assumption it is included within this umbrella term of “homosexuality”, which I am sure you are aware it most certainly is not. Frankly, given the support the APA has given to recent bisexual research I am curious how you could possibly have made this offensive oversight and contributed to the erasure of bisexual identity in academic research.

Please either include bisexuality equally as a focus of this grant, or don’t include it at all. The latter is preferable to propagating the stigma that bisexuality is not its own individual and legitimate sexual identity and orientation. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Katherine -. ———

<lists academic pedigree>

Read the rest of this entry »

{May 26, 2008}   Update

Sorry I haven’t posted, but I’ve been a bit overwhelmed by all the changes happening in my life lately. I will probably post more when things begin to settle down.

One thing to note, Bi Chi hasn’t been going the way I had hoped it would and it looks like I need to reorient it. Basically the people who said they wanted to be involved… haven’t and I simply don’t have the time to do all the work for events people don’t show up for. I had hoped that other bisexuals in Chicago were feeling the same need to find a community where the felt they belong as I had/have been… but perhaps not. Or perhaps this just isn’t the vehicle for it… or perhaps I just marketed it poorly. Regardless, I haven’t the time or energy with everything in addition to my PhD program starting up to try again. So instead I’m going to focus on advocacy and the Visi-Bi-Lity portion of Bi Chi as that seems to be the only successful portion of it and one that I can manage by myself. I’ll still keep the name of course, and I hope that at some point in the future I’ll be able to actualize my original vision for Bi Chi.

Researcher Conducting Much Needed Study on Bisexual Women’s Health
Chicago, IL

Concerned with the lack of attention given to bisexual women in the “LGBT” health literature Dr. Wendy Bostwick, Director of Community Engagement at the Adler School of Professional Psychology, is conducting a study specifically aimed at bisexual women. The goal is to explore bisexual women’s health and their experiences of stigma and discrimination.

Bostwick, who has a PhD in Public Health from the University of Illinois at Chicago, started the Women’s Health and Identity Study (WHIS) while she was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Michigan. She notes that self-identified bisexual women still face unique stigma related to their identity, and must confront discrimination from both the straight community as well as from the gay and lesbian community.

“I think that constantly being told that you’re ‘confused’ or that your identity isn’t genuine can really take a toll on bisexual women. I’m interested in learning more about how such messages affect bisexual women, particularly their mental health.”

Bostwick notes that while the literature about sexual minority health has grown tremendously in the past three decades, besides HIV/AIDS-related literature, there is a disturbing lack of information about the health of bisexual women as a distinct group. This is even more concerning, she suggests, in light of evidence that more and more women are identifying as bisexual.

Participants should be women who are at least 25 years old, self-identify as bisexual, reside in the Chicago area and are English-language speakers. Women of color are especially encouraged to take part. Participation in the WHIS study includes answering a brief survey with questions about your health, including questions about health insurance, substance use and experiences of discrimination. In addition, some women will be randomly selected to participate in a more in-depth interview. Involvement in the WHIS will take between 20 to 90 minutes. All participants will be compensated with a $10 gift card to a major retail establishment.

For more information about WHIS and how to get involved, please contact the study at (312) 201-1851 or via email at

{April 11, 2008}   Bisxual Contestant on Bravo!

In the event that you aren’t as addicted to Bravo TV reality programming as I am, I figured I would spread the bi-love! There’s a bisexual contestant on their new show “Step it Up and Dance!” and the other contestants are kinda treating him like crap despite the fact that he’s just as (un)talented as everyone else… this sentiment seems perfectly captured in this episode recap on see excerpt below:

… Micheal didn’t have a whole lot to do this week, except give me happy pants. He did make one startling revelation when, in the process of helping to choreograph a dance number, let it slip that he was “bi” (at which point my pants became melancholy). He was also the victim of a gang back stabbing by the rest of the dancers in his elimination group. After the final dance, everyone was asked who they felt was the weakest of their group. They all answered “Michael”, but he didn’t let it faze him, and he survived to dance another week.

… why melancholy? I really don’t understand why being bi should be a turn-off. True, it shouldn’t be a turn-on either (a problem I think bi women run into in their interactions with hetero men) … but why should Micheal’s appeal be any lessened when he owns up to who he is? Additionally, he didn’t “let it slip” … rather, he was trying to be open about himself and bring that to the choreography. It irritated me that the two effeminately gay men in the group didn’t respect that at all and tried to invalidate it by personally attacking Micheal’s character. I mean true, so far he hasn’t shown much character comparatively… I mean he’s not dressed like he just stepped out of Purple Rain! However, he’s hardly the only one and its only the second episode. Give a guy a break!

PS: It was oh so hard not to title this “Step it up and Prance!” … soo very hard :P

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?

et cetera

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