Bi Matters: Female Bisexuality Misconceptions in the Queer Community

accepting all sexuality via VeralynMedia

NOTE: This essay is of the personal opinion of JasSoandSo. Because the author is a female-bodied queer attracted to cis women, this article will focus on female bisexuality.

When I initially met my best friend, she identified as specifically queer and avoided the dreaded “bisexual”  term like a cat avoids water. It wasn’t until recently that she confidently accepts bisexuality as a part of her identity. Why, you ask? Because bi-haters. The worst part is, I didn’t realize, for the longest time,  my own prejudice against bisexuality was no better than the bi-haters I’d actively accused.

In mainstream consciousness, the queer community is seen as a close-knit bunch. However, like any other social group, we have our own inequality issues. With the growing trans* visibility in our media,  we are (very) slowly growing in support and inclusion of transgender people within our community. But sadly, with all the progression we’ve seen with trans* issues, I find we (the queer community) are equally as stagnant, or even weakening, in the understanding of bisexual people.Seeing that the bisexuality spectrum represents the majority of the  LGBT community, it’s time we respect that fact.

MYTH- Bi people are just gay people that haven’t come out yet.

Today many of the people that once identified as bisexual now associate more with “queer,”  due to the growing understanding and redefining of gender.  Unfortunately, mainstream society hasn’t caught up with queer culture, and as of now we’re still known as LGBT and sometimes Q. Furthermore, the term “bisexuality” holds the weight of dozens of types of attraction that are far more queer, or genderqueer, than the term implies. The B in LGBT could mean anything from a person that is equally attracted, romantically and sexually, to both extremes of the gender spectrum (cis men or cis women), to a person that enjoys sex with both men and women, but is only romantically attracted to men.

MYTH- Bisexuals are indecisive or confused.

According to Buzzfeed’s quiz, ” How Gay are You,” I am “very gay.” Why thank you Buzzfeed, for confirming that for me. But in all seriousness, there is some validity in the phrase “very gay;” just refer to the Kinsey scale of sexual attraction.  I’m a Kinsey scale 6, meaning I have no attraction to the “opposite sex” ( in terms of the gender binary). I’ve found over my time, as an out Kinsey 6, that I’ve felt I had some sort of right to condemn those on different parts of the sexuality spectrum than myself. I’ve been, dare I say, elitist, about something as natural and innate as sexuality.

Full Disclosure:

When I learned the news that actress, Michelle Rodriguez, and stunning model, Cara Delevingne,  were dating, the most ridiculous thought came into my mind; That relationship’s not going to last- they’re probably just experimenting.  Umm…WHAT?

First of all, who am I to put a marker on the demise of anyone’s relationship? Second of all, their sexuality is not up for questioning by anyone but themselves. It sounds crazy, but there is a such thing called gay privilege.  I find myself deciding which bisexuality is okay and which is “unacceptable”, as if I have any say in the matter. My privilege as a gay person is that my defined sexuality leaves little to no room for question from possible naysayers. Bisexuality, on the other hand, is by definition, far more fluid. The fluid nature of bisexuality makes people feel the right to question anyone that identifies as such, as if their attractions are less valid, simply because it is not as black and white.

I believe other “very gay” people like myself, when met with bisexuality, find it difficult to know where on the bisexuality spectrum our romantic interest stands, in order to protect ourselves from getting too emotionally involved, in case that person is not interested or capable of romantic attraction to us.

  • Are they “experimenting?”
  • Am I their guinea pig?
  • Are they “confused”, or do they really know that they want me?

All thoughts that have crossed my mind when met with the possibility of dating a bisexual woman #notproudofthis.  From that discrimination, I, and many others like me, have grown unreasonably prejudice against all bisexuality.  Now my critique is coming from very personal experiences with self- identified bisexual women. I do not think i’m speaking for all lesbians or female bodied queers, but I do believe many can relate to this issue.

The issue with cherry picking which bisexuality is “okay” is that we should not be discriminating at all. You see, these discriminatory thoughts encompassed me, as if the question as to whether someone is actually interested doesn’t come up regardless of that person’s sexuality. Any relationship begins with insecurity of newness and the unknown. Just because I’ve had a few bad relationships with bisexual women doesn’t mean I should discount all people that identify as bisexual.

MYTH: Bisexual women only do it to turn straight guys on. 

A lot of how we understand sexuality is fueled through porn. Bisexual women in porn are almost always portrayed as hyper feminine women that hook up with other women, specifically for a male audience. Jezebel wrote an article denying the widely agreed upon belief that all women are, at least,  “a little bi.” But consider this article, because this is exactly the angle porn and most other media portrayals of female bisexuality reinforce; bisexual women are best compatible with straight, cis men. The queer community faces the negative repercussions of constantly seeing this trope perpetuated, because whether consciously or not, we may learn to understand female bisexuality as hetero-centric, a.k.a- not queer. Though a very dangerous perception sexuality, I fear that’s kind of what’s happened.

Undoubtedly, popular culture understands female bisexuality as a form of a cis-male arouser. I know many self-identified “straight” women that have made out with other women “for the fun of it,” while in front of cis male comrades. Consider Katy Perry’s song ” I Kissed a Girl,” in which Katy explains that while she just found out she loves kissing girls, she also hopes her boyfriend doesn’t mind. Then there are the countless female celebrities, often “straight-identified,” that make out with each other for the wildly exaggerated publicity that follows such a stunt.

Bisexual-haters be like…

Glee, Judging You via PhotoBucket

Glee, Judging You via PhotoBucket

 

My prejudice is driven by fear. I fear bisexuality because of the complexity of the term; the idiosyncrasies that cannot be assumed simply based on someone identifying as “bi.”   Fear is always the culprit behind prejudice, and my discrimination against bisexuality is no exception. So what if some bisexuality is a Kinsey scale 2 and others are 4? Is it not best we make each romantic decision on an individual basis rather than rely on faulty stereotypes to explain an entire group? Bisexuality is no less valid than gay, queer,  pansexual or otherwise. To make overarching assumptions of bisexuality is to devalue the person that identifies as such, and that’s just not cool.

Love is love is love… Love you, bi family.  – Jaz

UPDATED- March 16th, 2014- Jaz added note before article and also a title change.

Smartest Queer Black Women Series (Twitter Included)

Fast Company recently released their 2013 “Smartest Women on Twitter” list in which you will find no, I repeat, no black women. At all. So, in honor of  black-queer greatness, here’s a new series to present to you amazing, intelligent  black, queer women that are smart enough to be on anyone’s “Smartest” list. These women have greatly impacted the fight towards black LGBT visibility,social justice, and all around wonderfulness- and as a nice touch, all will have Twitter accounts.

Stacyann Chin- Poet, Writer, Activist- Twitter/stacyannchin

Staceyann Chin, a native Jamaican,  has written a number of  thought-provoking poems and even had a one-woman show at New York City’s  Nuyorican Poets Cafe.  She was co-writer and original performer in Russel Simmon’s Poetry Def Jam on Broadway. She wrote a memoir entitled “The Other Side of Paradise,” and was featured on “The Oprah Show” where she expressed the difficulties coming out as a lesbian in Jamaica.  She has spoken openly about her pregnancy through In vitro fertilization, and proudly represents as a single, lesbian mom.

Dark Girls- To All My Queer Minded Allies


women-of-color-are-at-risk-for-skin-cancer







Ever pass those “nude” colored stockings meant for alabaster complexions, watch the ever-so-typical Black rappers with their music videos in which they only include fairer-skinned Black women as their “dime pieces” (while offensive in many other ways, still a low blow to dark-skinned women), put on one of those damned “skin-toned” band aids that forever clash against dark brown, paper-cut ridden fingers, and think “Being white is awesome?” Well, I can tell you there are about a bah-trillion young, black girls that probably obsessed on that very thought. Dark Girls, a documentary that recently aired on Own, introduces this phenomenon of desired whiteness to a nation that overwhelmingly,  didn’t even realize this was a thing. In case you’re still wondering though…Yep, it’s a thing.

 

   I used to be one of those dark girls. As a preteen I remember searching online for ways to lighten my skin. I saved up my well-earned allowance to buy skin lightening creams meant for dark, under-eye circles or minor discolorations. I would wish and dream and hope for the day I could be just a few shades lighter, because lighter, to me then, equaled beauty. Whiter was better. Now a proud Black, out, queer, I’m faced with a new element of dark-girl-hating. What’s that you ask? Well, apparently, Black women are scientifically the ugliest women ever in the world. Wonderful. In 2011, evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa conducted a study that found Black women to be the least attractive of all races. There was immediate backlash from a number of media outlets claiming Kanazawa’s study had a racially biased undertone, forcing him to remove his article from Psychology Today. 


However, let’s move to the far less high-brow study from OKCupid’s blog to show that Kanazawa’s study may have been more of a reflection of America’s ideas of attraction that we like to let on. OkCupid has been a miniature savior for the queer community with it’s fresh and new ways of pairing up mates, with a clientele of supposedly progressive, well-educated young folks. But their study posted recently on how race affects the frequency OkCupid users get messaged shows clearly Black women don’t get too much love on the interwebs. It also showed that Black women respond almost two times more than the average, exemplifying Black women as far less selective than their non-Black female counterparts. In the predictable, non-twist of the century, the study also showed that white women and white men overwhelming showed interest in each other, while Asian and Latino people also preferred white OkCupiders.

 

And you wonder why little Black girls think whiter is better?

 

That, my friends is white privilege.  I recently spoke with a close friend about being told that I “acted white,”  and not being quite sure what “acting white” meant. To that she responded that she didn’t even see me as Black. Wait, what now? I was baffled by the implications of her statement. To say that you do not see my Blackness in a positive sense is to imply that Blackness is negative and therefore best left unnoticeable. 


Being color blind in a symbolic sense does not make you racially conscious, but does just the opposite. Unless you are actually color blind (which only .4% of women are, by the way) then you see color, and you see Blackness. We do exist. Consciousness is the barrier between non-minority women and women of color that often goes unnoticed. Women of color forever look through a tinted lense where quite frankly, anything can be made to be seen from a racial standpoint. Dating as a Black queer means that you must unapologetically flaunt your minority flag.This means that you don’t have the privilege of forgetting what skin you’re in because whether you like it or not, Black skin comes with a little thing I like to call stereotypes.  I mean, when you have to school a beautiful woman on why you feel weird eating watermelons, it tends to be a wee- bit of a damper on your lady-lovin’ parade.

 

  I have encountered many women whom I found very attractive that after my advances, quickly express how they’re “ not into Black girls,” or as my witty, queer pal Nichelle puts it “not down with the brown.” I hate to use race here, because — let’s be real — sometimes a girl is just not that into me. It happens to the best of us. But as a Black queer, a woman’s openness to dating brown (race) is always a factor for me. My goal is not to only date other Black women or queers, as many would argue should be my plan of action anyway to avoid discrimination (though some Black women don’t even like dating other Black women). I look for other conscious queers of any race; queers who recognize their white privilege, or their ability to blend in white privilege (meaning minority women who blend effortlessly into whiteness though they may not be white-identified)  and have made the active decision to see through an all-inclusive lense.



 

The question arises as to whether being unconscious to Blackness makes you racist. Mhmm, let me take a second on that. Yes…yes it does. In this modern day, progressing 2013 society, no queer (who are also minorities in our heteronormative society!) should be ignorant or forgetful of any other minorities within their community. The excuse of being raised conservatively is no longer acceptable. This idea parallels closely to the feminist fight in the United States, prevailing so strongly in the 1970s, in which women expressed the need for men to also claim feminism as it was a community effort, not just women’s war against our patriarchal society. Males are needed in the feminist fight if for nothing else, simply for their consciousness of women’s oppressions in the U.S. because if they are unconscious, as the majority, they would weaken women’s progression. For example, men that actively recognize women’s issues as significant would never argue against women’s birth control. In the LGBTQ community, white queers conscious of Black and minority queers, especially queers within lower income communities, would recognize the fact the Black queers living in poverty are probably not positively affected by the grand news of DOMA’s downfall, because they’re dealing with other classist or racial discriminations beyond DOMA. For example, imagine a young black queer living in the conservative south with low income and few queer-minded allies that has just come out to those close to them. Say that black queer is shunned by their family and forced to live on their own in the streets.The last thing on their mind will be the fact that they may one day be able to marry legally. This isn’t just a thought, it’s a real phenomenon for so many young minorities of the LGBT community. 



  Non- black queers conscious of black issues are able to work as advocates in queer discussions, and allies amongst the black queer community. They are able to speak on minority issues with a level of knowledge that may break that awkward line we cross when discussing race. Race relations are often avoided in discussions, even by the most liberal of queers,  because of fear of offending or saying something inaccurate about a community you aren’t a part of. The crazy irony is our fear of offending only leads to more offense, because we wallow in ignorance in hopes of “playing it safe.” So next time you have a question for your queer, black friend, lover or otherwise about why their hair is so kinky, or where that stereotype came from that black people love chicken (Fun fact; I was raised vegan) , or even what Dark Girls and this whole dark-skinned/light-skinned thing is about, don’t be afraid to ask. No matter how offensive you think it might be, go for it. Because as queer weirdos in this hetero-normative world,  we’re all in this together.

Queer Eye for the Bi?

 

 

  (first Published 5/26/13)

    Remember that time Cynthia Nixon said she chose to be gay and there was this huge backlash from the gay community over it? Well this is my take, months later. 

 

    Nixon later clarified her “choice” statement, claiming  bisexuality is indeed a fact, not a choice. However,  she still says that she chooses to be in a gay relationship.

    I don’t see why this was such an issue. It’s true that bisexuality is often viewed negatively in the gay and straight communities. Possibly because of the strong need for binary establishments in our culture. Bisexuality blurs the lines of sexuality that many feel should be black and white. Grey areas are confusing, and confusing topics are often misrepresented. 


   Nixon made an interesting statement on the sexuality spectrum when asked in a Daily Beast article whether she was a heterosexual woman in a lesbian relationship, or the other way around:

 

 

 “…I think for gay people who feel 100 percent gay, it doesn’t make any sense. And for straight people who feel 100 percent straight, it doesn’t make any sense. I don’t pull out the “bisexual” word because nobody likes the bisexuals. Everybody likes to dump on the bisexuals.”

 

     Why is it so questionable that there might be more of a sexual spectrum rather than straight versus gay? As much as we like to box things in, it’s not always the case that everything is so easily defined, binary, or concrete. Honestly, as an out gay, genderqueer, I can’t say I haven’t found a few Ryan Goslings or John Cho’s attractive. Sue me. Let’s just face it; The fear of ambiguity stems from humans fearing the unknown. The unknown often leads to discrimination because if you don’t understand something, it’s difficult to relate. But an open mind leads to learning things you may not have known, otherwise. Think about it. Maybe, just maybe, bisexuality is more than just a stop on the road to Gaytown.