There’s much talk about the removal of the bisexual in the LGBT community. Are we real? Especially bisexual males. Come inside the world of our very own bisexual columnist Peter, as he shares his strong viewpoint on what he thinks is going on.
Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our minds.
Bob Marley, “Redemption Song”
Here are some questions for all the fellas: Have you ever brought your girlfriends home to meet the family, but not your boyfriends? Have you ever been berated for not being ‘real’ and for avoiding coming out of the closet ‘completely’? Have you ever felt so torn and confused about your affections that you felt you were being ripped in two?Well I have, and this is part and parcel of the pain of biphobia and bisexual erasure.
According to definitions posted on the website of the Bi Writers Association (Disclosure: I am a member), biphobia is “[f]ear, hatred or prejudice towards bisexual people, often based on inaccurate stereotypes” and “[b]isexual erasure is the attempt to erase, hide, eliminate or make invisible bisexual people, groups or organizations and bisexual contributions to the LGBT movement, culture or history or general society. Bisexual erasure is an outcome of biphobia.”
I, like you, know from personal, excruciatingly painful experience how true these definitions are. It’s hard enough to come to terms with sexuality as it is in our society, but when your attractions are to both women and men then you’re in a double bind, pun intended.
For me, the realization that I was attracted to other boys when I was a teenager was an eye-opener. Then I came to understand that I like the girls too. Uh-oh! I literally felt pulled in two. When I was [a] teenager in the early to mid 1980s, the word ‘bisexual’ was floating around and by the time I got to college “bisexual chic” seemed to be the rage. Nonetheless, the world seemed to be into the gay/straight split and you’d better choose one of the other, as even someone said to me even three years ago!
It’s enough to make a guy crazy, and it nearly did. Looking back, I have to say that many of the feelings of depression, worthlessness, and confusion that I struggled with — had to do with non-acceptance of same-sex attractions by some and my different-sex attractions by others. The whole affair was only compounded by the fact that I had no idea where the other bisexuals were. I mean, I knew there had to be others and there had to be famous bisexuals too. But where were they?
I remember making a presentation my senior year in college as part of the gay students association in which, I was the lone bisexual out of seven or eight students on the panel in the lecture hall. I wish I had known that I was keeping company with Leonard Bernstein, Marlon Brando and Freddie Mercury back then. In fact, I distinctly remember Freddie being described as gay at that time. At least, I found a glimmer of hope in the then speculation about REM’s Michael Stipe.
I wanted to know that there was a community, a place to feel safe when what I felt was loneliness and isolation –- not quite fitting in with either the straight or the gay crowds, and feeling the pressure to pick one side or the other. I’m glad that I have been able to stay true to myself, with the support of friends, professionals, activism and yoga among other things. I’ve been battered and bruised, but I’m still here.
Unfortunately so is bisexual denial, especially when it comes to bisexual men. On August 5, 2005, The New York Times published “Straight, Gay or Lying? Bisexuality Revisited,” by Benedict Carey. The article discusses a study done by J. Michael Bailey of Northwestern University, which claims that most bisexual men are really gay. The study and the article have been roundly criticized, and it sparked the ire of bisexual activists (see Gary North’s article “Dear Fellow Non-existent Beings.” Even this month, the Village Voice carried Michael Musto’s “Have You Ever Met a Real Bisexual?.”
So, does this mean that we’re doomed to eternal antagonism? I don’t think so. I think that bisexuality is transformative for the whole planet and that the agitation is just the sign of birth pangs as people get used to new ways of seeing and being in the world. And for this, we must persist and make our voices heard.