Lady Gaga and Beyonce’s Hot New Bisexual Video

lady-gagaEveryone’s been talking about Lady Gaga’s new song and video Telephone, which features Beyonce and Heather Cassils. It’s been labeled risqué and “too hot to handle”, so much so, that there was even a rumor that MTV had banned it, which turned out not to be true. Of course the video is all over YouTube and other sites, and it’s full of bisexual, genderqueer, gay, and trans themes. Commenters all over are using the word bisexual to describe this video, and/or to describe Lady Gaga, who in interviews has talked about the themes in the video and what she wants them to mean. She herself says the words “queer”, “homosexual” and “transsexual” when talking about it. I wish she would say the word bisexual more, but if she isn’t, it’s good that so many others seem to be picking up on it. One of the main messages she was trying to get across in  the video was was that sexuality isn’t a choice , and that binaries of gender and sexuality need to be broken down more.  Encouraging people to think outside of the box can only be good for the bisexual community. There is also the added bonus of the visibility that an out bisexual performer brings. Lady Gaga has also did an interview where she said that both she and Beyonce “liked women”, so, naturally, now people are asking if Beyonce is bisexual (as nice as that would be, playing a character in one video doesn’t make you a different orientation!).

Telephone starts off where the video Paparazzi left off. In Paparazzi, Lady Gaga had poisoned her boyfriend, and Telephone starts with her being brought into jail for murder. The jail is full of women who very obviously straddle the gender line, including the guards who bring Lady Gaga in, both of whom seem to be trans. They undress her to find out if the rumors about her being intersex are true (they confirm they are not). Having previously had a boyfriend, Lady Gaga goes on to find herself a prison girlfriend, played by Heather Cassils, who in real life is a personal trainer who admits she straddles the gender line in both appearance and attitude. They share a kiss in the prison yard. The sequence is complete with several scantily clothed women, including Lady Gaga, and dancing.

Lady Gaga then gets a call from her girlfriend, Beyonce, who bails her out of jail. They go for a ride in a car called the Pussywagon (from the movie Kill Bill Volume 1 ). They drive to a diner where Lady Gaga is the cook and Beyonce meets up with what seems to be her boyfriend; she also appears to have both a boyfriend and a girlfriend. Lady Gaga and Beyonce proceed to poison everyone in the diner, including Beyonce’s boyfriend. There are a lot of genderqueer visibility and bisexual themes here as well, such as dating both men and women, and having a lot of people in the video straddle the gender line in appearance and attitude. The video ends with the police chasing Lady Gaga and Beyonce, who ride off together and promise each other they will never come back. At the very end there is a female power symbol.

One of the best qualities of the video, and probably what is making so many people both love it and hate it, is that it shows a wide range of human sexual behavior, orientation, identity, and expression, including bisexuality, and has them all come across as normal and accepted. Some artists do this just for shock value, but it seems that Lady Gaga really is trying to send a message and get people to think outside of the many preconceived notions that society has; the biggest being that sexuality and gender identity are somehow a choice.

Love it or hate it, Lady Gaga’s video Telephone has definitely pushed the envelope in entertainment and music, and opened some doors for sexual expression in popular culture. And of course-the song itself is pretty catchy!

Bisexuality: It’s Your Thing

proud to be bisexualAs an English teacher and a writer, I am in favor of the precise use of language in order to ensure that our messages are clearly sent and received.  It’s true that we can’t always guarantee either the former or the latter, but it’s important to try.  In support of clarity, I’m normally behind the use of labels as a point of reference.  Yes, many times definitions-especially that of the wordbisexual-are open to debate, but we need to know what we’re debating.  I also feel it’s important to be clear about what we stand for and to own it, notwithstanding the capacity for changing our minds.

A few weeks ago I was encouraged by my colleagues here at Bi Social Network to take a test at kleingridonline.com.  The test uses the Klein Sexual Orientation Grid, developed by Dr Fritz Klein in 1993.  Based on Kinsey’s scale, the Klein Grid is supposed to provide a spectrum on which to measure sexual orientation rather than on discreet points.   The Klein Grid asks you to rate yourself based on sexual attraction, sexual behavior, sexual fantasies, emotional preference, social preference, lifestyle preference and self identification.  At the end of the test you get to see “how straight” and “how gay” you are.  These are the exact terms the site uses.

Then while relaxing over the Thanksgiving weekend, I did a little channel surfing and found myself watching part of a repeat of Bi the Way, the documentary that came out a couple of years ago featuring two young women crossing the USA in search of bisexuals.  I had tuned in just at the moment where Mike Szymanski was commenting on the reluctance of twenty-somethings to identify themselves as bisexual, preferring instead to avoid labels.

Finally, I ran across my copy of researcher Lisa Diamond’s Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love and Desire a few days later.  I flipped through the first two chapters again to get a sense of how she attempted to come to a definition of straight, lesbian and bisexual.  Her own literature review seemed to find no consistent definitions of the terms and she herself came up with the phrase female same-sex sexuality to use throughout her work.  After all, as a researcher she needed an operational definition to use.

Usually, I have normally been very adamant about not just using but embracing the term bisexual.  I use it because I want to be very clear about my attractions to women and men, and I want to be clear about how I see and approach the world.  It will probably be no surprise to you that I was initially less than thrilled to encounter people who did not want to label or identify themselves.  I will admit that I saw a certain failure to own an important yet often trivialized part of their persons.

But things began to shift for me when I ran across Diamond’s book again.  On first reading, I was annoyed about what I thought was her inability to use a set definition of terms for sexual orientation.  On second and more readings, I see that Diamond really had nothing solid to go on.  She was lost in a sea of linguistic imprecision that her predecessors had also gotten stuck in.  There are no easy definitions of lesbian, gay and bisexual.  Trying to find one for each seems as easy a grabbing an eel in the ocean.

Even kleingridonline.com summarizes the test results using a percentage of gay and straight, which to me defeats the whole purpose of using words like bisexual.

Something seemed to be missing and I was having trouble putting my finger on it.  Perhaps I have been trying to put clarity on a situation that is far from clear.  I may have been looking for definitions that do not yet exist.  I have trying to force something essentially non-dual into the dualistic thinking and terms that we are all-too-used to.   In fact, I now think the twenty-somethings have it right when they avoiding calling themselves bisexual because the word brings no clarity especially in a world where most people want 0 or 1, yes or no.  I can understand how people would be confused.

Instead I’m going to use the word coined by our own creative director, Adrienne Williams, bisexualist.  To me bisexualists are people who while being ethical do their own thing emotionally and sexually.  Bisexualists are open to the all the possibilities for love and human intimacy.  Bisexualists stand for integration and inclusion in personal relationships.  Being a bisexualist is a state of mind.  It doesn’t matter to bisexualists either how many men or how many women they’ve gone out with.  That’s not the point.  It’s about how we engage with the world and how we embrace the world.

Being a bisexualist has nothing to do with the color of your skin, your gender, your income, your profession or even your taste in music.  Forget the definitions of who you’re supposed to love and how:  Think and feel for yourselves.  Explore responsibly wherever your heart is taking you. In the words of the Isley Brothers’ classic,

“It’s your thing, do what you wanna do, 
I can’t tell you 
Who to sock it to.”

New Year’s Letter on Bisexality

Dear Readers,

As 2009 draws to a close and 2010 dawns, we are surrounded by a myriad of holidays: Hanukah, Ras as-Sana, Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa and Ashura.  We are immersed in rebirth, miracle and thanksgiving.  I, for one, could not be happier for that.

fire in the skyWhile there is also suffering and bad news just as at any time of the year, tears and laughter are very much a part of life and how we chose to approach both shows a great deal about who we are.

So I am happy and grateful for a time of year that reminds me about the possibility of new beginnings, the nearness of wonder, and the importance of being appreciative.  I find it very important as the new year approaches to take time to evaluate what has happened over the past year to see what I have learned and what the big picture is.

I fully admit to being resolutely optimistic, something born of having been through the ringer more than a few times.  There are moments I have found where the choice is either to throw in the towel or keep on.  I have chosen to keep on.

In particular, I am grateful for the opportunity that writing this column has afforded me to reach out to other bisexuals, especially other bi men.  I have to admit though that I have been challenged by having to discuss myself in such a public way.  Don’t get me wrong, I fancy myself a raconteur.  However, opening myself up to a worldwide audience was not the first thing I had on my mind.  If I had thought about it too much, I might have been intimidated.  Well, I said that bisexual men needed to be more visible and I certainly won’t ask someone else to do what I won’t.  Voila, I found a vehicle to talk about the life of one bisexual man.

Further, I marvel at how my bisexuality has changed me.  I went from a state of confusion, curiosity and despair in my teens and early twenties to the present state of confidence I have, a confidence hard won.  First I was caught in the grip of heteronormativity, knowing there was something different about me.  Then I realized that really did like women too.  I felt as if I was at a tennis match-and I was the ball!  Let’s not forget that it often felt easier to join the Free Masons than to find other bisexuals.  There was a time that not much could be found in terms of information on bisexuality.    Yet, I knew who I was and I felt I had to be true to that in spite of what I heard in general and what was said to me specifically.

Bisexuality has also awakened me and made me go deeper into myself for answers.  For example, I have had to look at the various issues that I bring into relationships with women and men.  Since I don’t have the ability to say, “Well, I really don’t like men” or “Maybe, I really don’t like women,” I need to look at the heart of the matters that come up in relationships, something I used to be good at avoiding.  In my case, I have had to work on trust and intimacy.  This work has made me a new man through the exercise of honesty with myself.

As we move into the new year, I hope you will take some time to look back over the past year.  May you find something to marvel at and something to be thankful for.    May 2010 be a time of renewal and hope for you.  May you find new ways to embrace yourself and your bisexuality more fully.

Thank you for joining me on this journey,

Peter

Bisexuality and the Nature of Relationships

couple_packageOne thing is sure: when we bisexuals meet someone, there is a wide range of possibilities for where a relationship can go.

Have you ever considered the possible ways we can relate to each other: family, friend, colleague, partner, lover or acquaintance?   Some of these categories can overlap, either dovetailing nicely or conflicting grossly.  Now, the interesting thing about being bisexual is that it doesn’t place any constraints on who can be a partner.  There are other issues that count more than gender such as common interests, personality, perhaps even age and status.  Even whether one is monogamous, asexual or polyamorous plays into the equation.

As I look back over the years, I see that I often have a penchant for becoming friends with folks before becoming their lover.  This was certainly the case with Tina and Tanya, not their real names.  The time lapse for my becoming romantically involved might seem interminable to some.  In fact, I met Tina while I was in graduate school but it wasn’t until I had returned from Europe and my involvement with Tanya that Tina and I became an item.   In both cases, my partners and I started out as colleagues-Tina was a fellow student and Tanya a fellow academic-before progressing to friendship and beyond.  Even when the ‘beyond’ ended, I’m happy to report that the friendship remained.  There is still a sense of intimacy that remains.  You know the kind, where you can read someone and be there for them because so much has gone before.

Unfortunately, such is not the case for Armand and Steve, again not their real names.  I actually met Armand online—this in only my particular experience by the way—and we began seeing each other with the goal of romance.  Armand, like me, was in education, but I think our political views, among other things, were too divergent.  Armand was rather reserved and I am rather forthright, to say the least.  Going out with Armand was a lesson in the fact that opposites do not attract.  If you’re going to build a fire, you need the right kind of wood and a spark.  We were simply two acquaintances trying to make more out of nothing.

Finally, there is Steve, my conundrum.  I think my relationship with Steve is a case of too much over the line.  He and I met several years ago because of common political interests.  From there, we began to talk about our personal lives, especially when I was really down and out, and then we decided to proceed further.  Now, I see that it would have been better for me if the relationship had remained at the level of friendship.

Yet all of this is supposed to be covered by the single English word love.  Perhaps we bisexuals need to bring back the five Greek words for love that covered everything from the love of parents, to fraternal love, love of friends and passionate love, just to name some of the possibilities.  We need to be able to articulate how we feel about others with precision because nothing is a given, especially how relationships will turn out, and we can’t afford to be suspended in chaos.  Out of the range of possibilities for a relationship, eventually something must solidify.

 

Beyond Bisexuality

sunriseI assume that, like me, you have been following the news lately.  It seems that the past two weeks have brought a slew of major tragedy and change.  First there was the devastating earthquake in Haiti, then major civil unrest in central Nigeria.  Closer to home, there was what turned into an upset senatorial election in Massachusetts.

Because I have friends who are Haitian-American, the earthquake has turned into something that is far from merely images of the screen.  Likewise as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who had been stationed in West Africa, I have been following the tensions in Nigeria for years.  Needless to say, as Massachusetts resident, I was deep into the special election that many across the United States had thought was a shoe-in for the Democrats.

What was not particularly on mind was being bisexual.  In fact, over the past fourteen days, that part of my life has really taken a back seat because of issues that were more pressing as far as I was concerned.

Of course there are BLGT people in Haiti and Nigeria and the election results in Massachusetts are not what the BLGT community as whole is enthusiastic about.  But the events in question affect everyone in whole societies.  Yes, the BGLT community has special concerns that are often overlooked, but these events did not single it out in particular.  Death and injury visited Haiti and Nigeria without concern for sexual orientation.  Senator-elect Brown’s victory has people on both sides of the aisle asking, “What next for the country?”

Whether election, earthquake or civil unrest, these circumstances require collective reflection and collective action.  It is the human dimension that matters most, not individuals or smaller groups.  The question becomes how we can come together to improve conditions, rebuild and move forward.  In the case of the election, there are implications for how lawmaking will go forward, but go forward it must.

For me, this has been a good time to see how I fit into the larger picture and how I can act to make things better beyond my own little world.  I suggest that this is something that we bisexuals can do as well.  There is work to be done that relates to us all.  All Haitians need roofs over their heads and food to eat.  All the Nigerians of Plateau State need peace and stability.  All of us in the United States need to figure our how to move our nation forward.

Naturally, there will be a moment when we have to press forward on the bisexual community’s interests.  There will also be work to do to support BGLT Haitians and Nigerians.  However right now seems the moment to think about the whole and maybe we will keep the bigger picture in mind as we move forward.

Isolation, Health, And The Bisexual Community

Isolation_StreetAt the beginning of June, a study came out about the health differences of BLGT people versus straight people. When I heard about it I figured it would show something similar to what previous studies with the same idea have shown: that overall BLGT people have worse health, more depression and higher suicide rates than straight people. Considering the hurdles so many have to face, such results are unfortunately not surprising.

However, this study was different in two ways: first, its sample was from one entire state, Massachusetts, and second, a major difference was noticed and pointed out about bisexuals and how they compare to both straight people and gay and lesbian people. The ultimate finding: bisexuals, especially bisexual women, have the worst health of all of the groups that were studied.

This quote sums up some of the more alarming findings: “Compared to heterosexuals, gays, lesbians, and bisexuals were more likely to say their health was worse on 16 of 22 measures. They were more likely to be tense or worried, to smoke, have asthma, abuse drugs, or be victims of sexual abuse. Bisexual men and women were also more likely than heterosexuals to say they faced barriers to getting health care, had higher cardiovascular risk, felt sad, and had contemplated suicide in the past year. Binge drinking was more common among bisexual women than heterosexuals. Bisexuals, but not gays or lesbians, were more likely than heterosexuals to be poor. Bisexual women were the most likely to report having been sexually assaulted. ‘All told, bisexual women had the worst health,’ Conron [the scientist who did the study] said in an interview. ‘We were surprised that there were such differences for bisexual people compared to gay and lesbian people.’ Although the study didn’t investigate the causes for the gaps among people with different sexual orientations, Conron said she hopes further research will look at the social stigma bisexual people may face not only from heterosexuals, but also from gay men and lesbians. ‘Bisexual people may feel in between the two and may not necessarily be fully accepted by either group,’ she said. ‘I think it merits further investigation. We know isolation is bad for health.’ ”

I have to admit, it was nice to see the researcher of a study come right out and admit that isolation is a big problem for many bisexuals instead of trying to make the usual excuses. Of course, this is not good news. But as much as I hate to say it, is it really surprising? Bisexuals face some of the worst ostracism of any sexual minority group. Often we are rejected by the straight world, and contrary to popular belief, this can happen even if we are in an opposite-gender relationship if we admit to being bisexual. We start to hope there is an accepting community out there for us, and hearing the letters BLGT gives us hope.

However, too often, we face ridicule, exclusion, and social pressure, as well as being told we don’t exist, and being blatantly made fun of in some cases. Who wouldn’t have issues when their existence in constantly questioned? The very first comment under the article that totally misses the point of it illustrates how far we still have to go: “They may have the poorest health, but they get to play for both teams. So they have their perks.”

So, what can we in the bisexual community do about this? Fighting for acceptance is the first step, and not backing down about it. If we are excluded from something, we should do what the transgender community does (and possibly team up with them!) and have our own version of the event. We also need to reach out to newly out bisexuals or people who may be about to come out as bisexual; they need to know that there is a community that supports them. Secondly, there need to be health programs specifically aimed at bisexuals to help us deal with our unique set of problems, something other than just lumping us in with “BLGT.”

I’ve read that more health programs aimed at bisexuals are popping at BLGT centers, so that is a good place to start. Bisexual organizations need to strongly encourage such programs. Thirdly, there need to be more studies like this one done that take the unique experiences of bisexuals into account; hopefully more such studies will lead to a dialogue between the straight, bisexual, and gay and lesbian communities. I hope this study and others like it will get peoples’ attention and eventually lead to some gains, understanding, and acceptance for the bisexual community.

Challenging the Myth of the Bisexual Man

coupleA man enters a coffee shop, dressed casually but still looking somewhat pristine. Waiting in line, he shifts back and forth on his feet, nervously. He orders a Chai tea Latte, vaguely wondering if the drink choice is “too obvious” for what has brought him to the coffee shop. Taking a seat at a table near the back of the coffee shop, but close to a window, he waits, watching intently. And he waits. And he waits. After what seems like an eternity, but in reality is little more than an hour, he leaves, wondering a bit why he’s been stood up. He replays the events leading up to the coffee shop meeting in his mind’s eye. It had been a simple enough, if somewhat clichéd setup. He’d placed a personal ad on a bisexual men’s site. The man that had answered it had seemed somewhat similar to himself, though he’d been married. That in and of itself hadn’t been an issue though, because it was just a cup of coffee—wasn’t it? Now, latte in hand, he just wondered why? Why is it that finding another like-minded bisexual man is so hard?

A bisexual male can find themselves asking why a lot. If straight is normal, homosexual is increasingly tolerated and bisexual women are vociferously approved by both genders—why is the bisexual male such an outlaw? If a man admits he is bisexual—why is he subject to such ridicule by the straight and homosexual population? Perhaps most of all is, if a man is openly bisexual—why is it so hard to meet another openly bisexual man?

Studies have been done, books written and surveys taken. Alfred Kinsey’s original report onSexual Behavior in the Human Male suggests that 3 out of 10 men will have a same sex encounter in their lives. A recent Gallup Poll shows that over 50 percent of men and women in America consider lesbian and gay relationships to be “morally acceptable”—though the poll says nothing about bisexuality. Perhaps this is amongst the reasons that many bisexual men still live comfortably “in the closet.” A quick search of the craigslist.org personals in the “men seeking men” category reveals that there are just short of 300 ads in a 24 hour period and that roughly 10 percent of those are from men proclaiming to be bisexual married men. Perhaps this lends itself to many of the myths about the bisexual man. It would seem—if one listens to the myths—that the monogamous, non-promiscuous, committed bisexual man is as rare as a unicorn. Men like Robert Winn challenge this opinion.

Robert, 40, has been bisexual since he met his wife Christine, 41, when the two were college. The couple’s nearly 18 years of monogamous marriage would seem to challenge the myth that bisexuality is “just a phase” as Robert has been openly monogamous for that entire 18 years. Robert is not immune to scrutiny and ridicule, however:

“There is a whole list of assumptions of what my life might be like, that somehow she is some sort of front for me because I’m not willing to accept I’m gay. People are confused by bisexuality. There’s just not a lot of support for people who fall in the middle like me.”

Bisexual men do ask why a lot. Perhaps a shift in the paradigm is needed—perhaps it isn’t a question of why the bisexual man is such an outlaw. The question that seems more suitable would seem to be—why are so many people confused by a person that is willing to love so indiscriminately?

Someone Thinks Bisexuals Are Lying-Again

biRecently for me there’s been some good news and some bad news; the good news is I haven’t run out of or had to look far for topics to write about for several weeks now.  The bad news is it’s because there’s been so much biphobia going around I’ve been kept busy answering it all!  The culprit this time is a site I honestly thought was more open minded; BiPeopleMeet.com.  Having not only used the site myself but having had several friends on it, I’ve always found it to be a welcoming place for bisexuals, as well as for BLGT people and straight people.

So imagine my surprise when a couple of weeks ago this page began circulating on the internet: The Big Lies People Tell In Online Dating.  About halfway down the page, the fourth “lie” said this: “‘I’m bisexual.’ REALITY: 80 percent of self-identified bisexuals are only interested in one gender. BiPeopleMeet is a gay- and bi-friendly place and it’s not our intention here to call into question anyone’s sexual identity. But when we looked into messaging trends by sexuality, we were very surprised at what we found. People who describe themselves as bisexual overwhelmingly message either one sex or the other, not both as you might expect.” If you want to see just this itself without the other “lies” expanded out, check out this page by Raspberry mousse: BiPeopleMeet believes that bisexuality is one of online dating’s “biggest lies.”

It seems that bi people meet tries to say it’s not trying to question sexual identity, and then proceeds to do just that.  Nowhere in the “argument” is there even a hint as to other reasons why these so called “trends” might be true (one obvious reason is that men tend to message back much more than women on any dating site, so it makes sense one gender would message more, and there are many other reasons as well) or try to look at this in any way besides implying that the people who say they are bisexual on the site must mostly be lying.  What’s also sad is that when I posted this, even some so called “allies” tried to say it wasn’t that big a deal, that it was just “data”.  I asked if it would be just “data” if the same thing was posted about black people or gay people; for some odd reason I didn’t get a response.  Of course it wouldn’t be; it only seems to be acceptable when it’s about bisexuals.

So, what is the best reaction?  Some people have chosen to boycott Okcupid.  I thought about it at first, but others from the bisexual community thought it would be best to use this as a reason to start a dialogue; and several have written emails to Bi People Meet, as did I.  In my opinion that is the best way to deal with something like this; to write polite but firm emails explaining why such posts are unacceptable when they negate the existence of an entire group.  One way is to use the comments section at the bottom of the “lies” page on Bi People Meet; from what I understand they do actually read their comments.  Another way is on the main site, in the lower right corner; there is an “about us” section that will lead you to the contact page.

One good thing that has come out of all the biphobia in recent weeks: I’ve seen the bisexual community more united than I’ve ever seen it before.  Biphobia is quickly recognized and responses are swift; and there is more and more dialogue between different parts of the community. I sincerely hope that all of this adversity will help us to step up, unite, and find our voices.  Let the dawn of our awakening begin.

What Does The Removal Of Proposition 8 Mean For The Bisexual Community?

communityWith all the depressing headlines lately, last week when I heard that Prop 8 had been overturned in California,at first I thought it was either a joke or I had to be dreaming. I admit I had stopped following the progress of the anti-Prop 8 fight, having lost faith in CA ever giving BLGT people back their rights after they voted in Prop 8 in 2008. I never thought they would strike it down so quickly (within two years).

Naturally what followed was a lot of celebrating in the BLGT community (especially in CA!) and then the sober realization that Prop 8 or something like it could very easily be reinstated; within 24 hours anti-equality groups had already filed an appeal, and hateful articles and quotes have sprung up all over the internet.

In the aftermath of everything, an interesting question popped up: what does the overturning of Prop 8 mean for the bisexual community, and how will it affect us? For starters, many of us remember it was only a few months ago that we were being brought up as a scapegoat reason not to get rid of Prop 8! Some cynically said that’s the only time we’ve been mentioned in the whole Prop 8 saga; and unfortunately there is some truth to that. It seems that one thing the celebrations have shown is that we’re still barely being acknowledged as even being part of the fight for same-sex rights; at least not when there’s good news.

I kept hearing and reading last week about the rights of “gays and lesbians” to marry and how this will affect them marrying in California. Occasionally someone said or wrote all four BLGT letters, I think I actually saw the word bisexual written out once. You’d think after being listed as a reason not to take away Prop 8, we’d at least get more than that!

That being said, this also presents several positive opportunities for the bisexual community; to celebrate with the rest of our BLGT brothers and sisters, to be more vocal and visible, and to remind people that as bisexuals, this is a victory and a right for us too. A big part of the victory is that bisexual men and women living in CA will now be able to marry their same sex partners, and for some in the closet, it may mean finally coming out.

It’s also a new opportunity to put ourselves in the spotlight more as out bisexuals and help in the fight to keep Prop 8 (and other laws like it around the country) from coming back and/or from being passed. This can be accomplished both by working with other BLGT people and by focusing on the unique needs of our own community. If we step back and get discouraged, things will never change.

The War for Equality

lgtb equalityThe BLGT community has been enjoying a lot of victory and support of late. Gay, lesbian and bisexual people are portrayed positively on our televisions and in film, there are many gay, lesbian and bisexual performing artists and now the community has begun to realize some real life victories. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell has been repealed by a 234-194 vote. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has been repealed—making the definition of marriage something that State governments determine rather than Federal. Joining this list of victories is the overturning of California’s “Prop 8” bill declaring:

With so many victories under our collective belts it can be easy to trick one ’s self into believing that the war for equality is being won. The danger in believing this is that it tempts us to forget the other battles that are being fought.

A report from the Kyrgyz Republic—released days after the Prop 8 ruling—reveals that the lives of thirty bisexual and gay men are fraught with danger and persecution. Of thirty men interviewed for this report, twelve identify as bisexual men while fifteen were age 25 or younger. The report goes on to reveal stories that many in the BLGT community are familiar with:

“It happened in December. A guy was stopped by militia. Out of nothing they start checking for documents. He didn’t have any. He’s a bit feminine, mannered – so they got it immediately. They said: “You’re gay, aren’t you? Let’s go to your parents now.” They demanded eight thousand soms.”

Labrys, an orginazation aimed at improving the quality of life for the BLGT community in the Kyrgyz Republic was founded in 2004 and currently has 1,000 members. Syinat Sultanalieva, executive director of Labrys, said in February that violations of the rights of people of non-traditional sexual orientation occur most frequently within the family, saying of her organization: “Our organization has started a ‘refuge’ project. We provide temporary accommodation to those people who have been thrown out of their homes, or who have left of their own accord because their families do not accept the choice they have made,” With bisexual and gay youth being thrown out of their homes and forced to seek refuge, it begins to become clear that the struggle for equality and acceptance is far from over.

Other battles are far more subtle and far more dangerous. Also within days of the prop 8 decision, bioethicists are accused a noted American pediatric endocrinologist and researcher of what they claim is the first attempt to prevent homosexuality and bisexuality in the womb. The pediatrician, Dr. Maria New of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Florida International University, is a longtime champion of the prenatal use of a powerful steroidal medication called dexamethasone to prevent the development of congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH )— a condition which can result in girls being born with ambiguous genitalia.

Amongst the bioethicists charging Dr. New is Alice Dreger, professor of clinical medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine who charges:

“Her main goal has been to prevent ambiguous genitalia and all the things that come with it, including what she calls ‘behavioral masculinization’ [sic] She includes in that what she calls ‘masculinized orientation.’”

CAH has a status as a rare condition—prompting several medical societies to suggest guidelines be put in place that establish prenatal treatment for CAH as experimental. Additionally the guidelines will note that dexamethasone can cause low birth weight and birth defects. The proposed guidelines do not mention and are not concerned with sexuality or orientation.

This style of Eugenics may seem like something from science fiction—however, it is clear that the prejudices against gay, lesbian and bisexual men and women are alive and well and it appears that there is a long way to go before the war for equality is over.