Bisexuals, the Hetero-privilege Myth?

As bisexual, gay and lesbian groups take sides on the validity of the true bisexual — BSN steps up and gets personal, regarding biphobic in the gay and lesbian community. Are you surprised? We’re not?

two young womenI’ve been hearing [on the Web] that bisexuals “enjoy and are just trying to hold onto hetero-privilege.” I can honestly say from my own personal experiences that this is completely untrue, and an extremely unfair and ignorant thing to say.

While we are in the closet, yes, we take advantage of hetero-privilege, as does a gay person when they pretend to be straight. I wouldn’t call it a privilege, because pretending to be something you are not and burying a part of yourself is a deeply painful process. When we do come out, many in the straight world lump us in with gay people — the same people that won’t accept a gay person won’t accept a bisexual person either.  A simple Google search will show several websites that prove this.

I have to stay in the closet with my family, because to them, it wouldn’t be any different than if I were gay. They wouldn’t say I’m only committing “half a sin”. Since I’ve come out, dated both genders (not at once) and been active in the BTGL community and advocacy, I’ve experienced being accosted while going to and from a lesbian bar, being yelled at when picking up a BTGL newspaper, and hate mail in my P.O. box because I was receiving mail from BTGL and bi organizations. Someone in the mail room wrote, “damn, dirty queer” on my letter. I’ve received  worse threats on Myspace, Facebook, and other social networking sights for being out on my profiles,  though they are not public, and harassment from religious organizations. Religious friends who found out are now former friends, and some religious acquaintances, I can’t tell. I now carry pepper spray when I go to lesbian bars (unfortunately the ones around here are not in the best neighborhoods) so I’m not accosted by people yelling homophobic slurs at me.

Does this sound much different from what a gay person has to deal with? No. So tell me, everyone who says, we are hanging on to “hetero-privilege”, how, exactly, am I benefiting from this so-called “privilege?” I’ve experienced more homophobia than some gay people I know. Many of us are teased as kids in the same way gay people are. A queer basher isn’t going to stop and say “hmm, you’re bisexual, I’ll only hit you half as hard”, or the person writing things on my mail isn’t just going to write half a slur. The hate and vitriol directed my way is the same — for daring to admit, ANY sort of attraction to the same sex, regardless of whether or not — I still maintain an interest for the opposite sex. This is something bisexual people have been trying to explain for years, yet too many people STILL don’t get it.

Some people say “if you are in an opposite sex relationship, you get all the benefits, so you can just choose that”. Not really. For starters, I can’t just “choose” who I fall in love with — it could be a man, a woman, a transgender person, or someone else. If I fall in love with a person, I fall in love with them regardless of what they have or don’t have between their legs. Secondly, as many straight allies will tell you, you don’t have to be in a same-sex relationship to get “queer bashed”-many bigots will bash anyone who supports BTGL people in any way.

Whoever wrote on my mail didn’t know, if I was dating a man or a woman — from what I was getting. It was clear I was bi and yet they still chose to engage in a hate crime — no different than if I were gay. I could have a boyfriend and still go to a BTGL bar, and be treated just like a lesbian would be by bigots. Homophobia isn’t cut in half just because sometimes I have an opposite sex partner. People who are half black and half white are often going to be treated no differently than a full black person by racists, and the same is true of homophobic bigots with regards to a bisexuals.

These are some reasons why being accused of “hetero-privilege” by some in the gay community just adds insult to injury. We suffer homophobia (and biphobia from the straight world that has many misconceptions about bisexuality), just like gay people do and it would be nice, to have more understanding and not face biphobia on top of that from parts of the gay community. I know. I am not the only bisexual person who feels this way and has these experiences, and my hope with this article is to shed some light on the fact that we have more in common with the gay community than many people realize, and that we all need to support, help, and try to understand each other — not create more fictional barriers.

Coming Out, Part 2

In high school, (in the 90’s) — which was liberal but still religious, I started dating a boy and we were together all throughout high school. He [was] great and we really did like each other; but that didn’t stop [us] from also having crushes on girls, as well as on other boys. I put the girls in the back of my head and didn’t give them a second thought. Then one day, I was sitting next to a girl in class, and she wrote the word “bisexual” down. I asked her what it meant. She explained that it was a word for people who were sexually attracted to both genders. I almost fell out of my chair — there was a name for it? That must have meant there were others like me! I was happy for the next hour — until it hit me that I could never admit it, if that’s what I was. Being attracted to the same sex was a sin. I didn’t want to go to hell and I didn’t want anyone to hate me. My parents never said anything hateful about gay people, but they did say I should agree with the church’s teaching on sexuality.

Coming out, Part 4

I have to admit the discrepancy between my online experiences (I have experienced very blatant biphobia online), my friends’ experiences, and my experiences in person have both puzzled and pleasantly surprised me. Am I just in a good area that’s very open (I do live in a big city that’s pretty liberal on a coast)? Is it that I make friends easily and am just very social? Is it that many of the GLBT people I’ve come in contact with are under 35, like me, and our generation is much more open about such things? I have heard that there is a generational gap when it comes to bisexuality, and that older people, both gay and straight, get touchier about it. I’ve also heard from friends in this area that have had biphobic experiences, so I guess I’ve just been lucky so far. I am hoping that that luck represents a trend-maybe attitudes are finally becoming more accepting? I try to come across as confident in who I am and in my sexuality and I am always ready to speak up if someone says something biphobic. Maybe people see that attitude in me, and it discourages biphobia?

Coming Out, Part 3

So, how have things been for me since I came out? At first, I felt relief — like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Then came the fear, “oh my God, what have I done, I’m such a horrible sinner, I’m going to hell, etc.” I [not] religious anymore, but I had grown up in conservative religion and that kind of thinking was still part of me. There was also the fear of society. Acknowledging my sexuality opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me — and [they] were both exciting and scary. It was exciting, because now I was free to fall in love with a person, not a gender. It was scary, because I knew that many parts of society expected me to always have an opposite sex partner, and scary because I thought of some people in my life that I really cared about, but I knew would probably never accept it — if I chose to have a same-sex partner.

Rants of the Bisexualist Begins…

The Bisexualist movement has begun. Join Bi Social News (BSN) as we shed light on this deep dark secret, regarding how the LGBT communities want the “B” out of gay and lesbian lives.

My name is Adrienne Williams — I’m the owner of Bi Social News (BSN). I call myself a bisexualist, which means and advocate for bisexual causes, and I’m pissed off! “What about you ask?” We at BSN have started a movement. Our goals will be to pull out of the closet the biphobia that exist in the straight, gay and lesbian worlds. Wait a minute, I included gay and lesbian but didn’t add transgender. Well, I haven’t personally had issues with the transgender community — denying that I’m not real or confused; lying and need to be wiped off the face of the earth — that my friend, have come from the gay and lesbian community. And sorry to say, it’s been happening even more this year.

The very community, that wants legal marriage and as one op-ed piece in the Chicago Free Press by the name of Jennifer Vanasco screams in her column — “The truth is that gays and lesbians are Americans. And like the rest of America, we are hurting.” Fair to say this time, she was discussing the topic of President Obama, and the gay and lesbian vote that wants action in the years ahead. But notice what’s missing? Ah, yes, the ‘B’ and the ‘T’ in that statement. Well to be clear, many times in the gay and lesbian publications around the nation, they are erasing the ‘B’ out of their articles. For that matter their papers, newsletters, magazines, and media.

When was the last time you read a great coming out bisexual story? What about a love story on LOGO® regarding real bisexual men and women — confessing their love to the world and each other? Nada, zippo, niche.  Because the truth of the matter, not one gay and lesbian magazine, that I have read in my 15-years of being out and proud, has there been much about anything dealing with bisexual issues in clear definition.

Well, BSN, is here to change all that. We are starting a movement to call out, show up, educate and denounce anyone, and I mean anyone, that is trying to misrepresent the bisexual population.

Will BSN be confrontational?
When BSN needs to be – we are here to shed light on the elephant in the room.

Will BSN try to go for the truth?
Always, our goal is to bring all communities together, for the good of the whole community. We want all bisexual, lesbian, transgender, gay, pansexual, asexual and queer people, to feel they belong and are apart of the community. It won’t happen until we root out this infection that has been lying dormant, in the closet — as it is between our communities, at this very moment.

It ends now, the moment is now.

“We’ll be watching.”

Coming Out, Part 1

A question I often get is: “how [or] when did you know you were bi, and how did you get here?” Honestly, I think some part of me has always known in some way. How did I get here and finally admit it? It’s taken 15-years-and this article will be broken up into four parts.

When I was a kid, I was a tomboy. I preferred climbing trees to dolls, and rolling around in the mud was a lot more fun than playing with dolls or house. I first notice one thing odd when one day in kindergarten, I realized there a difference between me and most of the other girls. We were five and it was the time for “play weddings”. A boy told me, if I agreed to marry him then he would let me play with his trucks. I readily agreed, for they were cool trucks! A girl nearby who was playing with a transformer overheard us, and she turned asking me — if I’d marry her she’d let me play with the transformer. I thought about it for a moment and again agreed. The idea of marrying a girl seemed natural to me too. The boy said “what about me?” and I said “well I could see myself marrying either of you — who has the best toy?” This should have been a wholly humorous story but matters don’t work out that way: the other girls who were around starting laughing and calling me and the other girl “gay.” There was that word; I didn’t know what it meant, but I knew that it was an insult. I asked my mom that evening why the girls had laughed at us, and she replied that only boys and girls get married. I couldn’t wrap my head around this –  the idea seemed okay to me. But apparently something was wrong with it, so for a long time after, I kept it to myself.

As I grew, I kept it to myself, when I had crushes on both sexes, and only talked about boys. I knew next to nothing about sex; I just knew that people who got married loved each other. Even though, I hid my same-gender feelings, somehow the other kids still knew; those of us who didn’t fit in right were constantly called “gay”. I knew it was a bad word; I just didn’t get why.

Everywhere I looked were straight couples, so I figured that was how it was supposed to be and that was the only way. When I actually hit puberty though, a problem presented itself. I learned about sex and began to have sexual feelings, and I realized they weren’t focused just towards boys. In middle school, I finally had heard about gays and lesbians, and actually knew what the words meant. If a girl was “not right” in any way, the boys would call her a “lesbian”. I went to a religious school, so I began to learn that being gay was a “sin.” I had never heard of bisexuality, no one said anything about people who liked both. Between the ages of 12 and 14, I did a lot of thinking — was I a lesbian? Did I like girls more than boys? When I was honest with myself, I could see I liked both. I had no idea what that meant. So I reasoned, if I still liked boys that must make me straight, and was much relived to not be this “gay” thing that kids used to make fun of each other.

Part 2

Michael Jackson’s Complex Sexuality

complex sexualityThere’s been so much buzz about Michael Jackson lately, since his death, and both fans like me and critics have been wondering-what was the deal with his sexuality?

One thing that I’ve always liked about MJ that scared a lot of critics was that he bent gender roles and sexuality in general, even if he was straight. I remember in the early 90’s he was wearing lipstick and eyeliner, and looking like a woman, but still retaining some “manly” qualities, I found him quite attractive. He seemed to blend what was best about each gender. Male performers often take artistic license with certain things like wearing make up, but MJ took it to another level. He could go from being the tough guy in the “Bad” video and aggressively chasing the girl in “The way you make me feel” to being gentle and almost feminine in videos like “Have you seen my childhood”, and exude a certain vulnerability that men are often afraid to show. In the video “In the closet” (interesting title!) he was pursuing a woman, but could have passed for a lesbian himself. When it comes to performers in terms of sexuality, I haven’t seen any other such versatile performer, and for me and for a lot of other fans I know, it was a big part of his charm. We felt like he was breaking certain taboos that we sometimes were afraid to even talk about in his music videos.

Some have speculated that MJ was really gay, but struggled with accepting it because of his strict Jehovah’s Witness upbringing. I wouldn’t be surprised. I know firsthand how repressive religion can make you hate yourself and your sexuality, and from what I have heard, the JW’s take it to a frightening level. Repressing this and trying to sometimes “prove” he was masculine may have led to some of the odd and self-destructive behavior we saw (for the record, I do not and have never believed the allegations against him, but that’s a whole other article). It could also have explained why he sometimes came off as ‘effeminate” to a lot of straight men, and why he seemed almost afraid of his sexuality. Some people actually liked him because despite his gender bending ways, to them he himself seemed almost asexual-like a little boy trapped in a man’s body (which he himself later said he was), who was just coming to terms with sexuality or trying to, and was still “innocent”. I think one reason the allegations where so shocking, besides the obvious, was that for those who believed it, it ripped away at the idea that MJ was innocent at all.

Could he have been one of us-a bisexual? Another strong possibility. When the police raided Neverland in 2003, they found both straight and gay porn. Assuming it belonged to him, and not to one of his employees, this does make me think he may have been either bi or at least trying to figure out if he was. His first wife, Lisa Marie Presley, claims they did sleep together and it seems that even though it didn’t work out he did really fall in love with her, so it seems he was capable of loving and being with a woman, assuming she is telling the truth. If he was bi, repressing this would also have been very difficult just like repressing being gay, and it would have clashed with his religious upbringing. I think that one reason he was so comfortable bending gender roles and “cross-dressing” in his videos was because it gave him a chance to express the sexuality he seemed almost afraid of in real life.

And of course, MJ could have been transgender. It would explain some of the dressing, and maybe even the plastic surgery-before it went totally wrong it did make him look more feminine, more attractive in a female sense, and I wonder if that was as far as he felt he could go with expressing his inner female. Perhaps he liked women, men, or both, but also felt that he himself was really a woman. As many transgender people can tell you, repressing a transgender identity can lead to real pain and self-destructive behavior.

Of course we’ll never know, but I’m glad he broke the gender barriers in the music industry that he did-perhaps more people will follow him and won’t be afraid to come out. I’m just sorry that his sexuality, whatever it was, brought him such pain and that his vulnerability caused so many people to try and take advantage of him and harp on every thing he did. He took us to new frontiers-in both gender bending, and of course, in music. Whatever his sexuality was, long live the king of pop.

Other articles about this I highly recommend:

http://www.bilerico.com/2009/06/goodnight_sweet_princeor_princess.php

Micah Kellner: New York’s Openly Bisexual Assemblyman

MicahKellnerLearn about Democratic Assemblyman Michal Kellner from the state of New York. Did we mention he’s a proud and out Bisexual? Read our exclusive interview.

Micah Kellner is a Democratic Assemblyman from the state of New York.  He is a disabilities and bisexual/GLBT advocate.  He is one of five GLBT members of the New York Legislature.

How did you get into politics?

I had actually gone to school for film and television. In 2000, I volunteered for Al Gore’s campaign, and I wound up interning at Senator Schumer’s office. I worked in his fundraising office and spent everyday fundraising, and that got me hooked into politics.

How much of an issue has your bisexuality been in your political career?

It’s an issue because people are always interested. Before running for office I thought of myself primarily as a disabilities advocate. When I ran, everyone was intrigued and had all sorts of questions so it’s something I’ve really embraced. It’s a label that’s going to be with me forever, whether I like it or not, so I try to make the most of it.

There is a real prejudice against bisexual men. How have you been treated by the gay and straight communities?

When I first ran for office, a group of my friends, mostly gay men, decided to sit down with me to determine “what Micah was going to be”, because he couldn’t be bi. They felt no one would ever accept a bisexual, so some said “say you’re straight”, and others said “say you’re gay”. Someone suggested that I should state to the Stonewall Democratic club that while I’ve had sex with men in the past, I just don’t identify as a member of the GLBT community, which I took to mean that I was openly on the “down low”, which made no sense.

We finally decided honesty was the best policy, but sadly, too often I’ve found as a public official that bisexuals are the last group that are easily held up to ridicule. That’s mostly because the gay and lesbian community allows it. There are too many people in it that perpetuate that bisexuality isn’t real and mock it, and by doing that they are allowing our straight allies to do the same thing.

Labels are either imposed on you or you impose them on yourself. Some parts of the lesbian and gay community basically say “it’s not cool to be bisexual, you will face ridicule”, so there are many bisexuals who choose to identify as being lesbian or gay. I feel sometimes like a bisexual confessional—people come up to me and say “Oh, I’m really bi, but it’s just easier to say I’m gay” or “well I’m probably bisexual but for political purposes I’m gay”. Until the L and G fully accept bisexuality, we are going to have a hard road up.

Is there a strong bisexual community where you live, and if so, how involved are you?

Recently I’ve gotten involved more in the bi community here. Up until I ran I was involved in a GLBT community that has been pretty supportive of me. The people at the Stonewall Democratic club, of which I’m a member, were my first and strongest supporters. I didn’t really feel a backlash for the bisexual label until I ran for office.

The gay and lesbian victory fund supported your campaign. Have you had a positive relationship with them and have they been supportive of your bisexuality?

Yes, they were terrific. They came in and offered financial support, strategic advice, and they had a great coordinator and organizer come and help me.

With everything that has happened in the past year, the political environment for GLBT people is constantly changing. What role do you feel the bi community is playing and can play in influencing GLBT politics in general?

The important thing is making sure that people understand what bisexuality is. Recently, during the marriage debate on the assembly floor, the leader of the Republicans got up and started asking “What about bisexuals? What if they want to marry a man and a woman?” He completely confused bisexuality with polygamy!

I happened to be the next speaker, and I commented on that coincidence (which got a chuckle out of all of us) and I explained the difference between bisexuality and polygamy, and that while I’ve dated both men and women, only one at a time, and that I’m sure that there are plenty of bisexuals who are in same-sex relationships who want to get married and have all those rights. We need people at the forefront who identify as bisexual whether it’s politically correct or not. Cynthia Nixon is a great example of this.

After the questions, he also added: I’ve worked with great GLBT advocates that have made sure to include the B and the T, especially in legislation, and I hope that the days where it was just the G and the L are slowly passing.

I’d like to thank Assemblyman Kellner for the interview, and to say “thanks for representing us!”

If you’d like to know more about Assemblyman Kellner, please visit: Micah Kellner Website

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