BSN Starts New Format with ‘Bi Talk’ Radio

If you  missed our first co-hosted radio show called “Bi Talk,” don’t despair—it goes into podcast mode after 15 minutes of our live programming, where you can catch all the hot bi topics and dish that was discussed!

Peter Ruggiero and Adrienne Williams are the new bi duo—along with Maria who will be following all the action via chat, to answer your most heated questions and comments!

This is the beginning of a whole new Bi Social News! Why not get in on the action and let your bi voice be heard!

You can also go to iTunes and download our podcast under Bi Social News.

Catch the latest podcast streaming audio right now!

Bisexuals Get Colds Too

get coldsYou know those days when give yourself a fright?  You look in the mirror and go, “Who the hell are you and what did you do with me?”

Today is one of those days for me. I woke up with runny nose and I’ve been sneezing more than your average Disney dwarf.  If things continue like this, stock in tissue manufacturers will surely go up!

While I certainly look worse than I feel–OK, except for my raw nose–I have to admit that I’m in one of those moods in which I really don’t have any desire to mull over my bisexuality.  I just want to curl up with a hot cup of tea, the novel I’m reading and the two-hundred count box of tissues I’m quite sure will be finished by morning.  I quite frankly don’t want to think about anything else right now.  Actually, I would prefer to give my brain a rest at the moment.

This is certainly not the worst I’ve ever felt by a long shot, but it does allow me to touch on the other moments when I’ve fretted about what to write and what I had to say to all of you.  It’s actually in those moments when I wonder why I opted to become what can only be described as a professional bisexual because I don’t necessarily feel distinct from others.

Lest I be accused of being an ingrate and a whiner, let me state that I enjoy very much working with my colleagues and that I am thankful for having been brought on by our creative director.  I also know full well that writing about life from a bisexual man’s perspective–plain and simple–is something that I had wanted to do for a long time.

Besides, most of us have to get down to work whether we are ill or not.  Responsibilities of all sorts do not wait for us to be on our proverbial game.  Head cold, headache or simple head trip, we have to get out there and do our work, completing what needs completing.

Today–as has been true for several other days since I began writing for you–I have nothing more profound to say to you than we bisexuals put our trousers on one leg at a time just like everyone else and we get late-winter colds just like everyone else.  Today, I feel no particular specialness is being bi, which I actually see as a positive.

With my running and sneezing nose, I am well aware that in many respects I’m no different from anyone else.  Perhaps even this small cold is a good thing because it finally made me tell you about those uneventful occasions when I am just being myself and my bisexuality fades into the background.

Naturally, I hope that those of you bisexuals reading this blog are proud to be bi.  I also hope that you have moments–by all means without colds and flu–in which your bisexuality fades into the background and you can just be yourselves.  As the quotation attributed to Sigmund Freud goes, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to warm my tea, find more tissues and get to my next project.

Coming Out as Bisexual

BSN Contributing Writers share their stories of coming out on National Coming out Day!

come-outWhen I think of coming out as bisexual, here is the clearest thing in my head: I am sitting on a student panel in the art history lecture hall in the Williams College Museum of Art.  It is evening and we are seven panelists.  We are making our introductory remarks; perhaps we were taking about when we knew we were “gay” or “lesbian.”  I distinctly remember being the seventh person to speak and being the only one to utter the word bisexual.  It strikes me as being the grand finale to some big production.  This is it; I am out in a big way.

I don’t remember much about the rest of the presentation.  I knew it was during my senior year but I couldn’t quite figure out when.  After dusting off my brain cells and doing a bit of research, it has to have occurred on what was the second National Coming Out Day, October 11th, 1988.

Exactly a year earlier, I had been part of the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.  I was giddy with collective embracing and celebration of same-sex love.  I was proud to stand up and be counted for our community’s rights.  There was no going back because we had determined not to live in fear and shame.  We were valiant.  We were steadfast.  We were…gay?

After the headiness of the march, I had to look into my heart and also do some serious thinking.  I knew I was attracted to women, but it felt so good and so right to stand up and say that I was attracted to men.  I was affirming myself and we were all affirming each other.  I felt like I was part of one big club.  However, in the end I knew that if I denied my attraction for women, it would be as much of a lie and an injury to me as if I had continued to hide my attraction for men.

I don’t remember that its being cool and hip in the 1980s to be bi, but I don’t remember people being overtly hostile to me about being bi, at least on campus.  I know that I also had bi friends there, if only in behavior.  What I remember is that I kept using the word bisexual and that I had to use it to express my truth.  I had to say “I am bisexual” when it was my turn on the panel.  Once said, the sentence seemed to hang in the air as if a professor had just revealed some new idea to us and the light bulbs needed a little time to warm up.

I’m still glad that I mustered the courage to be on the panel and to call myself bisexual.  It wasn’t all that easy, something that had slipped my mind before I sat down to prepare this, but it was the only way to thoroughly embrace and affirm myself.  I sincerely hope that I set an example for other bisexuals and made their coming out a little easier.

It is now October 11, 2009 and National Coming Out Day is here again.  I encourage you to come out for yourself and for our community.  Every time one of us comes out-especially a bi man-it makes the path a little smoother for another to do the same when it’s time.

You Don’t Look Italian

As the bromide goes-if I had a dime for every time someone said that I didn’t look Italian, I’d be a millionaire.  Admittedly at 6’4” with blue eyes, less-than-olive skin and long, light brown hair, I am not what most people in the United States would imagine an Italian American looks like. However, visit my mother’s hometown of Isola del Liri in Italy’s Lazio Region and you will see plenty of people with my features.

So what does this have to do with being bisexual?  Well every year in October when Italian American History Month rolls around, I  fulminate about how much I want nothing to do with Columbus, how little anyone knows about Sacco and Vanzetti, and how I wish I had other Italian American bisexuals, gay men and lesbians to hang around with.  It’s as if I spend the month in a protracted and wide-ranging intellectual version of hide-and-go-seek.  Come out, come out wherever you are.  Please.

In fact, I see the surface level of parades, nostalgic remembrances of Little Italies, and the struggle to ‘make it’ in the United States.  What I see little of is critical discussion of Italian American history and the state of the community as it is.  In fact, one of the few places I see such is the Italian American studies discussion list, which I have been following for a few years now.  What I see nothing of is a continuing discussion of what it is to be BLGT and Italian American so there are moments when I feel on the margins of margins because of my ethnicity and sexuality.

I have an intense hunger for connecting to other BGLT Italian Americans because of our common culture and history.  As an Italian American, I have maintained a certain attachment to tradition.  One of the things this means is that I value community , although not necessarily in ways my ancestors would have understood.

In my great hunt for other Italian American bisexuals, here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

When I was on the board of the Bisexual Resource Center a few years ago, I asked my confederates if they knew of any other Italian American bisexuals-especially men.  My colleague Sheeri mentioned Tom Limoncelli and I immediately went to his web site.  Well, I’m not the only one, I thought.  Anyone else?

Well, there are two women I can think of: Camille Paglia has been out for quite a while and Lady Gaga seems to have joined the ‘party’ lately.

And that’s where my line of inquiry ends.

I also did a web search for works on BLGT Italian Americans, I found Fuori: Essays by Italian/American Lesbians and Gays,  one of whose authors, Giovanna Capone, suggested I also look at the anthology Hey Paesan! Writing by Lesbians and Gay Men of Italian Descent. Although these insightful and poignant books do not mention bisexuals, they have become indispensible to me as a way to assure myself of the existence of other BLGT Italian Americans.  In short, I’ve grabbed on to what was there.

But that is not enough.  I salute the authors of the above works, although it is clear that more is needed.  This more is part of the reason I do this column.  The Italian American community prefers not to talk about ‘alternative sexuality’ and so, maintaining family solidarity, opts for silent tolerance.  The BLGT community, I have found, seems ill-at-ease in discussing ethnic differences that do not fit neatly into the Black/White/Asian/Native American/Latino rubric.   Not that we are all that comfortable discussing race and ethnicity at all in the United States.  We all have an ethnicity-or ethnicities-and it plays in how we view our sexuality and act it out.

Given all that, here’s what I want to see:

I want more Italian American BLGT folk to come out of the closet, tell their stories and build community.  I want the larger Italian American community to listen with respect to and embrace its BGLT members.  I want the BGLT community to understand and honor the fact that its Italian American members come from a different cultural space.  I also want the BGLT community to have more open and honest discussions about race and ethnicity, as well as religion and class, that lead to more effective representation of the community as a whole.

Bi Candy: Team Edward or Team Jacob? Why not Both? (Video)

If you’ve ran to see the latest installment of Twilight: New Moon Saga, then you know there’s lots of

action and dripping sexy men with their shirts off! There were teens, Twilight moms, cougars and our beloved gays, all lined up to get them some love! The lines have been drawn regarding ‘Team Edward’ fans and ‘Team Jacob,’ but I say, why choose? Seems another group of ladies I happened to sit next t oo also said the same thing. “I like them both!” when I asked the preverbal question “which team.” So in the spirit of our bi candy section—we thought, we’ll just show them all! Also, if you haven’t seen this movie, why not go just for the pure fun a guilty pleasure.

Oh, if anyone’s want to know, I’m team Edward (Robert Pattinson) all the way, but I couldn’t help myself in looking at wolf-man Jacob Black, played by Taylor Lautner. Though, I do like my cougar stance, he’s a bit young even for me—oh well, perhaps I can look when Breaking Dawn rolls around.

This is a bi site, we love Bella too!

 

Solidarity Forever

solidarityThe fight for equality exists on many fronts.  In addition to the struggles of all sexual minorities, the struggle certainly continues for racial, gender, environmental and economic justice, among others.  Since we are at Labor Day in the United States and I come from a very strong union background, I naturally spent a great deal of time of late thinking about being bisexual in the workplace and the connection between being bi and fight for workers’ rights.

Times are tough and we’re all living with the fallout of a 9.7% unemployment rate-16.8% if you’re paying attention to the unofficial figures.  In other words, many people are feeling mighty insecure at the moment.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many resumes come into my email, and in the education sector there are always a great number of people looking for positions, even in the so-called good years.  Consider also that Massachusetts where I live and work was not as badly hit as other states.

From the perspective of many, our economy is in shambles.  The poor seem to be getting poorer, the rich richer, and corporations with as much as they can.  Labor standards are dropping and workers are being asked to give up more and more.

Now, let’s take the present anxiety of the workplace and add to it the anxiety of being BGLT on top of it.  It sounds like a recipe of for a nervous breakdown, doesn’t it?  But wait, you say, what about anti-discrimination laws?  Well, only 21 states, the District of Columbia and some 140 cities and counties have any statutes prohibiting employment discrimination against BLGT folk.  There is also very little at the federal level.  This means that if you’re not heterosexual, your sexuality-and gender expression-can get you fired in most of the country.

Talk about perspective.  I feel very privileged to find myself in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  Neither do I forget that education at the college-level is queer friendly on the whole.  However, not all BGLT people live in the Northeast and not even every BGLT person in the Northeast is a college educator.

I’m sure some of you reading this live and work in areas hard hit economically and/or without workplace protections.  Otherwise if you share my good fortune, can you imagine the terror?  And I use the word deliberately.  We often face enough harassment and violence for our sexuality, but to have our employment threatened for it is too much.  After all, we in the United States derive our identities from our work, and even more basic than that, we derive out very livelihoods from it.  No work can mean no place to sleep and no food to eat.  It’s as simple as that.

So, what can we do?  Well, if you are one of the many pounding the pavement looking for work, I wish you good luck and Godspeed.  The rest of us can get active.  There are plenty of ways to get involved in the fight for labor rights.  There are myriad organizations, but if you’re interested in groups that work for workplace and economic justice from a BGLT perspective, I suggest you take a look at Queers for Economic Justice, based out of New York, Pride at Work, and even Public Services International.

Workers, as is often said, are the backbone of the US.  Labor is what has built and made the nation great.  It’s a cliché, I know, but one I very much agree with.  On this Labor Day, I salute all workers in general and bisexual, lesbian, gay, pansexual, and transsexual workers in particular.  Let the holiday stand a reminder that we need stand up and be counted as part of the march for workers’ rights, which are after all our own.

Celebrate Bisexuality Day

bidayGet into the minds of our columnist, Peter as he shares his thoughts regarding this national day.

Celebrate Bisexuality Day is upon us once more and I’m thinking about what it is we have to celebrate.  OK, that sounded like a heavy dose of bitter with a side order of grumpy, so let me explain.  We seem to have a lot of days, festivals, parades and everything else in our society meant to highlight a certain subgroup, but besides perhaps having a soirée-and I’m all for having a good time-what is the net result of having had the day?  Are we as bisexuals underlining how we’re different from the rest of the pack?  I for one don’t need a day to point that out; I know that 365 days a year.  A little less standing out would be nice, actually.

I also don’t what you to think that I don’t own being a bisexual man.  If that were the case, I would not be writing this column.  Heaven only knows that we need more bisexual voices-especially those of bi men-out there to be heard and understood.  But more to the point, I am neither proud nor ashamed to be bi; I simply am bisexual.

So what’s the point?  What do we need [to] Celebrate Bisexuality Day for?  How about this: a day to contemplate what bisexuals bring to the table and what we offer to the larger society.

First of all, I believe we should be the representatives of the Beatles classic, “All You Need Is Love.”   Whether we happen to be monogamous, polyamorous, alternating, or Kinsey 0-6, we bisexuals represent the capacity to love and engage fully with other human beings in the most intimate and varied ways.  That’s a level of openness you don’t necessarily find.  It is both precious and vulnerable.  It means living honestly, which entails more than a few painful moments.

How many of us have had our hearts broken whether from a mismatch with a potential partner or from the proverbial barking up the wrong tree?  What happens when we find that we have more in common emotionally than romantically with someone else?   On top of this, there are some extra challenges for the bisexual male.  If you’re one of the “regular guys,” folks may not want to believe that you are also attracted to other men.  If you’re a man who’s gender atypical, folks often have a hard time believing you like women.  I have [a] friend, also [named] Peter, whom I like to quote on this subject; “I’m here, I’m queer and I like women too.  Get used to it!”   I couldn’t have put it better myself.

This leads nicely to my second point.  Bisexuality is an invitation to complexity.  There is no coloring in between the lines with bisexuality because there are no lines to color in between.  The world is open to us.  What matters here then is defining an ethical code of our own.  In other words, an invitation to complexity is an imperative to critical thinking and making reasoned choices.  Who can we approach?  Will that person—those people also be interested in us?  Is our attraction physical, emotional and/or intellectual?  How do we eventually come out to this person/these people?

For me being bi means always having to come out in order to be clear and honest.  That’s my ethical choice, one that involves great risk that the other will reject me in terms of a romantic relationship. If the people in our lives don’t know, then we as bisexuals have to come out—because our bisexuality will eventually make manifest.  Bisexuality exists as both potential and realization always, especially if you are monogamous.  Your involvement with a man doesn’t negate your attraction to women and vice versa.  Talk about complexity!

For the record, let me state that I don’t find lesbians, gay men and straight women to be hardhearted dolts.  I am saying that being bisexual is emotionally intense and intellectually demanding, because it requires constant engagement and evaluation as part of the package.  When we bisexuals live up to the challenge, we show healthy models for human relations and that’s what we should be aiming for.

Bisexuals and Monogamy

So here’s the proverbial $64,000 question: What does it mean to be bisexual and in a monogamous relationship?

How do we even approach the question to begin with? It seems rather daunting; after all, I’m not the first one to pose the question. On a random sampling of the web, I found a few people who have been trying to grapple with the question. There was one young woman who attempted to answer the question in a college term paper, to no avail. Then there’s a fellow who said he loved his girlfriend but was chaffing at monogamy. I found yet another posting of by a young man who extolled his girlfriend yet seemed unnerved by his sexual fantasies that included other men. As you follow the links, you’ll notice the postings span seven years. I’m sure I could have found more, especially if I had done some scholarly research.

Before we continue with the question itself, let’s also consider that resources dealing with bisexuality seem always seem to field a question regarding whether bisexuals can be monogamous. Both the Bi Writer’s Association, which I have referenced here before, and The Alliance at Michigan State University discuss the issue.

So what’s going on? What is inherent in the question? What makes people ask it? I propose the following: The mention of bisexuality leads people to assume sexual voraciousness, insatisfaction and instability. After all, we live in a society – though it is by no means the only one – in which sexuality is still tightly controlled. Monogamy is the norm; celibacy is tolerated; polyamory is beyond the pale. Sexuality and reproduction are seen as synonymous to the point that if scientists could figure out a way to have us reproduce sans the pleasure of sexual intercourse, they’d be given the Congressional Gold Medal. There’s no need to wonder why the pornography industry is so lucrative!

Thus even in a heteronormative society, the labels ‘lesbian’ and ‘gay’ can be seen to represent a restriction of choice and some sort of control. There is also an element of concreteness in the designations ‘gay’, ‘lesbian’ and ’straight’. After all, if monogamy is the norm, we are restricted to going out with a member of one sex or the other. Desire, fantasy and expression can all exist in a nice neat package, along a nice straight line. What you see is what you get.

This is not so with bisexuality. There are no discrete entities here and what you see is only the tip of the iceberg. This metaphor is particularly apt since the bulk of an iceberg is below the surface and you can’t know it without diving and exploring. In other words, bisexuality is not simple (see Robyn Ochs as well as others) – well, no sexuality is simple although it may look that way. Bisexuality exists in potentiality. We may be going out with one given person of one particular gender, but our desires and attractions have not stopped. In fact this is true no matter which label we put on our sexuality, no matter how much society would like to believe otherwise.

So if we are in a monogamous relationship, what are we to do? According to Ruth Gibian, there is a tension between recognizing one’s attractions and acting on them. While this is true, the extra challenge for us as bisexuals is not to be pressured into feeling as if we have to choose sides or as if we have chosen sides by being in a monogamous relationship. What happens is that the grip of duality, of either/or, yes/no, 0/1 tries to tighten around us. Or at least it feels that way. We have to do the work of remembering that bisexuality is not a question of us versus them, or us versus them versus them – an even more preposterous thought.

As a bisexual man, I need to remember that my attractions to both men and women bring me closer to all people, not separate me from them. Then if I am in a monogamous relationship, I have made a choice based on the needs of my partner and me, not on society’s requirements. Furthermore, I have to keep in mind that there is a dynamic tension between the outward manifestation of my attractions and what is underneath. In other words, there’s more than what others see on the surface. And that there will be moments when I have to point that out.

Real Men

menEmancipate yourselves from mental slavery; None but ourselves can free our minds. Bob Marley, “Redemption Song”

The sun finally poked its head through on July 4th long enough for us to remember what it’s like to have a summer, and with summer firmly in place my thoughts turned to the joys of summer reading. I always consider summer reading to be a special project, an opportunity to focus on some project or issue that has been on my mind and needs particular attention.

So as I was perusing my bookshelves to see which of the books were calling to me, I was drawn to The Prince of Tides whose 670-plus pages have been waiting for some attention since about 2005. I had finally seen the movie that year and, very much enjoying the other of Pat Conroy’s books I had read, I decided that the novel itself would be worth picking up.

I am so far some 300 pages in and I have not been disappointed. Conroy’s narrative is the very definition of sweeping and I am being reminded of vocabulary that I had considered long lost. The power of the story and the language keeps me turning the pages in rapt attention. I don’t think I’ve cared this much about a character in quite some time.

Wine Cooler Rebellion

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; None but ourselves can free our minds. Bob Marley, “Redemption Song”

Summertime and the living – as the song goes – is easy. The sun is out and Boston no longer feels as if it is veiled. The temperatures have hit the 80s and I feel the vibrancy of the season.

 OK, I confess that unlike most people I know I just love the hot weather, which makes me just want to, uh…. chill out. So, while there is an excitement to the summer, I feel its languor – that pull to do nothing but lay back and relax, go out and party. Anything but work!

 This attitude of mine also translates into wanting to put bisexual activism on the shelf for a while. Oh yes, I’m thinking things like: “Can’t I just take a vacation from all of this for just this month! How about a ceasefire on the biphobia for August?” Well, that’s not going to happen. I can no more put the bi activism on the back burner than the environmental activism; things are just too urgent out there.