And why does it make it so difficult for people to communicate about oppression? I think biphobia and homophobia are very different and this is part of the problem and why bisexual and homosexual people seem constantly at odds. I can't speak for anyone else so I'll speak for myself and invite others to share what they think, either bisexual or homosexual or otherwise queer identified people because I think that there is a lot of mutual misunderstanding, which creates a significant resentment. I'll share my personal feelings around marginalization and discrimination in order to define how I've experienced Biphobia. In this way, I hope people can think about their experiences and see if we can try to better understand each other.
I'm 43. I discovered I was bisexual explicitly in 1985 in a small town in rural America. There were no bisexual role models. Or celebrities I knew were bisexual (maybe Boy George? at the time?) Books I could read (except one book about sexuality in general that my mom gave me, which was very helpful). Or movies I could watch. There was no internet. People constantly referred to wanting to assault or assaulting any man or woman engaging in same sex relationships. There were no gay/straight alliances. There were no student groups. There wasn't anyone out. There was no hotlines. There was no place to go. I wasn't from a large progressive city. I also didn't grow up in the 2000s. I'm not saying it is perfect now or better for everyone but I think a lot of people don't like to recognize how fucking hard it was to grow up Queer in the 80s in the middle of some backwater, extra-religious town.
I say this because I am told two things about my bisexuality: 1. is that I am assuming this identity because its chic and hip. 2. I don't understand real oppression based on my sexuality which isn't true and which is frustrating for me because the level of isolation that I experienced growing up was pretty profound but it is always conflated with people who are younger, more privileged and who had more of a community affiliation. It makes it hard because I'm tired of other people telling me about my own experience of biphobia and constantly minimizing it. I don't need to hang myself on a cross but fuck, it was fucking hard. And I don't need people telling me it was a cake walk.
I lived through the 90s trying to engage in causes with LGB groups (who frankly were also marginalizing Transgender people even more than Bisexual people so the inclusion of the T seemed like bullshit). I was told that my identity was something I grasped onto because I wanted to be hip. It wasn't real or substantial and there were no negative implications for me assuming this identity.
You know, the 2000s allowed for more inclusiveness—at least by then, we weren't openly rejected but I felt more comfortable just organizing with other bisexual people. The few times I actually gave talks around bisexuality at LGB conferences, I was the one person giving a talk involving bisexuality at all usually with a few bisexual people in attendance, grateful for someone willing to talk about the experience. I mean, we were definitely just the side dish. I mean, I should have been grateful just to be included and not asked if bisexual identity or needs could be included elsewhere on the agenda.
But supposedly, I'm not marginalized. I'm constantly told I am not marginalized. I mean, I have felt marginalized about my sexuality my whole life but there are always people stepping up to tell me I'm wrong. So apparently I'm wrong. Because things.
I think part of the reason is that biphobia is different than homophobia—it's less of a binary identity and with that, there is a need to be upfront about how much heterogeneity there are among people who identify as bisexual, especially in terms of experience. So for me, I feel really strongly about protecting the right of people with a variety of experiences to call themselves bisexual because by constraining it, I risk myself not living up to some arbitrary marker where I am allowed to be recognized as being bisexual. I have been told for years that I am a Lesbian by many. Others have told me I'm straight (though not as many). I feel like my history is always used against me to deny me my identity.
I think this last part is why I can be so protective of the idea of a continuum, even though I don't really care how many people want to occupy one end or another. Because fuck, I've fought hard my whole life, mostly against my own internalized biphobia to have this identity and I am tired of it being treated as bullshit and my pain as being minor and unimportant.
Blah. Thanks. /end rant
(pic here from Kate Or Die)