Feminism, Pop-Culture | Posted by Heather A on 09/14/2010

Bi-sibility

Jenny Schecter of the L-Word: bi-sibility...almost

Jenny Schecter of the L-Word: bi-sibility...almost

Usually when I first meet someone I never tell them I am bisexual. It never comes up in conversation. In fact I wait until I know that I can trust someone enough to tell them. I hate secrets because when I was young kept a lot of things from my parents, including my budding bisexuality. When I did tell them all I got was “Can’t you choose? Can’t you just be straight?” It was so typical. Basic biphobia for you.

When I watch T.V. people are either straight or gay: never both. We barely see bi people on T.V. or movies. When they do appear, they do not self-identify as bisexual. They’re just themselves. Meet Jenny Schecter of the L Word. First she is bi, doesn’t self-identify as bi, then she is a totally a lesbian, and calls herself a lesbian.

Yep, we bi people are chameleons. We do the disappearing act on yah. I am with someone who is of the opposite sex, so obviously I look straight, but ah, hah! I am straight until I say that I am not. Viola: bi-sibility! So when I first meet someone I never mention my sexuality for fear of being ostracized or not understood or even because I don’t want to hear “the talk,” which is when a straight/gay person can’t understand a bi person’s feelings for the same/opposite sex. They tell the bi person the reasons for being just straight or gay.

Of course there are a billion stereotypes of the bisexual. They are all sluts, for one. They cheat on their boyfriends with girls. They always have sex with two people. I am not like that at all. In fact, I am completely monogamous. I would never even think about cheating on my boyfriend and an orgy is a very scary prospect for me.

I am looking forward to bringing some more bi-sibility into the world, but it’s hard. This reminds me of a Feministe post about how minorities have to have a good, polite persona while talking to an ignorant person about their sexuality. In a way they have to represent a whole community whilst speaking about their personal life. That is the way I feel when I talk about my own bisexuality.

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  • Hannah @ at 12:03 pm, September 14th, 2010

    The character of Jack Harkness in the TV show Torchwood is a great bisexual character–and he’s a guy, too. He has a fairly monogamous relationship with a man, but there’s this clear sort of “in-love-with-someone-else” difficulty. And that person is a woman.

    He has perhaps the same issue with not self-identifying as bisexual, but in terms of the show it seems that it’s because his sexuality is really broader than that (it’s a science fiction program, and he insinuates that he has or would have sex with an alien). Anyway, if you haven’t checked out that portrayal of bisexuality, it’s probably my favorite.

  • Verity Khat @ at 2:34 pm, September 14th, 2010

    Oh, Jack Harkness. The writers really gave that character so many good lines about plural sexuality. True, he never out and says he’s bisexual, but he does declare that he’s up for sex with “…anything with a post code!” And his response to Tosh and Owen boggling over Gwen kissing a woman–”Oh, you 21st century kids and your quaint little categories.”–will probably always be one of my favorite lines.

  • Heather Aurelia @ at 3:05 pm, September 14th, 2010

    I have never watched Torchwood, before I will definitely check it out! It sounds fun!

  • Zoe @ at 6:27 pm, September 14th, 2010

    I was seeing a boy over the summer who let me know he was bisexual a month into things. It really didn’t affect things, I mean, he was with ME, so why should it? Things didn’t work out in the end but it was a learning experience for me. Bisexuals really do get a hard time not only in the straight community but in the LGBT as well.

  • Kali @ at 10:18 pm, September 14th, 2010

    I love, love, love this.

    Bi-visibility kicks-ass! (God Lord, that was a lot of dashes!)

    I often feel like that, being my bi myself, and I probably bring up my attraction to women a little to often in conversation because I am proud of it and I don’t want to feel like I’m hiding anything.

    And LA LA LA LA JACK ONLY LOVED IANTO.

    That’s how it is in my head.

  • Katherine C. @ at 10:46 pm, September 14th, 2010

    I decided I was bi about a month ago- I fall for a person, not a gender. When I mentioned this to my mom, she responded with, “Well, sweetie, you know not every relationship has to be sexual.” Basically, can’t you just be friends with your girlfriends. It frusterated me so much that I couldn’t think of anything to say. She just doesn’t get it! It’s not like that! I’m not trying to sexualize my friendships. I’m trying to express that gender doesn’t matter to me. Oh, well. I’ll save the speech for when I have an actual girlfriend to explain ;)

  • blakerivers @ at 5:25 am, September 15th, 2010

    Katherine C. really has the right idea here. Something I realized long ago is that love is not about gender, and certainly is not about physiological sex. Love happens between human beings.

    Now, naturally, due to the biological impetus toward genetic proliferation (reproduction) heterosexual attraction has tended to be dominant. Otherwise the species may have died out. But in this day and age, that sort of pragmatism doesn’t need to apply anymore. Although most people probably experience heterosexual attraction by default (and romantic relationships are generally built on attraction) I believe that that same sort of romantic love can happen in a homosexual relationship for almost anyone–it’s just a matter of conditioning and experience. But nearly anyone could do it.

    Basically, as Katherine C. says, humans can fall in love with people regardless of their gender. However, this idea is SO FAR OUTSIDE THE NORM that very few understand it.

  • Heather Aurelia @ at 5:47 am, September 15th, 2010

    I am so glad that my post is helping wondering bi girls and boys like yourselves! Bi-sibilty Unite!

  • Bell @ at 11:40 am, September 15th, 2010

    I read this entry and just thought TORCHWOOD- it looks like I’m a bit late to the party.

    (Although one can’t ever be late for Jack Harkness…)

    But other than Torchwood, the RTD era of Doctor Who in general has succesfully represented the LGBTQ community- lesbian and gay couples are introduced in every other episode along with the usual ensamble of characters every new adventure requires, the Doctor himself has flirted with several men, Shakespeare was outed as bi with no fanfarre- and that’s what I like. People’s sexuality just being part of the word, not the main plot point, just one more thing about them. Usonian TV has a lot to learn still.

  • Bell @ at 11:48 am, September 15th, 2010

    Also, more on Torchwood: the writers call Jack omnisexual- he’s a man from the 51st century, a time where our quaint little categories don’t matter as much anymore. Even the rest of the team has had on screen experimentation with other genders. Jack’s lover Ianto had a very serious relationship with his late girlfriend Lisa, Tosh is in love with Owen but has a lesbian relationship with an alien passing for a beautiful young woman, Owen is up for a threesome with a het couple and Gwen, who has a male partner she later marries, doesn’t terribly mind kissing an alien possesed girl. Part of the point of the show was to portray sexuality differently and more openly.

  • Alex Catgirl @ at 3:16 pm, September 15th, 2010

    First she is bi, doesn’t self-identify as bi, then she is a totally a lesbian, and calls herself a lesbian.

    That’s the way it works. I’ve been bi(as in dating/mating) for 6 years. Very few bisexuals are “50/50″ – meaning attracted to both sexes equally, they have a preference.

    Once you are comfortable with your sexuality and have gotten a fair amount of experience, you’ll figure out what you want and preferences will emerge.

    The difference between bis hereto/homosexuals is that preferences are not absolutes – maybe you will meet someone special, or decide that you previous preferences are not getting you want you want/need, so you’ll try something different.

  • Emily @ at 12:42 am, September 16th, 2010

    Haha, my first thought when you complained about the TV shows was “I’m going to recommend Torchwood”, but then I saw that at least 3 other people had beat me to it =)

    But, yeah. One main character, Jack, is pansexual, and the show’s creator said that the characters were “five bisexual people, one of whom just happens to be in a stable heterosexual relationship”, but I think every character has at least kissed someone/thing of the same gender and someone/thing of the opposite gender. It’s actually pretty good as far as portraying sexuality as all fluid and in shades of grey rather than fixed black-and-white, and none of the characters out-and-out says they’re bi, they just experience and/or act on attraction to both men and women.

    And yes, Doctor Who is also pretty good (in fact, the character of Captain Jack Harkness was invented on Doctor Who, only he became so popular that he got his own spin-off) in terms of sexuality – the guy who produced the first four seasons of the new series is known as being very LGBT-friendly, and the current producer seems big on ignoring gender roles.

    So, as far as TV with actual bisexual people, there you go!

  • Nak @ at 2:14 am, September 16th, 2010

    I’ll probably totally sound like a hick to a lot of you right now and I’m really not a close-minded person at all. But I have to admit, bisexuality is still one of those things I really don’t understand. A lot of you are saying that the rest just “doesn’t get it or don’t want to understand”. I think it’s unfair to say that. When I don’t understand something, trust me, I really want to. I guess I haven’t really heard an argument yet that has made sense to me. Most bisexuals will say that gender is not important and that they fall in love with the person. Although that sounds beautiful in theory (being a feminist I think a gender system is harmful to us) there has to be a sexual attraction. I’m straight, and if I meet this guy who’s amazing and funny and just perfect, I probably won’t say I have a thing for him until I feel a sexual attraction towards him. As a straight person, I’m always looking at guys and thinking whether they are cute or not. If they are, they obviously get my attention. I just can’t imagine a person (who claims to be bi) feeling equally this way about both genders. I do believe in bisexuality, but I think that a person has to be mostly straight/gay with a bisexual tendencies at times. That’s the only kind of bisexuality that I understand. I don’t believe that attraction for the same and opposite sex being equal.

  • Beks @ at 4:19 am, September 16th, 2010

    How about 13 in house? Definitely bi.

  • Heather Aurelia @ at 6:32 am, September 17th, 2010

    The thing is is that these people in T.V. shows are bisexual, but do not consider themselves as bi most of the time. Usually it’s pansexual or omnisexual or lesbian or straight. What I am saying it what happened to the word bisexual and why is it so common not to call yourself/T.V show characters, etc, bisexual?

  • Maggie @ at 7:03 pm, September 17th, 2010

    Hey Nak!

    There’s no problem with asking questions, as long as you remain respectful and sensitive to other people’s feelings.

    I really do have about a 50/50 attraction to men and women. It is possible, and just because you don’t believe in something doesn’t mean it does not happen.

    To respond to what you were saying about your disbelief that people can have sexual attraction to people without noticing gender; I can only speak for myself, but I do notice and pay attention to gender. It just seems pretty insignificant compared to other aspects of a person that makes me interested in them, sexually or otherwise. Sometimes, I do fantasize about sex with one sex more that the other but this is always in a constant state of flux and I feel that if I tally it all up it would come out to 50/50.

    So yeah, I’m not mostly straight and I’m not mostly gay I like men and women equally. I find both genders and sexes to be equally attractive and I’m really sorry you don’t understand (which is okay! It took me about three years to figure it out myself and I’m still working out some kinks!)

  • Melanie @ at 12:30 am, September 22nd, 2010

    This is a tricky topic. I can understand how those who aren’t bisexual would have a hard time understanding bisexuality – as a bisexual person, I find it pretty confusing myself!

  • Jake @ at 4:42 pm, October 7th, 2010

    ..Like a lot of things, you can’t generalize sexuality. People may have complicated preferences (like their preferences to everything else)..

  • Samuel W. @ at 11:50 am, November 6th, 2010

    Bisexuality is a beautiful thing. I don’t know about you, but I think that should be the teenage male’s biggest fantasy, two girls who like eachother get it on and the boy is invited to watch (or participate, even!)

    However, that isn’t the most important thing about its beauty by a long way. There’s something beautiful about every love, be it man & woman, man & man, woman & woman, woman & two men even. I don’t understand why some people don’t understand how other people feel about their subject of affection. It’s really the same world-over for a lot of people, it’s just love all the same.

  • Grey @ at 1:55 am, January 4th, 2011

    I’m bisexual and I never get any crap for it. Of course I haven’t told my parents yet (not planning to any time soon). I think it’s mainly because I go to a progressive high school (magnet art school) where a lot of people are gay and bi. I would tell people I’m bi and they’ll be like “oh that’s cool, now on the homework last night…” XD I love my school.

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