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  • Writer's pictureAndréa Oldereide

Tales of two not-so-basic bisexuals

Tales of two not-so-basic bisexuals


Gab and Dé both identify themselves within the bi-spectrum. What does that mean? It means that we are attracted to more than one gender. Even though we both identify as being queer, it is harder to assert this bi-identity in the outside world whether it is with queer people or within the heteronormative society. We can see that it is difficult to be recognized as queer when our attraction is much more fluid and straight-passing than our lesbian and gay friends. But, we would like to make the argument that bi experiences are a perfect example of how fluid we can be with love. And, how beautiful that fluidity can be used as a tool to deconstruct fixed and rigid categories of sexuality.


However, this doesn’t mean that our identity, even though it comes with the privilege of being “straight-passing”, is not valid. And, that is why we have taken it upon ourselves to discuss this topic because we find that it still needs more visibility and awareness-building.


Before getting to the heart of our personal experiences and the struggle for bi-self-identification, we wanted to provide an overview of what it means to be bi.


Bisexuality is a sexual orientation where individuals can be romantically and/or sexually attracted to more than one gender. It's not limited to attraction to only two genders, and it varies completely from person to person. For example, a person can be attracted to men in 90% of cases, but the rest of the 10% is a fluid attraction. This person is still bi. Bisexual advocate Robyn Ochs’ defines bisexuality as:, “The potential to be attracted — romantically and/or sexually — to people of more than one sex and/or gender, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree.”


Mora and Bean, a bisexual protagonist in Disenchantment

Bisexual people are also a significant part of the queer youth community and still lack enough representation for them to feel validated as valid members of the queer community in general. And, that is what Gab and Dré want to bring to your attention with this article.


It is also important to note that the term "bisexuality" isn't inherently binary, despite its Greek root "bi-" meaning "two." It has historically referred to attraction to more than one gender and is not strictly binary. Language evolves to reflect the diversity of people who use it and it is, therefore, up to us to showcase how fluid sexuality can be.


Pansexuality, on the other hand, is an attraction to people of any gender or regardless of gender. Some may use "bisexual" and "pansexual" interchangeably, while others prefer one term. It's essential to respect individuals' chosen identity labels and not assume or define them for others. The best identity term is the one that resonates for each person.


Anecdotes about some of our first experiences with queerness


Gab:


“When I was about six or seven years old, I witnessed my first representation of queerness in one of the most random movie scenes you could think of, to say the least. I was at home watching the second movie of Bridget Jones and saw that the female character, that Bridget had put up a jealous fit about, wasn’t actually interested in her man, but in her. This was represented in a scene where the character kissed Bridget out of nowhere. It was the first time in my life that I saw two women kiss and that moment remains extremely vividly in my memory up until today. At the moment when they shared that kiss, I remember my mind just coming up with a simple conclusion/realization: “Oh, that works too!”. As you can tell this was a realization I came to before I had experienced and realized how homophobic our society actually is.”

Dré:


In my early teenagehood, I went through a phase where I would verbalize homophobic narratives. At times, I would simply join in on a group conversation fuelled by underlying bullying and peer pressure (that dates from the 2000s!) against queer people. And, sometimes, my own homophobia would emerge completely unprovoked. I had misplaced my fear of being gay and translated that into anger. I would, unfortunately also, sometimes be the loudest at ridiculing the idea of a lesbian. Sometimes I would question why I felt so strongly and uncomfortable about the concept of a queer woman which brought me to the realization that I felt like I needed to build this wall to protect my true self. It didn’t take many years after for me to fully accept that this stemmed from my being queer and being afraid that people would find out. A classic case of being in the closet.

Bi-representation is still extremely rare. It’s definitely something that I missed growing up, which prompted a lot of my anger against the community as a teenager. Lack of representation ultimately leads to feelings of isolation, inadequacy, scaredness, and anxiety.

“Butch it up” to pass


The beautiful thing about the LGBTQ+ community is that it really is a community; one that uplifts you, makes you feel safe, and makes you feel like you belong. Ultimately, the community makes you feel like you don’t have to be alone in your identity crisis, or whatever struggle tied to being queer you may have.

Art inspired from Killing Eve https://pin.it/7c3qeal

So when you feel like you may lose touch with that community, it can leave you feeling isolated again. When you are straight-passing, and you find yourself in an environment where you can recognize or you know there are queer people around you, you can feel like you need to “prove” your queerness, as a form of self-validation to yourself, but also to show that you are “a part of them”.

This has happened to me before, where I was accompanied by my male presenting partner, in the presence of other queer people who don’t know me, and as a straight-passing couple, I feared I may have looked like a threat to them, or that I simply didn’t belong. This has prompted me to feel the need to act more “butch”, more stereotypically queer, the type of traits you would identify with in a lesbian woman.

I would do that because as much as I know we should not judge someone based on appearances, I know that unfortunately, the way someone “looks like” may change one’s perspective. In retrospect, I know that this all stems from my own insecurities and the fear of not being accepted by my community.

The sexualization of bi-women


As women, we are constantly subjected to sexualization, especially under the male gaze. And as queer women, we also become the subject of fetishization from men. As a result, I (Dré) have had experiences where my public display of affection with another woman would become objectified by male passersby. It feels humiliating, and more so, it feels predatory and dangerous. Oftentimes, men fetishize two women involved romantically/sexually, because they assume that their presence would be welcomed in a threesome or that lesbian interaction is only there for men’s erotic entertainment.

Gab:


But more often than not, that threesome is a misogynistic fantasy that hardly reflects the reality of queer women’s desires. It’s as if men struggle to grasp the concept that they are, in fact, not needed. I, for instance, felt continuously objectified for my queerness. It was almost as if the disclosure of my sexuality was the foreplay for the threesome that they were obviously going to have because women disclosed their sexuality just for a man to jump right after at the idea of a threesome. All we do is cater to men’s desires apparently… It was almost as if my sexuality was just another tool to be objectified and not a valid sexuality to embrace and be accepted for.
Detective Rosa Diaz is a prominent bisexual character on Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Fear of not being accepted as queer due to us being “straight-passing”


First things first, being bi is not a phase. There was a situation that happened to a female friend of mine that made me realize that biphobia is still very much present in the queer community and can even be perpetrated by people we look up to. This friend of mine, who identifies as bi, was in a relationship with a woman for several years. Now, however, they are dating a man. They went to this queer event where she interacted with a staple and well-known activist of the queer Algerian diaspora.

This person is very well known in queer SWANA* circles and I even admired them for a very long time. They had a conversation with my friend where they completely dismissed their queerness because instead of showing up with a queer partner, she showed up with a cis-straight man. She was, for this person, no longer queer because she was at the time in a straight relationship.

And, I couldn’t help but think that if my friend who has been in a relationship for years with a woman is being dismissed like that; how would I be treated in the queer community as a person who has never been in a relationship with anyone else except a man? We do have the privilege of presenting as straight, and I am not arguing with that, I very much acknowledge that just as much as I acknowledge being a white-passing Arab woman and the privileges that come with that as well. However, there is no excuse for bi people to be excluded from a community they clearly belong to. We can both accept our privilege and also embrace our queerness. And, nobody should tell you otherwise.


Definition:


*SWANA: South West Asia and North Africa (region)





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