It's BiWeek
September 22, 2015 3:48 PM   Subscribe

 
Yay! Happy Bi Week!
posted by Cookiebastard at 4:38 PM on September 22, 2015


WITNESS ME!

/remains a very rubbish and boring bisexual in a monogamous opposite sex relationship who doesn't really mention it much at all.
posted by Artw at 5:01 PM on September 22, 2015 [62 favorites]


Yeah, Artw, pass me the silver spray-paint when you're done please.
posted by Cookiebastard at 5:04 PM on September 22, 2015 [22 favorites]


Ride eternal, shiny and bi.
posted by stet at 5:08 PM on September 22, 2015 [21 favorites]


Shit, that should have been "Bi eternal, shiny and chrome." Fuck.
posted by stet at 5:16 PM on September 22, 2015 [26 favorites]


Here for the witnessing. And to share this interview with Shiri Eisner about bisexual identity, which is more interesting than its title implies.
posted by Stacey at 5:32 PM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm bisexual, agnostic with strong atheistic tendencies and a fairly hardcore lefty. It's not like I expect the whole world to be the same way, but it often boggles my mind that in 2015 these are all things that are incredibly controversial and unpopular. It's the 21st Century, yet openly bisexual atheist socialist types are largely confined to the very bluest urban centers of the bluest states and venturing beyond the safe zones means to risk an ass-kicking from the Real Americans. Somehow we're still stuck with this culture where bisexuals are confused scary lying liars who don't even exist anyway, presidents have to be good churchgoing Christians and half the nation is besotted with Donald freaking Trump. (Even if they won't ultimately vote for him, they really like what he represents.)

I see the needle finally budging for LGT acceptance, but bi acceptance remains stuck in 1950-something... even among far too many of the Gs, Ls and Ts.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:00 PM on September 22, 2015 [11 favorites]


/waves our boring flag and checks to see if Anything That Moves still has a website, and if it's been updated in the past decade. Yes and no.
posted by Cookiebastard at 6:01 PM on September 22, 2015


I had an odd moment last year... a work friend who'd known me casually for awhile but never met my (male) partner but has heard me talk a lot about my now wife (I'm still besotted, a year later) said something about me being a lesbian.

"Woah, what?"

"Yea, I just assumed you were a lesbian. You know, that wife thing?"

And it was just weird to realize that suddenly folks were reading me as gay, just as jarring as it'd ever been to be read as straight.
posted by joycehealy at 6:04 PM on September 22, 2015 [12 favorites]


*strolls in, boyfriend on one arm, girlfriend on the other* FINALLY NO ONE CAN ARGUE WITH ME THIS YEAR.
posted by a hat out of hell at 6:19 PM on September 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'm here. I'm queer. I've been in a heterosexual marriage for seven years.

...get used to it?
posted by town of cats at 6:19 PM on September 22, 2015 [26 favorites]


I am technically bisexual, but I basically never call myself by that term. Part of it is the 50/50 implications, but mostly it's the ugly, salacious associations attached to it. If you're a woman and you call yourself bi, people immediately think of you as a bubble-headed attention whore who hasn't figured themselves out yet. So I use "queer", which both better encompasses how I am attracted to different genders and has that academic sort of feel that's more likely to make people take you seriously when you express your preferences. Lesbians are less likely to disown you and heterosexual men are less likely to assume you'll make out with other chicks in front of them when drunk.

basically, fuck biphobia
posted by schroedinger at 6:21 PM on September 22, 2015 [27 favorites]


*strolls in, boyfriend on one arm, girlfriend on the other* FINALLY NO ONE CAN ARGUE WITH ME THIS YEAR.

My wife's girlfriend did that for her 20th high school reunion. She took Wife one night, and her husband the next. From what I hear (this was before I came on the scene) the reactions were priceless. :)
posted by joycehealy at 6:24 PM on September 22, 2015 [11 favorites]


oh, hey, I picked the right week to come out to a friend. what good planning on my part.

I'm in a 21-year het relationship and some days I wish I had some ways to be visibly queer.
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 6:44 PM on September 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'm in a 21-year het relationship and some days I wish I had some ways to be visibly queer.

I got the dykey hair cut. works pretty well.
posted by jb at 7:21 PM on September 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm in a 21-year het relationship and some days I wish I had some ways to be visibly queer.

Get some pride bling.
posted by bile and syntax at 7:36 PM on September 22, 2015


I think the organizing committee missed a big opportunity not making this a biannual thing, though.
posted by No-sword at 7:38 PM on September 22, 2015 [16 favorites]


Funny story: I've been bisexual since age 13. A light just suddenly went on on my head and I thought, Wow! Girls and boys and pretty! I was completely happy with this, because why would I imagine I was "different" in some way? Happily, the Catholic Church came along and made the rest of my teenage years miserable. It took me a decade to get over them.
posted by SPrintF at 7:39 PM on September 22, 2015


I am Bi, in a 20 year hetero relationship and my 15 year old son has also started id'ing as Bi. It's been interesting watching him negotiate his identity in a way I never could as a high schooler. I came out in college and my entire family freaked out. Gay people and straight people reviled me. I hope it's easier for him.
posted by Biblio at 7:55 PM on September 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm new to the whole bi thing and I waffle. I'm out to all the important people, and I'm not one for Grand Facebook declarations. But I'm in a long term hetero relationship with a guy, so I have a hard time being read as bi.

That being said, I've been enjoying seeing how queer I can come off before people stop assuming I'm straight.
posted by KernalM at 8:22 PM on September 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I identify as queer rather than bi mostly for political reasons, but hey, if everyone else here is doing it, I'll succumb to the peer pressure and say I'm bi!
posted by gingerbeer at 9:37 PM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm bi, in a 16 year homo relationship. Come to think of it, I bet most people I know think I'm a lesbian. Time to remedy that.

(I too call myself queer most of the time.)
posted by arcticwoman at 9:40 PM on September 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


It is really hard sometimes to identify as bi/queer when in a hetro-normative relationship, especially if you don't move in the kind of circles where sexual identity is not really discussed - heck the circles I currently move in people don't even discuss politics or most social issues (yes, very boring circles since you ask).

But I tell myself I know, my beloved knows, and I do what I can to support those who are actually suffering from bigotry in whatever forms. Currently that is enough for me.
#invisiblequeer
posted by Megami at 10:29 PM on September 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


I meant 'especially if you don't move in the kind of circles where sexual identity is discussed'. Apologies.
posted by Megami at 11:00 PM on September 22, 2015


Bi male here, reporting for unicorn duty.

Went to a queer book sale at Pride, not a single book about folks like me. I swear we do exist.
posted by vasi at 11:01 PM on September 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


Amusingly, I prefer bi to queer for political reasons too. (Don't tell me what the bi- suffix represents, I know what it means to me thank-you very much.)

I have lovely straight and gay friends, but neither group gets why bi visibility matters to us, especially bi men. So sending lots of support to bi men, and bi masculine folx.
posted by Braeburn at 11:07 PM on September 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Another bi lady in a long-term relationship with a guy here. I'm technically out, but few of my meatspace acquaintances know - mainly for fear of the "just trying to get attention" chestnut.
posted by Gordafarin at 1:12 AM on September 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh. Uh. If I'm not invisible this week, I should probably cancel that bank heist, right? *puts swag bag down, whistles innocently, pretends that a domino mask is the new smokey eye*
posted by halcyonday at 1:44 AM on September 23, 2015 [6 favorites]


It is really hard sometimes to identify as bi/queer when in a hetro-normative relationship, especially if you don't move in the kind of circles where sexual identity is discussed

Yep. I identify as either bi or queer, but I find that so many people aren't familiar with the modern usage of queer, and don't understand what it means to be bi. Just casually dropping either of these terms into the conversation inevitably leads to me having to provide a list of my sexual partners in order to "prove" my identity.
posted by imaginary_mary at 1:44 AM on September 23, 2015


Wow, several MeFi users I like to think I kinda sorta know, particularly Artw, who I had know idea were bi. Cool.

So in the spirit of that, since I've never technically been out online (although I've answered honestly to anyone who's asked for many years now, and I'm out to family and friends), MeFi is probably as good a place as any: Yeah, me too, though I also dislike the label itself for various reasons.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 1:59 AM on September 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


Increasingly dissatisfied with the label, but reporting in for the visibility roll call.
posted by NMcCoy at 3:17 AM on September 23, 2015


When my younger sister came out as bi to my parents it was harder for her than it had to be because I hadn't done that myself. (No long-term relationships with women so it never really came up and I didn't particularly want to deal with explaining sexual fluidity to my clueless stepfather until/unless I had a reason to.) I still feel crappy about that so I try to be better about visibility now when the opportunity arises. Whee, roll call!

Although maybe it's good she took that one for the team because if I'd been the one having to explain to him that no, television didn't make me bisexual, I might have laughed too hard to get through the conversation.
posted by Stacey at 3:55 AM on September 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Glad I'm not the only one struggling with labels - I tend to use 'queer' or 'pansexual' in discussions where people have context for the terms, and in discussions where people don't I think tend to give the impression that I'm lesbian. Since I married a woman, 'lesbian' is a nice shorthand for 'non-straight in a same-sex relationship'.

Does anyone have any tips on good, non-awkward ways of inserting your bi-ness into an appropriate conversation? Dropping the opposite pronoun of what people are expecting when you mention exes sort of works, but could make people assume that you dated someone you weren't attracted to because you hadn't discovered your "true" sexuality.

Speaking of which, coming out was interesting - I'd previously been in a nearly decade-long relationship with a dude, so when I told my mom about my new relationship she was so confused. "But you like boys!" Yes, mom, but not just boys. I don't think bisexual was a concept that had really entered her world until then?

And right before my wedding I had two separate aunties (both of whom had met my boy-ex) take me aside and ask me to explain what was going on with the whole into women now thing. I went for the old "I fall in love with individuals regardless of their gender", which I think was a totally new idea to these ladies. But they both gave us their blessings, which was lovely.
posted by harujion at 4:35 AM on September 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


I wish that we, as a community, could move on from "visibility" as our #1 key objective. There are lots of hypervisible groups of people who are much worse off than cis bisexuals in hetero partnerships (who make up the overwhelming bulk of people agitating for visibility).
posted by sea change at 4:51 AM on September 23, 2015


I have a bit of a squeamishness regarding "-sexual" terminology, but I don't think that bi is any less accurate than any of the other post-colonial optimistic and euphemistic labels that I deal with every day. After all, it doesn't particularly bother me that Democrats don't have ideal democracy as a platform, or Republicans have an ideal republic as a platform.

As a historical fact, the word "bisexual" was taken from botany and applied to people like me because many of us were "abnormal" on the gender front as well. The operating theory for over a century was that MSM are feminine, and WSW are masculine. "Bisexual" implied that we were incomplete inverts, compared to queens and dykes who were full inverts.

I wish that we, as a community, could move on from "visibility" as our #1 key objective. There are lots of hypervisible groups of people who are much worse off than cis bisexuals in hetero partnerships (who make up the overwhelming bulk of people agitating for visibility).

One of the reasons why visibility has been a big focus for LGBT groups is because closets kill, and heterosexual relationships kill. The epidemiology of self-harm and relationship abuse is overwhelmingly unambiguous on those points. More LGBT people die from complications related to internalized homophobia than die on the streets in the United States.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 5:05 AM on September 23, 2015 [13 favorites]


As a historical fact, the word "bisexual" was taken from botany

This would explain why all of my relationships have been with bees.
posted by mittens at 5:24 AM on September 23, 2015 [15 favorites]


Oh, is this thead where all the queer people in outwardly cishet-looking relationships are hanging out this week? *pours a cup of coffee and kicks back with my people*
posted by deludingmyself at 5:44 AM on September 23, 2015 [12 favorites]


Present!

I forgot to come out to new people for several years, because I feel like it's so obvious that I'm queer, and realized a while back that most people in my life who hadn't known me very long thought I was straight (married to a man, etc). I did the alternative-lifestyle-haircut thing for a while, found my gender presentation shifting pretty hard to the masculine end of the spectrum, had a not-terribly-private gender identity crisis, and did a lot of work on queer representation at my library, so I think the general public got the picture. But now that I'm feeling less comfortably butch and want to let my hair grow out and maybe wear a skirt on occasion, I feel like I'm about to unintentionally slip back into the closet. It's a hard line to walk.
posted by libraritarian at 5:54 AM on September 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


HRC: Health Disparities Among Bisexual People (PDF link, I've not reviewed it.)
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 6:06 AM on September 23, 2015


Another bisexual person in a long-term monogamous opposite-sex relationship reporting for duty! I also wish there were more ways I could be visible but I don't really talk about my sexual/romantic preferences much at work and I think all my friends know so I'm just sort of here worrying that I am not doing my part to combat bisexual erasure but not sure how to change that.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:21 AM on September 23, 2015 [11 favorites]


I'm not bisexual, but my partner is; we usually have passing privilege when out together*. We don't enter certain types of "capital Q" queer spaces for that reason, but we totally show up to be counted in spaces where non-monosexual people are welcomed and where bisexuals are explicitly acknowledged. He says hi!

*depending on how I'm read; sometimes I'm accurately read as queer, with all the radical/political implications of that label, but can pass for cishet with minimal effort
posted by Ashen at 6:41 AM on September 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


I came in here to post basically the exact text of Mrs. Pterodactyl's comment but since she did me the favor, I'll just say: hi guys!
posted by capricorn at 6:44 AM on September 23, 2015


I guess I do have something else to say: I am also invisibly kind of Abnormal On The Gender Front (new favorite jokingly self-effacing terminology) and wish that I lived in a society where people just generally made a lot fewer assumptions about people's gender/sexuality. I'm lucky in a way because being assumed to be a straight woman doesn't harm me directly, but those kinds of assumptions can be harmful to others, so I want to work toward that ideal society however I can.
posted by capricorn at 6:54 AM on September 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hello I am also bisexual (in a monogamous, long-term relationship with a straight guy)! I just wanted to pop in to say that it's nice to hear everyone's stories. Many are similar to my own, and that's nice to see, because I live in a very conservative small town and I'm pretty much surrounded by straight people in my circle of friends and acquaintances. Tonight I will celebrate with some bourbon and a toast to all of us!
posted by persephone's rant at 6:55 AM on September 23, 2015


You can still be invisibly bi if you're single! I've been um-ing and ah-ing all morning about whether to put something about Bi Visibility Day on Facebook, because I'm kind of out but not entirely out, in the sense that I'd have no qualms about being clear I was in a relationship with anyone of any gender, but it feels a bit odd to go and make a big statement about which kinds of people I might want to sleep with when I've been single for eons. Maybe that's part of being visible though? I definitely id as queer rather than bi, but I feel like bi needs less explanation to people.

My best invisibility story is from when I sang in an LGBT chamber choir for a bit. When I joined, I was in a cohabiting het relationship but had short hair, and nobody asked any questions but I felt really uncomfortable having experienced biphobia in LGBT groups before, and so I was super cagey about my relationship status. My ex and I split, I moved out, I grew my hair out, and only THEN did the mutterings start amongst the sopranos that I might not be quite queer enough to be in the choir. So apparently, it's more queer to have short hair but sleep with men, than have long hair and not sleep with anyone, in case anyone was ranking signifiers!

Actually, thinking about it, it is SO TIRING to never feel welcome in spaces that are nominally meant to include me. I'm actually much more comfortable reminding straight people that other sexualities exist when they speak in generalities that I feel exclude me and those like me than I am trying to have conversations about being bi with people who id as very strongly gay or lesbian.
posted by theseldomseenkid at 6:55 AM on September 23, 2015 [17 favorites]


...There are lots of hypervisible groups of people who are much worse off than cis bisexuals in hetero partnerships (who make up the overwhelming bulk of people agitating for visibility)...

I think bi visibility is important for that very reason. As a cis bi in a hetero 10-year marriage, I would like to help my LGBT comrades. I need guidance though. Do I help by advocating as a faux "Straight Ally?" Or do I whip off the mask at some opportune moment to say "Ha! You thought I was a Straight Ally, but I'm really a super-privileged stealth queer!" Or what? I've periodically "come out" to various groups of friends and colleagues, but without tattooing "I'm a Kinsey Centrist" on my forehead, with this long-term, hopefully lifetime het-marriage commitment I've made my bi-ness seems more a personal-historical anomaly than something I'm living every day, unless you're me, who is living it every day.
posted by Cookiebastard at 7:03 AM on September 23, 2015 [7 favorites]


Outing myself online as bi, have been so for a long time now. Some people know, some don't, it's a tricky situation, the same with my family, but seeing as my dad is fairly homophobic, well, again it's tricky. My cousin is gay and you should hear some of the crass stuff he says about him - fortunately my sisters call him out on it now - hilarious that someone who is politically small-c conservative and unliberal should have 3 liberal kids (and 1 not so liberal).

Agree with many of the bi-erasure comments on here. I have heard gay men in gay bars say there is no such thing as bi, which, when you are 20 and struggling with this, made me pretty angry - I remember thinking how dare you tell me what I am and what I am not.

Single for, as theseldomseenkid said above, aeons, although mostly have had het relationships, so turning up to the family home with a guy would be tricky.

Also thanks to everyone who has posted their testimony in this thread. It is uplifting to know, when you live in a small, provincvial, east-midlands town in England that you are not alone, and that others think and have heard the same things you have thought and heard. Thanks everyone.

On preview: "super-privileged stealth queer!" is my new band name - what a fantastic phrase.
posted by marienbad at 7:10 AM on September 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm coming out as bi in meat/meetspace again after 20-odd years of being in the closet because I can't get the resources to deal with my personal crazy without talking about the anti-gay and anti-bi prejudice and violence I experienced when I was a teen and young adult. Some of that happened behind closet doors with a straight partner.

To me, there's a bit of a generational divide on this issue. When I first came out in 1990s, many of my gay and lesbian elders had been "straight-passing," for some parts of their lives, and very few of them considered the benefits of the closets to be worth the long-term damage. Granted, that was a biased sample because I also met guys who were entirely comfortable with that kind of arrangement, but the idea that the closet and heterosexual relationships are a magic talisman against homophobia or biphobia isn't universally true.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 7:55 AM on September 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Helllooooo fellow bisexuals.

I've noticed recently that even though my partner is a cis het male, I'm seemingly transmitting the sekrit queer signals more successfully, even without overt mentions of ex-girlfriends or other Non-Heterosexual Things. It's definitely a shift that has happened right around age 40. Is it just because I am more confident in my overall identity and give less of a fuck in general? Idk.

When I was younger, and single, though, egads, I couldn't get on women's gaydar to save my life. My prominent rainbow earring didn't work. My haircut didn't work. I was ignored at lesbian bars. I had a really hard time finding romantic and/or sexual relationships with women, and I felt like a failure at being bisexual.

Amusingly, my very short hair was called out as "masculine" by dudebros who would call me a dyke when I spurred their advances, but that's because a) they couldn't imagine any other reason why I didn't acquiesce to their dubious charms and b) they were deeply invested in the idea that women should have long hair in order to be pretty. So, they weren't successfully identifying me as queer, they were just being sexist.
posted by desuetude at 8:10 AM on September 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Maybe it's because I have such a complicated relationship with closets, but I have to say, I'm not even sure what being out as bi would look like. What would visibility entail? It's not as though I skirt the subject much in daily conversation, but rather, it simply doesn't come up. Except that when it does come up, it does so in uncontrollable ways that outness doesn't seem to help.

I believe I told this story a while back, but my latest personal brush with queerphobia was while having some silly pomegranate cosmo drink at a restaurant. A guy had come to the bar with his date, and they discussed what to have. He looked over at my sparkly pink beverage and asked me what it was. I told him, he nodded acknowledgement, then went back to discussing choices with his date...then pointed out my drink and said it was gay. Which, I mean, I guess was a slur against my drink rather than against me personally, and he then went on to force the bartender to give him endless samples of beer so he could test which had the correct percentage of hoppiness, which to me seems way more perverse, and I hope his date used that as part of her decision on whether to keep seeing him, but anyway, I was stunned by it, because apparently I've unconsciously (?) re-closeted myself over the years, and it had been a long time since I'd been publicly called a faggot or laughed at for girliness or anything. Would it have been better to say something to him, to out myself publicly? "Sir, you are mistaken: my drink, much like myself, is designed for consumption by any gender."

Or maybe I'm just so focused on the violence that lurks out there for people who come out, that I'm missing something positive that could happen from it? If you're out as bi, what are you doing differently, what are you feeling differently, than when you weren't out?
posted by mittens at 9:02 AM on September 23, 2015 [18 favorites]


I've been identifying as bi since high school. I had one lesbian partner try to tell me I didn't actually like guys and that I should call myself a lesbian. That relationship was not as short-lived then as it would be now if I heard that kind of crap.

But like many above, I use queer nowadays. For me, I think it comes from being trans and being attracted to/involved with some trans and gender nonconforming people (some of whom would be upset by the binary perception of the word bisexual (I don't use queer just to make them happy; just wanted to mention that that view is out there)).
posted by carrioncomfort at 9:10 AM on September 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Sir, you are mistaken: my drink, much like myself, is designed for consumption by any gender."

I get why you didn't say it in the moment, but man, that's such an awesome response. If I'd been sitting with you at that bar and you'd responded that way, I would have fallen all over myself laughing at that douche.
posted by sciatrix at 9:24 AM on September 23, 2015 [11 favorites]


Super-Privileged Stealth Queer, reporting for duty. I have a lot of really complicated feelings about that, but I do see the value in coming out sheerly for the "surprise! you DO know a queer person!" effect.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:50 AM on September 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


It's nice to see some many other people in the same situation as myself, being bi in a hetero relationship for so many years. I guess I actually came out to my wife just a couple months ago as she had apparently assumed I was joking over the last ten years of our relationship.
posted by Naib at 10:21 AM on September 23, 2015


Invisibly bi/Super-Privileged Stealth Queer cis single woman here. theseldomscenekid accurately summed up my situation thusly:

I'm kind of out but not entirely out, in the sense that I'd have no qualms about being clear I was in a relationship with anyone of any gender, but it feels a bit odd to go and make a big statement about which kinds of people I might want to sleep with when I've been single for eons.

posted by virago at 10:37 AM on September 23, 2015


Life, for me, involves too much selective editing and too many compartments right now. It's not that I want to talk about being bi 24/7, but I'm consciously editing around things when I engage in water-cooler conversations about Orphan Black, or what my lunch reading is about, or why I'm moved by a hundred year-old article. I can talk with my niece with the conservative parents about Dr. Who, as long as we don't talk about Clara, Mrs. Silvestre, Missy's ambiguity, and not Jack Harkness at all. I can talk about my weekend or my afternoon as long as I don't mention working a booth at Pride day. Although I'm ridiculously easy to dox, I don't mention my blog or what I'm doing with it this week.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 10:38 AM on September 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm a white cis bisexual man in my 30s. I came out a couple years ago. This isn't an experience I see talked about very often so I want to share my own experiences and thoughts here. Please be kind. I hope you will appreciate my honesty and can forgive me if I say something that upsets you. I don't want to upset anyone.

I grew up in an American suburb. When I was a kid I thought I was straight. My family wasn't viciously homophobic in the way that defines parts of the American far-right today, but homosexuality was not referred to positively. I expressed homophobic opinions in school in public. I'm sorry for that.

I had exclusively hetero crushes. On the other hand my relationship history was definitely atypical, long story short I had a Girlfriend in Canada situation going on for years, except she was actually real. It didn't work out.

Then some time went by with almost no dating at all until I met a woman online. Due to her very difficult home life we didn't date in the conventional sense, but we ended up getting married.

Our sex life was challenging. I felt emasculated and she felt unloved. Our marriage was unhappy in other ways too. After a while I started to fantasize about having sex with men, particularly about being forced. I think it felt less like cheating than when I fantasized about other women. Not in a million years could I have told my wife though, especially with the ongoing problems in our marriage and our sex life.

We got divorced and I went into a sort of tailspin for years. I didn't have many friends, my now-ex had been my main social outlet and I was gutted when it was over. During this time I picked up some nasty "men's rights" attitudes toward women.

After several painful years my life leveled out, meaning I was sort of stable though not happy. I started learning properly about sexism as an outgrowth of my egalitarian left-wing politics. Metafilter has been an absolutely outstanding resource on that journey. I consider myself a feminist today.

I was struggling with depression. I had very conflicted and unhealthy attitudes toward women. In public I looked exclusively at women and felt passively rejected by them. In private I fantasized sexually almost exclusively about men. I had no emotional baggage with men so I didn't have to confront feelings of rejection. I still compartmentalized these fantasies and thought of myself as straight.

During this time I didn't talk to family, still had few friends, and other than some OKCupid first meetings with women, had no dates.

Finally a couple years ago I admitted to myself that I'm bisexual. This sounds really strange but my libido absolutely, though only temporarily, exploded when I realized that I could theoretically make my fantasies a reality. I've came out to a small number of people -- the very, very few people I both know well and talk to about personal things. I don't hide it when asked, but no one asks, so.

Since then I have continued my streak of not dating at all, with the exception of one strange, short-term hetero relationship I stumbled onto with no effort on my part. It reaffirmed that I can in fact find the female physical form and a feminine mind extremely satisfying. I'm really really hoping that my next relationship is with a man though -- I love women but after 30-some years, I'm ready.

That's my history. Now on to some current mindfucks I'm dealing with.

With women, I tend to be (consensually) aggressive and dominant. This is super hot for me. When I think about men, I tend to think of myself as physically submissive, though occasionally emotionally dominant ("power bottom"). This is also super hot. I have no idea what this means.

I think all women can be beautiful but there is definitely a physical type that draws my eye. I don't have anything consistently like this (yet) for men. Most men dress like scrubs because the media focuses almost exclusively on training women to look good and to have low standards. I read a thing a while ago where a bunch of men and women were in a room at a party or something. Someone asked the men privately which women they found attractive and the men instantly ranked all the women present. They then asked the women privately the same question and the women replied they didn't find any of the men attractive. I totally understand how this works now.

I tend to make friends with women slightly more than with men. For a romantic partner does this mean I should look for a feminine (male or female) person, or do I really want but am secretly scared by masculine (male) ones? I'm pretty sure I'm not interested in masculine-female people romantically.

I don't know and may never know how many of my lifelong difficulties making friends and connecting with people are due to subconscious struggles with being bi. Maybe being bi isn't responsible at all.

How do I actually find that first guy? I want someone who will be patient with me during what will probably be a really emotional experience for me. I want someone I can trust and talk to but whose heart won't be broken if I move on. I want someone who doesn't think of bi people negatively and who doesn't have fucked up opinions about men-having-sex-with-men.

I'm a monogamous sort of person and want to end up with just one person. But men and women for me are like cake and ice cream. At some point choosing my favorite of one means I'll never get to have any of the other. So I both look forward to and dread a real relationship.

Given that I like feminine minds and male bodies, I'm more than curious about being in a relationship with a non-op trans woman. However of course there is a gigantic problem with trans people being fetishized that is extremely demeaning and harmful to an already embattled community. I don't want to contribute to that or to start a relationship off on that foot. But on the other hand, for such a woman, wouldn't she want a person who loves them for who they are and not in spite of it?

There is almost no info out there that I know of for men like me. Most stuff about bisexuality is about convincing non-bi people that bisexual people exist. Other than that the discussion is usually about bi women. Discussions about coming out are usually for younger people, who can be in very vulnerable situations so I totally understand the need for that. It is still frustrating.

It is amazing how far the LGBT community has come in such a short amount of time. I'm ashamed that I have been, at best, a passive recipient of these gains, and at worst an impediment.

I'm frustrated at the navel gazing around terminology. I get why pansexual is considered by some to be more appropriate but in the wider world it sounds like some hippy nonsense. Even Portlandia makes fun of this discussion. Most people don't even believe in bisexuality and that word has been in the public eye for many years. Let's convince people it's possible for one person to love both men and women and then we can go from there.

I feel very strongly about biphobia and bi-erasure. I hope my story fights back by illustrating one man's story and challenges.

Please MeMail if you want to talk. I could use some more friends, especially queer friends.

Thank you for reading this.

And, yes, I am in therapy.
posted by yes i am a bisexual man at 10:43 AM on September 23, 2015 [19 favorites]


Seriously, yes i am a bisexual man, thank you for sharing that.
posted by Cookiebastard at 11:38 AM on September 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


But now that I'm feeling less comfortably butch and want to let my hair grow out and maybe wear a skirt on occasion, I feel like I'm about to unintentionally slip back into the closet.

Sing it. I took a hard swing masculine for a couple years, and I've been swinging more femme lately, and it's like, wait, what am I doing? But it's okay to want to wear dresses and it's okay to show that hey, a chick who likes chicks can look like this too (and rock the hairy legs with the dresses sometimes, or not), and it's not like anyone can miss the 800 pictures of my wife in my office.

And I know you (both OP and general you know that), but it's tiring, knowing what people may assume from my presentation (I knew she was just kidding about that genderfluid thing, she's been wearing skirts for a month), and nice to have a space to babble about it in.
posted by joycehealy at 11:43 AM on September 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


Hey, my peeps! Invisibility was never the super-power I'd actually choose, partially from having seen the ways it can hurt with bi-invisibility. I'm part of the problem, but with the whole cis-het thing I often feel like I'll be judged for anything more than showing up at Pride and being an ally for my friends in L, G, & T relationships. Nice to see you all here, visibly yourselves.
posted by ldthomps at 2:49 PM on September 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Lots of videos worth watching, this one popped out:

Queer as Cat on being biromantic and panromantic
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 4:16 PM on September 23, 2015


Put me down as another guy who took waaayy too long to figure out he was bi and not actually straight. Liking androgynous male characters in stories? Naw must be straight. Wanting a cute guy in high school to cuddle me. Totally straight. Having Opinions on shirtless Sulu being hotter than shirtless captain Kirk. Nope, straight. Picking a 50/50 gender split of characters in a video game based on how sexy their thighs were. Definitely straight. Reading an article about how someone figured out they were bi because they were looking at naked guys as well as naked girls, and totally identifying with doing that. Ha! Still totally straight.

Ugh... It's scary how wilfully clueless some part of me made me be, without me even knowing. It's not even like my family is anything but liberal and tolerant, either. When I came out to my mom it was in the middle of the night crying over some boy and she picked me up in the morning and cooked me breakfast and talked things through and was just so... I see these stories of people's parents being jerks about it, or even not understanding, or slightly disapproving, and I feel so lucky to have the family I do, so privileged.

And I feel a little guilty, too. I doubt I read as anything but another straight guy, and I don't really talk about sex and sexuality that much. I still talk about dates with guys and such when I have them, but... it's not like it comes up that much. And sex of any sort is not my favorite subject to randomly broach. So I don't really know that I help very much with being visible.
posted by Zalzidrax at 4:47 PM on September 23, 2015 [6 favorites]


I feel ya, Zalzidrax. Liberal town, more liberal family, all my closest high school friends ended up queer sans one, and it still took me until my late 20s to work out that yes, this really was a real attraction that I wanted to act on.

I came out on Facebook a few years back on National Coming Out Day. Didn't call anyone first. No one's directly asked me many questions about it, which surprised me considering that I've spent 90%+ of my time as a legal adult dating men or married to one. I don't particularly care what conclusions people draw about that, but being in the closet was starting to feel increasingly weird as I began shifting more queer of center in politics, identity, and self presentation.
posted by deludingmyself at 4:58 PM on September 23, 2015


I am not entirely sure whether I should represent or not. I know what the rest of you will say, which is why I am posting. Much to my amusement, I've come to think the opposite of what I did in my bi-activist days, when I sneered at people who eschewed labels, preferring to think of themselves as beyond them or above them or just not adequately described by them. In my judgemental 20s, that seemed like a cop-out to me, a way to let bi-invisibility triumph. Even if the label's not quite good enough, it's near enough, right?

I've been the bi woman in an apparently heterosexual relationship. I've been the bi woman falling madly in love with another woman. And yet, after rejecting the bi label and about 8 years of trying various uncomfortable labels on (lesbian? bi-dyke? woman-oriented? queer?) now I'm in a relationship with a person who was assigned female at birth and identifies as male so what does that make me? I'm reminded all over again of when I discovered sapiosexuality, falling in love with what's between someone's ears rather than their genitalia, and that in turn reminds me of many of you above saying that the person matters more than their gender, or their sex. I don't know what to call myself except my name, because none of the labels fits - well, except queer, which I have always had a predilection towards. And to me, it doesn't really matter so much. I am burbling happily about my beloved to anyone who will stay still long enough to listen, what difference does my label make?

But I do understand how labels can be useful, can give you tools to explore aspects of self and others, to navigate the ever-changing landscape of sexuality and desire. Helping people understand each other quickly without going into a half-hour discursion about identity, relationship history and desire is also just plain practical.

So I will represent as a definitely queer, sometime bisexual, and digress off into the interestingly complicated variations on sexuality and identity with anyone else who wants to. Happy Bi Week!
posted by Athanassiel at 5:23 PM on September 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


I knew I was bi from a fairly young age, but never really came out until my 20s.

A lot of that wait was in response to the difficulties I faced as a preteen with alternative gender presentation. I got such grief over the years that when puberty hit, I just went along with my body and started presenting as cis. During that period, I found it a lot easier (and just as enjoyable) to get attention from boys, and had almost exclusively het relationships through to my marriage. Playing the part of a het person made it easier to separate myself from the queer little kid I'd been, and develop an outward sexual and gender identity that wasn't questioned by others. It was a coping mechanism, but I'm sure I missed a lot of opportunities over the years and really ended up extending the angst longer than truly necessary.

These days I just wish I'd done things differently and been truer to myself. But even in a relatively liberal and supportive setting, I just found life too hard being identifiably "other" as a young person. Who doesn't? But it really did get better.

Invisibility, I think, is a privilege for me. As much as I'd like to get a word in edge-wise about the Queer Experience, I'm ok with others taking the reigns.

I'm here. I'm queer. I've been in a heterosexual marriage for seven years.

...get used to it?
qft
posted by Violet Femme at 5:45 PM on September 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm here. I'm queer. I've been in a heterosexual marriage for seven years.

...get used to it?


10 years for me. Just as queer as the day I was born - actually, maybe a bit queerer as I age (turns out these things can be fluid, didn't know that).
posted by jb at 9:03 PM on September 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


*dr nick voice* hi everybody!
posted by ellieBOA at 9:59 PM on September 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


jb, me too. Not just your run-of-the-mill shifting as the years pass - in particular, the hormone firehoses of pregnancy, nursing, and weaning each threw my sexuality for a loop in a way NOBODY warned me might happen.

Sooo if you happen to be a queer woman thinking about getting pregnant just be forewarned that you may be in for an extra-special roller coaster that nobody else in your mommy and me classes will be at all well equipped to understand.
posted by town of cats at 10:02 PM on September 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


I never realized I was bi so much as came to the astonishing revelation that everyone else wasn't bi - when I was a kid, I sort of just assumed that everyone was attracted to both genders but all of society just silently agreed to acknowledge only their heterosexual attractions. And if that sounds really absurd or implausible as a belief...well, if you think about it most unspoken cultural rules and norms make absolutely no logical sense anyway, especially around gender - like why female nipples are obscene but male ones aren't, and everyone just tacitly acknowledges this rule without having to back it up with a rationale, or even having to acknowledge that there needs to be a rationale. It just is because it is.

So for me, it was not so much a self-discovery process as it was a bafflement and wonder about everyone else and how they somehow could not be attracted to a full half of the human race, like there was a switch inside them that could just turn on or off with the precision of a guided missile. And I think that might be one of the reasons why bi visibility is so hard to achieve - because its "proof" is never confirmed by who you sleep with. In that sense, it's not really a sexual orientation, because there's nothing to be oriented *against* - when everything is a target, nothing is a target. And that scares and confuses people when we are so invested in believing in a strict ontological separation between men and women and between gay/lesbian and straight people.

And weirdly, this belief in intrinsic difference has actually helped foster a tolerance (but, crucially, not acceptance) of gays and lesbians because straight people can reassure themselves that gays/lesbians are a different category of human than themselves, even on the level of genetic makeup (hence the harping on the "gay" gene as the key to acceptance). But it's a conditional, grudging kind of tolerance, in the same way that people will let things slide when a foreigner makes a cultural transgression but not when one of their "own" does something wrong. Bisexuality screws with this moral compartmentalization because it says, "no, actually, I'm the same person down to my very core when I'm with a man as when I'm with a woman. I'm one of you, but I'm actually not." So anyway, bi visibility matters, and it matters not only to bi people, but to everyone for these reasons.
posted by adso at 11:35 PM on September 23, 2015 [8 favorites]


yes i am a bisexual man: "With women, I tend to be (consensually) aggressive and dominant. This is super hot for me. When I think about men, I tend to think of myself as physically submissive, though occasionally emotionally dominant ("power bottom"). This is also super hot. I have no idea what this means."

I don't know what it means either, but with the possible exception of the power bottom part, this combination is in my experience very common in bisexual men, myself included. When bisexual guys are into kink/BDSM related stuff at all, in at least 90% of cases I've seen, this is how it's configured.

So, yay, you're normal, I guess? Whatever that means. Normal is overrated.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:29 AM on September 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


this combination is in my experience very common in bisexual men

Good god, yet another thing I've gotten wrong? I've really got to get out of the whole man business, I'm no good at it.

(Although, if 90% of bi guys are physically submissive, that must make an awful lot of work for the remaining 10%.)
posted by mittens at 5:52 AM on September 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


*raises hand* Present! Also in a heterosexual marriage. Most of my serious relationships have been with men, but I am overall more attracted to women; I've been known to jokingly define my sexuality as lesbian+my husband. I was attracted to women long before I was attracted to men, and took a lot of shit for it in middle and high school.
posted by skycrashesdown at 6:18 AM on September 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


skycrashesdown: I've been known to jokingly define my sexuality as lesbian+my husband.

This! My partner recently mentioned that he thought I was more attracted to women than I am to men. I hadn't really thought about it until then and did a mental check and realized that I don't remember the last time I had a crush on a man. Except for the crush I had on him for ages before we actually fell in love. My response was somewhere along the lines of "yes, probably I prefer women, and you." It was sort of an eye opening moment for me.
posted by persephone's rant at 6:30 AM on September 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have the double invisibility of some others in here: not straight and not a man, but I sure look like both of those from the outside. I'd like to be a little more out about my sexuality. I think it'd do some good among my co-workers, break them out of their assumptions a little, but it really doesn't come up. Outside of work, my friends generally aren't stuck in the same kind of assumptions and/or know already.

One of the interesting things to me is the groups that bisexuality is overrepresented in. CBrachyrhynchos mentioned being abnormal on the gender front, which is definitely one. Kink's been mentioned, there's also a definite overrepresentation of bisexuals in poly circles as well. It's where you get things like the "Bi Poly Kinky Pagan Gamer Geeks" livejournal group, which ends up being less niche than you'd maybe expect. There's a healthy overlap in those venn diagrams.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 7:42 AM on September 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


I sort of just assumed that everyone was attracted to both genders but all of society just silently agreed to acknowledge only their heterosexual attractions.

This! I finally came out to myself (in my twenties; I can be pretty dense) when I heard a friend talking about being straight. Wow, that's picky, I thought. Hey, waaaaaitaminute.
posted by zeptoweasel at 7:46 AM on September 24, 2015 [6 favorites]


I didn't realize I was bisexual until my early 20's. Hearing the way people talked about being attracted to men or women, I didn't really feel the same way so I assumed I must be asexual. It wasn't until after I had some experience with relationships that I realized I just liked everybody.

Also +1 to the bi/kinky/geeky section of the venn diagram.
posted by Peccable at 8:03 AM on September 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was 20. I'd been raised incredibly sheltered and barely knew gay people existed, much less any other form of sexual preference other than heterosexuality. Once I understood that bisexuality existed and was a legitimate okay thing to be, my entire life made sense.

Which is one of my own answers as to why I bother being out at all when I pass for hetero. Part of it's purely selfish, the desire to be seen and known and accepted as part of the queer community. But part of is the desire to just normalize the shit out of all orientations. I don't want other teenage girls growing up in ignorance of part of their identity. I want them to see themselves reflected in the world around them, and maybe some of that happens by their straight parents becoming aware that Bisexuals Walk Among Us and are kind of cool people.
posted by Stacey at 8:49 AM on September 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


Reading everyone's personal stories has given me strength. I've never admitted it to my parents. It doesn't help that sometimes they make homophobic remarks. I'm sure my mum knew about my attraction to other girls when I was in school, but I think she was hoping it was just a phase (and was glad when I married a man).

It's infinitely easier to hide behind the heterosexual facade, but I have to be the change I want to see in the world. My parents are coming to visit me this November. Perhaps 2015 will be the year I come out to them, and to the rest of the world.

I struggled with posting this comment for hours. With this comment, I'm sort of outing myself. But, as has been mentioned many times upthread, visibility matters, and closets kill. I'm hitting "Post" now before I lose my nerve.
posted by cynical pinnacle at 4:07 PM on September 24, 2015 [12 favorites]


I've never heard a bisexual self-discovery story quite like mine.

Growing up I presented as very male indeed (I was an angry heavy metal boy) and I was pretty much exclusively attracted to women. Like, maybe every two years I'd have a look at the guy section of the Frederick's catalog and I'd get a little tingly about all those bulges, but I never had crushes on guys or anything. I'd heard that everybody occasionally has gay thoughts, so I didn't worry about it much. It definitely didn't feel like I was repressing anything.

Flash forward to my 20s, when I came out as trans to myself and the world after a lifetime of painful denial. Coming out had an unexpected and kind of alarming side effect: suddenly I liked muscles and dick a lot, and not in a very occasional fantasy way. They say nobody "turns gay" overnight, but that was sure how it felt. I considered myself lefty and progressive and all that, but it was still really confusing and scary. Imaging not being into muscles and dick, and then one day in your 20s, boom, you like muscles and dick!

I still wasn't attracted to men as individuals, it was purely physical and the attraction was pretty much only from the neck down. It took me a while to figure out that I am much more strongly attracted to women and I'm pretty much exclusively attracted to women in terms of what I'd seek in a partner, and my craving for manflesh is purely on the level of liking muscles and dick. I seem to max out at about 20% gay. (I'm trans but living unhappily as a male most of the time, so there is the question of what the heck is even gay or straight with somebody like me. My own gender is such a mess, maybe I'm gay for being with my girlfriend or maybe it'd be gay if I hooked up with a dude. I don't know!)

I call myself bi because if I say I'm queer I think most people assume that means I'm gay. I'm not. I'm attracted to women and men. I could sit down and carefully explain the details and ambiguities of my sexuality to them, or I could just say I'm bi and save a lot of fuss.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:42 PM on September 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


One more Super-Privileged Stealth Queer (white cis guy with a gold-star het relationship history, now in a hopefully lifelong opposite-sex partnership) reporting in. I'd sort-of known for a long time, but didn't learn to stop worrying and love the bomb until a really cool astrophysicist posted this on Twitter and I thought "Oh! This isn't nearly as big a deal as I've been making it out to be in my head!" Which was a pretty effective demonstration of just how much visibility matters.
posted by Sean Probst at 6:12 PM on September 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


I question the blanket use of the word "privilege" to describe people who are bi but not out. Yes, if you look at almost anybody in a certain light, they have all kinds of privileges that somebody else doesn't have. But being bi in America ain't like winning the lottery. If you are bi but not out, you are in the closet. Being in the closet is fun if you're in there putting together a fabulous outfit, but otherwise it's pretty much the shits.

I wish there was some other freaking word for privilege, because people sure do love to call privilege on each other and it's really loaded and awful and makes huge assumptions about large groups of people. There needs to be a better word that basically says, "Being part of this particular group, while having many potential downsides, also tends to have certain strong advantages, advantages which those who are part of this particularly group may never have considered."

I suggest grumm. Being stealth bi in America is very grumm.

(I'm not trying to throw a pity party for bi people here. As I said above, I didn't even know I was bi until I was in my twenties, so it's not like I grew up with a lot of self-loathing over liking dick. On the other hand, how badly did growing up in America mess me up, that I repressed liking dick so much that I had to come out as trans, fill my closet with sparkly dresses and basically smash my masculinity into splinters before I stopped and went, "Oh, crap. And I guess I like dick too!")
posted by Ursula Hitler at 7:48 PM on September 24, 2015 [8 favorites]


I love the Super-Priviledged Stealth Queer terminology, myself, even though it is kind of... grumm? And I'm really appreciating reading everyone else's personal anecdotes of grappling with coming out when under the cover of presumed-cis[and/or]hetness. TBH, I've really beaten myself up from time to time over the past few years over whether my desire to out myself was really for political and ethical reasons, or even justifiably self-expression based, or (when I'm feeling really shitty) purely selfish because I'm in an (occasionally) open marriage.

Reading through the twitter hashtags for #biweek didn't help much - lots of myth-dispelling of bisexuality =/= wired for nonmonogamy. Which is great: those things aren't the same! At all! But for me, there's plenty of joyful overlap, and if there weren't, I probably wouldn't have fully discovered my sexuality. So sometimes reading this kind of activism makes me feel weird and sidelined and uncomfortably... off message in a way that I guess is similar to how a happily single, dating-many-people gay person might have felt during the push for legalizing gay marriage.

Anyway. Like I said upthread, I came out as bi a few years ago, but in some ways coming out as bi without coming out as nonmonogamous felt kind of more like lying than being in the closet did. Maybe because I waited to be 100% sure that I actually enjoyed having sex with women before feeling comfortably saying I was bi? Sigh. Logically I know bisexuality and monogamy are totally decoupled, but I just feel like people - queer or straight - who I out myself to judge me as either a) meaninglessly, nominally queer since I've never dated a woman or b) totally thinking about slutting it up all the time.

And I only think about slutting it up like 1 day in 12, you guys.
posted by deludingmyself at 8:12 PM on September 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hey, cynical pinnacle, I see some of your story in mine. I'm male, and I've known I was bi (although I prefer queer) since college, and have had occasional same-sex relationships since then, but I was in an effectively-married but open heterosexual relationship from the age of 19 until pretty recently. A few years after that ended I started dating a guy, and finally had to come out to my parents in my late 30s. It went amazingly well, which is what I'd hoped for and mostly expected - they might not understand it, but they're kind, and they want me to be happy, and that's what really matters in the end. A couple of weeks ago they met my boyfriend for the first time, and everything went amazingly well again. I guess what I'm trying to say is, you're not alone, and it's never too late, and sometimes coming out isn't the terrible fraught experience it's made out to be, even late in life or with older relatives.
posted by hackwolf at 12:13 AM on September 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


The heteronormative ideal of a relationship being a man and a woman where each has a defined social and sexual role is super powerful in society. Mainstream acceptance of gay people has been facilitated by working within this ideal. Take a person and assume that for reasons beyond their control, genetic or whatever, they are monosexual toward their own sex instead of the opposite. Then assume that these groups of same-sex monosexuals will replicate standard male/female dynamics within their own relationships, meaning one fulfills the masculine role and the other the feminine. This is all completely non-threatening to heteronormativity and in fact, if a person's monosexual orientation is beyond their control, acceptance (perhaps mixed with pity) is the obviously moral thing to do. The system continues.

Caitlin Jenner-type trans people also don't threaten the ideal. A person who lives life as one gender who then cleanly switches over to the other gender -- cleanly as far as the public is concerned, I don't mean their personal, private struggle -- is just moving from one place in the system to another. In fact the evolving view of trans people is that they always were their chosen gender and because of circumstances beyond their control, genetic or whatever, they were misassigned at birth. Acceptance (perhaps mixed with pity) is the obviously moral thing to do. The system continues.

Bi/pansexual people and non-binary/genderfluid people however do challenge the system. Their existence shows that who we love, who we are and the roles we play in our personal relationships can be a matter of personal choice, not just choice within the heteronormative system but also outside of it, and that choices once made can be changed again and again.

What is being threatened? Patriarchy depends on heteronormativity. If gender and love is a matter of personal choice then heteronormativity weakens and so does patriarchy. Patriarchy is everywhere and a lot of people have something invested in it so weakening patriarchy is super scary to a lot of people. Furthermore, monosexual gay and gender-conforming trans people -- who really should be allies here -- feel that their tenuous mainstream acceptance depends on working within the heteronormative structure, and bi and genderfluid people are at best an embarrassment and at worst dangerous to their own newfound security.

Just so I'm clear, I understand #NotAllMonosexualGayPeople etc, and I don't mean that I personally as a cis bi man am being oppressed by trans people. That's ridiculous. I'm just trying to explain what I think underlies some of the resistance bi and genderfluid people get from both straight and gay people and why acceptance of bi and genderfluid people lags behind.
posted by yes i am a bisexual man at 9:30 AM on September 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


Ursula Hitler: I really like your self-discovery story, thank you for sharing. My story is earlier in the thread but like you I had a period where I was apparently straight, then a period of secret fantasy, then a "boom" moment when I came out. Our experiences seem to challenge the current prevailing idea that sexuality is something we're born with. Implying that sexuality is fluid can be a threat to both straight and gay people for the reasons I described in my previous post, so it makes sense that it's not a story told very often.

I completely understand what you mean about not being attracted to men as individuals. During my secret fantasy period, I thought of men as essentially "muscles and dick". When I came out to myself it meant two things, one, that I began to think of myself as bi and would refer to myself that way in public if it ever came up, and two, that I would need to start doing the work of learning to think of men as potential romantic partners. But as you can see in the recent posts on emotional labor and male suicide, the male gender is defined in part by being shit at relationships, and I'm including myself here as a man. Men-as-people can be good partners if they put in the work, but the male gender is definitionally bad at it. So maybe you're not "20% gay" but instead you just know ahead of time that there's going to be more bullshit involved with men?
posted by yes i am a bisexual man at 10:48 AM on September 25, 2015


deludingmyself: "Reading through the twitter hashtags for #biweek didn't help much - lots of myth-dispelling of bisexuality =/= wired for nonmonogamy. Which is great: those things aren't the same! At all!"

Nonmonogamy in this context is a dog-whistle for immoral promiscuity. The idea is that bisexuals are actually non-threatening monosexuals who are so horny and sex-crazed that they'll fuck anyone of any gender. This has the dual advantage of slotting them safely into heteronormativity while at the same time discrediting them as sluts.
posted by yes i am a bisexual man at 11:11 AM on September 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Boy, this thread has taken a weird turn.

I mean, not to do a manifesto here or anything, but mainstream gay acceptance has nothing to do with society seeing gays as occupying separate man/woman roles within gay relationships, and far more to do with totally feminizing the imagined gay experience so there is no masculine in it, so it ceases to be a threat. Society does not know what to do with the masculine gay man, it can only deal with him by erasing his gayness, or making him into a stereotyped clown in a biker vest, or assuming that deep down he is really feminine (which is to say, a victim of genetic or traumatic circumstance).

So it is not that the gay man, by participating in a straight-looking relationship, has been embraced by heteronormativity, while we bi folks are somehow challenging the system since nobody knows what we might get up to. It's that heteronormativity cannot be challenged in the first place; these cultural habits that build themselves into normatives can stay remarkably stable while fashioning new norms.

In this case, the cultural habit is a desire to read signals correctly, to determine: Is this person good for sleeping with? We need fast ways of processing information, and build these rules into our culture. Quick: Is a roach good to eat? You know the answer before you think about it, because you have absorbed the cultural habit of reading bug-signals. You can challenge that idea in your own head, you can even start a wildly successful restaurant serving roaches to satisfied diners, but that doesn't change the cultural habit of sorting out what's good to eat. The roach is just wedged into the menu; the normativity itself is unchallenged.

Which is probably an awful, awful analogy, but the point is: We're not challenging anything. To the extent that we are willing to come out of the closet, our culture is quite happy recategorizing us in ways that make sense to it, rather than in our own terms.
posted by mittens at 11:21 AM on September 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


mittens: I admit that I was thinking of lesbian relationships earlier. I think it's stereotypical for straight people to expect that one of a lesbian couple is the "man". With gay male relationships I agree that being with another man at all is seen as feminizing regardless of how the man actually presents. I definitely agree that seeing queer people as lesser people and therefore unthreatening is a thing too, but how much of that is because they are seen as feminine, I don't know. Maybe that's the whole reason as you suggest.

There is no mainstream model for how a gay couple works in private. If you press straight people for what they think domestic life for a gay couple is like, they will probably assume one of them does the "man stuff" -- has the important job, is in charge of the car and yardwork, is emotionally distant -- and the other does the "woman stuff". If the couple breaks up they will assume that the same person will fill the same role in the next relationship. Whether this is true or not, the assumption exists unchallenged. Hence they can continue assuming that these roles are innate and fixed and the status quo is not threatened.

Bi and genderfluid people make it harder for these convenient assumptions to go unchallenged. I agree with you that it's more likely that the heteronormative culture will assimilate bisexuals and genderfluid people than that the culture itself will be overturned.
posted by yes i am a bisexual man at 12:26 PM on September 25, 2015


I took the Kinsey Scale Test, which rates sexuality from 1 to 7, and somehow failed. Was GlaDOS administering this thing?

"The test failed to match you to a Kinsey Type profile. Either you answered some questions wrong, or you are a very unusual person."

Fine then. On a scale of "hetero" to "bi" to "homo," I'm "unusual." I can live with that.
posted by Rangi at 7:38 PM on September 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


I took the Kinsey Scale Test, which rates sexuality from 1 to 7, and somehow failed.

I just did, too, and I'm pretty much straight. I suspect failure on the part of the quiz rather than the quiz-taker.
posted by jaguar at 8:12 PM on September 25, 2015


(That is, I just took the quiz, and I just somehow failed, despite having a pretty clear sexual orientation.)
posted by jaguar at 8:16 PM on September 25, 2015


I got "Predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual", if I clicked "man" for my gender. If I clicked "woman" then I'm predominantly gay. So, no big surprises there.

Was GlaDOS administering this thing?

I can confirm that at the end of this test, there is no cake.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 12:43 AM on September 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Mine was "Equally heterosexual and homosexual," which I find offensive for reasons I can't quite fathom. It's like taking your temperature and getting "Equally freezing and boiling." Interestingly, the question about being sexually submissive didn't seem to have any effect on the score, when I tried it both ways. I wonder what it was there for?
posted by mittens at 7:06 AM on September 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm a pretty deep skeptic when it comes to attempts to systematically quantify human experience.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:48 AM on September 26, 2015


Considering that we live in the age of big data, these kind of scales should at least come up with more finely-grained results: Like, 35% into cowboys, 45% into skinny poetry geeks, 20% into redneck girls with sleepy eyes.
posted by mittens at 12:33 PM on September 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


mittens: I admit that I was thinking of lesbian relationships earlier. I think it's stereotypical for straight people to expect that one of a lesbian couple is the "man".

What? I mean, what? You can talk about bi visibility without using butch/femme relationships or trans people like Caitlyn Jenner (strongly gendered, I guess??) as weird hypothetical examples of heteronormativity. See: every other comment in this thread.
posted by thetortoise at 3:29 PM on September 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


Seriously, don't spitball about minorities you clearly don't know much about when you want to back up assertions about how a different minority is perceived. We are in fact present in the conversation.
posted by thetortoise at 3:36 PM on September 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


Thank you, hackwolf. And thank you to everyone for continuing to share your perspectives.
posted by cynical pinnacle at 4:12 PM on September 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


I guess our week is over. see you next year.
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 7:28 PM on September 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've never taken the Kinsey test. I just really liked the co-ed shower/locker-room scenes in Robocop and Starship Troopers. That was enough of a Kinsey test for me.
posted by Cookiebastard at 8:44 PM on September 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


There wasn't really much of a Kinsey test. The Kinsey Scale was a statistical abstract of hundreds of hours of interviews.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 6:28 AM on September 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


(and by "interviews" they mean "hanging out by that one rest stop out on the interstate, where there are all those bushes near the men's room.")
posted by mittens at 7:30 AM on September 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


The linked test successfully identified the one bisexual and one demisexual in our household, but the heterosexual flatmate failed out of it.
posted by daisyk at 8:56 AM on September 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


I wish that we, as a community, could move on from "visibility" as our #1 key objective. There are lots of hypervisible groups of people who are much worse off than cis bisexuals in hetero partnerships (who make up the overwhelming bulk of people agitating for visibility).

I guess I echo the posters who talk about the damage of being "in the closet". I came out as a lesbian at 18, then proceeded to fail miserably at establishing any kind of relationships with women, then was in a multi-year relationships with a cis man followed by failed attempts to date cis and trans women followed by another multi-year relationship with a cis man. It is very hetero-appearing and borne entirely of a history of neuroses and social failings that are generally TMI for people I do not know well. It's one thing when I'm single: I just don't discuss that history with new people and make sure any jokes about attractive famous people or whatever are tailored accordingly. But when I was in the het-relationships I basically needed to choose between closeting myself or barfing up all my personal bullshit on the table to counter the raised eyebrows.

During my last het-relationship I wanted to audition for a queer performing arts group for women. Everything was fine and dandy over email, and then I "liked" their Facebook page. My Facebook page had pictures of me with my male partner, as well as that dumb indicator that we were in a relationship. At that point, all communications to me from the group stopped. Shortly afterwards a pointed description appeared on said Facebook page that specified it was a safe space for queer and lesbian women only. I was never given the audition information, they went on and new members were announced, and life continued. What could I do? Act on my suspicions, drop them a long email out of the blue explaining my sexuality in hopes that would convince them I was queer enough?

Little shit like that, like my friends calling me the "worst lesbian ever", like feeling like an interloper in gay clubs when I had a boyfriend, it eats at you. They're such small things compared to what more visible members of the LGBTQ community have gone through. I've never been beaten or sworn at or ostracized or had my life threatened. It feels dumb even talking about them. For most of my life I've told myself that it is simply not a big deal, I'll date whomever and the rest of the world can assume what they want. It's been less than a year that I've been OK admitting to myself that the involuntary closeting hurt and that was only after hitting a particularly emotional breaking point.

Sure, the bi person in a het relationship is privileged in terms of how society outwardly treats them. But it blows pretty hard knowing that openly attaching that term to yourself is going to draw shit from the hetero and homo sides. You're going to get questions, accusations of lying, and assumptions about your motives, faithfulness, and self-awareness. Not to mention the possibility that the admission will lead to your partner assuming they're "not enough" for you and at any moment they'll be dropped so you can dive into some kind of orgy with whatever gender they happen to not be.

Sorry to get all Angst Monster up in here, as I really do not want to minimize what the visibly non-hetero/cisnormative go through. But I've just heard a lot from that community along the lines of "but you have it so easy, just support us" while simultaneously denying my very existence.
posted by schroedinger at 10:39 AM on September 28, 2015 [6 favorites]


I respond a bit negatively to the whole "straight-passing privilege" thing because there's a lot of chatter about it on other social networks. I try to keep it simple.

1. I experienced anti-bisexual prejudice and abuse.
2. I need resources prepared to deal with anti-bisexual prejudice and abuse.
3. I assume from the epidemiology and anecdotal evidence that I'm not alone in that need.

Playing oppression olympics around those needs is usually just drama.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 10:54 AM on September 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I think it's ok to say, "Whatever this is, it isn't privilege." Privilege doesn't stress you to the point you need antidepressants and anxiolytics, privilege doesn't hang homelessness over your head, privilege doesn't lose you partners who can't understand your identity, privilege doesn't nag you with constant criticisms at every turn, as though these most basic functions of life were skills you could fail at. We're not experiencing straight-passing privilege, we're experiencing a multidirectional hatred that quiets down as long as we hide.

The privilege criticism is sick. The mouse isn't privileged when she runs into the mouse-hole; she's just trying to escape the damned cat.
posted by mittens at 11:15 AM on September 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'd even go a little further than what I just said, and say that "straight passing privilege" mischaracterizes both the harm done to us when we choose to enter relationships, and the harm done to us even when we're in them.

I mean, think about how many bi people you know offhand who are in same-sex relationships. There don't seem to be that many. I don't want to say we all end up in het-looking ones, but it's very common, and I don't think that can all be explained by preference. I think there is some foreclosure of options there, maybe on an unconscious level. We're not blind cattle being herded into het relationships, that's not what I'm saying...just that it's kind of odd how many of us do end up in them.

And what exactly is the privilege, once you are in them? Who among us hasn't still had some bullshit thrown at us anyway? I am particularly sore on this issue right now, because I have apparently become a point of gossip amongst part of my social circle once-removed, some folks I'm too distant from to really think about coming out to. People joking to my wife about her gay husband, giving her a hard time about it. As always, my voice--which to me is about as feminine as a buzzsaw--is somehow too soft, too high, too variable in tone, and my mannerisms are too dainty even though I'm a clumsy fucking ox, and...well, whatever. If I was experiencing passing privilege, people wouldn't be laughing behind my back about what a faggot I am, what a girl.

I actually like who I am, although it took forever to get to that point, and a lot of times I still forget I like my identity, whatever name I decide to put to it. But it doesn't take much of other people's hate to bring back all that self-hate that I felt for decades and decades. Just the grinding desperation of it, the wanting other people to stop looking at me, to stop thinking about me, and to leave me alone. And the creeping sense of disgust with myself, because if they hate me, I must be pretty awful.

People with privilege don't have to worry about that shit. They never even notice these things going on.
posted by mittens at 11:45 AM on September 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think a lot of it comes from people who are younger and tend to think of these things in binary terms. Either you're at risk for public bashing (which is a risk of being LGBT in visible ways), or your privileged. A fair bit of the problems of being in the closet actually comes from African-American writers such as Nella Larsen who used the "tragic mulatto" figure to explore how passing doesn't insulate one from cultural homophobia, and that negotiating that dissonance isn't necessarily easy.

A straight partner can, if they choose to do so, take advantage of legal, social, religious, and medical discrimination as part of a campaign of retributive outing. And I've heard too many horror stories of that actually happening to feel comfortable with partners who are not also LGBT. Not that dating is an issue for me at this time.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:36 PM on September 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


Blerg, multiple mistakes in my last post. Nella Larsen wrote about the dissonances of observing cultural racism from a "passing" perspective. Some of that connects into LGBT communities.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:46 PM on September 28, 2015


Chiming in to say bisexual visibility matters, because the hate coming from within the LGBTQ community hurts in particular. For a brief period of time, I sought out people from the community to hang out with. But I still felt like I had to be in the closet. Coming out as a bisexual would somehow be seen as a betrayal. We don't fit in with the heterosexuals, and we don't fit in with the homosexuals. It's not that we have the "privilege" of having one foot in both worlds, it's that we experience ostracism from both worlds.
posted by cynical pinnacle at 1:54 PM on September 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


I mean, think about how many bi people you know offhand who are in same-sex relationships. There don't seem to be that many. I don't want to say we all end up in het-looking ones, but it's very common, and I don't think that can all be explained by preference. I think there is some foreclosure of options there, maybe on an unconscious level. We're not blind cattle being herded into het relationships, that's not what I'm saying...just that it's kind of odd how many of us do end up in them.

Two factors there, I think. First is just the numbers - there's a lot more straight people than LGBT people. If you have no particular gender preference, picking a partner at random will mean you're more likely to end up in a het relationship. Then you factor in the social pressures and dynamics, the amount of structures set up to enable straight people to meet each other versus those for LGBT people, and even people who might have some degree of preference for same-sex relationships are still likely to end up in other-sex relationships.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 2:12 PM on September 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


What I would like to know, if anyone happens to have statistics on this sitting around somewhere, is whether those proportions change over life spans. I met my partner at 20 and I was looking for very different things, and had very different self-knowledge, than I would if I were to find myself looking for a new partner now in my mid-late 30s. I wonder if as people get older, know themselves better, and give fewer fucks about a lot of social pressure stuff, if you might find more bi people partnering in non-cishet ways.

I don't really know anyone much older than I am who is bisexual (or at least not visibly so) so I genuinely have no idea and no one to ask for anecdata.
posted by Stacey at 2:23 PM on September 28, 2015


What I would like to know, if anyone happens to have statistics on this sitting around somewhere, is whether those proportions change over life spans. I met my partner at 20 and I was looking for very different things, and had very different self-knowledge, than I would if I were to find myself looking for a new partner now in my mid-late 30s. I wonder if as people get older, know themselves better, and give fewer fucks about a lot of social pressure stuff, if you might find more bi people partnering in non-cishet ways.

So it's not an exact answer to your question, and it only focuses on women, but Lisa Diamond's Sexual Fluidity is a fantastic read on this subject. I thought of it because she follows the women in the study and tracks their attractions and attachments (and, more importantly, what they have to say about them) for over a decade. If I'm remembering correctly, she may be following it up with something on male sexual fluidity too.
posted by thetortoise at 2:32 PM on September 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Going on my reading list immediately, thank you!
posted by Stacey at 2:49 PM on September 28, 2015


So, as a bi/queer person who passes pretty easily as either straight or gay, depending, and also tends to be an under-sharer, I was all like rolleyes, not going to post in this thread. But then just the other day I was on a date with a mostly really wonderful fellow who I like a lot, and he freaked out a little when I mentioned history with women, which really hurt my feelings...made me realize how important visibility actually is. So I came back to this thread-- it's not rolleyes at all and I thank you all for sharing.
posted by threeants at 7:20 PM on September 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


thetortoise: "What? I mean, what? You can talk about bi visibility without using butch/femme relationships or trans people like Caitlyn Jenner (strongly gendered, I guess??) as weird hypothetical examples of heteronormativity. See: every other comment in this thread."

thetortoise: "Seriously, don't spitball about minorities you clearly don't know much about when you want to back up assertions about how a different minority is perceived. We are in fact present in the conversation."

I wasn't talking about bi visibility, I was saying that "I'm just trying to explain what I think underlies some of the resistance bi and genderfluid people get from both straight and gay people and why acceptance of bi and genderfluid people lags behind."

I referred to Caitlyn Jenner in the context of e.g. this article. This:

"It took a few months, but I think we’ve reached the point—perhaps inevitable for a person of her station—where Caitlyn Jenner has become the Respectable Trans Person.

Of course, respectability posturing is nothing new for queer people. Since the beginning of the civil rights movement for gays, lesbians, and bisexuals, there have been individuals who attempted to gain straight society’s approval by distancing themselves from—or stepping over the bodies of—more “radical” elements of the community.
"

is the sort of thing I was getting at with "Caitlyn Jenner-type trans people also don't threaten the ideal." (BTW I misspelled her name in my original comment and have corrected it here.)

I also didn't say anything about butch or femme. I was referring to the stereotype you see reflected here. How that tracks with butch/femme presentation, if at all, was not relevant to my point that the stereotype exists because of and in support of heteronormativity.

You seem upset but I'm not sure why. I'm sorry if I've offended you somehow. I really don't want to bring bad vibes to this discussion. You say "we are present" but I don't see a personal story from you so I'm not sure where you're coming from. You don't have to share of course but I am a little confused.
posted by yes i am a bisexual man at 9:20 PM on September 29, 2015


> I mean, think about how many bi people you know offhand who are in same-sex relationships. There don't seem to be that many. I don't want to say we all end up in het-looking ones, but it's very common, and I don't think that can all be explained by preference. I think there is some foreclosure of options there, maybe on an unconscious level. We're not blind cattle being herded into het relationships, that's not what I'm saying...just that it's kind of odd how many of us do end up in them.

I think some of that is selection bias. I'm queer, bi, and in a same-sex relationship. I live and work in the queer community and I know a lot of bi people in same sex relationships. I certainly know more bi people in same sex relationships than in opposite sex ones. The view may be different depending on where you stand.

Which is not to undercut the point that compulsory heterosexuality and het privilege line up to make it a heck of a lot easier to be in an opposite sex relationship in this culture.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:56 PM on September 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


yes i am a bisexual man -- I'm sorry for writing a couple of cranky comments and dashing off. I can see you didn't mean to offend. I'll try to explain my point of view, which I should have done instead of just shutting you down. I really loved your thoughts about your own experiences and bisexuality and appreciated everything you shared in the long comment upthread. You were clearly speaking from the heart. I feel like my abruptness diminishes your honesty, and I'm especially sorry for that. I don't want to derail this great thread, but I do feel I owe you an explanation.

I think gay/lesbian couples have been granted some degree of acceptance in substantial parts of the U.S. at least, but that acceptance is fragile, and discrimination and violence persist. And this is far more true for trans people. Caitlyn Jenner is an outlier by any defintion; I can't think of any trans woman, even Laverne Cox, who is currently experiencing the level of respectability, visibility, and privilege she does, so she's kind of in a class of her own. And yet even she deals with an incredible amount of misgendering, cruel language, and harassment in the press, and I'm sure she has to take care for her safety in a way most famous people don't. This is not to say that that bi/pansexual and genderfluid people don't experience many of the same struggles as well as having unique threats and challenges, but that I think your characterization of the way other marginalized people are perceived is simplistic. They haven't fit entirely into a heteronormative system yet, and I don't know if they will.

What I meant by "we are present in the conversation" was that you don't need to speculate about the experiences of trans people or lesbian couples and how they're perceived; we all use the site and are probably here in this thread. Something in your words made me feel "othered," like you didn't think we were around to hear.

As for my story: my partner and I are both cis women, though we are somewhere on the genderqueer spectrum. My partner is bisexual; I used to use the term lesbian but I've been shifting to queer, because I experience things in more of a fluid than a binary way. When people see us, they might call us a "lesbian couple"; if it's a day when one of us is wearing a suit and tie and the other a dress and makeup, they might even think of one of us as "the man" and the other as "the woman." But those fleeting perceptions wouldn't reflect the reality of our lives; they don't even reflect the way our friends and coworkers think of us and treat us. And we've both experienced enough homophobia to know that we're definitely threatening something. So it's difficult to tell where we fit into your system. Do we fit with the heteronormative gay couples or the bi/pansexual and genderfluid people? If we are seen as a lesbian couple, what happens to my partner's bisexuality?

In my family, there is another woman-woman couple; one partner is cis and the other is trans. I'm close to them, but I don't know how they identify in terms of sexuality. Where would they fit in the system? How would straight people see them?

My point is that woman-woman couples (who are often perceived as lesbian, but may not be), "respectable" trans people, and bi/pansexual and genderfluid people are not mutually exclusive groups. The reality is very complex, and perceptions can change across time and cultural context, not to mention the times when partners transition or learn something new about themselves, throwing the whole thing up into the air again.

I do think there is some truth in what you're saying; I never felt as much a part of "straight" society as when my partner and I were married. And my response here has as much to do with my own defensiveness as anything you said (I hate the "which one is the man" stereotype with a blinding rage). I guess all I'm saying is, please take care when talking about others' lives. Thanks for listening, and I hope I haven't derailed this entirely.
posted by thetortoise at 12:50 AM on September 30, 2015 [7 favorites]


So here's a "passing privilege is fucked up in its own way" story I was remembering this morning.

Once upon a time I was in a relationship with a man who, at the time, considered himself straight. I had known for a while that I was bisexual, it was no big thing for us, whatever. Eventually he cheated on me, with a guy. I was devastated about the infidelity. I was considerably less so about the fact that it was a guy - seemed almost entirely beside the point to me. If anything, amid my own pain I had a little time to think, wow, that must be confusing for Then-Boyfriend - if I weren't in such a shitty hurting place right now I'd be trying to offer him some help and counsel on that front 'cause I've been there and it might be a lot for him to deal with realizing he's maybe not so straight after all.

I went to counseling because I was having a really hard time processing my own pain and figuring out whether I wanted to try to get past the infidelity and try to save the relationship. We had a session. It went okay. I felt heard and understood and validated. We didn't talk in any great detail about the specifics of the infidelity, more about my own feelings and thoughts.

Second session, we got a little more into specifics, and I mentioned in passing that the other person in the situation was a man. And my counselor flipped out. Suddenly everything we'd spent the last session and a half talking about was by the wayside, all she wanted to talk about was how hurt and betrayed I must be to find out that my partner was gay.

So then I spent the last half hour of the session trying repeatedly to explain that a) there are things to be besides gay or straight b) I myself am one of those things, and have zero problem with my partner potentially also being one of those things c) I am sitting in front of you in actual pain and I need you to listen to me and believe me when I tell you what the source of that pain is or is not.

It was frustrating and exhausting and I don't think I ever did get through to her. I never went back. I dealt with my shit on my own because I could not handle providing Queerness 101 training to another new counselor, nor did I have the energy after all of that to go to the extra effort of seeking out an already-educated-about-queer-stuff counselor, who took my insurance, was available to me at the hours my work required and via public transit, could also handle some other special issues relevant to me, etc.

The whole thing was just incredibly stupid and aggravating, and made it a lot harder to deal with a situation that was already very painful. And left me with even more complicated feelings about therapy than I already had.
posted by Stacey at 5:37 AM on September 30, 2015 [9 favorites]


Stacey, I'm sorry that happened to you. And it made me realize that while my therapy grad program was, in my mind, pretty good at teaching cultural competency, and that the main cultural competency class did cover what I think was called "LGBT" clients, we didn't separate out those categories at all to talk about how they differ from each other and why that's important. (And I just checked my textbook from the course, and my memory seems correct on that.) That was close to a decade ago, so I hope things have improved, but I worry that they haven't.
posted by jaguar at 6:50 AM on September 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


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