ONTD Political

Dan Savage proves he's not biphobic by writing a biphobic article

4:15 pm - 06/23/2011
I'm not bi-phobic—in fact, I love bisexual people so much, I wish there were more of them.

I do find some bisexuals scary, particularly the ones who are always accusing me of being bi-phobic. But I find some gay people scary too, and no one has ever accused me of being homophobic. (Well, no one recently.)

But let's unpack—for Pride Week!—why I'm constantly being accused of bi-phobia, particularly by bisexual men. And it's basically this: I'm unwilling to pretend that what is, isn't.

Here's one thing that is: Many adult gays and lesbians identified as bi for a few shining moments during our adolescences and coming-out processes. (We wanted to let our friends down easy; we didn't want our families to think we'd gone over the dark side entirely.) This can lead adult gays and lesbians—myself included—to doubt the professed sexual identities of bisexual teenagers.

When I meet a bisexual teenage boy, for instance, I sometimes think to myself, "Yeah, I was too at your age." That doesn't mean the kid standing in front of me couldn't possibly be bisexual (I wasn't, he might be!), or that I don't believe bisexuality exists (bisexuals exist, and most of them seem to have my e-mail address), only that my life experience makes it difficult for me to accept a bisexual teenage boy's professed sexual identity at face value. (And to those who insist that my inability to accept someone's professed sexual identity without question makes me a bigot: Ted Haggard, George Rekers, and Larry Craig all identify as straight. You believe them? Or are you a bigot?)

I don't berate bi-identified teenage boys, I don't tell them they're not really bi, and I don't cruise around bi neighborhoods looking for young bi guys to beat up. But I do know that a bi-identified 36-year-old is likelier to be bisexual than a bi-identified 16-year-old, and I resent being asked to pretend not to know it.

And here's another thing that is: Most adult bisexuals, for whatever reason, wind up in opposite-sex relationships. And most comfortably disappear into presumed heterosexuality (including all three of my biggest bisexual antagonists—what are the odds?!).

Now I don't think it's necessarily misleading or deceitful for a bisexual guy in a long-term opposite-sex relationship to round himself down to straight, if that's what he wants to do, so long as he's out to his partner. But judging from the e-mails I get from bisexual men at Savage Love (from the ones after my advice, not my hide), and all the men-seeking-men ads on Craigslist posted by men who are married to women (we used to call those guys "married men"—ah, progress!), there are a lot of bisexuals out there who aren't out to their partners. An excerpt from a sadly typical bi Savage Love letter:

I am a 30-year-old bi male recently engaged to a wonderful woman. I have never told my fiancée about my bi past, and didn't think it was a big deal because I am more attracted to women, and was only in one male/male relationship... but now that we're engaged, I am feeling guilty for keeping this quiet. Is it too late? Should I stay quiet?? I don't want to lose her.

I hope that bi guy has the decency to come out to his fiancée before the wedding, because she deserves better. And so does he. The closet is awful and I wouldn't wish its miseries on anyone. Hiding the truth about your sexuality from someone you love is painful and exhausting... which is why I stopped doing it myself when I was a teenager.

Not only would it be great if more bisexuals were out to their partners, it would be great if more bisexuals in opposite-sex relationships were out to their friends, families, and coworkers. More out bisexuals would mean less of that bisexual invisibility that bisexuals are always complaining about. If more bisexuals were out, more straight people would know they actually know and love sexual minorities, which would lead to less anti-LGBT bigotry generally, which would be better for everyone.

But people get to make their own choices, and lots of bisexuals choose not to be out. While I'm willing to recognize that the reluctance of many bisexuals to be out may be a reaction to the hostility they face from non-bisexuals, gay and straight, bisexuals need to recognize that their being closeted is a huge contributing factor to the hostility they face.

Bisexual activists like to complain that they're the most oppressed because (1) it's a contest, and (2) it's a good excuse. If they can argue—and unfortunately, they can—that lots of gay people are mean to them (some gay people don't want to date them, some gay people doubt they exist) and straight people are mean to them (some straight people don't want to date them, some straight people doubt they exist), then bisexual people aren't to blame for the bisexual closet. Everyone else is.

And they have a point—but it's a self-serving, self-defeating point. Yes, lots of people judge and condemn and fear bisexuals. If those were good reasons to stay closeted, no gay or lesbian person would ever come out.
And if bisexuals did come out in greater numbers, they could rule... well, not the world, but they could rule the parallel LGBT universe.

Earlier this year, a researcher at the Williams Institute at the University of California released the results of a study that attempted to estimate the LGBT population of the United States. Some of the numbers that "Gary J. Gates, Williams Distinguished Scholar" came up with were disputed—just 3.5 percent of the population is LGBT? There are only nine million LGBT people in the United States total?—but the most interesting finding was that there are more bisexual adults (1.8 percent of the population) than gay and lesbian adults combined (1.7 percent of the population).

I'm sorry, bisexual activists, but you're doing it all wrong. Instead of berating me for my alleged bi-phobia—and if I'm the enemy, you're in real trouble—berate your closeted compatriots. If they all came out tomorrow, you could put an end to bi-phobia, take over the LGBT movement, and kick my ass out of it.

Source can kiss my pansexual ass

H'oh boy. Let me start with this, the only thing to blame for any closet is a heterosexist, cissexist society that says queer and trans people aren't normal and presumes everyone is straight and cis. Don't you fucking dare blame queer and trans people for the closet that we are all forced into at one point or another.

More specific to this article, I'm so damned tired of feeling unwelcome in my own community. Bi and pan people who are in heterosexual relationships do have passing privilege, this is true. But passing privilege isn't privilege, we still have to come out to our friends and families, we're just as affected by homophobia, our struggle isn't somehow less than yours. Straight people treat us either like 'safe' queers or as depraved, while we're not queer enough for queer people or just using bisexuality/pansexuality as a stepping stone.

The one thing Savage is right about is that this isn't a competition. No matter how different my struggle is from someone who is gay or lesbian, it's still the same in a lot of ways. If we want to help those in our community we need to help everyone and stop being so divisive. That means accepting and supporting everyone in the alphabet soup.
ohloverx 24th-Jun-2011 04:15 am (UTC)
I really like your comment. It touches on something that has bothered me for the longest time. It really seems that a lot of people feel like they have the right to decide the sexuality of another person. I'd take it even further than by who people date because a person might identify as straight and even date a person of the opposite sex, and yet you still have people speculate that because they are too close to their friends of the same sex or because they might be caught giving a same sex friend a peck or any other outward displays of whatever people come up with that the person is really just closeted gay. So, in turn, if you are gay, bi, lesbian, pan, etc. not only are you judged by who you date, but also by your public actions, as you said, and people feel like it is their business to tell you what YOU are. It's ridiculous.

I always tell people that if a person says they are gay/straight/bi/lesbian/whatever that we should respect that and that every time someone questions that, we are essentially saying that the person doesn't know themselves as well as we do and that we have more say over what their sexuality is than they do. It's patronizing, stupid and damaging. Why anyone thinks that their opinion of someone else's sexuality is more important than the actual person is beyond me.

I hope all that made sense because I'm kind of out of it right now. And if it came across as derailing because of my "straight" example, I am sorry. I didn't mean it that way. I was just thinking along the lines of the fail I see on ONTD over people like Hugh Jackman who is married to a woman and yet so many people think that he HAS to be gay and how can his wife not see it. Might be true, but if he says he's straight that is the end of the story. Same can be said for celebs like Lindsay Lohan who dates a woman and people saying she CAN'T be lesbian or bi because she dated men before that. Or saying that Anna Paquin isn't bi even though she says she is just because there have been no high profile instances of her dating a girl. Seriously, give me a break. She is what she says she is. They are all what they say they are until they say something different. End of story.

Long comment is long. Sorry, bb. Forgive me?
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