6 Things That Are Making This Bi Lady Feel Thankful
My parents were not particularly religious when I was growing up, but we took (and continue to take) our traditions very seriously. Some of my favorites include staying in your pajamas all day on Christmas Day, my New Year’s Day recovery brunch, and my husband and me always ordering in on Valentine’s Day.
Thanksgiving is pretty fluid, it doesn’t even include turkey every year, but we do have one tradition. We all sit around the table and each person says one thing that they are thankful for. The answers range from silly to profound, but it always makes me realize how little time we spend thinking about the good things. I find myself spending the day meditating on what I am thankful for, so I know what to say when my turn comes. In that tradition, here are some things that I am thankful for right now.
1. Being Bi Made Me More Open-Minded
Of course the most important item on this list is probably the hardest to articulate. We live in a world of binaries and little categories that seek to define us. You are one thing or the other; on or off; male or female; straight or gay. Humans are hardwired to create order out of chaos. Of course, in our attempt to categorize everything, we fail to accurately describe anything. I am bisexual, and realizing that also made me think of other aspects of my life that are “bi.” I’m biracial; I love high heels and climbing trees; I like reading mid-century German philosophy and watching the most terrible reality television; I’m an introvert that loves throwing parties.
Being bi made me realize the problem isn’t that I haven’t found the right category to define me, it’s that our entire concept of categories is flawed. Being bi made me more aggressively question assumptions about the people around me. If I see two women holding hands I don’t assume that I am looking at a lesbian couple. Maybe I’m looking at 2/3 of a lesbian throuple. Maybe I’m looking at a bi woman and a lesbian or two bi women or two straight best friends who are just trying not to lose each other in a crowd. Heck, maybe one of them is blind or disoriented or experiencing anxiety and needs help. Maybe there’s a completely different explanation that I’m just not coming up with. Being bi helped me to realize that I can’t assume I know something about a person based on a single gesture, trait, or habit. It sounds like an obvious statement, but after you have enough people assume your sexuality (incorrectly), you are more careful about making assumptions about others.
Although it’s a hard journey and at times it’s an unpleasant lesson to learn, I do feel like I’ve come out the other side as a much better person.
2. It Also Helped Me Explore Relationship Styles
I know a lot of bi people. Many of them are monogamous, many of them are poly, some of them are single by choice, many are married, many aren’t. However, most of them are aware of the options out there. I don’t think being bi makes you more inclined to be poly, nor does it mean that non-monogamy is easier for you. I do think that once you’ve started breaking taboos, you are more willing to explore your options.
After you’ve spent so much time explaining to people that “actually, I’m bi” when they assume that you are straight or gay, you start to analyze some of society’s other assumptions. I think most people are monogamous by default. Most bi people I know who are monogamous are monogamous by choice. They’ve considered their options, they’ve talked to people, maybe they tried out a few relationship styles, and they’ve decided what style works best for them. I think that’s awesome.
3. Bi Representation
I spend a lot of time keeping track of bi characters in the media. A lot of time. I tell myself it’s work, but who are we kidding. Every year there are more and more awesome representations of bi people and their bisexuality is being expressed more explicitly. Is it perfect? No, but it’s way better than it has been. We have so many characters that are bi and (gasp) not villains. Some of them, like Wonder Woman and Valkyrie, are even superheroes. We have people identifying as bi, actually saying the word in shows like “Jane the Virgin” and “Madam Secretary.” There are bi people on our screens, in our literature, and especially in our videogames. I still do a little dance every time I come across a new bi character and I’ve been doing that dance a lot this year.
4. Bi Culture
Everyone talks about how much fun gay culture is with all the dancing and music and well-dressed men. I’ve been thrilled to see a sense of bi culture emerging. Now I’m not saying that every bi person is the same or likes the same thing, but there does seem to be a huge overlap between trekkies and bis. As a shameless fan girl who grew up on a steady diet of sci-fi and fantasy, I love that unicorns and dragons and spaceships are all a part of bi culture. I think this is in part because these genres have been representing us for so long and in such sane ways. I’m pretty sure all of Anne Rice’s vampires are bi and have been for decades and that’s what I grew up reading. Sci-fi shows and films have been presenting bi characters for a lot longer and much more favorably than many other genres. We in turn have repaid their forward thinking by consuming these genres that represent us.
5. A World That Isn’t Divided Into a “Friend Sex” and a “Relationship Sex”
This is an especially hard one for straight folks to understand. Think of Mike Pence saying he wouldn’t eat dinner alone with a woman who isn’t his wife. This way of thinking isn’t actually that uncommon. It turns out lots of folks think it’s inappropriate to grab a drink, share a cab, or eat dinner with someone of the opposite sex. This means that straight folks often feel that their closest friends must be of the same sex. Put another way, anyone whose sex you are attracted to can no longer be your friend.
Bi people are potentially attracted to everyone and so we have to get over this hang up. We really don’t have the option of only being friends that we could never find potentially sexually desirable. And you know what, it’s fine. Yes, you can be friends with people that have the genitalia you are attracted to and somehow resist the urge to jump their bones. You can be committed and monogamous with one woman and have a female best friend. Your potential friend circle has just doubled. How awesome is that.
This one isn’t specifically bi, but it affects us all and has made me feel hope around this topic for the first time. I am grateful that women who are speaking up are being heard and people are being held accountable. Have we solved sexual assault and harassment? Not at all, but it is amazing to see so many people finally admitting that we, as a society, have a problem.
When I posted my #metoo I almost felt like a fraud. Was anything that happened to me bad enough to warrant this hashtag? Then I thought about it and incident after forgotten incident came to mind. Every night at work when the security guy at our shop would send me to the back office when he saw my “admirer” coming up to the door. They had to pretend I didn’t work there to get him to stop showing up. The drunk guy who cornered me in the hallway of my apartment building and pulled down his pants before I managed to get home. The countless catcalls, gropes, up the skirt photos, and casual violations that happen to us all. I realized that I had convinced myself that these were all no big deal, it’s just what everyone deals with. It is what everyone deals with, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a big deal or that I should be mad about it. I am so thankful that this year I found my anger and with it, the will to try and change the world.
So there it is, 6 things that this bi lady is thankful for this year. What are some of yours?