A Bi By Any Other Name…
For a long time the story of LGBT rights has been the story of gay rights. We even use the terms synonymously. Under the banner of gay rights we have achieved a lot… gay marriage, gay adoption, gay bars, a gay magazine… and all of these achievements are incredibly important. Sadly the story of gay rights erased a lot of the other LGBT folks..
Recently we have begun to make progress in broadening that story. Bi and trans folks have pushed back, insisting that we are not just another category of gay and that “gay” rights do not address all of our concerns. Some people see us as complicating the debate, muddying the waters. We threatened the hard won “normalcy” of gay people. We were denied access to positions of authority within LGBT organizations and when we did hold them, we were gay washed. We were told to be quiet and wait our turn – that our time would come and we could safely ride the gay coattails to acceptance. That’s not what happened.
So, we set out on our own to tell our own stories. Dozens of bi organizations sprang up, died out, and sprang up again. We are a diverse group of individuals from all walks of life. We have different intersecting identities, different priorities, different personal stories. This diversity should be part of our strength, not a source of conflict. Instead we get bogged down debating our differences.
One of these endless debates about differences revolves around labels. We are the children who spend weeks debating what to call their top-secret club only to find that summer vacation has ended and we never formed the club. Through our many differences, there is something that brings us all together – an attraction that isn’t limited to one gender. I propose that we call that attraction pattern Bi.
I’m not saying that we can’t avail ourselves of the diverse labels that we’ve crafted to express our unique lived experiences. I describe myself using a variety of labels. I am a bi, pansexual, demisexual, sapiosexual, polyamorous, fluid, cis, white male. All of these things describe me and none of them are mutually exclusive.
Monosexual normality (also called bi erasure) and monosexism (biphobia) affect us all – as do homophobia and sexism in general. We bis rock the boat. We fundamentally challenge the simplicity of the gay/straight duopoly. That can be scary. But we also have something positive to offer – freedom. We stand as living examples that when humans are willing to face the world with an open mind, a richer, more fulfilling life is possible. We are people for whom love, passion, and intimacy are not limited by society’s narrow notions around sex and gender. That does not mean that we are all the same.
As individuals, we possess specific preferences. Some of us largely prefer one sex or gender, but are nevertheless open to beautiful and meaningful experiences with select individuals who aren’t our normally preferred gender. Some of us have no preference whatsoever. Wherever we fall on this diverse spectrum, we still have one thing in common. We feel attraction to more than one gender.
We are all fighting for one of the most basic human rights. We are fighting for the right to be ourselves. So please continue to be who you are. Be your proud demi, pan, omni wonderful self. We all still have one thing in common, we are all attracted to more than one gender, we are all a part of the bi+ party.