Grieving While Bisexual
When the news hit I was too busy to care. Post 9-11 I feel like we’re conditioned to see newsflashes at the bottom of the screen, rolling past, and informing us of the evil in the world. On the off chance that I’m actually watching live tv, these little messages of doom usually go unread. Like many of us, I am desensitized by the “shocking” and “unspeakable” acts committed by our fellow humankind. So when “our condolences, thoughts, and prayers are with Orlando” scrolled across the screen, I literally turned my back to the screen and said, “I’ll care later”.
I didn’t think another thought about it. Later that evening, when I stopped long enough to scroll through Facebook, I was smacked in the face with grief. It felt as though every Facebook friend I had was distraught with heartache, disbelief, and anger. Between being involved in the Black Lives Matter Movement, work surrounding Black Trans women, and the broader LGBTQIA movement, I have become accustomed to logging onto social media and being confronted with death, despair, and pain. We die everyday.
But this was different. I felt it. It hurt.
I didn’t know what to do so I logged off. At the time I was staying with a cis straight friend of mine who has always been an ally in my experience. I moved through the evening as usual. I smoked, I drank, I parlayed with friends but the moment I sat still it hit me. I was overcome with emotion. I sobbed. My friend came to comfort me and even as I tried to verbalize my feelings to him I knew it wasn’t enough. He didn’t get it. I mean he understood, but he didn’t really get it. He isn’t queer, and the idea that a queer club, a sanctuary, a safe space, during pride month, was the site of a massacre didn’t hit home with him in the same way it hit me. Yet he sat with me, he held me, and reminded me as best he could that I was someone who had the power to do something about it. I was calmed for a moment but not stilled.
I was taken back to the moment that the news of Sandy Hook broke. In that moment I can remember being baffled that the world was still turning. How can life still go on when so many innocent children had been taken away from us? These were children. How is everyone not reeling? I was told to ignore it, pack it away, to move on. Back to present day, with one of the worst mass shootings to date, how does the world not stop? I realized very quickly that my cis het friends were affected in the same way. In the same breath I realized that the state made it about targeting Muslim people (as if they weren’t just celebrating Ali last week), and white cisgender queer people made it about themselves. I watched as my fellow queer and trans people of color struggled to make sense of things, trying to find footing, disgusted as the queer Muslim and Latinx communities that should be centered were pushed aside to discuss Donald Trump, oppression olympics, and ISIS.
Then some of my friends whose analysis I often look to in times like these, a lot of them only mentioned ‘homophobia’ and ‘islamophobia’. I found myself questioning whether or not I was appropriating grief. “It was a gay club.” I thought. I mean ‘Bi’ is included without being said right? Then, right on time my wonderful friend Susie posted a Facebook status that read, “ Y’all ain’t peep how biphobia plays a part in this also? No? Ok.” They aren’t even bi identified. It cracked my veneer wide open. Back to flailing. All of the articles and posts headlined “Gay Club Massacre” and my mind went to the two Latinx trans women who were headlining that night. What about the Bi folks who sometimes have to work up the courage to celebrate pride because we don’t feel queer enough? The ones of us who are partnered with cisgender and or heterosexual partners? We were there too. We had to be.
Someone posted a flyer for some type of healing. They listed “Asexual, Gay, Lesbian, Omnisexual, Pansexual, Questioning, Intersex, and Genderqueer people…” When I asked the question “No bisexual people?” I was met with, “I used omnisexual as it is a more inclusive term”. When I explained that I do not identify as omnisexual and how the erasure was biphobic I was met with silence and yet again, left to grieve alone.
This whole week I’ve been wondering where my grief fits in. How do I grieve as a bisexual person when I’m not even acknowledged? I’ve only seen one article that addressed biphobia and Pulse and it was written by (who I assume to be) a white cisgender woman. I am constantly wondering to myself whether or not I am taking up too much space.
Isolated isn’t even the word. How can I unpack my feelings when I don’t even feel like I have a local community with which to do so? I posted a couple of bi specific statuses and realized from reading the comments of people who are like me, that we need healing spaces that meet our needs. How do we create these spaces? How do we feed our communities in these moments? What does that even mean for us?
I choose to be visibly, unapologetically, and uncomfortably black, bisexual, and gender confused. But I am weary and I need healing that holds me at all of my intersections. Biphobia needs to be included in everyone’s analysis when it comes to violence against queer and trans people. And after all is said and done my pain could never measure up to the pain of having the audacity to celebrate being unapologetically oneself and being gunned down while dancing. It could never be that of the loved ones whose calls echoed through the club, overlapping one another for hours, as they tried to find them. It could never be that of the queer Muslims who have to actively hide as they mourn for now the dial on Islamophobia has been turned back up. We have to learn to hold it all. We have to learn to hold each other, step up, step back, and see each other. We have to keep dancing.