My Fiery Takedown of the Bi Dismissal

5/10/2018

istock/LightFieldStudios

I love talking to baby bis.

Maybe I shouldn’t say that, because I’m not sure where I am in the bi process. I know this definitely isn’t my final form. But I can say, with a healthy amount of certainty, I’ve figured out some basics of navigating the world as a bi woman. I don’t have everything down pat – not by a long shot – but I have definitely nailed some basics.

Coming out is scary because it can feel so isolating. I like to be there for people who are going through that process, especially for friends of mine who are questioning. I try to point them to the resources I wish I had had, and to be a good friend, with an ear they can bend.

Back in February, I went out with a newer friend, Kay, to see a musical and grab a bite. She is an assertive woman, a badass rocker-chick with neon hair, who writes and plays kickass feminist songs. I was so glad we were starting to become friends.

We had settled into our table and devoured the gourmet brats and beers brought before us, when Kay brought up starting to explore her queerness. I was so excited to hear her talk about it (and how timid she can be about it – boy howdy, can I relate). But then she related a story that disturbed me.

One of her band members, she divulged, was a lesbian currently dating a newly out bi woman. (Kay is not really out and vocal to this musician yet, mind you.) So her bassist went on about how she liked her new girl but knew she was (get ready to groan) “taking a pit stop before fully moving on to Gay Town.”

Kay was stunned. This didn’t exactly bode well for her coming out to her bandmate. Who is morally bankrupt enough to dismiss someone’s orientation journey while still going out with them before they “fully convert?” It smacks of the creepiness in Dave Attell’s joke from twenty years ago (it’s about 30 seconds in).

When she finished her story, I felt so disheartened for her. Then enraged. But not just for Kay. Because I have heard variations of this story for twenty years. Even in colleges my friends and I attended, there were backhanded terms for bis – BUGs, or bi-until-graduation.

This kind of mindset has got to stop.

Most everyone knows how hard it is in the straight community to find inclusion and acceptance. I can’t tell you how many times my orientation got dismissed as I grew up – both by strangers and by people I loved. I always hoped that once I felt confident enough to start going to LGBTQIA+ events, I would find an emotional home. A place where I was understood. A realm of inclusion. Instead, I discovered many gays and lesbians loved to pick on the bis the most, claiming we were probably going to cheat on them. That we were less-than.

And honestly, I’ve had enough.

I’m writing this for Kay and every other budding bi who has had their sexuality challenged. Feel free to send this article to someone who just doesn’t get the message. I’m okay with being the bad guy and taking the heat with this one. Because I’m about to dive in (and get real swear-y while I do it).

To members of the LGBTQIA+ community who dismiss bis:

How dare you. You, of all people, should know better. You’ve probably gone through all the turmoil of figuring out who you love and who you’re attracted to earlier than us. That’s great. We know how hard it is to be your true self in a straight world. But does that make our late-bloomer journey any less valid? Imagine coming out now and coming across the glib shrug-offs you’re throwing at us. Do you think you would have survived this vitriol? Do you want us to go back into the closet because it’s just that hard to accept someone who can be attracted to more than one gender? Does our challenge of your worldview validate your cheap shots to make you feel more comfortable? If you think so, you can fuck all the way off. Do not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars. Just fuck all the way off the board. Please and thanks.

Seriously, though. Who the fuck do you think you are? Since when should we have gatekeepers on this community? Do I have to be having a lurid threesome while sexologists watch, then validate my orientation by writing a peer-reviewed article before you accept that maybe, just maybe, bis are valid and valued?

Do I need to hit all the outside queer coding behavior and wardrobe in order for you to nod in approval? Do I need to get a butch haircut and hit every gay stereotype but also be able to pass as straight and wear a dress and go on a date with some guy named Brad for you to re-categorize me in your mind? Do you get how ridiculous this sounds? Don’t sprain yourself with the mental gymnastics it takes – it’s ludicrous, sweet cheeks. Take several seats.

I mean, come the fuck on. How hypocritical can you be? You very likely went through your own set of dismissals, stress, and worry coming out of the closet. And yet for the next person coming out, instead of being an ally, you want to cut them down so much they’d rather look out at the world through the slats of the closet door again. We’re not gonna keep Aaron Cartering people. I won’t have it. It’s in the same vein of judgmental immaturity of sophomores in high school who sniffed at the lowly freshmen coming in. Way to be a big, inclusive role model. Not petty at all, bud.

“But bisexuals cheat.” 

via GIPHY

Come the shit on. Even a tiny bit of research here will show you that this orientation is no more likely to cheat than any other. And yet this silly stereotype persists. Maybe you know someone who this happened to, or, sadly, it happened to you. It sucks. But it makes just as much sense to stereotype that left-handed people are going to cheat. See how absurd that sounds?

Anyone who has gotten past the age of 20 knows the world isn’t black or white. You know this. I know this. Why should that be limited to gender orientation?

Hey, I’ll throw you a bone. I’ve known people who have realized they’re gay after identifying as bi. I hold no ill will towards them. I wish them luck. We’re all beautiful revolutions. You’ve probably known them, too. But that doesn’t mean you get to label the whole orientation as a transient state of being because a few people have changed camps. There’s enough glitter for everyone. I promise.

I want you to picture yourself saying these kinds of arguments in 25 years. We will all have flying cars and look back at our phobic pasts with a heady mix of guilt and shame. This mindset will be among those condemned as bi acceptance sweeps the world. I promise you. Get ahead of the curve now and drop this holier-than-thou bullshit.

Not only that, but we out number you! At least when you group bis, gay men, and lesbians together. We make up more than half that group. And one out of three millennials now identify as bi or queer. Do you really wanna come out against a group that is only gaining in social power? Think carefully.

Bis have been here since the beginning of the movement. We were at Stonewall. We were at the Black Cat Lounge. We founded the Los Angeles Pride parade. Your dismissal is a dismissal of your own history that helped get your rights recognized on a federal and cultural level. Maybe it’s not the best idea to isolate and dismiss us. We already experience distress almost more than anyone else in the community, in part because of this very exclusion. Quit it.

Am I still not getting through to you? Then consider this. Maybe you think you’re making a joke amongst other gays or lesbians with a few allies sprinkled around. But showing your ass like this sure wouldn’t help out an ally, or friend listening to your cheap jokes, who wants to confide in you their questioning ways. It costs you nothing to hold back on that joke or comment, and it could mean the world for someone like Kay to know you’re a safe person to talk to.

“You know your use of the swear word cheapens your argument, right?”

First of all, fuck all the way off. Second, it’s healthy to curse when you’re angry – it’s scientifically proven to relieve stress, which will probably help me live a lot longer than the pearl-clutchers. Third, I basically didn’t swear until I was 25, so I need to make up for lost time. And sometimes it’s just damn fun and adds the right color and emphasis. Don’t you get a little curse-y when you’re passionately defending something or someone? Was my outlining above not elegant enough to get my points across to your satisfaction? Really, if this is your final dismissal, then that’s your failing, not mine.

So in short (ha ha) … don’t be that dismissive bitch. And shut it down when you see it happen around you. Statistically, you probably love someone who is bi. They need your help to make this world a more accepting place. We all need that. So cut the shit and join us in being a unicorn ally. I promise you it’s a much sexier place to be.

Do it for Kay.

We good? Super. I’m done yelling for now. I’m gonna go listen to some bitch rock instead.

 

Jennie Roberson
Jennie Roberson is a comedic actress and screenwriter currently living in Los Angeles. She just finished her first novel (a bi coming-of-age tale, naturally) and hopes to share it with the world soon. When she's not busy binging on Star Trek or dreaming of her future cat army, you can find her occasional thoughts between mountains of re-tweets at her Twitter handle, @JennieRoberson.