The Bi Line: Pride Is For Us Too

6/29/2017

Without fail, every year there is an onslaught of commentary from gays and lesbians saying bi people shouldn’t be included in pride. Those who not only embrace and celebrate their sexual identities, but those who do so with partners of a different gender are especially targeted. Pride, apparently, is only for homonormative relationships.

The reasoning behind wanting to exclude bi people and our relationships is due, in part, to the misnomer of “heterosexual privilege.” Of course, this is a surface level analysis and reductive line of thinking which fails to include bi experiences or LGBT history. Pride has been, is, and always will be, for the bi community too.

Brenda Howard

Bi activist Brenda Howard is credited with co-coordinating the Christopher Street Liberation Day march which inspired what we know now today as Pride. She’s affectionately known as the Mother of Pride and was in a long term relationship with a Larry Nelson, a cisgender man who continues to celebrate Brenda’s legacy today.

Brenda’s and Larry’s relationship is anything but straight. Their love was deeply queer as is the experience for the majority of bi people. Most of the man and woman couplings I’ve come into contact with in queer spaces are less normative than many gay same-sex couples I know. Where many same-sex couples’ relationships I know are mirror images of heterosexual relationships in every way minus the gender of the partners, bi couples continue to burst binaries. Bi relationships are inherently queer but many also find ways to accommodate their bisexuality, queering their relationships even more. Whether that be polyamory, kink, openness in relationships, or unique sexual roles, bi relationships are anything but “just straight.”

This is especially true knowing that bi community is disproportionately made up of people of color as well as transgender individuals. Lots of bi people fall into genderqueer, non binary, or transgender boxes aren’t in obviously male/female relationships. Instead, many bi relationships are openly and visibly queer.

But bi people shouldn’t have to be visibly queer in order to be included. The misnomer of heterosexual privilege for bi people is that it is just re-closeting. The minority stress of being closeted, lacking community, or facing anti-LGBT sentiments while unsure if outing yourself to engage them will be safe is the reality of many bi people.

Perhaps this lack of understanding the innate queerness of bisexuality and our relationships is due to a shortage of obvious bi spaces. I say obvious because bi people do have community spaces but lack, yet again, the visibility that gay, lesbian, and even trans spaces now have. Bi people have a handful of organizations, conferences, and many local events that bring bisexual people together.

Still bisexual community can be found in, perhaps the most in, online spaces. We’ve created robust networks that allow us to have life saving, affirming community at our fingertips. It’s these bi created spaces, that gays and lesbians are oblivious to, that would dispel the idea that bisexuality isn’t as queer.

Bisexuality is inherently queer. Pride is embedded into our bi history, weaved in part by our elders. Our community spaces, online or locally, give us the affirmations of our queerness. All of this gives us the strength to face the monosexism we see every single year at Pride festivals, with a bi flag in hand, and claim our queer birthright as children of Pride.

Eliel Cruz
Eliel Cruz is a speaker and writer on religion, (bi)sexuality, media, and culture at Bisexual.org, The Advocate, Mic, and Religion News Service. His work has also been published in the Huffington Post, Everyday Feminism, Washington Post, Soujourners, DETAILS Magazine, Quartz, Rolling Stone, and various other international platforms.