Folks, I am a little overwhelmed keeping up with things here. Wanted to post this. I am pansexual, and I am also a person the world identifies as a woman. I think that fear of women, fear of femme, and fear of LGBTQQI people is deeply intertwined. I think that we are all helped when those of us who are men, male, cis-gender, hetero, white, Christian (in the US), able bodied, and older-than-minors check our privilege, be aware of it, as much as possible try to mitigate the harms it causes, and work to get rid of the systems that give us unearned privileges at the expense of oppressing people who don’t have these privileges (people who are othered by systems of structural oppression).

This poem is something I wrote today, when I couldn’t take it anymore, and also failed to stand up for myself or anyone else.

It’s about my fail, basically.

Thanks for listening

Cha-Cha

—————–

So often I am that chick telling it how it is on the internet
that great big NEUTRAL! (sexist, whitewashed) sea
of an exchange of (certain kinds of, certain people’s) ideas
(tell me again, tell me how it just isn’t so!)

and today
I saw you tell him to check his privilege
and he said “you mean check my pigment”
and it was totally gross
and I know him:
he knows exactly what he’s doing
he thinks he has a right to his unfounded hate/fear/hate
he thinks he has a right to hurt you and me
and you smacked him in the face

and he ripped you

and I
sit
staring

at the words on my screen, no
they don’t occur in the flesh
but hell yes
they occur
and have an effect
In Real Life

For example:
shamefully, I hide my face
I don’t have the strength
I let you deal with this today,
I make a traitor out me.

Dan Pearce: Anything Other Than Straight

Hey everyone,

So, first of all, the blog lives! It has been so, so long and I apologize for the lack of editor-ship on my part. Some day, I will write more about myself on here, but for now, what I’ll say is that in addition to this blog, I build a house out of a converted bus, I work in a variety of fields, and I’m a musician and a model, AND AND AND I went on my first international tour last month, and life has been busy. And in addition to that, there has been SEX and SEXUALITY, and oh yes, you’re gonna hear about it all very soon.

For now, though, I would like to direct your attention to Dan Pearce over at the blog Single Dad Laughing.

Dan-Pearce-About

Parenting while not straight, and parenting while coming out, is a super tense issue in many societies, including in the United States where there is still (STILL!) an active debate on whether those of us who are not straight are fit parents, whether we will screw up and “disease” our kids somehow, whether our children end up “missing something”, and other assorted bigoted nonsense that is too often enshrined in law. In the case of people who are neither straight nor gay, this can get painful in a different way, through accusations like “you didn’t really need to do that to your kid, since you’re not gay or anything” or “since you’re not gay, you can choose to act straight, so do it for the kids” or other insinuations of selfishness, incompetence, lack of respect for bisexual, pansexual, fluid, and other orientations being real, etc.

In this light, it’s pretty amazing for Dan to come out, and in such a public way. Amazing, inspiring, and a real act of companionship and solidarity with those of us who aren’t straight or gay.

A little about the blog:

I’m Dan. Single dad to Noah, the absolute awesomest kid on the planet. That is the truth.

I started the blog because I was desperate for something, anything, to pull me away from the that red-eyed monster of worthlessness. I wanted to laugh again. I wanted to vent. I needed to cry. What better way than by sitting down and writing? Writing has always had the power to heal me in my darkest of moments.

A little from the post:

Dear God, if there is a God, please, please, please don’t let me be anything other than straight.

For twenty-one years, I have said that prayer.

For twenty-one years, I have been paralyzed by the fear of what this society will do with me if they ever were to know of the thoughts that I continually push away. For more than two decades, I have made a choice to be straight. After all, it’s as easy as making a choice, isn’t it? This culture has made sure that I know that. Anyone who is anything other than straight was just someone deceived by the devil. He is unnatural. He is confused. He is mistaken. He is weak. He can control it if he desires to control it. Such a compelling and ongoing argument has been made that I have always trusted it.

I believed that if I hid it long enough, and ran from it long enough, and refused to acknowledge it for long enough, I could indeed succeed at living up to their decrees. I believed that I could force myself to never be anything else.

ENOUGH TEASING ALREADY. GO READ THE ENTIRETY OF THIS BEAUTIFUL THING

 

(Picture (c) Dan, from Dan’s blog. Check it.)

Guest Post by Holly: Intersecting Sexuality, Gender, Gender Identity, and Audre Lorde’s “Zami”.

Alright, it’s guest post time at We Exist, and here’s Holly Jones with a real meaty one. In her own words, “Holly Jones is a student of Geography at Clark University, and a student of the people around her in Worcester, MA. She excels at English vocabulary, multiple choice tests, telling fortunes, climbing trees, and speaking her mind. Check out her blog, Word Up .”      

In the following piece, she reflects on Audre Lorde’s biomythography Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, and offers a very personal look at how, for her, desire, sexuality, gender identity, and gender intersect and impact one another, how having a queer gender identity can complicate the nature of what are often called “same sex relationships,” and how to continue to subvert sexism and other systems of oppression through it all. 

For your humble editor, what makes this piece so special is the personal nature of it. Doubtless, there are other readers who will have different experiences with gender, gender identity, sexuality, and how they interact. Whether you’re reading this piece and thinking along the lines of “OMG, that’s SOOO me!” OR “oh wow, this is totally different from how things are for me”, we want to hear from you at We Exist, and you know what to do… named, handled, or anonymous, send your story to silenceendshere@gmail.com . 

And now, after all that… back to Holly. 

I just finished Audre Lorde’s book, “Zami: A new spelling of my name”. ‘A biomythography by Audre Lorde’. I’m studying the Combahee River Collective, a mostly-lesbian all-black, all-feminist collective in Boston in the 1970s. Their first retreat was in Hadley, at a members house. Audre Lorde was part of the collective, and so before I left Worcester for Bermuda, I scanned my house’s library for any of her books I might take along with me. There lay Sister Outsider, which I read last year, and Zami. Until reading Zami, I had forgotten how deeply Sister Outsider had moved me, and then Zami did the same. It largely focuses on intimate portraits of the women who shaped a young Audre Lorde. Most of the women are lovers, but the lovers are bookended by Audre’s mother.

It felt good to be reading this book on the sunny/windy Island of Bermuda, almost as good as reading Jamaica Kinkaid’s A Small Place: a book of mourning and celebration for a Jamaica she might have had, had it not been taken from her by colonialism. I read it as a reprimand to tourists like me blissfully ignorant of power relations on Caribbean Islands) Both A Small Place and Zami felt like a type of stretching back for roots which had been severed.

Zami.  A Carriacou name for women who work together as friends and lovers.

Carriacou; a small island which is part of the nation of Grenada, where the women walk like Africans. There it is said that the desire to lie with other women is a drive from the mother’s blood.

Carriacou was the home of Audre’s mother, and growing up, all good things came from ‘home’, a place Audre had never been. At the end though, Audre says that home is no longer a long way off. The bio-mythography ends somewhere in Audre’s 20s, when she is still stealing from grocery stores for sustenance, working part-time in a library and too poor for groceries.

Audre’s lush and unabashed descriptions of her dealings with women emotionally and physically struck a chord in me. She terms herself a Woman-Identified-Woman, finding strength in other women that she does not gain from men. The book seemed a tribute to those women and herself. And I think I gained some insight into the idea of being drawn to women. That’s always been a hard concept for me because I’ve conceptualized myself as being attracted to people regardless of their gender, though of course that’s not true, because gender is such an essential part of people’s identity.

It’s usually in environments where gender-fucking is welcomed and encouraged that I realize what a burden it usually is to me, that it feels oppressive every time I have to publicly declare my allegiance with one side or the other. When I do declare such an allegiance, though (walking into a gendered bathroom, for instance) my usual reaction is, fuck it. Why do we need gender?

Of course, I’m not so much as declaring an allegiance to “woman-hood” as reaffirming it; everybody already pledges my allegiance for me as a woman, because of my presentation and my body.

And usually when we talk about gender identity, it is these external indicators which we think about. Those are the tangible things. “A woman born in a man’s body” and vice-versa, rather than a person, born in their own body, who has their own relation to it. But of course the body’s not what it’s about; gender isn’t so fluid that it changes depending on one’s outfit (or is it?)

So I can present one way, and enjoy presenting that way, but still feel that I am greater than the way I present. Right? But I also feel frustrated with my inability to switch… usually, I cannot pass as male regardless of hairstyle, chest reduction, packing, beard shadow… it just looks like drag, which is probably why i don’t do it too often. I prefer, for instance, dressing up femme/girly, parading my breasts, and scrawling a label, “BOY”, across them in lipstick. Because in my view, people really ought to just take my word for it.

Still. Still, people should and they don’t. Everybody sees and shapes everybody else… and that creates legitimate differences between genders. Which theoretically ought to be celebrated while remaining necessarily unnamed, as they shape each person in different ways.

My friend I were walking the other day, and a small child asked her why she had ‘boy hair’. I told her to respond with the question, “what is a boy?” but while maybe enlightening for a child in a certain context, the category of ‘boy’ is a useful descriptor of some people and attributes. Some people are strongly attached to it. Perhaps even more so, the category “woman”.

Audre’s term, ‘woman-identified-woman’, is about drawing strength from the female relationships in a woman’s life as much as those relationships being sexual in nature. Because of my complicated ideas and feelings about gender, this sort of identification with ‘women’ is one that I struggle with. I like to think that attraction, for me, is mostly about someone’s personality, and not their gender identity, but of course, gender and being gendered are so essential to our experiences that of course gender identity is an integral part of who they are. Women in our society are shaped by growing up in patriarchy, and that is part of what makes relationships between women, and women appreciating the beauty and worth of other women, so very precious.

JT on how sexuality is about desire, not deeds, and claiming “bisexual”

Hey everybody – life is getting crazy, and thus my article writing has slipped over the summer. But this is not a permanent situation! And, it gets easier for me when you write in, so don’t forget, all you bi / pan / fluid / + / other people, what are your experiences? We wants to hear ‘em, on We Exist! silenceendshere@gmail.com

In the meantime, here’s JT answering a question about kissing men on the cheek, and addressing the hesitancy to claim “bisexual” when one is in an opposite sex, monogamous relationship.

“Sexual orientation isn’t based on sexual activity; it’s based on what you’re attracted to sexually. So we’re talking feelings, not deeds.”

Short article, but a good reminder.

Oh course, some of us pansexual bisexuals are perfectly happy in our poly and multi oriented relationships… but that’s my article, for another day.

“But how many of there are you, really?” Against erasure and excuses, fighting for our lives

This rant’s from yours truly – on excuses I’m truly sick of, and the fight for your life and mine. – Cha-Cha

A couple of articles ago, I linked to a report out of the UK on bisexuality. I particularly liked the following quote in the beginning, explaining some issues with methodology:

“It is extremely difficult to determine the number of bisexual people due to both a lack of research and different definitions of bisexuality. If the term is defined narrowly, for example as the number of people who self-identify as ‘bisexual’ on a national UK survey, then the proportions tend to be small. If the term is defined as broadly as all people who have ever had an attraction to more than one gender then it may include a significant minority, or even a majority, of the population. However, how many bisexual people there are has no bearing on the necessity of ensuring that bisexual people enjoy equality and freedom from discrimination, as these rights apply to all regardless of sexual identity or attraction.

That last sentence cannot be emphasized enough.

I am so tired of hearing how bisexuality and research pertaining to bisexual people isn’t important because we are few and far between and there “just aren’t that many bi’s.” I am tired of this coming from straight people who have the privilege of being blind to the existence of everyone else, and I am tired of hearing it from gay people to whom we are non-monosexuals are all vaguely suspect, or else are imaginary or, alternately, are in need of “saving.” I have heard pretty much the same sentence, starting with “there just aren’t that many….” applied to people who are transgender, and doubly so when it comes to transgender people of color. And pansexuals, fluid-sexuals, and people more of these ilks and identities hardly merit a mention, or are treated as just politically correct, semantic oddities, as are people who are genderqueer though in different ways. And as for intersex people, I mostly hear “why bother? I mean, how many of them ARE there really?” Or comments even less kind, even from queers who really ought to know better.

And for the record, the fact is there are a ton of us. Statistically, everyone has been in the same room with a person who is transgender. Everyone’s at least passed a bi, pan, fluid person on the street. You’ve met somebody who’s intersex. You’ve seen somebody who’s genderqueer. These things really aren’t uncommon – they’ve just been repressed and persecuted for an incredibly long time. Appropriation and miscategorization notwithstanding, there are plenty of historical examples as well, all over the world and in many histories, for those who search. This information is available on the internet, mostly through advocacy and visibility organizations, and is sadly absent from widely available media and education.

But I keep hearing this “why bother?” crap from lesbian and gay people, as well as straight people. It’s so fucking depressing. And the consequences are real and direct.

And, it’s had an impact on activists from various communities that get dismissed, all the time, as not really mattering because “there just aren’t that many of you.” Bisexual, transgender, and intersex people all come from communities that have had to bend over fucking backwards to prove that they exist, and in “sizeable numbers,” whatever the hell that means. Pan, fluid, and otherwise differently labeled / hard to label / not labeled folks are beginning to assert ourselves and our existence. Genderqueer folks are speaking up more and more.

If there is even f*cking one of us, we deserve recognition and human rights, in other words the means to live to our full potential, as do all people.

How many times, how many ways can I yell it from the rooftops: Erasure is not a PC thing – it’s a deadly thing, it’s a REAL thing. IT exists, and I wish it didn’t.

What does it mean? It means, in different ways depending on our particular circumstances, that our mental and physical health needs don’t get addressed. Our safety isn’t a concern. Our feelings don’t matter. The reasons we commit suicide, or even the number of suicides of bi, pan, and fluid people SEPARATELY from other categories of “not-straight” people, are not researched and reflected upon, and therefore the efforts to stop it are limited and rarely if ever funded. The ways in which we are criminalized, violated, incarcerated, are not examined or helped. When we voice what is hurting us and ask for it to stop, we are not heard, over and over, until we are not-heard into silence and sometimes into suicide. We are not allowed to be fully human, or fully expressive of our own humanity. Etcetera. And a lot else.

Do you ever wonder what else we could be doing with our energy if we didn’t have to prove, over and over again, to people generally and people with research grants specifically, that we exist and are alive and are deserving of concern and that there should be studies of our quality of life and how to improve it? For crying out loud?

Do you ever think about what life would be like, for example, if health studies had already been performed so that sexual, mental, and physical healthcare pertinent to people who are not straight or gay even existed? If we learned about ourselves early on in our education, learned our histories and heros, and never had to wonder whether or not we were just freaks? Do you ever think about what life would be like if our potential weren’t so often sucked alive by illness, depression, self doubt, fear of ourselves, internalized bi/pan phobia, the endless wondering if we would ever fit, the lies, the closets, the half-truths, the bending over backwards to fit, if we never had to do that, if we could just be, or at least get the proper help recovering from a dominant society that seeks, over and over again, to erase us and our existence?

I think about it all the time, and it burns me up some nights.

It also jumps me up a lot of mornings. I want to create that world NOW.

Back to the article, which was about bisexuality, specifically. And I am not trying to lump all bi, pan, and fluid people together, and I am CERTAINLY not trying to say that a sexual orientation is the same as being genderqueer, transgender, or intersex. But I am trying to recognize that it is more than just bisexual people who are being erased by lack of research, lack of care, lack of specificity, and by being lumped in with the lesbian and gay amalgam, the demand being that we be citizens of some Queer Community ™ that doesn’t really recognize or care for us.* We must be sensitive to our specific and different needs, and we should take the opportunity to be in solidarity with one another.

I am glad to see this report. I hope to hear about others like it – leave some comments. I look forward to that day when bisexuality becomes accepted as a Thing That Really Happens, and when we can move past it, to not lump everyone who is bisexual or could plausibly fit into the bisexual box together. I look forward to a report that looks at the needs of bisexual people of different genders more closely and specifically. I look forward to reports that will look not just at the needs and experiences of “bisexual People of Color” but that look at specific racial, ethnic, and indigenous groups, and recognize that “People of Color” do not all have the same freakin’ experience of life (and sexuality and gender). I look forward to future reports, from many sectors, that recognize that transgender people have sexual orientations, and some transgender people are bisexual. That intersex people have sex, and have sexual orientations. That genderqueer people are people in fact, not just in theory, that “genderqueer” is a REAL THING, not a semantic thing, for crying out freakin’ loud. That “bisexual” is not the same, always, as “pansexual” or “fluid,” or about a million other labels that are not just some freaky, random “thing” that people take on to be unique, but that are taken on because they fit and reflect a certain specific set of needs.
And I look forward to the implementation of the findings of such studies. To education that includes us. To basic rights and the possibility of self actualization. To being able to fully be ourselves.

And until that happen, and our needs are met, I’m going to keep screaming it out: We Exist, in all our multiplicity, and we matter, and we can not afford to be ignored.

*I don’t know, but I imagine it could be doubly weird and dissonant for transgender, intersex, and genderqueer people who are heterosexual oriented.

Worcester Bisexual Bruch needs a new organizer STAT!

Otherwise the meetup group is gonna close and then who the hell knows.

Any organizers out there?

Comment below and I’ll get in touch with the current organizers, who must step down.

Cha! Cha!

(And now, back to our regularly scheduled writing-an-article).

Some links and an arm twisting

So here’s a few links I came across pertinent to bisexuality, pansexuality, interesting stuff, etc.

But first – a desperate plea for submissions.

A shout out to you.

Yeah, you.

You know who you are. You heard about this blog at a party, or looked it up once, or saw a rant on facebook about it, or heard a rumor that someone was doing a blog for bi / pan / people who don’t care / people who aren’t straight or gay or don’t know or don’t give a crap / fluid people / etc, or I got in your face somewhere, or you overheard a conversation or something, and you thought about sending in a submission.

And you’re still thinking about it, and I don’t have your post.

So listen.

When I started this thing, I had three main ideas: the first was that I was sick of being erased, made invisible, and otherwise ignored, the second was that I wanted some kind of community or communities in which I could find some semblance of belonging, and the third was that no one was gonna do it for me so I’d better try.

And somewhere in there, too, was a hope that before someone in some isolated area, who doesn’t know any other people who might be described as bi, pan, or otherwise not-straight-and-not-gay, say, offs themselves, they might use google, they might find this blog, and they might be at least somewhat comforted to know that Yes There Are Others, that, truly, We Exist. I have been there, friends. It’s a nasty place. It would be cool if, bit by bit, we created less nasty, empty space, and more space of belonging, even if we only know each other by our anonymous internet handles, even. It’s a start.

Another aspect is that this is not Cha-Cha’s blog. I have a plan for that – this is not it. I don’t WANT to write endlessly about my own life, here – happy to share experiences around my sexual orientation, but this blog is not me, it’s not my politics, it’s not just people who are Just Like Me or Agree With Cha-Cha On Things, etc. It’s OUR stories – and we are many, and multiple. That’s the idea.

That multiplicity is what’s going to convey to that kid, who I once resembled, out there in the world, that WE exist – not just Cha-Cha, but a whole, diverse, crapload of us.
I cannot do this without your words, your pictures, your stories. I’m asking for your help.

If you’re worried your writing skills aren’t that great, know that (a) they are probably better than you think they are, and (b) that some of us aren’t great at writing, and we also are part of the We that Exists. (Some of us, like me, are not good at adding, or telling right from left. And that’s just two of the many things that make the community of Fluidly Sexual / Bi / Pan / + people diverse – I have heard that some of us, in this community, can do math. I salute you. Please write about it someday coz lord knows I can’t.)

If you don’t want to be known, not even to me, please know that it is very easy to set up a fake gmail or hotmail or yahoo or hushmail account and send me your story completely frickin anonymously. Also a detailed privacy policy is in the “About” section under the “About” tab at the top of the page. (Hushmail is encrypted e-mail. Believing that I can hack into anything and retrieve your true identity gives me waaaay too much credit, but hushmail will also stop those with considerably more skills than I have, if you are concerned.)

If you don’t know or aren’t sure how you identify, tell us about it. We want to hear from you.

If you don’t particularly feel a need to tell your story, that is 100% cool and valid. And at the same time: if you feel moved to do so anyway, please know that your story could really be of help to someone reading this. Please know that if you think you are “different” from me in some way, and therefore wonder if I want to hear from you, that this is more valuable, and makes your story more necessary, because I can already tell mine but I can’t tell yours. Someone may relate to you in ways that they will never relate to me- pretty much almost definitely. Please do not underestimate your own potential importance to some reader you may never meet.

This sounds melodramatic, but I have cause to believe that it’s not: when you tell your story, you might just save someone. Madonna probably doesn’t realize what her lyrics meant to me as a teenager. But they did save me – and your words, too, have that potential.

/dramatics

So if that rant worked on any of you, and you feel moved… send me something. Silenceendshere@gmail.com, okay? Short, long, whatevs. Talk to me. Or talk to that kid you don’t know, who, somewhere out there, is listening.

Thanks, peoples.

And now, a quick link roundup:

Meg Barker, senior lecturer at the Open University, and other researchers have released The Bisexuality Report: Bisexual inclusion in LGBT Equality and Diversity. The focus of the report is primarily the United Kingdom.

Primary findings include the following:

● Bisexual people’s experiences differ in important ways from those
of heterosexual people, and from those of lesbian and gay people.


● Biphobia is distinct from homophobia.


● Bisexual people often face discrimination and prejudice from within
heterosexual, and lesbian and gay, communities. This can be
obscured by LGBT amalgamation.


● Bisexual populations have significantly higher levels of distress and
mental health difficulties than equivalent heterosexual or lesbian/
gay populations.

The report is beefy. Information on the report can be found HERE and HERE.

Full report can be downloaded HERE.

Thanks to Ksenia for the hookup :)

NEXT:

Disability Studies Quarterly has a neat paper called We Exist: Intersectional In/Visibility In Bisexuality & Disability. 

From the abstract:

The intersection of theories of disability and bisexuality is unexplored, yet both are identities rendered in/visible by paternalistic environments where individual and political identities are defined by oppositional binaries and vulnerable to compulsory citizenship. The development of such identities can be better understood by using a bisexual approach to inform theories of disability and a disability approach to inform theories of sexuality inclusive of bisexuality. 

See the whole thing HERE.

Last one: did you all know about Empty Closets? Because I didn’t, and I wish I had. Seems to be an online forum for reaching out and connecting to others who aren’t straight online, without necessarily having to out yourself to everyone in the whole world, and while being able to talk to people beyond your immediate community. Seems that there are also people who seek support around being trans and coming out trans. Not sure how much support bi / pan / fluid people get, not sure how much support trans people get, but the idea is cool – anyone got any experiences?

That’s it for now.

PS – write me…