Monthly Archives: June 2012

“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.

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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…