Archive for the 'in the media' Category

05
May
09

OMG Make it stop

For the past three days, 90% of my Google Alerts (for “bisexual” and “bisexuality”) have been about Pink. And you know what? I don’t care.

I really shouldn’t complain about it here, though. I’m probably just doing it to someone else.

Update: OK, actually I do care a little. It just occurred to me that, even if the story was totally fabricated…in three days of articles quoting Pink saying she’s bisexual (or saying she never said any such thing), not one of them was headlined “Pink is a lesbian!!” And that’s progress, of a sort.

05
May
09

Can guys actually be bisexual? Oh, I don’t know, let me consult my magic 8 ball…

Hm. It says “Yes, definitely.” Let’s try again. “You may rely on it.” There, I think that means “No…”

A couple of days ago, bi email lists were buzzing about the two op-eds about bi men on Gay.com. The first was Ari Bendersky wondering “Can guys actually be bisexual?” — and of course concluding that they can’t, they can only be gay men who haven’t yet realized that they’re not actually into women.

Is it really possible for a guy to be bisexual? There are a lot of opinions about this, but when you ask gay men, the answer is often “No.”

Because, of course, gay men are the experts on male bisexuality. It wouldn’t make far more sense to ask self-identified male bisexuals. Their opinions are pretty dismissable, since we already know they’re almost certainly gay, straight, or lying. It’s far more sensible to ask a group which in many ways has privilege over the people in question.

The crux of Bendersky’s argument seems to be this:

In our culture, if a guy has oral or anal intercourse with another guy, most would say that he’s gay, because, for many of us, “being gay” describes a man who has sex with other men.

Sure, we can say that many other things go into being gay, but sexual activity is what many of us believe what makes up the person who is gay. A man could be into leather and Levi’s; he could really like theater; he could really be into fashion. These interests don’t necessarily make a man gay, though. But when this man has sex with other men, there’s really no denying what camp he falls into.

So what do we make of these guys who define themselves as “bi”? Are they really fooling themselves as they screw their way down the path to gayhood, or do they really enjoy having sex with women? I realize that some people are just sexually charged and will take it wherever they can get it. But I say that if you’re a guy having sex with another guy, chances are there’s a part of you that’s in denial, and only time will tell when you finally come around to the realization that, yup, you’re gay.

Allow me to translate: “Let’s examine whether male bisexuality seems like a possibility. Well, our culture says that having sex with another man automatically makes a man gay. If we stipulate that, it becomes clear the bisexual men, being men who have sex with other men, are really one epiphany short of identifying as gay.”  That’s a very rigorous, logical approach, and not at all circular. It’s terribly useful to define “gay” as “all men who have sexual contact with men” and then declare that all men who have sexual contact with men are gay. Consider me completely won over. Not to mention the nod to the typical just-looking-for-the-next-warm-wet-hole stereotype that seems to be the only type of bisexuality some people will concede the possibility of. And I do like the way he asks whether bisexual men genuinely enjoy having sex with women, and then ignores the question as if it were totally irrelevant — which it is, to him. After all, even if they enjoy it, it must be only because they haven’t realized yet that they don’t. That makes sense, right?

As well as being less than persuasive, this argument strikes me as buying into a lot of our culture’s oppressive heterosexism. Sex with another man taints you, and once you’ve had it the only possibility is that you’re a big gay homo forever? None of your other behavior or opinions on your own desires and identity matters because you’ve touched teh cock? Um. I know I’ve heard that before, and it wasn’t from our friends.  (Well, actually, I heard it from my first boyfriend, too. “I didn’t know you had a foot fetish,” I said to him one day. “All gay men have foot fetishes!” he declared. Because, um, he was from Texas, and apparently in Texas all men who’ve hooked up with another man are gay. Even if they’re currently lying in bed with me, naked, still catching their breath from the sex we were just having. He identified as bisexual most of the time, but it was a weird moment…Oh, and speaking of my first boyfriend. And my last boyfriend, come to think of it. Yes, guys can be bisexual. I promise. I was there, I should know.)

Now, this sort of faulty and vapid reason is pretty common. And Gay.com is a personals site, it’s not really where I’d expect to find a political analysis of bisexuality. So, while sucky, this is a pretty expected level of fail. But of course, in a space that’s centered around dating it’s especially important to acknowledge and support the existence of bisexuals and treat us like legitimate dating partners. And with a large audience comes a large responsibility to set an example and treat everyone respectfully. Do they really want to serve only gay men, rather than any men seeking to date men? That’s what it seems like right now, and that would be pretty unfortunate.

Also disappointing was the follow-up by Robert Lawrence, which was about as rambling, petty, and illogical as the original post:

Let me pull my mouth away from my boyfriend’s crotch long enough to respond to this question.

The best studies of identity panic show that denialists are the ones you meet later at the glory holes, so maybe there’s a woman in your future. If you ask the scientists, the answer is “Yes, Vagina, there is such a thing as bisexuality.”

Huh? There are a couple of promising leads (“Now you tell me why you refuse to believe in the existence of my female and trans lovers. Do you have the right to define what I am?” “When I came out, our very lives were illegal. We fought for everyone’s freedom to choose partners without straight lines holding us back.”), but they kinda go nowhere. And while I understand Lawrence’s anger and think it’s completely justified, I question Gay.com’s choice of this piece to represent the bisexual community/standpoint.

I’m already irritated by the Point/Counterpoint approach to whether a group of people actually exists. But if Gay.com is going to do such an offensive thing, they could choose an articulate, persuasive counterpoint. They had a chance to showcase an intelligent, reasonable opinion on male bisexuality, and passed it up. I can’t help but think that their choice of this bloggger/article says more about their stance on male bisexuality than even the fact that they ran these two pieces at all.

29
Apr
09

One Woman Show

As the more astute among you have probably noticed, it’s been all Aviva all the time around here for a while now. Sarah’s been eaten by grad school, which has been demanding all of her energy and filling all of her analytical needs. So, despite my pouty face, she’s going to be stepping down as my co-blogger. She’ll still guest post whenever she feels moved to, and I for one am hoping that will happen a lot — particularly since it’s almost summer, and perhaps school will relinquish its grip a bit for a few months. And I’m still hoping to convince her to come to New York for queer film and theater festivals and check out all of the bi-themed offerings with me.  I’m eternally grateful to her for deciding we should start a blog and getting it started with me.

I hope there will be other co-bloggers in my future, when I meet people who are invested in bisexuality as a political identity who are willing to put in the time to write about it regularly here. But for now you’re stuck with me. I’ll try to live up to the burden.

And really, I’ve been pretty absentee myself lately. I’m working on that. In the meantime, there have been some interesting posts about bisexuality up on Bilerico in the past couple of months. Half of these are by a guest contributor and the other half by people who aren’t bisexual-identified, and I still maintain that they could use a bi-identified contributor who covers that angle (or, if they have one or more, they could use more active ones).  and it says something that I consider four articles in two months to be a lot of bi content on an LGBTQ blog, let alone such an active one. But take a look at what’s been going on over there while apartment drama (leaking! associated ceiling problems! bedbugs in the building! — though, so far, not in my unit…cross your fingers for me), broken computer (I fixed it! All by myself! I bought a new screen, and I installed it!!!!), and relationship processing have kept me away from you:

Ellyn Ruthstrom, President of the Bisexual Resource Center, has a list of tips on how to be a good ally to a bisexual person. I could suggest some additions — really move through the world as though you believe bisexuals exist and don’t assume anyone’s sexual orientation based on (what you perceive as) the gender of the partner you see them with, just off the top of my head — but it’s a good start.

Cathy Renna also writes about being an ally to bi folks, from the ally side. It’s good to know we have allies out there who are taking on the crazy things people say when we’re not around.

Ellyn Ruthstrom posts again, on how gay men and lesbians often use bi space as a place to come out and adjust to the idea that they’re not straight. It’s an interesting take. Many people argue that bisexuality is always just a phase on the way to feeling comfortable in a gay identity — often because it was for them, or someone they know.  This article looks at it from the other direction and suggests that one of the wonderful things about bi space is that it allows people that sometimes-necessary phase, without judging them or telling them who they should be or how they should identify. Presumably while also serving the needs of people who are bisexual as a stable and long-term identity, which seems to me to be a more important goal. Particularly when many of those same people, having arrived at a gay or lesbian identity, turn around and argue that we don’t exist and must just be taking our sweet time on the same journey. Still, I take her point that the bi community and the gay and lesbian community, to the extent that they’re separate, should try to be welcoming and good to one another, and worry less about who’s using whom and more about easing our common struggles.

And finally, Jess Hoffmann reposted an earlier article on why she doesn’t identify as bisexual. I agree with much of her reasoning, even though she avoids “bisexual” because of its binary connotations and I use it in order to change those connotations. In practice there are bisexuals who buy into the gender binary and are only attracted to people within it and bisexuals who don’t and are attracted to a wide range of genders, just as there are gay and straight people who believe in two genders and are only attracted to one and gay and straight people who see a range of genders but are only attracted to one or a few. I think it’s important to distinguish between a problem with the word’s roots with the behavior of the people using it; the bi and trans communities have a history of being allies to each other, and I personally find that more important than the Latin origins of the word. I certainly agree with her reasons for choosing “queer;” I’m also a big fan of the word’s political connotations, and almost always pair it with bisexual. But I still think that, despite the word being less than perfect (not only for the “bi”‘ but also for the “sexual,” which puts the focus on sex rather than identity in a way that “gay” and”lesbian” are clearly trying to avoid), it’s the best one I have to talk about who I am. Queer is descriptive of my politics but could mean just about anything as far as my attractions, and I appreciate the specificity of bi. The comments on both this and the 2007 post are also interesting and worth reading, and probably informed what I had to say on the subject.

27
Mar
09

It’s definitely time to find a new sex advice columnist…

I did say in the wake of Prop 8 that if Dan Savage kept it up with the racism I’d have to stop liking him altogether. And while I haven’t seen that kind of overt racism from him since, a) I’m sure it’s still there, b) he’s been terribly offensive about bisexuals more times than I can count, as well as not having a good record with fat folks and people living with domestic violence, and c) this week we have some equally shocking transphobia. There will be no more “He’s a good sex advice columnist, but…” from me anymore. I’m flat out of patience and excuses. If anything, it took me too long.

In response to a reader who doesn’t know how to tell his girlfriend that he paid a trans woman for sex, Dan writes [heads up: offensive words for and thoughts about trans women below the cut]:

Continue reading ‘It’s definitely time to find a new sex advice columnist…’

05
Mar
09

Round-up

All of my time and energy for writing right now is going toward processing in my relationships. (It’s always something, isn’t it? I will never not be busy, and there will never not be something of that moment that I point to and say “It’s this, soon I will be less crazy.) It may be a few more days before I can sit down and write something thoughtful about anything else. Also, I dropped my Eee PC and cracked the screen today (apparently the world was trying to see how much hard stuff it had to throw at me to kill my high from an amazing Saturday night — okay, world, you win!), so blogging on the train and bus will be out until I come up with money to get it fixed or replace it. So in the meantime, a look at the things I might be blogging about if I were doing so at all…

Girlfriend, Esq. pointed me to Greta Christina’s response to Dan Savage’s latest insensitive comment about bisexuals. I’d missed it somehow, but as always, Greta Christina does a thorough and brilliant job of responding. I don’t think I have anything to add. Other than that Dan Savage may make his reputation on his snark, but the occasional columns where a dozen questions get brief answers really help no one. They just let him showcase his wit without giving actual advice. Even he could probably have done a better job of answering that one if he’d fleshed it out more; at least we’d know which fucked up thing exactly he was getting at.

Alex at Bilerico is doing a week-long series on abstinence-only education, looking at a new report on how abstinence-only education is actually implemented in Texas (the state that receives the most federal funding for it). Two days ago he wrote about homophobia in abstinence-only, yesterday about religion as part of the curriculum; today it’s sexism. Keep an eye on that one; it promises to be interesting and important.

Meanwhile, Bil at Bilerico posts about the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders filing a challenge to DOMA that they seem to hope to bring to the Supreme Court. He has a lot of really persuasive things to say about how the push for marriage actually harms the push for more basic rights in places other than the two coasts. I’m a coastal dweller myself, so I can’t say anything other than that it sounds about right, and lines up with/complements a lot of my reasoning on why pushing for marriage is not where our energy should be going. He also left a heart-wrenching comment on a different post by someone who supports the move. And Nancy Polikoff points out that it will only benefit couples with income inequalities, and talks about how the queers shouldn’t be shoring up heteronormativity — and you know how I love that.

HRC has announced some long-overdue changes to its Corporate Equality Index. I’m not best pleased with how long these changes will take to kick in and how long employers can continue to skate by while treating trans employees in really fucked up ways, but I have no way of assessing HRC’s claim that companies need that long to bring themselves into compliance. Of course I’m less concerned than HRC is about employers who don’t treat trans employees well getting to keep their perfect scores for a couple of years while they fix that, but they may have a point that companies are more likely to comply if they’re not ticked off. Since after all we’re not hoping they’ll do this out of the goodness of their hearts; we know they have to be shamed into it/get something out of it. And it is a positive change. Also, because he wins all of the links today, Bil talks about his disappointment that HRC will still not be assessing companies on their behavior internationally and factoring that in.

Have a lovely week!

20
Feb
09

More in common than we thought?

I am so woefully behind since last weekend’s conference. Especially since Girlfriend, Esq. got into town last night, so I spent the three days since I got home getting ready for her visit. If I owe you a personal email or haven’t responded to your comment yet (thanks for all the birthday wishes!), I swear I haven’t forgotten you and it is on my list of things to do. If you could give me until Monday before you give up on me, I’d be eternally grateful.

I’m still catching up on Google Alerts and Bilerico emails, too. In one of them I came across a link to this reaction to Rea Carey’s speech at Creating Change, from Americans for Truth About Homosexuality. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that it’s a vile piece. They play up the Leather Leadership Award as evidence that the Task Force isn’t qualified to speak on right and morality, and clearly only have to say the words “transsexuality,” “prostitution,” “polyamory/nonmonogamy,” and “sexual freedom” to get their readers all grossed out and riled up. I also giggled at “If you are reading this website, you are seriously concerned about the homosexual activist agenda.” Yeah, actually, I am. Mostly I’m concerned with advancing it.

What I find fascinating about the article, though, is how similarly it reads to many things I see from the queer-positive radical left. The way they set the Left up as a monolithic, powerful Goliath against their poor, disorganized, minority David is awfully familiar. Check this out: Continue reading ‘More in common than we thought?’

09
Jan
09

Weekly round-up

It’s a short week this week, since last week spilled over into the weekend. I can’t say that much has gotten done in Aviva land. It’s been mostly work and errands, and those frustrating days where lots of little things go wrong and make you crazy, but nothing big enough that you feel like you get to really whine about it. But here’s what the corner of the world I’ve been observing has to offer us.

Continue reading ‘Weekly round-up’

05
Jan
09

Fort-nightly Round-Up, Part 2

Whew! This should be it on everything that happened in the past month. We should now be back to our regularly scheduled weekly round-up.

It’s been a fun couple of weeks for me. My sister is in town between a semester in Russia and her last semester in Wisconsin (she should have something to say for us about that soon!), and I’ve been spending tons of time with her. We hosted a dinner party last weekend, spent this week getting my apartment from mostly-moved-in to fully set up and looking like a home, and two nights ago broke it in with a housewarming party. It’s been lots of fun, but blogging and spending time with my other friends have been falling by the wayside a bit as I try to stock up on time with her enough to last me the next three months. They say that how you spend the New Year is how you spend the next year, and I would be so okay with spending this year in people’s living rooms with a few close friends. Eating homemade soup, tearing apart neocon craziness, and laughing til it hurts. Bring it on.

Meanwhile, in the world:

Continue reading ‘Fort-nightly Round-Up, Part 2′

19
Dec
08

Fortnightly Round-Up?

Thanks for hanging in there with me all these months while I figure out how this blogging thing works. I hope to have it figured out and everything running smoothly by the time this blog is a year old, which gives me until next summer. In the meantime, a round-up of all of the news I haven’t had a chance to read, let alone write about, since the last round-up. (I was so right to ask for an Eee for Chanukah. Bus rides to DC are one of my major sources of blogging time, these days.)

Julia Serano has a call out for anecdotes from trans women about being objectified or hypersexualized in ways that relate to their being trans. She’s planning to use them in an upcoming article highlighting and speaking out against such misbehavior. Bi-Furious! would like to take this opportunity to remind you that Julia Serano is awesome and inspiring (as far as I’m concerned the saddest thing about me missing the Femme Conference was not getting to introduce myself), and you should read her book Whipping Girl.

We were asked ages ago to post this call for submissions to Chroma, and I am a flaky airhead. Sophie emails us to say, “Chroma is the UK’s premier queer literary magazine. We pay $50 per accepted piece and we can accept email submissions from overseas contributors — but please get in touch first and let us know what you’d like to send along! Issue 11 has the theme Utopia, and we are looking for great science fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, horror writing, comics and art…The deadline is 15 June 2009, so there’s lots of time to imagine beautiful machines and fabulous planets…”
Submission guidelines here, more information here. And I think our very own Sarah is planning to submit a piece!

Yet another call for submissions, this time from QueeredFiction, a queer genre publisher, for an anthology on queer futures. The deadline for that one is February 28th.

The 6th International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers was on Wednesday. Check out the Sex Workers Outreach Project’s information packet, which includes their demands and an open letter to President-Elect Barack Obama.

Speaking of President-Elect Obama…he chose Rick Warren to give the Invocation at the inauguration? Rick “same sex mariage intrudes on my freedom of speech” Warren? Really? He defends the choice here. I’m not ready to join the hordes of LGBT activists declaring that this does not bode well for queer issues during Obama’s presidency, but I must say it makes me cautious. I realize that you can never please everyone, but who exactly did he hope to please with this move?
Actually, let’s take a closer look at Warren’s fascinating argument against same sex marriage. “And the reason I supported Proposition 8, is really a free speech issue. Because first the court overrode the will of the people, but second there were all kinds of threats that if that did not pass then any pastor could be considered doing hate speech if he shared his views that he didn’t think homosexuality was the most natural way for relationships, and that would be hate speech.” My eloquent counter-argument is: huh? Where are you even getting this? Legalizing civil marriages doesn’t mean that clergy have to perform them, let alone condone them. This conflation of two unrelated things (without any explanation of how the speaker got from A to B)  is a favorite tactic for bigots justifying their bigotry, but unless I’m sorely mistaken, there was nothing in the phrasing of Prop 8 that would have made religious disapproval of homosexual practice hate speech had it failed.

Ironically, a study in British Columbia suggests that pregnancy rates are higher among gay and bisexual teens than among straight teens. The suggestion is that queer teens engage in heterosexual sex as camouflage in an attempt to avoid harrassment and discrimination. I also want to take issue with the phrasing “7.3 per cent of lesbians and 10.6 per cent of girls who said they were bisexual” – what’s that distinction about? Maybe they trust lesbian teens to know their own minds, but suspect some girls identifying as bisexual might be confused?

I kinda want to see this documentary chronicling a long-term triad. Bisexual and polyamorous relationships get so little positive exposure, I’m intrigued at the thought that this might have been done well. Pity I don’t get HBO. (Who does and wants to invite me over to watch it?)

Health insurance company Aetna has formed an LGBT advisory council. Good for them! I have no idea how it’s working out in practice, but they seem pretty committed to recognizing and addressing LGBT-specific health needs, and in general to “eliminating inequalities in health care.” That’s definitely a goal I can get behind. And speaking of inequalities in health care…I think in my last post I glossed over the main point about the study showing that queers are less healthy than straight people. What I found most interesting about it is that, while there’s a health disparity between gays and lesbians and straight folks, there’s a markedly bigger disparity between straight folks and bisexuals. Why should this be? What does it say about the near-universal assumption that bisexuals are better off because we have access to straight pivilege? Is it possible that instead, it’s even more stressful and unhealthy to be caught between two worlds, neither of which really wants you? Gay men and lesbians at least have a subculture that fully embraces them, while it sometimes condemns and excludes bisexuals; bi culture and activism is much newer and smaller. I don’t have answers, but boy, I have questions.

Apparently, this month marks the two-year anniversary of the Conservative Jewish movement deciding that being gay or bisexual is not a violation of Jewish law. I enjoyed this piece by a gay Conservative Jew about the intersections of minority experience in being gay and Jewish. I don’t necessarily think it’s helpful to compare being gay to being Jewish, but do think it’s useful to explore how being both colors one’s experience.

“Not everyone is bisexual” pins! I doubt I’d wear one of these, but they amused me. And the arguments she makes in explaining why she made them sound awfully familiar. I also found an interesting piece on bi identity when I went poking around that site. It’s a good take on a lot of the stereotypes bi folks run into out in the world.

Oklahoma State Senator Sally Kern’s husband calls on the courts to put homosexuals in mandatory treatment centers like those for drug abuse and anger management. Scary stuff. (Question: would this be spontaneous, or — like the examples he cites — only in response to a crime? ‘Cause it seems like he’s implying the former, and how exactly does he expect that to work? Oh, right, probably making gay sex a crime again. ) Sally Kern, remember, is the one who was recorded saying all kinds of hateful, homophobic things.

Applications are open for the Point Foundations 2009 scholarships for LGBT students. Apparently, they’re particularly looking for bisexual applicants. I know some of our lovely readers should be applying. (Come to think of it, when I get around to going back to school, I should be applying.)

And, um, I have lots more emails full of news to read, but no more time today. Maybe instead of spending the weekend trying to figure out what my next post should be about, I’ll wrap this up on the bus home on Monday.

07
Nov
08

Election Reflections

The world is a much brighter place for me right now than it was even a week ago. All of the tension I’ve been holding about the uncertainty of the future might finally have a chance to dissipate. There are two reasons for this, one personal and one shared:

1) I’m moved! Moving really is possibly my least favorite thing to do in the entire world. I just hate it. But I managed to get the packing done in time, and my friends showed up and carried and smiled and laughed and made the day itself a pleasure, and since Sunday I’ve been giving myself a break and slowly settling into my new place. Now that I’ve had a chance to recover a bit from draining myself so dry, and don’t have to spend every spare moment packing, I’m determined to follow the news more closely and blog more often. Also to put more time and care into my close friendships

2) President-Elect Barack Obama!! I can’t express how surprised I am that the democratic process actually worked (I was convinced this election would be stolen), and how thrilled at the idea of a regime change. The state of the world has been wearing on us all, I think. And while I don’t expect it all to turn around in an instant — and don’t even get me started on how this election is not the death knell of racism – I admit that I’m inspired and full of hope. The majority of voting Americans voted for a black man. A man who is, while not perfect, maybe as liberal as could possibly elected. A man who might be able to inspire people to do the things that must be done. Now I’m hoping that it’s not too late — for the economy, for the environment, for foreign relations — but I know that at least we will not be sitting back and watching the world go to hell, doing nothing and patting ourselves on the back for it.

As far as queer issues go, this election was not nearly so awesome. Obama himself seems fairly positive on LGBT issues, but has basically not mentioned us, and spoke out against Prop. 8 but has also said that he’s not for legalizing gay marriage. And Prop. 8 has almost certainly passed, and similar measures in Arizona and Florida have certainly passed. Which is disheartening, particularly in California, where it’s a definite step backward rather than a failure to step forward. (More on why I don’t prioritize same-sex marriage in another post, but if it’s going to be on the ballot I’d at least like it to pass. People voting against it is still bigoted and infuriating even if I think it’s a poor use of our community’s energy and resources.) Arkansas’s ban on unmarried couples adopting passed, and is horrendous, and clearly aimed at keeping queers from raising poor, innocent, impressionable children. Because it would be so much better for those children to grow up in orphanages! Finding enough foster homes is enough of a hardship without going around disqualifying people for ridiculous, hateful reasons that have nothing to do with children’s actual wellbeing. Ballot propositions on abortion went well, but as far as queer issues go, not a banner election.

But Girlfriend, Esq. pointed me in the direction of Kate Brown, today’s official Bisexual Politician Of The Day. She was just elected Oregon’s secretary of state (the second highest-ranking elected official in the state of Oregon), which makes her the first LGBT secretary of state in the country. Even before Tuesday’s election, as the Senate majority leader in Oregon (a post she’s held since 2004) she was the highest-ranked out bisexual elected official in the United States, and Oregon’s first female Senate majority leader. And she’s used that position to do all sorts of great things: she was involved in passing a domestic partnership bill, and the Bay Area Reporter quotes the Oregonian as also crediting her with pushing through “civil rights legislation for gays and lesbians, stronger ethics laws, solid budgets for schools and universities, and health care reform, including insurance coverage for contraceptives.” That’s, um, pretty awesome.

Of course, while I was googling her I came across this nonsense from Just Out, which suggests that none of that is as important as the fact that Ms. Brown is partnered with a man and no longer has short, dykey hair. Because whether she looks and acts like their conception of a queer woman is so much more important than whether she openly identifies as one. And hey, she may do a lot of LGBT advocacy, but any gay-friendly straight person could do that! (Yes, they said that.)
I’m infuriated. It would be one thing if Just Out was criticizing Ms. Brown for hiding her identity, or not fighting on behalf of the community when she’s in a position to do so, or anything like that. But they’re suggesting that all of that isn’t good enough, and if she wants to represent the community she needs to (I am not making this up) “please just butch it up a bit.” What is she doing representing herself as the bisexual candidate and taking money from LGBT donors if she’s not going to dress and act like a big ol’ dyke? That would help queer people identify with her so they’d want to vote for her. ‘Cause no queer women can identify with someone who chooses to have long hair. Would one little drag show really hurt her?
I’m offended by this as a bisexual and as a femme. I’ve spent enough time thinking I’m not good enough or queer enough because I don’t have the right haircut, I’m over hearing other people given grief over it. Come to think of it, I’m outraged as a woman as well; I can’t imagine a gay man being told to be a bit more nelly to get community support, and I think that’s all about a demonization of femininity and failure to take it seriously. And as far as getting on her case for having a husband and kids, when will people would stop questioning bisexuals for our partners’ genders when choosing those partners is totally consistent with the identity we’ve claimed all along? From what I can tell, they’re also taking out of context her statement about hoping her sexuality won’t be an issue in the campaign — from a longer quote (in the same Bay Area Reporter article) it seems she was hoping her opposition wouldn’t stoop to smearing her for it, which strikes me as a totally reasonable hope. I was already going to email Kate Brown to congratulate her on her victory, and let her know how awesome I think she is. Maybe while I’m at it I’ll leave a comment or email the man who wrote the article (stephen@justout.com) and let him know how offensive I find it that they’re judging a bisexual politician on her haircut and the gender of her partner rather than her openness about her sexuality, the ways she’s used her power as a state Senator, and her advocacy for the community.
I, for one, am proud to have Kate Brown representing bisexuality. No matter how she dresses.




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