My girlfriend pointed me toward the current issue of Curve magazine (thanks, love!), which has a grand total of four bisexuality-themed articles. And they didn’t do a bad job of it, either, even if the articles are in the table of contents under the heading “Bi-Licious.”
In “Coming Out As Bi,”* Catherine Plato writes about, well, coming out as bi, and captures a few of the difficulties particular to that experience. (“With every new relationship, our public image and perceived sexuality can change completely, as if ‘true’ bisexuals could exist only outside of committed relationships.” Yup.) She also write of her hesitation to claim a place in the LGBT community – particularly before her first meaningful same sex relationship – when bisexuals are perceived to have so much more access to privilege than gay men and lesbians. While in a relationship with a man, she wondered, “What was more disrespectful to the LGBT community: Allowing people to mistake me for a straight girl, or insisting on inclusion in the community while suffering none of the social stigma?” And while I think that that question misses the point somewhat — both because it assumes that identifying as bisexual doesn’t come with its own set of stigmas and because I would argue that which is more disrespectful to Plato’s sense of self is as important as which is more disrespectful to “the community” — I understand its poignancy, and I know the feeling.
“Keeping Women Healthy” by Amy Andre discusses the health of bisexual women, and why lesbians should care. Apparently bisexual women are more likely to drink, use drugs, and smoke; experience more domestic violence; and have higher rates of depression and mental illness and “other health problems” than people of other sexual orientations — including gays and lesbians. And many bisexual women don’t come out to their doctors, which interferes with their doctors’ abilities to give medical advice. I’m not sure what medical advice would be specific to bisexual women, but maybe I don’t know because I haven’t received it. Or have and didn’t recognize it. After a couple of eyebrow-raising moments that are more about writing style than anything else, Andre concludes that bisexual women’s health and safety should be important to lesbians both because it impacts the queer women’s community and because many lesbians care deeply about bisexual friends and lovers. She doesn’t say what they can do about it, but it’s a nice sentiment.
Melany Walters-Beck’s “The Ultimate Threat” addresses biphobia, both internalized and in the lesbian community. While Walters-Beck doesn’t do a thorough critique of any of the stereotypes mentioned (I keep reminding myself that it’s a magazine, because in general I don’t read magazine, and the way they skim over things always surprises me), she does conclude that bisexuals are people, too (thanks!), in a way that implies that a lesbian’s odds of happiness are just as high in a relationship with a bisexual woman as with any other queer woman, and her odds are being dumped for someone else aren’t any higher, and if she meets a bisexual woman she likes she should just go for it already.
I’m not really in a position to assess Jenny Sherman’s “I Want My Bi TV,” since I also don’t watch much TV. (And how do I learn about the state of the world around me, I hear you asking? Often I don’t…) but her characterization of Alice on The L Word losing her bisexual identity seemed right to me, and I didn’t feel any need to watch any of the other shows mentioned. In general she seemed to be coming from the perspective that bisexual women on TV should come across as genuinely bisexual rather than as confused straight girls or confused lesbians, and I agree with her there. I’m willing to trust her when she says it’s pretty much not happening.
This is the first time I’ve read Curve, so I have no idea what their record is on writing about bisexuals, but this collection of articles was respectful and sympathetic. Thanks, Curve!
*The articles seem to have different titles in the table of contents than they do heading the actual pages – possibly they’re titled “Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are!” “From Kinsey to Crisis,” “The Bisexual Threat,” And “Bi On The Boob Tube,” respectively.