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.

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16 Responses to “One Woman Show”


  1. 1 statusquoman
    29 April 2009 at 7:29 pm

    I’m sorry to hear that Sarah is gone. But knowing her, I’m sure that she’s got plenty of material bubbling up that will hopefully boil over once the pressure cooker eases up a bit. In the meantime, more postings, please?

    Interesting point about bi as a waystation to gay. I definitely saw this a lot in my southern high school. It was still rare to see anyone deviate from outward presentation of straightness, and the few who dared to venture into bi territory were still persecuted. Bi was the same as gay — or rather, queer was queer, it didn’t matter how the parameters were defined. As it turns out, of the three out bi students I knew in high school, one transferred to the local arts school after freshman year and came out as gay, one came out as gay in college, and one now identifies as straight. It’s strange that I actually can’t think of a single person from my graduating class that identifies as bi. A minority within a minority?

    Not a particularly useful contribution to the discussion, but you made me think (so thanks!)

    • 2 Aviva
      6 May 2009 at 12:06 am

      In the meantime, more postings, please?

      I’m going to try! The pattern seems to be that I’m good for a couple of weeks, and then some other part of my life gets either shiny or awful. But eventually it will have to just become a habit…

      And thank you! It’s always good to make people think.

      I wonder how many of the people in your high school who weren’t out as anything but thought of themselves as gay now self-identify as bi. It happens in that direction, too.

  2. 30 April 2009 at 12:50 pm

    You’ve also dramatically changed the look of the blog! I’m blogging by myself now, too, at a different space… It’s fine, but it’s oddly lonely too, isn’t it?

    Anyway, as always I look forward to your future posts.

    • 4 Aviva
      6 May 2009 at 12:09 am

      Yeah, now that I didn’t have a subtitle handy I went back to the layout we would have liked most if we hadn’t wanted one. I should figure out some awesome picture for my customizable header, but that’s the kind of thing I never get around to.

      It is kinda lonely. I definitely blog more when I have a co-blogger…a combination of encouraging and inspiring each other, each wanting to hold up our end and not let the other down, and being competitive enough to not want someone else’s name showing up terribly much more than mine. But I’m sure eventually I’ll have a couple more names around here, and in the meantime I’ll do what I can.

  3. 5 Daomadan
    5 May 2009 at 9:44 am

    I was also glad to see the guest contributors writing on bi issues, but sad that Bilerico (which has “bi” in it’s name) doesn’t seem to have more bi writers or those who identify as bi/pan/omni/fluid.

    I can’t really stomach Bilerico after their recent kerfuffles with trans issues or Bil Browning telling a commenter that bisexuals “have a queer half.” As if one half of ourselves is straight and the other queer.

    Glad you’re back to posting! I missed seeing this site active!

    • 6 Aviva
      6 May 2009 at 12:14 am

      According to the story of the name’s origins, the “bi” in “Bilerico” is completely coincidental. Which kinda shows.

      I couldn’t figure out what to do about the kerfuffle, honestly. They’re my best source of queer news, and a lot of their contributors are really spot on when it comes to trans issues (and not only the ones who are trans themselves.) But I have my doubts about Bil Browning himself, and haven’t figured out the ethics of linking to them or not when they’re so hit or miss…nor have I really figured out what I think of what went down other than that everyone made poor choices, but if the trans community thinks it was all fucked up (and they seem to), I’m wiling to go with that. They’re better at spotting it than I am, they have more practice.

      And what’s that about “a queer half?” Seriously? This is what I mean about having my doubts. I almost never find Bil’s posts compelling, and often find them off-putting…but he does have a great collection of contributors. I really should check the site more often, so I can be more active in the comments section.

      And thanks! It’s kinda lovely to be missed!

      • 7 Daomadan
        6 May 2009 at 6:02 pm

        I completely agree with you about Bilerico having some incredible contributors, but that Browning himself is lacking. I don’t really have the time to be a contributor to Bilerico but am going to suggest they get more writers who are bi/pan/fluid to fill out the B in LGBT at their site.

    • 7 May 2009 at 8:03 am

      Whaaaat? What’s this about Bil Browning saying that bisexuals have a queer half? I missed that one. :/

      • 11 Daomadan
        7 May 2009 at 9:52 am

        It was in a post about queer students being bullied. http://www.bilerico.com/2009/04/getting_real_about_bullying-related_suic.php

        A commenter brought up a good point that the writer never once mentions bisexual kids, but does mention gay, lesbian, and trans kids. Browning responded by saying that bi kids are being bullied for their “queer portion.” Which makes no sense to me. I don’t have a “queer portion” or a “straight portion.” I identify as queer/bisexual and don’t have my sexuality portioned out. When I’ve been harassed it has been because I am bisexual and that harassment has come from straight and LG people.

        • 12 Aviva
          7 May 2009 at 1:05 pm

          Sigh.

          Actually, I don’t have a queer portion. I’m a queer. It’s kind of the only portion I have. My attractions to and relationships with cis men aren’t a separate, straight piece of me — they’re part of the way I’m queer.

          (My friend Natalie, with whom I’m sitting, helpfully says: “You do have a queer portion. It’s your spleen. Splenic bullying is some of the worst bullying…”)

        • 7 May 2009 at 3:41 pm

          Oh, wow. I like how he didn’t respond to any more of the comments, particularly Rob Barton’s.

          • 14 Daomadan
            7 May 2009 at 4:54 pm

            Yes, which is saddening. I wish he’d stop calling himself an LGBT activist if he isn’t going to support the B or T portions.

  4. 7 May 2009 at 8:07 am

    Aviva, are you subscribed to the Bi Women newsletter? It’s really good. Both Ruthstrom’s and Renna’s articles were originally published there. You can get it by mail, e-mail, or both. It’s put out by Bi Women Boston, but it’s grown to have a much broader audience than Boston-area people.


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