Archive for October, 2014

Courageous Bi Men Dare to Be Visible

Bi men tell their stories in two new books.

Two books about male bisexuality were recently published, and I encourage everyone to read them.

“Fire Shut Up in My Bones” by Charles Blow

Charles Blow

Thank you for making bisexuality visible, Charles Blow.  Your memoir has sparked a more enlightened conversation about bi men.  It has the potential to open the minds of many.  Too often, men like you are rendered invisible by a society that only sees gay or straight.  Thank you, Mr. Blow, for coloring in the immense middle ground between those polarities.  Your prose sings.  There are so many who have stories like this but rarely see their experiences represented in print.  I especially like how you show the reader that there is no one way to be bi, that there is no one definition; that there are many different ways to understand oneself, express oneself and explore oneself in relationship to others, regardless of the labels we use.  I want to read more of your work.  And I will recommend your book to all my students, mentors, colleagues, and friends.

“Recognize: The Voices of Bisexual Men” edited by Robyn Ochs and H. Sharif Williams

co-editors Williams & Ochs

What an inspirational and stimulating collection!  Bisexual men are beautiful.  Since the mid-90s when some of the most wonderful people in my life (often bi men) were dying much too early, I’ve longed for them to be able to tell their stories.  As I tell my students, even though it’s rough being an out bi woman, being out of the closet as a bi man is twice as hard.  Why?  Because bi men have less societal support, and they have to constantly prove themselves and defend their masculinity.  I’m grateful for bi men who have the courage to speak their truth.  I especially enjoyed reading about the brave, funny, smart, thoughtful, caring, and fascinating men in this book.  Their incredible diversity of voices is one of this book’s many charms.  There’s something here for everyone.  If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a bi man, read this book.  If you are a bi man or someone who loves one, you’ll love this book too.  I guarantee it.

Posted on October 19th, 2014 by Loraine Hutchins

On Coming Out Day, I stayed inside

The Invisible Bisexual is a new contributor on my blog.  She is a real person, sharing honest comments about her experiences as a closeted bisexual.  ~Loraine Hutchins

The Invisible Bisexual

I’m so confused, but it’s not because I’m bisexual.

It’s this heated debate among the LGBTQ demographic about the use of the word “bisexual” that makes my head hurt.  This is supposed to be my “community” of allies, yet the stigma against bisexuality is still so strong that many continue to shun the Bi “label” (even many bisexuals) while trying to justify it with twisted logic and semantic gymnastics.

“It’s too binary,” they insist.  What kind of criticism is that?  We live in a binary world: female/male, yin/yang, gay/straight or the numbers 1/0 used for computing, for example.  They claim the word “bisexual” offends and excludes those who want to define themselves with some other label like queer, fluid or pansexual, and that it erases transgender people.  Never mind that transgender and bisexuality mean two different things: gender identity and sexual orientation.  And many trans people identify as bisexual.

If these Bi re-branders were honest, they’d have to admit that they don’t want to identify as bisexual because they don’t want to attract the painful stigma attached to bisexuals by both gay and straight people.  Could this be internalized biphobia? 

 If these Bi re-branders were honest, they’d have to admit that they don’t want to identify as bisexual because they don’t want to attract the painful stigma attached to bisexuals by both gay and straight people.

Statistically, bisexuals represent about half of the LGBTQ demographic.  But instead supporting bisexual pride with the majority of members among our LGBTQ cohort, many of our queer community continue to erase, conflate, obfuscate and denigrate bisexuality.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is a good example with its 40 years of Bi erasure.  This year on the 15th Annual Celebrate Bisexuality Day (September 23, 2014), NGLTF posted an anti-bi blog by Evangeline Weiss, their Leadership Programs Director.  Could this be institutional biphobia?

Weiss wrote, “…My gender non-conforming, queer and/or genderqueer lovers, colleagues, and friends often feel trapped by the prison of the binary way our language designates gender.  So I’ve made a decision. I’m no longer going to lift up and claim a concept painful to others as part of my identity…I’m ready to say bye bye to the word bisexuality.”  Please stop conflating gender identity and sexual orientation, I want to scream!  Even worse, her comments were illustrated by an image of a button that lists “Gay, Straight or Wibbly-Wobbly Sexy-Wexy” as choices.  WTF? 

I’d like to feel respected and supported as a bisexual by all queer rights organizations.

What in these comments supports bisexual awareness or celebrates Bi pride? The button certainly conveys the stigma directed at bisexuals as being lascivious, over-sexed and confused. I’m so offended!  This is why I choose to remain invisible and stay in the closet.  Sadly, this kind of warped reasoning is not surprising coming from an employee of a 40-year-old gay rights organization that had yet to change its name to reflect approximately 50% of the people it purports to represent.

However, after this recent slap in our face, NGLTF has made some progress.  The Task Force waited until after Celebrate Bisexuality Day to announce it had changed its name to “National LGBTQ Task Force.”  Well, isn’t that nice?  But I have to ask, ‘How about owning your years of Bi erasure and your biphobia?  How about an apology?’  Hell, I’d be happy to see some advocacy and articles about bisexuality on the Task Force homepage.  I’d like to feel respected and supported as a bisexual by all queer rights organizations.

Posted on October 13th, 2014 by The Invisible Bisexual

Talking about the LGBTQ Life in DC…

The DC Public Library invited me to be part of a panel discussion about our vibrant Washington DC LGBTQ community, its history, evolution and trends.  I’m looking forward to an engaging discussion with panel members Mark Joseph Stern (Slate), Andrew Sullivan (The Daily Dish), Philip Pannell (community activist) and our attendees.

Please join us at 7pm on October 22, at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library.  You can RSVP for “District of Change” online or call 202-727-1183.

Posted on October 1st, 2014 by Loraine Hutchins

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