Disclaimer: As someone (rightly) pointed out in comments, this essay is written from a white bisexual perspective and many of the conclusions will not apply to queers of color. In particular, remaining closeted or appearing straight does not buy queers of color much in the way of privilege, due to racism.
Do bisexuals have access to straight privilege? If so, which bisexuals and which particular privileges?
Straight privilege is all those things you get just by being, acting, or appearing straight. Conversely, straight privilege is all those things you lose when you are, act, or appear as queer. Straight privilege is typically invisible to those people who have it, because they are participating in a supposedly normal experience, one which is used to shape the entire cultural experience. However, straight privilege is visible to people who do not have it, because they are excluded from the “normal” experience. (For the purposes of this essay, “straight” should be taken to mean “heterosexual and cisgendered“.)
Straight privilege is not monolithic: it is possible to have some sorts of straight privilege while being denied other forms. So, in any discussion of straight privilege it is good to break it down into various types of privilege. I have organized some straight privileges here by the manner in which they are obtained. This is of course an incomplete list.
1) Privileges gained from being seen as straight. A straight appearance is a prerequisite for many positions of power or authority, and is helpful in most jobs. Looking straight helps protect a person from hate violence, and also protects from various other types of attack: verbal, emotional, economic. A straight appearance means that the initial judgement from others is much more likely to be positive, and it is almost never necessary to defend one’s straightness.
2) Privileges gained from being in a man/woman relationship. Such relationships are well-scripted by the culture, so they are much easier to imagine and execute than other sorts of relationships. Further, the culture supports and promotes such relationships at every turn: it is almost impossible to watch a movie or pick up a magazine without seeing man/woman relationships represented, analyzed, and/or celebrated. Being in such a relationship confers a strong social respectability.
3) Privileges gained from knowing oneself as straight. This self-knowledge puts a person in the normative position, so they rarely need to examine, question, or adapt their own sexuality or gender. This sense of being normal is good for the mental health, leading to lower rates of depression and suicide. Gender integrates seamlessly with sexuality, and both again integrate seamlessly into a life filled with invisible but helpful assumptions of straightness.
For a much longer but still incomplete list of straight privileges, visit this “invisible knapsack” site.
Self-identified bisexuals clearly do not have access to privileges that spring from knowing oneself as straight: these disappear as soon as we identify ourselves as bisexual. While there could be some argument that we could divide off parts of our personalities as straight, in practice I suspect that this does not happen. There is nothing seamless or normative about being bisexual.
However, bisexuals certainly can appear as straight, and we sometimes are in man/woman relationships. So we can partake of the first and second privilege mechanisms above, but any particular bisexual may not have the associated privileges. We can therefore conclude that:
Some bisexuals have a level of access to straight privilege.
I am one of these bisexuals. I come across as a somewhat effeminate man, so sometimes I am read as straight, and other times I am read as gay. (Every once in a while someone gets it right and identifies me as bisexual, but it is rare.) Those times I am read as straight, I get things for it: I feel safer, people are more likely to respect me, and so on. However, when I am read as gay, this goes away, and instead I get the occasional insult. I am good at creating an ambiguous appearance, so I am read as straight and gay in roughly similar proportions when I am alone.
However, I am dating a number of women. My man/woman relationships (calling them straight relationships would be decidedly inaccurate) provide me with many of the usual straight amenities: a place at the thanksgiving dinner table, sex advice columns that directly apply to me, the chance to fit in at the company social, and so on. I have not gotten these sorts of things in my sexual and romantic affairs with men.
There are other straight privileges, not in the above list, that I have access to. For example, when I came out as bisexual my parents definitely freaked out. However, I am quite certain that they would have freaked out on a whole different level if I had come out as gay or transgendered.
To summarize, I definitely have access to straight privilege of various sorts. However, my access to straight privilege is limited by various factors: self-identification, deviant gender appearance, and of course having sex with men. I have nowhere near the sort of privilege I would have if I were straight. While I do not really like the fact that straight privilege exists, I am happy to take advantage of it in a number of ways, like using it to gain familial acceptance.
Not all bisexuals have access to straight privilege. I know a bisexual woman who looks queer, who has been in a monogamous relationship with another woman for a decade or so. She receives no straight privileges.
Also, the experience of straight privilege is not unique to bisexuals, among queers. Some proportion of gay men, lesbians, and trans people pass as straight in particular situations, with all that that entails. Queer femme women and fully passing trans people struggle with the privilege associated with passing.
However, given that bisexuals suffer from a regime of invisibility and are spread out across the queer and straight worlds, we can probably assume that bisexuals as a group have more access to straight privilege than queers in general, even though individual bisexuals may have zero straight privilege. The existence of significant amounts of straight privilege among bisexuals has a number of effects that are not generally acknowledged in discourses on sexuality.
First, bisexuals are very diverse along lines of privilege. As noted, some bisexuals have no straight privilege. Others have most of the privileges associated with being straight. In between is a wide range of people with varying levels and sorts of privilege. This creates an odd situation, where the very power dynamic of sexuality that brings us together also produces wide variance among us.
In some ways, it may be inaccurate (from a power perspective) to speak of a single bisexual sexuality or identity. We can see this in the large number of people who have attractions across multiple genders but who do not choose the label bisexual. While some of this is due to biphobia, often these other labels more accurately locate them: heteroflexible, queer femme, pansexual, fluid, queer, “don’t like labels”, and a whole host of words that have been largely discarded, like “omnisexual”.
It is important to remember that the word bisexual was originally created by doctors, and they never meant it to actually apply to people. The modern idea of homosexuality was created a bit over a century ago, to address a crisis of white masculinity triggered by emancipation and the suffragist movements. Bisexuality was created at the same time as a necessary logical extension, but these same doctors never allowed for the possibility of bisexual people; they relegated bisexuality to formative stages and piecemeal potentials, and some of their original assumptions are still plaguing us. (This information is pulled from A History of Bisexuality, which I recommend.)
This is a long-winded way of saying that the idea of bisexuality was not actually created for bisexuals, and it generally not been propagated or maintained for the welfare of bisexuals. Therefore, it may be getting in our way in certain ways, even as it helps us in others. Bisexuals and others who desire across gender should consider embarking on a project where we creatively engage identity, in order to produce identities that are more useful in various ways. This is of course already happening, but is typically addressed in a piecemeal manner, based on the strategies that individuals come up with. The goal of this project would be a blossoming of allied identity categories. I have seen this happen in vibrant and growing subcultures. Polyamory has a huge lexicon for identifying particular nonmonogamy styles and situations. Transmen and queer women have been coming up with a set of identities for determining shades of gender, during the current trans renaissance.
Second, bisexuals are difficult to organize. There are huge number of self-identified bisexuals, comparable to the number of gay men, lesbians, kinksters, or swingers. (A 2002 CDC survey established that self-identified bisexuals made up at least 1.8% of men and 2.8% of women in the 18-44 age bracket.) However, despite having similar numbers, bisexuals are typically not organized to the level of these other communities.
(Quick disclaimer: nothing I say in the next couple paragraphs should be taken as belittling the efforts of bisexual organizers to date, or as saying we should drop current bisexual organizations. Given these problems, what has been accomplished and continues to be accomplished is very impressive, and should be continued.)
This failure to fully organize is partly due to the diversity of bisexuality along lines of privilege. Organizing all bisexuals means bringing together people who have no straight privilege with people who are almost fully privileged on the straight axis. From a power perspective, this is approximately the same as organizing gay men, lesbians, and trans people together with straight people. The problem of organizing bisexuals is therefore similar to the problem of organizing everyone in a single regime of sexuality. We see echoes of this issue both in people who identify as “sexual” or “don’t label me” instead of as bisexual, and also when frustrated bisexuals start labeling everyone else as bisexual, whether or not those people would agree: both these strategies can be viewed as conceptual attempts to organize across sexuality.
In addition, it may be that using LGBT models for organizing will simply not work to organize all bisexuals. These models do work for some bisexuals, namely those with less straight privilege or who spend a lot of time in queer communities (other than bisexual communities), and this group forms a solid core of the visible bisexual movement. This solid core is crucial for drawing attention to bisexual issues. For example, the recent work on bi health issues came out of this sort of organizing.
Of course, these bisexuals also operate well in LGT contexts, and so bi organizing is often overshadowed by non-bisexual queer organizing, as far as bi participation is concerned. This leads to the odd situation at Pride where there are plenty of bisexuals, but most of us are not in the bi contingent(s) or otherwise visible as an organized group.
In addition, LGBT models of organizing will not work well for bisexuals who have relatively more straight privilege or who prefer to operate in the straight community. The adversity associated with oppression is a major motivator to create tight-knit alternative communities, and bisexuals who have experienced less of this adversity are therefore somewhat less motivated to participate in LGBT-style organizations.
For these bisexuals, it may make more sense to come up with alternative models for organizing. There are a number of options here, and we should be guided by what already seems to be working. One approach is to organize a specific segment of the community: married bisexual women (in man/woman marriages), or kinky bisexuals, or what have you. Along these lines, probably the most active bi list in my area is primarily a hookup list for bi men. Another approach is to organize around needs that are not directly related to oppression, for example social or subculture needs instead of support or health needs. For example, at certain large kink, sex party, polyamory, or pagan events there are often more bisexuals present than at bisexual events. We should come up with creative ways to organize within these other communities, perhaps by creating bisexual caucuses or by finding ways to advertise the bisexual presence that already exists.
It is unfortunately overly ambitious to think we can organize across bisexuality, using the models we have. We may need to revise our definition of “organizing”, and come up with particularly bisexual techniques of organization that can operate in a wider culture that is hostile to bisexual association. “Organizing” may mean writing and publishing books on bisexuals in particular contexts (such as Look Both Ways, which addresses bisexuality and feminism). It may mean organizing to serve a particular need shared by many bisexuals. I have seen this with polyamory, which is in many ways a product of the drive for nonmonogamy associated with bisexuality (as I discuss in this paper). “Organizing” may mean finding ways to increase bi visibility without necessarily bringing bisexuals together. Along these lines, I have been trying to find ways to create visibility around the large number of invisible bisexuals at Pride, like distributing stickers that people can wear during the day.
Third, the existence of straight privilege among bisexuals can make it difficult for bisexuals to interact with other queers, especially if that privilege goes unacknowledged.
Straight privilege is often an subtext when queers exhibit biphobia. We can see this in various common (and typically irrational) lesbian and gay fears: that bisexuals are insufficiently committed, that we will dump a same-gender partner for an other-gender partner, that we will somehow betray or dilute the movement. All these fears are ridiculous and are not borne out by bi behavior, but I think they function as a stand-in for concerns around straight privilege. Similarly, the construction of “more queer” and “less queer”, while patently offensive to bisexuals (and the reason I do not identify as queer), is probably a reflection of a very real question around who has what sorts of privilege.
In order to address biphobia, it is crucial that we lay out the actual personal privilege situations of bisexuals. This undermines biphobia by actually presenting the common ground (in terms of power) that we do have with other queers. Instead of just implicitly or explicitly excluding bisexuals (which still happens frequently), organizations can include bisexuals based on such common ground, instead of using identity markers. It also inevitably brings up the fact that certain bisexuals lack straight privilege entirely, and they should be admitted without reservation into any queer space or organization.
A discussion of bisexual access to straight privilege also requires that we acknowledge that there will be certain problems of privilege associated with some bisexuals.
One place this shows up is in “straight creep”, the tendency of any queer organization or space to tend towards straight norms over time. I have seen this happen in a college sex and sexuality hotline: first it was largely LGB-staffed, then it was staffed with more bisexuals and less gay members, and eventually it was entirely staffed by bisexuals and straight people. While I suspect that this particular organization would have gone this way in any case due to being placed under the (straight) administration of the university, the presence of bisexuals probably hastened this process. In other words, bisexuals with straight privilege can sometimes act as a leading edge of straight creep.
With this in mind, it becomes more clear why some lesbian and gay organizations have a hard time including bisexuals. Often the people in these spaces have created and maintained queer space with a great effort and constant vigilance. This is especially true for lesbians, due to the problems of men’s access to women built into heterosexism. However, a common response by such organizers is to overreact against bisexuals, for the straight privilege they may or may not carry. Recently a woman was kicked off a San Francisco dyke list for identifying as bisexual, despite being on the list for over eleven years and having previously identified as lesbian. Clearly this is a travesty of biphobia, but such scenarios are fairly common.
There will always be bisexual and “multiple gender loving” people in queer organizations of every stripe, as it is the nature of bisexuals to be everywhere, and to pop up wherever they are not. We need to spread an understanding of sexuality and privilege so that such bisexuals can properly be included without reservation. At the same time, bisexuals with relatively more straight privilege (including myself) need to understand that we should only be able to access LGT space to the extent that we share common ground with the particular group. This came up recently when I joined a gay/bi poly men’s group in San Francisco, and the organizer asked that I refrain from discussing my man/woman relationships (which were all of my relationships at the time). This was biphobic in that it essentially required that I compartmentalize, but on the other hand I think he was expressing a very clear need to maintain the space relatively free of straight privilege. In retrospect, perhaps I could have worked with him on a way to do that which would have been more welcoming for me.
My point here is the bisexual community as a whole needs to drop “minority-within-a-minority” thinking. There a certain bisexuals who in fact do form a proper minority within the LGBT minority, in that they have the double disempowering wammy of both biphobia and low (or nonexistent) straight privilege. We of course should fight for unconditional acceptance in all queer spaces for these bisexuals, but we should not extrapolate their situation to the entire community.
For bisexuals who only have partial common ground with LGT power positions, we should envision a parallel and allied relationship with the other identity communities. As noted above, we should come up with particularly bisexual forms of organizing, and bring particularly bisexual advantages to the table. There are plenty such advantages, which I intend to enumerate in a future post. Sticking strictly to “minority-within-a-minority” positions obscures these and puts us in an unnecessarily disadvantaged conceptual space.
In summary, explicitly addressing and understanding straight privilege as owned by bisexuals is crucial on a number of fronts. It is required for any sort of serious self-analysis of our own movement. It is a necessary part of strengthening bisexual organizing. And it is a key part of creating and maintaining alliances with other queer movements.
Acknowledging privilege is rarely easy. It involves taking a painful look at one’s own situation and often severely messes with one’s identity. However, we have to start this process, because one of the central privileges of any privilege set is the ability to ignore and obscure one’s own privilege. We need to keep this conversation going, by being aware of privilege and bringing it up whenever appropriate.
May 15, 2007 at 12:09 am
We are River & Sofia…authors of Bi.S.E.A.N. blog and would like to ask if we can have a link up with your blog.
We found your writings enlightening and enjoyable.
Ours is about bisexuality and being Eurasians here in Southeast Asia. Our region comprises 10% of the world population but we don’t have any bi support group at all.
A link up with your great blog would remind us that we are not alone. We would appreciate a link, if it’s ok with you?
Thank you and best regards,
River & Sofia
May 15, 2007 at 2:56 am
Thank you for the compliments on my writing.
While I really enjoy your blog (and I will be reading it), I only link to blogs with political/personal analysis, and yours seems to be more of a cultural sharing and outreach blog.
However, you should check out these bisexual US and UK organizations:
Bisexual Resource Center
Bi Con UK
And these international queer organizations:
International Gay and Lesbian (and Bi and Trans) Association
International Gay and Lesbian (and Bi and Trans) Youth Organization
May 16, 2007 at 7:06 pm
I organize a queer social group in a small town and am the only person who identifies as bi. Your post has made me consider how to interface with those who have less privilege. How do I acknowledge what I call the “privilege gap” while still having them understand I am not straight or a still-closeted lesbian? Without being hated because I benefit from an unfair system, that I’m working to change it?
Food for thought.
As a femme-ish bi/poly woman with a monogamous male life-partner who looks (and is) straight, I definitely struggle with the privileges bestowed upon us both. But I also pay, mostly with isolation because I flow below the gaydar or get dismissed by non-bi queers in various ways. I would have to label myself in every situation in order to be visible. However, because everyday life can be a lot less stressful for me, I have more energy to dedicate to the queer movement. But of course, the more I do things to interfere with passing as straight, the less that will be the case…I am among those whose writing addresses my particular variety of bi experience. The more that gets published, the less straight privilege I’ll have…
A couple of thoughts. I like that you include the fact of some homosexuals having access to straight privilege. Immediately one thinks of homosexuals closeted in het marriages (meaning, who acknowledge their orientation only to themselves) They can be seen as sharing similar privileges as those bisexuals who pass as straight. So, if looking at alliance-by-level-of-privilege, would these groups be allies? (Of course, the obvious complication of being closeted hampering the ability to organize…) Tricky, because I think biphobia is partially fuelled by misinterpretation of the former group… enjoyed as always, Lex Q.
May 16, 2007 at 10:50 pm
Good to hear from you again!
But I also pay, mostly with isolation because I flow below the gaydar or get dismissed by non-bi queers in various ways.
Right. Some “privileges” are really not privileges when you are bisexual. Being read as straight, while probably helpful in certain cases, is infuriating most of the time. Also, none of what I said above should be read as “it’s easier being bisexual”. It can be easier in certain ways related to straight privilege, but bisexuality has its own issues, such as invisibility and isolation.
So, if looking at alliance-by-level-of-privilege, would these groups be allies?
Yeah, closeting makes your example difficult. However, we have another example group: passing transpeople who still identify as queer or transgender. This group is definitely allied with other queer communities, despite the fact that some members of the group have a lot of straight privilege. But in certain cases, the straight privilege may mean that transpeople in this class have trouble integrating into gay and lesbian (or even trans) communities, much like bisexuals.
However, because everyday life can be a lot less stressful for me, I have more energy to dedicate to the queer movement.
This is not necessarily true. Often people have more energy to devote to a movement specifically because they severely lack privilege, so working on the movement is that much more critical to them. Perhaps you are just really energetic about activism. =)
How do I acknowledge what I call the “privilege gap” while still having them understand I am not straight or a still-closeted lesbian? Without being hated because I benefit from an unfair system, that I’m working to change it?
I do not have an easy answer for you. It’s a hard question. =)
But here’s some comments:
1) Don’t be afraid of what privilege you have. Be willing to explicitly acknowledge it when it comes up. Acknowledging privilege is unlikely to make people hate you – they likely already have some idea of this in their heads, so you are usually just agreeing with them on some level.
Also, discuss your experience as a bisexual when possible. People seem to calm down their worries about straight privilege when confronted with the very real problems that bisexuals experience.
2) Explicitly discuss bisexuality, biphobia, and straight privilege. Perhaps start with straight privilege and talk about how that plays into biphobia. People with biphobic attitudes may respond well if the conversation starts with straight privilege. (Or not – I could see it backfiring by providing fuel for irrational hatred.)
3) You should not feel responsible for the biphobia of others, even if it is based in privileges you may have.
May 18, 2007 at 9:06 pm
Re: how to acknowledge privilege without it backfiring– I wasn’t really looking for “an answer” to that question as I don’t think there is “one”. Each of us resolves these issues in our own ways, depending on context anyway. Would be interesting to hear how others do it. My personal strategy often involves humour.
I have been examining the list of straight privilege you’ve linked to, trying to identify whether I truly do have access to it. It has been gymnastic, to say the least.
May 18, 2007 at 10:26 pm
I wasn’t really looking for “an answer” to that question as I don’t think there is “one”.
Sorry, I must have been getting ahead of things there.
I have been examining the list of straight privilege you’ve linked to, trying to identify whether I truly do have access to it. It has been gymnastic, to say the least.
Yes, as I read through that some things related, but most did not. I seemed to own about a quarter or a fifth of the total list. This is probably partly because it is a list of straight privileges as owned by straight people, which will be subtly different than a list of straight privileges as owned by bi people. Also, the list focused on representation and identity, areas where bisexuals happen to lack straight privilege.
May 28, 2007 at 7:26 pm
most of the privileges that I supposedly have access to are contingent upon my *not* outing myself i.e. allowing assumptions to prevail. That fact removes such advantages from the category of privilege in my view, because there’s an element of choice.
May 29, 2007 at 6:10 pm
Choice and privilege are not necessarily exclusive. While many privileges are not a matter of choice (like say white privilege or male privilege), others are a matter of choice but still privileges.
For example, there is a certain privilege associated with having a normative appearance. I mostly lack this privilege, since I have long blue hair. This has had real effects: for example, I’ve lost at least one job opportunity due to my hair, and possibly more. Now, anyone with a normative appearance could choose to go out and dye their hair blue tomorrow, so this one is a matter of choice for some people. But generally they do not dye their hair even when they want to, because they understand that they might lose quite a bit of privilege for doing so.
Similarly, I have a choice to come out in a number of ways in family situations (poly, bi, kinky). Sometimes I am out, but in at least one case (grandmother of my partner) I am not. The loss of straight (monogamous, vanilla) privilege in that case would be fairly harsh, involving family drama and disowning. So we are making a choice to retain privilege in this case, but the privilege is still there. At some future point, if we come out to her, we may lose this privilege.
June 10, 2007 at 2:51 am
I found your writing here very interesting indeed. I do have a couple of comments and quibbles, which are meant to add food for thought or grist for the mill.
1. your comments on the possibilities of including bi people in groups/events, based on level-of-priviledge, while very creative, seem to assume that gay people don’t also have vastly varying levels of privilidge. My thought is that if such a criteria were to be used, it would have to be applied to everyone, so some gay people should also be exlcuded, depending on what the rules are. (Gay people who are in a M/F relationship would likely come up as an example, although only because it is a sort of obvious example.)
2. I like your categories (and I’ll go look at the site you referenced for more detail, as this is interesting stuff.) However, I think you “kind of” missed a category (or maybe not). The “being in a man/woman” relationship you covered. But there is also being is a man/man or woman/woman relationship. While being in a M/F relationship may afford one a certain level of privilidge, NOT being in a F/F or M/M relationship might buy one a part of that priviledge as well. Cases in point would be a gay woman (I have a specific example in mind) who has not been in any relationship for many years, and a celebate gay person (I don’t have anyone in mind, but we could take a theoretical nun as an example), or a gay child. These people don’t have a M/F relationship, but also do not have a F/F or M/M relationship. I would say that they are likely to get more of a “general pass” in many areas. I would also say that this has a great deal to do with your category #1 — being perceived as gay or straight… (It is harder to be percieved as straight if you live with your same-sex partner.)
3. if we are going to discuss personal levels of privilidge (I admire your willingness to do so, and am not sure if I want to volunteer), I think it is only fair to point out that in category #3 many bi people suffer differently than gay people and in some contexts suffer more. Not in all ways, but in some ways. And, if we are going to spell out the rest of it, I see no reason not to include this.
4. For everyone the experiences of any of these priviledges may vary vastly over time. A person in a M/F marriage (an especailly privilidged M/F relationship) gets divorced and finds a same-gender partner. A person who identified as gay later identifies as hetero. A woman with a crewcut grows her hair out. Thees things do happen. SOME bi people have experienced a lot of “fluctuations in priviledge” — which can be highly upsetting or odd in itself. Certainly many gay people have also experienced this (it is generally called “coming out”). And certainly not all bi people encounter this. But there is some likelihood of it for many bi people…..
5. finally, while I think the categories are good ways to point to different general things, the personal relaities vary so vastly. People kicked out of family vs. people with very accepting families. An example that comes to mind is a gay woman I know who has not had others reject or belittle her orientation, ever. The point being that while heterosexual privilegde exists, it will buy you a lot more in some cases than in others. (If my examplar wants to join the military she is out of luck.) While NOT having straight priviledge is a common experience shared by many, the actual personal meaning of that varies VASTLY. Yeah, I realize you knew that. I have no idea how this would fit into any “privildge based inclusion schemes” — but it might. If we want to form a group for support around common experiences of rejection or prejudice we have experienced, for example. Actaully, I think this is yet another kind of criteria — different from privilegde, but often sorta mushed up in this mix.
June 10, 2007 at 9:41 pm
Welcome! To respond to your various points:
1) I agree. Moving from an identity organizing model to one the rests on specific privileges (or rather, their lack) or oppressions forces a conversation about privilege on everyone who wants to participate – which is only appropriate.
For example, if a group wants to exclude people from a shelter for homeless/runaway queer youth, the criteria should not be “how queer” they are. Rather, it should rest on their family environment, what they have suffered, and so on. There may in fact be less bisexuals in such a program, if bisexuals are less likely to be expelled from their house, but that would not be because someone decided to exclude bisexuals.
You can see a parallel example (involving transgender people and male privilege) here.
2) You are correct that “not in a same-gender relationship” is in fact a way to gain straight privilege. It’s one I missed in my short listing. There are undoubtedly others.
3) I agree that there are problems specific to bisexuals. One thing I probably should have mentioned above is that I am not trying to belittle bi-specific power issues (some of which I described in an earlier post). Nor am I trying to create a spectrum of power where bisexuals are sandwiched between homosexuals and straight people – it is not that simple. Rather, I am trying to explain some of the friction between queer communities, and describe why LG models of organizing largely fail bisexuals.
It sounds like you have some specific areas in mind where being a bisexual means a certain lack of privilege. Want to share? I can come up with various ways this happens (direct attacks on the identity itself, conceptualizing bisexual desire as plural, constant attempts to subsume bisexuality into heterosexuality, etc) but I would like to know which one you are talking about.
4) I agree – privilege is dependent on the situation and may change over time. For example, if I started dating a man, I would have a lot more to talk about in the poly gay/bi men’s group I described above. However, just because privilege may in fact be transitory or depend on the situation, does not make it less real.
5) I think the group you describe is actually the same thing I am proposing. Organizing around “specific lack of privilege” and organizing around “specific oppression or hardship” are pretty much the same thing, with a conceptual flip.
I think that this organizing is pretty much already happening in some cases, as people try to figure out how to include or exclude based on identities that are unraveling. My goal here is to make the process more explicit, and get rid of the “no bisexuals allowed” form of biphobia.
June 12, 2007 at 4:43 am
Okay, um, so much to reply to, I don’t feel quite up to it, but I’ll take a swing at it.
your #1: um, a place that serves QUEER youth does have to have some sort of queerness criteria. Not that I’m arguing what that criteria ought to be, and personally I’m not so sure queerness is a great criteria (and yes, I’m fully aware of the dismal statistics on the subject). Anyway, using your example, I don’t think it can be all about family environment and what they’ve suffered, unless we presume that you mean “suffered” to imply “relative to queerness”. I would never assume that, as there are plenty of kinds of suffering.
#2 I went back and forth on this — I think IN A WAY that being in no relationship or a SS one or a M/F one is all a subset of being percieved as straight or gay. I think that is a very big component — how it contributes to others PERCEPTION of oneself.. (but not all there is to it)
#3 okay, so it sounds like we agree that gay people have access to some gay priviledge, at least in some contexts.
I’m very struck by your line about “LG forms of organizing largely failing bi people”. On the one hand I want to applaud, on the other I want to know what you have in mind. And, um, is it really BI people? It seems to be LG organizing fails an awful lot of gay people. Or, um, is is ALL organizing that fails most people in whatever group we discuss? (Okay, maybe this is too pessimistic or too broad… but that is where I’m lead….) Perhaps those are for different reasons tho == as it does seem you have something SPECIFIC in mind relative to LG organizing failing (many) bi people.
2nd paragraph of #3: nice of you to ask. I think the biggie is “whether bisexuality exists” and, secondarily whether it is “legitimate”. I think you referred to this as “attacks on bisexuality” — although I have to say that some of the DISMISSINVE views don’t strike me as “attacks”. Thinking something is non-existant is a KIND of attack, but it is really a LOT different in energy and effect than, say, despising it, belittling it, or saying it is deplorable and immoral.
Also, it is hard to call ignorance “an attack”. I’ve personally met and talked to kind, supportive people who have no understanding or conecpt of how someone could be bisexual or what that might mean. Really. I have no idea how common this is, but, um, it does seem like at least a part of the big invisibility issue. Or shall I call that the “unfathomablyness issue”. Anyway, even if there are only 3 people who are actually kind and supportive while “not getting it”, it is hard for me to look at this as “an attack”. And yet, there is certainly a kind of pain, and isolation that I associate with the general sense that I can never EXPECT another person to “get it”. And I think of it in exactlly those terms. If someone gets bisexuality and has any sense of it as normal, I consider that a gift, unexpected.
I think that gay people also experience the alice-in-wonderland kinds of alienation I’m talking about — the extreme otherness, the sense that others can’t see my world, or understand things that seem essential and basic to me — but about slightly different content. For bisexuals the BOTH issue is the highlighted part.
The other things you mention are also issues I had in mind.
Although I’m not sure I know what the subsuming one means. Ceratinly the “conceptualizing bisexual desire as plural” is a big part of what I just was rambling or ranting (or was that whining?) about, above. Let me say it yet one more way: I think most people (read: monosexuals) (or read: culture) conceptualize(s) DESIRE as gendered. The bi part just follows from that — they already conceptualized the whole thing in a way I don’t, long before biness came into the equation. THis is deeply alienating, or can be.
I’m also feeling a bit bugged about this business with how being in a M/F vs SS relationship changes others perceptions. I find this to be upsetting and awkward, to put it mildly. Sometimes it seems more like nervous breakdown material. It is true that “gaining” and “losing” heterosexual prividge on a regular (but unpredictable) basis doesn’t seem like a special form of persecution. Logically it can’t be worse than having none of that privilidge ALL of the time, right? Okay, I can’t figure out how it is worse — but it does feel pretty crazy.
#5 — oh. I am thinking that privilidge and personal hardship are not just inverse, but very different categories. Now I don’t know if I can explain. Privilidge is GENERAL, and impersonal. I’m at a loss. I may have to think about this and come back. I do mean something but it keeps evaporating on me.
Thanks for the conversation.
June 12, 2007 at 5:27 pm
To respond point-by-point again:
1) You’re right, the queer youth shelter was a bad example. We would hope that such shelters would admit anyone who called themselves queer (including all bisexuals) based on current need. Though I’ll bet in some cases bisexuals are deprioritized in such shelters, which would suck.
A better example might be a support group for gay men in marriages with women. Currently, such groups seem to categorically exclude bisexuals (though I could be wrong on this). Which kind of makes sense if you think about it – a bisexual man in a marriage with a woman is taking a different position than a gay man in a marriage with a woman. However, because of this identity-based exclusion, bisexuals are falling through the cracks: namely high-kinsey-score bisexuals who are in a very similar position. And, the group is impoverishing itself because said bisexuals would have some very important tips and ideas to add, ideas which would not be visible from a gay identity position. So instead, the group should admit bisexuals and figure out exactly what actual criteria it wants for admittance – maybe that one’s attraction to men is harming the marriage or something similar.
#3: LG organizing failing bisexuals.
The above support group example is a good one for this. At such a support group, there would be no bisexuals, because the group is built on an identity basis instead of a privilege basis. Building community around identity works great for gay men and lesbians, but seems to largely fail bisexuals, for the various reasons I listed in the article. To include bisexuals, it is important to start building groups around oppression or privilege instead of particular identities. Otherwise you are leaving out bisexuals.
This is even true of bisexual organizing, in a way: organizing around the “bisexual” label misses all those people who are “multiple gender loving” in some way but do not identify as bisexual. And there are more of them than us, so this is a big concern.
#3 attacks on bisexuality.
I was referring to the more visible and nasty versions of the ignorance you describe, like researchers trying to debunk bisexuality or newspapers declaring that we do not exist.
However, even the plain ignorance is an attack of sorts. It is not just ignorance, but rather a sort of purposeful ignorance. I mean, just how blind do you have to be to assume that there are only straight or gay/lesbian sexualities? Often this happens even in the face of one’s own history of having sex across gender.
What I’m getting at here is that there is a sort of “monosexual privilege”, namely the ability to reside in a sexual identity that has strong borders, and that corresponds to an entire life(style). This privilege is maintained at the expense of bisexuality by constantly claiming that bisexuals do not exist. In other words, those people who are ignorant on this question are benefiting from their ignorance, using it to solidify their own identity. It may be subconscious and they may be well-meaning, but it does not change their use of privilege.
I’m referring to the way bisexuality (specifically women’s bisexuality) is re-imagined for straight (men’s) pleasure. This is why pretty much every mainstream porn video has women getting it on with each other.
#3 Privilege in M/F relationships
Often bisexuals don’t particularly want this privilege, but in many cases you don’t have a choice about getting privilege. For example, I know that I’ve probably had an easier time building M/F relationships because these relationships are depicted in media everywhere. I hate the media depictions, and I hate some of the things they push into my relationships with women (like the constant marriage drumbeat, ugh) but I benefit none the less. Getting privilege is not necessarily fun if you do not want it, and it often does not feel particularly good.
So yeah, seriously headache-inducing.
#5 This kind of privilege we are discussing is actually quite personal, as the “monosexual privilege” example above points out. You are right that approaching it from the oppression vs. lack of privilege angles are slightly different, because we think about it differently, but they should play out fairly similarly in practice as they mostly refer to the same thing.
December 25, 2007 at 10:10 pm
This has been a very thought provoking entry. I’m bi, but with a very high degree of straight privilege — I’m married, not involved with any men at the moment, and not out (at least under my real name). My physical appearance is pretty heteronormative and I don’t have any particularly effeminiate qualities (that I know of anyway!). But lately I’ve been taking more interest in boys (I’m poly, and have been dating a bit lately, but mostly women).
When I’m in public with a woman, I have no compunctions about expressing affection or acting in a flirtatious manner. But with a man, I’m terrified of doing so. I think fear of losing my straight privilege may be a big part of that, and I’m not sure how to proceed. How can I have my cake and eat it too? :-)
December 26, 2007 at 7:45 pm
I think fear of losing my straight privilege may be a big part of that, and I’m not sure how to proceed. How can I have my cake and eat it too? :-)
I think the thing to do here is to unpack what you are actually afraid of. Are you worried about being beaten up for being publicly affectionate with a man? Of being outed? Something else? There are a number of things worth being afraid of here.
However, if you can nail down the exact fear, it may help you overcome that fear. I have been going through this process around wearing skirts in public, becoming slowly more comfortable with it. Part of this was realizing that I am already being read as gay in public, so adding a skirt isn’t changing my status much. And part of it is just accepting that I’m going to stand out and not necessarily in a good way.
As one of the other commenters pointed out, having straight privilege isn’t always a good thing. It tends to come with a price, in this case the inability to be affectionate with men in public. And the price is often not worth the privilege.
February 23, 2008 at 12:32 am
Hello again, I’ve just reread my comments from last June. So, I think I can do better regarding this bit:
#5 — oh. I am thinking that privilidge and personal hardship are not just inverse, but very different categories. Now I don’t know if I can explain.
Privilidge involves the assurance that something is so — if I’m straight I’m very likely to assume I won’t be taunted or beaten up about my straightness. It’s a kind of safety.
However, the lack of this priviledge doesn’t mean I’ve suffered a particular degree of hardship. I would argue that it does involve hardship, but the extent of hardship, I believe, is all-over-the-map. We could take as an example the young gay man who was recently shot at school in Oxnard CA and a theoretical young gay woman who has gay parents, and goes to a gay-supportive school and gay-supportive church, and lives in a relatively urban liberal setting (let’s say Cambridge MA). She may well be aware of many risks in being gay, may be aware of limits on her furure career choices and social choices, but her experience is vastly better than many other people who have the same level of PRIVILEDGE that she has. To make the comparison “fair” I should make her have the same level of priviledge as the boy who was shot. The point being that not having protection is NOT THE SAME thing in individual cases. So, I don’t see personal suffering as the same as lack of priviledge — except in very general terms. (I do agree that there are various kinds of suffering involved in the lack of priviledge itself, and there are very generalized forms of discrimination that are available to everyone.)
The lack of priviledge is not the same as having suffered (many kinds of) discrimination — it means you were not protected from harm — which is a form of harm (in that it is “risk”) — and you may be aware of possible future harm — but this is not the same as having been called names daily in school, thrown out of your home, rejected, and subjected to gay-hateful religion.
We’re all subject to “culture” (the generalized forms) — but we are not all living in the same corner of it. We share a world, and we live in our own corner of the world, too. There’s some of both.
I’m not sure now why we were discussing priviledge vs. hardship — but I do think they are not the same. It may have been a side road that I veered off on. Or maybe you were suggesting organizing around personal suffering. It’s hard for me to imagine that anyone would want to organize around the actual level of mistreatment folks have experienced. Except maybe in situations like a support group or therapy — and even then I see only limited use of organizing this way. Organizations who are providing help and assistance might select based on levels of suffering — although this probably would not be called “organizing”.
Anyway, after saying all that, I don’t especially think that levels of suffering are a good way to “organize” (the political meaning)… and I certainly don’t anyone to have to suffer in order to contribute to inclusion.
I agree that priviledge is very much an issue in biphobia. I very much like the direction you are going with the train of thought you present, even though I’m not really sure where it leads or if it will lead to better things. But the thought process of exploring and trying other ways to frame things is what I think will lead to better things, if anything will.
Here’s what does seem important to me:
1. experience, for the purpose of relatedness, connection, understanding, kinship, etc. This can include any kind of experience, but as examples: having had experiences of attraction to SS people, relationships with SS partners, questioning one’s orientation, isolation or fear or mistreatment. These are all experiences people may (or may not) relate to. Experience is not the same thing as identity, although it is in the same neighborhood. And there are many experiences someone will have or not have as a result of identity. Likewise experience includes all the experiences of non-safety that go with (various degrees of) non-priviedge.
2. Political desire for equality, and inclusion. This explicitly includes allies who have any and all levels of priviledge. This is really where I think there is the most failure in organizing. And I do not mean that anyone failed to do something they should have done — it may be that we haven’t gotten to it yet, that there have been too many more urgent issues to get through first, or that there are too many obstacles to this sort of organizing for it to really work. Anyway, I think it is where the biggest untapped support lies. I think this because I think the number of allies (or undeclared-potential-allies) is large — and also because I think this (very undefined thing) is the largest area of (potential) unity. Although that would take being able to identify and name it, among other things. (A bit like bisexuality, which would seem to have huge (potential) power in bridging and uniting people — at least in theory.)
My mind wanders off into things like “gay rights” — it’s important not to drop the GAY in this — and yet it’s also important to include allies of all kinds, and people who identify with some/any PART of “gayness” but who are not gay (identified). This includes B, T, Q, Q, I, unlabelled, relatives, friends, and who-knows-what-else. Does this seem like a similar issue to you? I tend to sorta call this “gay friendliness” because that seems like the closest I can come. At the same time, my effort to call it something other than “gay” can itself seem homophobic, or can seem to “water down” the gayness.
February 28, 2008 at 11:16 pm
Sorry for the response delay.
Anyway, after saying all that, I don’t especially think that levels of suffering are a good way to “organize” (the political meaning)… and I certainly don’t anyone to have to suffer in order to contribute to inclusion.
Definitely, I agree that a particular type of suffering is not really the best organizing criteria.
That said, political organization tends to be in response to suffering: for example, the recent round of queer movements got started due to police and societal crackdowns during the 50’s. Even today, a lot of the glue that holds the lesbian and gay communities together seems to be their understanding of how bad it can get.
Also, sometimes a particular sort of oppression has the effect of mandating a particular sort of resistance. For example, the particular functioning of sexism in modern culture means that having women-only spaces is very helpful to the women who attend them. This is because the subtle operation of sexism means that introducing men to these spaces almost always has the effect of reducing the agency available to the women in them.
So while there are ways to organize that do not center around a particular form of being oppressed, these methods do need to take into account the various kinds of oppression experienced by the people they are trying to organize.
Experience is not the same thing as identity, although it is in the same neighborhood. And there are many experiences someone will have or not have as a result of identity.
Right. If we assume that experience is the basis for community organizing, the fact that identity does not equal experience means that organizing can be difficult, and at least needs to acknowledge the various sorts of experiences of the people we are trying to organize. One of my big points in this essay was that organizing bisexuals using community-based strategies can be difficult because we tend to have a diversity of experiences in the very domain (sexuality) that we are trying to organize around.
Which means we need to find other ways of organizing, or perhaps get better at organizing across diverse experiences.
Anyway, I think it is where the biggest untapped support lies. I think this because I think the number of allies (or undeclared-potential-allies) is large — and also because I think this (very undefined thing) is the largest area of (potential) unity.
I’m a little confused at what you meant here. But, I’ll assume that you were saying that our biggest set of potential allies are those concerned with equality and inclusion. Presumably, we’re talking non-bisexual-identified people here.
It’s true that these folks are potential allies. But unfortunately for them to become allies, they need to get past the basic myths that the society has about bisexuals: that we don’t exist, that we’re all sluts or hypersexualized, and so on. To this end I am a huge fan of political essays that show how bisexuality is useful to other political movements. My most recent favorite is Look Both Ways, a book on how bisexuality is contributing to feminism.
March 9, 2009 at 5:22 am
Hi, I’m a queer woman of colour, and I’m offended by the way you’ve framed this discussion about straight privilege because it seems like you’re only talking about white people. I get it, I’m used to this. As a woman of colour, I’m generally not read as queer. People’s gaydars, whatever their sexuality, is usually about picking up particular understandings of gay/lesbian/queer that’s loaded with whiteness and middle-class. There’s no room for culturally, historically, location specific understandings of sexualities.
If I “come out” to a bunch of white queer people, I’m often told that I “look straight” because it must have been my homophobic brown family that made me this way. Pretty fucking racist that they believe my brownness = homophobic, not progressive, closeted. Another thing, I’m tired of all this “closet”/visibility talk. I don’t need to come out to be “queer” (I’m using a broad meaning of queer, not just limited to sexuality). I’m a fucking woman of colour, people see that I’m different, don’t belong here. I may not experience homophobia the same way as white queers do, because with white queers, it’s easy to see discrimination as homophobia if you’re privileged in other ways. For me, sometimes I can’t tell if it’s homophobia or racism or both. Perhaps I don’t experience “homophobia” as white queers experience it, because I’m read as straight but that has to do with a combination of racism, homophobia, and homonormativity. Also, your discussion of M/F relationship privilege is void of race as an element. I’ve dated a white guy and gotten a lot of shit, stares, offensive shit, said to me. What kind of straight privilege am I experiencing? I’m not saying I don’t to some extent, but I really want to point out that this is a ridiculously racist post about privilege, geared to white readers who date other white people, where race isn’t a factor at all when considering straight privileges.
March 9, 2009 at 8:52 pm
First off, thank you for raising these issues.
I’m going to repeat back each point you made to make sure that I understand.
1) This paper is written from a white perspective, and is mostly talking about these issues from a white bisexual point of view.
This is certainly true. I am writing from a white perspective, and the bisexual circles I move in (which I am writing about) are more white than the overall population by a good bit.
I have added a disclaimer to the top of the essay which makes this perspective clear. Unfortunately, that’s a disclaimer which should probably be at the top of everything I write, because the particular sexual minority groups I move in (bi, BDSM, poly) are all extra-white.
2) The concept of “looking queer” versus “looking straight” may be largely irrelevant to queers of color, or at least to you (not sure which). I think what you’re saying is that racism trumps any possible privilege here: straight society treats you crappy whether or not they read you as queer, and queers also treat you badly due to racism no matter how you are read. Most people (queer or otherwise) read you as straight no matter how you look, because queerness is generally only read off of white people. Queer people use this reading as a hook for racism as you describe.
3) “Coming out” is not as relevant to queers of color. This is because there’s not the same loss of privilege (since any privilege is largely already gone due to racism). The way I’ve heard this framed other places is that coming out itself is a privilege, and one that is primarily available to white queers. So discussion of queer visibility tends to end up being discussion of white queer visibility.
4) The privilege you might get in M/F relationships is attenuated by racism. (Always? Only when you are in a relationship with a white person? Not sure here.)
The upshot is that the three conclusions I make above may not apply to you or bisexuals of color in general. Bisexuals of color are less diverse along lines of privilege than white bisexuals, due to racism. This means that the organizing problem I identify does not apply (though there might be other organizing problems) and that bisexuals of color might interact better with other queers of color than white bisexuals interact with white queers.
Thanks again. Let me know if I’ve gotten anything here wrong.
July 12, 2009 at 6:35 pm
qwoc, thank you so much for making us aware of these issues. Those of us with white priviledge cannot possibly see our own blind spots. I realize it is our responsibility to educate ourselves, and I do read blogs by people of color, but I feel I learned a lot just by reading your post. I was so curious to find out if you felt that Pepper understood your post correctly, and disappointed that you did not answer. Imagine trying to see your own shadow when you are facing the sun on a sunny day; that is what having priviledge is like. My second husband is Canadian, and even though we are both white and speak English we have discoverd bizarre cultural differences that have caused problems between us until we figured them out and made accomodations for them. I believe ALL queers need to work together, particularly now; any help you can give us with our blind spots would be greatly appreciated.
August 6, 2009 at 7:22 pm
qwoc, thank you for your words (from another qwoc).
April 28, 2010 at 1:56 am
As a black bisexual man, I have to agree with QWOC that the notion of having or not having straight privilege isn’t that significant in my life. Maybe it’s because I don’t look all that obviously queer. But then most of the stereotypically queer “looks” and subcultures are rooted in white culture. For the most part, black queers look pretty much like black straight people, and I think this is generally true for other queer people of colour.
Looking at white queers as someone who isn’t white, I’ve always found it striking how strongly many white people identify with being gay/bi/lesbian/queer/etc. and how far people go to make a uniform out of it. I’m not against this per se, but by the time I’d figured out my sexuality, I was already part of several other minorities. Being bi is a big part of who I am, but it has to share space with my already well-established cultural heritage–and my ongoing battle against racism. It would have been absurd for me to put it front and centre beyond everything else in my life.
On that note, I think that in today’s more culturally diverse cities, an even bigger obstacle to bisexual organizing is the fact that mainstream LGBT society is so white-dominated that it pushes people of colour away, whether this is intentional or not. Although I’m involved in the main bi group in my city, I’ve always found it alienating in terms of ethnic culture, even though it’s validating in terms of sexual culture. And although other bisexuals of colour join from time to time, few of them stay.
I’m glad that the original writer was willing to take the feedback from qwoc and acknowledge that the point of view of the article isn’t really universal (though I wouldn’t quite call it “racist”). A disclaimer is a first step, I suppose. But what I’d really like to see is the growth of a more global view of sexuality.
April 28, 2010 at 11:27 pm
Thank you for speaking up!
I like the way you put it – if we think about it, it is a bit odd that white queer folks identify with queer labels so strongly. It could be a certain effect I’ve seen, which I refer to as “running from the mainstream”. People seem to jump at opportunities to leave the white mainstream, which is perhaps understandable given some of the power dynamics in the mainstream. Or it could be that people rank their identities by how crucial they are in day-to-day life, and white people (inaccurately) do not think of their whiteness as immediately crucial. Or perhaps identifying with subcultures is an aspect of white culture. I’m speculating here.
This kind of begs the question of the invisibility of queer people of color. There seem to be very few mainstream-acknowledged aesthetics for queer people of color. Within queer communities, we should be able to develop these, and perhaps have been to some extent, but they have not exported to the mainstream. As you say, we need a view of sexuality that is complex when it comes to people of color.
While I’m less involved in bi organizing these days, I am doing polyamory organizing, where I’m facing a very similar problem to what you describe. Poly people of color show up to events, but rarely in force, and they tend not to stay long. I’ve been working on various stopgap measures in my own organizing, including figuring out how to make groups more inviting, but also finding ways to help visibility for poly people of color. But once there’s a white super-majority built into a sexuality community, it seems to be an uphill battle to dislodge it.
June 23, 2010 at 3:03 pm
Although greater visibility for bisexuals of color and (queers of color) would be useful politically, and would make it easier to get a date, I have no desire to develop a black queer aesthetic. Again, if others want to start a particular movement or subculture that looks a certain way, that’s fine. But I don’t think that should be the expectation–that we are obliged to make ourselves easy for others to identify.
This isn’t about wanting to hide or be closeted, or straight privilege. It’s that I’m more concerned with being true to who I am, independently of what’s going on around me. I shouldn’t have to announce myself, unless I want to.
In North American black culture, this point of view tends to lead to a “true to my roots” kind of look that is also shared with the broader Afrocentric/socially conscious crowd. In other words, for many black people, the journey to self-awareness and actualization leads to similar aesthetics, regardless of whether it’s based more on cultural awareness or sexual awareness. That’s my take on it anyway.
The last thing I would want is to develop another set of uniforms for us to wear. I’d rather challenge the mainstream’s ideas of what “queer” looks like. Even in white society, for every person who looks obviously, queer there are even more who look, for lack of a better word, “ordinary”.
I’m not quite sure what’s going on with white queers either, but I’ve always thought it had to do with wanting to be part of something more distinct. Since in North America, “whiteness” is often seen as normal or default (wrongly), it seems like people jump at the chance to not feel so generic.
This is related to your “running from the mainstream” theory, but perhaps from a different angle. Being a visible minority, while difficult at times, also has some cachet. So maybe for white queers who discover their sexuality in their youth or early adulthood, they see it as an opportunity to become a visible minority–to create their own tribe?
Myself, I really don’t care. I find it far more empowering to put my energy into challenging people’s assumptions about other’s sexuality, with the hope that it may lead them to further explore their own.
June 23, 2010 at 9:11 pm
But I don’t think that should be the expectation–that we are obliged to make ourselves easy for others to identify.
Right. Sorry, nothing I say should be interpreted as some sort of obligation to develop queer POC aesthetics. Queers of all races sometimes take on queer aesthetics, and sometimes do not, according to their own situations and personal strategies, and I’m fine with that.
So maybe for white queers who discover their sexuality in their youth or early adulthood, they see it as an opportunity to become a visible minority–to create their own tribe?
I think there’s definitely some of this. Part of it is that we are not explicitly taught to value white culture (though we are implicitly taught to depend upon it), so I think white folks may not feel that they are giving as much up when they ditch the standard aesthetic in favor of something alternative. It may also be “running from the mainstream”, which is to say knowing that one’s culture is oppressive/problematic and seeking to create alternative culture.
Though from what I’ve seen a lot of it is just the practical stuff. Especially, getting a date in a large sea of straightness is a lot easier if folks can identify each other.
On a side note, I do want to acknowledge that some queer folks do not have any choice in being visibly queer – either due to their body form or because not expressing themselves would be very damaging.
July 18, 2010 at 5:07 pm
This article is an example of what qwoc and cerulean are saying – this same-gender couple living in the ‘burbs experience more prejudice because they are mixed race than because they are same gender.
August 1, 2010 at 3:24 am
In the middle of this is an interesting discussion of how the norms of the Lesbian community fail the Latina queer woman:
April 6, 2011 at 12:31 am
A few thoughts.
Firstly about issues of straight privilege with regard to being Bi & Poly – I would be interested in your opinions about the impact of appearing straight (or not) within a Poly community and the problems that raises and solves. How do we negotiate those privileges differently because of having several relationships?
I am conscious that my m/f relationship is more acceptable in public than my SS one despite the privilege afforded by my legal partnership with my SS partner and that this can itself cause friction within our relationships.
On a related note the issue I have most of all with your writings is its spatial specifity – I am sure you are aware of the importance of locale to discussion. For example the distinctiveness of certain gay communities and their relationship, openness and ‘particpated-in ness’, for example, to gay people of colour or fetishists or bisexuals etc and the dominant (gender, racial, cultural, sexual, legal, age) groups in the societies and locales those communities inhabit and interact with. This is more than simply individual groups but has a wider application to say areas where gay marriage has reconstructed the boundaries and interactions of straight privilege or in areas where social cache (‘coolness’) might be constructed by an appearance of Other.
It seems inevitably trite to say that individuals need to decide what they need most before Any organising can be done – but the issues of bi – visibility, bi phobia and imbalances of privileges within any space need to be weighed against each other in order to create hierarchies of organisational structure ie a bi group based purely around experiences relating to ‘coming-out’ fills a different need to one that advocates against bi-phobia inside the queer sphere and individual relationships to experiences of privilege similarly relate differently to those different groups – one specifically deals with loss of straight privilege and its life impact, the other discusses and negotiates the different levels of straight vs gay privilege people have and our reactions to those with different privileges.
April 6, 2011 at 8:57 pm
Hello, and welcome to the blog!
The addition of multiple relationships causes the potential for a power differential for bisexuals, as you point out. We particularly see this in interesting ways in the poly community. For example, the “unicorn hunting” phenomenon (where lots of M/F couples look for bisexual women, typically not very respectfully) definitely illustrates how there can be community-wide effects of straight privilege: the sought women are often considered playtoys and the seekers often don’t consider the F/F relationship to be as important as the M/F couple.
And as you state, there can be power differentials between a single person’s different relationships. I expect that sometimes folks in the same-sex relationship end up with more jealousy or insecurity because they fear an implicit assumption that their relationship is less worthy. Polyamory gets difficult any time there is an externally-imposed power imbalance, and this is just one case. I’ve also heard from trans people and people of color that being in relationships with people from the privileged group gets difficult because they are at a power disadvantage.
I see your point about specificity. I generalize by necessity, and often my generalizations end up incorrect for particular situations. Or just wrong period: for example, I recently read a study that claims that bisexual people have worse health outcomes than either heterosexuals or homosexuals, which implies that any straight privilege in health matters is more than offset by biphobia and the loss of privilege due to being queer.
But never the less, I think it is useful to make these generalizations and try to take a culture-wide view as much as possible, knowing that there will be counterexamples and trying not to erase less-privileged subgroups in the process.
As you say, in any actual group on the ground, there are always matters of practicality and what the group is for, and a series of compromises are made. Which is fine – my goal here was just to put the question of straight privilege on the radar for people to consider as part of this process.
August 21, 2011 at 7:08 pm
[…] heteroromantic or aromantic, they are probably afforded some modicum of straight privilege–an argument that also comes up often when gay people discuss bisexuals. This appears to be the single strongest argument against asexual people wanting to use the word […]
August 27, 2011 at 12:34 pm
Excellent post! I haven’t finished reading all the comments, so I don’t want to say more now.
October 27, 2011 at 2:52 am
Here’s yet even more biphobia from monosexuals: http://www.queerty.com/listen-real-world-castmate-so-sick-of-biphobia-he-can-barely-hook-up-with-tons-of-random-dudes-20111022/
They have the nerve to claim that bisexuals are whiny when if it wasn’t for us whiny bisexuals gay men and lesbians would not have the freedoms that they have today or nearly as much equality as they do.
October 27, 2011 at 7:31 pm
Well where are those bisexuals now, and why is the majority of LGBT movement or visibility in 2011 dominated by gay and lesbians? Probably because the bisexuals are too buys whining about how they love cock today and feel like boobs they next day.
October 27, 2011 at 7:40 pm
Oh look! Biphobia! I’m going to leave this comment up as a lesson in what not to do, but any future biphobic comments will be mercilessly deleted.
For the record, bisexuals have been in the various queer movements from the beginning (including non-obvious movements like Leather culture), often very visibly so. I could start giving examples, but there is no way I could do justice to the sheer numbers, so I’ll leave that as an exercise to the reader. Try googling “bisexual activist”. Plenty of shit shows up on the front page.
However, bisexuals have also been purposefully thrown out of various queer movements (i.e. lesbian feminism) or unintentionally excluded via biphobia (i.e. HRC). Despite this, you can find bisexuals in pretty much any queer organization, typically doing the grunt work since we are rarely promoted to positions of power. It’s a classic game of sexual minority invisibility.
November 23, 2011 at 1:08 pm
I cannot disagree enough with this distorted and fragmented image of power relations and bisexuality. No time to write a proper response, but here are some points to consider:
1. This link: http://radicalbi.wordpress.com/2011/09/19/snippet-4-the-bisexual-invisibility-report
2. This link: http://radicalbi.wordpress.com/2011/07/28/the-monosexual-privilege-checklist
3. Just a small anecdote: would you tell someone with an invisible disability that they had access to able-bodied privilege? (Further material for reflection: http://muse.jhu.edu/login?uri=/journals/journal_of_lesbian_and_gay_studies/v009/9.1samuels.html).
November 24, 2011 at 8:38 am
Okay, now for a more thought-out response:
I feel that the view you present in this post creates a fragmentation of bisexual experiences and the power structures working around bisexuality, by isolating one aspect of the issue – visibility – and treating it as if it is was whole.
By linking to my summary if the Bisexual Invisibility Report I meant to suggest that bisexual experiences of oppression are far more complex than visibility-aspects issues would imply. If visibility was the end-all of oppression and privilege, then how come bisexuals are so clearly at the bad end of so many factors?
By linking to the monosexual privilege checklist, I meant to imply that while bisexuals might have access to privilege on different axes of their identities (for example, whiteness, maleness, able-bodiedness, being cisgender, etc…), they are nonetheless oppressed on the axis of bisexuality. The other axes, however, should not be confused for straight privilege.
By making the comparison to invisible disability, I meant to invoke an image that would very obviously convey the fact that much is “hidden” underneath the surface. “Hidden” is in quotation because this very invisibility is caused by a view limited to this one fragment, that is: invisibility is produced by a sole focus on visibility. However, if oppression was to be determined by visibility alone, then people with invisible disabilities would have been considered recipients of able-bodied privilege – but this is not so. Invisibility, or passing, has its own price. Rather than being a single-value experience of privilege, the oppression/social punishment itself becomes invisible, that is: it moves to a different ground. It is not eliminated. This is the case for both bisexuality and invisible disabilities.
January 18, 2012 at 1:29 am
I agree with you completely, bidyke. Bisexuals do not have access to straight privilege. They may, in some cases, have access to so-called “passing privilege,” but as bidyke pointed out, “passing privilege” (which I’m not sure really exists, but the jury’s out on that one) is a double-edged sword. You pass, so you’re safe from interpersonal prejudice and attacks, but at the same time, you are denying your true identity to the world, which is damaging to one’s sense of self. You notice that you are accepted by the general population when you are read as straight, so you feel pressured to present yourself as straight, because it feels safer. But maybe that’s not how you truly want to express yourself. And as soon as you cross that very fine line between what is socially acceptable heteronormative behavior/appearance into what is not, you lose all that so-called privilege.
One might say that the same thing happens with straight people who are read as gay or otherwise non-heteronormative. But that’s where bisexuals lose out. Because those straight people, though they may be made fun of or bullied for not conforming to heteronormative standards of self-presentation, can always, always fall back on the fact that they are straight. They can always defend themselves with their straightness. At the end of the day, they remain heterosexual, no matter how others perceive them.
Bisexuals do not have this luxury. If they claim they are straight in order to protect themselves from attack, they are lying to themselves, and pushing themselves further into the closet, which is hurtful. It is sometimes necessary, but it is hurtful.
Privilege is not temporary. Privilege is something that affects every part of your life. You cannot choose to have it and you cannot give it up. Straight privilege, as bidyke so rightly points out, is not just being seen as a “normal person.” It is the experience of having a society set up entirely for people like you, of seeing yourself represented in all forms of media, of never having to choose between your personal safety and your personal freedom. (This, of course, is only talking about the axis of sexual orientation–many straight people, of course, experience other forms of oppression.) A self-identified heterosexual woman who cuts her hair short and wears stereotypical lesbian clothing (e.g. flannel, men’s shorts, work boots, what have you) is not giving up her straight privilege by doing so. She could even walk down the street holding hands with another woman–she still would not have given up her straight privilege. Because she’s still straight. Similarly, a bisexual person who presents themselves heteronormatively is not temporarily accessing straight privilege, because they’re not straight.
Reducing the concept of privilege to interpersonal interactions is, in my opinion, the wrong way to think of privilege altogether. Yes, racism and sexism and homophobia can manifest themselves in interpersonal relations (and very often do), but they are not limited to that. They are overarching systems of oppression that are institutionalized in our society, and they affect every facet of people’s lives.
January 18, 2012 at 7:44 pm
Thank you to bidyke and Laura for commenting. (Sorry that I missed bidyke’s first round.)
It’s been a while since I wrote this essay, and if I had to do it over again, I would do some things differently. In particular, I think there needs to be a general acknowledgement that being bisexual is hard. It can be easier than being gay or lesbian (as I describe above), but it’s also harder in certain ways (some of which described on the monosexual privilege checklist). In particular, the invisibility of being bisexual (or otherwise not monosexual) takes a heavy toll. I was surprised at the recent health reports that have bisexual health outcomes as worse than gay, straight, or lesbian health outcomes. But perhaps I shouldn’t have been. This speaks to how harsh biphobia is – possibly worse than homophobia once you add up all the averages.
Here’s an article on the health outcomes: http://news.gmu.edu/articles/7895
But at the same time, the reason I wrote this article still stands. As bisexual activists, we cannot interface well with other queer activists without acknowledging our privilege. Sometimes that’s privilege that has nothing to do with sexuality, like racial or gender privilege. But sometimes it is privilege that is a direct result of our particular sexual practices and situations.
I come from a Foucauldian background when it comes to power. Power is something that happens in particular moments, between people. Even when it is institutionalized, it is people in those institutions that have to write the rules and carry out enforcement. If those people disagree with the exercise of the power in question, institutional power falls apart.
And really, how does privilege happen? It may in the end happen because of who you are, but the actual transfer of power happens in moments, based on perceptions. If I walk into a loan office with my woman partner, and we are both fairly normatively gendered, we don’t have to worry about being denied a loan based on our sexuality. That’s privilege. (And also not in any way theoretical. I’ll be doing this in a month.)
Sure, we may have to closet to get that privilege, and closeting (due to cultural defaults or on purpose) absolutely sucks and overall may well have more negative effects than positive. But we still got the loan. Having the option to closet (or “passing privilege”, which is a term that is new to me, but which I like) is a privilege, even when closeting sucks.
I see in both bidyke’s and Laura’s view of privilege a certain essentialization. Which is to say, you are creating privilege as something that is carried within the person, that perhaps averages all those interactions on that axis (in this case sexuality) and comes up with a total privilege score or something. And I can agree that the final averaged outcome is that bisexuals are underprivileged, absolutely.
But we have to do some averaging to get there, and we ignore the very real and serious pluses and minuses. And doing so both impoverishes the discussion and prevents us from dealing with others in productive ways. As always, essentialization is dangerous.
I originally wrote this article because I saw a lot of bisexual activists spending a lot of time railing at other queer communities and not making much progress. And the reason they were not making much progress (I think) is because they were not willing to be real about the pluses and minuses of being bisexual, and instead were taking the position that being bisexual was flat-out worse than being gay or lesbian. This goes down like a lead balloon, and rightly so. Being bisexual may actually be overall (averages again) worse than being gay or lesbian, though I suspect it’s not by much if so. But we don’t convince people of that by denying the ways that bisexuals have it better. We convince them of that by being very real and honest about all facets of power around sexuality.
The fact that I keep getting bisexuals angry at me in these particular ways because of this essay, while somewhat depressing, is to me validation that I was right to author it. It’s an uncomfortable conversation and one we need to have to move forward as a movement. I agree with the points made in this essay on tumblr, which seems to be how many of y’all have gotten here.
January 18, 2012 at 7:57 pm
I should add that bisexuals are not entirely alone in this situation. There are other queer sub-groups who have been wrestling with what it means to have some level of privilege due to culturally-enforced closeting. Most obviously, butch queer men, femme queer women, and passing trans folks. When there has been a strong acknowledgment of privilege, people have been able to move forward politically. Most obviously, femme queer women have made huge strides in the last decade. I would like to see bisexuals as a group make the same sort of progress.
February 25, 2012 at 7:40 am
This also may useful as a supplementary reading, along with what Laura and bidyke posted–sorry, I am one of those queer women who do not think bisexuals experience heterosexual privilege, even though they may reap a few of the privileges of heterosexuality. I think it may be more along the lines of “passing privilege” rather than “heterosexual privilege,” because to me, equating bisexuality in any way to heterosexuality is insulting.
July 17, 2012 at 5:55 am
I am a caucasian, bisexual female that prefers women but who sometimes dates men when I find one that I like. And to be quite honest, i feel like this talk of straight privelige misses the point a little. I feel like this “straight privelige” that i supposedly have for looking like a semi attractive straight female is the hardest thing in my life. I find it almost impossible to meet women, as most gay/bi women think I am straight. because in my personality I am definately more boyish, I have a lot of male friends so often seen in male company looking pretty probably doesnt help. I dont want to change who I am and what I look like to fit in with the LGBT communities but I do feel an immense pressure to do so. I feel like if i ‘butched’ myself up a bit i would more easily get a girlfriend. I am constantly discriminated against at gay events because people see me as a straight hanger on and not a gay girl. (which is what I identify with and only call myself a bisexual becaus society makes me do so.) Believe me, I would give up this “straight privelige’ amy day to get some ‘gay’ privelige and acceptance. (and maybe even a girlfriend??) but thisi is too much to ask for. Maybe, one day, looking ‘pretty’ (ie straight) will not attract so much critisism from the LGBT community and looking ‘queer/gay’ wont be an issue in mainstream ‘straight’ society. But its not always a privelige to be assumed straight.
August 13, 2012 at 10:24 pm
I have to disagree. I am also a caucasian bisexual woman, but like you I much prefer women to men. I am also extremely femme-looking, and am always read as straight.
I used to put a lot of stock into identity, but I don’t anymore. I have an awkward relationship with it. I am bisexual, but when I am dating women I deal with 100% of the oppression that lesbians face. When I am dating men, I have 100% of the privilege that straight women have. Yes, as a bisexual, I have experienced lots of straight privilege.
The problem here is not GLBT oppression so much as compulsory heterosexuality. You know, the default assumption is straight. I think we need to get over that, but more importantly, I think we need to get over this idea of identity categories. I can choose to identify however I want – straight, bisexual, lesbian, and have chosen each of these labels at a different point in my life. Yet none of them (not even bisexual) really describes my identity. But if I identify as straight, I don’t have straight privilege if I’m in a same-sex relationship. If I identify as a lesbian, I do have straight privilege if I’m in a same-sex relationship.
I wish identity wasn’t important, but so long as the default assumption is straight we need to be able to identify ourselves as non-straight. I occasionally worry that this is oppressive to straight people, though, as even those with heterosexual orientations don’t fit into perfect categories, and each have different ways of understanding sexual orientation. At the moment we do need to be able to come out of the closet, but shouldn’t we be focused on getting rid of the closet? Instead of fighting to be seen as queer, I fight against assumptions about identity. pepomint wrote a great post on that, which I agree with completely: https://freaksexual.wordpress.com/2007/10/08/respecting-sexual-identity/
If we could get past seeing sexual orientations as categories and understand that it is extremely fluid for many people, we could understand that identity is not privilege (or oppression). I want my bisexual identity to be respected, but that doesn’t mean that I necessarily always face oppression because of it. If I am with a man, I have privilege. That said, I haven’t always been bi. I am in my thirties, and in my teens and early twenties I was a lesbian. I couldn’t help it, and trust me, I wanted to. The worst oppression I faced wasn’t for sleeping with women, it was for not sleeping with men. I also knew myself as a freak, not for sleeping with women, but because losing one’s virginity to a man is still socially constructed as how a girl becomes a woman. It’s how women are valued. My own self esteem skyrocketed once my sexual orientation shifted towards both men and women, and I started dating men.
Until we get past compulsory heterosexuality, identity is still important. I wish it wasn’t, though, and I choose to devote my activist energies towards moving us to a situation where we don’t make assumptions about a person’s sexual orientation. I would like to see us move to a world where identity wasn’t important, and privilege and oppression were recognized as things that were as fluid as sexual orientation. One can have straight privilege even when one isn’t straight, and face oppression for having gay or lesbian relationships even if one isn’t gay or lesbian.
June 17, 2013 at 10:01 pm
YES!!! I Agree and identify so much with what you say!
September 11, 2012 at 1:32 pm
[…] Peggy McIntosh – White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack Freaksexual: Bisexuals and straight privilege Share this:TwitterFacebookGefällt mir:Gefällt mirSei der Erste dem dies gefällt. Geschrieben […]
January 22, 2013 at 1:02 am
[…] “Bisexuals and Straight Privilege.” 11 May 2007. https://freaksexual.wordpress.com/2007/05/11/bisexuals-and-straight-privilege/ […]
April 8, 2013 at 7:25 pm
[…] On biphobia and bisexual access to straight privilege (by a very self-aware bisexual man). […]
June 17, 2013 at 9:58 pm
It’s pretty offensive to say that lesbians and gay men (or, in fact, many bisexual people themselves) are being irrational in their fear of a bisexual partner leaving them for an “opposite-sex” partner and similar scenarios: it denies the privilege that certain relationships enjoy over others and the fact that it is made a lot easier for people to enter and stay in “opposite-sex” relationships than same sex or otherwise “queer” ones. When it comes to relationships between women, it also denies the importance of male privilege and how this can make women (and non-binary people) in relationships with women who are also attracted to men vulnerable. Bisexual people/ bisexuality is not the problem here, they are not the cause of the vulnerability (that would be patriarchy) but the vulnerability nonetheless exists. At the very least, feeling vulnerable is very reasonable in such a situation, and to dismiss that is unhelpful.
July 20, 2013 at 9:48 am
I support bisexuality and I do not have any qualms about it. I want to add to the distinction between having heterosexual and homosexual relationships as a bisexual person. Regardless of your orientation- when you are in the monogamous relationship, it is either defined as heterosexual or homosexual. If it is heterosexual, you receive heterosexual privilege and lose visibility in the queer community. If you are in a homosexual relationship, you are automatically in the community but you lose any would-be heterosexual privileges. It’s not really your place to get attention as a queer person if you are, at the moment, in a heterosexual relationship with all of its bonuses.
Also, as sehaf has mentioned above, the privilege of being in an opposite sex relationship must also be taken into account. If your partner is of the opposite sex, that affords you a huge amount of privilege in society. While it’s true that a gay person can stay in the closet and do the same, they are not truly reaping the benefit of being hetero-normative because their entire life is a lie and they are neither happy, fulfilled, nor satisfied. As a bi person, all of those positive things are possible because you truly do love the person of the opposite sex you are with. It is not a sham. So that is another aspect that cannot be overlooked.
September 23, 2013 at 10:41 pm
[…] as straight just plain hurt. It hurt to not be seen for who I was, to benefit so much from straight privilege I didn’t even want to […]
October 21, 2013 at 12:06 pm
most of the privileges that I supposedly have access to are contingent upon my *not* outing myself i.e. allowing assumptions to prevail. That fact removes such advantages from the category of privilege in my view, because there’s an element of choice.
April 18, 2014 at 5:51 pm
[…] a male bisexual blogger to whom I’ve already linked in this post, talks about ‘privileges gained from knowing oneself as straight‘ as some which, distinct from those of ‘being seen as straight’ or ‘being […]
August 31, 2014 at 7:12 pm
This powerful blog really shows how much nonsense this whole concept of “straight privilege” for bisexuals really is. Individual bisexuals may have white privilege, or class privilege, the privilege that being physically attractive brings, but monosexual privilege is something that monosexuals have, not bisexuals.
August 31, 2014 at 7:13 pm
Here is the monosexual privilege checklist:
August 31, 2014 at 7:21 pm
As to the so called privilege that bisexuals have…Gregory Herek studies sexual prejudice against gender and sexual minorities, and has a fascinating body of research. In Heterosexuals’ Attitudes Toward Bisexual Men and Women in the United States. The Journal of Sex Research, 2002, 39(4).he found that bisexuals were the most hated group in the US, hated more than gays or Lesbians, and the only group hated more than bisexuals were IV drug users.
For many years, research has lumped gays, Lesbians, and bisexuals together, found serious physical and mental health problems in the community, and these problems were used to get funding. But more recently the various groups have begun to be researched separately. When this is done, it is clearly seen that due to the stigma born by the bisexual community, the bisexual community bears the brunt of the problems. In childhood, bisexuals are more likely than gay men and Lesbians to be abused or bullied – see “Friedman, et al., A Meta-Analysis of Disparities in Childhood Sexual Abuse, Parental Physical Abuse, and Peer Victimization Among Sexual Minority and Nonminority Individuals. American Journal of Public Health, 2011, 101 (8), 1481-1494. In adulthood, 45% of bi women have considered or attempted suicide, 35% of bi men, 30% of Lesbians, 25% of gay men, and much lower rates for heterosexuals. Bisexual women had significantly higher lifetime prevalence of rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner when compared to both lesbian and heterosexual women. Similar discrepancies are found for other health problems, and we are much more likely to be poor. A quarter of us are on food stamps, but only 14% of Lesbians and gay men.
Yet over the past 30 years, while the LGT community has received $487,677,799 in funding, the bi community has received a grand total of $85.356. Two of the three major national bi groups are totally staffed by volunteers. So the Gay and Lesbian groups use our suffering to get funding, and then do not spend any of it on us. So it’s kind of hard to see where the bi community has any privilege…
September 2, 2014 at 12:31 pm
I absolutely refuse to accept that being accepted by a hetero-normative culture, ONLY under the condition that I steadfastly hide my identity (an identity for which I fought, and am STILL fighting, every single day), is a privilege. Calling a Hobson’s Choice a privilege doesn’t make it so. This is condescending, dismissive, presumptuous, internalized biphobia at its worst.
Almost all of this comes down to the idea that “passing” is a privilege. But passing is a choice, and it is one that almost every person, under almost any part of the LGBTQIA umbrella could make.
If you could grow out your hair, and put on a dress, or cut your hair, and wear a suit, and pass as straight, does this mean you have “parts” of straight privilege? Even if you’re gay or lesbian? If not, this whole argument is just thinly veiled shit-rolling-downhill. I choose not to “pass,” and typing that word makes me want to vomit in my mouth. Would you shove someone out of a closet that kept them from being beaten and murdered, if they were gay or lesbian, in order to allow them entry into your community? No? They’re “passing,” too. Ask them how great it feels to hide something that is so integral to who they are. Ask them how very fortunate it makes them feel to never be able to talk about things like romance with their peers, if they want to be accepted and SAFE. Because that’s what “passing” IS. It’s going back into the closet, with all of the awfulness that entails, for anyone who isn’t straight.
I hope that, someday, you can unpack the internalized elitist propaganda that makes you feel like you aren’t queer enough to be included, or like you have to apologize for your orientation not passing the Queerness Gauntlet of Fire. In the meantime, though, please do not include me in your generalizations.
November 14, 2015 at 1:34 am
Another missing component is the instance of gay men being so miserable to bi men so they leave and find the bi community to be indignant about bi men who want some connection and end up where they are treated best. And how do you know we aren’t out to each other. At least the straight world bi people have parties centered on themes of their history past the LGBT shit. Many of us in the “straight world” only have each other but because it is bi men getting it and we are not rejected (Bi is written off as a fetish) so would I choose to live in a world where I am treated with kindness??? Because what sucks is when two guys fall for one another and everyone even though the accept you still think you are just looking for another “kinky girl”.
But we get no support unless we want some miserable gay men talking down to us like children. Especially when my bi identity started at age 6 when my crushes led to public humiliation in front of everyone.
Yeah, I was put on no trespass at the LG white clubs in my area for showing up every day because I kept bugging your overlords at LGBT who did nothing.
April 23, 2016 at 4:12 pm
Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope.