Saturday, July 03, 2010

Guest Post: Shot by both sides

In the next of my series of guest posts Charlotte Dingle, chief young person for the Greens, looks at whether there's homophobia in the gay community.

Greedy, untrustworthy, confused, lying, slutty, cowardly. I’ve been called all these things over the years, simply for being honest about the fact that my desire isn’t limited to one gender.

In a world which is slowly but surely getting its head round homosexuality, bisexuality seems to be the last taboo. People who would think twice before making a derogatory comment about a gay person still think it’s perfectly acceptable to suggest that bisexuals are great big sluts, unable to commit to monogamous relationships. As a bisexual woman, I have lost count of the number of times men have asked me for threesomes… or the times I’ve had both women and men say they’d never even consider dating me in case my desire for a ‘bit of the other’ got the better of me.

Bizarrely, the most prejudice I’ve encountered has been on the gay scene. It’s seen as some kind of betrayal, I think, that I’d dare run off and do the hetero thing at the same time as claiming my place in the gay community. They think I want the best of both worlds – in reality I am getting the worst, with hostility from both sides. The ‘B’ in LGBT often feels like it was added as an afterthought (well, actually, it was).

I grew up in a very liberal household, but even there I was taught that being bisexual wasn’t really the ideal way to be. I’ll never forget my Dad calling bisexuals “exotic”, as if it were some kind of decadent and affected behaviour… Oh, and my Mum calling them “sad” (in a melancholy sense, that is). Thankfully, both have (I hope) revised these opinions since I’ve grown up and tried to help them understand what bisexuality really means.

Then there are the folks who think bisexuals don’t exist. I’ve tied my brain in knots in the past, trying to work out if perhaps I am actually either gay or straight… and sometimes I’ve convinced myself for a while that I am one or the other, before someone cute comes along and blows my theory out of the water. The bottom line is, I have liberal friends and a liberal family and I work as editor of a magazine for lesbian and bisexual women. If someone was going to be too scared to admit they were a lesbian, it certainly wouldn’t be me. I certainly don’t date men in order to feel part of mainstream heterosexual society – I have no problem with walking down the road hand-in-hand with a woman.

Bisexuality falls along a spectrum, this much is true. I know there are girls who kiss their mates to turn their boyfriends on – and they like it just as much as Katy Perry did. I defend to the death their right to do this, but the fact is, they don’t account for all of us.

Anyway, if you’re waiting for me to ‘make my mind up’, you’ll be waiting a long time.


Jae said...

I'm gay but have also noticed, and confronted, a lot of, usually half-jokey, attacks on bisexuality. Hopefully the more who speak out against this prejudice, the sooner we can eradicate it.

scott redding said...

I read this 15 years ago ... it's by Ronda Slater, in a collection called "Bi Any Other Name"

"What I need is
an angular man
with muscles and bones
built for thrusting
or maybe

what I need is
a satin-skinned woman
with fingers that dance
on my body
or maybe

what I need is
a Trojan Horse lover
who is really a woman
named Helen, in hiding,
or maybe

what I need is
a magical man
who grows gardens of herbs
and heals with the laying
on of his hands
or maybe

what I need is
a lyrical lady
with hair down to here
who writes poems and songs
about me for a change,
or maybe

what I need is
a sensual socialist
androgynous feminist
who doesn't smoke cigarettes
or maybe

love is like water
and when you find out
you need it, who cares
where it comes from,
or maybe

everyone is a well
just waiting for me
to send my ladle down."

Adrian Windisch said...

Why are people defined by their sexuality anyway? Its very interesting to a persons partner but no so much to anyone else.

As a candidate in many elections I have never been asked about my sexuality or indeed my religion.

Chris Williams said...

Really interesting post by Charlotte. I agree that bisexuality is still shrouded in mystery for many. I guess society has become used to two men or two women being together so they have got used to defining gay and lesbian but bisexuality is fairly invisible unless you really get to know someone who is bisexual and know who they date too. The intrigue remains.

People fearing dating bisexual men and women for worry of them "going to the other side" is something I've never understood.

You're right that there's homophobia or other forms of discrimination within the gay "community" though. Some more masculine gay men look down on "queer" feminine gay men. I also remember handing out leaflets at the last Euro elections at Birmingham gay pride to encourage people to vote against the BNP. Some people simply said that they wanted the BNP as they hated something or other community. Being non-heterosexual definitely doesn't open everyone's mind.