Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Biphobia?


Jolie du Pre an author of lesbian erotica whom I've read, wrote this article today about Biphobia- fear of bisexuals.

It's a short piece, but interesting to read. I think it speaks to why those of us who like reading f/f of the more bisexual nature have a hard time finding the material to read and even finding some kind of identity in our preferences in general. Whether we are actually bisexual or just enjoy reading it.

23 comments:

M. A. said...

Hi everyone. This comment gave me food for thought:

"Bisexuals make people uncomfortable. Many people wish that we would just go away, or at least keep quiet about it, because they perceive our very existence as a threat to the social order. A declaration of bisexual identity often results in discrimination, hostility, and invalidation. Gay- and lesbian-identified individuals frequently view us as either confused or interlopers possessing a degree of privilege not available to them, and many heterosexuals see us as amoral, hedonistic spreaders of disease and disrupters of families."


In the past, I think I may have been inadvertently hostile towards bisexual people (male or female,) but I'd have to say it was more due to lack of understanding on my part than out of any personal dislike, or negative view of bisexuality.

For example, a close relative of mine is bisexual. She's been married twice (to men) and had three girlfriends. It took a long time for it to "click" to me that she was bisexual. When she was married I thought of her as "straight" and during her involvement with females I thought she was "gay" (and, in all fairness, she herself claimed to I.D. as "gay" at the time.) Years later, she married another man and pretty much abandoned all her friends and acquaintances in the GBLT community.

Years later, a close female friend of mine (married and with kids) claimed to be bisexual. I thought this was "odd," because to my mind if she was married to a man, how could she be bisexual?

I do believe now I may have treated the discussion in a fashion that might have left her feeling dismissed or invalidated.

This may sound even more insensitive on my part, but, really and truly, I don't "get" the current trends for establishing and declaring gender identification. I don't care if my relative/s, friend/s, coworker/s, neighbor/s, or anybody else is sleeping with a person or persons of the same gender. I consider that a private matter, not my business.

I don't feel the need to discuss my own gender preferences and I am unconcerned about another person disparaging those preferences.

More to the point: unless I'm sleeping with you myself, I don't really care who you're sleeping with. It has nothing to do with me. That's fair, isn't it?

MB (Leah) said...

This may sound even more insensitive on my part, but, really and truly, I don't "get" the current trends for establishing and declaring gender identification

I don't get this either.

I'll admit that I haven't really known many bisexuals. My ex roommate was bisexual, but really most of her life she was with men and only one time did she have a relationship with a woman. And when I knew her she was with men, so I never thought about it really, that she is bi or whatever. Was never even brought up.

I've never really thought about all these things until I realized that I liked reading about f/f love and sex.

I guess for me, I've always been part of a larger group of people/friends who were very open and liberal in their ideas about sexuality and no judgments were ever made, nor was identification questioned.

But then again, I'm a straight woman. So really, I've gone through life not really having to consider what my sexuality was about or having to defend or define it.

I do feel on some level, even having this blog and writing that I prefer to read bi or gay for you scenarios in f/f that I am offending pure lesbians. Or that on some level I might be judged by them for co-opting what is maybe the fun part of their sexuality without having to deal with all the problems they deal with just to be who they are.

I do see though that it's very difficult for a bisexual person because of the confusion that it causes in everyone else.

On a personal level, I want to be able to be attracted to who I I'm attracted to, whether they are male or female and I don't feel that I'm confused internally about it. But since I am straight and do have the ease of going through life without my sexuality being unaccepted, then I could be just completely clueless really.

kirsten saell said...

I only came out and told people when I started becoming much more attracted to women than to men--not so much on a sexual level (because that's always been pretty strong), but in the sense that I felt I'd be more emotionally compatible with a woman in the context of a relationship. After years of m/f relationships, I didn't want to blindside my parents or my kids with a "Guess what? I'm dating someone new, her name's Jen," or something, because they really had no idea I was bi.

And as far as coming out to the locals, well, it's a lot easier as a bisexual to find someone when everyone knows you're not necessarily looking for a man. And I think there's a certain wariness that still keeps gays, lesbians and bis from showing interest in just anyone they find attractive--especially in a small town.

but, really and truly, I don't "get" the current trends for establishing and declaring gender identification

I think most heterosexuals (or mostly-straights who are only incidentally attracted to the same sex) don't tend to worry about this. They're the default setting. When you pass a stranger on the street or in the grocery store (unless they're wearing a rainbow T or some other advertisement of their sexuality), I think the assumption is that they're straight unless they indicate otherwise.

I want people to know I'm bi, because I don't want men I'm attracted to to assume they have no chance, and I don't want women who might be open to something to assume their interest would be unwelcome. Straights don't have to worry about this. It's probably not that common for a lesbian to be offended and grossed out and angry if a man she's just met in the produce section asks her out on a date (unless he's a dick about it or won't take her word for it that she's not interested).

If I ask a woman out for drinks, if she's straight she'll either get the wrong idea (just want to be friends), or I risk freaking her out when I make my interest known. There's enough lesbophobia out there among straight women that I just don't want to put myself in that position.

So yeah, once I'd accepted who I was and was comfortable in it, I never angsted much about being bi--or even bothered telling anyone--until I became open to the possibility of a same-sex relationship.

M. A. said...

Kristen, I'm "feeling" you and I definitely appreciate your frankness.

I wonder if "biphobia" is actually more better defined as "communication failures" in some situations?

I see your points about wanting to communicate your identity and potential availability to people. That makes perfect sense to me in the context as you've explained it.

I definitely get that the "presumed straight" label can be a barrier to the GLBT community.

To some extent I can identify. Example: I live in a region that is traditionally reputed to have a lot of "easy" females. The area is a big tourist draw and, yes, there are men who visit (from ANYWHERE) with the mindset that any woman they meet is "open" to being picked up, indecent proposals, etc..

I am not exagerrating. I worked in the hospitality industry for years and men -- men who LOOKED and ACTED like basically decent guys 'til they opened their mouths -- would come to my desk or call my desk, and either proposition me, or request information for securing a prostitute.

NOTE: With international travelers I sort of understand, 'cause prostitution is legal in some states and countries. But in many cases that wasn't the situation, it was more the attitude that, as a local, I was "available and agreable" for whatever "fun" they had in mind.

Surprisingly, if I put the guy in his place, he would become immediately apologetic and polite. Almost as though to say, "Oh! Excuse me, I didn't realize you were a lady." (not those words, but the tone and manner)

Being the snotty little creature I am, this does not sit well with me a bit.

*rambles back to the point*

This is just my opinion. To me, circumstances have a lot to do whether or not there's "ick factor" to revealing one's preferences. It's one thing to inform your parents, kids, close friends, etc. as one deems necessary for the sake of clarification. That isn't really what I was talking about in my original post.

What's "squicky" for me -- and PERHAPS for some other folks -- is that, when someone "volunteers" their preferences to me...I'm assuming it's for a reason (i.e., to reduce surprise when introducing a same-sex significant other.) For me, that's not really necessary, because I'm not hung up on that (again, not my business,) but I can see why the "identity announcement" might seem necessary to the "announcer."

It's when people choose to "announce themselves" and I cannot perceive any "reason" for the "announcement" that I might experience confusion and/or anxiety that MIGHT be perceived as "GBLT-phobia" by the "announcer.

Think of this way: let's say you and I are having coffee, chatting in the office, shopping, or having some other kind of casual interaction.

All of a sudden, I say to you, "I love smearing a lover's lower lip with honey and sucking it away while sharing a kiss."

Aren't you going to wonder "Why'd she tell me that?"

And it's one of those things where the "receiver of the message" is sort of "damned" no matter what s/he says or does. If one opts to politely "move on" past the subject without acknowledgment, one is "ignoring" the "message."

If one confronts it ("Why're you telling me this?") it may come across to the "announcer" as defensive.

Any kind of polite acknowledgment ("Oh really? I wouldn't have guessed." or "How nice! Good for you!") sounds silly and patronizing.

I'm not sure bisexuals make "other" people uncomfortable so much as discussion of the person's bisexuality when the "other" people don't comprehend the reason.

I may have just talked in a big circle. Did I make any sense?

kirsten saell said...

All of a sudden, I say to you, "I love smearing a lover's lower lip with honey and sucking it away while sharing a kiss."

Aren't you going to wonder "Why'd she tell me that?"


Well, let's take the example down a notch and say another woman and I are in a cafe and she sees a good-looking guy at a nearby table. She whistles softly and says, "Oh my god is he ever hot! I want to climb him like a firepole." And I reply, "I wouldn't kick his girlfriend out of bed for eating crackers, either."

Straight people comment on how attractive members of the opposite sex are all the time--and not just in an "I can appreciate beauty even if I'm not interested" kind of way. But when someone expresses the exact same sentiment and interest in a member of the same sex (especially if you don't know they're gay or bi), it seems much more overt--simply because it's unexpected and not the norm.

The thing is, straight people are free to publicly express their heterosexuality in any way they choose. Gay and bi people, not so much. And when they do, it's seen as an "announcement" or "disclosure" of their queerness, when in reality it's no more so than a woman saying Brad Pitt's abs make her want to swoon is an "announcement" of her heterosexuality. But because heterosexuality is the default, it isn't seen as a disclosure, it's just seen as conversation.

M. A. said...

Well, let's take the example down a notch and say another woman and I are in a cafe and she sees a good-looking guy at a nearby table. She whistles softly and says, "Oh my god is he ever hot! I want to climb him like a firepole." And I reply, "I wouldn't kick his girlfriend out of bed for eating crackers, either."


Can't speak for other folks, but this wouldn't bother me. Have had comparable chats before.

Here's a more specific example of what I mean by "announcement." For a long time I had a close friendship with a woman claiming to be bisexual.

When I mean she claimed bisexuality, I mean exactly that. Our conversations were infrequently peppered with remarks such as:

"Well, I'm bisexual, so I think..." (like being bisexual is a qualifier for what a person thinks?)

"I'm bisexual, and..."

I'm not saying the subject came up any time we talked, but it came up often enough I began experiencing confusion, and not a little discomfort. It became glaringly evident that I was supposed to acknowledge my friend's bisexuality, and I really did not know how to do that.

From my perspective, she viewed her self-designation as bisexual making her somehow "special" or having some impact on whatever we talked about, or how I thought about her or how I treated her.

Further disclosure revealed that her self-I.D. as a bisexual resulted from a single sexual experience with another female in her twenties. She thought (and said) "Men are better," went on to marry and have kids and live a "het" lifestyle.

I frequently thought (but never said--the lady was older than me) "So...a single BAD (or at least mediocre) lay nearly thirty years ago makes you bisexual?"

This qualified as "weird" to me. For that matter, I have to say, if a person chose to frequently self-I.D. as "straight" that would disturb me, too.

*shrugs and spreads hands for a minute before continuing*

Everybody has different comfort zones and comments about what is "appropriate." I'm not saying that non-bisexual people never suffer "biphobia." I am saying, that maybe -- not always but maybe some of the time -- the form of expression doesn't suit others as entirely proper.

Did I make better sense here? I'm worried I'm not articulating correctly.

kirsten saell said...

Well, given the example of your friend, I can see that getting irksome. LOL

I think if you're discussing sex, relationships, politics, etc, and it's pertinent, then sure, you can bring it up. Like saying, "As a black man, I find Affirmative Action problematic but necessary." But saying, "As a black man, I think Purina Dog Chow isn't as nutritionally complete as Iams," well, being black doesn't seem precisely relevant.

When I'm in a social setting like a bar (mostly hanging out with men around the pool table), I'll eye up the girls a bit and make the odd comment on who I think is attractive and why. I've had guys do a double take, then say something along the lines of, "Ohhhh." *winkwink* "Hey, it's cool--I'm a lesbian too."

To which I'm forced to reply, "I'm not a lesbian." And probably half of them end up confused. I mean, I like girls, I must be a lesbian, right? It's as if even straight guys truly believe the only reason a woman who's into guys would be into girls is for the gratification of guys. And all those Katy Perry chicks probably don't make offhand comments about "how the girl over in the corner booth has legs so long I could wrap them around me twice," or whatever. Not unless she's actually interested in the guy she's talking to, and saying it for his benefit.

Probably 80% of straight guys I've met (who would, incidentally, be overjoyed to see me grinding on some young thing on the dance floor) are totally perplexed and bemused by the concept of sincere female bisexuality. *shakes head*

kirsten saell said...

(sorry, comment too long, sheesh)

I do think there's a great deal of biphobia and homophobia in straight people. Maybe MORE biphobia than homophobia--because straights and lesbians are in their own little box where they belong, and they're easy to spot. You see homophobia when straight guys get all uncomfortable around gays because they "don't want some dude hitting on me"--as if gays have no ability to discriminate and will just jump on anything with a penis, whether their advances are welcome or not.

Bi-men are like the stealth version of that sexually voracious, I'll-fuck-anything-with-a-dick gay predator many straight men fear--because OMG, they can disguise themselves as straight! Sound the alarm! Even the men who have girlfriends could jump on you at any moment!!

And with straight women, biphobia is almost worse in a way, because not only can bi-women appear atraight, there's also a ton of pressure from straight men/the media to be one of those trendy sexually fluid women in music videos and late night ads (but not really because it IS just for the titillation of your boyfriend, right?). So when that bisexual woman (OMG, disguised as a straight one!!) hits on you, and your boyfriend gets that gleam in his eye, you're getting pressure from both sides to do something you don't want to do, and a lot of straight women get downright squicked out.

My ex, for all his flaws, has never been uncomfortable around gay guys, and he's even sat through some unexpected m/m porn in a movie we were watching several years back--without fast forwarding, screaming like a little girl, or covering his eyes and begging me to tell him when it was over.

He's not that interested, though, in hearing one of his gay co-workers expound upon which brand of lube is best for anal, or what sexual position makes his prostate explode. He's not interested in the latest goings on in the gay community, nor does he believe the only defining characteristic of a gay man is his gayness, or that his being gay must impact every single aspect of his life, from his color choices to the brand of cat food he buys.

But my ex is not 100% of straight guys. And unfortunately, Mia, you are not 100% of straight women. And while I agree that a constant barrage of "as a bisexual woman" gets tiresome (because it does to me as well, and how), most of the biphobia out there is simply an irrational and completely baseless discomfort among both straights and gays over bisexuality's existence. I wouldn't necessarily call it fear, but I do think many many straights and gays just wish the whole concept would go away...

M. A. said...

I wouldn't necessarily call it fear, but I do think many many straights and gays just wish the whole concept would go away...


I really could not say. I am a great believer in not concerning myself with personal matters not involving me.

Mostly this has "worked" for me, but sometimes it has not.

I think we're experiencing an era where a lot of confusion is occuring related to gender preferences. I'm more inclined to believe people fear change.

I remember when a close female friend came out. At first, I was sincerely happy for her because she was happy. Then, though, we sort of drifted apart. Her significant other was a jealous type.

I remember recognizing what was going on, scratching my head, and getting irate and thinking, "Aw C'MON! I expect my men friends' wives and girlfriends to have 'territorial issues' when it comes to female friendships, but now I gotta worry about it from my women friends, too?"

It was a change. Not a pleasant one, and it took me a while to accustom myself to it. I'm still in touch with my friend, but there are definite boundaries that weren't there in the past and we definitely don't see each other as much as we have in the past. Sometimes she phones me and I get the impression she's phoning me when her S.O. isn't around.

It's not that I don't want her to be happy. It's not that I'm offended she has a female love interest. But...I can't help minding that things USED to be so much simpler between us, and I feel hurt by that and, in a way, it's more painful 'cause I didn't expect it.

kirsten saell said...

I think you're a pretty open-minded person, Mia. I wish there were less angsting over defining sexuality. It's one of the things my readers have said they liked about my books--the fact that I don't address my characters' sexuality much because it's not that important in the grand scheme of things.

That said, society seems to have this need to put people in boxes, and if they have to do that, I'm going to insist they stick me in the right one, at least. But there are still people in the straight and GLBT communities who refuse to acknowledge there are more than two boxes. Either/or.

I think a lot of resentment from bis comes from the fact that people want to define them by their current relationship. Hence you can only "be bi" if you're a swinger or poly or whatever. If you're monogamous, your sexuality gets lumped into the either/or thing.

But...I can't help minding that things USED to be so much simpler between us,

Well, everything used to be pretty simple--you were either straight, or you were hiding behind a facade of straightness. It does irk that gays and lesbians, having fought their own long battle for acceptance, often are the worst offenders when it comes to biphobia and bisexual erasure. I think to them, bisexuality feels like a cop-out, or a compromise, or just a phase, or insincere.

It's reminds me of when we were visiting family in Denmark and came across the site of an old battleground where the Danes had fought the "bloody Swedes" (my dad's words).

I said, "Aren't you guys all Scandinavian?" "Well, sure," he told me with a grin, "but the Danes hate the Swedes and the Swedes hate the Danes. Of course, everyone hates the Norwegians."

Bisexuals are kind of sick of being the Norwegians, LOL.

M. A. said...

I think a lot of resentment from bis comes from the fact that people want to define them by their current relationship. Hence you can only "be bi" if you're a swinger or poly or whatever. If you're monogamous, your sexuality gets lumped into the either/or thing.


I agree that many people are less tolerant of people who are not "well-defined."

People are more comfortable with stability, and the concept that a person can make extreme changes as to whom they love is not a stable one.

I wish people were more focussed upon a person's character than gender preferences. How can a bisexual person be anymore of a "homewrecker" (for example) than a het person? It's not like het persons don't commit adultery, swing, or engage in other behaviors some view as immoral.

Like I said, it's a label, and it's hard to dislodge. Just as I mentionned earlier about my experiences related to the town where I live and being associated with all kinds of sexual immorality.

People label things. It's comfortable for them. Placing value on character is not as important as it should be.

I do have to say good night and sleepwalk to bed, but I enjoy discussing this with you very much and look forward to the next topic. G'night. :)

MB (Leah) said...

All of a sudden, I say to you, "I love smearing a lover's lower lip with honey and sucking it away while sharing a kiss."

Aren't you going to wonder "Why'd she tell me that?"


LOL Mia, that's a rather specific thing to say to someone. Whereas mentioning a sexual orientation if one is not of default- straight, as Kirsten has said, then I wouldn't wonder why they said that.

Put it the other way around, what if you're in a group full of lesbians? Wouldn't you feel it kind of necessary to announce that you're straight? Because if you're hanging out with a group of all lesbians, they'd all naturally assume you were a lesbian and talk to you as if you were.

I don't care if my relative/s, friend/s, coworker/s, neighbor/s, or anybody else is sleeping with a person or persons of the same gender. I consider that a private matter, not my business.

unless I'm sleeping with you myself, I don't really care who you're sleeping with. It has nothing to do with me. That's fair, isn't it?

I really could not say. I am a great believer in not concerning myself with personal matters not involving me.


Mia, you've said this kind of thing over and over not only on this thread but others. It's how you feel so I want to recognize and honor that. However, and I really don't know you and I don't mean this to be insulting, but this kind of attitude towards people while looking like being respectful, comes across as "don't bother me with your personal stuff. Just talk to me about the weather."

There's nothing wrong with this. But from my standpoint, it gives the feeling that if I mention anything of a personal nature to you, you will judge me on that, or get annoyed with me, or be dismissive of me and so I will feel that I have to walk on egg shells around you lest I say something offensive to you.

I don't know really because I don't know your one friend or why she would keep qualifying everything she says with "Well, I'm a bisexual so..." but maybe she was screaming for you to acknowledge her. Just for you to say, "OK, you keep bringing up that you're a bisexual and why?" Maybe she really needed to express something to you and needed for you to HEAR her so she keeps bringing it up. And maybe she picked up that you don't really care and that's why she keeps pushing it.

I would have asked your friend directly "why do you keep bringing that up?"

I don't see that as making someone uncomfortable or whatever especially since they are the ones to bring it up.

I think for bi and gay people, since they are not straight, their sexuality is part of their life, which is not part of the norm. So they are judged by that. Unfortunately that's the way it is.

Yes, it's weird if someone goes around saying I'm bi and this... or I'm gay and that...but at the same time what Kirsten brought up is very valid. Just in normal conversations so many things come up having to do with our orientation like talking about friends, lovers, what books we read, etc. that it's sometimes needed to say I'm bi or I'm gay.


If one confronts it ("Why're you telling me this?") it may come across to the "announcer" as defensive.

Any kind of polite acknowledgment ("Oh really? I wouldn't have guessed." or "How nice! Good for you!") sounds silly and patronizing.


I have to disagree. I think you can ask someone without being defensive. I've asked people about their orientation in a purely open and curious way and it hasn't caused defensiveness.

And I disagree that to say "how nice for you" has to be patronizing or silly. It's your personal attitude behind it and the way you'd say it that would make it come across as patronizing or silly or dismissive.

Yes, the moment when someone comes out to you and says, I'm a lesbian or bi it can be uncomfortable because they are sharing something that is personal and can be judged in a negative way. But purely from my experience, them saying that opens the door for me and that person to really be real and honest with each other and maybe become closer.

M. A. said...

Put it the other way around, what if you're in a group full of lesbians? Wouldn't you feel it kind of necessary to announce that you're straight? Because if you're hanging out with a group of all lesbians, they'd all naturally assume you were a lesbian and talk to you as if you were.


Hey Leah!

I really had to think about this for a minute, and I kind of have to conclude that maybe my perspective is colored at least partially by my own upbringing and by the region where I live which contains a very active and vocal GLBT community.

I have been surrounded by lesbians, before. One of my male best friends in high school was gay, a close female friend was bisexual, and I've hung out with them in gay bars. I've expressed support in local events meant to promote GBLT pride, and so on.

I have no idea if the lesbians I talked with thought I was a lesbian also and "spoke to me as though I was a lesbian." I don't talk to straight men one way, straight women another, gay men another, lesbians another, etc.. What I say and how I say it depends upon multiple factors, but gender I.D. isn't one of them.

As for my "minding my own business" comments, I apologize to anyone thinking I meant unkindness. I don't. I'm not saying sexual I.D. is universally unimportant, it's just not important to me unless I want sex. My attitude towards a person isn't going to change because of that person's preferences. My criteria in evaluating people just does not include that part of them.

My attitude WILL change, though, if I'm expected to provide some kind of acknowledgment for that I.D..

Let's reverse the situation. Let's say that I went around "labeling" my friends according to my knowledge of their preferences.

"Hi. This is my bisexual friend, Patty. Oh, and that's Jimmy and he's flamboyantly homosexual, you'll notice after a while. And Dee's sort of asexual, I'm pretty sure she's straight but frigid beyond belief. And Lisa and Leo are a straight couple."

Why should I want to do this?

I see it from the perspective of relationships. If I marred a rich man, his wealth is (hopefully) incidental and has little, if any, impact on my choice of him as my life partner. I'm not going to think of him as "my rich husband." I'm going to think of him as my husband. I married the man, not his pocketbook.

Likewise, my friends and acquaintances are who they are. I befriend people because I enjoy spending time with them, not because of their sexual interests.

It (gender I.D., sexual preference) is just not going to make a difference to me. That is what equality means.

I don't know really because I don't know your one friend or why she would keep qualifying everything she says with "Well, I'm a bisexual so..." but maybe she was screaming for you to acknowledge her. Just for you to say, "OK, you keep bringing up that you're a bisexual and why?" Maybe she really needed to express something to you and needed for you to HEAR her so she keeps bringing it up. And maybe she picked up that you don't really care and that's why she keeps pushing it.

I would have asked your friend directly "why do you keep bringing that up?"


Communication requires two things: a competent messenger and a competent receiver.

Sorry, I don't feel it is my responsibility to "wheedle the truth" out of people. I work hard at being a good friend to people. In fact, many of my adult friends are people I've known from childhood. But I don't believe it's my place to force people, particularly adult people, to tell me things. Not my style. I am available to the people who matter to me and I will listen to whatever those people want to tell me, but I am not going to play "Ring Around the Rosy" with another adult.

I am also very uncomfortable with hints, innuendo, and other "cues." I prefer to keep my mouth shut until I know for certain what I'm dealing with. So I tend to avoid responding to hints.

MB (Leah) said...

My attitude towards a person isn't going to change because of that person's preferences. My criteria in evaluating people just does not include that part of them.

Mia, I get what you are saying here and I don't think it's an easy thing to deal with really. I think we judge people all the time by all kinds of criteria until we get to know them better, and sexual identification can be one of those things.

I've mentioned my "gay" sister to people who know me because I've had people ask me about my sister and is she married and so on just in casual conversation. What am I supposed to do then? Lie and say oh she's not married. She's proud of herself and her life and her partner. She doesn't hide that she's a lesbian so if I mention her to people and hide that, I'm actually being rude to her it it looks like I'm ashamed.

In life we are in kinds of situations in which we are asked about our lives in general. It's not uncommon for people to ask just general stuff about your life, people you work with and so on.

For the bi or gay person what are they supposed to do? They will mention a same sex partner and that they live with them or are dating. Why should they hide that? Because the min. they say "oh my girlfriend lives with me," they've let the cat out of the bag and there it is. Yeah, it's maybe not my business, but it's a fact of their lives.

If I tell people that I live with my husband so what, that's been assumed already.

However, I do think that our sexuality is really a part of who we are and for straight people it's not an issue because it's already assumed you are straight.

Just in everyday conversations even to strangers I might mention my husband, or that guy that just walked by was good looking. I wear a wedding ring as do many gay people. The automatic assumption that everyone will make is that we are all straight with a husband or wife. But don't you think that a lesbian, if asked about her husband, wouldn't clarify that?

My point is that I don't go around judging people based on their sexual preferences or identity, but I also don't want to feel like an ass and pull a woman around with me to bars and talk non stop about hunky men when she's a lesbian. It's something I'd want to know about her and not put her through uncomfortable situations. Or even worse, be out with a bunch of people and ask her about her husband putting her in an awkward position.

That doesn't mean that I would go out with a bunch of people and introduce her as my lesbian friend either.

I think our difference of opinion might be that you come from a Southern culture in which it's impolite maybe to ask or talk about such things.

I'm oringinally a New Yawka, we come right out with what we are thinking. Rudeness be damned! LOL

M. A. said...

My point is that I don't go around judging people based on their sexual preferences or identity, but I also don't want to feel like an ass and pull a woman around with me to bars and talk non stop about hunky men when she's a lesbian.

See, this wouldn't make me feel like an ass. My friend is my friend is my friend, no matter what. If my friend is a lasbian, I'm STILL gonna adore men.

If I can hang around with GBLT folks at their bars, yes ma'am, they can hang with me at a straight bar. And if they're really my friends, this shouldn't bother them. Right?

Again...I'm talking about equality.

*shrugs* If I was lesbian, I'd feel sort of annoyed if my non-lesbian friends felt they had to go out of their way to limit our activities and topics of conversation because of my gender preference. That is not equality; that is preferential treatment.

Just in everyday conversations even to strangers I might mention my husband, or that guy that just walked by was good looking. I wear a wedding ring as do many gay people. The automatic assumption that everyone will make is that we are all straight with a husband or wife. But don't you think that a lesbian, if asked about her husband, wouldn't clarify that?


Again, this kind of interaction is not what I'm referring to when I talk about people going out of their way to announce their preferences.

I'm not talking about Sandy explaining, "I've been married to Connie for eight years."

I'm talking about people who, whatever the reason, make their sexuality a focal point of their lives, almost in the example of a religion, or other popular activity.

i.e.:
"I can't/don't visit het nighclubs or listen to conversations about sexy men. I'm lesbian."

How would it come across if I'd told my GBLT buds, "I can't/don't/won't participate in or contribute towards GBLT pride parades, hang out with you for Southern Decadence, or go hang at *insert name of gay/lesbian club.* I'm straight, so I don't do that."

I once joked to my, er, "militantly bisexual" woman friend, "We ought to throw a 'straight pride' parade in the Quarter sometime. That would be so funny." She came down on me like a duck on a june bug, accusing me of all kinds of intolerance, hatred toward the GBLT community, and so on.

I have an acronym for the behavior I mean: AGIG (All GLBT Is Great). Newsflash: Not all GBLT is great. Now all non-GBLT is great. I am not catering to the straight community, I am not catering to the non-straight community, either.

MB (Leah) said...

Heh, Mia, I think this is one of those kinds of things that happen often on the net in which a lot gets lost in translation because of lack of ability to have a real conver and also to pick up subtle nuances.

I get what you mean now. I think we are both talking about something a little bit different and that the conver has morphed.

I agree about non preferential treatment. That's not what I was talk about. This is again the issues with the net and miscommunication. I made up that bar scenario as actually taking someone out as a person I might have met at work and assumed was straight and don't know that well. Not a good friend whom I'd already know something like that about.

Of course my friends and I are part of each other lives and I wouldn't avoid talking about hot men with a lesbian good friend.

And that was in reply to you stating that you just don't want to know about someone's sexual preference unless you're gonna have sex with them, which implies that even with good friends you don't want to discuss sexual preference.

But now I think I'm finally understanding what you were meaning all along. If I'm getting it right this time, then you are talking about that way that some people who are bi or gay go around making it a big deal and pushing it on everyone and shoving it in people's faces. And the kind of militant attitude that some might have while doing so.

In this scenario I can see how you'd want to know the person beyond the "I'm gay" and don't want that brought up constantly.

See, me, in that scenario would come straight out and say "OK, your gay, so what. And...I don't want to go with you to a lesbian bar just to prove I'm cool with you." LOL

kirsten saell said...

I'm certainly made uncomfortable by a lot of things some in the GLBT community do. In fact (and I might get some flak over this), as a bi woman (hehe), I have a degree of discomfort over terms like "gay pride" (as I would over "straight pride" or "white pride"), because although I don't think being queer is something anyone should ever be ashamed of, it's not like it's an "accomplishment" or a sign of good character or something you should be proud of, really, any more than a person ought to be proud of being blonde, or tall (or straight, or white).

Being queer does not necessarily make you a good person. IMO, it's not something to be either ashamed of or proud of, because those words don't really apply to things you have no power over.

As for "being in your face" about sexual orientations other than straight, it can get obnoxious. On the other hand, what can seem an in-your-face expression of queerness is often almost identical to accepted exressions of heterosexuality. There are lots of people who still think a queer couple holding hands or kissing in public is out of line, yet the same behavior from a young het couple and they're all "awwww, young love, how cute."

But yes, I do think many in the GLBT community are pushy about things, and it always makes me wince. It makes me think, "Sheesh, the world is never going to take us seriously when you behave that way." But at the same time, I understand it. Being gay has an impact on a person's life in a way being straight does not. The way one expresses dissatisfaction with intolerance is different from person to person, and I just have to hope that others realize one pushy, militant gay person does not the entirety of the GLBT community make.

M. A. said...

And that was in reply to you stating that you just don't want to know about someone's sexual preference unless you're gonna have sex with them, which implies that even with good friends you don't want to discuss sexual preference.


LOL...Aw, c'mon, Leah. You've read one of my books. I've have some VERY in-depth-and-personal discussions about sex with my good friends and even my not so good friends.

After reviewing the discussion, I think what I'm really trying to communicate is the subject (of sexuality, sexual preference, gender I.D., and other related topics) has its place, and I'm fine with it in its context. It's when I'm unclear on the context that I find myself wary.

M. A. said...

IMO, it's not something to be either ashamed of or proud of, because those words don't really apply to things you have no power over.


I agree with this statement. I think the issue getting lost in the translation is that the original concept of "pride movements" had more to do with inciting awareness and consciousness, and also about political lobbying (forcing society to be aware of a group as a group.)

I recognize the need for positive reinforcement in the GBLT community. I can remember when GBLT people lost custody of their children if their preferences were revealed. I remember a close gay male friend being sent for therapy by his parents when we were in high school.

I think it's very important that people not be made to feel invalidated or ashamed of themselves, and pride movements often begin with that noble aim.

Pride movements tend to run their courses, though, and sort of morph into what can reasonably be termed as either "seperatist" and/or "supremacist" in nature. That's when things start to get hairy.

As for "being in your face" about sexual orientations other than straight, it can get obnoxious. On the other hand, what can seem an in-your-face expression of queerness is often almost identical to accepted exressions of heterosexuality. There are lots of people who still think a queer couple holding hands or kissing in public is out of line, yet the same behavior from a young het couple and they're all "awwww, young love, how cute."


Everybody's comfort zone is different. Would I be put off with a GBLT couple was hugging, kissing, groping, etc. in public? Yes I would. I would be (and have been) equally offended by non-GBLT couples behaving in such a way.

My point is that my turning my back or uttering unflattering remarks about the "public frisky" GBLT couple would get me branded a "gay-hater," while turning my back and commenting against the "public frisky" straight couple will just get me labelled a prude.

kirsten saell said...

My point is that my turning my back or uttering unflattering remarks about the "public frisky" GBLT couple would get me branded a "gay-hater," while turning my back and commenting against the "public frisky" straight couple will just get me labelled a prude.

Kind of like some of the same people who'll bitch-slap a person and call them a homophobe when they dare to say m/m squicks them out, are the most unapologetic in making gagging noises and throwing a book against a wall at the first sign of a girl/girl kiss... LOL.

M. A. said...

M.A.: My point is that my turning my back or uttering unflattering remarks about the "public frisky" GBLT couple would get me branded a "gay-hater," while turning my back and commenting against the "public frisky" straight couple will just get me labelled a prude.

Kristen: Kind of like some of the same people who'll bitch-slap a person and call them a homophobe when they dare to say m/m squicks them out, are the most unapologetic in making gagging noises and throwing a book against a wall at the first sign of a girl/girl kiss... LOL.

I've definitely been on the receiving end of the "verbal bitch-slap" because I don't consider m/m romance the be-all end-all of literary greatness. I would have considered it funny if the "slapper" hadn't been deadly serious. The "slapper," a long-time writer friend, and I no longer speak to each other because I refuse to buy into the concepts that: 1) M/M is everything great in the world, and 2) ANY book featuring M/M romance presented in a favorable and titillating light is a good book.

For the record, I don't dislike M/M fiction. I write M/M myself and I find the effort challenging and enjoyable.

It's a mystery to me how the M/M, er, "fandom" loves to give itself kudos for being so "open" and "accepting" and "willing to reexamine romantic concepts from an entirely new perspective," (yeah, right) and yet go into fits over F/F.

Don't get me wrong. If a genre doesn't interest a person, it just doesn't interest a person. But the same people who turn up their noses at F/F will roar and rampage like wounded cows if someone isn't crazy about M/M.

It goes back to what I said a few posts ago, where people are adopting behavior that could be termed religious and intolerant in nature. I mean, sorry, but when you're ready to verbally assault a good friend and end friendships because that friend doesn't share your passionate interest in a particular book....Well, sorry, that doesn't make you "open-minded" or "tolerant" in my perspective.

Saying "M/M is the only legitimate romance genre." is no more tolerant or worthy of admiration than saying "M/F is the only legitimate romance genre."

The M/M-ers have whined forever about not receiving more mainstream validation, but they don't seem to want alternative relationships to have it, either. That's not tolerance, open-mindedness, or even good-spirited. That is fanaticism.

P.S.: I'm not out to brand every M/M writer and/or reader as a far-out, militant kook. I write M/M myself. But I have to say there's a "group within the group" of M/M fandom that truly disturbs me.

I'm sorry, but to my mind something's wrong when females express open disgust and repugnance for femiminity and for femme aspects of sexuality. I once read an article where M/M lovers were complaining about "girl cooties in the bedroom" (in menage fiction.)

"Girl cooties?"

Even when I'm writing F/F, I've never thought of males as something "dirty" or undesireable. What gives?

I do want to add, though, that in many situations where I've heard this sort of discussion, the perpertrators have traits and characteristics typical of other "haters." They are usually of lower socioeconomic status and are not particularly well-educated. So it's probably asking too much to expect people with these kinds of maladjustment to be able to argue intelligently. ; )

kirsten saell said...

I've definitely been on the receiving end of the "verbal bitch-slap" because I don't consider m/m romance the be-all end-all of literary greatness.

Yeah. They're rare, but they're out there. And it seems many of them are so offended by f/f they consider it the equivalent of child-rape and eating live puppies.

It's sad to say that I wasn't shocked at all when Rory on that Teddypig f/f thread said some of the most vocal advocates for mainstreaming m/m romance were dead-set against seeing f/f romance shelved alongside it in the general romance section. The attitude was, "OMG, what if I accidentally bought one!" These are the same women who say if they stumbled across even a hint of f/f content, they'd either stop reading or tear out the pages. The same women who claim (without any embarrassment or awareness of their own homophobia) that even one paragraph of f/f would completely ruin an otherwise good book for them.

I mean, if even my insensitive, uber-straight jerk-wad of an ex-husband could sit through a graphic m/m scene in a porn we once watched without fast-forwarding through it, vomiting, crying like a little girl or covering his eyes and begging me to tell him when it was over--well, it just makes me want to tell all those women to grow the eff up.

If anyone thinks advocating for m/m while denigrating f/f (or m/f, or m/m/f, for that matter) isn't misogynist and/or homophobic, they're deluding themselves.

They may be a small minority, but it seems very few people are willing to call them out on their selective homophobia and misogyny, which is a shame. I mean, no one says you have to like f/f (or f/anything). Liking something and tolerating it are not the same thing. But it feels like this small group are untouchable because anyone who criticizes them risks being labeled a gay-hater.

*shaking head*

M. A. said...

many of them are so offended by f/f they consider it the equivalent of child-rape and eating live puppies.


I think these individuals are AFRAID, not offended.

Let's be honest, how many coherent, well-adjusted people take that kind of tack over a book?

some of the most vocal advocates for mainstreaming m/m romance were dead-set against seeing f/f romance shelved alongside it in the general romance section. The attitude was, "OMG, what if I accidentally bought one!" These are the same women who say if they stumbled across even a hint of f/f content, they'd either stop reading or tear out the pages. The same women who claim (without any embarrassment or awareness of their own homophobia) that even one paragraph of f/f would completely ruin an otherwise good book for them.


In the situation with my ex-pal, part of the "issue" she had with me was that I refused to support the idea of M/M being "mainstreamed." Her manner became downright creepy about it. She basically THREATENED me, using phrases like, "It's becoming more and more popular, even print publishers are picking more of it up."

I felt like she was saying, "You'd better LEARN to like men getting down with men just as much as more traditional romance...or else!"

Or else what? I'll be unpopular? I won't be able to find anything good to read? Hello! I'm a writer. If there's nothing good to read I'll write it myself. Phew!

They may be a small minority, but it seems very few people are willing to call them out on their selective homophobia and misogyny, which is a shame. I mean, no one says you have to like f/f (or f/anything). Liking something and tolerating it are not the same thing. But it feels like this small group are untouchable because anyone who criticizes them risks being labeled a gay-hater.


No one is bothering to tell these people to chill out and grow up because it is pointless to do so. Again, the individuals expressing this obvious prejudice and intolerance lack the proper social skills, intellect, and level of education necessary NOT to embrace prejudice.

They DO understand their prejudices are indefensible, though, and that's where the hair-trigger anger and unreasonable rage comes from. It boils down to "I know I cannot argue constructively with you on this matter, because my argument is unreasonable and you can prove that. So I'll opt for violence (i.e., verbal abuse, attempted intimidation a la "Mean Girl" behavior, etc.) as an alternative."

It's not that this group is "untouchable." It's that this group is not worth the trouble and effort of attempting intelligent communication.