07 February 2011

Revisiting: Bi

A while ago, I wrote on the ways bisexuality erases non-binary gender identities.

Since then, after first getting a glance into what could be called the "bisexual community", I've rethought my previous views, and I'm planning to re-write that essay. For now, here is a summary in bullet points of my thoughts.

I used to say that:
  • Identifying as "bisexual" is a privilege that many binary gendered folk have but that non-binary folk (as well as certain binary gendered individuals, eg partners of nonbinaries) do not have.
  • "Bisexual" as a personal identity should be restricted to very specific situations when safety or personal comfort is at stake. Sometimes, binary-gendered polysexual folks have to put themselves in inconvenient situations, because non-binary gendered folks don't have the privilege of this convenience.
  • "Bisexual" is most harmful as an umbrella term for non-monosexual identities, because it isolates non-bisexual monosexual folk from the community and movement.
  • "Lesbian", "gay", and "straight" are not as harmful as "bisexual", because people who are primarily attracted to one gender have very specific experiences that need to be addressed.
  • Bisexuality does exist, and there are indeed individuals primarily attracted to men and women, but not non-binary folks.
I now think:
  • "Bisexual" is a very powerful and important term with a very strong history and present.
  • There are individuals of all genders who identify as "bisexual".
  • The use of "bisexual" as a personal identity, just as the use of "lesbian", "gay", and "straight" is always strategic, and it is unfair to scrutinize B folks more than LG & straight folks for their identity.
  • Identifying as "bisexual", especially for binary-gendered folks, is still a privilege that not everyone has, and binary-gendered bisexual-identifying folks still need to remain cognizant of their privilege.
  • However, identifying as a polysexual identity that isn't bisexual can also occasionally be a privilege, because, unfortunately, other polysexual identities have very political connotations.
  • "Bisexual" is most problematic as a term for the community/movement/etc., and as an umbrella term for non-monosexual identities. It's more problematic than "lesbian", "gay", or "straight" on this level, because LG & straight folks have very specific experiences and can unite under this term, while "bisexual" isolates polysexual folk who do not and cannot identify as "bi".
  • True "bisexuality" does not exist, because it implies that someone can tell who is or isn't binary-gendered, and thus third-genders certain gender expressions while restricting others to the binary.

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