The Fence
 A new place of power for bisexual women
 

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Place Under the Umbrella
by Illy

It was kind of unexpected. After dating exclusively women for over eight years, this summer I met a guy with whom I had an instant and amazing connection. I admit, it was a bit confusing at first but it felt right.

Our worlds accidentally collided while I was traveling in Israel where he lives. Even if it wasn’t meant to last, it was definitely meant to teach me something by opening up the space to explore once again my attraction for the other gender. It was the same queer me, letting my heart and body be in the moment.

Inevitably, it got me thinking about my sexuality in the context of the queer identity. In my early youth I dated guys for a few years followed by a long period of casual and serious relationships with women. The underlying capacity to feel attraction for either has always been there, though my understanding of it has probably evolved with life experience.

I find that when I’m attracted to someone, it’s their energy and their soul that draw me in. The gender seems to be a non-factor. Perhaps this is why I’ve always found it difficult to adopt an “official” sexual identity - because to me all labels are inherently static whereas my sexuality, as I experience it, is fluid.

I’m also a product of my environment. Living in Toronto ’s most gay-populated area, I’ve quite happily adopted its social codes and roles. It was part of a natural process of fitting in. But underneath there was still another layer of identity that wasn’t finding its reflection out there.

I’ve recently caught up with a female friend who was in an emotionally intense relationship with a woman last time I saw her. Apparently after the relationship ended, my friend fell in love with a male coworker. She said she didn’t expect to be in a relationship with a guy but the attraction was undeniable and it grew into something beautiful. What she also didn’t expect was to suddenly find herself on the margins of the lesbian community because now she was considered to be in a “straight relationship”. This is despite the fact that she identifies as bi and still feels part of the queer community.

She told me about her feeling of trading one identity for another. I shared with her that I had feelings for a guy. She was the first person I felt comfortable sharing this with without fearing judgment, change in attitude, or change in acceptance - which I probably feared the most. For a moment I felt like I found my own small pocket of community where I didn’t feel the need to censor myself.

Still, something is not sitting right with me. If we’re saying that Queer is an umbrella term, then why are Gay and Lesbian the only identities finding place underneath it?  What about the experiences of people who fall in love with other people regardless of their gender, and where do we see these experiences being talked about, represented or celebrated with the same amount of respect?

It is my whole self that makes me queer, not just my lesbian experiences. To me it’s an important distinction because I find that “queerness” is still measured by the degree of “gayness” rather then seeing it as an encompassing identity with an array of attractions, feelings, and behaviours. No wonder bi people are perceived as “less queer” when only the same-sex aspect of bisexuality has a valid place in the community.

As I’m writing these words, I’m still in touch with this guy through the usual means of technology, but it’s not the same of course. It’s been kind of lonely dealing with the physical distance and the thought of the lost potential, though not nearly as lonely as the space created by my silence, unable to feel validated for what I’ve experienced. It’s probably why I needed to write about it. Maybe it’s my way of reclaiming my space under the damn umbrella.


Birthday
by Debbie Koski

When I turned 27, you sent a hotel lobby bouquet. 
Cascading green orchids and spiny yellow proteus
loomed over my laminate intern desk,
my own personal rain forest.

The week before, I'd left you for a woman.
I was ecstatic with new love; I was heart broken.
Dragged out dancing by friends,
there are pictures of me drunk that night on Fell Street
blowing kisses to the camera
like Marilyn.

When I turned 28, we hadn't spoken in a year.
You sent an opal necklace
from that place downtown your mother loved.
It was absurdly blue, the sea near Cairnes.
I wished that you were happy.

I'm 29 today,
finally in a life I love.
Tears come unexpectedly.

Loss unfolds itself like a paper crane,
no step by step instructions
For the way things come
undone.


Re
-Birth

- Cynthia Marie

I heard
her weep
a sound most pure
yearned for she followed
me when I beckoned slightly
only wanting to cover her pain
and I touched that part that hurt
her the most felt it yield and drowning deep
she is steeped inside emotions fought hard for
life is queer and it stings while we wait messiah's
late surrogates attempting to birth what only we can see.

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