Take a peek inside issue 9....
Back and Forth - Dialogue between Deb Singh and Cheryl Dobinson
Bisexual by Deb Singh
Bisexual. Homosexual. Heterosexual. The binary never dies. I am an omni sexual woman-identified person. I’ll fuck anything that I think is cute enough. Except for animals and plants. Seems sad that I would have to make that clear but hey, you never know. I profane of this binary. Why dichtomize such a beautiful fluidity. Are we only one thing at a time?
I have been coming to a place where I think the word bisexual is transphobic. (transphobic is now underlined by my Microsoft Word spell check thingamagig) Are there only 2 genders? Last time I looked, there wasn’t. Why continue this? This being the perpetuation of society’s institutionalization of my gender, your gender, ‘his’ gender, ‘her’ gender. Are we just male or female and what the fuck is that anyway? I have a friend who wants to be more ‘butch’- its hard for her because we look at femme or butch dichotomies in singular ways. They come out in our weight, our dress, the chick/dyke/tranny on our arm. Femmes have long hair, butches don’t. This is all too confusing for a femmey cunt like myself. I have a woman friend who has a penis. Most people know this on sight and revert back to the gendered way of thinking and being, that stifle her every move. She gets articles written about her when she attends the Dyke March (actually the articles aren’t about her, they are about her penis).
Genitals ¹ Gender
I have a friend who’s scared sometimes that if she enters those spaces that are predominantly hetero (they’re everywhere, no where’s safe!), that she’ll be spotted for the dyke/lesbian/lover of all women, that she is. What is to be said for the imaginary binary?
I have loved all sorts of people. Some short, some tall, some big, some small (what is ‘small’ anyway?) I have no idea how to love someone or something just because of what they are. Wait- that’s a lie. We all look at people and have our initial attractions and these are usually based on what we have learned and re-learned about what is beautiful/sexual/attractive in our worlds. Everything in this world makes it hard for us to love others-we have to resist that bullshit that pushes us apart. Everything in this world makes us yearn for something conventional and if you’ve come to even start glimpsing at these notions, then perhaps what you’ve been trained to think is beautiful, you’ve rejected. And thus, have chosen the other side of the extreme in order to live a life that is not sculpted for you by The Man.
But you have gone the wrong way- come back to the middle! Gender is not this rigid thing- we can analogize it to any level of oppression (there are people who fuck ‘both’ genders, people who are born of 2 parents of different ‘races’, people who grew up middle class and are now broke…) It is so stifling to think that such great people, activists and thinkers would engage in such an absurd idea at we can only fuck two kinds of people. I know it is not inherent in the name- that people subscribe to the fallacy that there are only 2 genders if they call themselves bisexual but language is one of our biggest oppressors (thence words like wimmin, omnisexual, and the taking back of words like dyke, bitch and slut) and we perpetuate it if we continue the binary through our thought processes and thus, acts.
Gender is fluid like all forms of oppression. Why perpetuate it by stating it isn’t in this word we use. Omnisexual (also underlined by the spell check thingy) may sound weird- “You’re what? A vegetarian?” It may sound precarious, dangerous, non-conformist but that’s what it is. We must muster the energy to include all- in our words and in our deeds.
Thanks for sending this piece! I gotta ask though - how is the word bisexual any more transphobic than words like gay or lesbian? or even straight? Do these words not all operate on the same binary gender system of male and female? Where does attraction to trans people fit into gay, lesbian or straight identities? And if it doesn't fit in, wouldn't this make them all equally transphobic, according to this line of thinking?
I would argue that being attracted to women, or men, or men and women, or men & women & people of multiple other genders are all valid options. Some folks may not be attracted to trans/genderqueer/ genderless etc. people (just like some people are not attracted to men, or to women) - and I'm not convinced that this makes them transphobic any more than, for example, not being attracted to women necessarily makes gay men sexist. If a person is not attracted to a particular gender, gender identity or gender expression does that mean they are phobic against those folks? I guess I'm of the opinion that someone could be bisexual and that could mean being attracted to only men and women, and that seems as valid as any other sexual orientation, esp. since most of the other options are even more limited in terms of gender.
I personally subscribe to a definition of bisexual that includes attraction to people of any gender (including trans, genderqueer, genderless etc.), and use the word bisexual because it's the most commonly understood word we have and it's also a word that it maligned on many fronts, so I like to claim it proudly and politically. I also identify as queer and as pansexual, but bisexual is the word I use most often because people understand it and because I want to work on changing people's ideas and attitudes around what bisexuality it about.
Anyway, these are just my thoughts - feel free to let me know what you think :)
thanks for incurring a dialogue around my piece. I very much agree with the validation of attraction as being potentially finite and that we can be attracted to one or many genders while not discounting trans identities. i also agree that being one or the other in terms of gay and lesbian identities does not make a person transphobic. i was mostly referring to the word itself, as proposing a binary that simply does not exist- in my opinion. whether people are attracted to one or both or all genders is relevant but language does supersede the ideas we have about definitions and identifications in the world. i think i was trying to get that across in the piece, in a creative writing sort of way, that naming bisexuality can mean you are only attracted to men and women, which is totally valid but the word itself can be explaining something about a binary that doesn't explain it all when it comes to gender. i do appreciate how you stated that we can be attracted to just one gender (i.e. gay men to men) and that not be sexist or transphobic, but I also think that in the world when people use the word, say bitch that it still carries the connotation of a woman being mean or diva-ish or whatever. the word bisexual, while being valid in terms of who a person might be attracted to, can still deny the existence of other sexualities. so people, of course, are free to use whatever words and identifications they choose to define their sexuality. i also wanted to say that your work around making people aware of our invisibility in the world around our bisexual-ness, omnisexual-ness, pansexual-ness, has been a mentorship for me. Your work has really made me view myself in new and excitingly positive ways and i appreciate the correspondence and review. thank you. talk soon.
I spend my days playing the pronoun game so they'll have less reason to judge.
My well kept appearance already tells too much.
I attempt to hide the cisgendered male identity of my partner.
What good does that do?
Am I to be judged in the moment by a community that doesn't love me for me?
Or does a pathetic attempt to fit mean hiding the identity of the one that does?
I smile and laugh when I'm reminded that I'm just an enthusiastic 'ally', or a common 'fag hag'.
No one asks my 'coming out story'.
"When did you first know you were straight?"
I don't have a story to tell because I am not out.
They won't let me come out.
They do not hear when I advise that not everyone with a 'male' partner is 'heterosexual'.
I am a great ally to trans persons, how noble of the 'straight girl'!
They do not hear me when I say I'm not what they assume.
Why should come out when they ignore my disclosure?
Why do I foolishly try again, and again?
I'll never be one of them.
It's easier to be the 'entertainment' rather than the 'villain'.
It's easier to be 'straight' than not 'Queer' enough.
It's easier to avoid the topic and keep my sexuality to myself.
I prefer to exist where I'm considered 'fun', rather than 'confused'.
What does the enthusiastic 'ally', or a common 'fag hag' know about the 'Queer' community?
I am your 'straight' ally basking in privilege.
I am just along for a good time.
You won't find me
at a 7th Avenue address in Chelsea -- hell, I can't afford Chelsea and even if I could
Chelsea wouldn't want me.
You won't find me
at the dyke bars in Park Slope -- my days of painfully short hair
and cunt-centric politics
are long since over
(even if I did keep
the leather jacket
and the fuck-me boots).
You won't find me
in the Nerve.com personals
because I'm nobody's hot bi babe
and your boyfriend can't watch
and I'll never be anyone's
in going down on a girl.
You'll find me
long after dark
Lower East Side
all confident swagger
in tight black jeans
and rumpled hair
I just bought a brand new cock
and a handful of condoms
at Toys in
and a book of bisexual smut
You'll find me
with fifty thousand angry pacifists,
dodging the tourists
and the riot cops
on a Thursday afternoon
Broadway in the pouring rain
because this is what democracy looks like
the day after in
You'll find me
in the back room of a church
Tompkins Square Park
with half a dozen NYU strippers
and an aging Jewish call girl
being taught to throw punches
and run like hell
by an eighteen-year-old pagan dyke
with purple hair.
You’ll find me
anywhere, if you look
but you won’t find me
where you expect to look
I am the femme
in worn-out jeans
and men's boots
I am the butch
in silk skirts
and six-inch heels
I am the queer woman
with a long
of fucking men.
I am the dyke
with an inner
and a bad habit
of lusting after
the pretty gay boys
I am the lipstick lesbian
in stiletto heels
who still gets called "sir"
by strangers who stop
to do a double-take
when they notice my breasts.
if you dare.
- Kythryne Aisling