You and I have spoken several times before very amicably. Do you know that I am bisexual? Naturally, I have some responses to your (interesting and in some ways on-target) assessment of bisexuality and "choice."
Originally Posted by glbt_equality
Bisexuality and the Conservative Agenda
Much of the rhetoric surrounding the issues of GLBT equality has to do with the topic of “choice.” Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, there remains a large vein of extreme conservatism (the Religious Right and the Republican Party) who insist that a person’s sexual orientation is determined by a decision made by each individual.
How can that be? How can so many so-called intelligent people simply ignore all that evidence and all of our sworn statements and all of our testimonials that we, too, would have probably “chosen” to be straight… if that had only been an option for us. The idea that any persecuted class of citizen would “choose” to be persecuted is itself such a ludicrous proposition that it begs the question, “Why are we still arguing about choice?”
“Choice” is, after all, a central tenet to continued denial of human rights. The “choice” between straight and gay becomes, in the minds of conservatives, the choice between good and evil, and becomes therefore the singular point from which they are empowered to deny our civil liberties. Take away the issue of “choice,” and admit that we are born this way… and you take away their rationale for punishment. Take away the issue of “choice,” and they would have to start treating us like human beings.
Actually, no. It's like taking away one leg from the table, but it doesn't come crashing to the ground. Convince the adversary that it's not a choice, and then we will hear the rebuttal, "some people are born prone to alcoholism or kleptomania and they didn't have a choice either - it's still a disease and it's still morally wrong, therefore it still deserves legal sanction." We won't win if the "choice" debate goes away - well, not immediately at least. We probably WILL win some percentage points in the opinion polls, but we won't immediately bury our adversaries because in the absence of one ridiculous argument, they WILL replace it with another.
The GLBT community, in all our activities and lobbying efforts, seem to pay little attention to the “B” in “GLBT,” and the reason for this becomes obvious when you look at our organizations a little more closely. Attend any PFLAG meeting around the country, or go to any gay church or activist-oriented meeting and you’ll find that while the gay, lesbian and transgendered communities are well represented, there are precious few self-identified bisexual people present.
Bisexual people are frequently subsumed into the category of orientation that corresponds to the gender of their partner. Stomping your feet and reminding everyone "Hey, I'm bisexual" starts to feel ridiculous after a while, since you aren't issuing an invitation for a date on Saturday night, so what's the point. If you're bi and with a girl, they'll think you're lesbian. If you're bi and with a boy, they'll think you're straight.
So I asked myself why this might be… and the answer was so obvious that I was amazed it hadn’t occurred to me earlier. You see… you have to realize that some of us DO have a choice – there are those among us who have the luxury of being able to “pick” their own sexual orientation – and those fortunate few are called “bisexual.”
Oh no sweetie. Sorry. It doesn't work that way. I didn't choose to be bisexual. It HAPPENED TO ME just like being gay happened to you. Choice only comes into play with how one DEALS with the orientation - but just as you didn't choose to like guys and only guys, neither did I choose to like both guys AND girls.
Think about it… if you had a choice… if you were bisexual, and could chose between full equality (straight) or being a member of the persecuted class (gay), which would you choose?
I didn't. I didn't choose, Troy. Love found me. Call me weird, but I would go with whatever partner brought out the strength, the courage, and the love in me - who I trust, who I love, who I am proud call my partner. I want to be authentic on the inside and live in authenticity, not hide the essentials for the sake of outwardly getting along but at the expense of the spirit!
Don't think this means I'm unaware of all the privileges that come with being partnered with the socially appropriate gender. I'm reminded of it every day. I'm SWIMMING in heterosexual privilege, and you know what that illustrates? It illustrates how incredibly ARBITRARY is the kind of discrimination that you deal with daily. If I had but fallen in love with and settled down with a woman, they'd be heaping disdain and other shit on me. But I fell for a guy, and all is hunky-dory. They are missing the fact that I am the exact same person with the exact same values in either scenario.
So maybe the reason we don’t have more bisexuals among our ranks, joining in the good fight for equality, is due to the fact that it was easier for them to simply make the choice to be “straight,” and voila… the issue no longer affects them… they become immune to the slings and arrows and religious and social and even physical violence directed toward the GLBT community.
I don't doubt that there are some bisexuals out there who in fact HAVE made that choice. I believe that some of the "ex gays" out there who seem convinced of a change, are likely bisexual in varying degrees. There are homophobic bisexuals, sure, just as there are homophobic homos.
There are ALSO bisexuals out there who define as lesbian or gay because they fear rejection by the gay community if they recognize or admit to opposite sex attractions. That was a huge fear for me when I first came out to myself as bi. I was terrified I would be accused of betraying the gay community. So instead I pulled a disappearing act, and dropped out of activism altogether on the reasoning that "gay people won't want me once they know who I really am."
And there are bisexuals who identify as lesbian or gay because that's as far as they want to go with the process of questioning and re-evaluating their orientation. I've met people who I KNOW are bisexual, and some of them insist they are straight while others insist they are gay. For them, opening up the questions again looks far too painful to bear.
Who would think such a thing? Who would honestly believe that it’s a simple matter of choice in spite of all the evidence? Well, I believe the most likely candidate is the near-forgotten “B” in “GLBT,” our bisexual brothers and sisters. Who else could “know” beyond a shadow of doubt that sexuality is a choice but those among us for which it actually IS a choice?
Here, a distinction needs to be made between sexual orientation and behavior. The behavior is a choice, the orientation is not. That's true across the board whatever orientation we are talking about. The essential difference for a bisexual person is that they CAN find a member of the socially appropriate gender with whom they can be responsive, whereas a gay person cannot. But even that is not a choice of ORIENTATION. That's a choice of PARTNER, and we all know what happens when a 100% gay person chooses an opposite sex partner.
It is ironic to me that, in spite of our inclusion of bisexuals in our ongoing struggle toward freedom, that some bisexuals, in addition to choosing the “straight” path, have also chosen to be among our most prolific adversaries – spewing hate from pulpit and judicial bench, from pen and from stage… perhaps even bringing themselves to believe that we are all, like them, blessed with the ability to make our sexual orientation a simple matter of choice. So some of the people we are trying to help liberate are also the same people who are “hell-bent” on subduing our liberty.
I'm sure that's true. Troy, please do not forget that some of our most battle-scarred warriors in the fight for equality have been, or currently are, bisexual. This dynamic operates on BOTH sides of the equation.
I say, “Enough!” I happen to be a gay man, but I don’t presume to believe or preach the ridiculous notion that all men are therefore gay. So if you happen to be bisexual, we’re simply asking that you don’t make the ludicrous assumption that all humans are similarly oriented to being able to make that choice. I’ll make a deal with you… I’ll accept your bisexuality – I’ll accept the notion that you really can choose – if you accept the fact that I can’t. How’s that for a deal?
Troy, can you see why this might appear to me as a rant against bisexual people as a whole? I think you mean to rail against those who are doing harm to the cause, but it almost read to me like you resent including bisexuals in this movement at all. I can't pretend to feel happy about that.
Never linger too long with the ignorant,
throw stones at their talk.
Walk only with the lovers,
the mirror of the soul gets rusty when
dipped in muddy water.