I was a member of a lesbian science fiction meet-up group, before they explicitly dis-allowed bisexual girls. I mean, I know I’m not a lesbian – but, both me and my girlfriend liked science fiction so I figured whatever, I’ll just join and we can go together. It’s not like we’re really going to be fitting in super well in science fiction clubs dominated by straight men.
But alas, a recent update to her description of the group:
the organizer is purposely and intentionally creating a lesbian space. this is not a meet up for bisexual women. if you identify as “queer” as a modernized way of saying “lesbian,” this group is for you. it is my hope that women who identify as lesbian will join the group. it is also my hope that those who are not lesbian will recognize this, be aware of and sensitive to the intent of this group, and not join the group. in these hopes, my hope is also that i do not have to become the “lesbian” police. i am looking to build a sci fi lesbian community. thank you.
So, this brings up a difficult point of being a bisexual woman in a gay relationship. When I’m out with my girlfriend, people see me as gay. For instance, when we went on our anniversary trip, and we checked in to our hotel room together, I felt a little weird. I told my girlfriend that sometimes I worry how people who aren’t from a big city are going to react to us. She told me she worried about the same thing (it’s worth noting, they were very nice to us at the hotel.) Sometimes men holler at us together, “make my night, let me watch you two” – stuff like that. Sometimes, I think people don’t give my relationship with my girlfriend as much respect as they’d give a straight relationship – say, by suggesting male partners when I have a girlfriend, or by not giving us as much space/privacy as they’d give a straight couple.
All of this boils down to, as a bisexual woman in a gay relationship, many of the things that are difficult about being a lesbian are difficult for me to0. Except, I don’t have a safe space to be with my girlfriend in. I do feel more comfortable being with my girlfriend in places where there are other gay couples. Yet, if I tell the lesbians around me that I am bisexual, many of them will not want me there. Even if it’s not stated, and even if the lesbians I’m with really would not care, I always feel like I’m “passing” – or, have stepped into a lavender closet, so to speak. On the other hand, straight people tend to really not care about my bisexuality, but being with my girlfriend in heavily straight spaces sometimes is awkward for me. Especially when men don’t read us as a couple, and hit on one of us (that really pisses my girlfriend off.)
So, where do we go? Probably the places I feel most comfortable, actually, are gay male places – like, walking around the Castro. They tend to read me as “gay”, but probably wouldn’t be upset to find out that I wasn’t. They also wouldn’t judge me for having sucked a little dick (lesbians are SUPER uptight about sucking dick.)
Anyway, in a way, I’m glad this organizer made her intentions explicit because it’s a lot easier to pin down. It’s hard to pin down the subtle ways I feel unsafe in gay spaces, the looks, the intonation, etc. But, I’m sad. I would have liked to go to a queer science fiction thing. Also, I have this larger fear I have that there is no space for me. The problem with being bisexual, is that you don’t date only other bisexuals. You date gay people, and you date straight people – and sometimes bisexuals/pansexuals/queer too. I think this actually the main reason it’s hard to create a bisexual community, is the diversity of sexual partners. So, when I’m excluded from lesbian places – from places where my girlfriend is welcome, from places that are safe spaces *for her* – it creates a divide between us. There aren’t really bisexual spaces, and there aren’t a ton of spaces for us to be safe together.
I’m not really sure what’s to be done. I messaged the organizer and tried to explain some of this to her, but I doubt it will really make a difference. I wrote about it in my blog (and, apparently you read it – thanks!) but, I’m also not going to demand inclusion, and I’m not going to lie about my sexuality. That’s just not my style.
I can’t get over how silly that is… This kind of exclusion just isn’t helpful. You should totally startup a rival, yet bisexual science fiction group though.
I admit to a certain weariness about all of this kind of stuff. To me, the idea of a queer-only or lesbian-only group is just as offensive as a straight-only one. I understand the argument that ‘all (or almost all) groups are straight (by default)’, but I still think it’s wrong for everyone to secede to exclusive enclaves. Why is it a good idea – or even unobjectionable – to form a group that explicitly excludes people based on their sexuality? Would it be okay – it would be illegal – to form gay-only or lesbian-only or bisexual-only corporations or cooperatives? It seems pretty clearly *not* okay to do so and exclude anyone that isn’t straight.
I just wonder what the *difference* is? Do they feel bisexuals, through their broader preference, are less “queer”? What are they trying to own in that identity that’s separate from what it is to be bisexual? What is the basis of exclusion? Does it require hating men entirely? being a heterosexual virgin–ie, “pure”? What is the separation?
My personal preference is to have groups with an emphasis on certain subgroups which don’t disallow people outside the group. Most sci fi groups, for instance, are straight male so I can see why it’d be nice to have a majority gay female group. But, I also think if a gay woman showed up with her straight male friend, or a man happened to like this particular group for some reason, I think that should be ok too. That’s just me, though – I’m not completely sure what the mindset behind this particular group is.
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