Bisexual Erasure – As Explained by Two Lesbians

So, I was watching this video, and I got to wondering, why couldn’t the main-video-woman get a bisexual woman to help explain bi erasure? I mean, we’re talking about the *erasure* of bisexual people, and somehow the best way to combat this is by… not showing any bisexual people? But, instead showing a lesbian who likes dating bisexual women? (Yeah, also, thanks for perpetuating the hypersexualization of the gender/sexual orientation combination with some of the lowest mental health statistics.)


But, annoying as this video is, it’s not really what I’m here to talk about. At least, not directly. You see, what this video is a prime example of is how *one group* talks about the problems people in *another* group have, without really providing any novel insight. Sometimes, I hear people of color complain about this – that they don’t need to be “saved” by white knights mansplaining racism. And, like – I sort of heard it, but when I saw this video, I began to understand a bit why they might find this shit hella annoying.

So, one of the obvious things, is people who are not in the specific discriminated against group can ONLY talk about the experiences they have HEARD about, while people in the discriminated group can actually talk about the EXPERIENCE. And, there’s nothing wrong with someone talking about second hand experiences, but in those cases it is important for the speaker to cite their sources. So, in these video, we got two  lesbians talking about bisexual erasure, but neither of them really know what it’s like – and, they never specifically reference any event that actually happened to a bisexual women. They only talk in the abstract.

It’s like coming to my house for Thanksgiving. My family is English, and we can go out and buy a turkey, and read up on “traditional” Thanksgiving recipes, but we kind of don’t fully get it. And, you can feel it. Same thing, these women don’t get it. “Of course true bisexuality exists” they say, while in the same breath casting doubt on it with “well, a lot of gay people use bisexuality as a stepping stone.” Sure, some gay people do that – but, they’re not bisexual. Many gay people identify as straight at some point in their lives, but when we’re talking about straight issues (like, say birth control or pregnancy) we don’t devote time to exploring why gay people sometimes identify as straight.

In the end, the entire video comes off as half-heartedly regurgitating platitudes about bisexuals. (Yeah, bisexual people are real! Bisexual erasure totally sucks!) There’s no real insight – what is it like to LIVE with bisexual erasure? How does this take a toll on your psyche, and how were you able to define your sexuality in spite of these shortcomings? What can you do do improve it? What can you do to be happy in a world that doesn’t see you?

The worst part, is it almost feels like these women don’t even *really* believe the dull, PC shit they’re saying. If you are really still mulling over “wow, bisexual’s really do exist,” chances are you’re not really as good a bisexual ally as you think you are. My girlfriend got pissed the other day, because her insurance company reaffirmed the importance of providing equal care to racial minorities (she’s Latina.) I didn’t get it at the time, but now I see, if an insurance company is still saying “we think hispanic people deserve just as good health care as white people!” as if it’s a statement that needs to be said, chances are they’re so behind the times it casts doubt on their ability to actually provide said equal health care.

Finally, I have to wonder, why did these lesbians even want to make this video? Warning: my answer to this question is totally not-pc.

I think these lesbians made this video to get some pussy. It’s not a coincidence that the lesbian who wanted to talk on bi issues fucks a lot of bi women. This video wasn’t really about lesbians trying to make space for bisexual women, it was about lesbians trying to make themselves look good by being knowledgeable on bi issues. It’s about lesbians trying to impress the type of women they are attracted to (bisexual ones, apparently) by going on you tube and spouting shit they think will make them seem appealing.

I don’t want to be a bitch – I’ve been there. My interest in issues of racial equality has jumped by about 1000% since I started dating my girlfriend. And, part of this is I desperately want to be accepted by people of color. I want to be liked, and loved. But this is MY need, and if I go into safe spaces for POC and start spouting whatever PC bullshit I think will get my ass liked, I am transforming a place for POC issues to be about my issues.

I think those lesbians are doing the same thing – they want to be liked, so they’re trying to be PC. But, by doing so, they made this video about THEM not about bisexuals. And so, in a misguided effort for acceptance, they perpetuate the same bisexual erasure they’re supposedly combatting.

Not Allowed in Gay Spaces

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.

SF/Bay Area Lesbian Science Fiction Fans

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.