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Wedding Woes

Bi-erasure ruins the party again.

Dear Prudence,

I’m a bi/pan woman in a relationship with a straight, cis man. Since I came out a few years ago, I’ve worked really hard to surround myself with members of the queer community. My issue is that I’ve encountered a lot of biphobia. A few instances this summer stick out to me in particular, compounding my feelings of exclusion and impostor syndrome. A lesbian woman at a queer event (that I didn’t bring my partner to) told me I must be either gay or straight because “no one’s really bi, are they?” A gay couple told me at a queer event (that I did bring my partner to) told me that they didn’t want me to join them for the rest of the evening because we don’t “look like a queer couple.” One of my friend’s boyfriends told me that bi people can’t say they’re bi unless they’ve been in a long-term relationship with someone of the same sex. The list goes on. I’m in therapy (with a queer therapist) and examining my feelings of internalized biphobia, but these experiences are hurtful and confusing, particularly when I’m so excited to feel like included and accepted. Is there anything you can offer me in the way of how to navigate these experiences?

—Do I Just Shrug It Off?

Re: Bi-erasure ruins the party again.

  • VarunaTTVarunaTT member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited September 12
    K, now that I can put my anger aside (there is cursing ahead):

    First all, find a bi-community.  I'm glad LW is at a therapist, b/c internalized biphobia is real and I've had to work against it; I've just been on this journey longer than some.

    LW is a queer woman because her sexual orientation is a queer one.  Therefore her relationship, which falls into her sexual orientation, is a queer one and is valid.  I have used that language and people seem to get it. 

    Yes, people are bi.  I'm bi, we're bi, many famous celebrities are bi.  We know we have sexual attractions to multiple genders, up to and including our own.  If you were questioned about how do you really know your sexual orientation, you'd be fairly insulted.  I know, b/c I KNOW.  There's not a goddamn test.  If there was, people would be out as bi more often and earlier, b/c in a world that fundamentally still operates on a binary of sexual orientation, figuring out you're bi is work.  We already did that shit, thankssomuch.

    Also passing privilege is not a privilege, it is an erasure of your true self, by both the straight and the queer community.  It is being forced into the closet at all times, unless you want to walk around discussing your sexual orientation and genitals all the time, and you don't, so stop calling it passing privilege.

    We don't have punch cards to determine if you're gay, straight, or bi.  You don't have to sleep with a vagina and a penis to make sure you like it or you don't, to determine if you're gay or straight, so we don't make those rules for bi people either.

    LW will quickly determine if they want to be friends with the bi-erasing assholes.  She can choose to educate them or not and it's okay to be done with their sorry asses.
    OliveOilsMomshort+sassycharlotte989875ei34
  • 1st, can someone explain the difference between bi and pan? I'm never sure I understand that.

    2nd - that is an old thought. I know my mum - admittedly by her - thought that for years.
    A friend of hers who is gay {relevant} started dating someone. They said they were bi but explained he prefers men. I asked if he considered himself bi because of that {I explained that I had never heard someone bi who had a preference} and he honestly couldn't answer. He was sure it was partly because of bi-erasure, but questions it himself.

    3rd - I'm glad LW is seeking therapy. I'm sure the comments are affecting their identity - even if they don't realize it.
  • @MissKittyDanger ; The bi vs. pan debate is seeded in a serious argument in the LGBTQ+ community.  :D  I'll try and do a TL;DR version:

    The classic bisexual definition is from Robyn Ochs, the most prominent bisexual activist:  I call myself bisexual because I acknowledge that I have in myself the potential to be attracted – romantically and/or sexually – to people of more than one gender, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree.

    Unfortunately, there are some bisexuals who are transphobic and discincluded transmen, transwoman, and NB/fluid/queer genders in their attractions.  (Please note:  the bi in bisexual has nothing to do with number of genders in sexual attraction).

    Pan was created to mean an attraction to all genders at any time and is a more recent term, partly in response to the controversy around transphobic bisexuals and partly because new generations create terms that fit themselves better. 

    I am from the 90s; I fought really hard to be recognized in the queer community as a bisexual (there had to be a vote on in the B would be allowed in the Gay and Lesbian student group in college), so I won't give it up.  I am not transphobic either and do no believe that bisexual was ever meant to be so.  Funny enough, my mantra was always, "It's the person not the genitals" and that's what most pan people have picked up these days.
    MissKittyDangercharlotte989875
  • 2nd - that is an old thought. I know my mum - admittedly by her - thought that for years.
    A friend of hers who is gay {relevant} started dating someone. They said they were bi but explained he prefers men. I asked if he considered himself bi because of that {I explained that I had never heard someone bi who had a preference} and he honestly couldn't answer. He was sure it was partly because of bi-erasure, but questions it himself.
    You're allowed to have preferences.  Bisexuals doesn't mean equal attraction to all genders, it just means you are attracted to more than just one gender (whether it's the same gender as yours or another one).  I actually do tend to hit an equal balance in my attractions, but I do find my preferences tend to lean towards whatever gender I'm actively with in a relationship, i.e. when I was with my exH, I tended to gravitate more towards masculinity and with K I tend to gravitate more towards femininity. 
    MissKittyDangercharlotte989875
  • @VarunaTT ; I knew you'd come through with explanations! I was explained pan recently {my bff's daughter has mentioned she feels she is pan - she's 10} but I was never sure what the difference was.

    As for the preference, I knew a few people who were bi in school {to be fair, one person wasn't sure if he was bi or gay because the legit only female he had strong enough feelings for to 'consider himself bi' was for me ....} but they never stated if they had preference, just that they liked both.
    I know one friend said they had a 'type' of female or male they were attracted to, but I wouldn't consider that a preference.
  • VarunaTT said:
    We don't have punch cards to determine if you're gay, straight, or bi.  You don't have to sleep with a vagina and a penis to make sure you like it or you don't, to determine if you're gay or straight, so we don't make those rules for bi people either.

    LW will quickly determine if they want to be friends with the bi-erasing assholes.  She can choose to educate them or not and it's okay to be done with their sorry asses.
    For specifically the LW's question, @VarunatTT's last paragraph hits it on the head.  The LW can try to educate and change people's perspective, if she even wants to go there.  However, unfortunately, that's not always possible.

    I don't understand and it's bizarre to me why people think they can dictate and define someone else's sexuality.  Like the "qualifier" her friend's b/f mentioned that a bi-person can't say they're bi, unless they've been in a long-term relationship with someone of the same sex.  As if that's a "rule", instead of just his own random and ridiculous opinion.  WTF, smh.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
    STARMOON44
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