Happy New Year! or, Spare Me The “No Labels” Biphobia

So just before the Arctic deep-freeze ate the country, the New York Times (generally about as nastily biphobic as the straight media gets) published this piece in the Fashion And Style pages. Because, seriously, that’s where teh Queer stuff belongs, fashion and style. I mean, sure, we’re fashionable and stylish, so any coverage of us has to be in the optional pages. Because obviously it can’t be news, right?

This article actually seemed at first to be not half bad.

But that’s because the bar is so damned low that something from the New York Times that even admits we exist at all is a giant leap forward. Of course, they had to dredge up Bailey 2005 again, and the shocking news that in 2011 the verdict of non-existence was reversed – no mention of the idea that in the 21st Century the very idea that a significant segment of the population requires scientific validation in the form of pressure cuffs on our penii monitoring our reaction to specific kinds of pornography before we can be deemed to exist is offensive and ontologically violent.

Yeah, the bar is low. Low enough that an article featuring a couple sound bites from illustrious members of the community who I am certain had much more to say than they were given time for which are vastly outweighed by people who not only don’t use the label bisexual but in a couple cases repudiate it altogether, and some paragraphs rehashing the Northwestern studies and apologizing for Dan Savage, and quoting people who continue to think we don’t exist seems like a fair and balanced article, comparatively.

An article about bisexuality that basically tells the community that not using a label is a virtue.

(Ready for the annoying verbal tic that signals that my cup o’ rage is about to spilleth over?)

Here’s the thing. If you are straight and say “Labels don’t matter”, well, that’s because your label is no-label, “Normal”. If you are gay and say “I don’t believe in labels” then I’m sorry, but you are so far in the closet that you can see Sally Ride and Narnia from there, or you’ve adopted the assimilative mononormative ideal that erases everyone who doesn’t fit into one of the two neatly circumscribed categories that, surprise surprise, are either Straight or Gay with no (dare I say) deviance permitted.

But as soon as someone says “Bisexual” it’s a label-free free-for-all. Because it’s only when bisexuality is on the table that people come from all corners to push the idea that It Is The Label That Is The Problem. That people wouldn’t hate bisexuals so much if they’d just… quit calling attention to themselves.

Smell that? Yeah, me too. It’s exactly the same line that the homophobe standing on the sidewalk last time I was involved in a Pride-style march tried to hand me. “Why don’t you freaks keep it in the bedroom?”

Now, I looked at everyone who was in the march with me, and you know what? Not one single person was doing anything that would be better kept to a bedroom. No one was having sex in the street. No, we were walking along waving a rainbow flag and signs that said “Love Is Love” and maybe at most a couple of people holding hands. Well, there was that one person dancing around with a vial of glitter and sprinkling it in our path. Personally that’s one I prefer to keep out of the bedroom as glitter chafes something awful.

No, it’s only bisexuals who are expected to not use a label. The people quoted in the NYT article include the new First Lady of New York City. She was a proud (and proudly labeled) Lesbian with a capital L, but now that she’s married to Hizzonner teh Mayor, she says “Labels put people in boxes, and those boxes are shaped like coffins.” Because labeling as gay or lesbian means solidarity and community and support and change and justice, but labeling as bisexual means… what?

It means, as Nixon notes, “Everybody likes to dump on the bisexuals.”

But I don’t know how I can be more gorram clear here.

IT’S NOT THE LABEL THAT PEOPLE HATE YOU FOR.

So what is the problem, if it’s not the label?

It’s not fitting into the boxes. Not fulfilling your assigned role. Being too queer. Refusing to toe the proverbial line. That’s what they hate. And it doesn’t matter what word you use, or no words at all, because they are still going to hate you just the same…

Unless they can make you disappear. Unless they can erase you and deny you the support of the community of fellow Queer people (in general) and fellow Bisexuals (in particular). Because if they can get you to manage the trick of self-erasure, by telling you that “Labels are coffins unless of course the label is Gay or Lesbian” or by convincing you that “Bisexual reinforces the gender binary and therefore people who use it are Bad People” or by simply saying that “You should wait until you’re sure before you label”, then the bastards win.

They win by killing the community, and when they kill the community they are literally killing bisexuals. Bisexual youth who have no place to turn where they will be believed when they say “I dig Dave, but I also think that Joanna is hot.” Bisexual adults who find themselves being told that the needs of Straight Allies are more important than the needs of actual Queer people, as long as those people are Bisexual, because of course *wink wink* those people can just stay in the closet where they belong, and aren’t really Queer or they’d just follow the Cass Model of Gay Development and put all that fake heterosexual business behind them and come out as All The Way Gay instead of perching on that fence.

A community cannot exist without a word to call itself. That’s just the pure and simple truth. Show me any community that has no name. You can’t do it.

No Label is No Community. To quote Estraven, a friend of mine who nailed it perfectly,

If you are unlabeled, how do you defend yourself? Whose rights are you fighting for? Why should you fight for the rights of a ________, when _________ are not oppressed?

If these tactics had been as successful with the Lesbian and Gay communities as they have been in recent years with the Bisexual community, there would not now be an LGBT Rights movement. A movement that owes its very existence to the transgressive, the nonconforming, the people who would not allow themselves to be quietly papered over and dismissed as inconsequential.

Here’s a line from the article, near the end: “People who have grown up in a more assimilated world may not see the value in labels like “gay” or “bisexual,” when the communities they describe are no longer as marginalized.”

Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit, I had no idea that we were no longer marginalized to the point that we no longer needed to be able to identify our community. That we were fully accepted by society at large as well as by the GGGG community. That it was time to relax and rest on our laurels, because our work here is done. It’s not like the piece quotes a high-profile Gay blogger who says that of course bisexuality isn’t real because he posed as one too, to “ease the transition”.

Oh, wait, it does. Because no mainstream article about bisexuality is complete unless it spends most of the column inches on people who either don’t believe we exist at all or who think it would be nice if we would just quietly go away. On gay people who think it’s OK to tell bisexuals the same tired old hateful things that they get told by people like that duck dude.

To quote Larry Finklestein (ten points to whoever can get me a YouTube clip of the scene where he says this):

I. Will. Not. Calm. Down.

Happy New Year.

{edit} Be sure to check out this comment by Jen Yockney.

About fliponymous

Bisexual activist, thinker, writer, husband and father, non-traditional Graduate student, member BiNet USA Board of Directors. When I grow up I want to be an Existential/Feminist Psychotherapist, a community college instructor, and expand my work for bisexual visibility and equality for everyone in the QUILTBAG. This is my personal blog and the views here do not represent the official position of BiNet USA.
This entry was posted in Bisexuality, Identity Politics (non-monosexual) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

52 Responses to Happy New Year! or, Spare Me The “No Labels” Biphobia

  1. Estraven says:

    THANK YOU. I was just looking at a wonderful YouTube video on Bisexual Erasure, when I thought the saddest thing of all is when a bisexual/non-monosexual person erases THEMSELVES by not labeling themselves. Because that is exactly what not labeling is: a sexual minority person erasing themselves.

  2. kdaddy23 says:

    You said a lot of the things I said in my blog about the NYT article. They might be trying to kill the community but that’s not going to stop people from being – and identifying as – bisexual. I find this biphobia mindset to be patently ridiculous and sadly funny; even in the 21st century, some folks can be as narrow-minded as things were in the 19th century…

  3. “…the very idea that a significant segment of the population requires scientific validation in the form of pressure cuffs on our penii monitoring our reaction to specific kinds of pornography before we can be deemed to exist is offensive and ontologically violent.”

    Hands down this is the best summary of *that* study…

  4. Kylie Palm says:

    Hate to say it but this is definitely one thing that annoys the hell outta me when people say that they dont subscribe to any label

  5. Lynnette says:

    Thank for saying so perfectly what my heart feels but my mind could not articulate.

  6. Wendy says:

    Thank. Thank you!!!! This is spot on in EVERY way.

  7. Jen says:

    ALL THIS and more: the anti-labels approach, with its trusty sidekick “we won’t need labels when we defeat homophobia”, misses out that labels are words, are how humanity communicates notions one to another, mixing up labels themselves with the socially charged values attached to them. In that imaginary day where we have vanquished homophobia (and biphobia, and got over clinging to assigned-at-birth gender binaries, and all that jazz) — we will still have gay, straight, and bi people. There will still be moments when “I’m not interested, it’s not you, it’s just I’m straight” is a useful concept to communicate. And “I’m bisexual, I’m just not into you”.

    As well as ducking a lot of political battles for the individual, no-labels pulls up the liberation ladder behind you: it can say, “I know who and what I am, and all that matters is I’m alright, I don’t need to be visible for the sake of the people who are lost and isolated and confused who haven’t yet got to where I am”. Which is a free personal choice but damaging as a widespread notion.

    • fliponymous says:

      Pulling up the liberation ladder behind you is PERFECT. I’m putting a specific pointer to this comment in the body of the blog.

      • Mat says:

        Yes I like the “pulling up the liberation ladder” quote. Part of why this subject is important to me is just how I felt between ages 17 – 21 I was a queer youth that ended up not fitting into the gay community. But also experienced all sorts of homophobic violence too. It took me 5 years to meet another bisexual guy who basically affirmed my existence where neither gay nor straight men could not. Who will be there for the next bewildered teenager who has crushes (and sexual experiences) with both genders and is desperately trying to figure it out and wonders why every one laughs when he says the word “bisexual”.

        • fliponymous says:

          “Who will be there”? Hopefully, a strong vital Bisexual community, organizations like BOP and BiNET USA and the multiple regional groups that meet in all corners of the country. :)

  8. Mat says:

    Great Post! There are very specific forms of discrimination that I have faced that gay and straight people do not. I have been on a job interview where a gay man blatantly harassed me, and was harassed on my job by a straight woman – not because I was queer but specifically bisexual. Not to mention that we may have (and I have had) relationship issues when dating some straight women and some gay men (mixed orientation relationships) but even have specific needs while dating another bisexual. And ALL of those needs go unaddressed because we don’t exist and the services are not even in place.

    Many gay men who acknowledge I exist can not even imagine I have specific needs. What they don’t get is I have had to process through a lot of internalized homophobia and biphobia I did not even know I had in the last three years. I had to go back in time and remember what it was like to be called a faggot on the streets of my home town and then to seek what my guidance counselor told me was “the gay and bisexual community” only to find out I was to be kicked out of that community as well.

    If we don’t exist we don’t get bi affirming counseling, bi affirming relationship counseling, bi specific safe sex information, bi safe spaces, a bi community where others get it. We don’t get good legal counsel, and so much more.

    • fliponymous says:

      Mat, your final paragraph there should be stitched into a sampler and hung on the walls of every college LGBT Resource Center as well as every counselor training program.

  9. Thank you, Eponymous Fliponymous! This was much needed and you handled it well.

  10. VASpider says:

    Yes, yes, yes. I have been writing/talking a lot recently about the fact that bisexuals are only spoken of when erasing us hurts the Big Two in the Alphabet Soup community – the L and G that are so eager to not only outrun us when the figurative zombies come but to survive for themselves that they’ll shoot us in the foot to make sure we can’t keep up. I am in the upper end of my thirties and I was violently treated by “the community” as a teenager and young woman to the point where now the only people I will talk to about this stuff is other bi/pan people.

  11. camilleholt says:

    My friend, I am so glad you are here to be one of our eloquent voices. Your bi-furious voice inspires me.

  12. Pingback: Getting Too Comfortable | Musings from the Mind of Camille

  13. Robin Renee says:

    I just read this piece in HuffPo and sent it along to a friend. I posted these comments there while reflecting on your words and the NYT article. I thought I’d share the comments with you as well. Thank you for speaking up.

    I insist on using the word bisexual to describe myself because it is so often dismissed. It is hard to forget comments like”Oh, so you’re just a playah” from someone I’d just met while out with friends, or “You have to get off the fence” from the man at the NYC Pride March who made me cry. Sometimes I joke that sure, it’s a phase – a really, really, really long phase. The joke takes a bit of the edge off how frustrating and wearying it is to STILL have to insist upon one’s actual existence – but not by much. I also feel a strong affinity for queer as a word to describe myself, and pansexual probably fits as well. I use bisexual most of all because I don’t believe it is incorrect or limiting and certainly not imaginary. I insist that those of us who feel attractions that we call bisexual get to define the term. I am encouraged by the trend for younger people to feel less embattled around sexuality and the possibility of fluidity. I don’t, however, get the insistence on no labels. I don’t use labels to facilitate limitation. I use them to communicate.

  14. Hmm, I disagree with this take. I really do think that future generations (at least in more liberal parts of the country) will find these kinds of labels to be a non-issue. Sexual fluidity (the right of anyone and everyone to explore, try new things, change their minds, and so forth) is more important to me than any particular label. In my community (admittedly a very liberal one), there are a broad spectrum of orientations, including mostly straight men who are open-minded in some contexts but not “bi” in any traditional sense of the word. I think the biggest imperative is creating a climate where anyone can say, “I tried this,” or “I like this act but not this one”, and so forth, without being judged or categorized.

    Again, I’m fortunate to live in a very open-minded community, but I find myself MUCH more likely to relate to and confide in groups with a broad spectrum of orientations, than to feel at home with people who all identify in the same way. I think those men who are uncomfortable talking about their same-sex encounters are more likely to do so in that kind of context, rather that under the directive to “stand up and be counted.”

    In other words, I support the right of everyone to openly or privately PRACTICE bisexuality, as well as their right to not identify with that label as a descriptive term for their orientation.

    • fliponymous says:

      Saul, while you certainly have the right to disagree, the facts remain: 1)The whole “no label” only comes up when it’s bisexuality under discussion, 2)the presence of a community of support is important, and possibly most importantly, 3)it is Right Now, not some utopian future where no one gives a fig who you find appealing.

      The problem is right now, today, and while individuals have the right to choose their own labels, the idea that everyone gets a label but bisexuals is a problem for my community.

      I have no idea if you are a member of my community making a critique from within, or someone outside the community whose disagreement actually strengthens *your* community at the expense of mine. I honestly do not know. Have no way of knowing. Because you are, I assume deliberately, refusing to “stand up and be counted”.

      So either you are erasing yourself, or you are advocating that I erase myself. Sort of proves my point, doesn’t it? Who is going to stand up for you when you are discriminated against? Because not having a label is not going to help you with that: the haters will gladly assign their own label to you.

      • I understand where you’re coming from, and I don’t in any way want to hinder the kind of community that you’re talking about. I’ve attended some bisexual events, and found that, for the most part, I didn’t share the same approach as other people there. I’ve found more in common with polyamorous groups, which lean toward heterosexual relationships, but are open to and accepting of bisexual activity. I support both perspectives, and a self-identifying bisexual community is a great thing. It’s the suggestion that anyone who avoids that label is somehow biphobic or in denial that I have a problem with. I’m open about my sex and relationship life as a writer and blogger, and I’m happy for people to draw their own conclusions. If there’s an experience that I’ve had that they identify with, great, and if they see me as belonging to a particular subculture, that’s fine by me. I think that approach, at least in my community, has done more to question heteronormativity than any particular label could have done.

        • fliponymous says:

          See Jen’s comment about “pulling up the ladder behind you”.

          Awesome that you challenge heteronormativity. Tell me, exactly why do you feel that you should not label as Bisexual, or at least as a member of the Bisexual Community? Seriously, I want to know the reason that allowing others to label you is superior to owning your own label.

          • On “pulling up the ladder” … I think I’m very much extending a ladder. There are a lot of guys out there who have or would practice bisexual activity, but who, in context, fit more appropriately under a different label. I think it’s important for them to see that there are different ways to approach bisexual activity, and I feel that a single label leaves out the nuance. To me, bisexual groups seem to cater mostly to people who actively date or want to date men or women. In my case, I’m open to intimacy with, say, shared poly partners, but not into romantic same-sex dating. Are there things I have in common with folks who identify as “bisexual”? Sure. But I find enough differences that I prefer to say, “I’m mostly into ____ but open to ____ ” rather than a one-size-fits-all label.

            • fliponymous says:

              Ah. You’re rejecting the label because it doesn’t describe with sufficient detail your exact spectrum of attraction/activity preference.

              Here’s the good news. It was never supposed to. It’s a broad, general Identity label, a Community label that can but doesn’t have to be an individual label. See this and this for more detail on what I am saying.

              Here’s something to consider: bisexual groups do not necessarily mean anyone is going to be dating anybody. It’s not all about hooking up. Now, in a lot of spaces, it is, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s not the only reason people get together under the umbrella label of Bisexual.

              • Those are interesting articles, and I like some of the points in “What’s in a Word”. I would argue, though, that we should allow for more nuance under those other umbrella terms as well. Why not have more descriptors for specific types of “gay” or “straight” orientations? Why not incorporate gender expression and relationship orientations too? There are so many words to pick and choose from! One word is a label. Three or more is an identity.

                • fliponymous says:

                  Exactly. One word is a label, and one word is a general broad umbrella. A flag to rally around. A high point sticking up so you can see it from a long way away.

                  There is a LOT of room for nuance under the single-word umbrella terms. That’s why they are umbrella terms. Community identification. Individual labels are where there’s room for nuance.

    • EnlessDerp says:

      Throwing in my two cents here alongside Fliponymous with the intent of being pragmatic: He’s right, you’re living in the now, which contains a number of beaten adolescents who don’t have enough support. You can’t organize the people who are sympathetic to your plight and cause without a name to rally behind, which means you don’t have a community with leadership, you don’t have a structure for channeling your manpower, money, or social pull into objectives, and you won’t get your candidates into office. You won’t be able to effect change, and you’ll have to keep seeing stories on the news about tormented high schoolers committing suicide.

      And I get where you’re coming from when you say you don’t want to give yourself a label that isn’t nuanced enough to really describe who you are or your sexual orientation, because giving yourself a label that doesn’t quite fit leans towards mislabeling yourself, and that feels like screwing yourself the same way the people opposing you are trying to screw you. I’m basically straight, but when I have a particularly powerful empathic connection with somebody, all boundaries are irrelevant to me. There isn’t really a term for a sexuality that consists of “I’m normally attracted to women, but my sexual attraction to both sexes scales proportionally with the magnitude of my emotional attachment to them, and past a certain threshold I’ve maxed out the amount of lust I can possibly feel for an individual, but because of my aforementioned predisposition I reach that threshold sooner with women than with men.” And that’s the problem: there’s probably an infinite number of different orientations out there and it’s simply impossible to provide a label for each one that’s adequately nuanced. So we need an umbrella term, a label that doesn’t accidentally omit any member’s identity.

      Maybe we need to stop calling ourselves the LGBT community because that’s too limiting, maybe we should start calling ourselves Advocates for Sexual Plurality or Lovers Without Boundaries or some such. But we still NEED a name, because without a name we can’t get on the BALLOT.

      • fliponymous says:

        there’s probably an infinite number of different orientations out there and it’s simply impossible to provide a label for each one that’s adequately nuanced. So we need an umbrella term, a label that doesn’t accidentally omit any member’s identity.

        BAM!!!

      • I get that, but I think you’re overlooking the fact that there are many ways to be an advocate for something. As a kid growing up, life would have been a hell of a lot easier if I’d had a role model who eschewed labels and had an unconventional approach to sexuality. Hence, that’s the role model I hope to be. That doesn’t mean I don’t support more traditional forms of protest and advocacy, but it’s not my place or my calling to play that part. All I can do is say, “This is how I’ve interpreted my sexual orientation” and be direct and honest about it to those who ask. The future of the sexual rights movement isn’t going to be more men taking on the label “bisexual”; it’s going to be more men saying, “I’ve had these kinds of experiences and I’m not ashamed, traumatized, or otherwise bothered by it.” THAT’s what’s going to enable future generations to choose their own path and get over the kind of stigmas that we currently have to deal with.

        • fliponymous says:

          I respect that there are different levels of advocacy and activism. The events that brought this whole thing up, though, included someone saying that, but eschewing all labels…

          And immediately being labeled “Gay” with all the mononormative baggage that comes along with that.

          In what way does refusing to label as a part of the Bisexual community indicate that you are not ashamed, traumatized, or otherwise bothered? I would think that you’d be eager to see more men willing to visibly join a community of mutual support.

          You say ” As a kid growing up, life would have been a hell of a lot easier if I’d had a role model who eschewed labels and had an unconventional approach to sexuality. Hence, that’s the role model I hope to be.”

          My question is: in the absence of labels, how the hell is that kid ever going to find you?

    • camilleholt says:

      Hi, Saul! I just had time to get caught up with this discussion. I won’t pile on the other comments that have been made, suffice to say I’m in general agreement with them.

      I am interested in your desire to discuss your sexual orientation identity as part of your your relationship structure preferences as part of…it seems a few other other things as well. I find that it helps other people understand me much better if I am able to discuss my relationship structure (poly, mono, swinger, etc) separately from my sexual orientation (bi, pan, fluid, gay, straight, etc) separately from other identities I have (mother, pagan, etc) While they all come together to form the whole that is me, I don’t want to create the idea in people’s minds that just because I’m bi I must also be poly. It is a common error that people make about all kinds of labels and identities.

      As a side note, my bi* identity is much more then who I have encounters with. I am not defined by my behavior. I would still be bi* if I never had sex again.

      I think what I’m seeing in your comments is a desire to be viewed as a whole person and understood for all the complexity and nuance you have. I think that is what we should all aim for in our personal interactions and when we are in groups where things might be “confided.” However, at the level of educating and advocating (and newspaper articles) we need more general categories that we can explain to people who don’t share our identities, that we can use to discuss our poor health outcomes (worse then straight, gay, lesbian and trans!), anti-bullying measures in schools and much, much more.

      • I guess I’m still a bit puzzled by the focus on “advocacy” in response to my comments (and it may be a generational difference as to what constitutes good advocacy). To me, what better way to be an “advocate” than to simply talk openly about one’s sex and love life, and in return to hear out the issues that others face in their own? I thought Maria Bello’s approach a few months back was perfect — she explained in very personal detail her family structure, and left it to the reader to draw conclusions. Some follow-up articles insisted on labeling her, but she herself never did so.

        My sticking point, and the reason I keep returning to answer these comments, is because I reject the notion that bisexual activity necessitates a “bisexual” identity, and that to reject that label is somehow “biphobic”. I say this less out of concern for being understood personally, but because of the simple fact that there are a lot more men having same-sex experiences than will ever — culturally, personally, or politically — take on a bisexual identity. I think it’s important for public health, relationship, and social reasons to create a culture where they can be open and honest about their experiences and not feel pressured to join a particular group or cause.

        In some cases, it’s because their community (such as the poly community) has a higher threshold for same-sex intimacy, while still predominantly rooted in heterosexual relationships. I personally find a bit of a conflict of interest between those who are trying to dispel the myth that “all bisexuals are promiscuous/can’t be monogamous/etc” and those of us who think mono-normativity is itself the problem. Does my OKCupid say “bisexual”? Sure. But I would change it in an instant if heteroflexible, polysexual, or even pansexual were options.

        There was an interesting study in genetic variations a few years back that Matt Ridley references in his book, Genome: “Among heterosexual men, those with the long D4DR gene are six times more likely to have slept with another man than those with the short genes. Among homosexual men, those with the long genes are five times more likely to have slept with a woman than those with the short genes.” I find that kind of complexity fascinating.

        • camilleholt says:

          I think I understand the position you have taken and appreciate the time you’ve taken to explain it. It seems we have each found our way to be comfortable with our own identities and will have to agree to disagree on the value of labels. As you said, perhaps it is rooted in our feelings about advocacy. I’ve long believed that labels are the beginning of a conversation, not the end. I am encouraged about the community you describe where labels are less important then the person. In my experience that has been more common in the non-mongomous (poly/swinger) communities than the LGBTQIA communities.

          • fliponymous says:

            Camille, I appreciate your patience and perspective. I’m feeling rather befuddled because Saul and I appear to be having two completely different conversations. Your observation that labels are the beginning rather than the end of the conversation is spot on and really captures my intent.

        • fliponymous says:

          I think that part of the problem here is that my focus is on Identity — community and the things that go along with that like social supports, FUNDING, you name it — while your focus seems to be on Activity — bisexual behavior among men who may or may not be in one closet or another.

          I can’t even begin to understand your insistence that MSM will have better, more honest, open lives if we just get rid of labels.

          • Not quite, but you’re getting there. Just found this great post by the late Aaron Swartz that kind of hits the nail on the head, so to speak: http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/notgay

            • camilleholt says:

              Unfortunately Aaron makes so many factual errors in his post I cannot even begin to explain the ways in which the framework he has built flawed. From the comment string I see some people have tried. From totally oversimplifying the historical basis of the gay identity to not understanding that having sex with white people is very much a big deal to a lot of non-white people he has show a total lack of exposure to experiences beyond his own. I would not suggest hanging your ideological hat on this tree. He damages your position more then he supports it.

              • Saul says:

                I agree with you that his take is more emotion-based than factual/logical. My point is that his perspective exists, and is shared by a substantial amount of people in various forms, and the LGBT community should be willing to address that without calling “in denial.” That was what frustrated me most about the response to his article — the notion that he somehow hasn’t thought through or is uncomfortable with his position. EXACTLY what seems to be at stake on the issue of bi-erasure.

                • fliponymous says:

                  Um, no. You don’t get to flip this around.

                  You literally cannot say “Life would be better if no one used a label” and then claim that people disagreeing with that are doing anything that is the equivalent of bisexual erasure.

                  You cannot make a virtue of erasing yourself, and then complain that I am erasing you. I call bullshit at this point.

                  • Saul says:

                    Again, not my point. I haven’t said the world would be better without labels. I think a growing bisexual community is a good thing, and I hope more people feel comfortable taking on that identity. I also think people should be free not to choose that identity, so long as they are not willfully denying or covering up their own experiences. I think Tom Daleys and Mario Bellos have their place too, and these perspectives aren’t mutually exclusive.

                    • fliponymous says:

                      Hey, you are free to not label. I’m telling you why it’s a bad idea, born of privilege and utopianism and erasure. You have said several times that it’s better not to label, and I’m telling you that the evidence supports my view much more than it supports yours, that your view is not one that builds community but rather divides us into a million “communities of One”. And a community of one is not a community, but an isolated individual vulnerable to institutionalized discrimination.

                      I’m going to ask you a simple question, directly. It is a question that you can answer with a yes or a no or with a lengthier more nuanced answer, but I will ask that you answer it honestly and as simply as you can.

                      Would you consider yourself a member of the Bisexual community, such as it is?

                      Let’s start a fresh thread, I’m having trouble with the way this one is displaying.

                    • Saul says:

                      In this context, I would say no. I think we’ll be finding that more and more folks of the younger generation will, like me, get enough validation from their friends and families that they don’t feel a need to be part of a broader community. I don’t think that comes from “privilege”. I grew up in a very religious environment, and made the choice to move to a more liberal state, and eventually into a house with a diverse group of open-minded people. I’m grateful for that and do my best to create a welcoming environment for those who are still trapped in more traditional environments. It’s not “utopianism” to create a non-judgmental living space and help others to create their own.

                    • fliponymous says:

                      I have lost all ability to can even.

            • fliponymous says:

              From the link: “People shouldn’t be forced to categorize themselves as “gay,” “straight,” or “bi.””

              Here’s the thing. If you are male-identified, and you have had, are willing to have, or look like you might have sex with a man, *you are going to be assigned a label*. The most common one? Starts with F, ends with T.

              If you don’t own your label, the one you will be given WILL be a slur, a put-down, an excuse to dehumanize you. Taking the opportunity to own your label is not the same as having one forced upon you.

              If your internalized biphobia is strong enough that you feel like you need to not have a label — because, again, the whole “no label” thing only comes up in the context of bisexuality, the closet, or both — then that’s your cop. But don’t pretend like it’s a damned virtue, that eschewing labels like you would in the world that would be perfect for you is going to make life better for everyone, because it won’t.

              You may very well think that I am being unreasonable here, but I think that you are simply being unrealistic and ignoring the important truth that it is impossible to thrive in the absence of a community of mutual support, and bisexuals have enough problems with being excluded from the GGGG community without people who claim that completely erasing the B will make it easier to be open and honest.

              Trust me on this: encouraging bisexuality to be even more The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name than it already is *will not help*. Been there, done that, brought back the systemic erasure and pathologization.

  15. Pingback: New Beginnings | Musings from the Mind of Camille

  16. Elizabeth says:

    You. Fucking. ROCK!!!

  17. Pingback: Episode 03 “Labels” Links | The BiCast

  18. Great work done by author of this blog. I never seen such a beautiful and informative blog. Also the looks of the blog is awesome. Keep posting please.

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