Tonight, instead of working on my new article (a look at bisexual identity development), I went to my school’s GBLT Alliance group to present on bisexuality.
It was a blast. I hung my bi flag on the wall, and wore blue jeans, pink shirt, and purple poncho, so I was the flag.
I had an absolute blast, and I’m too worn out from 90 minutes of frantic energy and great questions and stories from the audience. I talked about the bare basics of the identity, some labeling concerns, and biphobia.
One of the most important points of my presentation was something that’s been simmering for a while, and I owe my thoughts and feelings about it to the amazing Natalie Clark.
There’s Queer, and there is everybody else. If you don’t fit in with everybody else, and you come to the Queer community for support, you are coming home. Robert Frost says “Home is where when you go there, they have to take you in.”
We have to take you in. No one reaching out for support can be told they don’t deserve it. That they aren’t queer enough because they’re with a different-gender partner. That they are too queer because they embrace kink. That they are too fat, too masculine, too feminine, too androgenous, too asexual, not the right size shape color political affiliation.
The entire basis of the queer community is this: people who are rejected from the mainstream due to their sexual/affectional orientation and/or gender presentation come together for mutual support. Fundamentally, that’s the bottom line. All of our activism, all of our political and educational efforts, all of our work for equality, is to serve the community of people that are cast out for being who we are. The activists that I know are not doing what they do in order to make their own lives easier, they do it to make everyone’s life better. And the day that everyone is accepted, the day that none are cast aside, fired, beaten, bullied, killed, forced to hide out of their fear and other’s disgust, why, that day we will all retire and move to Flagstaff and sip Ripple and watch the sun set over the YMCA.
It is our obligation to welcome with genuine warmth, love, and support any person who identifies as part of the QUILTBAG. It doesn’t matter if they neatly fit into a category, it doesn’t matter if their personal struggle is easier or harder than ours, it doesn’t matter if they want to live a quiet mainstream life or reject bourgeois normativity, it doesn’t matter if they are Out and Proud and marching in the streets or cowering in their kitchen huddled over a laptop with only the thinnest thread to anonymously connect them to a world they are terrified to admit they belong to.
We have to stand up for everyone, welcome everyone.
We have to.
I grew up in a time when it was much less acceptable to be queer. People older than I are often not even willing to accept the word because they remember the time before members of our community began to reclaim it as our own. I am amazed that I can even say the words “mainstream queer”. 30 years ago, that was an unthinkable concept.
But it’s not over. We have not won yet. We have to fight on.
And we must do everything we can to stick together, to make sure that everyone who is a part of our community is given the support they need.
One of the reasons that I am a bisexual activist rather than a more general queer activist is because I see every day people just like me being told they don’t belong. It doesn’t mean I don’t work on the basic issues that we all struggle against — homophobia, heterosexism, classism, out-of-control oligarchy, racism, misogyny, this list in in no particular order and is by no means comprehensive. But I have found that I can be most effective if I focus, work towards understanding the deep issues that drive the problems that affect people who identify the same way that I have ever since I started to understand who I am. I find that I’m not a community organizer type of activist or a storm the capitol with a petition in one hand and a bullhorn in the other activist — I’m much better at poring over studies and writing long wall-o’-text articles and occasionally presenting what I’ve gleaned to groups of students until my voice is so hoarse that I can barely do more than croak.
I don’t expect everyone to be an activist of any sort, to spend hours researching and writing and speaking and dancing down the street at the head of a hundred people spinning a rainbow flag in the air. But I challenge everyone in the queer community to stay conscious of the basic concept that we must, above all else, accept each other, take care of each other, care for each other.
Thanks for listening. I’ll get back to my studies and models and present you with some observations on Cass, Brown, and Weinberg in a few days.