I’ve been in a bit of a brief hiatus the last couple of months, not blogging much, so I’d like to start off with some notes about what’s been going on.
If you’ve read Flotsam and Jetsam, then you know about my foreclosure. The next and hopefully final chapter goes like this: after the bank pre-rejected the offer that still let them qualify as “going through the motions of HAMP”, and bid the house up to $139,000 at the Sheriff’s Auction without actually having to produce any money whatsoever, unlike any other bidder would have had to do (and that figure was $35,000 more than we owed, $55,000 more than that pre-rejected offer), they sold the house a few weeks ago.
38% of the newly established paper value (which was about 150% of the assessed tax value).
$53,000. An amount that we could have easily paid – the mortgage, insurance, and taxes at that rate are less than we’re paying for our 2-bedroom basement hole with no screens, dog feces littering the yard, and a sink that gurgles and occasionally backs up to overflowing when the upstairs neighbor runs their dishwasher. An amount half the amount that we were willing to pay, asking only a little flexibility.
$53,000. 35% of the amount we bought the house for, an amount about double the equity that we had – equity that was lost in the foreclosure.
Some very good things have happened as well. Earlier this month I graduated Magna Cum Laude from University with a Bachelor of Science in Community Psychology with a minor in Philosophy, and will be starting a Master of Science program in Community Counseling in late summer. As a measure of how huge this was for me, consider this: I am 44 years old and this is the first time I graduated from anything, having tested out of high school at 17 with a D- average.
Also, this month I was elected to the Board of Directors of BiNet USA. I’d like to specifically note here that when I am blogging on this site and on Huffington Post I am writing as me rather than as an official representative of BiNet USA. Unless specifically noted otherwise, all opinions, conclusions, rants, and raves are my opinion and should not be taken to represent the official position of BiNet USA.
During this time I’ve been writing little, and reading and thinking much, about intersections and identities, and about the best ways to activist.
And thinking about, what’s the point? Not in the depressed “oh, what’s the point” sense, although I have to admit more than one dark moment where I wondered why the hell I am swimming upstream. Moments where people who are bright and thoughtful throw bi stereotypes in my face, even though I’ve discussed them at length. (For example, I’ve had more than one discussion with people who are very intelligent, whom I respect, that seem to be unable to separate bisexuality and polyamory.) That’s why I’m working on the Elevator Conversation Project, because there just isn’t always time and space in a conversation to put 50,000 words in front of someone and say “After you read this, if you have any questions, we can talk.”
No, I’m asking an existential question. What’s the point? Why are we here? What is the purpose of activism, and what is the purpose of having a Queer community?
And what I have come up with is one short sentence. It doesn’t cover everything, it has nothing to do with activist tactics and strategy, it’s not a grand insight that will change the world.
It’s a star to navigate by, a marked point on the compass rose. It’s a phrase that you’ll be seeing pop up now and then, when I need to reorient myself and have a metric for what’s important in the long run and what is a mere temporary annoyance.
There is reactive activism, and proactive activism. There’s a lot of line-blurring between the two. Even the most reactive thing contains some progress for its own sake, and the most forward thinking is often spawned by something that needs a response. And in the context of bisexual activism, the proactive goal is community, and the reactive spurs are those things that disrupt community, or individual’s ability to access that community.
So what’s it all about, Alfie?
Living a life of integrity in a community of mutual support.
This means not allowing people to thrust their assumptions upon us – not accepting arguments that bisexuality is synonymous with polyamory, and not going too far the other direction and claiming that polyamorous bisexuals are either a tiny minority or even worse, that there is something wrong with polyamorous bis – that they are “Bad Bisexuals”.
This means standing up to the people who would throw us out of the Queer community because they think we’re not queer enough, should we be in a relationship with someone whose gender is other than what they consider the same enough, or because they think we’re too queer because we don’t fit the assimilative model they’ve determined is the best way to get equality for themselves.
This means being visible. This means accepting that there are many different ways of being an activist, and while my path tends to be a bit cool and academic, there are (and need to be) people like Kyle Schickner and Shiri Eisner, people who sometimes get almost as much backlash from parts of the bi community as they get from the lesbian and gay biphobes who they are firing at. Most of the bi community are not activists at all, and that’s OK too, because those people are the bulk of the community that we’re trying to grow.
The ultimate goal of the honest activist is to retire having won. That pretty much never, ever happens, because society is huge and resilient, and there are unfortunately always injustices to battle – and the activist is someone who cannot simply stand by when there is an injustice happening.
Are there bigger problems than the exclusion of bisexuals from Queer spaces and dialog? Sure. But if you give up on solving the problems that others think are less important, then you never solve anything. We all have to work on what we’re good at. Global warming is a big deal, something that threatens us all – but I lack the academic, scientific, professional, and personal credentials to do anything about it other than lend my support and try to do what I can to reduce my own carbon footprint. There is nothing I can say on the subject that can’t be said better by someone with far more credibility than I.
Bisexuality and bisexual activism, though, I feel like I have (just barely) the credentials to be effective at. It’s a fight that I and other bisexual activists can win. Because, what we are really saying to the movers and shakers of Big Gay is, “we’re all in this together, and we can help, we want to fight alongside you as members of the community.” I see an awful lot of focus on and courting of Straight Allies by Big Gay while they simultaneously reject people, people who are as queer as they are, who don’t need a cookie, don’t need to be validated as “awesome people”, who just need to quit being told that we don’t exist and are dangerous predators to boot.
There are a lot of issues within the nonmonosexual community, issues that if looked at one way can be considered divisive, and looked at in another just shows us as a heterogeneous population of all different types of people. There’s a tension between the assimilative and the transgressive, there’s a tension between the monogamous and the polyamorous, there’s a tension between the Bisexual Label bisexuals and the Anything-But-Bisexual Label nonmonosexuals. There’s a tension between the social group let’s-all-just-have-a-good-time and the social-justice-let’s-talk-about-privilege.
But all of these tensions need to be seen as dynamic tension. They are not the forces that are tearing us apart. Rather, they are like the tensions in a geodesic dome. They are isometric exercises that strengthen us so that when we need to do some heavy lifting, we can all get our shoulders under it and heave.
I have a piece scheduled to appear on the BiNet blog early next week and hope to have a longer piece, possibly on the difference between “straight privilege” and “being in the closet”, coming up in this space soon, along with another Elevator Conversation video. Thanks for being here, folks, it’s good to be back.