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Ten Things To Think Really Carefully About Before Saying When Someone Tells You They Are Bisexual
Congratulations! Your friend/family member/colleague just came out to you as bi! *
That’s awesome—you’re obviously a person they trust and value, one they expect to treat them with care and respect in responding to this information, which in some contexts can cause people to lose their jobs and income and health insurance, or be at risk of physical and/or emotional violence, or be cut off from other friends and family and faith and community members. You must be incredibly great for them to put themselves at such risk with you.
There are a lot of painful stereotypes and myths out there about bisexuals, and most people who are coming out as bi have heard them long before coming out, so they know that with a lot of other people they’re going to get the proverbial “whole lotta ugly from a never-ending parade of stupid.” But not you.
They’re cool with you, and know, or at least hope, you’ll be cool with them.
You, um, don’t want to screw this up, right?
Of course not. You’re a good doobie. You wanna be down with the Bis as a Fierce Ally. Whether you identify as straight, gay, lesbian, pan, omni, asexual, or some other orientation, whether you’re cisgender or trans* or genderfluid/queer, you want to show you are worthy of this bisexual person’s trust in you.
So, if you’re thinking of saying one of the following phrases, or something close to one of them**, you might want to pause, take a breath, consider the context, think how you’d feel hearing it if the roles were reversed, and maybe, just maybe, say something else.
Or just give a hug. Hugs are almost always good responses. Sometimes they’re the best ones.
*While some of what’s on here would apply in the situation where a boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, or other partner has just come out to you as bi, those are obviously different situations and probably deserve their own list, since your romantic and/or sexual relationship to that person may be directly involved. This list is really for those relationships that are only familial, professional, and platonic.
** Every single phrase here, or something very close to it, has been said to me or to bi friends during their coming out processes, by people they regarded as close, trustworthy friends, family members, or colleagues.
10. Why are you telling me? I don’t care who you sleep with or what you do in your bedroom or private life. It’s no one’s business/it doesn’t matter that you’re bisexual.
Easy there, Privacy Patty: they’re telling you because it does matter, to them, that people know—or at least that you know—who they are as a whole person; don’t go confusing that with what they do, or don’t do, in their personal sex life. A lot of non-bi people try to over-sexualize bisexuality this way by making statements suggesting it’s all, always, and only about sexual activity, rather than about sexual orientation. If you’re straight or gay, think about how you’d feel if someone said something so important to who you are as a person was unimportant or no one’s business.
9. Oh, everyone’s a little bit bisexual. (Translation: Oh, I don’t think anyone’s really bisexual.)
Good for you, you know your Kinsey Scale; here’s your gold star. Now: shut up.
Please don’t ever, ever let this first phrase pass your lips in earshot of a bi person, particularly one who’s coming out to you. Because it actually, logically and emotionally, means the second phrase. If everyone’s “bisexual” no one is. And this person is telling you, usually after a long and sometimes painful process of figuring shit out, that they are. Please don’t let your response invalidate the very identity they’re fighting to claim and be proud of. Bisexuals exist. Deal with it. And deal with us with respect, not suspicion about our existence.
8. What happened to make you this way? When did you decide? How do you really know you’re bi if you haven’t been with w amount of x gender(s) y number of times and performed z sexual activities?
Life. Same as you. They didn’t. Same as you. (They might be able to talk about when they first knew, and might want to, and if you’re gay or lesbian you might be able to identify with that experience, so go ahead and ask that.) Sexuality isn’t a formula or a certification course: you don’t solve it with the right integers, nor do you earn or achieve it with the right prerequisites or courses. It just: is. Just like your sexuality, their bisexuality isn’t dependent upon what they’ve done with whom, how much, how often, or in what variations. You’re smart. You can do this. This isn’t that tough: just think of your own experience and analogize.
7. So, do you sleep with both men and women and others and how does that work? So you’re non-monogamous? So, you’re monogamous anyway?
Bisexuality doesn’t equal non-monogamy, ethical or otherwise. Bisexuality doesn’t equal monogamy, coerced or otherwise. Just like every other sexuality. People’s individual relationship statuses are informed by, but not determined by, their sexuality, just like yours is. Do we assume all straight people are non-monogamous? (Statistics would suggest most actually are, over their lifetimes, but “most” isn’t “all.”) Or that all lesbians are monogamous? Why? Don’t ask these questions unless you’re a close enough friend to be in a conversation about relationship issues, rather than sexuality itself. Even then think really carefully about it: the coming out moment probably isn’t the time, unless the bi person coming out to you invites the discussion. And be prepared to discuss your own relationship decisions, if so.
6. What STDs do you have?
Show your papers first, idiot. And it’s “STIs” these days, for “Sexually Transmitted Infections,” and out bisexuals are no more intrinsically at risk for contracting or transmitting them than anyone else. (Closeted people are.)
5. So, it’s just like a physical thing, right?
Yes. Just like your sexual orientation. Oh, wait…what’s that? Fact is: bisexuals feel a whole host of different ways about their sexual/romantic/emotional attractions to people: just like people of other orientations do. These things can even shift over time, from person to person, from relationship to relationship, and within relationships. Just like everyone else. If you’re gay, are you attracted to all men equally? Sexually and emotionally? If you’re straight, do you feel the same exact way about the hot model on the magazine cover as you do about your gorgeous spouse? If you’re a lesbian, have you had a crush on someone you wouldn’t want to actually be in a relationship with, or even have sex with? Yeah? Good, then. You’ve passed Human Sexuality 101, and need no additional knowledge to understand the nature of bisexual attractions.
4. That’s great, but being bisexual isn’t nearly as hard as being X or Y.
Don’t. Just don’t play the Oppression Olympics. No one wins. There’s too much that divides all of us already from our common humanity; engaging in round after round of “Who’s suffered more?” does nothing to alleviate anyone’s suffering or bring us any closer together. And it’s exactly what those who enjoy our suffering want and expect us to do. Knock it off.
3. I can’t believe you’re reinforcing the gender binary.
History check: you know who was on the front lines at Stonewall? Bisexuals and trans* people. Etymology check: do you know what the Latin route of “bi” really means in “bisexual” as bisexuals themselves have defined it? Two, as in “one’s own and other genders.” Note the plural.
(Did you also know that not all lesbians come from a tiny Greek island? And that not all gays are happy and carefree? Words change meaning. Bis are here, we’re queer, and we’ve been *trans-inclusive and *trans-friendly since before most people making the *transphobic accusations against us now were born.)
Definition check: Bisexuality means having the capacity to be sexually, romantically, and/or emotionally attracted to members of one’s own and other genders, not necessarily in the same way, not necessarily at the same time, and not necessarily to the same degree. Nothing in there about reinforcing gender binarism or being trans*phobic. (Refer to Number 4 for another take on why it’s important to drive the stake through the heart of this emerging stereotype about bisexuals.)
2. Who have you slept with? Who else is bi?
Seriously? SMH. They maybe should drop you as a trustworthy friend or stay away from you as a family member or colleague if your response to their coming out is to ask for a sexual dossier and “dirt” on other people.
1. You’re still my friend. I don’t care what you are. You could be blue, purple, or green. I love you no matter what.
This one’s tough, because it’s so common, and so understandable. You want to be supportive, so you come out with something like this. But please refer back to Number 10 and realize that this is just a kinder, less blunt version of it, at best.
And, at worst, it equates bisexuality with something to be ashamed of, something that has to be forgiven or overlooked.
When you tell someone, “I don’t care what you are, I love you anyway!” you’re telling them two things: 1. You’re not listening: they want you to love them as that thing. That’s why they’re telling you. That’s who and what they are, and they want you to care about it. Because they do; 2. What they are is something they should feel awkward over, and that you’re rising above. They don’t want you to. They want to be themselves with you, and they’re not apologizing for it—so don’t forgive them.
Hope that helps you navigate your way through these very important conversations, BiAllies and Would-be Bi Allies! Questions and comments welcome. Do you find these useful if you imagine someone coming out to you? If you’ve come out to someone, do you wish they’d read something like this first?
This. All of this.
i’m crying oh gosh
TUMBLR PROF ANNOUNCEMENT: If you are trans or nonbinary and you are in the same situation as the student above, email your professors before class starts. I understand that it might be uncomfortable, but generally professors are absolutely happy to accommodate you. I know I always will be!
If your professor does not respond positively, contact the Dean or the campus LGBT+ resource center with a copy of the email and show them that you are concerned about gender discrimination in the classroom.
Also this is a link to the template I used to write this email, and I’ve seen another similar template going around, and this was extremely helpful.
Alina Davis, a 23-year-old trans woman, and Allison Brooks, her 19-year-old partner, donned matching white floor-length bridal gowns and married at a civil registry office earlier this month.
As Davis is still legally regarded as male, the office had no choice but to hand them a marriage certificate.
The couple said officials chided them, and appeared to be violent.
‘She called us the shame of the family and said we need medical treatment … I was afraid my pussycat [an affectionate pet name in Russian] would beat the fuck out of her,’ Davis said on her VK page.
But the couple were allowed to sign the papers, meaning a gay couple in Russia are legally recognized as married – even if it’s through a loophole.
‘This is an important precedent for Russia,’ Davis said.
Russia banned same-sex marriage and outlawed ‘gay propaganda’ in 2013.
holy jesus look at these two warrior princesses
they are my heroes
YOU GO GIRLS
"Oh, you don’t wanna recognize my gender? Okay then lol guess you have to recognize my marriage"
that is amazing
Argentina: doing it right. After passing a groundbreaking gender identity law on Wednesday, Argentina, which became the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage, now leads the entire world when it comes to trans rights.
The new law, which was passed by 55-0 and is expected to be signed by president Cristina Fernandez, grants trans people the right to legally change their gender identity without having to get approval from doctors or judges–and, importantly, without having to change their bodies at all first. Not having a valid ID that matches your gender identity is a huge barrier to access to education, employment, health care, you name it. As Kalym Sori, an Argentinian trans man said, “This is why the law of identity is so important. It opens the door to the rest of our rights.”
Translated by Rosie Werner Grant
[image text] Vanesa is asexual. Most people don’t get it at all, and say she just hasn’t “tried it properly”. It’s ok, Vanessa. You don’t have to love in a way that doesn’t match your identity. Love doesn’t happen the same way to everybody!
The Motion Picture Association of America has given an R-rating to a film staring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as elderly gay newly weds despite there being no sex, nudity, violence or drug use in the film
The body tasked with rating films for screening in the United States has given a film about an aging gay couple and their extended families an R-rating in a sign that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) may itself have fallen behind community standards.
The MPAA gave Love Is Strange, starring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as a couple who have been together for four decades but who are forced to move in with their families, the rating supposedly for ‘language’ used in the film – though many are saying the decision is just plain homophobic.
There are no nude scenes in Love Is Strange, no drug use, and no sex scenes. The raciest the film gets is two scenes where Molina and Lithgow are asleep in the same bed while fully clothed.
The MPAA has been called out over the issue by New Jersey Star-Ledger film reviewer Stephen Whitty who noted two other films released this month that got the same rating.
‘On Friday, “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” will be released in a wide number of theaters. It features nudity, sexual situations and substance abuse,’ Whitty wrote in a column posted online yesterday.
‘Every woman in it is a stripper, a prostitute or a murderer. There is violence and graphic gore, including one scene of a man having his eye plucked out and another of a man having his fingers broken with a pliers. It is rated R.
‘That day, “Jersey Shore Massacre” also reaches theaters. It features nudity, sexual situations, substance abuse and ethnic and racial slurs. There is violence and graphic gore, including one scene of a woman being disemboweled, another of a naked woman getting her breasts sliced open and one of a man having his hands fed into a wood chipper. It is rated R.’
‘If there’s an equivalence among these three films, and their equal unsuitability for anyone under 17, it’s lost on me — and, I suspect, on anyone but the censors at the MPAA.’
Whitty said it would be unthinkable that the film would have been given an R-rating had it starred veteran actors Robert Duval and Jane Fonda as an aging straight couple in the same situation.
‘This is a gentle, if often heartbreaking story about two loving men in a long-time committed relationship,’ Whitty wrote, ‘What on earth is in it that so horrifies the MPAA? I’m sorry. I think I just answered my own question.’
Under the MPAA rating system an R-rating implies that a film ‘contains some adult material [and] parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them.
Anonymous said: hello! I wondered if you or any followers had any advice or recommendations on reading material about being queer and jewish. I am a bi liberal jew, who was lucky enough to grow up in a congregation with a lesbian rabbi - but I only really came out properly after moving away and stopping attending synagogue regularly, so haven't really engaged with this intersection of identities on a critical level. any recommendations would be gratefully received!
I haven’t been reading a whole lot myself, but I’ll try to find some books about the topic.
- Queer Theory and the Jewish Question - Daniel Boyarin, Daniel Itzkovitz, Ann Pellegrini
- Mentsh: On Being Jewish and Queer - Angela Brown
- Queer Jews - David Shneer, Caryn Aviv
- Transgender and Jewish - Naomi Zeveloff
- Naked In The Promised Land: A Memoir - Lillian Faderman
- Balancing on the Mechitza: Transgender in Jewish Community - Noach Dzmura
- Torah Queeries: Weekly Commentaries on the Hebrew Bible - Gregg Drinkwater, Joshua Lesser, David Shneer
Those were some book titles I found just by surfing the web. You can find some good fiction books about the topic on goodreads. You can find more resources on queer Jewishness here.
And here’s a free PDF of number 7
People need to stop perpetuating the myth that polyamory can’t be healthy.
im really happy about the third “complex” example because the last “healthy / unhealthy polyamory” post(s) ive seen have neglected to include that one and its more representative of my lifestyle ..
fun fact about being gay: you do all that high school emotional shit in your twenties because you didn’t get to do it in your teensAnd if you’re trans, you get to throw in second puberty as well to really complete the high school experience!
Japan hotel and temple join forces to offer gay and lesbian weddings
Draped in wedding kimonos, standing in a Zen temple built in the 1590s, gay and lesbian couples have a new option for a commitment ceremony in Japan
According to the deputy head priest at Shunkoin Temple, Japanese buddhism doesn’t have anything against homosexuality (source: Mainichi Shimbun(in Japanese)) - cool :)
that photo is so beautiful i just sighed out loud
Millennial Gospel Q&A
So this is a thing that I’ve been meaning to do for a long time, I’m thinking it could be a regular thing, with a different topic or theme each time.
Think of it less as a Q&A this time and more of an open discussion opportunity. The theme/topic for this week is: queerness and faith. We would like to spotlight, for this discussion, those who identify as queer/LGBT/MOGAI, but it is open to everyone. Some questions/ideas to consider:
- The importance of both the queer and religious communities coexisting
- How important is it to analyze scripture in relation to the LGBT+ community (in other words, do you think it’s important to argue whether or not the Bible supports or condemns it?)
- If you identify as not-straight or not-cis (or both!), what has been your experience as a religious person, or within a church community? What would you like to see from your church?
- What would you like to see from us, as a blog?
just some guidelines: this is obviously a very hot topic, we’d like to keep this discussion open and respectful. any homophobia or strong anti-church asks will be ignored. Please remember, if you are straight and cis-gendered, that you are not the center of this discussion. Anyone can submit asks, but we’d like to highlight the experiences and contributions of the queer/lgbt community for this discussion. Please feel free to share your stories or ask us for our thoughts. And, as always, this blog (while admittedly predominantly Christian for obvious reasons) welcomes people of all faiths. We would love to hear stories and comments from our followers of all religions and faiths.
Asks only, as fanmail cannot be answered publicly. If you would like one of us to answer it specifically, please address the ask to either Alice or Sarah, otherwise either of us will answer it. If you would like your ask to be answered privately, please say so, otherwise all asks will be answered publicly.
As I expect we’ll get quite a few questions, responses will be staggered over the next week or so - we will get to your question, I promise!