Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"Prop 8 affects homosexuals more than bisexuals and transgender people"

I got in an argument about my last post with someone who I'd previously thought was intelligent and well-informed. Quoth that man (who is gay) upon hearing of my desire for the use of inclusive language when talking about marriage equality:

Considering Prop 8 is specifically tied to an issue that either does not affect bisexuals or affects "gay and lesbian marriages" between them in the same way it affects homosexuals, and I'm not clear on how Prop 8 directly affects transsexuals at all, I'm kind of confused here... Prop 8 doesn't affect bi people as much as it affects gay people. Sorry, when you're stripped of the right to marry anyone you're in love with instead of half the pool, I'll agree with you.


As I tried to reason with him ("I know so many bisexuals [and, frankly, many gays and lesbians] who are offended by their marriage to a same-sex partner being called a 'gay marriage'...How this issue affects transgender people should be obvious. http://ismsandsuch.com/TM/legal.html"), he kept digging himself deeper:

Prop 8 affects homosexuals more than bisexuals and transgender people because it completely cuts off their options. If you're going to argue that it's all equivalent, you might as well argue that Prop 8 limits the rights of straight people because they might want to marry their best buddy for a tax break... I'm "suggesting" that for bisexuals there is at least some option of marriage currently. You're "subjugating" half of your "sexuality" by a monogamous marriage anyway, unless you're married to an androgynous hermaphrodite. A post-transition trans person who is attracted to a person of the same gender is homosexual. Or possibly bisexual. Whether or not they've gone through sex change procedures is irrelevant.


Way to not show any sensitivity to the experience of transgender people. I strongly doubt that those who are trans who have a desire to undergo sex change procedures would say that those procedures are "irrelevant." Also, in the eyes of the law in many states, whether or not a trans person has undergone those procedures is, sadly, the only thing that's relevant to their right (or non-right) to marry their partner.

How can someone who supports the right of gay men and lesbians to marry argue that gay people don't choose who they love, but bisexuals can, or should? I don't know who I might end up with any more than he does. If I, as a bisexual woman, fall in love with another woman or a trans person, and I want to marry that person but live in a state where I can't, I'm in the same exact position as he is as a gay man. Just because I could technically still marry a man doesn't mean I want to, any more than he would want to marry a woman. Just because I might want to get married someday, I'm not going to choose to ignore the full range of my sexuality and only date cisgendered men. Furthermore, "bisexual" does not necessarily mean, "50% attracted to women, 50% attracted to men."

Because his statements show that he is clearly misinformed when it comes to bi and trans issues, I told him that he needs to educate himself about the basics of the LGBT community. His response was to tell me I'm "elitist and self righteous" and to unfriend me on Facebook. Ooh, I'm sure hurt by that one.

I wish that I could have spent more time talking instead of arguing with him, but it became obvious he had no interest in learning where he might be misinformed.

What is most frustrating to me about the whole argument is that he is gay. I wish that could say that I have not encountered his attitude before, but it would be a lie to do so.
You would hope that gays and lesbians, who have most likely tried to educate friends and family about their sexual orientation, would be open to learning more about those whose sexual orientation and/or gender identity differs from their own - but some are not.
You would hope that those who have almost assuredly experienced at least some discrimination based on their sexual orientation would not turn around and perpetrate discrimination against someone else based on that person's sexual orientation or gender identity - but they sometimes do.

My straight friends who don't know that much about queer issues are often surprised to learn that some of the worst discrimination and badmouthing of bi people that I've heard has come from lesbians and gay men. Biphobia and transphobia among gays and lesbians is truly saddening.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Petition Challenges CA's Prop 8, Seeks to Protect the Rights of "Lesbian and Gay People"

Equality California, Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the ACLU, and others, have filed a writ petition before the CA Supreme Court stating that Prop 8 is unconstitutional because it takes rights away from "lesbian and gay people." "Lesbian and gay couples." "Lesbian and gay Californians."

The last time I checked, I thought that a ban on marriage equality might affect other people besides "lesbian and gay people" but I must be wrong. Especially if Equality California sees fit to sign on to such a lawsuit. </sarcasm>

The wording of this petition is seriously unacceptable, but not surprising. Okay, maybe it's a little surprising, I'd think that Equality California would know better. Sadly, we find yet another example of bisexual and transgender invisibility in this lawsuit.

Apparently Equality California is also not as cool as Equality Ohio - I have never once heard Equality Ohio leave us out.

I especially appreciate how this was on a page of the "LGBT" Project, which fights for "LGBT" rights.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Few Local Events of Interest

Friday, November 14: Fusion Friday
The second Friday evening of every month, all the LGBTQ groups from local colleges and universities are invited to get together and hang out. It's held at a different school each month. I went last month and had a pretty good time.

Saturday, November 15: Protest Prop 8
This event is being held at the same time in every state in the U.S. and other parts of the world. The Columbus protest is happening at 1:30 PM on the steps of City Hall. Read more, and find locations of other protests if you know someone who doesn't live in Cbus that might want to attend. Also see the main event page on Facebook and a local event page

comBIne meets the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month at 6:30 PM in Central Classrooms 204. We didn't meet on Veterans' Day, so we are going to be meeting the 18th instead. We will still be meeting on the 25th as well.

Monday, October 27, 2008

comBIne applies for official organization status at OSU

comBIne's official status is in the works!

Our purpose statement:

comBIne is an organization for people who are attracted to more than one gender and their allies. The group’s main purposes are to provide a safe social space, to provide education and outreach, and to collaborate with campus and Central Ohio organizations on issues of importance to the bisexual community. The group will foster social activism among its members.


Our organization information page (including our constitution) is here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Repugnant Party Says, "Not All Ohio Families Deserve to Exist"

I have not frequently posted about my political affiliations here. I consider myself an independent. HOWEVER, because I *actually* support liberty and justice for all, I frequently find myself coming up against Republican/conservative beliefs. I usually hold my nose and vote Democrat, unless there's a good third party candidate. Were there ever to be a Republican who stood for most of what I believe in over all other candidates, I would consider voting for them - although I think the chances of that happening are slim to none. I don't necessarily want to alienate readers... but considering the Republicans' general stance on LGBTQ rights as well as the following campaign, I find no reason to keep silent about politics in a blog devoted to dealing with bisexual/queer issues.

The Republican Party's recent campaign against Ray Pryor is disgusting.



click to view larger image


You can tell these idiots just how wrong they are by visiting this address and sending the Ohio Rethug chairman a letter:

http://eqfed.org/campaign/our_children?rk=Q7LDmn5qR2JCE

I am tired of seeing the incorrect and disgusting rhetoric surrounding which families are and aren't "acceptable." For those of you who may not consider yourselves part of the LGBTQIA community, this is not just a queer issue - it relates to everyone.

Personal notes are often more effective in these situations than the form one provided. So, using just a little from the form, I let them hear it:

Dear Chairman Bennett:
Your campaign is insulting and unacceptable not only to LGBT Ohioans but to Ohio's families in general. The negative portrayal of families that fall outside the nuclear family model is not just an LGBT issue. There are many of us who were raised by single mothers, grandparents, and other "non-traditional" families who had a happy childhood and have gone on to thrive as adults. The idea the only successful parenting model is an upbringing by a mother and a father is a fallacy. Using Ohio's children and families as a desperate political ploy to sway voters is morally despicable as well as factually incorrect - and it represents the type of negative campaigning that Ohio voters are tired of.
Stop using Ohio's innocent children as a backdrop to your distorted and dishonest campaign messages. Enough is enough.

You should write them too.

More Bisexual Characters on TV!

From GLAAD's study of LGBT television characters during the 2008-2009 season:

Increase in Bisexual Representation on Broadcast Television

While an overwhelming number of LGBT characters on broadcast television are white gay men, now there are a greater number of bisexual characters on scripted shows. On Fox's House, Thirteen (played by Olivia Wilde, who previously portrayed bisexual character Alex on Fox's The OC) was revealed to be bisexual during the 2007-2008 season. Angela, an existing character on Fox's Bones, has been announced by the network as being bisexual this season amidst rumors of an ex-girlfriend returning to the picture. At the end of last season, ABC's Grey's Anatomy showed Callie and Erica in the early stages of mutual attraction, suggesting a potential relationship that would be the only romance between female series regulars currently on broadcast television. On NBC, Knight Rider's Carrie was romantically involved with a woman in the television special upon which the series is based, though it remains to be seen if that aspect of her character will be explored in the series. There is only one male character on broadcast television counted as bisexual: Roger the Alien on Fox's animated series American Dad!

This news is good to hear. I was excited when 13 was outed on House and thrilled to hear about Grey's. A positive portrayal of bisexual and queer characters in the media is so important. It not only raises visibility, but counters the many negative potrayals of bisexuality on TV and in movies, even in queer shows (read: Queer as Folk, the L Word...)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) is biphobic and transphobic

Though Senator Norm Coleman has no problem with gays and lesbians (they are apparently just born that way), he believes bisexuals and transgendered people "choose their lifestyle." This is the man that Al Franken (who has the endorsement of the Stonewall DFL Caucus) is running against, by the way.

From Joshua Lynsen, News Editor at the Washington Blade:

I have to apologize to my fellow Minnesotans. It seems that I’m partly to blame for St. Paul not celebrating Pride month when Norm Coleman was mayor.

Apparently, bisexuals such as myself unnerve Coleman, who’s now a U.S. senator. Bisexuality unnerves him so much that during his eight years as mayor, he refused to sign a proclamation celebrating Pride month because it would recognize bisexuals.

Minnesota’s leading newspaper, the Star Tribune, noted in May 1994 that Coleman had no problem with gays and lesbians. But he wouldn’t put his signature on a Pride proclamation that might be seen as promoting people who are bisexual or transgender.

“I see [being bisexual or having a sex change] as lifestyle issues,” Coleman said in the article. He noted that gays and lesbians, by comparison, have legal status as “protected-class” citizens because of their sexual orientation.

So I offer my apologies, Minnesota. Mea culpa.

Of course, it might be worth noting that I didn’t choose to be bisexual any more than Coleman chose to be heterosexual. And that 1.8 percent of American men and 2.8 percent of American women ages 18 to 44 identify as bisexual. And that two of Coleman’s predecessors and both of his successors signed the proclamation.

I contacted Coleman’s campaign this week to see if he’s changed his views since he was quoted 14 years ago. I didn’t get a response. It would seem that I continue to unnerve him.

But I suppose it’s OK that I unnerve him, because his ignorant and stubborn attitude unnerves me. And if he couldn’t bring himself to recognize bisexuals as recently as eight years ago, I see no reason for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Minnesotans to recognize him Nov. 4 in the voting booth.
(http://www.washblade.com/blog/index.cfm?blog_id=21417)

I first saw this article posted on the BiNet USA listserv. One person sent a response with more info about Coleman and the situation:

Just wanted to point out that Sen. Coleman was the mayor of St. Paul, not Minneapolis. During his 8 years in office he refused to sign the Pride proclamation because (this is a paraphrase) 'while gays and lesbians can't help it, bisexuality and transgenderism are lifestyle choices'. The St. Paul city council issued a Pride proclamation each year. Sen. Coleman refused to do so. Sen. Coleman's refusal to sign the proclamation did not affect any of the Twin City Pride events that went on during his tenure.

(Oddly enough, a good friend of his family and a staff member of his for years, including his years as mayor, was an out bi and trans woman.)

His actions actually helped bisexuals be accepted by the gays and lesbians in Minnesota. A number of the 'old guard' had resisted the inclusion of bis (this was just a few short years after we successfully campaigned to get the Bs and Ts included in the Pride name). One of their arguments was that bis weren't discriminated against because they were bi, but because they were 'part gay'. A number of these people came up to me later and said that they changed their mind on inclusion of bisexuals since we did get discriminated against for being bi as opposed to being 'part gay'. So thank you Sen. Coleman!

Also wanted to let everyone know that Sen. Norm Coleman (GOP) is in no way related to the current mayor of St. Paul, Chris Coleman, who is very GLBT supportive. Mayor Chris Coleman (DFL) celebrated the reopening of a GLBT bar in St. Paul tonight by tending bar there for a half hour or so!

Lou Hoffman
Minneapolis

The race between Coleman and Franken is close. You can donate to Franken's campaign here.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Ohio and the OH Department of Public Safety launch Next of Kin Registry

I just got an e-mail from Equality Ohio. Ohio is now offering next-of kin registration in case of emergency. It's one of the first states to do so. "Partner" is one of the options available!!

From the BMV web site:
Any holder of a valid Ohio driver license, commercial driver license, temporary permit or identification card will now have the option of providing the name and information of a contact person they wish to be notified in the event the individual is involved in a crash or emergency and is otherwise unable to communicate with the contact person... Ohioans can now provide next of kin information for up to two contacts online or through any BMV deputy registrar.... This secure database will only be accessible to BMV employees and law enforcement officials.

From Equality Ohio's e-mail:
This is a wonderful opportunity for people in relationships that aren't currently recognized by the state of Ohio. Given the issues around emergency decision-making, access, etc. – this could be a really great thing for our community - particularly if the individual, when listing the name of the person to notify, includes “–Legal POA” at the end of the name. Obviously there are no guarantees on how the first responders will use the information, however, it puts us one step closer to being able to notify the ones we love in emergency situations.

If you would like to thank the Bureau of Motor Vehicles send your message via e-mail to mrankin@dps.state.oh.us or through the regular mail to

Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles
Mike Rankin, Registrar
P.O. Box 16520
Columbus, OH 43216-6520

Awesome!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Bisexual Network of Greater Cleveland Announces Bisexual Fiction Contest for Ohio Residents

In honor of National Bisexuality Day September 23rd, The Bisexual Network of Greater Cleveland announce a Bisexual Fiction contest. The contest will officially open Tuesday September 23rd and close Tuesday December 23rd. Entrants can submit up to 3 short stories – no longer than 10,000 words each – based on a romantic/erotic relationship between 2 or 3 people. The central character MUST identify as Bisexual. No entry fee will be required. Open to all Ohio residents of any age, race, and sexual orientation. 1st place winner will receive $75, 2nd place $50, and 3rd place $25. Winners will be notified by February 2009.

Entries can be sent to The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Center of Greater Cleveland, c/o Bisexual Network of Greater Cleveland, 6600 Detroit Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44102.
I don't know whether or not I'll enter - my fiction skills are a bit rusty. But it's something to keep in mind for all of you writers out there!

I kissed a girl and I liked it and then I went to Hell

An Ohio church makes national news with their hateful homophobic sign.
I first saw this in the Other Paper, Columbus's alternative weekly newspaper.


TOP article
Now it's on Fark. There's lots of moaning in the comments about "attention whores" and how annoying they are, of course, with little to no discussion of Katy Perry's song as a possibly valid expression of sexual exploration and ambivalence about one's sexuality. And of course there's religion bashing, because anyone who's religious is obviously backwards and unenlightened, just like the dipwad pastor that chose to put out this sign. Who apparently "didn't put up the sign to draw attention to the church." Bull.

They took down the sign after 24 hours - not because of outrage (or so they claim), but because too many people were confused and didn't know what the sign meant. Also bull, unless the people who called never listen to the radio, never watch TV and never leave the house. I heard this song playing at *Goodwill* a couple months ago.

Equality Ohio wants you to know that there are over 300 welcoming and affirming faith communities around Ohio, and the list is growing. If you know of one that should be on the list or you want to know if yours is on it, contact Kim at kim@equalityohio.org .

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Openly bisexual Jewish-American basketball player tries out for Maccabi Haifa

from haaretz.com
by Oren Kessler
Maccabi Haifa is reportedly eyeing Jewish-American forward Zach Puchtel, who came out as bisexual while playing for Harvard University last year.

The 24-year-old transferred later in the season to the University of Minnesota, where he averaged 2.3 points and 3.2 rebounds a game. Last week, Puchtel attended a training camp in Miami run by Maccabi owner Jeff Rosen, and the team's management expressed satisfaction with the American's performance.

Puchtel, who has told U.S. media he also dreams of a career playing football in the NFL, is reportedly examining the possibility of obtaining an Israeli passport to play for Maccabi.

The 6-foot-6 Jewish-American forward played both football and basketball in high school and was originally recruited to Harvard to play tight end for the Crimson football team. After leaving football after his freshman year, he transferred to Minnesota where he won a walk-on spot on the basketball team.

If Puchtel does play in Israel, the former Big 10 player of the week will surely become a media sensation, as the first-ever openly bisexual player in Israeli sports history.

In a post on his blog "The Search", Puchtel wrote "I am sexually attracted to men and women, and I enjoy being with women in intimate relationships. I think human beings are beautiful, and I try not to differentiate due to sex, race or any other minute detail. We are all humans, we are more than 99.9% similar in every way, and we all share this life together.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Mildly Amusing Photo Post for the Day

I was at Giant Eagle (a large grocery chain) a few weeks ago with a friend. At about the same time we spotted this cake and had pretty much the same reaction: "Hey, look, it's a bi cake, haha. We should take a picture." There were several of 'em in these colors. I thought about buying one, but they were $5.99, and it was only half a cake.



The sprinkles on the top of the cake are, appropriately, rainbow.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

From Daily Kos: WGLB-TV Presents Bisexuality, the Media, and the Myths

This is a fantastic piece!

WGLB-TV Presents: Bisexuality, the Media, and the Myths
by GLBT and Friends at Daily Kos
Fri Aug 22, 2008 at 07:37:21 AM PDT

When tnichlsn first asked me to write an article for WGLB-TV, I considered a wide variety of topics, but had a difficult time deciding on a single issue. Since I'm in the unusual situation of being a bisexual woman who is married to a bisexual man, I decided to ask my husband his opinion. Two heads are better than one, after all. (I'll give you a minute to get your minds out of the gutter.) He said, "How about an article about why the media portrays bisexuals as serial killers?" At first, his response made me laugh, but then I thought about Basic Instinct, and Black Widow, and Nip/Tuck and Oz. Add non-serial killer (but just as disturbing) images like Tila Tequila and I realized that there are many myths out there—often perpetuated in the media—that distort opinions about bisexuals in both the straight and gay/lesbian community.

So let's explore together (and with my apologies to David Letterman):

The Top Ten Myths About Bisexuality! Read more...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

GLAAD Fail




In Defense of Katy Perry: Part I.

After reading this article and its atrocious user-posted comments (here, scroll down) on theadvocate.com, I wanted to post a great comment. Unfortunately I misread "1000 character limit" as "1000 word limit" and didn't figure my mistake out until I was ready to post what I'd written. Fail. So you, lucky reader, get to read my full-length rant. Hopefully I'll edit it down sometime soon.

Allow me to quote from another Advocate article:
"Both Anastasia’s and Lisa’s comments strike me as hard on the sexually inexperienced bisexual person, who, while annoying, has to start somewhere. (I too did the old drunken-hookup-with-women thing back in the day...)"
-Jennifer Baumgardner, "Objects of Suspicion." http://www.advocate.com/print_article_ektid51686.asp [[note: I posted this article in February here!]]

No one has a right to say who is and isn't authentically bisexual, just like no one has a right to tell someone they're not "really" gay or lesbian.
If you expect anyone to respect you and your self-label, don't disrespect others and what they choose to call themselves.
Yes, there might be something wrong with sexual behavior that is done only for the pleasure of others and not for oneself (then again, I don't hear anyone b*tching about stripping, or having sex to please a partner when one isn't really in the mood, or... the list goes on). But what's going on in cases like "girls making out" is not always (just) performance... and that's exactly what this song is about. It's about exploration, surprise, and ambivalence. Did YOU ever experience those things in your coming-out process?

Zach, I'm sorry that your girlfriend cried over the song. I'm more sorry that your voice, not hers, is the one being heard here. I would like to hear her opinion in her words.

I'm bisexual (and female) and have been out in one form or another for 10 years. Like Baumgardner, making out with other women while drinking - sometimes in the presence of men! - was one of the first places I got to explore my sexuality, because it was a socially acceptable space to do so. I already knew I was bi; I could give you a laundry list of reasons why I hadn't gotten to explore it earlier - not the least of which was the severe and still persistent biphobia among the lesbian community.

Dare I go further to say that I sometimes enjoyed the fact that my sexual acts and sexuality were bringing pleasure to others, whatever their gender? It's important to note that during these make-out sessions (which were, in fact, numerous at one point in my life) there were sometimes women who enjoyed watching as well. There are any number of reasons why being sexual in front of others turned me on. And yeah, I would call kissing being sexual. The fact is that I wasn't the first to perform a sexual behavior that I enjoyed with a second human being in front of others. What is wrong with doing so? There's nothing necessarily bisexual about it, either. If you are a gay man, have you ever danced with a guy at a gay bar and enjoyed the fact that someone watching you was enjoying watching you? There's no difference. Is sex something that must remained confined to the bedroom, something to keep out of the public eye?

No, ladies, there is no place for your "experiments" here. Sexuality cannot and must not be fluid, and it is definitely not something to be explored. And God forbid you get any pleasure out of being sexual in front of others. Get back in your closet. *cough* Don't come back until you are bisexual 4 rlz - or, better yet, 100% clearly 'mo or 'ro. By the way, you ought to know already what you are without actually acting out any feelings.

I never want to read another sentence like this: "I don't expect some article about trivial female entertainers who use their se-called [sic] bisexuality in an attempt to tiitillate [sic] grubby straight guys" again.
No one should be saying things like "so-called bisexuality" seriously on this site if we intend to be truly inclusive and respectful of everyone.
How many other female entertainers have performed same-sex erotic behavior in an attempt to titillate an audience? Let's start with Madonna... Advocate, you should never write about Madonna again. I'm sure *that* would go over well.

To more than one previous commenter: Gee, you guys really like the word "titillate." It's a fun word, isn't it? Wonder if you'd be using the same verb were Perry male.

But I digress.

I personally am not offended by "I Kissed a Girl." Whether or not you are, I appreciate that it's given us the chance to start this conversation, and I hope that you do too.

Finally, regarding "Ur So Gay:" I am positive almost everyone reading this comment has described something or someone as "so gay" in a similar manner to Perry. So before you get all up in arms about the song, think twice about your own use of the term.

OSU Bipass: Photos from Pride Parade

Finally, photos of us from Pride :) Sorry about the delay. Originals are available on request.



http://www.flickr.com/photos/29281461@N04/sets/72157606570104139/

Monday, July 21, 2008

Help out BiNet USA!

From Wendy Curry, president of BiNet USA:

There's been some exciting discussions going on over the past week... how BiNet can reach out to the younger generation, how we should handle the same gender marriage debate, how to increase or web presence.

It seems like a good time to remind y'all - BiNet is what each one of you chooses to make of it. We are grassroots and all volunteer. We don't have a big budget or staff.

Consider joining us on the board... come up with a nifty title for yourself and i can help set you up with a special name tag ;)

Its funny.. I was having this sometimes exasperating discussion with a binet memeber earlier this month. she has tons of ideas and was confused why we weren't implementing more of them. Eventually, I realized there was an impression that the board secretly meets in dark, smoky quarters to plot our secret agenda... one that we don't share with anyone.

I had to laugh. honestly.... y'all see all there is to see. I volunteer my hour or so a day maintaining the list and web site, responding to email, and being involved in the glbt leadership discussion groups. Margaret manages our mail. Gary, our funds. Matt keeps us up to date on the Task Force's leadership round table. And that's about ALL we're doing.

If anyone is interested in BiNet doing more, please join us!

For more about BiNet USA, visit their website: binetusa.org

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

"Bisexual Species"

Bisexual Species: Unorthodox Sex in the Animal Kingdom
Homosexual behavior is common in nature, and it plays an important role in survival
By Emily V. Driscoll

Two penguins native to Antarctica met one spring day in 1998 in a tank at the Central Park Zoo in midtown Manhattan. They perched atop stones and took turns diving in and out of the clear water below. They entwined necks, called to each other and mated. They then built a nest together to prepare for an egg. But no egg was forthcoming: Roy and Silo were both male.

Robert Gramzay, a keeper at the zoo, watched the chinstrap penguin pair roll a rock into their nest and sit on it, according to newspaper reports. Gramzay found an egg from another pair of penguins that was having difficulty hatching it and slipped it into Roy and Silo’s nest. Roy and Silo took turns warming the egg with their blubbery underbellies until, after 34 days, a female chick pecked her way into the world. Roy and Silo kept the gray, fuzzy chick warm and regurgitated food into her tiny black beak.

Like most animal species, penguins tend to pair with the opposite sex, for the obvious reason. But researchers are finding that same-sex couplings are surprisingly widespread in the animal kingdom. Roy and Silo belong to one of as many as 1,500 species of wild and captive animals that have been observed engaging in homosexual activity. Researchers have seen such same-sex goings-on in both male and female, old and young, and social and solitary creatures and on branches of the evolutionary tree ranging from insects to mammals.

Unlike most humans, however, individual animals generally cannot be classified as gay or straight: an animal that engages in a same-sex flirtation or partnership does not necessarily shun heterosexual encounters. Rather many species seem to have ingrained homosexual tendencies that are a regular part of their society. That is, there are probably no strictly gay critters, just bisexual ones. “Animals don’t do sexual identity. They just do sex,” says sociologist Eric Anderson of the University of Bath in England.

Nevertheless, the study of homosexual activity in diverse species may elucidate the evolutionary origins of such behavior. Researchers are now revealing, for example, that animals may engage in same-sex couplings to diffuse social tensions, to better protect their young or to maintain fecundity when opposite-sex partners are unavailable—or simply because it is fun. These observations suggest to some that bisexuality is a natural state among animals, perhaps Homo sapiens included, despite the sexual-orientation boundaries most people take for granted. “[In humans] the categories of gay and straight are socially constructed,” Anderson says.

Read more!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

National Forum on Disability Issues featuring the 2008 Presidential Candidates: Coming up in Columbus, Ohio!



The National Forum on Disability Issues, featuring the 2008 Presidential Candidates (invited) is a historic, nonpartisan forum on national disability policy to be held on July 26, 2008 in Columbus, Ohio. The venue allows us to welcome well over a thousand Americans with disabilities and their friends and family (registration required) to attend the event, and to commemorate the 18th anniversary of our civil rights law, the Americans with Disabilities Act. The forum will feature time slots for the presidential candidates to individually present their visions for the future of disability policy in America followed by questions by Judy Woodruff, news anchor and journalist ("The News Hour with Jim Lehrer"), who will act as the Moderator.

This presidential candidates forum builds on the success of our November primary-focused forum in New Hampshire, where the disability community made history with its first-ever disability presidential candidates forum with participation from seven presidential candidates, five of them in person.

In addition to a large live attendance, tens of thousands from across the country will tune in via simultaneous webcast. The forum will also be broadcast live start to finish over all Ohio radio reading services, giving access to the event to people with disabilities in Ohio who don't have a computer and aren't able to attend to attend the event in person.

The Conference & Technology Center in Columbus, Ohio will accommodate large numbers of attendees, but registration is required. Registration will close when our capacity is reached. Please only register if you are certain you can attend this event in person. Please print your confirmation screen after you successfully register and bring it with you to the forum as proof of registration.

Saturday, July 26, 2008
12:30 pm ET - 3:30 pm ET
Location: Conference & Technology Center
First Church of God
3480 Refugee Road
Columbus, Ohio 43232

Register here!!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Gaywashed!

From the Bi Writers' Association Blog, Bidar:

Gaywashed! Article profiling bi same-sex couple omits B-word...again!

An article produced by Reuters on California same-sex couples about to marry for the third time, profiled bisexual same-sex couple Lindasusan Ulrich and Emily Drennen who were openly bi in their interview. But the word bisexual was omitted from the article and the title published was "Three's a charm? Gay California couples wed again" and begins "For many California gays and lesbians, getting married is nothing new. They've done it more than once -- to the same person."

Especially ironic is the fact that bisexual couple Lindasusan and Emily's photos were used to illustrate the gaywashed Reuters article.

No one wants to believe that bisexual people commit to same-sex partners and if we do, then we are labeled lesbian or gay, no matter how many times we repeat: 'I'm bisexual and please put that in the article."

The same exact thing happened to Robyn Ochs when she and her lesbian partner Peg Prebble got married in Massachusetts and were profiled, in an article only about them, by the Washington Post. Robyn requested that she be referred to as bi in the article but presto change-o, she became a lesbian. Kind of bizarre since Robyn's name is pretty much synonymous with bisexuality.

Here's a link to the page where Lindasusan and Emily are profiled. You can see the full article here.

This sort of thing is inexcusable. And it makes me really angry.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Bi Body Politic: How are bisexuals seen in the world of politics?

The Bi Body Politic
by William Burleson

This political season, the GLBT community is being courted like never before. For example, the first-ever televised presidential debate focusing on “gay rights issues,” sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), and broadcast on Logo, was held last August. All the major Democratic candidates at the time attended, debating whether civil unions went far enough, or if we need same-sex marriage.

We’ve come a long way, baby—that is, as long as the “we” being talking about is “gay” rights.

What about the bisexual community? Are all parts of the GLBT community equal partners in the fight for “gay rights”?

The transgender community understands what it means not to be an equal partner in this equation. Indeed, its treatment in the debate on the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) single-handedly may have resurrected the expression “thrown under the bus.” Many gay right activists argue that if we are to expect this historic legislation guaranteeing equal rights in the workplace to pass, we’ll need to compromise. Guess who is getting “compromised.”

How, then, are bisexuals seen in the world of politics?

“They aren’t,” Diana, from Missoula, Montana, says. “I am 44 years old, and I have never once heard the word ‘bisexual’ used in political discussion on any scale above my local GLBT community group.”

For bisexuals, it is rare to be the focus of the discussion, positive or negative.

“I almost never read about the opposition singling out—even for a sentence in a long diatribe—bisexual people as evil-doers,” Joe Reilly, a bisexual activist from Spokane, Washington, states. “Even when their compatriots, like Ted Haggard and Larry Craig, were exposed as hypocrites, the thrust of media coverage focused on a ‘gay,’ label, and practically ignored the possibility of bisexuality.”

Why are bisexuals seemingly so far off the political radar screen?

One reason is that this invisibility goes beyond politics: Bisexuals rarely are on anyone’s radar screen in any context.

In “The Epistemic Contract of Bisexual Erasure” (Stanford Law Review, 2000), Kenji Yoshino found, “In the period from January 1, 1990, to November 30, 1999, the Los Angeles Times had 2790 documents mentioning ‘homosexuality’ and 121 documents mentioning ‘bisexuality.’” He encountered similar ratios in USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times.

This “erasure” of bisexuality is no accident, Yoshino suggests. He argues that a black-and-white view of sexuality is one thing many in the gay and straight communities agree on. He notes that one “interest shared by both straights and gays is an interest in knowing one’s place in the social order.” In other words, it makes life a lot easier if we would stick to “your team” and “my team,” and clearly know who’s on which.

Both the straight and gay communities have their own interests also, Yoshino observes. For example, it would be great for straight folk if they simply could prove their straightness by their performance in bed with someone of the opposite sex. Bisexuals screw this argument up. Meanwhile, bisexuality can be problematic for many gay and lesbian people, too.

Robyn Ochs, of Boston, author, longtime bisexual activist, and spouse of Peg—they were married on the first day of legalized same-sex marriage in Massachusetts—explains, “So much of the gay rights movement is built on the idea that sexual orientation is an innate, immutable characteristic, and that ‘we gay people are unable to help ourselves,’ and should, therefore, be given civil rights. For both homo and hetero folks, the idea of bisexuality can be deeply disturbing, because it may conjure up the specter of choice.”

All this means that no politician is going to be courting the bisexual community anytime soon.

As Diana shares, “I am legally married to a man, and also have a girlfriend as part of our open relationship. This doesn’t make me popular with any political cause. I am poster child for no one.”

While bisexuals often are forgotten, and perhaps sometimes actively ignored, left to ask is: What are the bisexual community’s issues? Are they the same as “gay rights,” or are they something different?

Lou Hoffman, who has been active in the bisexual community in Minneapolis for more than 20 years, emphasizes, “I want bi politicians to be out and proud, not hiding in airport bathrooms. I want GLBT politicians I can be proud of.”

It’s something all parts of the GLBT community probably can agree on.

In fact, it’s hard to discern issues unique to the bisexual community. That’s probably no accident: Many would argue shared political goals are one thing uniting the GLBT community.

According to HRC, “Workplace equality. Parenting rights. Health care funding. Relationship recognition. Safety from bias-motivated violence. These are among the many issues that affect the lives of GLBT people in the United States.”

Such issues not only affect us, but also unite us. GLBT people also are united by being political targets for many on the right.

As Ochs points out, “To our enemies, a little bit of lavender goes a long way, and most people who are opposed to gay rights don’t make a distinction between a lesbian, a gay man, a bisexual person, or a transgender person.”

These are the places where we are all one GLBT community. However, it appears that one area of GLBT politics is of special interest to the bisexual community: acknowledgement as full partners in the fight.

Hoffman remarks, “Same-gender marriage, nonmonogamy, safer sex—all are shared with other groups. Our big issue, I think, is that we want acceptance and inclusion, in more than just name.”


William Burleson is the author of Bi America: Myths, Truths, and Struggles of an Invisible Community (Haworth Press, 2005). Visit www.williamburleson.org.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Columbus Bisexuals and Allies Marching in Columbus Pride Parade

OSU Bipass, most likely along with some people from B.U.G. (Bisexual United Group, at Stonewall Columbus), will be marching in Columbus's Pride Parade on Saturday, June 28. Leave a comment here or contact me if you are interested in marching with us. You can also just try to find us there... though I'd like to have an approximate number of people.

I'm really excited to march! It's a good way to demonstrate our visibility and I think it will be a lot of fun as well.

We'd like to march with a banner but we need to coordinate it. We could possibly get one made but it might be more fun to make one ourselves :)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Anyone from Cbus / Ohio interested in going to BiCamp?

Several people from Bipass (the bi org at OSU) are interested in attending BiCamp. Are there any Columbus people out there reading this who are bi or allies that would like to join us? Other people from Ohio or the Midwest are, of course, also welcome. The more people that attend, the more realistic it is for us to go. It's in the Pioneer Valley - I actually used to live there and I bet it's going to be gorgeous. I'm sure it's going to be a lot of fun as well! Its July-13-17. The cost is $20-60 per person on a sliding scale. I'm not sure yet if we can get money from OSU since we aren't yet an actual registered student org...I don't think the cost would be that bad if we all pitch in on renting a car (and if someone 25 or over rents it, heh).

For those of you who missed my earlier post, here's the summary from BiCamp's site:
Join your fellow bisexuals and friends in a beautiful country setting for BiCamp 2008. The location is near Northampton, MA (Lesbianville USA). Campers must provide their own tent, food, and transportation (sharing is encouraged). BiCamp includes showers and flush toilets. And we have the space all to ourselves! Basically, what you get is a place to pitch your tent, a fire pit, fresh water, beautiful wilderness, and the company of a few dozen bisexual and bi-friendly people for a fun summer weekend. Clothing-optional swimming is just a short walk through the woods.

Leave a comment if you are interested!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Call for essays in 2nd edition of Getting Bi

http://www.robynochs.com/Getting_Bi_CFE.html

"CALL FOR ESSAYS:
Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World, 2nd edition

--Do you have something to say about being bisexual?

--Do you have a story about coming out as bi?

--Do you feel you could identify as bisexual but choose not to?

--Do you find connections (or conflicts) between your bisexuality and other parts of your identity or life?

--Do you have something to say about desire? About relationships? About religion? About community? About politics? About the position of bisexuals in the place or community you call home?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, we want to publish you!
We seek short personal essays or poems (200-1000 words) by bisexuals from Central or South America, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Asia, or Africa. We seek Muslim voices from anywhere in the world.

If you don’t want your name in print, you can write under a pseudonym. If you think you’re not a “real” writer and would like to be included in this anthology, we want you. If you’re not comfortable writing, we can interview you. If you are not comfortable writing in English, write in your native language and we will translate your essay.

Essays will be published in the second edition of Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World. The new anthology will be published in 2009, in dual editions (English and Spanish).

The first (2005) edition includes personal narratives by people from 32 different countries, on 6 continents, ranging in age from 15-79. Please help us make this amazing collection even broader in scope!

Send submissions to Robyn Ochs (robyn@robynochs.com) by June 30, 2008.

Thank you!

Robyn Ochs (www.robynochs.com) & Sarah E. Rowley, Editors

Getting Bi is one of the most important recent contributions to the global struggle for human rights. By enriching our understanding of bisexuality within so many cultural and geographic contexts, this anthology serves as a magnificent tool for building support and respect for the sexual rights of each one of us.
--Paula Ettelbrick, Executive Director of the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission."

Monday, May 19, 2008

Where did your username come from?

A year ago I posted a blog on my myspace about a biphobic Craigslist personal ad I'd seen. I sent its author an e-mail telling her I had a problem with her post, and we exchanged a few e-mails back and forth.

In the comments to my blog post, a friend wrote:

first: ""No bisexuals" is like the lesbian equivalent of "No fatties."" made me choke on my own spit it was so funny. lesbians are starting to bug me more and more, mainly because in addition to "no bisexuals" there is a hidden "oh, and no trans-freaks either." i understand your frustration and i admire that you have the balls to tell people like it is. i wish i could do the same more often, but i'm usually politely rejected or dumped and left to lick my wounds quietly in the corner. biphobia is thick in the LGBT community, and it scares me that it's spreading even more into the trans-community. there are haters out there who don't seem to realize that their ignorance and intolerance is further marginalizing us as a community. the more we spread hate about other queer individuals, the more we invite those in the straight community who are already intolerant to continue on their narrow-minded viewpoints and spread more ignorance.

as a trans individual who understands your anger and frustration: "you go girl!" i'm going to start thinking of you as the "bi-avenger"!!!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

On marriage equality

There's a discussion going on in BiNet USA's listserv about marriage eqality that's bothering me. Some people say we shouldn't care about calling it marriage or a civil union as long as we have all the same rights. I disagree with this argument in a big way.

Here's the response I sent:

First of all, there's a great article here: http://www.glad.org/uploads/docs/publications/cu-vs-marriage.pdf that offers a rundown to why we should fight for civil marriage over civil unions, including specific legal rights in which the terminology does make a difference.

Language is a powerful thing. It's my opinion that all states should grant "civil unions" to any couple regardless of the sex of the two people, and marriage should be left up to individual couples and religious institutions. That is not, however, how most states conduct marriage. If a state is willing to give a man and a woman a marriage, they should grant that same exact right to same-sex couples as well. It does matter what you call it. I think there is a mentality behind calling it a civil union - like, "okay, we'll give you these rights - we'll even give you all the same rights - but you still can't have that word marriage. It's reserved for 'straight' couples only! Sorry!" The statistics I've seen seem to show that more people are willing to support civil unions than who support full marriage equality. What does that say about how those people view same-sex couples? It says that they are not the same. It says that marriage is a special term that same-sex couples just don't have a right to have.

Everyone's entitled to their own opinion. But there are plenty of people for whom the terminology makes a huge difference. I think it's important that bisexuals and the greater LGBTQ community come together to support full, equal rights - not only in the rights granted but in language as well. A civil union is not the same thing as a marriage. And I think having the "civil union" terminology in place will continue to perpetuate society's views of same-sex couples as "different." Do you really want that?

To me, the argument that what you call it doesn't matter as long as we have the same rights under the law is the same sort of argument as those *cough*HRC*cough* that say we should be satisfied with the version of ENDA that doesn't include pretecting gender identity as well as sexual orientation. Aside from the fact that many not-straight people don't conform to gender norms anyway when it comes to appearance or identity and are thus still at risk even though their orientation would be protected... it's absolutely settling for less. I know that there are probably people here that disagree with me on the ENDA issue, and that's troubling. We can't just sit back and say we are satisfied with a little progress and "trans people will get their rights someday."

Sorry, but separate but equal just isn't good for me when it comes to any civil rights issue. And my opinion about the terms would be the same even if there were no legal differences between civil unions and marriage (which there are).

There are lots more resources here if you'd like to read more about the issue: http://www.glad.org/marriage/



***Edited to add: Here is a GREAT resource from NOW about the issue!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

California's Supreme Court overturnes CA's same-sex marriage ban, press and HRC continue to perpetuate bi invisibility

California ban on same-sex marriage struck down. As it and all other bans on same sex marriage should be. Equal rights for all.

I also want to say that I appreciate CNN's consistent use of inclusive language (using the term "same-sex marriage" instead of "gay marriage") in both the headline and the article! Unsurprisingly, Fox News has said CA overturned the "gay marriage ban" and, unfortunately, so has the BBC and (MS)NBC and ABC and CBS and 365gay.com and Yahoo! News and Reuters and the Associated Press (note the AP link will bring you to a different AP News-using site each time) and the New York Times and the Washington Post and NPR...
Apparently in their eyes only gays and lesbians want to get married. Or they just don't really think at all about how they phrase it...

THIS is what we're talking about when we talk about bi invisibility!!!

You can send positive feedback to CNN here.


Edited to add: My friend just received an e-mail from the HRC listserv, written by Joe Solmonese (the president of HRC!) that started like this:

"Same-sex couples win the right to marry in California! Today, California's highest court ruled that denying same-sex couples the right to marry is unconstitutional, granting loving, committed gay and lesbian couples the dignity and support their relationships have so long been denied."

Come ON, HRC! You are supposed to be a supportive LGBT organization! You could at least sort of try. This sort of crap is exactly why I am not a fan of HRC. Ugh.

Second edit, to add: GLAAD is guilty too... ugh. "The court's ruling on the cases... extended marriage to gay and lesbian couples in the Golden State... committed couples, gay and straight, should not be denied the duties, obligations and protections of marriage..." Etc., etc.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

10 Things Your Congregation Can Do To Welcome People Who...

This is a great page! It's written for churches, but many of the tips can be adapted and used by any organization that wants to include everyone that is attracted to more than one gender. Religious organizations and houses of worship that wish to be inclusive should definitely be following these suggestions as well. 10 Things Your Congregation Can Do To Welcome People Who Are Attracted To People Of More Than One Gender

From headings in the page:
"People who identify as bisexual, omnisexual, pansexual, pansensual, etc., may be uneasy until they know they are welcome. You can make this clear without their having to ask... Little things are often the most important. What will really make people feel welcome, and what will make them want to return to your church, is intentional inclusion in all aspects of church life... Most people have lots of misinformation about people who are attracted to people of more than one gender. Address this directly in your congregation... Advertise your welcome outside of your congregation."

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Hotel Bliss open for beta testing

"HOTEL BLISS - the community site for bi and bi-friendly girls - is open for testing.

Would you like to be a bi-girl pioneer and help bring together bright and beautiful bi-women for friendship, community and fun?

Sign up to be a beta tester here!
"

from here: "What is Hotel Bliss?

Hotel Bliss is the first members-only community site for bi-women and their girlfriends. Join us for fun, flirtation, empowerment, friendship, and much, much more... We maintain a strict membership policy to ensure Hotel Bliss is a community of bi and bi-friendly women only."

I joined!
But... though I greatly appreciate a place where I can engage with others who are bi and that is more exclusive, that offers more of a "safe haven..." there is something about the "women only" policy that makes me twitch a little. I do believe it's important to have those sorts of spaces. So maybe it's just the way they phrased it, or maybe it's because right now they're adding people based on attached photos or on myspace profiles. How fair is it to judge from a photo? I guess I am actually unsure whether trans people are welcome. If they are, I feel like maybe there should be a clarification or qualifier in there, like "women-identified or female-identified" or something. My thoughts on the whole, uh, "womyn-born-womyn" thing could surely fill up another post.
I'll send Miss Bliss an e-mail about this, though it probably won't be until next week. It's midterms time right now and I shouldn't even really be writing in *this* blog. Which is why the above paragraph might not even make any sense. But I had to take a break. Anyway, the site looks like it's gonna be awesome, and Bliss Warrior's site is also awesome, so if you are a "bi-girl" you should join as well.

Monday, April 28, 2008

"The L Word" Reinforces Negative Bisexual Stereotypes

I thought that I had posted this here already, but I went back to find that... I hadn't. So here you go.

"The L Word" Reinforces Negative Bisexual Stereotypes
by Nicole Kristal
February 26, 2008

Over the last three of its five seasons, The L Word has sent messages that erode positive representations of bisexuality by creating story lines and characters who reinforce myths that all bisexuals are crazy, in denial about their true sexual orientation, and likely to cheat on their partners for the other gender. The show didn't always so flagrantly display this style of prejudice. It used to discount it. Read more...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

From Wikipedia: List of Bisexual People

"This is a list of confirmed famous people who were or are bisexual: people who have had sexual relations with, or have expressed sexual attraction to both sexes."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_bisexual_people

BiCamp

BiCamp
Sunday, July 13th - Thursday July 17th, 2008

http://www.biversity.org/bicamp.html

Join your fellow bisexuals and friends in a beautiful country setting for BiCamp 2008. The location is near Northampton, MA (Lesbianville USA). Campers must provide their own tent, food, and transportation (sharing is encouraged). BiCamp includes showers and flush toilets. And we have the space all to ourselves! Basically, what you get is a place to pitch your tent, a fire pit, fresh water, beautiful wilderness, and the company of a few dozen bisexual and bi-friendly people for a fun summer weekend. Clothing-optional swimming is just a short walk through the woods.

I'd really like to go to this. I used to go to school in Northampton... it would be nice to get back to the Valley for a bit. And what better way to do it than by camping out with a bunch of bisexuals? :)

Friday, April 4, 2008

What's in a name?

This article is too long to post here until I get the coding right to do the "read more" thing (I spent a while trying to accomplish this the other day, and even Blogger's help was incorrect...). But check it out.

"What's in a Name? Why Women Embrace or Resist Bisexual Identity."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

GLAAD's response to complaint

GLAAD's response to this complaint:

"Mar 18, 2008 11:52 AM
Subject: RE: Oklahoma State Legislator Attacks Gay and Lesbian People

Body: Hi,
Thank you so much for writing us with your concerns over content of a story to watch that we put out last week. We looked at the wording of the post, and you are right! We have changed the post to read "Oklahoma State Legislator Attacks LGBT People"

Thank you so much for taking the time to write to us, and I look forward to talking with you again in the future."

Complaint to GLAAD: An e-mail from the Local Bi Group Leaders listserv

-- In BiNetUSA@yahoogroups.com, "webmaster for the New York Area
Bisexual Network (NYABN)" wrote:

Well we are certainly not very happy with GLAAD right now.

On the blog on their myspace page (http://www.myspace.com/glaad) we found an entry with this non-inclusive (& innacurate btw) title: "Oklahoma State Legislator Attacks Gay and Lesbian People".

We have sent them the following comment about it:
-----------
Umm, err . . . don't you mean "Oklahoma State Legislator Attacks All Queer People" or "Oklahoma State Legislator Attacks the LGBT Community"?

Looking thru a partial transcription of Representative Kern's speech made by a GSA member as a service to the community, we find she used the word "homosexual" or "homosexuality" three (3) times, and "gays" or "gay" five (5) times (and of that once was in the word gay-bashing and once was when referring to the Gay Straight Alliance) but she NEVER used the word lesbian.

So do you REALLY think Representative Kern ONLY meant Gay Men (and possibly Lesbian Women) but she's ok with all the Bi, Pan, Poly, Omni, et. al. people? Do you REALLY think she is giving all Genderqueer people a pass too?

We the "B" in LGBT have been working alongside the rest of Our Community to get this important story out there for several days now and it is truly disheartening to see GLAAD of all people, a fine organization that we love and support, casually "forget" to mention one half of the community like this.

Please do discuss this with us, pass our concerns on to the powers that be at your organization AND please consider changing that title and wording to be more accurate and inclusive.

Thanks

As a bisexual in the military, there is no distinction in terms of punishment, no refuge in being bisexual. You get the same consequences; you don't get half a discharge." ~~ Cliff Arnesen, VP New England GLBT Veterans Oct 2001
-----------

We'd like to strongly urge ALL people reading this who have a myspace page and who also find GLAAD's odd re-editing of Representative Kern's remarks peculiar and disturbing to please add a comment of their own too.

[and a PS for all you other myspacers - who will more than understand what we mean - we are not totally sure if our "Blog Comments" got thru so we also sent them again as a "Message" too - *rolls eyes about habitual myspace system errors*]

Bi Woman Runs for Oakland City Council


Bi woman runs for Oakland city council
by Matthew S. Bajko
m.bajko@ebar.com

Rebecca Kaplan, a bisexual woman who serves on the AC Transit board, picked up a key endorsement last week in her second bid to join the Oakland City Council.

The California Nurses Association announced it was backing Kaplan's campaign for the council's at-large seat on the June 3 primary ballot. Kaplan, a Green Party member and Alameda County's highest-ranking out politician, is trying to unseat longtime incumbent Councilman Henry Chang, who only recently ended speculation that he would not seek re-election and pulled papers for the race.

Should Kaplan win the election, she would be the first out woman to serve on Oakland's City Council and the first openly queer council member since Danny Wan resigned from his council seat in 2005. With Oakland having the state's largest population of lesbians and its LGBT community dispersed across town, it is possible for gay voters to come together to elect Kaplan to the at-large seat during Pride month.

"The LGBT community is ready to elect its own to the council again," said Kaplan.

Chang easily defeated Kaplan, who holds dual Canadian and American citizenship, during their first match-up in 2000. Two years later Kaplan, 37, ran unopposed for the AC Transit board's at-large seat. In 2006 she defeated a challenger to win a second term to the transit agency's system-wide seat that represents nearly 1.5 million people from Richmond to Fremont.

"The last time I ran I was 29 and I had never been in office. Now I have been governing for the past six years as a public official," said Kaplan, who is Jewish. "Nobody is going to be able to say I am not ready to do the job on day one."

Kaplan, a bus rider and resident of Oakland's Temescal neighborhood, currently serves as the AC Transit board's vice president. She has been in a committed relationship with her girlfriend for the last three and half years.

She said she wants to serve on the board because "whether it is gay rights or public safety these are things publicly elected officials can do something about."

A civil rights attorney, she has been a vocal advocate for transit-first policies and environmentally-friendly initiatives, such as installing solar panels at AC Transit headquarters and launching a pilot program with hydrogen fuel cell buses.

With Oakland griped by a rising wave of violence, and residents' frustration with Mayor Ron Dellums and the current City Council growing daily, political observers of the East Bay city are predicting a "throw the bums out" mentality could be a key motivator for voters this year.

Along with Kaplan, Chang is facing two other challengers: attorney Clinton Killian and Oakland Residents for Peaceful Neighborhoods co-founder Charles Pine. If Kaplan's public safety platform connects with residents, she could ride a wave of voter angst right into City Hall.

"In Oakland right now, we certainly need to improve our air quality, jobs, affordable housing and have some sort of coherent planning and permit approval system. But if we don't tackle public safety, we won't have the faith of the public to do anything else," said Kaplan.

Helping her succeed come June will be the nurses' unions 4,000 members who either live or work in Oakland. In announcing her union's backing of Kaplan February 21, Oakland resident Jan Rodolfo, an RN at Herrick Hospital and the elected secretary of the CNA, said, "Nurses know Rebecca Kaplan's commitment to community health, and through her years of legislative advocacy have come to rely upon her as an exceptionally talented and principled public servant. She'll make Oakland proud."

Bisexuality - What's In a Name?

Bisexuality -- What’s in a Name?
by Scott Stiffler
EDGE Contributor
Monday Mar 17, 2008

Is there anything more inherently suspicious than bisexuality? When a hetero male concedes attraction to another guy, isn’t his self-proclaimed "straight/curious" status just code for "gay, but not ready to admit it?" Or, could it actually be that we all have the same potential for experiencing the full spectrum of human sexuality?

Lots of research and a little common sense say that of all the above questions, only the latter gets an unqualified "yes." But who wants a fence-sitting bisexual on their team? Certainly not the nervous straights; or the sequestered lesbians; or the defensive gays. The transgendered probably don’t mind -- but who can figure them out?

And why should we try to fathom the Bs, when we’ve got enough work to do just carving out a niche for the LGTs? Besides, every reasonable person knows that going for a pint of chocolate or vanilla is a lot easier than contemplating 31 flavors at Baskin-Robbins. It’s no wonder, then, that bisexuality is often an invisible color on the rainbow pride flag - ironic, since nature apparently intended almost everybody to be at least a little bi.

It is a trend that’s getting more and more media attention. Look at Tila Tequila, the VH1 instant celebrity who got her own reality show because she was bisexual. (The gimmick was that she had to choose between groups of straight men and lesbians, and ended up choosing a man.) Or take "Torchwood," the futuristic BBC-series (starring out actor John Barrowman) in which sexuality is fluid and everyone is bisexual. But that’s fiction - what of real life?

Is Everybody Bi?
Labels: they’re simple, fun and convenient; but how many same sex experiences does it take to make a hetero a homo? Can an opposite sex experience turn a gay into a bi? Plenty of good science tells us there’s a big difference between sexual expression and sexual identity.

Brian Dodge, Ph.D., Associate Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University (which has an ongoing partnership with the nearby Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction) says "We come out of the womb unprogrammed. Kinsey was the first to back that up with behavioral data. There are very few dichotomies in life - particularly in terms of human behavior; so he was not surprised that he had large numbers of people admitting to having a same sex experience."


The Kinsey Scale (see graphic) asserts that "Males do not represent two discrete populations, heterosexual and homosexual. . .nature rarely deals with discrete categories. . .The living world is a continuum in each and every one of its aspects." The scale, which first appeared in 1948’s "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male," uses a person’s sexual history to rate them on a scale of zero to six (zero being exclusively heterosexual, 6 being exclusively homosexual).

"If you look at the Kinsey Scale, which has been validated by a number or other sexuality studies, almost half of all men have some form of same sex experience in their lifetime that leads to orgasm." says Ron Jackson Suresha, editor of two works on bisexuality ("Bi Men Coming Out" and "Bi Guys: First Hand Fiction"). "Clearly, though, a lot of people don’t go around saying they’re bi."

Lisa Diamond, an Associate Professor of Psychology and Gender Studies at the University of Utah, recently authored "Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love And Desire" (Harvard University press, 2008). Diamond emphasizes that "Bisexuality is not a fluke or aberration. It’s actually the prototype. The majority lean in one direction or the other and that’s part of what’s makes the issue so difficult to interpret - because then you have to make a decision; how much attraction to the same sex must you have to call yourself lesbian instead of bisexual?"

Diamond’s own study (which began in 1995) asked, on a day-to-day level, what percentage of attraction women felt towards other women. "Folks who described experiencing more than 75 percent of their attractions to the same sex will describe themselves as lesbian. If it is under 75, they tend to describe themselves as bisexual."

But how can you form an identity when the concept of bisexuality, by its very nature, replaces absolutes with infinite variety? "We don’t know what bisexuality looks like, so when we come across it, we don’t recognize it" says Suresha - a self-identified Kinsey Scale five who "always had a certain amount of attraction to women, though my preference is for men. I’ve been told over and over again that bisexuality is a myth, that people who say they’re bi are deluded or lying. So, for many years, I bought into that. This is a common experience with a lot of gay men who are told you have to be either gay or straight. The possibility of bisexuality seems so remote."


An Invisible Minority
Several decades and countless pride parades into the sexual revolution, gays and lesbians have achieved a level of cultural validation that, although far from ideal, renders the bisexual community virtually invisible by comparison. Dodge asserts that responsibility for the lack of acceptance of bisexuals lies firmly at our out, proud and queer doorstep.

"It’s ironic that a group of people who went through struggles for liberation, many of which were fought by bisexual people and subsumed under the label of gay, would backlash bisexuals for being who they are and not accepting them." Asked if strides made by gays and lesbians have led to a heightened level of awareness for bisexuals, Dodge counters: "It wouldn’t cross my mind that it’s more accepted. There’s very little support for men who self identify as bisexual. It’s not surprising that guys who are curious would be hesitant to identify as bi. Maybe with women, there’s more flexibility; but I certainly don’t see evidence of acceptance among men."

Suresha similarly bemoans the "misinformation and apprehension as to the extent of bisexuality. I think there is less ignorance, but still a huge lack of understanding about what bisexuality looks like."

The social and cultural invisibility of bisexuals also has legal ramifications. Lani Kaahumanu, co-editor of "Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out" and a longtime progressive social justice advocate, bemoans the very term "same sex marriage," which she says is "how legal folks talk about it. When you say ’gay or lesbian couple,’ that wipes out bisexuals. If two bisexual men or women want to get married, what’s that? That’s not a gay couple. If you have a bisexual and a gay man, that’s not a gay couple. Within the same sex marriage movement (and a lot of leaders blow it by saying gay and lesbian marriage because it’s easier), the fact is that two bisexual lesbians do not make a gay couple. They are a same sex couple. That’s just one way they’re invisible."

Dodge makes a persuasive case for the sentiment that the whole marriage rights issue marginalizes all LGBTs by the consequence of homogenization. For Dodge, same sex marriage is "about families and how we’re normal just like heterosexuals. It’s about desexualizing things. In an attempt to gain acceptance from the majority community, bisexuals and the transgendered don’t really fit into that." In our effort to fit in, what’s acceptable to the mainstream must become more "hetero normative; finding the right partner and settling down. It’s not about going out and having male and female partners or having boobs and a penis. Those things are being made to be freaky."

Adding to the challenge of being an indefinable "other" is the panic set off by nervous heterosexuals constantly put on the defensive - flattering themselves with the notion that predatory bis want them sexually. "When you come out as bisexual, there’s nervousness about sexuality. That means no one in this room is safe." says Kaahumanu. "That’s what they’re thinking. You say bisexual and it puts the sex right in their face."

What’s more, she observes that bisexuals are perpetually obligated to come out "because there’s that assumption; you’re defined by whom your current partner is. A lot of people wear out and let the assumption slide." Even considering the awkward small talk that inevitably happens at parties, Kaahumanu believes it’s much easier these days to be bisexual because "transgender people have challenged that either/or and nothing in between duality and shown the spectrum of gender in a spectacular way."

The coming out process is also complicated from sexual territorialism perpetuated by gays and straights who, Kaahumanu remarks, are "quick to say oh, we’re all queer if we’re other than heterosexual. We’re over there with the gay and lesbian folks. Then, coming out to gays and lesbians, they say oh, you’re really heterosexual. These are people who define themselves by what they’re not. I am gay, I am not that. When a bi comes along, that shakes things up."

Also, the insular nature of G&L communities often leads to the perception that the spoils of their efforts don’t provide enough to go around. Kaahumanu bemoans this "scarcity mentality within the community." - an unfortunate event, since she points out that many bisexuals continue to advocate for same sexers: "A lot of us do stand up and watch your backs and are out of the closet and speak up whether gay and lesbian people are around or not." To that end, Suresha calls on the community and its social justice champions to step up: "It’s absolutely necessary for organizations like the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and Human Rights Campaign to start designating resources and staff to bisexual issues. At present, there’s squat."

(Pictured: Bisexuual television personality Tila Tequila)


Women, Men & Sexual Expression
It seems, from all indications, that contemplating, acting upon and subsequently declaring your bisexuality is easier for women than it is for men. There are many theories as to why, but the most popular one goes something like this: Straight men, the majority shareholders in the brisk business of homophobia, hate fags; whereas with lesbians, there’s always the tantalizing possibility that they’ll be able to watch them get it on. So, the stigma of being perceived as gay leads to a tremendous amount of self-censorship on the part of straight/curious men.

Homophobes may be quick to judge and label, but Diamond has a more rational perspective on sexual exploration: "Your sexual orientation does not provide the last word on the relationships and desires you may experience. You may fall in love for psychological and emotional and relationship reasons. Some will describe this as falling in love with the person and not the gender." While Diamond cites the ability of women to adapt and "develop totally new sexual attractions for a singular person attractions that run counter to everything else they’ve ever experienced," she can recall numerous experiences with men who "come up to me and say I can’t imagine not being aware of the person’s gender. And that’s part of the essence of the sex difference."

Research & Role Models

When is the last time you saw a poster, magazine, support group or pride banner encouraging support for bisexuals? While popular culture remains (relatively speaking) awash in all things gay, Dodge says "There’s no really clear bisexual role models, so guys are not comfortable coming out." Add to that a perpetually low amount of visibility: "So much bisexual history has been invisible" says Kaahumanu. "There’s a lot of people who are claimed as lesbian or gay because they’ve had same sex relationships. But if you look at their life, they also had loving relationship with the opposite sex. Walt Whitman is claimed as gay, but he wrote about loving men and women. Virginia Woolf was not a self-identified lesbian. Eleanor Roosevelt; if you read her biography, she was lovers with her female press secretary and her young male gardener."

Bisexuality’s brief romance with popular culture might have hit it apex when Oprah did her infamous episode on the Down Low phenomenon - expertly managing to send straight housewives into a tizzy by stigmatizing, demonizing and otherwise blaming closeted bisexual married men by sharing their most extreme and lurid tales. Dodge also cites America’s brief flirtation with metrosexuality: "Since the whole metrosexual thing hit the media, the pendulum is swinging again. I can’t recall the last time in media I heard about male bisexuality. We even have these game shows" (referring to Lifetime’s horrendous show "Gay, Straight or Taken?") where "there’s no in-between; there’s no bi option for any of those guys. The closest thing we’ve seen of acknowledgment by media was the ’DL’ depiction of them as nothing more than vectors of disease transmission from male to female partners. Everyone picked up on that frenzy."

Dodge, who candidly admits his need to get out of the lab and watch more TV before commenting further on the media’s treatment of bis, is at least expertly qualified to assert that "bisexuality is a taboo topic even within HIV and sexuality research."

Diamond concurs, lamenting that "Life is easier if you simplify things. I’ve had editors say it would be a lot cleaner of a study if you could just use the gay and straight information and cut out the bisexual people. But it would not be an accurate reflection of reality." Dodge, commenting on a paper which recently appeared in the American Journal of Public Healt, says: "The findings were that both-sex attracted people were more likely to be current smokers and start smoking earlier. In their conclusion, they talk about it as this being an issue among same-sex attracted youth - but their findings were for bisexual youth. It’s just another way of how bisexuality is made invisible and subsumed. It’s even problematic combining men and women."

But, as occasionally happens in these matters, Dodge finds a ray of hope when asked what the future holds for bisexuality: "Cornell University’s Ritch Savin-Williams put out a book the other year called "The New Gay Teenager," which showed how young people are more comfortable with open displays of non-heterosexuality and trying out different identity labels."

Even that optimistic premise was tempered by the author’s finding that "there is pressure from both sides for these kids to go one way or the other." Perhaps one day, when society has evolved, our territorial subgroups will join forces. Dodge: "At some point it, would be interesting to talk about a real sexual liberation in general - including all the hang-ups that heterosexuals have. That’s ideally what needs to take place. Maybe youth are going to take us to that point."

(Pictured: Torchwood: John Barrowman & James Marsters kiss on the second season premiere of BBC’s "Torchwood." On the show, sexuality is fluid and everyone is bisexual.)




Scott Stiffler is a New York City based writer and comedian who has performed stand-up, improv, and sketch comedy. His solo shows include Damaged by the 70s and An Evening With Insane Mark Twain & Dead Bette Davis. He must eat twice his weight in fish every day, or he becomes radioactive.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Objects of Suspicion

I have copied and pasted this article here for posterity. I've noticed it's been posted to pretty much every lj community and myspace blog and anything else on the internet that even remotely regards bisexuality (does that say something about the frequency of stuff relating to bisexuals and specifically to biphobia available in the popular press?)... anyway, I'm still putting it here. And I will come back and edit the CSS in a day or two so it's not super long on the blog main page (note: this sentence will self-destruct once said edit has been made).

January 25, 2008
Objects of Suspicion
Love a man, love a woman, either way they distrust you. What is it about bisexual women that lesbians hate so much?
By Jennifer Baumgardner

After Look Both Ways, my rah-rah book about having a love life with men and women, was published last year, I was pummeled by dating rejection from folks I had never met (and probably never would), as in these choice words responding to a review: “I offer a warning to anyone who finds himself or herself the object of Ms. Baumgardner’s attentions: She appears to be incapable of sustaining any relationship,” and “I don’t presume to know whether Baumgardner is bi or gay, but based on this review of her book I wouldn’t date her.” One person just came right out and said, “Steer clear of bisexuals.” The prevailing biphobia was almost charming in its retro-ness, prompting me to wonder, Is it 1980? I mean, really, do people, especially gay women, still think it’s OK to hate bisexuals?

“Yes,” said my ex Anastasia at the time. “Next question.”

I laughed, because I thought she was kidding—or at least commiserating about the “steer clear” advice, given that lesbians and bisexual women fall in love all of the time. But in fact, Anastasia was speaking as someone who also distrusts women who look both ways. “I’ve been with bisexual women in the past who don’t seem to be truly into girls, who needed to be drunk to have sex,” Anastasia explained. “And the constant rejection wore me down.”

Other women are suspicious of anyone who would identify herself that way. “I live in the South,” says Lisa Johnson, a professor at work on a book about being a psycho girlfriend, “where you will not get any dates with women if you say you are bi.” Johnson considers it a big-time red flag when a woman on Match.com describes herself as bisexual or bi-curious, similar to how I react when people list Gravity’s Rainbow as their favorite book or express interest in tantric sex. “I don’t want to spend time on people who have not developed a queer sensibility yet,” says Johnson, whose town of Spartanburg, S.C., is so conservative that gay people go to meetings of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays because they are so desperate for community.

Both Anastasia’s and Lisa’s comments strike me as hard on the sexually inexperienced bisexual person, who, while annoying, has to start somewhere. (I too did the old drunken-hookup-with-women thing back in the day. Which might be why Anastasia is so frustrated by bisexuals.) Their words also strike me as interesting since both have been involved with men at least as much as with women; Anastasia, for instance, lives with her boyfriend, with whom she has a child. Self-flagellation, anyone? “It’s true,” says Anastasia, “my main issue with inconstant bisexual women is I fear I am one.” Anastasia’s trajectory seems to feed into the belief proffered by some lesbians that since partnering with men still trumps doing so with women in terms of social approbation and even household income, why would you count on a woman who could have a man? Isn’t it just setting oneself up to feel like some straight guy’s sloppy seconds?

Well, first of all, most bisexual women are partnered with women, according to Amy André, an expert on bisexual women’s health. Second, such a justification for hating bisexuals relies on increasingly outdated notions of men being more able to “take care of” a woman financially. These days I doubt that many women—of any orientation—choose a mate based on earning power, and most people nowadays, regardless of gender, expect to take care of a partner as much as they are cared for. I grant that same-sex partnerships are often stigmatized while opposite-sex couplings are generally viewed as normative. However, it is one thing to acknowledge that it is difficult on a personal level to compete with the social approbation male-female couples still receive, and it’s quite another to actively contribute to the disparagement of an entire social group.

There’s evidence that bisexual women are suffering—in quantifiable terms that will be of interest to anyone who cares about human rights. André, who is herself bisexual and has a master’s degree in sexuality studies from San Francisco State University, reports that bi women experience more oppression and stigma than women of any other sexual orientation. She cowrote the book Bisexual Health—published in March 2007 by a coalition of organizations including the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute—which analyzed more than 100 studies that, taken together, demonstrate “that bisexual people have worse physical and mental health than people of any other orientation,” says André. “There is a lot of evidence that bisexual women in relationships with monosexual partners have notably higher rates of domestic violence than women in any other demographic,” says André, who is in a relationship with a nonhostile, phobia-free monosexual woman. “If it were not a reflection of biphobia,” André concludes, “there’d be no statistical difference between the safety in relationships of bi women and women of other sexualities.”

I told André that I had never seen any statistics that indicated assaults were significantly higher for bisexual women, which gets at another key feature of bisexual life -- lack of visibility. Though it contributes to the dubious privilege of passing as straight or lesbian, as the situation might warrant, lack of visibility, like low self-esteem, is rarely correlated with much good. Citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other sources, André notes that bisexual people make up 50% of the queer population, yet, she says, “I meet people all of the time who say that I am the only bisexual person they know.” Not long ago, André keynoted an event, after which several people approached her to share stories. “One female doctor told me that she dated a lesbian who wouldn’t allow her to use the word bi to identify herself in front of lesbian friends,” recalls André. “I felt her story was not unique.”

The more I dug in, the more jarring stories I heard. Author and third-wave feminist Rebecca Walker, once the longtime partner of Meshell Ndegeocello, is now living with a man -- the father of her young son. She says she sees animus in the “sometimes smug disregard” for male partners of bisexual women, including her own. She finds it odd, noting that “in his very openness to partner with a bisexual woman,” her guy “is at least theoretically supportive of the LGBT community and women’s sexual freedom.” At the annual conference of a national women’s organization, Walker’s partner was chased out of the men’s bathroom by a cabal of taunting women. “They said because both bathrooms had been turned into women’s rooms,” recalls Walker, “he could finally get a taste of how it felt to be in the oppressed minority.” Sexual harassment has come into play too. Walker cites a recent incident at a reading for her book Baby Love where a lesbian got in her space, rubbing her arm and insisting she walk her home. “It was clear [this woman] felt territorial,” says Walker, “as if I, a woman who had been in a long-term lesbian relationship, was ‘available’ and would continue to be until I was with another woman.”

Coeditors and friends Lani Ka‘ahumanu and Loraine Hutchins were bisexual when bisexual really wasn’t cool, to paraphrase Barbara Mandrell. Hutchins distinguishes the free-form and inconsistent biphobia one might find today from the much more intense historical tension, seeded in a feminist movement that was dedicated to raising up women and dashing patriarchy. “I can’t tell you how many feminist groups I was in where lesbians confronted me and said ‘We trust you less than heterosexual women,’ ” muses Hutchins, who is partnered with a woman, of the good old days. “They’d say, we know where they stand, and we don’t know where we stand with you.” Meanwhile, Ka‘ahumanu remembers extreme derision when she came out as bisexual in the ’80s (after having come out as lesbian in the ’70s). “The reaction was so intense. I was part of a feminist—read lesbian—theater troupe,” Ka‘ahumanu recalls. “People who had been my friends the day before wouldn’t talk to me.” Ka‘ahumanu tells me about one woman whose dog was a “known lesbian-crotch sniffer.” (The owner was quite proud of this—and who wouldn’t be?) At a march one day, her dog rebuffed Lani’s privates. The dog’s owner triumphantly announced, “We all know why, don’t we?”

The world was one big battle of the sexes, and if you were a little bit country and a little bit rock ’n’ roll (my preferred euphemism), you were cast as a dupe or a traitor. Hutchins says she resisted pressure from her sisters to entirely forgo men, saying, “I just don’t buy a feminist analysis that says my attraction to men is something I should suppress. That’s a very 'ex-gay' philosophy.” Besides, even if she did closet her attraction to men, while Hutchins might have appeased her separatist sisters, I doubt she’d get past the crotch-sniffing dogs.

“I think lesbians go to a scarcity mentality when they react badly to bisexuals,” says Ka‘ahumanu, who coedited the classic Bi Any Other Name with Hutchins. “They have fought so hard for this piece of territory, they have to hold on to it. It’s too scary to let others stand on it.” And some of the insecurity is legitimate, Hutchins argues, because lesbian identity and politics often get eclipsed —“first by gay men, and now by bisexual and trans issues.”

Ah, yes. Trans issues. They have always been linked to bisexual issues: both theoretically, as trans identity speaks to the unfixed nature of gender and bi identity speaks to the unfixed object of sexuality, and historically, with bisexual activists who fought for inclusion in the ’80s and ’90s insisting that trans people be part of the story too—at first meeting resistance and deal-with-the-devil offers from gay organizations to add the B to the acronym if the B’s would just stop worrying about those T’s. Times have changed.

“The gender issue has really altered the dynamic,” agrees Hutchins. “I remember this fulcrum in the mid ’90s. Bi women had created these roundtable sharing things where lesbians would admit their fears about bisexuals, which tended to be along the lines of ‘I can’t compete with a man; I’m afraid I can’t satisfy her.’ ” But when trans women and trans men entered the space, the focus wasn’t so much on the question Will a bisexual woman leave me for man? as on Will I become a man? “I teach at Towson University now, and there is not a fierce identification with either the words bisexual or lesbian,” says Hutchins. “People are queer or gender-queer.”

Damn right, says T Cooper, performer and author of Some of the Parts and Lipshitz Six, whom I’ve known for around a decade and whose father actually wrote the anthem “A Little Bit Country, a Little Bit Rock n Roll.” I’ve always thought of Cooper as a lesbian—but I was wrong. “If forced—forced—I would use the term bi,” Cooper tells me. “I might have identified as a dyke, briefly, at age 22, but it was always a bit unfixed and, I mean, if there are places between man and woman, then the whole lesbian/bisexual/gay thing sort of starts to slip away….” Hutchins reminds me that some other well-known trans folk pushing the boundaries around gender, like Patrick Califia and Kate Bornstein, also identify as bi (with reservations about the implied binary).

In my book, Ani DiFranco—a woman so ahead of her time she doesn’t have a nanny for her infant daughter, she has a tranny—speaks to this shifting terrain. “I’m in my 30s, and quite honestly I feel like I am only beginning to awaken to my sexuality…and to see people—really see people,” she told me. “I don’t even know what the word is, but see their chi or their force, what is powering them around the earth. Some strike me as very feminine, some masculine. I had a lover once who was this beautiful woman and she was like a goddess; she just seemed to embody femininity—so gorgeous. And there are creatures out there that just seem so masculine and they just embody masculine energy…and they’re not always guys. And then there is all of this territory in between.”

Not to toot our horn, but bisexual people know about that territory in between. “Bisexuality is very understandable,” Amy André says when people claim to “just not get” being bi. “Monosexuals take gender into account in their attractions to others, and we don’t.” If that tidy description is true—and I think it is—we are part of the emerging consciousness around gender, low self-esteem aside. Change is always painful, and the bad news with this shift is that butch, femme, lesbian, and even bi are beginning to lose their power as labels, and with that, hard-won culture and communities are going to fade, at least a bit. The good news is that feminism’s enormous promise—that one about liberating the individual—is perhaps within our sights as never before. Why steer clear of that?