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!