Thursday, February 26, 2009

Asexuality Study

In continuing to show support for asexual people (and doing as much as possible to piss off ignorant narrow-minded assholes), I wanted to pass this survey along.

The National University of Ireland, Galway is conducting a study on asexuality. There's currently very little scientific research that's been done on asexuality, so if you're asexual and you choose to fill out the survey, your participation can help a lot. From the survey information sheet: "Our aim is to build on the limited research to date that has considered asexuality as a sexual orientation or identity. We wish to look at your views and attitudes to learn how asexuality contributes to your sense of identity as a person."

Click here to fill out the survey.

Historic Survey of LGBTIQQ Muslims

Please pass this along to anyone and everyone!

Al-Fatiha is pleased to announce this week's launch of the first-ever survey of LGBTIQQ Muslims. Please complete this important survey and/or forward this message to other LGBTIQQ Muslims. The survey is available at: http://www.al-fatiha.org/survey.htm

This historic survey will gather much-needed information regarding the experiences, perspectives and concerns of Muslims who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, and questioning or exploring their sexual orientation and/or gender identity (LGBTIQQ). There are many Muslims who do not use these terms to describe themselves; we welcome and encourage Muslims of diverse sexualities and genders to complete this survey and share their experiences and perspectives.

Al-Fatiha's survey is for ALL Muslims, regardless of belief or practice. This means that we welcome and encourage observant Muslims, cultural Muslims, and those raised within Islamic traditions/cultures who are secular in belief, to complete this survey.

All survey responses are completely ANONYMOUS to ensure the privacy and security of our community members and to encourage the largest survey response possible. Survey results are encrypted during completion to further ensure privacy and security.

Ultimately, the results will provide vital quantitative data about the lives of LGBTIQQ Muslims, their experiences and perspectives. These results will improve Al-Fatiha's education and advocacy efforts for increased understanding and acceptance of gender and sexual diversity within Muslim communities, and religious and ethnocultural diversity within LGBTIQ communities. Survey results will be made available to Al-Fatiha community members, as well as ally groups doing education and advocacy around these important human rights concerns.

In the weeks to come, you will receive further updates and announcements regarding Al-Fatiha's on-going work, including updates about this survey. During the spring, you will also see changes at Al-Fatiha's new website: www.al-fatiha.org. Stay updated - join Al-Fatiha's mailing list: Al-Fatiha-News-Subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Working for full acceptance into family, faith and community,
Al-Fatiha Board of Directors

Friday, February 20, 2009

"Gay St. Now Two Way"

Ha. I can't believe I've never seen this image - or this sign - before. This is totally from Columbus:


I know there was some construction being done and I can't remember if Gay St. is still two-way or if it's back to one-way. From here (I'm on a public computer without sound, so I have no idea what sound will come up. For those of you unfamiliar with YTMND, it's usually a repeating photo, text and some sort of sound file.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My Response to J.A.T.G.A.B.

Okay, I know this post looks tl;dr but I really hope you will read it. I promise it's at least a little funny in places. If nothing else, you just have to read what this dude said about me, it's unbelievable.

Background: There was a call for blogs about Freedom to Marry Week. I wrote my own about how I don't feel included in the current marriage equality movement a lot of the time. I included it in Mombian's blogswarm. J.A.T.G.A.B. saw it there and responded (but didn't have the courage to link to my post or to comment on it) here: http://jatgab.blogspot.com/2009/02/what-ass.html OH HAY I am the donkey! How CLEVER! Get it! It's an ASS! LOL!!111!!
I never would have known about his response except that Queers United called him out on his anti-asexual tirade, and I decided to look at a few of his older entries. I quickly recognized myself ("cowpie bi").

In case you were wondering anything else about this man: He said in his post on asexuality that asexuality is a disability, that "asexual may merely be the opposite of bisexual and just as trendy, if not yet as political," and that "You can be deaf and blind and still be happy -- but you're still disabled. Just like deaf people who refuse to get cochlear impants, 'asexuals' have the right to refuse treatment or advice." Clearly, he's a gem, with a wealth of knowledge about disabilities, asexuality, Deaf culture, and bisexuality, among other things.


So, without further ado, here is my response to his post:

First of all, there is no way that we can "agree to disagree." Your attack on me was very personal. You belittled me in a variety of ways, starting with calling me "gal," alleging that I am a homophobe and a "fucking bigot," and ending with your comment about how the movement losing my work would be no big deal. You don't know me at all, my history, or what I've done for the LGBTQ community. You insulted my identity, my intelligence... How dare you put words into my mouth. How dare you make inferences about me without knowing me.
You owe me an apology.

You do not understand what "biphobia" means. Please, refresh your memory: http://www.robynochs.com/writing/essays/biphobia_short.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biphobia
I know that reading this page may be difficult for you since you have demonstrated an extreme aversion to learning about others besides yourself and/or opening your mind in even the tiniest fashion.

You really need to shut up and listen. In all seriousness. Shut the fuck up and listen. I am going to use strong language here because you are committing the internet equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and singing loudly.

You can't understand how GLBT organizations are leaving the B and T out because you are unwilling to look. We are willing to spell it out for you and others of your ilk, but first you have to get the hell over yourself and LISTEN.

You did not read what I had to write. You only took what you wanted to hear out of it. You were obviously looking for a reason to hate on bisexuals. I feel that you didn't even finish reading my post. I say that I feel done with the fight for marriage equality, but I also say that I can't give up on the fight entirely, and I say why. I also express my ambivalence about marriage in general. I know that you didn't actually look that much at my blog itself either, because in one of your comments you suggested, "Perhaps the problem is that Bi Avenger... [doesn't] live in large urban centers where there are big GLBT populations and LGBT centers, so their isolation seems even more pronounced and their frustration and anger increases to the point where it just may be a bit over-the-top." Actually, I do live in a big city with a huge GLBT population and an LGBT center.

Also, if ANYTHING is over-the-top here, it's your post and what you said.

Have you done a comprehensive, scientific survey of the language of marriage used in the LGBT community? Your claim that marriage equality is used at least as much as gay marriage is baseless except for your own experience. There are plenty of good reasons not to use the term "gay marriage." Even GLAAD (whose language I and many others still have problems with) opposes the phrasing of "gay marriage" (which I pointed out in my post). But even if "marriage equality" is used just as much as "gay marriage," that's still not enough. No. It's not. If we are all a part of this movement, we expect to be a part of this movement. As a commenter pointed out, the entire case against Prop 8 is being built on the fact that words matter.

The discomfort with "gay marriage" and the feeling of being left out of GLAAD's, NGLTF's, HRC's (etc.) actions is absolutely not isolated to myself. If you joined the BiNet USA or Local Bi Group Leaders listservs, you would be truly surprised at the volume of e-mail from around the country about inclusive language and other related topics. Are all the members of BiNet USA just stupid, elitist, homophobic bisexuals as well? Watch where you tread here. Try http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=395097781&blogID=422143441
or http://lindasusan.blogspot.com/2008/07/words-matter.html for starters if you don't believe me.

I shouldn't have to prove my queerness to you or anyone else. No one died and made you the appointer of the Authentic Queer (TM) cards. But since you demonstrated your biphobia (and by the way, "I have a bi friend who said..." won't work here), I'll go through the trouble of doing it, just like I have to for every bi-doubter.

Considering the things you've said about me, I would never, ever give you my real name in a million fucking years.

I am in my mid-twenties. I identify as bisexual and queer. The following may be very difficult for you to understand, so I hope you are sitting down: I don't have a problem being called gay because I hate gay people. I have a problem with it because I am not gay. I have just as much of a problem with being called straight, if not more so (because I identify more closely with the LGBTQ community than with the straight community).

I have been involved with LGBT activism since joining the GSA in high school. I am currently the leader of a bisexual-focused group at my university, which I started. In the past I volunteered as a peer sex educator and an HIV test counselor. I have been an active member of several different LGBT groups. Last year I marched in my city's Pride event. I did some work on a LGBTQIA history project. I'm writing an honors thesis about bisexuality and identity. I've completed 7 courses in sexuality studies. I have received a scholarship for my work and leadership in the LGBT community. In the future, I plan on pursuing a career in anthropology and/or public health, with a focus on human sexuality, and a devotion to issues affecting LGBT people.

Still not queer enough for you? I really hope you are sitting for this one: In 2006 I got a civil union in VT with a partner (I feel the need to mention that the person I married is a gay woman and she was also offended by people calling our relationship a "lesbian relationship," or our marriage a "gay marriage"). Our relationship has since ended. I can't get a divorce because my state doesn't recognize civil unions. It doesn't recognize same-sex marriage either. So I've experienced the consequences of discrimination against same-sex unions (and the crappiness of civil unions, and the need for the word "marriage") firsthand. Because I have one. Yes, the Bi Avenger has a big ol' family-destroying, country-eroding, sodomy-practicing, Good-Christian-Morals-bereft civil union with another person who, like the Bi Avenger, happens to have a vagina as well.

But I'm, like, O NOES sooooo scared of being called a dyke!!!111!!!!TWELVETY!!!!!!!!!!!!
I want to, like, squelch alternate lifestyles!!111!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thats why I identify as "queer!!!!11!!" in addition to "bisexual!!"111!!!
I'm just a GAY-HATING GAL who is sew much better than TEH GHEY! Thats why I married a gay!!!111111!!!111

In short, you don't know anything about me at all, and a huge number of people would beg to differ that the movement losing me would be no big loss, so shut the fuck up.

People like me - and the other angry bisexuals - and the transsexual people and transgender people whom I can tell you also don't really understand - and the asexuals whom you refuse to acknowledge - along with our gay, lesbian, queer, intersex, ally and other fabulous friends - are the future of our movement. How scared are you now?

Ultimately, I think the question is, do you want equality or do you want to continue in your set-in ways? Do you want to question your beliefs and stop to think, or would you rather continue sticking your fingers in your ears and screaming and defend your continued embrace of ignorance as the eschewing of political correctness? Seriously, it's not that hard to (for instance) use inclusive language. REALLY. It may be more challenging for you than for some others, but it's also not that hard not to be an asshole. You should try it sometime.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Newark (DE) Councilman Comes Out as Bisexual

Ezra Temko, a city councilman in Newark, Delaware, has come out as bisexual.

(article requires login- try bugmenot.com for a login if you don't want to make one)


The article writing leaves a bit to be desired, with the hyphenating of bisexual (bi-sexual), and:

City Councilman Ezra Temko’s recent effort to strengthen the equality of Newark’s gay, lesbian and transgender residents is more than just a calculated political move.

Emphasis is mine. Hmm, could we be forgetting someone there? Who could it be? Ah, I'm not sure. </sarcasm> Moving on.

Though Temko is coming out to the press at this time, he says he never made any effort to hide who he was when running for office:

Nobody ever asked me about my sexual orientation and I don’t believe it has any bearing on my ability to serve... When I was running for council, I was single, so it really didn’t come up. Drew [Temko's partner] and I go to public events together and our relationship is fairly obvious on Facebook. I think everyone who would normally know I’m dating someone knows I’m dating Drew.

Drew and Ezra. Aww.


Temko went to Oberlin College (in Ohio!), and he says that Oberlin was "a very inclusive environment that embraced everyone, instead of accepting norms as legitimate on face value." Being at Oberlin helped him explore and come to terms with his identity. Hmm... Bisexual before AND after graduation.

He has introduced several different LGBTQ-supporting measures to the Newark City Council. Yay!

Cheers and thanks to you, Ezra. ♥

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wackaloon fundie denial

So, you should go read this article: http://www.newsweek.com/id/182531/page/1

This man, Richard Mouw, is fucking delusional. Quoth Mr. Mouw (can I call him Dick? Let's call a spade a spade and a Dick a Dick):

I voted for the ban. As an evangelical, I subscribe to the "traditional" definition of a marriage, and I do not want to see the definition changed... Does that mean I want to impose my personal convictions on the broader population? No.

I don't think that's the sort of person you can have a rational discussion with.

But HAY! All the quabbling over Prop 8 made him OMG SO SAD GUISE ;_; CANT WE JUST TALK IT OVER!!!1111LOL KEKEKE^_____^!!!1111!!!!!!!11

No, we can't. Aside from the fact that "I voted for Prop 8 but I don't want to impose my views on anyone" makes no sense at all, it's also difficult to talk to someone who refuses to recognize decades of anthropological research on how marriage is *actually* traditionally defined (that would be: there is no good definition). But hey, that could just be my anthropologist bias talking. Or my science-loving, need-to-have-facts bias.

Dick also provides us with this gem:

My friends and I have argued that the Bible supports racial justice, gender equality, peacemaking and care for the environment—views that often draw the ire of the worst kind of fundamentalists. But none of that seems to matter to folks who don't like our views about same-sex relations. Because we also believe that the Bible frowns on sexual intimacy outside of marriage between a man and a woman, we are being relegated to the margins of the civil dialogue.

Um? You can't have the Bible both ways. Either you are picking and choosing what you want to follow, or you are taking it at its literal word. It is either the literal Word of God, or it is not. Either your wife is your slave, or she is not. Either slavery is ok, or it is not. This man is no different from the "worst kind of fundamentalists" he's trying to distance himself from, who will wave their "God Hates Fags" signs and then stuff their faces at Red Lobster in their cotton/poly blend t-shirts. MORE BACON! Hate to break it to you, Weeping Evangelical Dick, but what you are doing with your "the Bible frowns on sexual intimacy..." is the same exact deal. And don't even try for a second to be all, "WAIT! I'm not like those bigots! I support equal rights when it comes to race and gender and everything else and I'm an environmentalist." Good for you. You are still a bigot. Don't believe me? Let's turn to your article once more:

For many of us, "normalizing" same-sex marriage comes down to deep concerns about the raising of our children and grandchildren. What will they be taught about sexual and family values in our schools? How will they be affected by the ways the entertainment media portray people with our kinds of views? And will we even be allowed to counter these influences in our homes and churches without being accused of "hate speech"?

Maybe when all kinds of families are seen as equally okay, our children will be taught that there's not one specific right way to be. All sexual orientations and gender identites are great. All kinds of families are great. All kinds of diversity are great.
Maybe when all sexual orientations and gender identities are normalized, all media will portray bigotry as intolerable.
Maybe then, too, all hate speech will be recognized for what it is, which is exactly what it is: hate speech. And people like you won't be able to justify it by pulling out the Jeebus card. Sure, you'll still be able to say it, just like the KKK can still say what they say. But people will be more willing to call you out on your bullshit.

No, Dick, we can't talk about it. I don't have respectful conversations with people who try to veil their hate speech as something that God told them to do. I'm deeply offended by the suggestion that God would support any kind of hate.

If Dick wants to talk, maybe he should do a little thinking before he speaks.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Marriage exhaustion.


It's apparently "Freedom to Marry Week" and there is a "blogswarm" about marriage.

You want to have a conversation about marriage? Fine. Let's start with a question: When are mainstream groups that support the marriage equality movement going to start using inclusive language so I can feel like I'm every much as part of this fight as a gay- or lesbian-identified person?

GLAAD's media reference guide on marriage says,

Marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples is one of today's most widely reported-on social issues. . In the midst of this coverage, gay and lesbian families are often reduced to abstractions by those who claim to be "defending" marriage — and whose carefully chosen euphemisms (such as "protecting the sanctity of marriage" and "sending our children a positive message about marriage") serve to obscure the impact of marriage discrimination on gay and lesbian Americans.

How many "gay and lesbian couples/families/etc." did you count there? That's just the intro paragraph.
They go on to say:

This lack of acknowledgement renders invisible the hundreds of thousands of American families whose lives are most directly impacted by this debate.

This makes me want to bash my head against the wall repeatedly. You know what else renders American families invisible? Talking about marriage equality as if it involved only gays and lesbians.

From their Media Reference Guide on Problematic Terminology:

Problematic: "gay marriage"
Use "marriage" or "marriage for gay and lesbian couples" whenever possible.


What? Seriously? Yeah. It keeps going like that.

"But, Bi Avenger," some long-time readers may say, "haven't you blogged about this already?" Well, okay, yeah. I made these two graphics. But I forgot about it for a while. Whether I forgot accidentally or on-purpose in an attempt to reduce my daily head-explodey factor is up in the air. Those graphics actually got e-mailed to GLAAD by someone (not me) from the BiNet USA listserv, along with several other complaints about GLAAD's terms. Yet GLAAD's website remains the same. Why? How? They're just not listening. Perhaps, like an ignorant friend of mine, they feel that marriage equality "affects homosexuals more than bisexuals and transgendered people".
There's also the "lesbian and gay couples" in the Prop 8 challenge, the ongoing issue with language used by the press and HRC...

What's infuriating about GLAAD is that they are one of the big-time authorities that the press is turning to when they're looking for the correct language to use. Until GLAAD corrects their stuff, they are simply perpetuating the use of non-inclusive language in the press.

Hey! Guess what?
  • If I am partnered with someone of the same sex, that doesn't make me a lesbian.
  • If I am partnered with someone of the same sex, it doesn't make the two of us a lesbian couple.
  • THE STRUGGLE FOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY AFFECTS MORE PEOPLE THAN JUST GAYS AND LESBIANS.

From discussions with other bisexuals both in person and on listservs I know that many others feel exact the same way I do. This "gay and lesbian" language is also potentially alienating to transgender and transsexual people, and to gays and lesbians who simply don't want their marriage to be talked about in that way and/or also want the B and T to be included in "LGBT." I don't see much of a difference between what GLAAD is pushing and the term "gay marriage." Which GLAAD oppposes using.

Until I can feel like I am included, and until the mainstream organizations start caring about other LGBT issues (gender-identity-inclusive ENDA, anyone?), I'm kind of done with their marriage fight. That's kind of sad, because I have personal reasons for wanting to be invested in it. I don't feel like getting into the details right now, but it hits home for me in a way that it couldn't possibly do for many of the, uh, gays and lesbians who are pushing the marriage thing.

I don't feel I can back down entirely from the issue. What's at the root of opposition to marriage equality is homophobia and ignorance. Those are two things I will always work to fight. But I feel stuck.

I am also sad because I feel marriage has become THE issue. I heard more than one gay person say during the election that Obama and McCain had the same stance on gay rights because neither of them supported full marriage equality. How uninformed can you get?! How can you boil all LGBT rights down to marriage equality?!? I was outraged. Granted, most of the people I heard say this were Log Cabin Republicans, so they weren't too big on facts or logic. But still.

The less I see us included, the more I wonder, are we ever going to be included? Or are we beating a dead horse here? Is it within the movement to include us? Or is this a "gay and lesbian" fight? Marriage is not the only issue where it seems like mainstream LGBT groups forgot the B and T (ENDA, anyone?). Furthermore, to what extent does marriage put value on some family forms over others? I haven't read the book, but I can guess. I can see it happening among my single friends, my polyamorous friends, and my unmarried-but-coupled friends. The more I think about marriage, the more I wonder: What could we have done with the $83 million that was spent on both sides of the Prop 8 debate? (Pam's House Blend begins the list) Where else could we be focusing our energy? Maybe we do need to shift our focus. Maybe radical queers are onto something. I don't know.

comBIne Discussion: Marriage

Join comBIne for a discussion-oriented meeting. Our topic this time around is marriage. To get your gears moving: how do we feel about marriage in general? What about the fight for marriage equality in particular? What are some of the challenges we face as bi people when it comes to this fight?
Come prepared to chat and to have a good time.
Tuesday, February 10, same bi time, same bi place (6:30 PM, Central Classrooms 204). You don't have to be an Ohio State student to come - all are welcome.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

"Lesbian / Bisexual Until Graduation"

Bi-Furious! and She's a Carnivore both have excellent posts up on the supposed "lesbian/bisexual until graduation"("LUG"/"BUG") phenomenon. Aviva hits the nail on the head with several of her observations, including the way our culture dismisses young people's experieces as invalid. "Ask Aunt Carnivore" wittily answers a funny and well-written letter from a reader about the difficulties of being taken seriously during the coming out process, particularly when one is a student at a women's college. Instead of repeating what they said (which you should definitely go read!), I think I'm just going to ruminate for a minute.

I myself may have been considered a BUG by some. No one has ever called me that to my face. I'm sure some people have thought it, though. There are a few different things working against me in that area. Apparently, I come across as very straight. I'm sure some people have harbored their doubts about me in the past.

I started out my undergrad at Smith College, one of the notorious Seven Sisters. While there, I heard more than one Smithie refer to a friend or housemate as a BUG or LUG. A significant number of these women were bi or lesbian themselves and would most likely have been upset if someone had called *them* a B/LUG. Still, I had to watch so many of these smart women in this exceptional and open environment doubt each other and put each other down behind their own backs. That's the destructive power of heterosexism.

I did not fully and entirely blossom as a queer until around 2006. Sure, I was out to most of my friends by the end of high school, and out to most by the time I left Smith, but 2006 is when I had my First Real Live Girlfriend (tm). Unlike me, FRLG (tm), a lesbian, was already immersed in local and national queer culture. She taught me a lot about gay stuff, lesbian stuff, queer stuff... I taught her some things too, of course. But having been out as a lesbian and involved with other lesbians, she had been able to go places and do things that I as an uninitiated bisexual woman hadn't, she knew things I didn't... despite the fact that I went to Smith College ("Play lacrosse with me!"). The lesbian acceptance of bisexuality and bi invisibility are two things to blog about later.

2006 was also when I came out to people in my family who didn't yet know that I am bi. I came out to my mom in 2003 or so - actually, she asked me about it and I told her. It was no big deal. From there I came out to individual family members in an ongoing process. I never should have been afraid to tell any of them - I am blessed with one of the most amazing and accepting families I know of. Truly, I am blessed. I don't know why I had any fear. I already knew the extent of their love for me in my heart. But you hear horror stories. Most LGBTQ people I know have at least one horror story. I think some in my family knew all along, though, especially since they made sure to tell me once in a while that they'd love me no matter my sexual orientation or anything else.



Also, I remember when I was small, I saw K.D. Lang on VH1 and promptly went to ask my mother if K.D. Lang was a boy or girl and said I really hoped K.D. Lang was a boy because K.D. Lang was really, really cute. Verbatim.



Thank goodness I didn't have to deal with any of that BUG crap from my family.

Though... technically, I haven't graduated, so I guess we'll see how things turn out a few months down the road when I do. ;)