by Sarah in Chicago
Hi, I'm Sarah and I'm biphobic.
I say such not to be proud of it, but rather to own up to it. We all have our own prejudices, so having or not having a prejudice is not what I am too concerned about here, but rather, if we are working to get rid of those we have, and particularly, how we do so.
I'm biphobic because I've been a part of lesbian communities for a long time, since I started to come out in my freshman year of university. Biphobia, as any bisexual woman will tell you (and any honest lesbian), is pretty endemic to the community, not inherent in it, mind you, but certainly endemic.
To a certain extent you can understand where it comes from. Being a sociologist I know that smaller communities tend to be more policing of the boundaries of a collective sense of identity, and the performances thereof. Further, oppressed minorities tend to be defensive of anything perceived as 'other' inside their group as someone that could be working to undermine efforts, that doesn't really share the same oppressions.
And a lot of lesbians take this position. They argue that if bisexuals want to be part of the lesbian community, they need to take the community as lesbian, and that a woman that loves men or a man needs to deal with such. They argue that there is privilege in being partnered in a heterosexual relationship, however, queer the woman therein may be, and that such privilege is antithetical to the community.
I actually know some lesbians that refuse to date bisexuals. One woman I know, upon having her heart broken after a very long term relationship, a marriage for all intents and purposes, was ended when her partner went back to men, swore she would never date another bisexual woman. And she hasn't, and is now partnered with another lesbian woman, happily in love, raising a child together.
I say these things not to defend such, or even to say they have any remote validity, but rather that I think it's important to investigate the narratives, the framing, of one's prejudices, as it's there that the prejudices enact themselves.
The thought for this post for me came out of a couple of things. The first was a posting to one of my fav lesbian media sites AfterEllen.com, about the atrocious representations of bisexuals on the show The L-Word. The article was completely correct mind you (of course, EVERYONE is atrociously portrayed on that show, but that's beside the point), but the interesting bit was the reaction in the comments section. It became a blow-out, like all bisexual-focused discussions on the site, with some outright expressions of fairly unapologetic biphobia.
And to my own disgust, I actually found myself wanting to post in agreement. I had to stop myself from posting something along the lines of "If you want bisexual representation, get your own fucking show, and leave us the fuck alone to have our one tiny niche. You find supposedly queer women fucking men all the time on network TV, what else do you want, to colonise our space too?!". It was this visceral reaction that scared the crap out of me.
In other words, I found myself almost repeating word for word the defences used by those transphobic bigoted women at the Michigan Women's Music Festival ... something I despise deeply and passionately. I was ashamed of myself.
The other moment was that this morning I found out that Kristianna Loken, one of the few openly out bisexual actresses whose bisexuality is not merely so much lip-service (so to speak), was engaged. To a man. And that wonderful biphobic voice of the lesbian community inside me spoke up and whispered "What a fucking surprise, not. Yet ANOTHER fucking bisexual woman runs back to fuck men. It seems that's all they fucking do; if I had a dime for every bisexual woman that is partnered to a man .... yadda yadda yadda". I clamped down on my thoughts immediately, but they were still there.
And so, as I rode the train in this morning, lightly flirting with this woman I bumped into that I knew from the community, I decided I needed to write this piece, and ask a question.
I date, and have dated bisexual women, as well as lesbian women. I don't really care. On an individual basis, I don't give a shit. And hell, being aware of my internalised biphobia (oh, and btw, this isn't about self-denial, I don't want to date men, nor am trying to cover up any secret desires for men; that kind of arm-chair pysch is pathetic), means I will speak up whenever I hear biphobic speech, because it's hateful. Period.
But, aside from speaking up against such speech, and validating the queer/gay identities of bisexual women, what else can I do? I have this prejudice in me that I detest, and I need to work on it to get rid of it.
So, my question is this; how have the others here worked on their own prejudices, there own biases? Not just biphobia, but how, after you gained awareness of internalised bigotries, how did you work to minimise such or get rid of them? What strategies did you use?
Because I'd really appreciate the help, and this is the right place to ask.
UPDATE: If anyone identifies as bisexual and wants to simply post about the biphobia they have experienced, I want them to consider this a safe space for them to do so. I know there are not enough spaces for bisexual people to able to do such.