Monday, December 01, 2008

World Aids Day


There’s slow blogging, and there’s slow blogging – and I seem to be indulging in both. Not on purpose, mind. I’m too serious for the light and frothy, and can’t post thoughts without considering them first; and too stressed and overworked to post often. I mean, two and a half months since the last one! Ridiculous.

But this is World Aids Day, and even the most desultory bisexual blogger can’t let that pass without posting something.

I have been thinking a lot about the recent (to me) past over the past few weeks, as I have been unpacking and repacking the things that came from the loft in my old house and putting them in the loft in the new one.

In the late 80s and early 90s I was quite involved in the London queer scene (although its effect on my sexual and romantic life was negligible, as I was mainly attracted to Cuban New Yorkers at that time). It was a mixed gender place, this queer scene, with lots of lesbians having sex with gay men - flamboyant, energetic, challenging, experimental. We talked about safer sex a lot, and how to make it more exciting, but there was never a thought that it wasn’t an essential part of being a politically, sexually conscious person. That was still fashionable in those days.

So I’ve been looking at stacks of old magazines – Square Peg, Shebang, Quim – that came out of the arty gay scene in London at that time. Square Peg was mixed men and women, and arts-based with beautiful paper and production values. Shebang was a fun lesbian mag; Quim was an arty-lesbian sex mag. This seemed very daring at the time, but only lasted a couple of issues.

But the daring came from desperation about the queer future: the homophobia, the prejudice, the turning back to conventional morality because of Aids which affected women as well as men - although obviously men were the ones whose lives were at risk. The early 90s, when Quim was published, was also the aftermath of the lesbian sex wars, where what it meant to be a lesbian (not, definitely not, bisexual) was discussed endlessly and viciously. It was part of the end of "sisterhood" I think, but a mixed queer political scene - Act-Up, for instance - did thrive for a few years in the UK, and may still be going in the US. Then, of course, there was also the bi community which - from my perspective anyway - was going pretty well at that time.

Remembering People with Aids
Everyone who knew any queer people at that time was affected by Aids - and it baffles and infuriates me when I meet individuals today (either heterosexuals of any age who have lived sheltered lives, or young LBT people) who claim it has nothing to do with them. The first person I knew who died of Aids was in 1987 – but after that, circles of acquaintances went down like ninepins. I was lucky not to lose anyone really close but I still remember all those young men I went clubbing with in the early 80s who were dead 10 years later. It makes me absolutely fucking sick to think about it.

Of course, it’s different now – at least in countries where AZT is readily available. There’s a really nice picture gallery on the Guardian site, looking at various people around the world dealing with HIV/Aids in some way.

But it still gives me a chill when I see people all over the world who are still dying of this disease. Or when I read about young men in the UK who are having sex with each other completely unprotected, thinking that HIV is no big deal because they can take a pill. Think about it buster, taking a pill for your whole life, risking heart disease, tumours, a whole range of things neither you or I know about yet... The latest person I know (in Britain) to be diagnosed with HIV was in 2007, so this is by no means an old story.

In 2008, the necessity for this message hasn't changed a bit.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Blogging for work

Long time, no post. But, as I said in my last entry here, I haven't forgotten you.

I've been madly busy. I've also been blogging as part of my day job. I don't usually talk here about how I make my living, but I don't think it does any harm. I am about as out as you can be, and as I have often said, there's nothing on this blog I wouldn't want my employer or my family to read.

So, yes, I was in Tanzania and then Bangladesh... If you're interested in developing world issues, you could take a look here at what I've been writing.

Nothing bisexual about it, though - unlike my next post. Whatever that will be.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Tearing my hair out




Life minus no time plus stress equals no blogging since July 27th. I haven't forgotten you. I'll write as soon as I can.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

There’s no such thing as abroad any more


You may have noticed that I’ve downloaded some of those cute little flags which you click on and your blog gets translated into another language. Japanese, on my screen, just comes out as little rectangles, but Arabic seems all present and correct and Portuguese I can almost understand.

Any blogger who checks their site stats knows that many of their readers don’t come from the country they live in themselves. Most, granted, probably come from the US wherever the writer comes from, but I would say – and I have before – that while 30-40% of readers come from North America, and about 15% from the UK, the rest come from absolutely anywhere. On earth, natch, although every now and then one of those no-fixed-abode satellite services makes me wonder.

So why oh why do so many US writers (bi ones included) write as if all their readers are coming from the US too. I find it tremendously off-putting. I mean, it’s not “this political season” for me; I’m very unsure as to what a 401(k) is, and I certainly don’t have one myself; and if a congressman has been misbehaving in a toilet (bathroom!) I have no idea what the specific ramifications might be. They write about a “we” that doesn’t include the rest of the world and include stats that only apply to the US without specifying that it is just one country out of c163… It is OK to write about just the US – of course it is – but in fairness to your readers who aren’t from there please make some reference to the fact that’s what you’re doing!

Anywhere and everywhere
Back to the “readers all over the world” tack… Of course, I am writing in this blog from the standpoint of a particular sort of conscious bisexuality. It’s often assumed by those well-schooled in such matters that consciously being bisexual is something that only happens in specific parts of the Western world, and only happens now. People might have felt or behaved bisexuality across time and place, but they wouldn’t have felt they were bisexual.

I think it’s more complicated than that. I have written a fair few posts on bis in Times Gone By (see history links, right)but there’s clearly some kind of self-conscious bisexuality going on around the world too. Otherwise, why would people from, say, Singapore and Saudi Arabia be reading this blog.

Now, of course there are places across the world where sex is treated spectacularly differently than the West: Oman, for instance, where you need to be married to consent to sex; or all those countries where sex between men is illegal and subject to terrible punishments – even death. Not to mention the many many places where men have a degree of freedom undreamed of by women.

Different lives
There are many places where men and women’s lives are so completely separate that I would have thought some form of bisex was probably inevitable. I organised a London bi conference in 1991 where a man from a North African country gave a talk about how prevalent sex between men was there. Someone asked him if women in his country had sex with each other, and he said no. The two Arabic women there rolled their eyes at each other. Well, I suppose that if the sexes were completely divided, then he wouldn’t know, would he?

Given that everyone with an internet connection can be exposed – at least in theory - to all sorts of ideas from absolutely everywhere, there’s no reason people from Romania shouldn’t think about the sort of bisexual a New Yorker might be, or a Tanzanian read about what Sydney bisexuals are up to. And vice versa.

Geographical differences
Of course, there are still geographical differences. For instance, when I visited the Philippines (for work, not on holiday) a few years I was totally flummoxed by the number of open and not-passing male to female transsexuals who worked in the sexual health field, talking to born women about family planning and sexually transmitted infections. They seemed to be accepted as women, but as somehow wiser.

Alongside these people who were queer in a culturally specific way, there were also queers who had been more influenced by western ideas of being gay. So we also met gay men and (one) lesbian who saw themselves in that way. The gay men didn’t like bisexuals: more exactly, their experience had been with those cheating married men who couldn’t understand why any man would not want to have sex with women too and considered gay men as Not Real Men. Well, I don’t like them either.

It did make me think, though, that the world is in a state of flux, with western and non-western ways of sexuality co-existing in interesting ways.

Anyway, now that I’ve done the flags, it’s time to update my blogroll next… Getting on for half of those lovelies gave up the ghost yonks ago but you’re still clicking on them! Time to give some new ones a chance.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Bisexual woman to be deported to Nigeria

Gay people who have sought asylum in the UK because of their sexuality (most recently this young Iranian man whose lover was murdered by the state) often have to fight really hard to convince the authorities of their need for sanctuary. Thank God he was eventually allowed to stay; often they are sent back to – at the very least – danger.

Jane Okojie’s case in Canada – as reported below on the queer Canadian website Xtra – is the first time I have heard of a bisexual person seeking asylum. Perhaps it will make those people who think bisexuality is a doddle think again. Sadly, in the UK at least, even imminent risk of death doesn't always mean you are safe.


Time is running out for a bisexual woman who has been denied refugee status in Canada. Jane Okojie is scheduled to be deported to Nigeria on Thu, Jul 10 where she says she and her two children will face persecution because of her bisexuality.

"I don't know what to do," says Okojie. "I am more afraid for my children than for myself. There are so many things going on in my head, I cannot think properly."

"She's very scared," says Nastaran Roushan of the immigrant and refugee rights group No One Is Illegal, which is holding a rally in support of Okojie on Tue, Jul 8 at 11am in front of the offices of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (Toronto, 50 St Clair Ave E). "She fears for her life. If she goes back with her children, she has no one there. Her family has shunned her because she is bisexual. She doesn't have any money and nowhere to go. If she's arrested [her children] will be without a mother. They'll already face extreme discrimination because they were both born out of wedlock, and in fact, Samuel has already endured a lot of harassment while growing up there."

A victim of sexual violence and domestic abuse in her home country, Okojie says she fled Nigeria after being beaten by locals in her village and detained in prison after it was discovered she was bisexual.

"In Nigeria things are very bad for lesbians and gay people," says Okojie. "If you are a bisexual or lesbian or gay you can be stoned to death and you can be sentenced to prison for many many years. The government doesn't care."


There’s more here:

Good luck Jane. Nigeria sounds a tough place to be queer. Will someone let me know how she has got on?

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

This blog is two today


Today this blog celebrates its second birthday. Yes, with this very post and my musings on that year’s Europride, I opened what is the longest-lasting bisexual blog in the known universe.

Whither blogs – will they wither and where are they going – is something that often bothers media pundits. Last week Roy Greenslade sparked off a discussion, commented on mostly by journalists whose opinions ran along the continuum of: a) journalism is great, blogs are white noise; b) blogs are the future, journalists have to have one, ordinary people are empowered etc; c) blogs are great, mainstream journalism is rubbish. However, as one commenter pointed out, the comments were far more interesting than the piece itself.

Good blogs, bad blogs
My own position is quite straightforward: blogs can be great, and the internet offers writers terrific opportunities to get their work to readers. Journalists who believe – as many do – that they can’t see the point of blogging, or don't recognise that it is a terrific tool for self-promotion, or say that they don’t want to write for nothing – are missing a career-building trick. What the mainstream media offers readers, and what blogging offers the mainstream media, is complementary.

It’s not true, though, that all blogs are equal. To start with, most bloggers give up pretty quickly. And writing every day – standard advice for building up a readership – means that pretty soon people are writing about nothing much. Unless they are brilliant writers – a few are – that means the quality goes down. In any event, there is too much to read on the internet, together with books, newspapers, magazines etc. I don’t suppose I’m the only one who just can’t keep up with people who blog every day.

What this blog is for
As I have written here from time to time, I am a journalist (editing more than writing) but what pays me money is nothing to do with what I write here. If anyone ever wanted serious writing on bisexuality then I’m your woman. But, as one of the reasons I started writing this blog in the first place was because my commissioned book on bisexuality couldn’t find a home after its original publisher closed down, I doubt that semi-serious writing on bisex – as distinct from erotica, or trivia, or straightforward academic books - in the UK can pay its way. Not everything can be monetised. As the profit motive in publishing is more important than ever, and booksellers sell ever fewer titles, the prospect for what is euphemistically called “mid-list” writers dims.

Still, onwards and upwards, and those of us who have things to say have a way of getting them out there. I doubt whether my musings that were produced via the dead tree route ever saw the light of day in Indonesia, or Nepal, or Western Samoa – which they have through the web.

This blog is a niche “product”, for people who are interested in the issues around bi/sexuality rather than erotic stories, coming out tales, complaints about boyfriends/girlfriends, polls about what turns you on and so forth. All of those most definitely have their place, just not written by me. They are also more popular than what I write.

Still, as over 101,000 people have read this blog since I started, there must be a demand for it. Thank you, readers!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Casanova a "brainy bisexual"




The 18th century randy man may have loved the ladies (130 of them it seems, which is practically celibate by writer Georges Simenon’s standards) but he was also partial to the odd gentleman. And he wrote a book or two.

It’s all explained on this link, which discusses Ian Kelly’s new biography of him.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Royals in messy relationships shock



I don’t know if any British readers saw last night’s mind-boggling TV programme on the marriage of Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon. There’s more here.

Dearie me, what a mess their marriage was, principally due to his inability to keep his trousers on. To say he had an eye for the ladies was an understatement – he had two eyes for the ladies, and a couple in the back of his head as well by the sound of it. He probably still has all those eyes: he doesn’t sound as though age (78) is likely to wither him. And while a certain amount of open-marriage, swinging-sixties-ness was perfectly fine by both of them, he essentially treated PM horribly – abandoning her at parties, making her cry on the shoulders of semi-strangers, being very unhappy when she found lovers of her own.

It seems there are also “persistent rumours” that he “refuses to deny” that he is bisexual! Apparently when they first met, PM thought he was gay. Many of his social circle were gay or bi men, and viewers were lucky enough to see the photo of a young male Snowden in drag?!? His closest male friend – Jeremy Fry - was openly bisexual and had been done for importuning (ie trying to pick up men for sex). This apparently stopped Fry being best man at the wedding (which you will note is not mentioned in his obituary)! Snowdon also had an affair with (Mrs) Camilla Fry, and fathered her daughter Polly.

These are Mr and Mrs Fry…




Fascinating stuff – and this is from me, who finds the royals usually very yawnsome. Perhaps you can see it via the Channel Four look again thingy?

And weren’t there also rumours that she was bi? Lawks, those royals!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Gay brains again


Another week, another study on how men’s and women’s, and gay and straight people’s brains are oh so different….

According to this report, gay men and straight women apparently performed better at certain language tasks. Lesbians and straight men had better spatial awareness. Etc. There’s more about it on the link above.

Now then, now then…

It seems that what you make of this study (of 90 people, so of course it can be translated to everyone in the world?!?) depends on what you already believe. So: it might mean that, as evolutionary biologist Dr Qazi Rahman says on the BBC site “As far as I’m concerned, there is no argument any more – if you are gay, you are born gay.”

Well, I’m not an evolutionary biologist, or indeed any kind of scientist, but it seems to me that there are still plenty of arguments to be had. Indeed, that there are gaping holes in this kind of research.

Now, in the aftermath of plagiarist psychiatrist Raj Persaud, I would like to announce that I have not necessarily thought up all these ideas on my ownsome: they have come as a result of reading various sites and blogs, such as this and this.

Problem one is that people doing these studies have such a dichotomous view of sexuality – categorically and forever straight or categorically and forever gay (although may take some time to realise this) – that they overlook the many subtleties that even people who don’t like out and proud bisexuality can agree exist.

For instance:

* How do these researchers define straight or gay? Is it the relationship the person is in? Is it self-identification? Or what?

* Just say that you accept the idea that the brains of gay and straight people differ. Is this a cause or an effect of their being gay/straight? Might their brains change back again if they behave in ways that aren’t gay/straight? (Only partly a joke.)

* But of course my main objection to this sort of study is that they divide everyone absolutely definitely and forever into heterosexual or homosexual. The most casual glance around the world shows that many people are at least on some kind of continuum between straight and gay. What happens to those people who are gay when they are young and straight when they are older? Are “situationally gay” – say in prison?

* And of course, that’s not to mention all of us who actually ARE bisexual.

You picks your scientists, you takes your choice
Problem two. It is interesting to look at this research in the light of the study by US psychologist Lisa Diamond – whose book haven’t read yet but which is currently mentioned a lot on the internet as she’s been in a film I also haven’t seen called Bi the Way. She says that women’s sexuality (not all women; some) is fluid – meaning geared towards individuals, rather than men or women. She’s not the only one of course, Michael Bailey – mentioned disapprovingly elsewhere on this blog – did research showing something similar. So if the way straight and lesbian women feel desire is extremely similar (more Bailey’s view than Diamond’s and something I certainly don’t believe) then there’s an interesting conflict here: how do this other group of scientists decide which women are definitively straight or lesbian?

Butch and femme brains
Problem three. They also seem to be – I say seem, because I haven’t read the original document – to be conflating sexual orientation with gender expression here. Gay men = straight women. Lesbian woman = straight man. This reminds me of the old-fashioned and simply untrue view that if you are a camp or effeminate man, then you have to be gay.

There are lots of online “is your brain male or female” quizzes. I remember I did one and came out as having an absolutely androgynous brain. Well, I hope I am empathetic towards others but I’m not keen on endless phone chatting; like dressing up (stereotypically female) and am fairly “visually stimulated” – ie I like looking at attractive people like straight men seem to. Does this really mean I am born to be bi?

Of the two heterosexual men (my son and my partner) with whom I am in close contact, one loves ironing, the other loves chatting on the phone, and both shrieked with terror at a huge bee which I had to shoo out of an open window. I hate ironing and am quite good at map-reading. Perhaps I am “hard-wired” to be bisexual then?

Born which way?
When I have written about “gay brains” before, some people have commented on this site that they knew they were bi from a young age, that it felt natural to them, that therefore they were “born that way”. Nevertheless, just because something feels innate, doesn’t mean it is. It doesn’t mean it isn’t, either. Personally I don't think it matters in the least but many people strongly disagree.

Another scientific report was published today about cancer and how one man’s illness was treated using his own immune cells. The researchers there are “cautiously optimistic”. Why aren’t researchers into the “causes” of sexuality ever similarly cautious about their results?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Celebs gone wild again. Yawn



Word has reached me that Lindsay Lohan – she of Mean Girls, Freaky Friday, that film with the stock car Beetle, and other items of crap - has been spotted at Cannes canoodling with her “best friend” Samantha Ronson. See here, here and here for sundry nonsense, confirming and denying that they are and aren’t in a relationship.

Of course, I don’t really know whether or not their relationship is genuine (it seems that it might be; in any case, Samantha Ronson is apparently a lesbian) as distinct from the publicity-seeking, girl-on-girl-action type of bisexuality that I detest. So what might be behind all this? Has Lohan got a film out or anything? Or is her problem that she hasn’t got a film out?
Then again, it seems she fits in to another celebrity stereotype: “they said that I should go to rehab, I said No No No.” Stealing fur coats? Unwise sex videos? General out of control behaviour?

Why not try snogging some girls? That’s really naughty! That’ll get you in the tabloids. People will be talking about you, noticing you, again. Cue three types of reaction: 1) that’s hot (or, for some reason, hott). 2) that’s disgusting. 3) that’s sweet, you leave her alone.

Hmm, I haven’t blogged about bi-girl celebs for a while and it makes me feel a bit… dirty. This post isn’t very edifying, is it? Then again, because of this rather sweet pic some people who wouldn’t see this blog otherwise will hit on it and might find something to make them think about bisex a little bit differently. It has happened.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Girls [sic] on film


I know it’s not being released for another 10 days or so, but – in the opposite of my usual procrastination - why not get in early? Yes, it’s my very own Sex and the City post. While I fully realise that not everyone has to have one, urban women all over the world (probably) will be writing about it because they related to the TV series and, now, the film. It certainly speaks to me and, yes, there’s even a bi angle!

I wasn’t an “early adopter”. When I first saw an episode of SATC, I felt completely alienated by the fact that all they did was talk about men. But soon (very soon) I began to appreciate their escapades and their relationships. There was something actually believable about the characters… and although they seem to have preposterous amounts of money (I have met the owner of a PR agency, a media lawyer, and many journalists, none of whom were anything like SATC wealthy) I could relate to them.

Yes, I did like looking at the clothes. Even when the SATC gang were wearing preposterous nonsense, it was still interesting. And yes, why I ended up liking it after all was the reason that other female commentators have said: it foregrounded female characters (still unusual); talked about sexuality in an unprecedently open and truthful way; and presented friendship between women as the most important and stable thing in their lives (although where such busy women got the time to meet so often, God knows).

Bisex in the city
In SATC – the TV series - bisexuality in some shape or form appeared quite a lot, if ambivalently. As an aide-memoire to anyone else who watched it:
In one episode Samantha is asked by a gay male couple if she will have sex with them and she agrees. However, half-way through sex they chicken out, disgusted.
Across another few episodes, Samantha - the most sexually adventurous character - actually has a relationship with a woman, but it ends after she puts her back out using an inadequately harnessed dildo. (I mean really, anyone looking at that dildo could tell it wouldn’t work properly!)
Carrie meets some younger people - including a character played by Alanis Morissette - who actually identify as bi, but backs off from dating a bi man.
Then there is the very ambivalent - in many senses - episode where camp cabaret singer Bobby Fine marries Betsy von Mufling. The SATC quartet presume he’s totally gay, so why are the two marrying each other? At the end of the episode, Bobby tells Carrie that he really does love Betsy while the melancholic song “Is that all there is” plays in the background. But in a subsequent episode, a heavily pregnant, extremely happy Betsy turns up, her husband seemingly as camp as ever as he wants to name their daughter Barbra or Judy.
Who knows whether there is any bisex in this film (I would hazard a guess as to not), or indeed whether it will be terrific or a pile of poo.

Cynthia Nixon


Then of course there’s a real-life bisexual storyline, the I’d-count-as-bisexual Cynthia Nixon (Miranda Hobbs in SATC) who is now several years into a relationship with a woman she plans to marry.

This is the first, and I fully expect the last, time I have ever used that right-wing rag The Daily Mail on this blog, but credit where it’s due I suppose. There’s a long article about her and her gf Christine Marinoni here, and even the comments are nice!
They quote her as saying:

“In terms of my sexual orientation, I don't really feel that I changed," she says. "I don't feel any different than I did before. I don't feel like there was some hidden part of myself that I wasn't aware of.
"I had been with men all my life and I had never met a woman I had fallen in love with before. But when I did it didn't seem so strange.
"I don't define myself. I'm just a woman in love with another woman."

Aaah!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Women not-loving women

Someone commented somewhere on this blog that one of the things they liked about it was that I wasn’t a “cheerleader” for bisexuality. True. I’m not really a cheerleadery type of person – sceptic, I think is about right, although common sense, or down to earth probably covers it. Some people, including me, are bi. Here are a few things we might find important / interesting / relevant, and here are some other ways in which people aren't giving us our due. And that's about it.

However, I wish, I wish, I wish, that so much of the writing on bisex I am sent through my Google Alerts wasn’t from young bi women getting a tough deal from lesbians. It makes me wonder what has changed since the 80s. Well, obviously, a lot has changed but it seems not enough.

These days I get no personal flack at all from lesbians, but then I am 51 and very much out. I have been bi for so long that no one is going to tell me I can’t be, or that I’m really a lesbian, or that anything I do is for the benefit of men. I'd probably burst out laughing. Any argument they throw at me, I can throw back at them. But anyway, any new lesbians I meet are usually interested, rather than hostile. Of course, that wasn't always the case, and I have had my fair share of blanking / looks of disgust / losing friends / not getting lovers / horrible comments as I hear about now.

(Just to make things clear, I know that lesbians do get a raw deal in society at large. What's more, if I were (and when I have been) after a committed relationship with a woman I would be really unhappy if she were to treat it as something trivial. But what about taking people as you find them? Not judging them before you even meet? Imagining that it might be possible for lesbians to treat bi women badly as well as the other way round?)

For myself, I would go along with a woman I interviewed once who said: "Why on earth would I be interested in them, if they aren't interested in me?" Dr Sue says best leave anti-bi lesbians to their own devices when it comes to being friends/lovers, and find some nice bi women instead.

These days if I get any bad responses they are from heterosexuals (although not a lot of them really – most I meet are nice!). And it is those respectable, polite, middle-class people whose look of disgust and response of silence gives away their real feelings.

It's heterosexual society, not individual lesbians, who have power over bi women. Individual lesbians can make your life miserable, sure, but they can't take away your kids.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Two words joined together

I’ve been reading through some notes I wrote once about bisexuality in the media. It’s about the pernicious effects of the casual use of “bisexual” linking it with every sort of misbehaviour and perversion.

Reading below, do you recognise anything similar now, and/or where you are?

This is a random sample from the non-tabloid UK press of around the recent past, including (gulp!) the Guardian.

* Bessie Smith was a “heavy-drinking bisexual”.
* A character in the documentary film Capturing the Friedmans was “bisexual and had paedophilic desires”.
* Painter Christopher Wood was a “troubled, bisexual opium addict”.
* Suzanne Watkins, a “bisexual mother of two… pleaded guilty to two counts of sex with underage boys and child abduction”.
And
“Bisexual Maria Hnatiuk … murdered 18-year-old Rachael Lean in a knife attack.”

Given that, is it any wonder that so many people don’t want to call themselves bisexual?

Progressive papers these days would think very hard about twinning the words “gay” or “lesbian” with “murderer” or “drug addict”. I don’t say it never happens, but I don’t remember it and there would certainly be protests. And even the Daily Mail wouldn’t call singer Amy Winehouse a “troubled, heterosexual drug addict”.

Maybe it’s time that, say, peace campaigners or sports personalities loved by millions declared that they were bi. Let's have the word "bisexual" twinned with some good things instead of bad.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I haven't met... Concha Buika



I think I’m going to start a new category on this blog: Bisexuals I haven’t met yet. Not celebrities – I mean, I have no expectation of, or interest in, meeting Angelina Jolie. Nor Bisexuals I have Met (ie famous bis I once bumped into somehow, now dead) or Never Met (famous, dead, and therefore not going to meet me this side of paradise).
However, there are some well-known bis – Alice Walker and her estranged daughter Rebecca; Saffron Burrows; Skin; David Walliams; Alan Cummings – that I could conceivably interview or something… And to start this off, someone you have probably not heard of unless you are from a Spanish-speaking country: Concha Buika.

Who is...
Concha Buika is a Spanish singer, originally from Equatorial Guinea. Aged 35, she sings a mix of latin-influenced jazz and soul and seems to be pretty well-known in Spanish-speaking countries.
I heard about her quite by accident through a music review in the Guardian about six weeks ago (mysteriously not available on the website) as an exponent of New Flamenco music.
There was also a snippet about her private life… apparently, she is married to a man and then met a woman who both she and her husband subsequently married in a three-way wedding. They all split, and she is bloodied but unbowed. According to Pop Matters
“I do what I do, and I’m not doing anything that other human beings haven’t done. All human beings are more or less the same. A lot of people don’t dare do things, but they think about them. People hide something bad. I haven’t done anything bad, so I don’t have any reason to hide it. What rule is there that two people can’t love a third person?”

Good for her. Perhaps her tremendous spirit is due to the fact that, with parents political exiles from Equatorial Guinea, she was part of the only black family on Majorca, and had to fight the racism that resulted. Then she went to Las Vegas as a Tina Turner impersonator. Well, whatever, her voice is beautiful and I’m glad I found her.

Her MySpace page describes her music as Latin / Lounge / Funk, which in my limited knowledge describes her work a bit more accurately than New Flamenco.

Anyway, here are a couple of YouTube videos of her.

This – the New AfroSpanish Collective - is a bit salsa-y and boppy:




Whereas this one - Mi Nina Lola - is slow and poignant:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Bis thriving in Australia

Often, I worry that I come across as a bit miserabilist. Well – not this time. Because thanks to a commenter on my last post, I’ve been reading Thriving as a Bisexual or Queer Woman: Tips on how to flourish.

A great antidote to all the (sadly true) stuff about bis having bad mental health etc, this booklet does exactly what it says on the cover and tells you how a range of Australian women who identify as bi or queer are thoroughly enjoying life.
According to the 20 women interviewed by Mary Heath and Ea Mulligan, having a network of close, bi-accepting open-minded friends, involvement in bi groups and organisations, involvement in a bi community, coming out, personal strength and honesty, living passionately, and (for most) having a sense of spirituality, were important to thriving. Makes sense, really.

Elsewhere in the world?
I did propose to a publisher once that I write a book called something like How To Be a Happy Bisexual. She “wasn’t sure how it would work” (different, yet somehow similar, to “there isn’t a market for it”). Not enough money to be made, no doubt.
This, though, is original research that seems to have been funded by the Australian Lesbian Medical Association (Wow! Do similar associations exist elsewhere in the world? That can give funding?) and Flinders university in Adelaide. You can download it as a pdf and it doesn’t cost you a penny. In its layout and design, it looks bright and positive too, so you get the message that way as well.
Lucky, lucky Aussies. I think perhaps it is a society where the things enabling you to thrive are easier to get than they are elsewhere. But I’m sure those of us in the rest of the world (and those who aren’t women too) can learn a lot from this. Download it, it really is inspirational.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Divide and rule

A landmark report by Stonewall was in the Guardian newspaper, (including online) and quite possibly other serious UK papers yesterday. It’s a depressing report, concluding that most lesbians and gay men expect to experience homophobia in all/most aspects of their daily lives.

For the majority of my readers who don’t live in the UK, Stonewall is a “professional lobbying group” which “put the case for equality on the mainstream political agenda by winning support within all the main political parties”.

Now, what I have to say in the following post is in no way to lessen the fact that this report is important, or that lesbians and gay men have a tough time. They do. The idea, for instance, that gay teenagers (and those who aren’t gay at all but are “different”, or don’t fit in to gender stereotypes) suffer more homophobia (much more, it seems) than they used to, is frankly terrible. That we are all (yes, bi people too) meant to sit back and take random homophobic comments from all and sundry. It ought to be enough to make queer people want to act. Do something like, oh I don’t know, join Stonewall…

That notwithstanding, the attitude Stonewall seems to have drives me up the wall. As a campaigning organisation, it says it promotes equality and justice for Lesbians, Gay Men and Bisexuals. Huh. If they have ever done anything for bi people, except when they couldn’t avoid it because of our same-sex behaviour, I’ll be mighty surprised.


The mystery of the vanishing bisexual

Everything this report says about lesbians and gay men is true for bisexuals too. And, as they apparently asked 1,658 lesbians, gay men AND BISEXUALS then surely some of their findings must apply to bi people too. Except that we don’t know. The word bisexual only appears three times in this report (ie “The last five years have seen a catalogue of legal changes benefiting lesbian, gay and bisexual people”; “In 2007 Stonewall commissioned YouGov to survey a sample of 1,658 lesbian, gay and bisexual people across Britain.” Plus once in the conclusion in a similar fashion.) Elsewhere, we are noticeably absent. For instance: one in five lesbian and gay people expect to be treated worse by police than a heterosexual…. Nine in ten would expect to face barriers to becoming foster parents because they are lesbian or gay. Etc.

Now, if they had separated out the bisexual responses, or put bi responses in with the lesbian and gay ones, fair enough. But they didn’t. “Bisexual” is simply a word here, put in as a sop to us, a token that means absolutely nothing. Really, they mean lesbian and gay, and people who are having same-sex at the moment who they count as really lesbian or gay.

Do they not realise that, if a doctor, MP, schoolchild, panel of foster-parent approvers, etc etc etc knows someone is bisexual they very probably think a) they are lying to us/or themselves and are really gay; b) they are oversexed and highly promiscuous, therefore dangerous to society and children in particular. Therefore, bisexuals are considered at least as bad as someone who is in a committed same-sex relationship and quite possibly very much worse.

For myself, I remember going to the doctor and being grilled about why I didn’t need any contraception, didn’t I want a boyfriend… etc. Pretty much the same as a lesbian would be grilled I suppose – but I wasn’t one. I imagine (probably correctly) that if I said I was bisexual they would have been even keener that I take a contraceptive pill!

Mind survey
I wonder if the people who wrote up this research have ever read the Mind survey that shows bi people having worse mental health than lesbians, gay men, or certainly heterosexuals? That they were extremely unlikely to tell health care providers they were bisexual, had little support from friends and family, were poorer and so on. I wrote about it on this post.

This survey took place in Britain about British attitudes, but I think much of it is likely to be true for you too, wherever in the world you live.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

No bath but plenty of bubbles


I’ve been reading No Bath but Plenty of Bubbles An oral history of the Gay Liberation Front 1970-73 by Lisa Power. Published in 1995, this book about gay liberation in the UK isn’t in print any more, but you can buy second hand copies here.

There was a hell of a lot to fight about 35 years ago – and these people fought it with humour, ridiculing mainstream society. They went to meeting upon meeting, demonstrated wherever and whenever it seemed appropriate, the men dressed in radical drag, and everyone generally had a whale of a time.

This was the time of phenomenal political activity in the UK (and much of the world too) where people thought things could and would change just like that. One of the manifestations of this was (in London at least) squatting the masses of rundown property that existed at the time; living communally and trying to get rid of privacy and private property (no toilet doors, anyone?!?); linking gay liberation with all sorts of other liberation too.

Perhaps their finest hour was the 1971 Festival of Light – an evangelical Christian festival, designed to promote traditional Christianity and family values – where they carried out a hysterically funny intervention, dressing as nuns, letting out mice, singing inappropriately and seemingly having a lot of fun.

The radical drag of those times (men with beards and some lovely 30s frocks that I wish I could wear) was meant to throw stereotyped gender roles into disarray and no doubt was part of the precursor for today’s transgender movements.

As one Michael Brown said: “I was angry, I was thrilled. We thought we could change the sexuality of everyone and not just homosexuals.”

What a lovely thought. So how did they go about it?

To start with, it seems, there was a kind of embracing of polymorphous perversity – that that was a goal in and of itself. Even people whose sexual practice was strictly het could join gay lib if they wanted to support their sisters and brothers.

But after a while things got stricter, people weren’t able to keep up the level of activism over the course of years – meetings every night were a bit much. They fell out with each other – there were personal and political differences. And of course, many – although not all - of the women felt that their issues were not being taken seriously enough. There was also a distinct feeling that women would go off with men if there was the slightest possibility of them doing so – one of the ideas that led to separatist lesbianism that affected so many women at that time.

One woman at least – Sue Winter (who are you and where have you been since 1995? There’s nothing on google) – flew the flag for bisexuality as a gay lib activist. And there were men (such as Tim Clark) who found that, when they had relationships with women, that they weren’t quite so desirable as gay libbers anymore. Polymorphous perversity as a goal for the immediate future faded away, identity politics crept in, and gay liberationists concentrated on being Gay.

Many of the demands that were in the 1971 manifesto have been met in Britain - up to a point - so hurrah for us! No, that sounds too scathing - many people's lives have been absolutely transformed by the changes since then. Young queer people can't really imagine how bad it used to be, in the UK at any rate.

However, I felt sad and nostalgic reading this book. I was too young to be involved in this, although I did come into contact of the dribs and drabs of radical drag, certainly feminism, and general political activity. I wish there was that level of excitement, hope and optimism now – instead of debt, work-hard play-hard, careerism, stress, more debt. And so on. There may be civil partnerships (in the UK, and some of the rest of the world) but what there isn’t is a sense that things in general, not just sexuality, can really profoundly change. There’s assimilation, but it’s been at a high price. You have to be a “good” gay, essentially "straight-acting", if you want to be accepted.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Friends



There’s a saying, I don’t know if you know it, which goes roughly as follows:

What do gay men take on their second date? What second date?
What do lesbians take on their second date? All their furniture because they’re moving in.

So far, so clich├ęd. But what about:

What do bisexuals take on their second date? Their friends, because after all what’s the difference between friends and lovers?

I read that, or something like it, on a wall at a bi conference once and it’s stuck in my mind. For many people, particularly – but not only - in the politicised bi community, the friends/lovers blurriness is something to celebrate. You ought to be friends with your lovers, right? And people who have been your lovers, who have shared that kind of particular closeness ought to stay your friends. The relationship ought to be able to change and encompass being sexual or not.

Then again, you can be so close to your friends that you find the attraction growing into a sexual one.

Sounds lovely. Now doubt some people, some of the time, can manage this (and I’m not even going to go into jealousy, emotional trauma, and so on in this post!)

And/or lovers
But for myself, I have always found the friends/lovers thing very hard to manage. My normal pattern, for instance, is to have a group of friends rather than one particularly close one. However, when I have had a female “best friend” as I have had a couple of times in my life, the sexual tension has always been hard to navigate. To start with, they have always been heterosexual. Then again, I have sometimes felt confused about what sexual attraction means in that context. With someone I hardly know, if I feel a desire to be with them a lot of the time, I’d put that down to attraction. But if you are already close, what does that mean?

I remember a woman I interviewed once – and I think it is women, much more than men, who are confused by the borders of sex and friendship – who said that she felt her sexual feelings towards women kept her distant from other women as she was worried about how they’d react to her bisexuality and made her fearful of rejection. So much for all women being bi! I understand what she means, too, as I have felt it myself. When other (straight) women have said things in my presence like: it’s so relaxing being with women because you don’t have to worry about sex, I do feel like quietly screaming. No dear, not for me it isn’t.

Straight people, most of the time, don’t have to think about this. This is something lesbians – and to a lesser extent gay men - have to face as well. So how do we all manage it?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Touching a nerve

Aargh! Where do other bloggers find the time? I know that I’m substantially under par on the energy front, but even so! I had fully intended to post up a good few more bi history items – some are even half written - but they will have to wait.

There is something that I can direct you to in the meantime, though. It’s nerve.com’s bisexual issue. Full of fascinating stuff – the sort of stuff I’d like to write if I could only get down to it. Oh and and I wanted the world at large to know about my sex life. Pah!

So if you want to know where to find out what intelligent writers think about gender monogamy, coming out for the second time, or what “lesbians until graduation” are doing these days, look here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Ossie Clark


This time’s sort-of-historical blog post is another bisexual I never met – fashion designer Ossie Clark. He’s also my second Elegantly Dressed Wednesday subject, because not only could he look pretty smart himself, he made lots of rich and lucky women look good, and had an influence on the style of plenty of poorer women too – including the teenage me.

Born in 1942 and murdered in 1996, Ossie Clark was a terrific designer who made some of his best clothes in the late 60s and early 70s.

The clothes he made tended to the flowing, like the pictures I’ve posted here.



A kind of 40s meets 70s crepe or chiffon. And very sexy, in my opinion.



I can’t find many pictures that will allow me to post them here, but the site for the London Victoria and Albert Museum’s 2003-04 exhibition has quite a few to look at.

A fashion historian said to me that she thought he really liked women, because his clothes made female bodies look good. They didn’t require you to have a particular body shape – certainly not the rake-thin type usually associated with fashion.
Of course, nowadays his clothes are characterised as “vintage” so you can buy them in auction houses and upmarket clothing emporia. Unsurprisingly, they are really expensive – this one (below) was sold in 2004 for £3592.



Still, it’s the sort of thing I’d love to wear if I had the money/ thought that spending that sort of money on clothes was morally defensible!

Many of the clothes he designed were done in collaboration with his fabric designer wife, Celia Birtwell, who nowadays has a rather pretty collection for Top Shop. There are some more of their 70s clothes on that site too.

This really famous picture of them was painted by David Hockney and now hangs in Tate Britain, in London.




So what about his bi-ness? He’s written about on this blog, entitled Gay for Today, but I think the writer is a wee bit snide by saying:

In 1969 he married Celia Birtwell. Although Ossie was openly bisexual and carried on many affairs with men, he and Birtwell had two sons together.


And your point is, Mr Gay for Today?

What can I easily find out about him? Well, he lived the Swinging Sixties life, with the sex, drugs and rock and roll that that implied – particularly the drug part, which apparently set his marriage and career, and subsequently his whole life, on the skids.

In 1996 he was murdered by his (male) ex-lover, very violently indeed. A sad and sorry end really to such a creative life.

For more on him, go here, and his posthumously published diaries are available here. I feel there’s a lot more I could write, but - boo-hoo – no time for the research.

He’s also been in the news recently, as his sons tried to stop his name being used as a new Ossie Clark brand, which they considered exploitation.

Speaking of fashion designers, I have a feeling that Calvin Klein was bi too. Can anyone advise?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Bisexual history


So what is bisexual history then and why – apart from the fact that it is LGBT history month (see my last post) – am I blogging about it?

Well, the quick answer to that is that bi people are essentially “hidden from history” as Sheila Rowbotham wrote in the 1970s about women in the past. And I would dearly love to see it, them and us out in the open.

I am doing my microbit. As well as writing about how men who had sex with men before WW2 often seemed to act, or feel about their experiences, somewhat differently than they do now, and how some young women in the 1920s seemed to be having relationships with each other, I wrote a few blog posts about a year ago about bisexuality in the 70s, 80s and 90s – what I remember, in a nutshell. Bizarrely that is now history too. You can see them all in the history link to the right of the page.

But what about before that?

The gay liberation movements of the 1970s set about finding, recording and reclaiming the lives of gay people across the ages – we are talking pretty much exclusively north America and Europe here. They found people across all time – mainly men, mainly rich, but not all - who had same sex relationships.

It used to be, and probably still is, argued that it is simply inappropriate to label people gay, lesbian or bisexual when those terms were not used at the time, and people would not have considered themselves in that way. Sexuality before the end of the 19th century was perceived in terms of the act, not the identity, and whether or not you married was what was important. So partly as a result of that – and also for political reasons – pretty much anyone gay historians could find who had other than other-sex relationships was treated as gay for reclamation purposes.

It’s certainly true that many or most people earlier than say the 1970s (and even now almost everywhere in the world) who would like to have same-sex relationships were compelled to at least appear to be having straight ones.

Nevertheless, it is also true that many people have been claimed as gay/lesbian (three being Virginia Woolf, Oscar Wilde and indeed Sappho – pictured above, although how can anyone really be sure it is her?) who seemed to have authentic romantic or sexual attachments with men and women. So while it might have been a good idea to claim them as lesbian or gay in the 1970s, now I think it’s time to take a more nuanced view of their sexual complexities.



Other than that there are, of course, reports of men who put it about with all and sundry… the 17th century poet and satirist the Earl of Rochester, for instance, pictured left. A fictionalised version of his life featured in the film The Libertine. Very little of his sex with men was apparently included.

As usual in matters historical, written records are overwhelmingly about men, specifically rich and/or aristocratic men, so we know much more about what they said, did and wrote. But that doesn’t mean there is nothing at all written about women, just that it is harder to tease out. Anne Lister, for instance, a wealthy 19th century Yorkshirewoman, lived as a lesbian and had many affairs with women before marrying the wealthy heiress Ann Walker. But what about her other girlfriends? Mightn’t some of them have loved men as well as her?

One shining example of bisexual history is Eva Cantarella’s book, Bisexuality in the Ancient World - an academic look at ancient Greece and Rome, the (mainly) male bisexuality that went on there, and the constraints – of which there were many – that applied. I do have this book but as it is currently in storage, I can’t enlighten you any further.

So have there been any other history books from a specifically bi perspective? I can’t find any, but if anyone knows of one I’d be mighty glad to read it.

In the meantime, there are some bi-themed history features here.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

B-free LGBT history month




Another month, another theme, and February in the British Isles is LGBT History month. Or, to be more accurate, gay history with a few lesbian events, some trans stuff if you’re lucky, and nothing bisexual whatsoever… month.

Still, as the only bisexual blogger with a strong interest in and a reasonable knowledge of history (probably) I can add my two groats’ worth.
So, to start us off, a bisexual novel of the 1920s: Dusty Answer.

Judith is a lonely child (and later woman) whose (rich, by normal standards of our time and hers) parents don’t take much notice of her. She does, however, live next to a house where a group of cousins come to spend summers. In the years leading up to the first world war, she falls in love with this family - Charlie, Mariella, Julian, Roddy and Martin - finding them entrancing. Charlie and Mariella marry very young during the war, but Charlie is killed, leaving Mariella - a widow at the age of 19 - to bring up their son alone.

Judith – and Roddy and Martin – goes to Oxford, where she falls in love with Jennifer. Their relationship is described in very romantic and sensual terms:
“She roused herself at last as Judith bent to kiss her good night.
‘Good night my-darling-darling,’ she said.
They stared at each other with tragic faces. It was too much, this happiness, this beauty.”
And much in similar vein. Jennifer runs off with another woman, however.

Roddy, who Judith falls in love with later, has a constant companion in the shape of Tony. Tony is an artist who spends much time in Paris…

It all ends sadly, this melancholy tale, but not because they have chosen the wrong gender love objects. Everyone is fated to be unhappy in love, and in life for that matter. Absolutely everyone in this novel is miserable.

But while no one actually has sex with anyone – this was published in 1927 after all – I would certainly argue that this is a bisexual novel. The characters seem to moon after individuals and no character cares or indeed seems to notice whether they are men or women. Of course, they all intend to marry. That’s what people did then. But love existed outside that too.

When I was a student in the late 70s, I read and loved this book. It was recommended to me by Kate Millett (not personally, of course, but in her autobiography Flying where she talks about reading it.) Now that I am back at the university I came from, I got the self-same copy out – now rather more tatty than it was 20 whatever years ago – to read again.
Dusty Answer is a rites of passage novel, something that would have appealed to the young woman I was when I first read it. Now I am more struck by how old-fashioned it seems, how snobbish and privileged the characters are. And how sad – the melancholy seeps from every page. All Rosamond Lehmann’s books (that I have read anyway) have this melancholy.

I think it’s almost certain that Rosamond Lehmann knew that parts of her characters’ lives could be construed as homosexual (she was living in bohemian London, where there was rather a lot of it going on at the time!). But, as I have written quite a lot on this blog, the “dichotomous view of sexuality” – you’re either straight or gay – didn’t have a hold over society in quite the way it does now. She wrote some interesting things about the reactions to her writings here.

A fascinating period piece, but a lot harder to "relate to" than I remembered.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Nothing natural?



In the Independent newspaper today, they had a long and involved piece entitled Scientists discover way to reverse loss of memory.
Briefly, a man whose brain was operated on to try to suppress his appetite suddenly recovered very vivid memories from 30 years ago. The more research is done on the brain, the more scientists find that manipulating it in some way alters how people act, think, feel and so on.

Another piece from the New York magazine forwarded to me by the New York Area Bisexual Network looked at various sorts of research that has been done by scientists from different fields looking at the so-called causes of homosexuality – length of fingers, chromosomes and so on and so forth. It also suggested that various stereotypical traits of lesbians and gay men might be biologically based, which to me beggars belief – it’s ahistorical and ignores cultural and geographical differences. I remember, for instance, when men having long hair was considered to be a sign of homosexuality. Who would that even occur to now?

“They’re born that way” seems to be the notion du jour – of this and pretty much every other age - and popular opinion likes to go down the common sense track, where if it seems to be true – because of repetition and stereotype, then it must be true. So male hairdressers are gay and female footballers are lesbian. Perhaps bisexuals are footballing hairdressers then?

So is that it then? We are all born gay or straight (or bisexual – although no one seems to be researching that). And we’re all man/woman, male/female, masculine/feminine and that’s that? Isn’t that just a tad simplistic? I think so.

In short, there’s a massive gulf between people who think sexuality is constructed in society - that we end up as we do because of our individual experiences in this particular space and time – and those that think our sexuality is a result what is going on in our brains / with our chromosomes bla de bla.

Science or queer theory?

I am particularly struck by this now as I’ve been reading queer theory for the first time in my life. I’ve always known it existed, but never having been schooled in it I was a bit intimidated, to be honest. But if you start from the beginning, say here it’s not as scary as all that even if it is a bit hard to pin down and define.
Anyway, while thinking that gender is formed in society, that gender is not glued to biological sex (what is that anyway?), and that sexuality is simply a role you play might be all very well to some readers of this blog, it wouldn’t really play in Peoria (do people still say that?)!

Now, I’m well aware that I don’t know enough about science on the one hand, or queer theory on the other, to have a properly informed opinion but that never stopped anyone in this debate. In any case, if you know a lot about one you are not likely to know a lot about the other.

It has always seemed to me, though, that the way people experience and express their sexuality varies so terribly much between cultures, both historically and geographically, that it has to be nonsense to say anyone is born to be gay/bi/whatever.

But hey – I’m a both/and type of bisexual. Do we have to throw out the born that way baby with the biological bathwater? Many people feel that their sexuality is such a deep and profound part of themselves that it is “natural”. They don’t feel that it is a role they can put on and take off. But are they right? What role does biology and neuroscience have to play in sexuality? Answers on a rather large postcard please.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Getting Bi


Bi? Fancy yourself as a writer? Then you should send your contributions to the wonderful women below. The first edition of Getting Bi was and is absolutely fantastic and fascinating... If you haven't got a copy, buy one instantly here.

Otherwise, read below....

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. *(Essays from
people from other places and backgrounds will also be considered but our
present focus is on broadening representation. )

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, and please help us spread the word! !

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

Monday, January 21, 2008

I'm pleased that I exist but...

A report from the American Psychological Association that (female) bisexuality is a stable identity has been doing the blog-rounds over the past few days, as well it might.

According to planetout.com from which I lifted this (and a whole heap of other sites):
“A study of 79 bisexual, lesbian or unlabeled women ages 18-25 over a decade found that bisexuals maintained a stable pattern of attraction to men and women, according to a press release from the APA. The study also disproves the myth that bisexual women are unable to commit to long-term monogamous relationships. Results were published in the January issue of Developmental Psychology, published by the APA.
University of Utah psychologist Lisa Diamond, who conducted the study, said in the press release that the research provides the first experimental study on the topic and debunks long-standing beliefs.
"The findings demonstrate considerable fluidity in bisexual, unlabeled and lesbian women's attractions, behaviors and identities and contribute to researchers' understanding of the complexity of sexual-minority development over the life span," she said.
Bisexual women were more likely than lesbians to change their identity but tended to switch between bisexual and unlabeled rather than lesbian and heterosexual.
At the end of the 10-year study, most of the women were involved in long-term (more than one year in length), monogamous relationships -- 70 percent of the self-identified lesbians, 89 percent of the bisexuals, 85 percent of the unlabeled women and 67 percent of those who were then calling themselves heterosexual. (The Advocate)”

So great ammunition for anyone who’s been on the receiving end of the: bisexual women are just confused / waiting for a man to come along / you watch out – it’ll all end in tears stereotypes.

What do you think?

There was a bit more background to the study, and lots of really interesting comments on the great blog Feministing. Jessica, who writes it, asks her readers whether the study concentrated on women because men’s bisexuality is less acceptable and seen more as a temporary stop on the way to gayness. (Well, just because that’s true, doesn’t make it a reason not to study women’s behaviour/ identity/ whatever.)

I do have this nagging feeling, though, that all this new-found quasi acceptability bi women seem to be enjoying (I say seem, because I’ve seen little evidence of it in “real life”) actually is because men (some: not all by any means, despite the stereotype) like it. Fundamentally, I believe that women's bisexuality is actually a bit more challenging than that - or it can and should be. I want women’s relationships with each other, sexual and otherwise, to be taken seriously and not always viewed in relation to men. I want bi women who bear no resemblance to Tila Tequila to appear in the media. I want bi women of all ages, shapes and sizes – not just young and pretty ones – to be able to live without harassment. And really, I know that this won’t happen until bi men are taken a bit more seriously too.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The first of the year

Promptly (I promised mid-Jan in my last post and I am as good as my word this time), here I am, unrelated deadlines met, back on my blog.

I didn’t want to be thinking about blogging while I had other things to concentrate on, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t keeping an eye on The World of Bisexuality.
One of the ways I’ve been doing this is through setting up a Google Alert for bisexual stuff. It’s a great idea, actually – it means that whenever a website of any sort anywhere puts the words bisexual, bisexuality or bi online, I get to hear about it. Just search for Google Alerts and it'll tell you how to do it.

Because of this, I know that Tila Tequila has dumped Bobby (her hot boy date from the last Tila Tequila series), the better to have another bisexual dating show; that it would have been Simone de Beauvoir’s 100th birthday – and scandals about her sex life are potentially clouding new autobiographies; I know that, in several blogs, women are discussing what people think about bisexuality and how they can find a community to call home; I know that bi people had a “coffee klatch” – whatever that is - in San Francisco last night; and I know that there’s a lot of people floating around in the ether who don’t like bisexuality. Don’t think I’ll link to them.

Like lots of bloggers, I have comment moderation on here. That’s not simply due to spam commenters: who knew that there were important connections between feminine lesbians, UFOs and ancient Egyptian gods? Not me, although 2,000 word comments on tried to tell me otherwise. Then there’s the biphobia. Now I don’t think I’m a “sick fuck”, but others obviously disagree.

I tell you what, there’s an awful lot of weird and freaky biphobia out there. Reason to keep writing what I consider to be no more than common sense, I suppose.