Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What An Ass!

I ran across a post about Freedom to Marry Week -- Mombian has a list of them with links -- that really boggled my mind with its stupidity.

Seems there's this bi-identified gal who's angry that the term "gay marriage" somehow excludes bisexuals.


First of all the term "marriage equality" is used just as frequently as "gay marriage." Second, you might understandably wonder why our bi gal is so upset. After all, if she marries a man then she doesn't have to worry about marriage equality. And if she marries a woman she's part of a same-sex couple and will naturally want to have the protections that marriage equality may engender. Right?

Wrong. The bi-gal objects because -- as she puts it -- just because two women are a couple doesn't make them -- pardon me -- a lesbian [or gay] couple, and that's why she's in a dither. That's why she won't support gay marriage (or, presumably, marriage equality). Just because she may someday want to marry a woman doesn't make her, like, a yucky dyke. [Admittedly, she doesn't come right out and say that or use that term but that's definitely the inference I got. And they say bi's are never homophobic. Bullshit! For those who may be unaware of this some bi-identified individuals feel they are entirely separate from -- and sometimes superior to -- gay people.]

Now I understand that she feels invisible or excluded or something but to not support gay marriage, which would benefit not only gays but -- yes -- same-sex bisexual couples as well (whether it's one or both partners who consider themselves bi)! Does that make any sense at all? Does she seriously think any gay person would consider her an ally? Does she think her attitude will make people take her or the bi-cause she espouses seriously? The term gay marriage or even same-sex marriage is convenient and easy and hardly meant to oppress anybody who loves or desires a member of their own sex, which -- as far as I know -- bisexuals frequently do. So what's the fucking problem?

Frankly, I don't think this gal is going to get a lot of support, even from the bi community (except for a few homophobic dim wits). Most intelligent bisexuals recognize that when they are in same-sex relationships the world pretty much sees them as gay (and what the hell is wrong with that?) and they don't necessarily get hysterical about it. Some bi's strongly identify with gays and others would rather shoot themselves than be considered "monosexual" (although it's usually being thought homosexual that bothers them, not heterosexual. Wonder why?)You can bet that this gal probably wouldn't object half as much to being called one half of a straight couple when she's out with a boyfriend.

But I've often said that some bi's suffer from internalized homophobia, even if it's not politically correct to say so.

Way to go, gal. Show your support for homosexuality, gay people, lesbians, alternative lifestyles, and so on by acting like a fucking bigot.

Bisexuals have far more to worry about from the religious right than they do from gays, some of whom have supported bi-rights for decades.

This gal calls herself, if I remember correctly, cowtown bi.

I think cowpie bi might be more appropriate.

What an ass. If she decides to leave the GLBT movement, I doubt if it will be much of a loss.


The Bi Avenger said...

WOOOOSH!! That was the sound of my blog post flying miles above your tiny biphobic head. Did you even take the time to finish reading it? I don't think you did. Also, I noticed you had no problem insulting me personally even though you don't know me at all, but you didn't have the courage to comment on my blog itself or to link to it here.

I actually have a life outside of the Internet, so I can't take the time to dissect your ignorance at the current moment. Expect a full response from me sometime in the next few days.

Anonymous said...

Hi there, It's going to be really hard for me to comment on this, because there is just SO MUCH that you have misstated and/or misunderstood. It's hard to know where to start.

Okay, let's start with this: your "gal" is not against SAME SEX marriage -- she's just not feeling all jazzed up to fight for it. Which is quite understandable to me. (There are dozens of reasons homo-positive people are not all jazzed up about it......)

Now, rather than debating all the other points that you've misunderstood, I'm going to suggest an exercise for you: imagine that from now on everyone (you, me, the media) is going to fight for bisexual rights -- no more gay rights. Okay by you? I'm so glad to hear it!

What? You aren't all jazzed up to fight for bisexual rights and bisexual people? How come? You'll still benefit. What's your beef?
Do you seriously think that bisexual people would consider you an ally?

You said "Way to go, gal. Show your support for homosexuality". I say to you: start carrying signs that proclaim your support for bisexual rights -- and don't ever mention that gay people are affected. Give it a try. For real.

Why on earth do you expect people who are directly harmed by marriage restrictive laws to fight "for others" ONLY, and not be able to claim the fight as their own?

I'd like to have a real conversation with you about WHY bisexual folks would be (and many are) upset (and/or just alienated) by the bisexual-excluding language that you find so unproblematic. There are good and understandable reasons for it -- but somehow I don't get the sense that you're all ears in wanting to understand.

One more hint: bisexuals may not perceive the situation as one where we/they "feel they are entirely separate" -- but more like one where we/they have been thrown out over and over again, and chronically excluded by (many) GL people and organizations -- for decades -- and usually with no awareness of the exclusion.

I do have some empathy for the fact that you may not have been hearing about bisexual people's feelings and experiences all along. This issue could easily be a real shock to you, so it may take a few decades worth of "catching up" in order to understand why/how we've come to this situation. No doubt the bisexual people around you are not likely to tell you anything at all about being bisexual. (Yes, there are bisexual people around you.) This is not "about you" it's about the entire cultural situation we are all in -- which is one where bisexual people are not generally "rewarded" for coming out to gay people.

But, honestly, you'll have to be willing to make some effort to see that GL people are not the only people whose feelings and rights matter..... or it doesn't matter at all who makes an effort to explain things to you.

Estraven said...

Wow, feel the hate. Studies show that half of all people who identify as gay or Lesbian are actually bisexual, but they either are consciously in hiding, or have convinced themselves they can’t possibly be bi because no one will date them if they come out to the LG community as bi. We out bisexuals are SOOOOOOOO tired of being treated as though we don’t exist. All she is asking is that the words “same-sex” marriage be used, as you did throughout your blog, to acknowledge that we exist. We are all queer, and a study done in 2002 by Gregory Herek in the Journal of Sex Research shows that straight people hate bisexuals more than gay men or Lesbians. LG people know that the stereotypes straight people throw at you are not true, but you don’t hesitate for a second to throw them at us. IT HURTS to be rejected by our own kind, to have everyone hate us for something that we did not choose to be either. Think about how it feels to be slapped across the face by an enemy; now think about how it feels to be slapped across the face by a friend. That’s what your post just felt like to me, and that’s the pain that her post came from. That’s what LG people do to BT people over and over and over ….

Each sliver of L and G and B and T is such a tiny percentage of the population, but add us all together and we start to make up a pretty hefty number. Some have argued that bisexuality is actually the natural state, and this is indeed seen in cultures that do not have the sexual repression that ours does. It would be particularly advantageous for the LBGT movement given the potentially HUGE numbers of bisexuals to stop fostering biphobia, and to stop pushing bisexuals out into the cold. In these days, with the fight for marriage equality and LGBT rights, united we can prevail, divided we fall.

Peggy said...

You seem to be making a lot of unfair "inferences" and assumptions about this person without seeming to have any way of backing them up. Something about your whole article smacks of sexism, as well, although I have a hard time putting my finger on exactly what it is.

Peggy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DW said...

You, sir, are the ass.

Since you're apparently a total biphobe, I suppose I should stop here to mention that I do not identify as bisexual and never have. I get the sense that you will somehow take my comment more seriously because I'm not bi.

The closed-minded idiocy of your blog post reminds me of something that happened back when I was in college. The campus GLBTAQ... group had brought in a speaker to talk with us about his experiences being bisexual. During the Q&A portion, another student (a lesbian) told the speaker that he had no right to feel marginalized because the second he dates a woman, he becomes a heterosexual and returns to the privileged class. The irony, of course, was that in making this rather boorish comment, she was demonstrating precisely how bi people are marginalized by GL folks.

I wonder, do you have similarly asinine views on marriage where transgender people are concerned? Would you tell a MtF transperson that she should be okay calling her struggle to marry a male partner a fight for “gay marriage” or "same-sex marriage"? But it’s so convenient and easy, so even if it’s totally inaccurate, what’s the fucking problem?

As a general rule, I think all that the political correctness stuff is gratuitous and I tend to be pretty politically incorrect most of the time. That said, when it comes to GLBT issues, the ways in which our rhetoric can be inclusive of all queers are so simple. Why is it too much to ask to use the inclusive (and, IMHO, more apt) term marriage equality instead of non-inclusive terms like gay marriage or same-sex marriage? Is it really that difficult?

Unlike you, I'm intelligent enough not to make sweeping inferences about someone I don't know based on a blog post (thought at least I read the entire post before commenting on it). However, if this post is representative of your views, and based on your previous posts, I get the sense that it is, then you are the fucking bigot, and if you were to leave the GLBT movement, I would consider it a GAIN.

Bill Samuels said...

DW, whoever or whatever you are, you don't exactly impress me with the courage of your convictions when you post anonymously. I could respond to your points but why bother?

One of my main points is the fact that the term "marriage equality" seems to be used -- at least within the GLBT community -- more than gay marriage. But I'm not going to apologize for using "gay marriage." If people want to feel I'm marginalizing them because of it, there's nothing I can do about that.

I'm tired of being told that because I'm a gay man I have to always and utterly agree with everyone else in GLBT, or with asexuals, wiccans, furries and everyone else. [If some of you bi's are mad at me, you should hear what the asexuals have to say!]

If I'm not progressive or pc enough to suit some people, they will just have to accept that everyone is entitled to their viewpoints and that just because someone doesn't agree with you doesn't mean they "hate" you. That's just being immature.

Bisexuals have traditionally been included in Gay Liberation. When I first joined New York's Gay Activists Alliance the president told me he was bisexual. There was no angst or anger on either side. We both were working for the acceptance of homosexuality.

Lately bisexuality has become more "politicized" than it used to be. Bisexuals don't identify as gay and often don't relate to the gay experience -- and vice versa. Why not just acknowledge that and move on? As I said to asexuals, It's not as if I want bi's or a's or anyone else to be rounded up and shot!

Straights hate bisexuals more than they do gays? Maybe you're right. But isn't it their homosexual side that they hate? The one thing that distinguishes bisexuals from heterosexuals is the homosexual desires, no?

Transsexuals identify as gay, straight, and bi. if two trans men or two trans women wanted to marry, that I would consider gay marriage. Anything wrong with that?

Bi Avenger -- It's possible I over-reacted to your post, coming as it did during Freedom to Marry week and so soon after the passge of Proposition 8. I was also carrying with me moments of what I felt were decided homophobia coming from bi-identified people over the years [Members of the bi community talk about biphobia, but never seem to want to talk about -- or even admit to -- homophobia in the bi community. You can call out people on their biases, but I say at least admit to your own.]

My problem with you isn't that you're bisexual but that you could have picked a better way of dealing with your anger than expressing disgust with "gay marriage" during Right to Marry week. I understand that nobody wants to be excluded and all that, but you came across -- at least to me -- as immature and whiney.

If I come to the conclusion that I over-reacted I'll admit to it, but I did think aspects of your post were offensive. But you're entitled to your viewpoint. I didn't link to it because I didn't think anything could be gained by publicizing it.

By the way, I happen to have friends and acquaintances who identify as bi, and they didn't find my post biphobic.

This issue is not at the top of my list of things that I wish to have monopolize my time. I, too, have a life outside the Internet. You can certainly have your say -- all of you -- but I'll take it much more seriously if you own up to who you actually are. I'm not hiding in a closet or behind cute little web names.

I suspect that we'll just have to agree to disagree.

DW said...

My comment is automatically "unimpressive" just because I don't have a blogger account or a webpage? That's pretty amusing coming from someone who has enabled comment moderation after getting several unflattering comments.

I'm an academic on the job market, and like it or not, I have to be careful about what I sign my (full legal) name to on the internet. I'd rather not have my comments on your blog come up first when search committees inevitably run a google search for my name. If that makes me closeted, so be it, but I have a right to whatever level of internet privacy I choose.

Since you seem pretty rigid on the bisexual issue, I would still encourage you to think about marriage equality in the case I described where a MtF transperson is seeking to marry a man (or a FtM person seeking to marry a woman, for that matter). I have a feeling those folks would vehemently object to calling their relationships "gay" or "same-sex" marriages. The case you described in your response was the opposite of the one I described, and yeah, it fits better in that case. However, for the record, "gay marriage" isn't exactly the best descriptor for lesbians, either.

The thought exercise suggested by another anonymous poster really got the point across and I'm surprised you missed it.

I would hope too that you could at least appreciate the irony in seeing somewhat exclusive marriage language on a GLAAD website regarding inclusive language.

You also missed the overarching point in the original person's blog, which was that perhaps marriage - whatever adjective you give it - shouldn't be THE issue. There are other things: hate crimes legislation, job protections, etc. that are important too.

You have a right to be offended by her post, but surely you agree that she has a right to be offended by being left out of the community by gays and lesbians, and especially by groups who claim to be GLBT yet repeatedly ignore the B and T.

Bill Samuels said...

But DW of course it's not a gay marriage if a MtF -- or a trans woman -- marries a man. A trans woman is a WOMAN. If she marries a man it may be a "queer" relationship in some respects but it shouldn't automatically be seen as a gay one. However, I understand that many transsexuals after they transition have problems being officially recognized and accepted as male or female, and of course that's unfair. Just because I use the term gay marriage doesn't mean I would ever approve of transpeople not being allowed to marry whomever they want; bi's as well. There's such a thing as getting too hung up on words and expressions. I'm gay, I use gay marriage; I'm sorry if you and others see that as excluding them. I don't feel such a need to be so constantly, almost oppressively pc -- it's like walking on eggshells -- that I have to apologize because I slip and forget to use the more acceptable marriage equality.

I honestly don't know what you're talking about when you say GLBT groups consistently ignore the B and T. What was originally the gay (or gay and lesbian) movement, (although remember that lesbians are gay women) expanded to include in a more concrete manner transsexuals and bisexuals who were said not to have enough numbers/political power to gain acceptance on their own. It was gay activists who brought them into the fold, if you remember [or maybe you're unaware of that].

Most gay groups insisted that ENDA include transgender rights before it was introduced. And The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and GLAAD are always posting stories about oppression of transsexuals and/or negative images of them in the media. A recent newletter from the Task Force highlighted a bisexual woman who was honored for her achievements. Etc. etc and so on.

Here in New York our LGBT center has many programs for all groups, including transgenders. No one is left out.

Perhaps the problem is that Bi Avenger and many others don'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.

But hell, everyone's entitled to be ticked off now and then. We won't always agree or get along. But I wish we could all get past this business about accusing someone of "hating" everybody just because they disagree with you. Rick Warren may be on my hate list; you and Bi Avenger are not.

By the way, I enabled comment moderation not because of responses to this post -- I've had worse -- but because I got over sixty responses to another post and I was getting tired of the whole business.

DW said...

I'm glad you recognize that transpeople have unique issues. It has to feel pretty exclusionary when people or groups use terms like "gay" or "same sex" marriage while they are struggling for marriage equality too.

I don't think that you "hate" anyone who's contributed here. I also don't think it's that much of a problem for an individual to use whatever terms they want. Like you, I think the PC stuff gets to be pretty damn ridiculous sometimes and often my more PC friends give me a hard time about it. It's also bitten me in the ass a couple of times in the classroom.

But I understand where the Bi Avenger is coming from because I hold groups like GLAAD and HRC to a higher standard. They're supposed to be the public face of our community. I think a lot of groups are truly inclusive, but there is still a lot of work to be done. The stupidity of GLAADs "problematic terminology" website and the HRC stance on ENDA demonstrate that pretty well.

Anonymous said...

There's such a thing as getting too hung up on words and expressions.

Let's revisit a case about words. The case is called "marriage cases". It's the case that the Calif Supreme Court ruled on in May 2008, when they determined that it is unconstitutional (in California) to restrict marriage to MF couples.

Are you aware that in that case, the attorneys for the plantiffs (that is, "our side") argued that the case was NOT about legal rights such as hospital visitation -- but rather was specifically about the "status and stature" of marriage.

You may think there's a lot more than a word here, but the lawyers arguing the case before the court are essentially saying that all California couples deserve the respect of this particular WORD. That a separate word and a different but equal legal status is "not equal". That it has to be the same word and same legal process.

I would guess the text is still available on the web.

The Bi Avenger said...

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
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.