I went to the Nine Worlds LGBTQ+ Mini Talks session as it was really good last year (and introduced me to Hal Duncan who is amazing and wonderful!). This year though... Ho Boy.

There were some OK talks as part of it but then there was... well. We'll leave aside the advertised talk on gay relationships in Night Vale ("Night Vale is ace you should listen"- 2 minutes) and the straight, cis male wanted to lead a discussion on Tony (the trans male character) from Orphan Black (which other people have probably written about better than I could). I'm going with the Bisexual Erasure mini-talk. I'm not going to name names here because this post is more about my reaction to it and me coming to some of my own realisations.

The speaker, very early on, claimed that he identified as bi but didn't believe bi exists. Normally that second part is enough to make me leave a conversation but this time I wanted to hear what it meant coming from someone who identifies as bi.

When he eventually got round to that part of his talk, his argument turned out to be "bi means two and there are more than two genders". And it's bullshit.

The language part, not the more than two genders part.

The bi community has long been working with more inclusive understandings of "bi" than "two" - either as a general "more than one" or, more in keeping with the concept of "two", "same gender and different genders" (I pulled these from Shiri Eisner's Bi! Notes for a Bisexual Revolution). It is these definitions which allow me to feel like I belong as a part of the bisexual community even if I prefer other terms (mostly queer but gay if I need a shorthand).

To hear "bi is two so bisexuals don't exist" argument is also rubbish because language means what we understand it to mean.

There is a quote attributed to Morgan Freeman which says homophobia doesn't exist because phobia is a fear, homophobes are just arseholes. This is the same bullshit. The suffix "-phobia" from ancient Greek did have a meaning of fear. In medical terminology it has a specific meaning (which is precisely defined in DSM) which may be summarised as, something like, "irrational and debilitating fear". The exact specifications of the DSM definition can change depending on the DSM version. We are not speaking Ancient Greek. We are not making medical diagnoses. We are communicating an idea of hatred and bigotry directed towards non-hetrosexual people and that idea is widely accepted as being encompassed by the word 'homophobia'.

Similarly therefore 'bisexual' is defined by the concept we are trying to portray. Where the nuance of the possible meanings of bisexuality is understood, I can happily identify as bisexual - while I am not attracted to all genders, I am attracted to multiple genders and I am attracted to my own gender and other genders. I do not, typically, identify as bisexual because I think the understanding outside of the bi community is too heavily biased towards the idea of being attracted to "(at least) both men and women" and I do not fit that understanding.

What was very unclear from his speech was why, if he has such a limited and prescribed understanding of bisexual which did not match his experience of his sexuality, did he not identify differently - for example 'pansexual' (a word I understand to specifically address the limitations of "bi as two" mentality). It is also unclear why, just because his experience of his sexuality means that no-one else could experience his understanding of "bisexuality".

Either way, the speech made me realise how much I hated the argument and, like my earlier "masculine glasses" experience, really brought home to me that biphobia is not some theoretical issue for me - it is personal. It does hurt me.


Angry Alex signing off...

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