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Bi Community

Author:
9868477436_a64c99b8bb_z

By Fee Grabow

It took me a really long time to come into my bisexuality. This will sound strange to anyone who knows me because I love being bisexual. But I didn’t always.

And it wasn’t even the usual qualms about the word, how it evokes an extremely sexualized image and stereotypes about greedy, privileged traitors, but also the fact that I didn’t want to be attracted to more than one gender. It was confusing, scary and felt… deviant. It felt dirty to want so much. I felt wrong to want in the way that I did. I didn’t care so much about being called bisexual, I just didn’t want to be bisexual. Even though I have always very casually and freely expressed my desire for people of all genders, there were times and moments when I hated it. I hated my desire.
When I asked myself what I actually wanted, I always came away with an intense yearning for community. And there was no community for someone like me. There were no bisexual parties or book clubs, no bi positive banners at my small town Pride, no use of the word when I was around other queer people. The way I felt about people meant that I was isolated from a community I needed. So when I first entered queer spaces I told someone I was a lesbian, though I didn’t like that word on my tongue; I quickly exchanged it for queer, hoping no one would ask me about boys.

I don’t remember when I started to call myself bisexual. But I remember realizing fairly quickly that it meant more than I thought it would. People do think I am dirty and greedy and unimaginable. They think I’m the weakest link. They think I don’t belong, that I have it easy, I’m a joke, a problem. They reduce me to how I relate to men. They reduce me to who I sleep with. (In their imagination. Despite what I say and do. As if all bisexuals desire men. As if all bisexuals have binary genders.) They throw queer baseline understandings of sexuality and gender out of the window in the name of protecting this community. When I started learning about queerness, I was ecstatic to find out that we believed gender to be a constructed, fluid, expansive, deeply personal thing that may or may not say something about our desires, bodies or lives. And that we embrace how intricate and complicated desires, bodies and lives are. I was probably even more ecstatic to hear that sexuality, while a root cause of the oppression we experience, was also something to be proud of and excited about. Apparently, that doesn’t seem to apply to bisexual people. But it has changed nothing. I’m still bisexual.

Some days, I hate it. It makes me feel unsafe in the larger queer community. I can’t just assume that people are okay with me. It’s complicated; my mother still doesn’t understand and I had to do this bi thing where you come out 7 times because your parents latch onto the possibility of heterosexuality. It’s painful and I work through it by being loud and obnoxious and so damn bisexual.

And I did find community. Mainly on tumblr but also elsewhere. After I moved to Berlin, I even found community in real life.  I came across small things, like bi-characters, a blog dedicated to bisexual (head)canons. I found The Bi Women Support Network, a survivor-led resource to support bi, pan, and queer women, the organisation Bisexual Woman of Colour and the Bisexual Organizing Project. I learned about BiCon and EuroBiCon. I followed Black non-binary bisexual hero Jacq Applebee on twitter. I started listening to The BiCast, a bisexual podcast. I read Shiri Eisners book “Bi: Notes for a Bisexual revolution”. (Read it. Now.) I realised that there is stuff out there that I can look for, as well as accidentally find when I start somewhere.
And that is what I want everyone else who is struggling with the fact that they like more than one gender to know: you can have community. It’s out there. It’s not as readily available, it’s not as well funded, it’s mostly online, sometimes inaccessible, but it’s there. (How to create bisexual activist spaces off and online might be something to write about later!) And whether you chose the word bisexual or any other one under that umbrella (pan, poly, queer), whether you are attracted to (cis) men or not, whether you are asexual but bi+ romantic, you are really very welcome. Don’t let anyone tell you we don’t care about trans people, that we don’t care about ace people, we don’t know what non-binary means (hi, hello, I’m a bisexual non-binary trans person), we prioritise cis men (we don’t; bisexual women, cis and trans, are the leaders of our community), we don’t have a history (we do), we haven’t done anything for this community (we have), we have no actual problems that warrant a bisexual movement (oh, damn, do we) – all of that is bullshit.
We battle the same issues other queer communities face. We deal with transphobia, classism and racism. I refuse to let that be used to discredit us, because those are widespread issues in all queer movements. But we do have a history and a present of facing those issues with dedication and love. Thanks to tumblr and twitter, to young queers, and some fucking resilience.

You have a community. You have a community. You have a community.

You don’t have to dedicate your life to the bisexual revolution; we are here regardless. You don’t have to love anything about yourself. You don’t have to tell anyone. We are here and we are trying really hard to make things as okay as possible for you. It’s all very confusing, loving people and not loving people and figuring out who those people are and what that means about you, but please know that there is a place for your wholeness, for your desire and pain and love. You don’t have to give up anything about yourself. You have so much time and space to fully understand your desire or just leave it be. You are so amazing.

In defence of fanfiction

Author:
fanfics

I have been reading and writing fanfiction since I was 13 years old – I am almost 20 – and I am unashamed of that fact. I believe in the power of this medium. Middle-aged white men may not see the value inherent in fanfic, and the rest of the world may ridicule fangirls and our “creepy/obsessive/weird” hobby, but I know that doesn’t mean anything. After all, aren’t some of the best things about the modern world widely misunderstood and undervalued? Aren’t selfies seen as proof of the ‘fact’ that young women are shallow, vapid creatures? Isn’t YouTube culture deemed as evidence that entertainment is in decay? And yet, think of the brilliance and importance of these things, of how selfies can promote self-love, and of how YouTube allows anyone (with access to a computer – still a massive privilege, of course) to be a creator? Fanfiction has similar value. Trust me, it’s played a significant part in shaping my life and who I am.

As a young teenager, I felt incredibly isolated. I had friends at school, but for several years I was unable to be honest with them – about my emotions, my sexuality, about anything substantial. Thankfully, there was the internet. More specifically, there was the One Direction fandom. It was whilst the band were on The X-Factor UK in 2010 that I found a community for myself, and I am immensely grateful for that. I remember very clearly the evening I went on Twitter, as usual, and one of my mutual followers posted about wanting to write a fic featuring female characters based on herself and a bunch of her fandom friends. I ended up being one of them – the fic concept being of us, as a girl band rivalling One Direction on the X-Factor (but being super close friends with them all, of course!). Each of us in that group ended up writing our own fics, and we all included each other in them. I remember feeling like I belonged, like I finally had a place. That circle of friends – and the stories we created together – was integral to my survival at that point. I was more than a bit miserable at school, but I knew that at the end of every day, my computer was waiting for me. I had something to escape into – the latest chapters of my friends’ fics, and the chatter that followed reading. And I had a purpose – I had my own fic to write, and people who wanted to read it, people who wanted to know my thoughts. Although it was fiction, my group all inserted real life issues into our stories – I remember vividly how one of my friends wrote my character’s body image issues, and finding so much comfort in reading it. The comfort that ‘I’ was given in this fictional world translated into real life. I eventually lost touch with those girls, but I never lost what they gave me. I will always value their friendship, and I will always value the way that fanfiction brought us together.

Fanfiction has not only helped to connect me to others, it’s helped me to connect to myself, too. I have never been comfortable in my sexuality, never really sure of ‘where I fit’ in regards to labels. Bisexual is the word I used to define myself for many years, but it was never quite right, and that always inhibited me considerably. This discomfort only intensified as I began to surround myself with queer friends, people who were out and proud and sure of their sexuality – as I became more and more immersed in queer culture, the more of a fraud I felt. Fanfiction was the thing that began to change that, because it was through fanfiction that I first came across the labels that I felt a true connection to. It was in fanfiction that I came across the concept of asexuality, and suddenly there was a possibility in the back of my mind that I wasn’t ‘failing’, that my general disinterest in sex did not necessarily mean that I was inherently lacking. However, I wasn’t entirely convinced that I ‘fit’ asexuality, because I did not 100% ‘meet the criteria’. For a few months, I was more confused than ever before, and it was immensely distressing. I began to strongly believe that I was defective – sexuality being one of many things that I felt I did not have ‘a fixed place’ in, one of the many things that left me in a grey area. And then came the fic that changed my life. I’m not even exaggerating. This was a high school AU, and in this fic, the two main characters – Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson – defined as grey-ace and demisexual, respectively. I had heard of the latter, but not fully understood what it meant, and – having a friend who defined this way – I wanted to. The former, on the other hand, was a term I had never come across before – intrigued, I looked it up. The results of my Google search were like a slap in the face. Except, pleasant. It was the first time I had sighed with relief at a simple word, the first time that I did not feel like I had to reach for a label and clutch desperately at it. It was the first time I’d latched onto something – not only in regards to my sexuality – that felt natural, easy. It was the first time I realised something important, that I am not defective, and what I feel (and don’t feel) is completely valid. It continues to amaze me that something so monumental in my life was a result of reading fanfiction, and serves as a reminder that doing what you love can have some huge results, beyond anything you could possibly imagine.

Fanfiction has been many things for me over the years – a place of community, of creativity, and of self-discovery. But perhaps the simplest and most important thing that fanfiction has done for me is given me a place to call home. Of course, that’s fandom in general – in the worst of times, One Direction have always been my retreat, my safe place – but fanfiction is perhaps a particularly special extension of that. As a life-long book nerd/story obsessive, it is the part of fanfiction that matters to me most because it encompasses all of myself, and it provides me with an escape of multiple dimensions. I will never understand why the rest of the world can’t see the beauty in that, but I’m not too bothered about that anymore. I know that I am never on my own in what I believe in and care about, and the proof is in this fandom.

Ellen Page – LGBTQ+ Superwoman!

Author:

ellenpage

By Yas Necati

“And I am here today because I am gay,” she said, with no sense of triumph or glory. It was just a fact. It was just a part of her identity, and I salute Ellen Page for simply stating her sexual orientation like it was no big deal. Because it shouldn’t be a big deal. Ellen’s ‘coming out’ wasn’t flamboyant or dramatic, it was simple and honest. In that moment she gave us a glimpse into what the future will hopefully be like for LGBTQ+ youth. A future in which people could say they are gay just as easily as anyone else could say they were straight.

Ellen, I am writing this post because I am gay. Pansexual, to be precise. I’m far from heteronormative. Today I bought my first lesbian lifestyle magazine. Inspired by your speech, I marched into Foyles, picked up a copy of “Diva” and took it home. I wasn’t ashamed to pay for it at the till and I wasn’t even ashamed when reading it whilst waiting for my pumpkin Korroke (recommended!) in Yo! Sushi.

As you said in your speech at the Human Rights Campaign’s ‘Time to Thrive’ Conference, “There is courage all around us.” I see courage every day and I’m inspired by it. I hope, with tiny steps towards accepting who I am, I can harness that courage as well.

Thank you Ellen Page. You’ve inspired me to go out and make a change in my life today. You’ve inspired me to be strong and brave and face up to something I never would’ve had the guts to do before. I was not ashamed. You’ve inspired one young woman to buy one magazine and move towards accepting herself… and I’m sure you’ve inspired thousands more. You’re an absolute icon and the fact that you have been honest about who you are will hopefully inspire other young women to do the same. So thank you for that. You’re truly admirable.

Here are a few highlights of Ellen Page’s speech. Please listen to it in full on Youtube. It’s one of the most beautiful and heartfelt things you will ever hear.

“There are pervasive stereotypes about masculinity and femininity that define how we’re all supposed to act, dress and speak and they serve no one.”

“The simple fact is this world would be a whole lot better if we just made an effort to be less horrible to one another.”

“If we took just 5 minutes to recognise each other’s beauty, instead of attacking each other for our differences, that’s not hard. It’s really an easier and better way to live, and ultimately, it saves lives.”

“We deserve to experience love fully, equally, without shame and without compromise.”

 

“Ain’t I a Woman?”

Author:

christiana1

By Christiana Paradis

Meet Fallon Fox: the only transgender professional MMA fighter. Standing at five feet six inches, and 37 years old, Fox has many obstacles in front of her, especially as an MMA fighter. Though 2013 has presented society and the media with several athletes who have come out as LGBT – including professional basketball player, Jason Collins – it is difficult to compare these to Fox. Most athletes were welcomed into the LGBT community and after a couple weeks of headlines all of the buzz died down.

Fox has fought her way to the top because it is what she loves to do; however fans of the sport do not always reciprocate. Internet trolls frequently comment how “manly” Fox looks on promotional pictures and it is not uncommon for Fox to hear comments like “Kick her in the nuts” during matches. Furthermore, commentators were playing songs such as “Dude Looks Like a Lady” before Fox would enter the ring – but this isn’t bullying… bullying is just for kids, right?

Fox fights every day for herself, for her health, but also for respect. She states:

MMA is the most dangerous sport there is for a transgender, with all the body contact, I know that, but it just turned out that I was good at it, you know? You pursue what you’re good at…. I realize that it’s kind of amazing that I hit girls. You’re brought up not to hit girls, that it’s the worst sin, and that’s what I do. But you know, gender is the last thing I think about when I’m fighting. It’s the one situation where I don’t think of gender at all.”

If gender is the last thing Fox is thinking about before she goes into a ring, then why is it the audience’s first? People are paying to watch women get in a cage and fight and that is what Fox does. She delivers what is asked of her, so why do commentators and audiences think they have the right to define her? As GQ states in their article, “Fallon Fox: The Toughest Woman in Sports” Fox is up against multiple oppressions specifically “When you are a transgender athlete, a lesbian transgender athlete, a lesbian transgender athlete who fights women in a cage, a lesbian transgender athlete who fights women in a cage and fathered a daughter, a lesbian transgender athlete who fights women in a cage and fathered a daughter and served as a man in the Navy.”

While I commend GQ for running a story that portrayed Fox honestly and favourably, I have an issue.

  • Why GQ?
  • Why a magazine that markets itself to men?
  • Maybe because it’s an article about MMA, which typically is marketed towards men… but then why wasn’t this article included in the “Women” section that GQ purposely excludes all female related articles to?
  • Also… if all of the other articles about females that GQ writes looks like this:

christiana2

…then what are they subliminally saying about Fox? They’ve portrayed and treated Fox as they feature men and not as they portray women in their magazine. Thus, despite writing an honest piece about Fox’s struggles as a transgender female in MMA they’re still featuring her as a man in their magazine.

Thankfully, Fox is too determined and focused to be bothered with such petty nuances, “I just try not to think about all of the obstacles all at once. I tell myself, you know how to win. Sometimes you get beat up, but you’ve always won.”

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