It wasn’t taken, I just misplaced it. Wait… it’s in here somewhere… maybe… do you accept other forms of ID?
I’m talking about bisexuality, and for me at least, queerness in general. I prefer the term “queer” to bisexual when I’m self-describing, but technically, bisexual is accurate. When others use it for me, that’s just fine.
I’ve been fortunate at UT in that my queer community (mainly Peers for Pride) here has not made me feel marginalized, inivisible, or “not gay enough.” That’s possibly because we don’t talk about our own sexual preferences and experiences as much as we talk about these things in the abstract. A good (bisexual) friend of mine who goes to a college in New York state has had a less than positive experience with the GSC there. She says the leader of their group there was rude to her on multiple occasions, and the group was generally unwelcome. Sometimes, in some spaces, however, I feel like I need to struggle to be recognized as queer.
Dating sites are one example. I’ve had profiles on a few of them, none really amounting to much, let alone any dates. Although I’m now in a relationship and not looking, while browsing available women on dating sites in the past, I’ve come across a “no bisexual” policy over and over again. I believe the implication is that because I am attracted to men, I could not be committed in my attraction to women, nor any relationship with a particular woman. I find this accusation to be frustrating and insulting. Being bisexual does not mean I’m inherently fickle. I would give a relationship with a woman the same amount of respect and dedication as I would with a man.
Speaking of my current relationship, it’s with a man, and it’s been going on for about a year and a half now. And, unfortunately, my relationships with men have also been the source of invisibility within the queer community. Obviously, when I speak about my “boyfriend” as opposed to a “girlfriend,” anyone, not just queer folk, are going to jump to the conclusion that I’m straight until I say or do something to prove otherwise. But, beyond that, I can often feel a subtle disregard when I’m talking about men I am or have been romantically involved with. Something in queer folks’ demeanor changes, as though they’re thinking “oh, you’re not really one of us,” or “oh, you’re just an ally.” I -am- an ally, and I realize passing as straight (usually) affords me privileges that other queer people do not have, and being recognized as a full part of the community is very important to me. I can see faces change when I mention my guy, and it’s hurtful.
Before I even mention my boyfriend, though, the fact that I’m pretty femme usually puts me on notice. The clearest place I can point to this erasure is when I go clubbing at gay bars. I don’t get talked to by any women, and when I approach them myself, I have to work through a couple of minutes of confusion before they realize I’m hitting on them and that I’m not one of those straight girls that goes to gay clubs (which I think is great, I think everyone with an open heart should feel free to hang out at gay clubs). The one time I managed to get chatted up by some cute girls was when I wore a vest and a tie. The problem is, that’s not really my preferred gender expression! I think it’s a shame I can’t be my super femme self and still be recognized –at a gay club- as a queer person.
Finally, and maybe saddest of all, is my own internalized erasure. More and more, despite my ongoing attraction to women, I think of myself more as an ally to the queer community and less a full-fledged, card-carrying member, perhaps from neglect of the identity?
All this stuff is small potatoes, really. I know I have a lot of privilege in being white, cisgender, and currently in a heterosexual relationship. I also know that bisexual men get erased in the opposite direction—everyone assumes they’re gay and downplays their attraction to women. Still, I hope I can find my B-Card in the bottom of my purse because they’re going to give me a free smoothie after two more stamps. ;)