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Archive for May, 2009

LGBT Lessons for Straight People: One Gay Man, 157 Opinions.

May 22, 2009 By: geekgirl Category: LGBT Lessons for Straight People

Gay EducationWhat goes through the mind of someone who is gay? If you listen to the Christian right, somewhere there is a magical place where people wait in line for hours to sign up to be gay. Because it’s a choice, right? “Hmm. I’ll choose the life where I will face discrimination, fear, loneliness, rejection, lack of rights and possibly risk my life. Yea, that one sounds better.”

I came across an interesting post on the Advocate, a long running, well respected LGBT newspaper. The post started in September of 2006 by a young Christian man who hates being gay and is praying that his faith will give him the strength to overcome being gay. People are still posting comments to this very day, three years later. I read every comment and categorized them. I wish I could share this with every straight person out there, especially those who believe that gay people choose to be gay.

But a story first.  In high school, my best friend was a guy. We met when I moved to a new town. He had a sister the same age and I had a crush on him. He was sexy, funny and smart. We eventually spent an evening talking until 2a.m., where we discovered that we had nothing in common. He was a Republican, very prejudiced against minority groups, littered, smoked, made rude comments and had his mind in the gutter.  And yet, he became my best friend. He was smart, witty, honest, raw, caring and deep.

He tried to sleep with every girl in school and bashed gays. His life deteriorated. He disappeared for days on end. His parents sent him to a psychotherapist. He started using drugs way beyond pot. He began to do heroin. He threatened to commit suicide. Luckily, he had a close circle of friends and family. Imagine a group of 15 to 18 year olds meeting to plan to keep a watch on a friend. We decided he would always be escorted by someone. His mom alerted us when he had plans to go out. One of us always went with him. Even to the bathroom (I think that annoyed him but we’re talking heroin here). I might add, we did all of this without cell phones or internet. Good old fashioned small town grapevine and phone calls.

When Kurt came out many years later, he admitted that we saved his life. For us, we were relieved to know what the “problem” was. Everyone’s reaction, with the exception of his stepfather, was – we would have loved you anyway. We had many conversations about those years. The loneliness, the self-loathing, the psychiatrist telling him he was mentally perverted, the fear, the depression. This hurt was deep and destructive. It was only when he had the courage to accept himself and feel some self worth that his life turned around.

Who would choose this agony?

Let’s get back to the Advocate article

I read all of the comments and divided them into people who supported this young man’s position that homosexuality is a sin. Surprisingly, these contributions were by many gay people who shared his feelings. The other category was the group of people trying to convince him that he should accept himself as he is and that God made him this way and still loves him. The tally? 64 agreeing with him, 73 disagreeing, the remainder were kind of… miscellaneous.

What is more revealing are the comments. If you are straight and reading this, contemplate for one minute how it would feel to have these feelings every day. Every minute. Could you endure this? The shame, the fear, the loneliness? This is what homophobia and anti-gay speech is doing to real human beings. They are daughters, sons, brothers and sisters. They are your neighbors. Are you the kind of person who wants to make people feel this way?

From the original poster:

In the meantime I focus on fighting efforts to force the “gay agenda” on those of us who know God does not accept homosexuality. Although I do not condone discrimination, I also do not support gay marriage laws or many of the other issues backed by gay rights groups. I am a proud conservative Republican, and I support political candidates who feel the same way I do.

From other posters.

I am 15 years old and I am struggling with being gay. I have got to stop. Please pray that God changes my heart. God bless you

I’m a male and I hate myself for being gay. Because of my religion background, I cannot make a relationship to any men. So what should I do? Do I have to stay single forever (I will be the saddest person on earth) or looking for boyfriend?

As a “closet homosexual”, I think if you don’t want to be gay, and then stop liking other dudes. Just hide those feelings and you’ll be fine.

Geekgirl comment. Yea, it’s that easy. I’ll just turn off my attraction to men tomorrow. It’ll be fine.

I am a married guy and have been for 12 years. I have 1 child. I have felt an attraction to guys since I was in 1st grade. I fight this every day, because I was raised to believe that this is wrong and not right. So I have always thought there was something wrong with me. I pray to God everyday to make it stop and go away, but it doesn’t. I love my wife and my kid very much, but struggle with this attraction to men secretly. I am totally scared to tell anyway for fear of rejection and my whole world falling apart. I couldn’t deal with that.

Geekgirl comment: Does his wife deserve this? Do his children deserve this? He may love them. But is this an honest marriage, filled with true trust and intimacy?

God Bless, I’m going through the same exact issues. Don’t listen to the ignorant comments the homosexual community is giving you. I’m just a bit younger then you and a Baptist Christian, I don’t publically show my attraction, but I do have the addiction. I’ll be sure to pray for you, please also pray for me, especially in the fact that I’m terrified to tell anyone and am going through this process alone.

Geekgirl: It’s not an addiction. She’s all alone.

I’m nineteen and I’ve known I was gay since I was thirteen, at the least. Still, I try to deny it and push it away as much as possible. I know it’s wrong to act upon my desires. I’m going to have to marry a woman and be as happy as possible that way-as long as I’m doing God’s will. I don’t want to be condemned to Hell for such a petty thing.

Geekgirl comment: For such a petty thing. That just feels so sad.

I am gay, I am a good looking guy fit with nice big equipment. I decided to get a girl I got one and fathered 2 children now married. Yes I am still aroused by men and struggle with it but just because you are gay does not mean you have to live the life style, it is all about choice. I posed naked in gay magazines and made movies. I decided to stop at 30 and turn straight, I was envious of straight guys who had wives and children and did not want to miss out.

Geekgirl: Just how many lucky women are married to closeted gay men? This breaks my heart – for everyone in the family.

And here I am, I’m 16, virgin, never been kissed, fat and last but not least GAY. I HATE MY LIFE, I seriously think of killing myself everyday but i’m to coward to even do that.

Geekgirl: We drive people to want to commit suicide.

I am sad and alone, although I have a lot of friends. I imagine my life as being intimately lonely, and relief will come when I die … I’m not suicidal! However, I have always thought that a big relief will occur when I pass.

Geekgirl: A big relief will occur when I pass. Would you like to feel this way?

My family doesn’t know and only a few friends. so how am I supposed to get help without them knowing. I’m scared to go to hell just because of my homosexuality. Therefore I HATE BEING GAY! So do you know how to help me?

my greatest fear is being alone.

I really hate being gay I do everything possible to change my desires but I never can, I use to ask myself and god crying why i´m in this way but….nothing………………….I don’t know what to

it’s really hurting to suffer such feelings when I didn’t CHOOSE to be gay…I juz wanna lead a normal life…but I totally don’t have any feelings for girls!! I just want to have someone there for me and to have the right to love somebody…

Geekgirl: It is about love. And the right to love somebody. Getting it now?

I think maybe people are born gay but I don’t understand why god would curse me with such a disease. I hope one day to be straight but am afraid to reach out to anybody in fear my parents will find out.

After my mission I forced myself to date girls and eventually married in the Mormon Temple. I have one child and am still married and do love my wife but nevertheless and clearly am living a lie. I do not enjoy sex with my wife and find myself wishing I were having sex with a man. I have done everything I can think of to obey the commandments of God and have pleaded with the Lord every day of my life to remove this heavy burden, but to no avail.

From happy, healthy gay people:

I’m gay as well and I am perfectly happy with myself. My partner and I have been together in a monogamous relationship for 17 years. We are both out to our families and out at work. I lead a team of Engineers for a large company and no one gives a crap about my gayness. I know I was born this way, I have known since I was 6 years old that I was gay. I have never allowed anyone to cause me pain or grief over being different. The only issue I feel that I have ever had to deal with was to be twice as good as others in order to get ahead. Even though this was sometimes difficult it made me stronger, better and smarter than others and has contributed to my success. I do believe in God, but not the vengeful, condemning God that you all do. I feel very sad for you all and hope that God gives you the strength to overcome yourself loathing and free yourself to be who you were born to be.

I feel so sad for some of you guys, and especially for the author of the article. I, too, grew up in a devoutly religious family, and as early as 7 years old I would be up late at night crying and asking God why he made me gay and praying that I would someday not be gay. I felt alienated from the other kids in school and would go through hell thinking about and agonizing over my sexuality. Now that I’m all grown up, I’ve rejected God, accepted my homosexuality, found open and loving friends, and am even working on coming out to my family. I can’t even tell you how much happier I am with life.

Lonely, depressed, conflicted and still dealing with these 30 years later. It’s no way to lead your life. But I encourage all of you to be honest with yourselves. I have so many regrets, but my main regret is living a life of shame and fear and paranoid lies instead of being myself.

What is wrong with you people. Have pride in yourself. Embrace your homosexuality. Who cares what other people think. You live the life you lead, not others. Be who you are.

Last, my favorite comment of all. And a child shall lead them.

I’m 10 and don’t change urself u should be proud of who u are don’t let people change the way u r don’t listen what the other people say

Geekgirl: I purposely left the comment from the ten year old as is. This is wisdom and honesty. Be yourself. Let people know you and love you for who you are. There are plenty of resources for help, including resources to help your family. You count. Your life counts. Don’t throw it away. Love yourself. When straight people know someone personally who is gay, it changes their hearts and minds.

Stupid Things People Say About Gays: There Aren’t Enough Gay People to Worry About Their Rights

May 22, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Stupid Things People Say About Gays

Stupid Things People Say About GaysCompared to many of the Stupid Things People Say About Gays done during the course of this series, this one is perhaps only a small slight, but the ramifications of this sort of ideology can result in absolute horror:

There aren’t even that many gay people let alone gay people who would get married and need benefits!!!!!!!!!!! —Youtube User bwickedintense.

This statement may be true to the extent that there are far more straight people than gay people.  Of course, to get an accurate count, you would first have to define what “gay” is.  Does “gay” include bisexual people, and if so, does it include bisexual people living in a monogamous, heterosexual relationship?  Dr. Kinsey originally opined that 1 in every 10 people is gay.  This statistic has been challenged and is now believed to be closer to 1 in every 20 or so people (about 4.1 percent of the population aged 18-45). That number could easily be in excess of 46% if you include all incidents of homosexual activity as studied by Dr. Kinsey!  Using the most conservative number available and looking only at the United States, based upon the 2000 U.S. Census, the total number of “gay” people would be in excess of 11.5 million people, roughly the entire population of the state of Ohio.

How many people would it take before they mattered, 50,000? 100,000? 11,500,000? The point here is this, if injustice is being delivered to any group of people, injustice is being delivered to every person.  No one can be free and equal if any one person’s freedom is taken without due process.  So how many people have to be affected by discrimination before it’s enough: ONE.

But the statement “There aren’t even that many gay people” isn’t just a statistically inaccurate statement, but a morally repugnant one. It implies that there are not enough people affected by the stigma and inequities to concern yourself with their civil rights.  It implies there is a number placed on human life and dignity at which time it becomes “important.”  It is telling the world that “This doesn’t affect me or enough people I care about, so why should we bother?”  It implies that the entire population of Ohio does not matter to our society as a whole.  Imagine if we were to suddenly announce that, because Ohio only has 11.5 million people, no one in the state of Ohio can legally marry.

Let’s think about it this way:

  • Number of Hate Crimes based on Sexual Orientation (year 2007) = 1,265
  • Number of people killed during the Salem Witch Trials = 33 [including those dying in prison]
  • Number of people killed during Oklahoma City bombing by McVeigh = 168
  • Number of people killed during Branch Davidian invasion = 75
  • Number of deaths resulting from Hurricane Katrina [direct and indirect] = 1,836
  • Number of deaths at Attack of Pearl Harbor = 2,350
  • Number of Slaves in the U.S. between 1810 and 1830 [many northern states had abolished slavery by 1800] = 42,000

All of those moments above are seared into the memories and history books of our country. Many of the most tragic moments in U.S. history are listed and we do not measure the tragedy simply by the loss of lives.

Closet Talk: Becky’s Story – A Mother of a Gay Man Comes Out

May 21, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Closet Talk, Community Outreach, Featured

Closet TalkLast night on Closet Talk I spoke with Becky.  Becky’s son, Tony, recently came out of the closet leaving Becky to make difficult conclusions and realizations as she tried to balance her personal beliefs with her love for her son.  Becky reached out to friends and hit the books to learn about the subject of homosexuality and coping with her son’s coming out.

One book which Becky states helped her tremendously was When Homosexuality Hits Home: What to Do When a Loved One Says They’re Gay by Joe Dallas.  In fact, Becky even offered the book to Tony’s father to help him come to understand more about his son’s sexual orientation and what effect that has on the family.

To hear Becky’s story, please click play below:

Is It Ever O.K. To Out a Closet Politician: Sisters Talk Radio

May 20, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

Genia Stephens - Sisters Talk RadioTonight, I was a participant in the Sisters Talk Radio Show “Is it Ever O.K. to Out a Closet Politician.” Genia Stephens, the hostess of Sisters Talk Radio, founder of gaywallet.com and blogger extraordinaire, along with Spaz and Chistophersays joined in the discussion. Special thanks to Genia for opening this conversation and allowing me to participate.

From the show page:

The new film Outrage discusses closeted gay politicians who vote against any law(s) that would provide equality to members of the LGBTQ community. Some of these politicians even encourage the passing of anti-gay laws.

Some members of the LGBTQ community believe it’s ok to out these politicians, others disagree. What do you think?

Click play below to hear the discussion:

San Antonio Police Chief Asks for a Little Love and Trust from LGBT Community

May 18, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Discrimination, Featured, LGBT News

Police Chief McManusThe San Antonio Police Department has come under fire lately from Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender activist after police allegedly used derogatory comments against a lesbian couple during a home raid. The women, Lindsey and Carol, had been at home for the evening when police charged through the door advising, “We have a warrant.”  Evidently, a warrant had been issued after an anonymous informant who had been assisting the SAPD for over 2 years claimed that a man named “Randy” had been seen with methamphetamine in the home.

Unfortunately, after the police entered the house, they allegedly made several lewd and derogatory comments about the couple including many references to their sexual orientation.  The outrage from the community was swift and resulted in numerous emails to Police Chief, William McManus, resulting in him contacting the San Antonio Stonewall Democrats to advise them that he wanted to speak to the LGBT community about the situation.

Chief McManus arrived at a crowded restaurant to a round of thunderous applause.  He stood before the room and began by disarming everyone with a history of his involvement with the LGBT Community, including serving as Grand Marshal of the San Antonio Gay Pride Parade in spite of severe criticism.

He then assured the group that, because of this history, he would never turn a “blind eye” to allegations of inappropriate conduct by officers against the gay community adding that, “[if the allegations] happen to be true, there are heavy consequences.”  He further stated:

The leader in a good organization leads by example, and I believe I’ve done that.  My being here tonight is an example of this.

However, the Chief did admit that, although the academy training provides diversity training to new candidates, the officers are not trained to recognize a “slight” to the LGBT community.

Lindsey and Carol’s case is now in the hands of Internal Affairs and the matter is being investigated.  The investigation will not be made public until it has been completed, for which no time frame was provided.  Chief McManus insists that the LGBT community must not assume that something went wrong during the search but should instead, “…let due process run its course.”

In closing, Chief McManus delivered a heartfelt and tender review of his relationship with the LGBT community; however, he was shaken by the way the LGBT community drew such conclusions against him as he, “thought our relationship was better than that. A little love and trust goes a long way on both sides.”

So we are left waiting for answers, but now know that the investigation is ongoing and that these officers’ alleged actions are not going unquestioned.

LGBT for Straight People – geekgirl’s own story

May 18, 2009 By: geekgirl Category: LGBT Lessons for Straight People

Gay EducationI would be a hypocrite if I didn’t write about my own life experience in getting to know people who are gay. Mysteriously – and truthfully – I don’t recall learning that some people are gay. It just kind of became something I knew. In many ways, I consider myself lucky that I came of age in the late 60s, early 70s. Yes, I believed in the hippie messages of peace, love, accepting other people, fairness, and justice.

My family was a typical white Anglo-Saxon Protestant (aka WASP) but we weren’t exactly rich. My father never went past 8th grade and he always did physical labor. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized we lived at the poverty level. (She’s straying, where is this going?). Here’s where I’m going. Even with being white and straight, I knew the world wasn’t fair. I knew that kids with money had an easier time, I knew rich kids got into Ivy League schools, thanks to their alumni parents and I knew that women were supposed to stay home and have babies.

In other words, I knew that who we are and what we are capable of as individuals was nowhere near #1 on the list of how a person became accepted or successful.

I watched other kids get bullied. I was a wallflower and being around mean kids made me retreat even more. I was already painfully shy. The last thing I needed was to be made fun of for crooked teeth, knobby knees, ugly glasses, a not-so-gorgeous face and, worst of all, being smart.

So when I learned about gay people – and we’re going back 40 years – I thought “so what?”. Mind you, I had never heard of people who were bisexual or transgendered. But I knew that the words faggot and queer hurt as badly as being punched. I saw it happen.

Still, a lack of bias doesn’t equal being comfortable with people who are gay. After all, what does one say? What is the etiquette? Are there things I should say? Shouldn’t say? Were the stereotypes real? Just what were they like?

My first real friend that was gay was a woman I worked with. I didn’t know she was a lesbian. I just knew that she was kind, smart and funny. This was….. at least 32 years ago. We worked the switchboard in a hospital. After a few months of knowing her, I asked her if she had a boyfriend. I could see her face start to panic and I didn’t know what I had done wrong. I do have a gift of asking the most innocent of questions and it turns out I’ve tapped a sensitive topic. At that very moment, the switchboard lit up and as I started to take the call, my co-worker said “My lover’s name is Doris.” Her face was in a state of fear and I could tell that every nano-second was an eternity as she waited for me to be able to respond.

Not wanting her to wait out this interminable, excruciating 30 seconds, I wrote on a piece of paper and gave it to her. I wrote ” I sure hope this is a woman named Doris as I would hate to see you involved with a man named Boris.” She burst out laughing with relief. Our friendship continued the way it was. It never occurred to me to change how I treated her, what I asked or what we talked about. After several weeks, she said to me “I want to thank you for not treating me like I am a dyke.” I sat quietly and staring blankly. I had never heard the word dyke. And back then, words like dyke and queer were still words that hurt. The gay community had not used the strategy of reclaming words. After waiting for me to respond, and me saying nothing, my friend has the aha moment and says “You’ve never heard the word dyke, have you?” I nodded. She said that explained a lot. I think this was one instance of ignorance is bliss. Without stereotypes to cloud my mind, I was just simply myself. But more importantly, I saw only who she was – not a stereotype.

And now I will apologize to everyone named Boris. Forgive me. I was young and humor is how I express caring and affection. I just needed something that rhymed with Doris.

There will be more stories on geekgirl’s LGBT education as our series continues.

LGBT Notable News Happenings (May 7, 2009 – May 13, 2009)

May 18, 2009 By: MJ Category: LGBT News

LGBT NewsMarriage Issues in the UK (May 7, 2009)

Our community has been fighting for lgbt rights around the world, and the UK is no exception.  Looks like our brothers and sisters in Ireland have decided, according to a poll, that Civil Partnerships are not good enough for them either.  The LGBT community in Ireland joins us in solidarity for marriage equality.

Health Insurance Obstacle for Couples (May 8, 2009)

Gay and Lesbian couples, especially those with families, find additional difficulties in obtaining health insurance.  Some employers do offer options for Domestic Partners but those options (when available) can be costly and legally daunting.  Even in states with Legal Domestic Partnerships – some employers end up deferring to DOMA and do not make the insurance available.

Helem Protects LGBT in Beirut (May 9, 2009)

The only overtly gay rights organization in the Arab world is preparing for a campaign to overturn the law which makes homosexuality illegal.   The organization put together what is  believed to be the first gay rights protest in a downtown Beirut square where nearly 2 dozen gays and lesbians gathered.  Helem also assisted last year when a gay man was murdered and the police took his friends into custody in order examine them rectally – to determine if they were gay.  Fortunately Helem was able to secure their release.

Two LGBT Bills in Texas (May 11, 2009)

Texas based LGBT organizations are busy lobbying lawmakers in support of two pieces of legislation.  One of the bills involves protection in schools from bullying and the other bill  would ban employment discrimination.  Erin Moore of the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas said, “For the first in a long time, we haven’t had any anti-LGBT bills – so we’ve been able to spend our time working on behalf of good bills.”  The article also includes a link to Equality Texas –  for more information.

Russia Says No to Lesbian Couple (May 12, 2009)

Irina Fedotova and Irina Shipitko, a lesbian couple, applied for a marriage license in a Moscow government office – but their application was denied.  In spite of the denial the two held hands and shared a loving kiss near the marriage registry office.  Fedotova later told journalists, “We won’t stop in midstream”.  The couple said that they will marry in Canada because Russia does recognize marriages registered abroad.  They had originally hoped to be married before the start of Russian Gay Pride activities.

New York Assembly Passes Marriage Bill (May 12, 2009)

Five Republicans voted with the Democrats in favor of the bill. The Empire State Pride Agenda is leading other gay rights groups in a campaign of statewide advertising including commercials.  Two of the Republican Assemblymen who had previously voted against marriage equality changed their minds and voted in favor of the bill.  Richard L Brodsky, a Democrat said, “We do nothing revolutionary or extraordinary today”.  Supporters like Brodsky insisted the bill was nothing earth-shattering.

School District Proposes Lessons to Stop Bullying (May 13, 2009)

The Alameda Unified School District in Alameda, California held a meeting at the City Hall with an overflow crowd.  So many people arrived for the meeting that many were actually asked to leave.  The District has proposed lessons to address slurs and bullying against gays, and were surprised that 200 people had turned in requests just to speak at the meeting.  There will be one more meeting before the school board makes their decision – the decision is expected to be made on May 26th.

Stupid Things People Say About Gays: Under Federal Hate Crimes, Church Will Be Responsible for Gay Bashing Parishioners

May 18, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Stupid Things People Say About Gays

Stupid Things People Say About GaysIn another article full of misleading, inaccurate information [o.k. lies] the Church Executive is reporting that Hate Crimes legislation on the federal level will lead to the prosecution of those expressing the opinion that homosexuality is a sin.

But the 1,400-member National Religious Broadcasters says Christian broadcasters and even pastors covering culturally unpopular views, such as preaching homosexuality as sin, could face prosecution just for expressing their religious views because their teachings could be blamed for inciting violence.

In previous posts, I’ve covered why this view is inaccurate and suggested people read the text of the bill and make their own conclusions, the obvious being that the bill is not designed and clearly is not about “speech.”  Therefore, we move on from that “stupid things people say about gays” onto a stupid comment about the Church Executive article.

The problem is that if someone leaves the church and decides to act out the Church and preacher will be held responsible. You need to brush up on what transpired in Canada and if you don’t think this will happen here you are very naive.

Perhaps the person spouting that “I” – yes this was a direct comment to me – need to brush up on what occurred in Canada to see that Canadian law applies to U.S. proposed legislation, wasn’t aware that Canada has a law against “Hate Speech.” Canada’s law, which is arguably under-enforced, actually prohibits Hate Propaganda under Sections 318 & 319 of the Criminal Code of Canada. Hate propaganda would include the written or spoke word, thus criminalizing preaching from the pulpit that we gather up the Wiccans and burn them.

This is contrary to the proposed U.S. Legislation.  In fact, there have been interesting cases protecting a preacher in the United States against bans on his/her first amendment right.  According to a brilliant article at Religious Tolerance:

[…] a conservative Christian teleminister in the early 1990s advocated the execution of all Wiccans in the U.S. More recently, a Baptist pastor from Texas advocated that the U.S. army round up Wiccans and burn them alive with napalm. Both clergy were immune from prosecution due to the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment which guarantees almost complete freedom of speech in the country.

So without any legal support, the Religious Reich makes these claims using the voice of the shepard and the flock follows.  They continue to advocate against protections from brutal, violent attacks because their “free speech” will be violated; although, the truth is the same protections we [LGBT people] ask for, will protect those who deny us the same protections; our rights to free speech and protections against crimes:

motivated by prejudice based on the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of the victim, or is a violation of the State, local, or Tribal hate crime laws. [emphasis added]

Isn’t There a “B” in LGBT? A Look at Biphobia.

May 17, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Thought of the Gay

biphobiaThere are many issues involving the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community.  As a gay man, it is easy for me to see the issues that affect me in my day to day life. It also isn’t difficult to make the jump from gay man to lesbian as far as social and legal ramifications. However, when asked to discuss the issue of biphobia within the “gay” community, I found myself at a loss.  I tried to think of examples of biphobia and found myself walking down dangerous terrain of stereotypes and generalizations.

If you prescribe to the Kensian view of sexuality, that sexuality is fluid and we all fall somewhere on the scale between 0 (exclusively heterosexual) to 6 (exclusively homosexual), then we could, for the sake of simplicity, place bisexuals as anything other than zero or six on the scale.  However, many sexologists have argued that Kinsey’s scale does not accurately show all the variances of sexual orientation.

With that in mind, Dr. Fritz Klein attempted to further measure sexual orientation by expanding upon the earlier Kinsey Scale to include the variables of sexual attraction, sexual behaviour, sexual fantasies, emotional preference, social preference, lifestyle preference and self identification.  The scale also considered three time periods for sexual orientation identification.

But what does all this mean as it relates to the issue of biphobia?  I find myself back to the basic question, what is biphobia?

From the article: What is Biphobia? Adapted from the Bisexual Resource Center (1998).

Examples of Biphobia:

  • Assuming that everyone you meet is either heterosexual or lesbian/gay .
  • Assuming that bisexuals are confused or indecisive about their sexuality.
  • Assuming that bisexuals are promiscuous or cannot live monogamously.
  • Assuming that bisexuals are attracted to everyone.
  • Assuming that people who identify as bisexual are “really” lesbian or gay, but are in denial.
  • Assuming that bisexuals, if given the choice, would prefer to be with someone of a different gender than themselves to gain some of the privileges of being perceived as heterosexual.
  • Believing that people who are bisexual spread HIV/AIDS.
  • Automatically assuming that two women together are lesbians, that two men together are gay, or that a man and a woman together are heterosexual.
  • Not wanting to date someone who is bisexual because you assume that the person will eventually leave you for someone of another gender.
  • Thinking of people who are bisexual only in terms of their sexuality, rather than as whole, complex persons.

Let’s take each of the above examples of biphobia and examine them in greater detail:

  1. Assuming that everyone you meet is either heterosexual or lesbian/gay.  I’ve often, and sometimes jokingly, prescribed to the theory that everyone I meet is gay, until they tell me otherwise.  This is a result of the many times it’s been assumed that I’m a heterosexual until I tell them otherwise.  I’ve never considered this to be a “biphobic” way of thinking, but rather a reaction to societal assumptions of sexual orientation.  However, this assumption forces a binary view of sexuality, you are either straight or gay.
  2. Assuming that bisexuals are confused or indecisive about their sexuality.  For this, we must look back at the Kinsey Scale discussed above.  To assume that those that fall somewhere between one and five on the scale are confused about their sexual orientation is grossly inaccurate and encompasses a large segment of the population.  In fact, the Kinsey Report (although controversial in its findings) indicated that 46% of his male subjects had reacted sexually to persons of both sexes and that 37% had at least one homosexual experience.
  3. Assuming that bisexuals are promiscuous or cannot live monogamously.  This biphobic belief looks at bisexuals as nothing more than sexual beings and excludes emotional attatchments and attractions altogether.  Like any person, bisexuals are capable of loving an individual monogamously in spite of having sexual desires for both sexes.  To assume that monogamy cannot exist in a bisexual would be similar to assuming that monogamy cannot exist with a heterosexual or homosexual.  For example, when a heterosexual man falls in love with a woman he continues to find other women attractive.  This attraction does not mean he cannot remain faithful to the woman he loves.  The same applies in bisexual relationships.
  4. Assuming that bisexuals are attracted to everyone. I’ve pondered this one a lot looking for a way to relate how asinine this assumption is.  It seems to me this assumption would be similar to assuming that because I’m a homosexual, I’m attracted to every man I see.  I’m certain that is not the case as I have no sexual attraction toward numerous men and do have a “type” of man I generally find myself to be attracted.  My attraction to other men is very rigid and I rarely find myself attracted to men who fit the stereotypical macho persona.  If I’m not attracted to ALL men, how could I assume that bisexuals are attracted to all people.
  5. Assuming that people who identify as bisexual are “really” lesbian or gay, but are in denial.  There’s a saying that comes to mind upon reading that assumption, “To thine own self be true.”  I’ve known and been friends with many bisexuals.  One of them is currently in a long-term monogamous lesbian relationship, but still identifies as a bisexual, the other is a woman in a relationship with a man.  At no point have I ever considered either of these people to be “in denial.”   In fact, I’ve generally felt that they are more in touch with their own sexual identity than I am as they have had to overcome prejudices from the heterosexual and homosexual communities in order to stay true to their own selves.  This “denial” theory was even propagated more in an op-ed piece posted on the premiere social networking site for gay men, gay.com, titled, “Can Guys Actually be BiSexual?”  The author determined that “no,” men must be either gay or straight.
  6. Assuming that bisexuals, if given the choice, would prefer to be with someone of a different gender than themselves to gain some of the privileges of being perceived as heterosexual.  This “assumption” gets to the heart of the matter. When one is exclusively homosexual and in a long-term homosexual relationship, we are often told or even vocalize ourselves that we wish we could be in heterosexual relationships so that we wouldn’t have to face the level of discrimination and injustices placed on gay people.  We then likely make the jump and tell ourselves, “Well, if I were bisexual, I would certainly make an exclusive relationship with someone of the opposite sex in order to avoid this harassment and judgment. Life would be so much easier.”  However, we do not control our emotions.  They come and go as they please.  Sure we may be able to hide the emotions we are feeling, but they are there and forever present.
  7. Believing that people who are bisexual spread HIV/AIDS.  This assumption is based on the very archaic belief that HIV/AIDS is a “gay” disease.  Many heterosexuals argued that bisexuals were the ones that brought HIV/AIDS from the gay community into the heterosexual community.  This assumption disregards the facts about HIV/AIDS and the way the disease spreads.  Although HIV does spread through sexual contact, it also has spread through intravenous drug use and blood transfusions.  The assumption also ignores behavior as a factor.  It is not sex alone that spreads HIV/AIDS, but the sexual behaviors of individuals.  Believing that bisexuals are the cause of HIV/AIDS spreading assumes that all bisexuals are engaging in high risk sexual activity and disregards individual identities within the bisexual community.
  8. Automatically assuming that two women together are lesbians, that two men together are gay, or that a man and a woman together are heterosexual.  This is an easy assumption to make and I’m fairly certain I would make the same assumptions if I saw a couple – two men, gay; two women, lesbian; opposite sex couple, heterosexual.  It stands to reason that we would make these assumptions unless told otherwise by the couple, but these assumptions are about labeling people, something most of us do in order to define things within the scope of our own perceptions. Really, the identification here should be left to the parties in the relationship.  I’ve had some bisexual friends explain that once they were in a long-term, monogamous relationship with someone, they have defined themselves based upon that relationship.  Other friends have relayed that they remain bisexual in spite of the monogamous heterosexual or homosexual relationship as they still have attraction toward others, they just no longer act on those attractions due to their love of their partner.
  9. Not wanting to date someone who is bisexual because you assume that the person will eventually leave you for someone of another gender.  This is a fear that I’ve even vocalized.  Competing with one gender is difficult enough – until you are confident in your relationship, you may have this constant fear that the person you are with will find someone else and leave you.  Add the idea of having to compete with someone of a different gender than yourself and it’s enough to make you say, “I’d never date a bisexual.”  However, again this assumption takes out the factor of exclusive love and is based entirely around the idea of sexual attraction and desire.
  10. Thinking of people who are bisexual only in terms of their sexuality, rather than as whole, complex persons.  We are all a culture of labels and often group people into categories in order to decide whether that person falls into an interest category [being a group we want to associate with] or a non-interest category [groups we wouldn’t ordinarily associate with].  This is human nature.  However, if we clump bisexuals into a category based solely on their sexual orientation or identity, we are doing to them exactly what the heterosexual community has been doing to gay people – focusing on one factor their sexuality over all aspects of their being.  At some point, we must decide to no longer use sexual orientation as a basis for categorizing our “interest” or “non-interest” groups.  We may surprise ourselves.

As a gay man, writing about biphobia is not something I’ve found easy.  In fact, while reviewing various articles about the topic, I found myself unknowingly guilty of many of the stereotypes and assumptions listed above thinking them to be harmless perceptions about bisexuals and their relationships.  After careful review of many web resources and information, I’ve concluded that even I have a lot to learn about biphobia and bisexuality.  I encourage you to do the same and walk the path with me to understanding so that we may first eliminate these forms of discrimination within the LGBT community and ultimately eliminate them in all communities.

Considering Modern Day Racism

May 16, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Thought of the Gay

Hate Crime - RacismI’ve spent the last several days in Mississippi, mostly speaking to elderly white people.  During my youth, I spent a substantial amount of time in Arkansas and Tennessee, also surrounded mostly by white people.  In fact, the town I was in only had one “colored” person, whose mother was white and father was black.  According to the locals in the town, her mother was an anti-abortionist who was raped by a black man, thus they tolerated her presence.  I quickly befriended her as I believed her to be my soul mate, a fellow outcast.

One of the things that has slipped my mind over the years about this area of the southern United States is the common usage of the word “colored” to refer to persons of African American decent.  The phrase was so common in my youth, I never knew it was improper.  Thankfully, when I was 14 years old and had moved away from the solid south, I found out the hard way that one should not use the word to refer to someone of African American decent. During discussions in a English class I brought up the novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” as one of my favorite novels.  While discussing it, I used the word “colored.”  A young lady in my class jumped from her seat and screamed, “Why not just call us what we are, we are ‘black.'”  I was stunned to learn that the word was improper and even more stunned to learn that I was a racist!

This trip reminded me of that incident as I have heard it used repeatedly.  The first person to say it to me, an elderly white man, received a very cold glare to which he responded, “Not that I have any problem with colored people.”

The next time I overheard the word on this trip was from another elderly white man; however, he was not speaking directly to me.  He said something to the effect of, “There was this colored girl who was at the table [roulette] with a man who had his head crunched down like this [gesture] and they were up over $4 million dollars playing the dice – putting $5,000 on every single number!”  I noted the vocal tone and paused.  He did not say the word with malice, but instead was seemingly just trying to vividly describe the scene – was he aware that the word “colored” is offensive? I may have imagined the exchange my mother and I had.  In my head, she gave me the “don’t do it” look.  However, later when I mentioned the incident, she seemed unfazed by the use of the word colored.  I asked if she thought the offensiveness of the word stemmed from its use during segregation.  She agreed that it would be a valid association, but as “white people” we don’t know the answers and asking seems like picking scabs of the past – or is it a path to healing the wounds?

One thing I found so intriguing about the use of the word colored in Mississippi was that no one seemed to whisper the word or look over their shoulders to see who may overhear.  It was as if the word had similar meaning as saying “African American” or “Caucasian” – merely descriptive.  In both cases, there were black people within ear shot of the word, yet no-one nearby even bat an eye – other than myself.

I’ve often made inquiries to relatives still living in the South about racism.  One told me that racism against black people in the South has changed dramatically since the “Mexicans” have moved in.  White people and black people both hate the “Mexicans.”  This was very shocking to me having been mostly raised in South Texas (with the exception of the time spent in Arkansas where I learned the word “colored”).  I had never even realized that racism existed against “Mexicans” until I moved to Arkansas. Another relative attempted to rationalize racism saying, “If you lived here you would understand why white people and black people don’t get along.”

The fact is, I don’t understand and likely never will understand.  I decided to ask my twitter friends this question, “What U.S. State first comes to mind when you hear the word “racism?”  The answers weren’t all that surprising and included things like “any southern states” [Dr_Jared] and “Alabama, Mississippi, Utah, Idaho, South Carolina” [janewishon] – but one person surprised me and said, “California. (But I live here, and see it.)” [mactavish]

California, renowned as one of the most liberal states in the U.S. – prior to the Proposition 8 debacle at least.

It was then I realized that racism, like every other social injustice, knows no boundaries.  I also realized that racism does have regional implications – for example, it may be culturally acceptable in Mississippi to use the word “colored” while in other parts of the country it is, at minimal, frowned upon.