Thursday, December 22, 2011

Living Bi, Thoughts on A Year Straight

By Faith Cheltenham

In between the pages of Marie Claire, I found a lovely review of “A Year Straight: Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Lesbian Beauty Queen”.   From the very beginning it seemed like a bisexual story, but the word bisexual was nowhere to be found.  I emailed the agent and the author to request an interview as I just had to know, is this a bisexual person hidden by society or by themselves?  

“It was Shark Week.  We watched episode after episode until sundown, at which point I dragged myself to the subway and made my back to my brother’s house.  
The odds of being attacked by a shark are one in eight million.  What are the odds of meeting that special single someone in a city of eight million?” – A Year Straight

The HuffingtonPost.com excerpt of A Year Straight has nearly 400 comments.  It’s in the “Women” section of the website, not the cheery rainbow oriented “Gay Voices” area of HuffPo.  Comments from include readers saying “this is a lot like me” as well “this is just another bisexual”.  There’s also a good amount of “she doesn’t have to use a label if she doesn’t want to”.

In contrast, over at afterellen.com, a Lesbian reviewer is outraged at the book and its lack of the word bisexual.  AfterEllen.com Managing Editor Trish Bendix remarks that “the first problem with this memoir is…that author Elena Azzoni ‘goes straight’.”  The second problem according to Bendix is that “Bisexuality is not once mentioned. The idea of either being a lesbian or being straight is the perpetuation of a terrible stereotype.”  As a bisexual activist I can’t argue with that sentiment, but I find it curious that Bendix goes onto say that “Elena doesn't even consider the fact that her attraction to men could mean she's interested in exploring her sexual fluidity instead of a quarter-life crisis indicating she's meant to be with a guy. “  

Is it just the lack of key terms like bisexual, pansexual, fluid and/or sexual fluidity that leads Bendix to assume the heart of Elena’s matter?  In short, are you bisexual if you don’t use the word bisexual to self-identify?  In my opinion, Bendix incorrectly summarizes the earliest content of the book as it’s overarching theme when she says, "In fact, the whole reason she starts dating guys is because she felt a connection with her yoga instructor. And when she shares her crush with a coworker and gets a Brazilian wax, she decides to keep trying to date men because she didn't want to let all that go to waste."

First of all, Brazilian waxes shouldn’t be so lightly discounted!  It’s a huge investment charmingly well described by Azzoni when she says , “I did not recall feeling that exposed during my last wax job, or during any pap smear for that matter”.  All joking aside, it seems to me that Bendix is indeed well meaning in her assessment of A Year Straight; but her assumptions of bi people get in the way of her intended defense of the fluid community. 
“I didn't want to want men.  I didn’t want to end up like those women I overheard in restaurants and bars, catching wind of phrases like ‘He always’ and ‘He never,’ their martinis teetering on active fault lines.  Many of my friends had nothing but horrible luck with men, and there was no reason to assume I'd be spared. – A Year Straight

In my experience the bisexual process of coming out and accepting yourself goes through several stages.  If I had to distill it down to six steps said to a bisexual self at least once, it would go a little like this:
1)    Oooh he’s hot!  Wow, she’s so cute.  Wait?  What is this?  Am I lesbian?  Am I gay? Am I Straight?  What the heck is going on?!

2)    Hey Angelina Jolie/ Evan Rachel Wood/Alan Cummings have said they’re bisexual?  What is this word bisexual?  How do I split myself in half and like each equally?  Do I do it at the same time?  Shall I be gay and then be straight or vice versa?  How long do I get to make up my mind?

Bisexual Resource Center responds to bi teen on YouTube

Amazing story coming out of Massachusetts right now!  The Bisexual Resource Center is saying...
The BRC is Here For You! The BRC has produced a video in response to one by a bi teen on the North Shore of Massachusetts. She described how she's been bullied and beaten up by fellow students and how it's affected her self-esteem. She's strong and brave for sharing her story and the BRC offers encouragement and resources for her and for many others out there who need resources about bisexuality.- http://biresource.net/


Amy Andre has written her thoughts on HuffPo as well, check it out!

Bisexual Teen vs. Rick Perry on DADT

By Chiquita Violette 
ABCNews.com states, Rebecka Green, a 14-year-old student challenged Rick Perry, Republican Governor of Texas and 2012 Presidential-contender after a town hall meeting in Decorah, Iowa. She had a very simple inquiry that exposed the hypocrisy of Perry's stance on LGBT persons in the military and his faith. She makes her offense with the following statement, "I just want to know why you're so opposed to gays serving openly in the military, why you want to deny them that freedom when they're fighting and dying for your right to run for president." 

This face-off came about after the openly bisexual teen saw Perry's "Strong" ads aired in Iowa and chose to come to the town meeting with her father. Perry defended himself behind the shield of Christianity, “Here’s my issue. This is about my faith…I’m a sinner and so I’m not going to be the first one to throw a stone,” Perry said. “I don’t agree that openly gays should be serving in the military. ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was working…but having them openly serve in the military, I happen to think as a commander in chief of some 20,000 plus people in the military is not good public policy...”

Green's father, Todd, expressed his disappointment in Perry's logic saying, “He seemed to get that backward,” according to nationaljournal.com, and that “Christians are not being persecuted in the United States of America. They’ve been in a position of dominance and power and privilege throughout the history of the United States of America. LGBT persons have not.” A video of the bright teen approaching Perry can be seen here.

The teen’s father pointed out his disagreement in Perry’s stance on coming out as Christian means showing bravery, “I’d be more impressed if you were Muslim or an atheist and coming out like that, but to come out as though this was an act of courage for him to proclaim his Christian faith, but he also wants to take the stand against gays in the military. This is someone who’s in the position of power and privilege and he’s abusing it.”

“For a group of women and men to fight for the freedom to run for president, to gather here peacefully and assemble here peacefully in a place like Decorah, but not for them to have the freedom to be open about who they are but he can be free to be open about who he is, to me it seems to be a major contradiction and very hypocritical,” stated by Mr. Green. “If you love the sinner, whatever that means, your policy should reflect that I think...”

According to thenewcivilrightsmovement.com, “Were Perry to invoke with consistency his faith as Commander In Chief, he would be forced to fire an estimated 3500 to 13500 Muslim American soldiers, and 66,500 gay, lesbian, and bisexual American soldiers. Perry has indicated he does not believe Mormons are Christians, so an estimated 17,000 active duty Mormons serving would have to go. Additionally, Perry would have to fire 214,000 active duty women and 200,000 women in the reserves and national guard.” Firing all these individuals doesn’t sound like it would make the U.S. or its military stronger.

The teen dismissed Perry, telling reporters that she finds his stance, as "completely ridiculous.”, according to jezebel.com. Her sentiments are shared by others, as many others disapproved of and parodied Perry’sinfamous “Strong” Youtubevideo.

Bi Celebs – Two Sides of a Good Thing

Bi Celebs – Two Sides of a Good Thing…The Double-Edged Sword of Being a Role Model
By Gary North

The Darkest Hour's Olivia Thirlby Comes Out

Anna Paquin and Olivia Thirlby are two of the more recent thespians to come out as bi.
That’s a good thing, right? Gives the movement some admired role models and some visibility, yes?
Well…yes, but.
The “but” is that I as a movie fan and (erstwhile) cultural maven have two reactions at once (and, no, not because bi people by nature have two reactions at once).
My first reaction, especially when I was first dealing with my sexuality, was: Whew! I’m not the only one! (Of course when I was coming out sometime in the last century, shortly after the Paleolithic era, there were no such creatures as “bi” until Newsweek discovered “bi chic” and then promptly forgot about it.)
At the same time, though, an actor or actress (or writer or director or whoever) coming out (as bi or gay or whatever) is a lot like a magician deconstructing their magic tricks, revealing the gears and levers behind the curtain: See, I’m PLAYING straight, but YOU KNOW and I KNOW that I’m JUST ACTING!
…Well, duhhhhh… Of COURSE they’re acting! That’s their JOB! … But, just as audience members know that the magician knows that the audience knows he or she is a magician, the audience still wants to BELIEVE the magic is real, that the illusions are real. I really DON’T want to know how the trick is done (or how laws are made or sausage is made or sewage is treated…).
So when Anna or Olivia come out as bi, I cheer – and then I have to force myself to fight through the cognitive dissonance of KNOWING they’re bi in order to BUY that they’re “straight” in whatever role they’re playing.
And this is a bad thing. But only for me, and that’s MY problem.
To this day, I have trouble watching Doris Day/Rock Hudson romance movies (well, truth be told, I always had trouble sitting through those) or “McMillan and Wife” episodes because, well, heck, it’s a gay guy playing straight. It carries right through for me to the most famous or visible bi stars of recent years, including Alan Cumming, Drew Barrymore, Anne Heche, Angelina Jolie, Cynthia Nixon, and so on – although, to be fair, they didn’t necessarily always play “straight” roles; one COULD PRESUME or infer that some of their characters were bi, or PRETEND as much, since – as with real life – what isn’t said can be assumed to exist silently. Whatever…
(Musicians have it easier – they play instruments, not roles – and can be themselves more easily, especially because their love songs are often gender-neutral: “you” “you make me feel like a teenage…” “you, you’re the one…”: Christina Aguilera, Fergie, Lady Gaga…)
But am I saying actors SHOULDN’T come out as bi because it makes me work too hard to fight off their believability when they’re interpreting Shakespeare or Mamet?
Bi Social Network's I am Visible Campaign
No. Quite the opposite. The ones who have come out have knowingly put their careers in jeopardy for a higher cause: the truth and honesty about human sexuality, human behavior, open-mindedness, and progressiveness. They know the younger viewers don’t care and/or will applaud them for being so daring. The older fuddy-duddies like me just have to disenthrall ourselves by forgetting the outside world for a few short hours and remind ourselves that all the world is a stage, and that THAT really is Henry the VIII or Queen Victoria up there on the screen or trodding the boards.
So the next time you watch “True Blood” or “The Good Wife” or “Good Vibes,” or listen to a good song, thank your lucky bi self that a bi celeb had the courage to come out, stand tall, and bring truth to the masses – one role at a time, for all to see.
You got a problem with that? Then it’s YOUR problem.
Now, pass me the popcorn, turn up the volume, and turn down the lights.