Regardless of the growing concern, or maybe paranoia, over “fake news” there can be no denying that the world wide web has provided us with an abundance of information and an often impressive ability to share ideas that most would never be exposed to without it. Take for instance the proliferation of the term “biphobia.” Before the advent of social media, only the most active of queer activists would be aware of the phenomena, and not all of them knew the term. Now the entire lGb…t community is aware of both and more than a few cis-het folks as well. People are at least hearing that bisexual and pansexual, something else that is new to cis-het folks, people face different challenges from outside queer peers and within. That is a huge improvement, but I see some ideas clinging like mold on bread that should have been discarded long ago and have experienced new challenges.
The most common, and probably the cruelest, and sometimes most dangerous, meme that pervades the collective conscious regarding bi and pan people are that we are sexually “greedy.” Being attracted to men and women, or all genders, somehow translates to being attracted to all men and women, or everyone of every gender. We are painted as endlessly promiscuous, which frankly should be no one else’s business. I have been called disgusting for being attracted to men and women. I have heard folks imply that bi and pan folk are sexual predators just waiting to inflict their unwanted advances on everyone. Curiously I most often hear this from folks that spread the “not all men” line of thought when it comes to women complaining of sexual assault. If straight people can be attracted to some people of the opposite gender but not others, it kind of stands to reason that bi and pan folk can be attracted to people of any gender without being attracted to all of them. Trust me, and I know my bi and pan friends out there are thinking this before they even read it: there are plenty of folks of all genders that do not a thing for me at all.
Next up, and this one always gives me a laugh, is the notion, almost always from cis-white gay men, though some others perpetuate this as well, that we are just afraid to come out all the way. That we are really gay but hope that somehow saying we are attracted to the other gender will protect us. This makes perfect sense, of course, because the people who hate gay folk are OK with queerness, just not, you know, total queerness. They totally focus on how I like dick, and so it is perfectly alright that I like pussy too. It all evens out, you see. For real though, this line of thinking so ridiculous that I already feel like I wrote too much about it.
I have noticed other things since coming out as trans though, especially as my transition progresses. Before I started openly identifying as a woman, I took far more crap for being bi than after. It was then that I was getting those “disgusting” comments. Maybe it was the fact that bi folk were blamed for the spread of AIDS to the straight community (this happened, but far less than because of transfusions in the early days.) Part of it though, is an unwillingness to see men as sexually fluid. Men are supposed to be manly men, not “wishy washy” (oh yeah, that’s one you get too) whether gay or straight. So too the idea that men are supposed to be sexually aggressive. So the patriarchal attitudes that contribute to homophobia give the bi and pan people a double whammy.
On the other hand, women being bi is appealing to men, and we do not often talk about the reasons why. The same patriarchy that demands men be sexually aggressive requires women to be sexual submissive. The idea that a woman could be with a woman and man, generates the obvious fantasy that the man has a greater chance of being with both women. Again, the bisexual as endlessly turned on rears its ugly head, as if the bisexual women will be so aroused they will need the male to sate their appetites.
Finally, I leave with this strange situation that I find myself in, especially the last few years. There seems to be no middle ground for me when it comes to folk’s opinions of what my sexuality should be. I have had friends perplexed by the idea of me spending time with women, as if my identifying as one should mean I have to leave the rest to them (no, for real.) However, it almost seems as many folk expect I should be bi, as if that is the default for trans folk, or at least trans women. In my case it is true, though after starting hormones I noticed my orientation shifting dramatically toward men, which is another thing about sexual attraction: you are supposed to be attracted to one, or the other, or both equally. Even fellow bi folk fall into this trap. Over all, it is safe to say that after all this time, with all the advancement we have made, folks are still weird about their sexual shit, though at least we are talking about it, so that is something.