[sexuality]bi awareness and me part 1: personal


Fun fact: This week is Bisexual Awareness Week. To which there are always those who feel the need to ask does such a thing needs to exist and doesn’t the gay community get enough attention as it is? (Yes, it was phrased that exact way to me.) The short answer is that yes it does need to exist. It needs to exist, because bi erasure is a real thing in both the real world and the media.

I am bisexual. I “came out” as bisexual when I was 18. (By coming out, I mean I started acting on my desire to go on dates and kiss girls as well as boys without feeling like I needed to make a big speech. My mom is an amazing person who has always made me feel accepted so I never felt like it was a big deal. I am so very lucky in that respect and I wish every bi/gay/queer human bean had the same automatic love and acceptance.) For those that really want to keep count, they makes for over fifteen years as an openly bi woman. It’s a pretty mixed bag of experiences, not going to lie. Here’s some of what I’ve gone through in no particular order.

During the late 90s/early 00s most of what I heard from both the gay and straight communities at large was that eventually I would “make up my mind” or that it was only a matter of time before I figured out I was really a lesbian. (Spoiler: To date, I am not a lesbian. Nor am I straight.) In all fairness, a big part of some people’s journeys to coming out as gay is to first come out as bi. I get it. The world is not always an accepting place and it’s scary. However, that is not everyone’s story. That was not my story. That was not the stories of many, many people. Our stories are simply that we like both men and women. That simple.

Then came the dating. Women I dated or slept with, by and large, did not give a fuck. Men on the other hand tended to fall into two camps. The first was morally repulsed and threatened by the idea that a woman could be satisfied by anything other than a dick. Basically this whole speech in Chasing Amy:

https://youtu.be/iNTV8A3i8TE
Then there were the men who figured that dating a bi woman automatically meant they were getting a threesome. For what it’s worth, I am fiercely monogamous. I experimented some with non monogamy, but turns out that if I’m in a relationship I don’t want to share my person with anybody. I don’t want them to share me with anybody. It’s just the way I work. Nothing against people who non monogamy works for, but I am not actually that unusual for a bi in that I can still value monogamy.

Fast forward to now: I am happily married to a man so I have the privilege of straight seeming. I also have to constantly explain that having made the marriage commitment to a man does not in fact make me straight. Since I also don’t walk around wearing a shirt that says “Hi, I’m bisexual. Ask me how!”, I also have the fun experience of dealing with straight people feeling comfortable telling me their opinions about “those gays”. One such actual sentence: “There weren’t this many girls dating girls when I was younger. It’s just a phase for them I’m sure. They’ll get some dick and realize what they’ve been missing.” It’s really, really intensely uncomfortable. When someone talks about how things like gays on tv are ruining our country, they don’t realize that they’re talking about me. They are basically saying if I had ended up loving a woman enough to marry her, I would deserve less than I have with my husband. It makes me incredibly sad and angry, because at the end of the day love really is love. Whether I had chosen a man or a woman to spend my life with, it would not affect anyone else’s daily existence for them to say I deserve less for one of those choices.

On the other hand, I have never felt entirely welcome in the queer and gay communities. Part of this is that the course my life has taken has given me the privilege of not worrying about my rights being taken away and I understand this. But it also takes all those years where I was affected by the same prejudices when I walked with a girlfriend down the street and somehow says that they didn’t matter as much. The b in lgbtq stands for bisexual, so please remember we are a part of your community and not to write off our sexuality for any reason. We are all in this together and we are all love.

(Part 2 on bisexuality in the media will be posted later this week.)

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[PopCulture]Roland, Mary Jane, RiRi, Ghostbusting & the Evolution of Nerd Culture

RiRi Williams, Iron Heart

 

My name is Jade and I am a lover of myth and fairy tale. (This is related to the topic, I promise.) I have grown up in a generation where the way fairy tales are brought to life in cinema has been constantly criticized on one hand and praised on the other. The original stories were seen as something pure that shouldn’t be adjusted for mass appeal. I actually used to be very much in this camp until the day I realized that my issue was much less with the Disneyification of fairy tales and much more with a fascination with dark and gory story lines.

Here’s the thing: Stories are not a static and staid thing. They grow and change with generations. Even the Brothers Grimm themselves cleaned up the stories they heard so they would be more palatable to children. Fairy tales grew as folk tales grow, changing from teller to listener to teller. A story that is frozen as only one thing is not a story that will survive and retain relevance through time.

Can anyone even picture anyone else as Nick Fury?

 

There is a huge lesson here that I think certain pockets of nerd culture could learn from. Personally, every time new casting or a comic that is bending gender or race is announced, I get a little excited. It’s not a guarantee that the finished product will be good, but more representation of women and PoC is not a guarantee of something being awful. At the same time I’m excited, part of me is just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Let’s for the sake of argument call this shoe the “old vanguard”. They are people who fondly remember a time when nerd culture was a bastion of white male dominance. It was the equivalent of the tree house with a “no girls allowed” on it.

Times have changed though. In the fifteen plus years I’ve gone to conventions I have watched more women and PoCs attend them. I’m well aware that it’s never been the fact they didn’t like comics and sci fi and fantasy, but there is a growing acceptance and welcoming atmosphere. That’s important. It changes the demographic.

In changing the demographic, the stories also change. We get female Ghostbusters. We get Idris Elba as Roland from the Dark Tower. We get 15 year old RiRi Williams as Iron Heart. We get Zendaya as Mary Jane. We get Miles Morales as Spiderman. We get Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. These are a few examples. What they all mean is: We get to see ourselves on screen and in media. We get to see the stories evolve to reflect that more women are in STEM now than ever before and things are looking even better for the next generation. We get to see stories where a black man is the hero and the villain and is fully humanized. We get to see the stories grow up and show that we are all heroes. We are all villains. Not just straight white males.

Idris Elba as the Gunslinger

And maybe that’s the real root of their anger. The stories are evolving, because society is evolving and old modes of guaranteed power and position are shifting. The status, as Doctor Horrible would say, is not quo. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though and here’s to continued changes and improvements in nerd culture and at large.