Celebrate Bisexuality Day 2010

Today is some-day-we-can’t-decide-on-the-name-of-but-is-definitely-about-yay-for-being-bi day!

(Variously known as Celebrate Bisexuality Day, Bisexual Visibility Day, and Bi Pride Day.)

There are two problems with the term “bisexual: b and i, that two-letter prefix meaning “two”. Because bisexual says — however else we mean it — of or relating to two sexes. The most commonly accepted definition of bisexual is “sexually attracted to both genders”. And that “both” indicates not only two, but only two, which erases nonbinary persons of many different genders.

There are several suggested replacements for the currently-umbrella “bisexual”. My own favorite is queer, both because I like the word and because it indicates solidarity with other non-straight sexualities. Its main appeal is also its major limitation, though, which is that it doesn’t distinguish between queer monosexualities (eg gay, lesbian) and queer non-monosexualities — and while I, as all queer folk do, experience marginalization specifically because I am not straight (despite also having straight-appearing and straight-partner privilege), I also experience marginalization based on not being monosexual. In order to talk about this difference between monosexual and nonmonosexual queers, we need to have a word for the differences, which is why queer cannot be the primary replacement or “fix” for the problem that is bisexual.

As I used in the prior paragraph, another option is nonmonosexual — which, while linguistically useful, is overly long, overly academic, and centers on what we are not rather than what we are. Pansexual is possibly the one whose meaning I like best — across all — but is both obscure and not personally appealing. Omnisexual, also obscure, perpetuates the anything-that-moves stereotype. Polysexual means exactly the same as non-monosexual and thus might be ideal, but its abbreviation — poly — is already taken by the polyamory community.

So I am still waiting for a perfect word — not to dictate to others the word used for their own identity, but to have the perfect pink-purple-blue umbrella for all our identities that doesn’t erase our own or our loved one’s genders. But that doesn’t mean I’m about to let this day go unnoticed.

Because as problematic as the word we use to describe it is, I’m not dropping the chance to celebrate my sexuality –

Because bisexual isn’t incompatible with monogamy, but monogamy isn’t any better and shouldn’t be more accepted than polyamory

Because it’s about attraction and identity and potentiality, not history and actions and who I’ve boned

Because straight folks never have to prove their sexuality, and gay folks usually have their proof accepted (if not welcomed) –

Because sometimes bisexual is a transitory identity; sometimes so is straight; sometimes so is gay –

Because bisexual doesn’t mean “exactly equally attracted to two genders” — not least of which because there aren’t only two genders –

Because not everyone is bi, and we are not un-PC for wanting to name ourselves –

Because we are not “gay-lite” and we do have unique experiences

Because the Boychick just told me one of his kid elephants has two dad elephants and another has three mom elephants –

Because we teach our children about love every day

Because we are not faking it –

Because we have decided –

Because visibility really does matter –

Because I am bisexual, pansexual, omnisexual, polysexual, nonmonosexual, queer, dykey, hot bi babe, big fat flirt, not gay, not straight, and still not gonna sleep with you –

Happy Bi Visibility Day!

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30 Responses to Celebrate Bisexuality Day 2010

  1. Rainbow Suspenders

    Hey, I’m as heterosexual as they come, but I share in the thought we should all celebrate this day!

    • I love your rainbow suspenders. But if I can find you a pair of pink-purple-blue ones, would you wear them? (Bi pride!)

      • Rainbow Suspenders

        Yes, at least once when visiting you. If they are comfy they would become a regular style alternative. But I identify with rainbow coalition so those will always be first choice.

  2. I’m not your dad and I’m commenting! ;)

    Personally, I like Omnisexual only because it reminds me of Omnipotent which reminds me of Q which reminds me of one of my favourite quotes of all times: “It’s very difficult to work in groups when you’re omnipotent.”

    I’m sorry, this should have been a less flippant comment to a serious post but, well, I’m sick and I think a little delerious. Also losing my voice. Also, apparently, I’m a ginormous DORK.

    Happy Bi Visibility Day!

  3. Hell yes
    here is to queer sexuality, to queerness, to my family.

  4. This post made me teary. Thank you, I really needed this today.

  5. What about multisexual?

    I identify as pan, because your gender is not a factor in my attraction. I also see my sexuality as very fluid – just like my moods! #bipolarjoke

    I celebrate non-mono sexuality with you! Yay!

    • PharaohKatt — Hm, I could do multisexual. Although (since we’re going with the geek references) it reminds me a bit much of “multipass”.

      (…please someone tell me they got that.)

      And I’ve not gone by “bipolar, bisexual, and bipedal” for years for nothin’. ;)

  6. Indeed, happy bi visibility day!

  7. Great post. I prefer queer to bisexual myself, though I haven’t completely sorted out why I feel that way. Partially, I think because of the misconception that being bi means being equally attracted to men and women, which is definitely not me. Queer seems to fit better for me, as someone who’s also straight married, with a child, has never dated a woman and isn’t sure how attracted I am to women – I just know the attraction is there. And I agree about the problems with the “bi” in terms of erasing nonbinary sex and gender.

  8. Yes, I identify as queer as the more politicised label but I know that it has its disadvantages. Still the point is to celebrate and make visible that we do not live in a world of binary monosexualities. Even for those of us who were a form of monosexuality for a number of years. Ahem.

  9. I have many not gay not straight friends and I am celebrating today with them. Without diversity the world has no shine. I want the world to shine brightly for my daughter (and any other future children).

  10. Many happy returns of the day to you! (And thank you for respecting non-binary genders.)

  11. Here, here! I think all identities, and all the places in between, should be celebrated, embraced, loved. Personally, I love the term queer… I like it because it is fluid, it covers my gender fluid days and allows me to also have some fluidity in my sexuality. I discovered that identifying only as gay really limited me, in my mind and others, and it felt really rigid. Plus, it caused a lot of questioning in me when I fell for a trans guy (and later supported my partner through transition)… if I was attracted to this guy, but identified as a lesbian, what did that mean for my gender politics? Did I subconsciously see him as less male? What about the one cis boy I had feelings for? Did that mean I was suddenly straight? I don’t like rigid labels. I like being inclusive, not exclusive.

    I identify as poly, dyke, kinky, andro, sometimes female, always queer. I, too, often long for better language, but I have made my peace with the current balance of my labels and my identity, and I raise my glass in a toast to whatever you call it day.

  12. This post would be perfect if only it involved non-monosexual hambeast cake :P

  13. Thank you so much for this. I struggle with this. It is so nice to see someone addressing it in so many different ways.

  14. Thanks for the linkage. You outline many of the reasons that I think it is important to use umbrella terms like ‘queer’. I like the term pansexual, but my attraction is not indiscriminate, nor is it truly gender free — I consider myself a Kinsey 2. But I also consider myself sapiosexual — what’s hotter than intelligence?

    • Kit — Ooo yes, sapiosexual. Mm hmm.

      I’m pretty much 50/50, but I still don’t consider my attractions “gender free”, because gender is a part of every person I’m attracted to, and is, invariably, part of the attraction. (Because it affects how they look, move, interact with the world, whatever gender it is.)

      One day I’ll write about why ostensibly bi-pride phrases like “beyond gender” bug me. But it would basically boil down to what I just wrote.

      • Yes. Certain configurations of gender tend to attract me more than others. Androgyny is appealing in some cases, but for me its someone who is firmly androgynous, mixing traits of many genders together… even then its not truly ‘beyond’ gender, just beyond mainstream ‘kyriarchal’ (thanks for introducing me to this word, btw) concepts of it.

  15. I don’t like labels, but i understand the need for them, for people to make sense of the world (the brain unfortunately craves categorisation to make sense of things) and for people to feel solidarity.
    I see sexuality as a graduated line from “strongly heterosexual (labels again) to “strongly homosexual” whatever strongly means, and people sit along that gradient, not necessarily fixed but free to move about as they experience life and meet new people.
    I know many people who have fallen in love with people and not gender, as people describe above, and i have always loved the idea and freedom of that.

    I suppose that fits with some readers like of the term “queer” because of the flexibility it affords.

    Such an interesting topic.


    • The line you describe relies on the idea that there are only two sexes/genders. Which is not really accurate. And, as Arwyn suggests above with referring to the “beyond gender” trope, to say that one falls in love with people not gender seems to imply that gender does not play a role in attraction and falling in love with someone. Which doesn’t make a lot of sense in a world that puts so much emphasis on gender.

  16. Yes, I feel like responding simply that I am ‘queer’ is a way of acknowledging that I might fall at different places along that wonderful spectrum with different people, in different moments, in different moods. I don’t mind labels so much when I can pick one which is freeing, though I recognize that things might be better if we just took things on a purely person-by-person basis. There’s too much preference at work (of whatever kind) in sexual attraction for me to believe that is a realistic outcome for the human race.

  17. Of course its mote complicated than that but its a useful starting point. And of course gender, whatever that is, plays. a part in attraction, but the way we perceive masculine or feminine is fluid depending on circumstances and mood so at the end of the all choices are individual and dependent on loads of factors colliding at any time. Though I concede gender preference is useful to describe typical tendencies.

    • Those ‘typical tendencies’ are a big part of the reason I often identify as ‘genderqueer’ (to introduce another kind of queerness into the discussion). I consider both my sex and my gender to be male (though not having ever been genetically tested, I guess I can’t truly be SURE about my sex), but yet those ‘typical tendencies’ rarely seem to line up with my own behavior. I don’t desire to try to fit better than I do into the ‘male’ label, nor do I want to switch to the ‘female’ label. Though I feel gendered enough to do so, this is the kind of thing that makes even the Kinsey Scale difficult to work with, since it assumes a clear-cut gender.

  18. I don’t feel at all qualified to comment, but for what it’s worth omnisexual was the first such term I ever heard (possibly even before bisexual… if that’s possible, even given my sheltered upbringing), from Sophie B Hawkins.

    In a way the plurality of names just indicates how different everyone’s experiences are; people prefer different ones for a reason.

  19. I like the word ‘ambisexual’. Like ‘ambidextrous’ but with sexuality.

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