Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Bisexual sacrifice: Is it worth it?

Yesterday, after the Christmas break, I moved back into my term time accommodation, and whilst I was unpacking, my dad told me an anecdote from his New Year's Eve. He was talking to a long-time friend of his and my mum's, and unsurprisingly their were catching up on news about each other's offspring.

She asks him if either my brother or I have got partners, and he says no, and she presses him further to ask if there are any potential men in my life, and he answers no again (which shows how little I discuss my love life with my parents) and she says... "Careful, she might pull a Clare Balding on you!"

Now, for those of you who don't know, Clare Balding is a British sports journalist and presenter, and she is a lesbian, part of only a small group of British celebrities who are known to be; and it's this aspect of her to which my parents' friend was referring.

My dad said he stopped talking about the subject after that - what he meant was that he didn't out me to her. And I didn't get angry; I just commented that I found it strange that he saw it as private business - he hasn't even told his siblings, my aunts and uncle. It's not that I want to shout it from the roof tops - I mean jeez, it took me four years to come out to my parents because I didn't want to be immodest and make a big deal - but come on, I'm out and proud, so when it comes up there's no need to skirt around the issue. It doesn't take making a big deal to address my bisexuality when it comes up in conversation.

I don't know whether this a political issue ie should we talk up about our bisexuality specifically to get it talked about? Should we jump at any chance we get to spread the knowledge that we are bisexual, or are there some situations where it seems more appropriate to let it slide for the moment? If we let it slide, are we admitting shame or just a social sensitivity?

I've had mild complaints that I go on about my bisexuality and shove it in people's faces. I don't think I get aggressive about it, and I don't think I talk about it overly much. If I respond to these comments by talking about it less, am I admitting defeat at the hands of biphobia? If I ignore them, am I being selfish and egocentric?

I don't have simple answers to these questions, because I'm unsure. Human sexuality is such a sensitive topic in general, and I think I forget that most people don't like talking about any aspect of it, whereas I'm not like most. I'll disclose that my first time with a man was a booty call, and my first time with a woman was a one night stand - both the disclosure of any facts about first times and the nature of my particular two are often seen as scandalous and improper, but I don't feel they are scandalous nor do I feel any sense of embarrassment about sharing them.

Is it wrong of me to impose on others by broadly discussing my personal sexuality (though I don't share sensitive info about other people, nor do I narrate details of sexual encounters, and I certainly don't talk about ongoing relationships or even recently ended ones) even though I have no problem with it myself?

But then, what is this blog but just that? Am I somehow betraying myself with this blog? And if I am, does this blog do enough good to be worth it?

Ah man, see where a train of thought can lead you. At the heart of my dad's story, I found a root issue in today's bisexual community - is open and honest discussion a valid method of education, or does it perpetuate our reputation as all about the sex/attention seekers?

Me personally, I think it's a good thing; our major enemy that supports and defends biphobia is ignorance, and if we have to sacrifice a little privacy so that generations to come can be bisexual is peace, so be it.

So maybe I have a simple answer after all.

1 comment:

  1. My instinct is that the "careful she might pull a Clare Balding on you" is the daily grind of heteronormativity that needs to be kicked back at by people talking about being bi and gay.

    In fairness to your dad, every time it's a judgement call as to whether it is worth challenging with a "and so what if she did?". It's not always the right time, place, mood, person, to go down that conversational route.

    Though it reminds me that I had an aunt who used to ask like that about my lovelife. She stopped when I started asking the same kind of questions back X)

    But back to your underpinning dilemma. The trick we need, I think, is ways to talk about being bi that aren't "just about sex". I often suggest to people that talking about having been to bi meetups and events, something they read in BCN, etc, threads your sexuality into your life. There perhaps need to be more Bi Things to enable that kind of chatter?