Celebrating choice… including the freedom not to have to choose

21 Sep

Sunday 9/23 is Bisexual Pride Day.

No, not LGBTQ Day. And let’s take this opportunity to talk about that alphabet soup, shall we?

LGBTQ (variously, LGBTTQQ) stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Transsexual, Queer and Questioning. Notice anything about this list?

The LGB and Q stand for our sexuality: that is, the aspect of our identities that is based on our emotional and physical attractions and relationships with others, and includes but is not limited to our perception of this aspect of ourselves. The T’s refer to our gender and sex, i.e.

Often used interchangeably, gender is related to sex but not necessarily determined by it.

  • Sex is the aspect of our identities that is based on the biological (reproductive) characteristics of men and women.
  • Gender is the aspect of our identities that is based on characteristics (behaviors, activities, and physical attributes) that a society deems “masculine” or “feminine.”

To throw transgender and transsexual identities and cultures in with LGBQ(Q) identities and cultures is to assume that they are about the same–or similar enough–experiences and issues. But transgender folks aren’t necessarily LGB or Q.

… which brings us back to Bisexual Pride Day.

Why a day specifically for bisexual pride?

Because we tend to think of identity as boxes. And the ironic privilege, if you will, of identifying as gay or lesbian, even in a heterosexist society, is that you fit into a box. It’s like the privilege of identifying as Asian in a culture that provides me a box, but either provides no box or provides too many competing and confusing boxes for folks who identify as multiracial.

From both sides of the heterosexual-gay/lesbian dichotomy, there’s pressure or expectation for bisexual and questioning folks to just choose! Declare themselves… and pick a side.

Bisexual Pride Day acknowledges that bisexuality isn’t purgatory, indecision or a waiting area. It’s an identity and a human reality.

Earlier this year, a student identified herself to me as “heteroflexible.” She explained that while she’s hetero right now, she’s open to being other than heterosexual. I’m so grateful to her for this new (to me) language because it occurred to me that I’m heteroflexible, too! While I’ve spent 41 years as a heterosexual woman, and I’ve committed to my partner for the rest of my life, I can’t say that I know I will be heterosexual forever. I can only say that I’ve planned on it. And I suspect that’s a broader truth for humanity. We cultivate our identities, sexual and other, and we make them our nouns, while perhaps, they’re really verbs that express how we “do” who we are right now.

With that perspective, I invite you to celebrate Bisexual Pride on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday… and throughout the year. You can do it just by keeping the option open for yourself and those around you, and challenging the notion that bi is just a phase.

For more info, check out: http://www.facebook.com/events/294190593954110/

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