Snails & Oysters: The Bisexual Perspective on … Labels

Welcome back to Snails & Oysters: The Bisexual Perspective! First up, why did I switch from Tiger Cub to my real name? It was a tough decision, because I am very fond of that nickname and, frankly, I feel a little naked without my stripes. But it was the right thing to do. In a column where I take on various groups, people and entities for propagating bi-invisibility (maybe binvisibility? Nah…) it would be disingenuous for me to hide behind a nom de plume.

However, you lot aren’t my getting my face pic. I draw the line there!

Next, I want to say a heartfelt thank you to all for the warm welcome I received in the comments of the first column. It really humbles me to hear so many bisexuals coming forward and saying how grateful they are for Snails & Oysters.

I also love the fierce debate this column is generating! I appreciate reading all the different views and experiences and opinions on bisexuality. My viewpoint is informed by my life experiences, my reading, my environment — and, of course, the microchip implanted in my head buy those darn aliens.

And while it’s great to hear that some people share my point of view, it’s just as great to know that others see things in a different way entirely. In a word, it’s faboo!

Last time out I bulled my way into the proverbial china shop and riled up some people by calling Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer bisexual. I stand by my original statement, but I thought that issue might be good a launching pad for this week’s column which is all about labels.

So let’s discuss, shall we?

Ah, labels. They are such a touchy subject. It seems
like things used to be a little more simple. Everyone belonged to a few general groups like Protestants or Southerners or blue collar workers. With politics it used to simply be liberals and conservatives for the most part. But these days, everyone seems to crave a label that is detailed very specifically to them. Now we have older liberals, Obama liberals, progressives, neo-cons, Tea Party conservatives, social conservatives, and the liberal-to-moderate faction just to name a few.

This has become almost as common in the GLBT community. For instance, we are now apparently the GLBTQIA community. Don’t get me wrong; I like specificity, but there are times when it gets … cumbersome. After all, the more specific you get, the more likely there are to be disagreements.

I find that such is especially the case when people are trying to describe just how gay or how straight they are. That brings us to such interesting terms as “heteroflexible” and “bicurious” and “pansexual,” all of which are currently used to describe folks who aren’t
100% gay or straight.

But guess what? We already have a word that describes everyone who is isn’t either 100% gay or straight. That’s what bisexuality means. It means (at least to me) that you are a person who can and does to some extent develop romantic and/or physical feelings for both genders. So when I say a person is bisexual, I simply mean I don’t believe they are 100% gay or 100% straight.

What it doesn’t mean, however, is that I think they are equally attracted to both genders.

As I said before, I am a person who loves specificity. I think a word like heteroflexible — which most people accept as meaning someone who is straight in most respects but will on occasion engage sexually with someone of the same gender — is a fine term to describe a Kinsey 1. I just don’t agree that there is a difference between heteroflexible and bisexual; rather, I think that the former is a subset of the latter.

I have more problems with the term pansexual. This is just my take on this and I might be wrong, but I feel there is a certain transphobic aspect to how this term is used. Pansexual is usually used by people who want to indicate that in addition to men and women, they are attracted to transgender folks as well — as if transgender folks fall outside of the male and female paradigm. It seems like transphobia to say that a person who has transitioned from male to female or female to male is, in fact, something “else” entirely other than the gender with which they identify.

Next page! Margaret Cho is … trisexual?

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