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July 2, 2010

Erasure – Not the Band

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 6:05 am
Tags: ,

Gah! In this episode, he’s talking about this problem exactly – only, not really. He’s talking to a lesbian-identified bisexual woman who’s worried that lesbians won’t want to date her because she has a boyfriend…

“For a lot of women, particularly lesbian-identified women who are not ‘lesboflexible’, your having another partner is going to be a problem. Your having another partner who is a dude is going to be a very big problem. And so you’re just gonna have to ask and ask and ask, and you’re going to have to endure a certain amount of rejection and – I’m sorry to say this, because the bisexuals are going to blow up at me – LEGIT rejection. We all get to pick our own dealbreakers. The more we have, the more likely we are to be lonely and single all our lives, so you want to have not a massive collection… But people have the right to say, I’m a lesbian woman and I want to be with a lesbian woman who is a LESBIAN woman and not a lesboflexible-in-denial-bisexual-woman-making-an-exception-for-just-this-one-dude-who-happens-to-be-married.

Your other option, beyond lesbian women – and it always blows my mind that this never occurs to the lesboflexibles, and the homoflexibles (the handful who exist) and many bisexuals – is dating bisexuals. Why not find other women who are similarly situated emotionally, sexually, socially, romantically, and chase after them? And they’re out there. Because the lesbians are constantly complaining about being approached by them. They’re out there. They are legion! Go after a bisexual. What is it about so many bisexuals? When they complain about their lack of luck, they seem to only complain about how straight people won’t date them, and gay people won’t date them, and lesbians won’t date them, dot dot dot. And they never get around to saying, “So, I’m hitting on bisexuals now.” It just never seems to occur to them that they could chase after other bisexuals!”

Um, yeah. Duh. Wouldn’t that be nice? But Dan, how do we know who they are? Just pop on down to the local Bi-Bar? Oh, wait. Hit on our guy friends’ straight-seeming wives, just in case? Yeah, sometimes that could work – like, for example, with my roommates – but more often, that’s the kind of faux-pas that might get you punched. Especially outside of fluffy liberal bubbles like Boulder and Seattle.

Yeah, sometimes you just gotta take a risk and pursue someone who, for any number of reasons not limited to your gender or sexual orientation, might not return the interest. But unless your dating pool is limited exclusively to really close friends and pre-vetted OkCupid users, there’s no really good way to guess who’s bi. This means that you can either hit on straight-seeming women who, it will sometimes turn out, are straight and freaked out because a girl is hitting on them; or you can hit on gay-seeming women who, it will sometimes turn out, are gay and “constantly complaining” about being approached by bisexuals. Maybe these things don’t happen very often; maybe they happen all the time. I’m sure it depends partially on where you live, who you hang out with, and how hot you are. My point is: Isn’t the fear of rejection already debilitating enough when all you have to worry about is whether this person will like you – much less having to stress about whether they’re even into people like you?

This would be less of an issue if we lived in a less ‘phobic, less sex-negative, less gender-fixated society where people could turn down an advance from someone of a gender/orientation they’re not typically interested in with the same kind of, “You seem nice, thanks, but you’re not really my type” you’d give to someone who, say, is a blonde when you’re mostly into redheads. Rather than, “Ew. Omg. No. I don’t like girls/I don’t date bisexuals. Why would you think I was into that? Do I seem like the kind of person who’d be into that? Why would you even think to hit on me? Do I look gay/bisexual? Do I give off some kind of girl/bisexual-attracting vibe? Oh god. What does that mean about me? I’m going to have a freakout identity crisis all over you now.” Which again, like I said, may not happen very often. But the prospect is intimidating enough to keep a lot of bisexuals – especially shy bisexuals – at home, hiding out on OkCupid.

(And, again, let me point out that this fear may be even more poignant for bisexual men, since the Straight Dude ‘How Dare You Hit On Me?’ identity crisis freakout is more likely to involve lots of violence.)

Here’s the thing. I’m not really bitching about this on my own behalf. I’m very lucky. Over the past few years, I’ve found myself surrounded by a community that includes a lot of confident, self-possessed, out bisexual poly women, some pretty accepting and savvy queer-identified lesbians, plus a couple of delightful genuine Kinsey-3 bisexual male friends. I’ve also gotten to a point of confidence with myself and expectation of maturity/openness in those around me that I am able, most of the time, to approach someone without feeling to need to first determine their sexual orientation via Internet stalkage. (And, weirdly, this has resulted in me getting a decent amount of straight-girl tail. Oh god. What does that say about ME? Do I give off some kind of bi-curious straight chick attracting pheremone?? …Cuz I might be okay with that.)

But, like I said, I’m very lucky. Even within this utopian-sounding social environment, I still run into erasure issues – and this scenario is not even close to the case for most bisexual folks. Even those who do live in fluffy liberal enclaves. Like, for example, my roommate. Who is sweet and gorgeous and would probably get devoured by women if they knew she was interested and available. But nobody, unless they know her very, very well, is ever going to assume she is, because she looks pretty and femme and normal as hell and she’s married to a man. She isn’t going to advertise to people who don’t know her very, very well, because she’s very, very shy. And there’s really no good way to flag discreetly. Obnoxious T-Shirts saying “Bisexual, Poly, Switch – And No, I Still Won’t Sleep with You” do not count.



  1. You should write in (or call in) to Savage Love.

    Comment by Corvinity — July 4, 2010 @ 1:16 pm | Reply

  2. Great post full of truth. I saw myself in most of your sentences…

    Comment by Adwoa — September 20, 2012 @ 10:02 am | Reply

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