Thursday, May 31, 2007

Big Brother is not watching me

First of all, my apologies to the three-quarters of this blog’s readers who don’t live in the UK. You won't be directly involved in this conversation, and that's just plain rude of me. Except that, dollars to doughnuts, South Korea to South Dakota, you’ll have your own version of this farrago to contend with.
So, another end of May, another season of the manipulative television drivel that is Big Brother. And, comme toujours, we have a “comedy bisexual”. This “comedy bisexual” is a bit different from the usual Chicks (Channel 4’s official description of the women in the house) in that Carole is a 53-year-old member of the Socialist Workers’ Party rather than a WAG wannabe. And a vague acquaintance of my partner’s, given that London’s middle-aged lefties are not exactly thick on the ground these days.
Oh dear. Did she learn nothing from the George Galloway fiasco? Has she never SEEN Big Brother? You can’t expect that ANY of your political views will get over to the viewers untrampled. Perhaps she thought she was increasing bi invisibility/Trotskyist invisibility, to which I would respond – more fool you. The producers will edit out anything sensible and you too will end up in a cat costume.
Of course, there have always been a sprinkling of LGBT BB contestants. Indeed, about three years ago MTF transsexual Nadia won – which said a lot about something, although I can't for the life of me decide what. But if you are interested in having your every move monitored by the general public before being a two-month sleb, whatever else you are in your life, then Dr Sue would diagnose some kind of personality disorder. There are plenty to choose from.
Still, the media commentary will give pause for thought, I expect. Mark Lawson in the Guardian described Carole as a “divorced bisexual” using inverted commas. Not sure why – if she is divorced and says she is bisexual, then she’s a divorced bisexual. The Sun, in its usual caring, sharing way, divided housemates into “beauties” – the women under 30 who all look like models and “beasts” - everyone else. That's probably how the producers see them too.
Anyway, don’t watch – you’re only encouraging them. If you want to do your bit for bisexual visibility, you could always go for a walk with a badge on or something. Or, if you’re in the right place at the right time, you could go to the Big Bi Book Weekend in New York.

Friday, May 25, 2007

This is not a sex blog

No really, it isn’t. And from time to time that’s something I regret.
People who write about sex get, ooh, ever so many hits on their blog. They get book deals and proposals of marriage, and proposals for other things too – probably some of them implausible/unsavoury/frightening.
Loads of people who find this blog from Google – and then click off after one second – come here expecting some bi-girl, bi-guy fantasy action. They must be hideously disappointed to find me waffling on about politics, HIV, dead people who liked pushing the sexual envelope and what's on the telly.
To many people who aren’t bisexual (really rather a lot of them) the sex part is what it’s all about; to many people who are bisexual (but not all, not nearly all) the sex part is what it’s all about. They aren’t interested in the emotions, the lifestyle, the history, the challenges. Just the shagging.
The main reason I sometimes regret writing this under my own name is that it limits what I can say about my life, and that includes the sexual-romantic part. As I’ve said before, I’m not going to put anything here that I wouldn’t want my employer or my family to read. I don’t want the most intimate parts of my psyche known by all and sundry – and I don’t expect my ex-partners/lovers/crushes/friends would like it either. I know that what I actually write here is far beyond what many people would feel happy about shoving out into the public domain without being anonymous but, hey, I am a “professional bisexual” after all. Just not a “sexpert” in the Susie Bright / Carol Queen / Audacia Ray mould.
I had an email chat with Bitchy Jones (a female domme, as you might recall) and she said something very interesting.

“Bisexual women probably get a lot of the same problems I get. When your sexuality matches pretty closely to a hugely popular male fantasy it is no bloody fun at all!”

That summed up why I can relate to her blog, even though I don’t share her sexual interests. It is no bloody fun when people think they know what your sex life, indeed all your life, is like simply because they’re familiar with the stereotypes - and wish that the stereotypes were true. Because while these stereotypes might be pretty damn close to a common male fantasy, they aren’t the same. A real person never fits precisely into someone else’s fantasy, even if they might seem to at a distance. I know, from my own experience, how true that is.
Sorry for being a tease…

Thursday, May 17, 2007

International day against homophobia

Apparently it's international day against homophobia today (17th May). God knows, the world needs it - and you can find out more from the link in the title of this post.

From Amnesty International, for instance, whose LGBT mailing list I am on, I give you this information about Poland:

Pride Marches
"On Saturday 16 November 2006 the Equality March took place in Poznañ, where about 450 people went out on the street to celebrate the International Day of Tolerance. The March was guarded by around 500 policemen with shields, helmets and dogs. There were about 150 counter-demonstrators who chanted anti-LGBT slogans and the police detained one of them. There were no serious incidents due to the police presence. The next marches will be the March of Tolerance which will take place in Krakow on 21 April 2007 and the Warsaw Equality Parade on 19 May 2007.
Homophobic language
Political figures, including government officials, responsible for public statements such as 'If deviants begin to demonstrate, they should be hit with batons.' and 'LGBT organizations are sending transsexuals to kindergartens and asking children to change their sex' have continued to use openly homophobic language. On 20 February 2007, while on a three-day state visit to Ireland, President Lech Kaczyñski attacked what he called “the homosexual culture” and suggested that widespread homosexuality would lead to the disappearance of the human race. Speaking at a Forum of Europe meeting in Dublin Castle, Mr Kaczyñski said: 'If that kind of approach to sexual life were to be promoted on a grand scale, the human race would disappear”. He also stood by his decision to ban a gay rights march in Warsaw while mayor of the city in 2004.
Roman Giertych, Poland's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, openly expressed his wish to implement a pan-European ban on 'homosexual propaganda' during a meeting of European Ministers of Education in Heidelberg, Germany, on 2 March 2007. 'The propaganda of homosexuality is reaching ever younger children' Giertych said in the speech released to the Polish media on 3 March. He also continued to promote his controversial proposal to include a ban on rights for homosexuals in any possible future European constitution while the Polish goverment continues to press for references to 'god'."

Shall I put in some witty comments here? No - I shall let this antedilevian twaddle speak for itself.

And that's just Poland. There's some 191 other countries in the world and in at least half a dozen of them, sex really can = death.

Monday, May 14, 2007

As one blog closes, another one opens

As I've been spending quite a lot of time plonked on the sofa this week, I've been taking a look at some of the bisexual blogs I've been linking to. And I'm sorry to report that a few of them have withdrawn from the bloggy fray. Al at Bi Journey, and Fluid at Fluid Sexuality have both "officially" given up blogging. Trouser Browser simply hasn't posted anything since last November.

I have no idea why Trouser Browser - great name, eh? - has stopped, but the other two simply say that, while they enjoyed doing it and it helped them, it's time to finish. I'm going to keep all these links up, though, for Al and Fluid because their thoughts about exploring their sexuality are thought-provoking and useful, and TB because his raunchy adventures are a hoot.

Lots and lots of people stop blogging - in fact, most stop pretty quickly. Even newspaper columnists, who get paid for it, and have editors hassling them for their copy, often find it difficult to come up with things worth writing about. Then there's the lack of momentum, the boredom, the other things that you would rather be doing. There has to be a pretty strong motivation to continue; I've written about mine quite a bit.

Read this one...
But I have just found a blog that I really enjoy. It's Bitchy Jones. She's not bisexual, she's a straight dominatrix. But not, as she points out in her profile, someone who does it for money.

One of the things fortunate readers can find in a blog - which you don't get anywhere else, certainly not newspapers or magazines - is people talking about sex, and in particular their own sex lives, in a thoughtful, reflective, interesting and honest way. Of course, part of this reason is because they are anonymous. So Bitchy can talk about why a lot of standard BDSM stuff doesn't do it for her and, in particular, how dominant women are perceived to be simply a figment of sub men's imagination. She, on the other hand, likes to be in charge because she likes to be in charge. Not because some man likes it. Bitchy's pursuing her own desires in a way that women (still) aren't supposed or expected to do, instead of wingeing about neediness, will he call, will I ever get a boyfriend/husband/married stuff you get so horribly much of the time.
Her blog is full of stuff to make you think. Go there now.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The many secrets of Daphne du Maurier

Another bisexual I never met... (and whose pictures stubbornly refuse to upload).
I'm doing something old-fashioned at the moment: convalescing. I've had a minor operation - a TVT if you're bored/nosy enough to google it; there's no point in being coy – that only required an overnight stay in hospital but means that I am having two weeks off work to "recover". This means sleeping/dozing a lot and walking small distances gingerly because my thighs feel like I’ve been riding a horse for 12 hours. I assume.
I can't really concentrate a great deal, but one thing I am doing is listening to the radio. BBC radios 4 and 7 are excerpting My Cousin Rachel and Frenchman's Creek respectively, the reason being that their writer Daphne du Maurier would have celebrated her 100th birthday on Sunday. Interesting links are here and here. Apparently there will be a BBC TV drama about her tomorrow night (12th) which should be interesting. There's also the cententary version of the annual Daphne du Maurier festival in Fowey,Cornwall, where she lived.
I'm not really a lit crit person, so can't give a run down or analysis of her work – although I read her most famous books as a teenager – but in a nutshell she wrote romantic/historical/psychological/gothic novels. As well as the two mentioned above, she wrote Jamaica Inn, the House on the Strand, very many short stories – including two on which were based the films The Birds and Don't Look Now – and, most famously, Rebecca.
Its opening line "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again" is one of the most famous openings to any English novel. Alfred Hitchcock also made it into a fantastic film. I do know that many argue she wasn’t taken as seriously as a writer as she deserved, being, instead, pigeon-holed as a "women's writer". Bah!
But anyway, I'm in deep water here as this isn’t an Eng lit blog, but a bisexual one – and this is about D du M’s bisexuality.

Divided loyalties
Or rather, her sexuality. Apparently, she kept things pretty close to her chest - many of her letters are sealed until 50 years after her death - and according to her official biographer, Margaret Forster, lots of things about her are shrouded in mystery.
Her relationship with her father, actor-manager Gerald du Maurier, was at the very least... troubled. Daddy wanted a boy, or alternatively wanted to be her brother, or perhaps her lover. And was vociferously homophobic to boot. She married "Boy" Browning, producing three children, and they stayed married till he died, but she had a strong "lesbian side" too.
Apparently Gertrude Lawrence - a musical comedy star who may also have been her father's lover - was her main female love. She also had a powerful crush on Ellen Doubleday, wife of the publisher. Du Maurier saw herself as having two distinct sides: wife/mother (female) and lover/writer (male), a side of herself that she showed few other people and a division that she found tormenting. So she was constricted by the mores of the time and the expectations of both herself and other people.
A complicated psychology, then, but the right sort of creative compost from which to grow her dark psychological fiction.

Two more fascinating women I never met…
… and who (evidence suggests!) weren't bisexual, died this week. Isabella Blow, fashion journalist, icon and muse, discoverer of many a designer, wearer of fabulous and eccentric hats and woman who ploughed her own furrow, drank weedkiller. At 48, her third suicide attempt worked.
Lesley Blanch, traveller, "great and glamourous beauty well into extreme old age", writer of The Wilder Shores of Love - about Victorian women who chose exile and love with Arab men rather than settle for stifling English conventionality, has died aged 102. Ladies, I salute you!
If anyone is interested as to what "my type" is – so far as women are concerned – they, to a large extent, are it. Not the posh part probably (they were both pretty upper crust), but eccentric, flamboyant, unconventional, larger than life women… well, hello!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Why do I do it?

I was asked recently, by a woman researching an article to be published in Bi Tribune magazine in the States, why I was still involved in the bi community when - for so many other people, even activists - it was a short-term thing, something to help them "come to terms with their sexuality" which they moved on from sooner rather than later.
Well, I'm not sure what my involvement actually consists of these days. I don't go to meetings any more - not that there are any in London to go to, really, apart from this. I'm not sure how I would be a bi-community activist in the sense that people in the US can be.
This blog - and my book writing, when I do it - is, I suppose, my activism. What I do to contribute to the bi community and bisexual individuals at large.
Even after all these years, I am still intellectually fascinated by sexuality and bisexuality in particular. It seems to me that much of the underpinning of society - that we are only attracted to either men, or women, never both, - is based on a downright lie. A lie that has done huge amounts of harm to lots of people, certainly me. What people do and feel, and why they do and feel it, is of endless fascination to me. I like uncovering secrets in general, and a lot of bisexuality is shrouded in secrecy.
Also, I have been in a relationship with a man for 12 years and this is a way of staying connected to a very important part of myself. My being bisexual, remaining attracted to people regardless of gender, and of having had serious relationships with women as well as men, means - to me - that I see the world very differently from someone who is straight; or someone who has come out to become gay. I see that time and again when I am talking to gay/straight people. What I don't understand is my friends who, say, used to be lesbian and are now straight. They feel decisively not part of the queer community any more.
This, I suppose, is my niche. No one else is blogging like this. Not many people are writing on bisexuality - certainly not in the UK - and there is a need for it. Lots of people ask me for advice etc and seem to value my thoughts. I have thoughts on other subjects, but so do many other people and there seems to be no reason why my views on them should be valued, rather than anyone else's. I write fiction, which some people seem to think is quite good, but then so do many others.
And having thought about bisexuality for so many years (let's say, oh, 35) and read everything on it that I am aware of, I guess I am an "expert" and that, in itself, keeps me going.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Do we need any more bi celebrities?

cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

I'm sure I'm not the only person who can relate to this cartoon. I always have lots of serious stuff to do, but concentrating, alas, is often beyond me. Still, I found this list on the internet when I was gathering some ethereal wool and my interest was piqued.
It's a list of bisexual celebrities. Well, not necessarily bi. Certainly not necessarily celebrities (actually it says "people" but Janet and John down the road would hardly attract their attention now, would they?) Various countries' Big Brother contestants, for instance... A selection of MAWs*. Then there are a few bi activists - interesting, important, essential people, but not celebrities in the sense that paparazzi follow them out of night clubs or the world's press attend their press conferences. And there are, of course, the usual sleb suspects: Angelina Jolie, Drew Barrymore and so on.
But there are also some people I'd never considered, and who will offer interesting subjects for "bisexuals I never met" at some point in the future. French poet Louis Aragon, for instance, dancer Isadora Duncan, painter Tamara de Lempicka.

Who counts as bi?
There is, of course, a big big problem with these lists - and it's not just "why are people so interested in celebrities"?
Now, it is probably all right to describe someone as bisexual if they are well known as having had sexual and emotional relationships with men and women, even if they lived in, say, Syria in 800BC when things were just a tad different from the modern western world. I know that people - up till arguably the early 20th century, and much later in many parts of the world - never looked at their sexuality like that. But, to me, that's OK although, yes, I know many people disagree.
Still, lots of people on this hugely long list have done no more than hint at an interest in the same sex. God, how I hate that. I have mentioned this before on this blog. Having reluctantly had sex with someone of the "wrong" sex doesn't make you bisexual, OK? You have to want to do it. Nor does it mean anything to say "everyone is bisexual really" in the hope that your gay audience might spend more money on your products and you'll look a bit more exciting.
I'd like some real bi celebrities please, if (sigh) we have to have celebrities at all.

*model, actress, whatever