Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy new year

Many people’s favourite bisexual, Angelina Jolie, is in the news again (well, the Daily Mail, if that counts). According to that esteemed [sic] organ, both she and the lovely Brad don’t rate fidelity as important to their relationship. They got this factlet from a new book Brangelina: The Untold Story of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, by author Ian Halperin, via a German newspaper Das Neue.

Many people don’t think that physical exclusiveness is essential to a happy relationship. Infidelity (in the sense of lying) is another matter. I think not lying is essential to a happy relationship myself. Not being "physically exclusive" (aka polyamory) is entirely up to the people concerned.

Apparently, Brangelina don't "restrict" each other. That's nice. And it seems that Jolie and her ex Jenny Shimizu kept a jungle love nest for “trysts” – one of those words that never appears in ordinary vocabulary. Perhaps only celebrities have them.

However, as a mother (only of one) I am baffled that parents of six - even with "help" - have the time and energy to pursue more than one sexual relationship but perhaps I am being lazy.

Anyway, this non story has given me the chance to add another pic of the toothsome couple - and when Ms Jolie is pictured here, my blog stats always leap up. I’m cheap like that. Sometimes.

For a more nuanced view of some bi stories in 2009, take a look at the Bisexuality Examiner here with its best and worst bisexuality stories of 2009.

In other news
I have done a bit of tidying on this site, by removing most of the blogs I had linked to on the right. It is telling that, in the three and a half years since I started writing here, almost all of the personal blogs I listed then are no more. Blogging consistently over a long period is hard and, if you start to do it for personal reasons, often outlives its point. Others come to take their place.

Anyway, the ones I have added here are (at the moment anyway) posted to regularly and hopefully will keep you amused, entertained, challenged and supported.

If you know of any other good sites or blogs, especially your own, let me know as it is easy to miss them. I know there are more to add but I can't find them right this minute.

My last blog of 2009
For those of you whose New Year’s resolution is to act on your bisexuality, which often seems to people to come here at this time of year, I would say “go for it”. To me, anyway, the fact that you are thinking about it and weighing up your options means that you have a good chance of making it work for you.

Bisexuality is not necessarily difficult – from my point of view it is cause for celebration, something that I am proud of and is an intrinsic part of myself – but for many people it certainly can be. Perhaps those who find it easy-peasy tend not to comment on this blog! But I hope that even people who have found it difficult are on the way to a happy bisexual life.

Have a great 2010.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Telling it like it is

This is the time of year when many of us are thrown together with various loved ones and, while this can be all warm and glowy, it also has its difficulties.

I was already thinking of this when I read this post – which wasn’t specifically about the festive season, but about sharing important things – specifically, your (bi)sexuality.

The nameless male blogger who posts at Bitheway, had a tricky December as he came out to his female partner. She felt he had lied by omission by not telling her before; he had felt unable to discuss it earlier in their relationship as he hadn’t feel safe enough. They are still together, but it has been tough.

Keeping it quiet
As Mr Bitheway said: “There are many things we do keep from our partners (as bisexual men this is typically our bisexuality)”.

Oh, how I wish it wasn’t the case, but I tend to agree. So many bi men – with the exception of activist/ openly poly/ bi community men – tell almost no one they are bi. I’m not thinking about actual sexual infidelity here, but about keeping a whole part of yourself - your history, feelings, experiences – from your partner.

I am generalising in this post, I know – something I don’t do lightly – but bear with me here.

It seems to me that it is much more difficult for bi men to come out than bi women. There are two main reasons for this:

* The widespread agreement that while women can be bi, men are “Gay, Straight or Lying” – the notorious title of an equally notorious article in the New York Times.

Spurious, over-simplistic research (such as that by Michael Bailey) tends to state that, while women are often attracted to people regardless of gender, men almost never are. Therefore, men are really either gay or straight.

This can put bi men into a terrible quandary. What are they really? And, also important, what do their partners think they are really.

Lots of gay men – some of whom wondered if they were bi for a while – consider that, because they aren’t bi, neither can anyone else be. Some hold the strange view that it is easier for men to be bi than gay, which I just don’t believe. People saying it never really try to explain why they think this, they expect it to be obvious. Why is it easy to be told constantly you are deluded and oversexed than to have a community that supports you? And also, it isn’t ever easier to be something you aren’t than something you are.

* A feeling that women (rather than men, I think) will reject them as potential lovers/partners.

This is tricky. Some women can and do reject bi men – sometimes horribly. They have a whole range of reasons for this, believing bi men to be (eg) unreliable, necessarily unfaithful, uncommitted, prone to contracting HIV ... generally not what they want at all.

But there are women who want bi men as their partners. I always did – although I am spoken for now thanks! – but never met all that many. There are others who wouldn’t mind, if only men could trust them enough to tell them.

Come out, come out wherever you are
Of course, the fewer out bi men there are, the fewer bi men will come out. It’s a vicious circle. Because if bisexuality in men is seen to be impossible, more men who are attracted to men and women will believe that they can’t be, leading to fewer bi men being out.

When I was interviewing bi men for my book on bisexuality (see archive, right) many of them found it hard enough to be out to themselves, let along others. They had totally compartmentalised their lives, with that part attracted to men tucked in the depths of their consciousness/conscience.

I do hesitate to give advice on this blog (or anywhere else) – I mean what do I know, life is complicated! But it seems to me that even if you aren’t out about your sexuality to the world at large, dropping hints about it to potential or new partners is pretty much essential. Far better you discover at the outset that it is something they could never countenance, rather than have some big secret hanging over you. Big Secrets tend to have a way of being uncovered.

There was a terrific article I read once about women in happy long-term relationships with bi men. I can’t link to it as I don’t think it’s online and I don’t remember now who wrote it, but the gist of it was... those women tended to be unconventional, who didn’t rely on their partner for all their sense of self/companionship/money, and had their own goals and interests.

There is no shortage at all of such women these days – especially those who are bi themselves. So, bi men, if you want an honest, real, happy relationship with a woman, look for someone who doesn’t want to live in your shadow.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Spending more time with my blog

It’s been a long, long time since I last wrote on here. That was down to the usual reasons – a combination of too-hard work and health issues. As a result, all things blogging ground to a halt.

But, at the same time, I have been stunned to see my blog traffic not going down, my Google followers going up, and people still leaving comments on lots of posts – not just the most recent ones.

Like quite a few bloggers, I think, I have been on Twitter a lot more than I have here. The reason for that is simple: tweets are maximum 140 characters and require next to no thought. A blog like this requires a hell of a lot of thought and in many ways is similar to what I do for money. And, as for most people, anything you do that makes money has to win.

Twitter also has lots of great stuff for bi people, particularly with the links that lots of bi tweeps put up. I particularly like @bivisibility who retweets (ie reposts) all the bi-related stuff they find on Twitter. Some of the tweets are really bloody horrible, not to mention all sorts of ignorant – but bivisibility (whoever they are) often delivers some short and snappy retorts.

Twitter is also a great way to get links to more lengthy and considered information, of whatever sort.

Of course, I know lots of people can’t bear it (and so never look at it) and it will also never take the place of said lengthy and considered stuff. Hence - now that I have plenty more time on my hands (ahem!) - a return to this blog. A welcome return for me ... and for you too, I hope.

Perhaps my next post should be on bisexuality at work – given that I have now returned to the big bad world of freelancing. The report that Stonewall has done on that subject came out recently and, unsurprisingly, I have some thoughts.

For other blog-post suggestions... I just have to look at the comments here. Thank you all for your thought-provoking responses.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Duncan from Blue comes out. Etc.

Another week, another celebrity comes out as bi. I stopped posting on bi celebrity long ago, but there is something about male celebrities coming out as bi that does, in fact, deserve more attention.

I’ve done the women, as it were – Megan Fox, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, et al all the way back to Madonna c1990… well, they may be bi, or they may not. They may have felt a sudden desire to be, like, totally honest with their public at this particular moment in time, or they may have seen a marketing opportunity.

Celebrities, eh. You just can’t trust them/their public images/their people. And they do real bi women no favours at all.

However, female bi celebrities don’t really get flak from anyone (apart from the likes of me, who matters not diddley-squat in the big old world of music PR). Bi male celebrities (like bi men in general) are not seen as that teensy bit sexier, they are seen as pretend gay men with all the homophobia and ridicule that implies in mainstream society.

Complementary posts
Two blog posts on this subject cover pretty much everything I could or would have said on the subject. I have never heard of Gary Nunn before, but Marcus Morgan is a long-time UK bi activist, and knows of what he speaks.

However, I want to highlight the many comments these posts attracted. The negative comments, that is; the positive comments are similar and from people who actually know other bi people or are bi themselves.

Obviously, the Guardian’s Comment is Free site attracts a different set of prejudices to that of Pink News – a gay news site. Specifically, CiF commenters tend to believe that there is no problem in being gay or bi these days, that gay/bi people still “shouting from the rooftops” aka mentioning their sexuality are somehow oppressing heterosexuals. Or, connected, that we should just all love whoever and it really doesn't matter any more.

Biphobia really does exist
But it is depressing that the bile posted on PN by gay people (men) beats that on CiF by the factor of many. Specifically, that bi men cannot be trusted because X poster has met a no-good one (or two).

Perhaps most people who are out as bi have heard this already - God knows how many times I have heard this in my life! So bi people are supposed to police / apologise for the bad behaviour of every other person who has ever said they were bi. You can't be judged as yourself, but against what others may or may not have done.

I find that extraordinary, nothing but downright prejudice. It puts us in an impossible position. We “good” bis, by our attempts at openness and honesty, are as nothing beside these bogeyman “bad” bis. And there are bad bis, of course. There are bad people of all sexualities. Sexual identity does not correlate to good or bad behaviour.

'Bi now, gay later'
I don’t know where those gay people posting get the idea that being bi is so much easier than being gay. That, as a result, all the bi (men) they have ever met who then turned out to be gay negate the very existence of genuinely bi men.

One commenter says that a lot of people who say they are bi are really gay. How does he know? Some people say they are bi and are really gay. True. Some people say they are gay and are really bi. True. Presumably, both think that the sexuality they profess is easier to manage / more acceptable than the one they feel in their hearts that they are.

Well, I have met plenty of gay men who turned out to be bi. Including some bi men who have girlfriends they do not tell the gay community about. And married bi men who were completely honest with their wives. And monogamous bisexuals by the bucketload.

The supposition remains: bi men = really gay; bi women = really straight. Are men, or perhaps Men, really so irresistible?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Getting gaydar

One of the googled queries that often sends people to this blog is: “How do I know if X [person that I fancy] is bi?” Chances are, they go away entirely unenlightened.

I was thinking of this myself the other day, when I was chatting to someone I know slightly. She knows about me – and we have always had a rapport – but, unless she tells me, how will I ever know if there is anything to “know” about her?

I am not planning to proposition her, indeed am quite enjoying the continued existence of Unresolved Sexual Tension, but I’d like to know that UST is what it is, and not just friendliness.

In the past, I have got this horribly, hideously wrong – to the embarassment and bafflement of both parties - and I just wonder how other people sense mutual sexual attraction.

Going clubbing
No doubt if you are operating in an entirely lesbian/gay environment, then it is easier. At least if you are in a queer club, it’s likely that the people who are there are queer. And that’s one of the reasons why LGBT online dating is so popular – you at least know that people there are looking for lovers of whatever gender you are.

But queer people operate in all sorts of mainstream and heterosexual environments too, and seem to meet partners there without necessarily verbally coming out to them. How?

Assuming everything
My lack of gaydar, though, isn’t confined to people I may sort of kind of fancy. Several times over the past year, I have been told that “of course” so and so is gay, what was I thinking?

Well, what was I thinking? In theory, I don’t assume anyone is anything. In practice, unless people have an obvious attachment, or I meet them in an unarguably queer environment, I kind of think they’re all asexual.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

British newspaper publishes good bi article shock

Hallelujah! The first positive piece about bisexuality in an eon is published.

Basically, writer A, Stephanie Theobald (writer of chick lit), used to be a lesbian. Now she’s having a relationship with a man. Viz, writer B, Jake Arnott (far more famous writer of gay gangster novels). He has always been bisexual but mostly had relationships with men. Now they’re in lurve and want to tell the liberal intelligentsia about it.

Or: two novelists each have a new book to push, and they’ve found a handy two-in-one angle for a nifty little feature.


Mr Writer
I have absolutely no beef with Mr A. I have never read any of his books (or hers for that matter) but what he says is interesting… In fact, it's all good: the first famousish bi man out and proud in the UK since Tom Robinson.

According to the piece, he has identified as bi since he was young, and came out as such in the 80s. But he didn’t find acceptance on the politicised gay scene at the time; nor did he find much scope for bi political activity. So, although he was always in relationships with men, he always knew that was not the whole story. Then he met Ms Theobald.

Ms Writer
Stephanie Theobald was (I think) a fashion/style journalist, and a lesbian. Back in 2002, she wrote the most virulent piece of drivel that I have ever seen on male bisexuality, since the work of 1950s sexologists or contemporary religious bigots, or rejected comments on this site. And it was published! In the Guardian! No way am I going to link to it (can’t find it anyway). But it was all the usual stereotypes with extra added venom.

She thought bi women were sell-outs too and wrote so at length. Then she became one. Oh well, it just goes to show what many people think – that those who are secure in their own sexuality don’t have to ridicule that of others.

Out and proud hypocrites, as she styles herself, are simply hypocrites. She doesn't say she's wrong, or apologise, just jokes about it. Pah!

It occurs to me that this is the first time I have ever really slammed any other "bi" people on this site, but I do believe that she deserves it.

Bi The Way
Well I saw this film mentioned in my last post, and certainly didn’t hate it as much as the Bi-Furious writers, although their criticisms - too many to list here - are generally valid. It was about a world that seemed very foreign to me – bi teenagers in the US. At least it was laugh-out-loud funny in places. And it did show that, for some young people, being bi meant they were a target for bi and homophobia, not just lots of sex!

One thing that really pissed me off though: no activists. Robyn Ochs was allowed precisely one sentence. Of course those young people (and others like them) are going to feel abandoned and isolated if they don’t know there is a whole movement of individuals who are battling for them. The bi movement/theorists seem to be made invisible in all places and times. As the bi-furious people wrote, there was no sense of bis being part of a queer community at all.

Complete absence of a sense of history or geography too. Lookie here, filmmakers Brittany Blockman and Josephine Decker, bisexuality didn’t spring out of nowhere last year or the year before, some time after Madonna kissed Britney. Bisexuality exists everywhere and at every time. And not just for teenagers, either.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bi The Way comes to London

Bi The Way, a US documentary looking at attitudes to bisexuality in America, is finally coming to the UK. It will be at the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival on March 30th and April 3rd. Online booking opens next Monday March 3rd, unless you are a BFI member when you can book by post now.

Now, no doubt this discussion will be very old news to people reading this who live in the US, where it has been blogged about ad nauseam – so what are your thoughts? Have you seen this film?

Because, although there is very little in the way of bi films out there (the first-ever bi doco at the LLGF as far as I can remember), this one doesn’t sound particularly entrancing.

Of course, any film/book/TV programme that is meant to represent an almost entirely unrepresented (in the sense of analysis, rather than 'phwoar') group can’t possibly win completely. But my hackles do rise when I read: "is bisexuality having a media fad or is the 'whatever' generation having its own sexual revolution"?

But, more than anything, it was the comprehensive shredding on it by the thoughtful blog Bi-Furious that makes me wary.

Anyway, ticket provision willing, I’ll be seeing it and reporting back.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Falling in love with love

I had the first inklings that I was bisexual when I was about 10. My parents had gone to a school meeting and I had refused to go next door to be babysat.

Anyway, I was lying on my stomach watching one of the 1930s films you could see on the TV then. It was an operetta-style musical: it might have been Rose-Marie, or perhaps Maytime. But in any event it starred Jeanette MacDonald.

Oh I thought. Oh… that lady is so beautiful.

It was something to do with the way she sang, the way she held her head back and half-closed her eyes. Her eyelids were luminescent. Shiny eyeshadow, I imagine, although I didn’t know that then.

I thought there was something magic about her, transcendent, utterly unobtainable. And that was what I was looking for. That was what I felt for a little boy I had loved (silently) before. She cast a spell on me, with her eyelids and that clear, high voice. There was, too, the way she stared mysteriously at someone or something the audience couldn't see.

I saw another film of hers on the big screen a few months ago: Love Me Tonight. Damn, I thought, I was right. Jeanette MacDonald really was that gorgeous.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Is there a ‘bisexual’ in LGBT history month?

Well no, probably not. This February's UK-based yearly event is, as in all other years, probably entirely “b” free.

A trawl through the website (10% of the 367 events anyway, before I got bored) indicates nothing specifically bi. There are lots of events where bi people could well be included among all-encompassing “gay” events. But nothing to imply that bisexuality might have a history in and of itself.

Anyone who might think it does could do worse than look at the links to this blog’s history posts. I have listed them on the right of this page. History is my thing, you see (well one of them! I am bi, I have lots!).

The ever-active Jen Yockney posted on that there was just one event with a bi speaker. This happened last week – but on a Tuesday morning!

Who do I blame?
Well, not the organisers. They publicise the events, it seems, they don’t arrange or commission them. This is a great “month” to put on, regardless.

A society that thinks that bi people in the past were really gay? So therefore to see bi people separately is simply wrong? Possibly.

A bi community that has shrivelled away, so that putting on any events is asking a lot of a very small number of people? Not really.

It’s true, too, that lesbian and gay history (particularly gay men) is much more documented than bi history. It can (and often does, and certainly used to) take in anyone interested in same-sex.

So I am left with no one to vent my frustration on. Ideas, anyone?

Moving on
I kind of think this shouldn’t happen next year. There ought to be at least a few more events on bisexuality throughout the ages. So who would run it? Get money for speakers’ expenses? Any ideas? It would be interesting, no?

At any rate, I promise to do a few more bi history posts on here this month. I do, I really do.

PS I went on a work-sponsored “writing for the web” course today. And I am tailoring this piece accordingly. Can you tell the difference between this and what I have written before, dearest regular readers? This piece seems very tabloidesque to me.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Bisexuals on YouTube

Of course – I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before: bisexual videos on YouTube. I mean, everything else is there: high school productions of Carousel; salsa bands from the early 70s; women showing you how to put your hair up in a retro style (although I failed to follow her instructions properly and ended up with a frizz); the new make-up correspondent for the Guardian; and lectures on this, that and the other.

So, naturally enough, there’s bi stuff. There are 36 bi “manifestos” - this, for instance.

Then there’s “the bisexual kid” who has posted a whole series of videos (maybe dozens) about being a bisexual teenager. This one’s about coming out. I am a bit nervous for The Kid – he’s clearly very young, and thousands of people have seen his YouTube vids. This one has 533 comments. Still, what he is doing is, I’m sure, really valuable for isolated kids his age. I just hope the creeps/psychos/homophobes don’t track him down.

What do you think? Is he too young to be doing this? Brave, or foolhardy? I feel kind of uncomfortable when I see the still from his video posted below.

At a rather different point in the age-range, a woman asked if she was “too old to come out at 46”. This seems to be a TV advice programme: Sound Advice with Marcia and Dr Rick.

Actually, I rather fancy doing a series of videos myself… We’ll see,

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Why you and I still need this bisexual blog

As they say in France: Jamais s’exprimer, jamais s’expliquer (roughly: never complain, never explain) and the past few posts here have been little more than complaints and explanations – well, enough already!

This is my 100th post on this blog, and the one that probably gets the most traffic is Ten Reasons You Need This Bisexual Blog, which makes me think: all is not yet well…

Two things strike me very forcefully through all the Google alerts I get (on bisexual, bi, bisexuality). One is that, for a few people – Queer, college/university attached, polyamorous, trans-friendly – bisexuality is nothing much. Sometimes, it can even be seen as regressive, stuck in the “two-genders only” norm. Coming out, for them, may not even be really necessary or appropriate. Being attracted to “men” or “women” is not expected. For the moment. While they’re in that environment.

The other is that there is still such a large group of people who say to themselves: I think I’m bisexual, help! Many people – often, but not only, teenagers; often, but not only, people who are not part of progressive communities, do not identify as queer, are in established relationships, do not know where their local lesbian or gay bar is (if any) – find being bisexual, or even thinking about it, very frightening. They think their whole world is going to fall apart, and they may be right. They have had criticism or rejection from people they have told and they wonder if anyone can help them. They need support now, but where do they go to find it? (Of course, nothing like all bi people fall into either of these groups, but you get my drift.)

Bi people, like all people, need validation, to know that they are OK, that there are others like them, that they deserve and can achieve, love. That’s why you still need this bisexual blog, and why I do too.