Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Bi and over 50 5: Chip



I'm so pleased with the response to this series of email interviews with bi people over 50. Thanks again to everyone who has shown interest in this project.

Each of the "interviews" is written by the individual concerned, with the questions in bold written by me.

***

My name is Chip and I'm a 51-year-old white, bisexual male from Boston, Massachusetts, USA, where I work as a professional freelance artist. Currently single and looking. 

How did you come to think of yourself as bisexual?
I knew I was bi when as a teenage boy I'd enjoy looking at my older sister's Playgirl magazines (depicting photos of nude men). I was fascinated by their bodies - athletic, hairy chests, and of course their penises! When I had sex with another man, it felt natural. It felt wonderful. I loved it.

What does being bisexual mean to you?
Being bisexual means I have twice the chance of getting lucky in a bar - LOL! I have the ability to be happy, enjoy relationships and sexual intimacy with both men and women without guilt.

Has this changed over the years, and if so how?
For men, it is harder to be bisexual than women,. If a woman openly flirts or kisses another woman it's hot, and accepted. If a guy openly flirts with or kisses another guy, he's labelled as gay.

What do other people in your life know about your bisexuality and how do they react? 
After years in the closet, inspired by the positive reaction of a Boston sports writer, who came out as gay, and at the urging of friends who are lesbians, I decided to come out on a Facebook status update. I explained that I had an announcement to make. I wrote for years I had been intimately attracted to both men and women,. That to support my art career I had worked as a stripper in a gay bar. In closing, I said I wanted to come out of the closet and let you all know I am a happy bisexual man. Then I went to bed. 

The response the next morning was great and supportive. It felt like a piano off my back. Even some straight girls/guys introduced me to their gay brothers or cousins for dates. 

Looking back over your life so far, is there anything you wish you’d done differently? 
I wish I'd come out sooner. No question. Wish I had explored more relationships with guys.

What about your hopes or fears for the future regarding bisexuality?
I hope more male and female celebrities come out as bisexual so it gives encouragement to people young and old to enjoy being bisexual without fear of being beaten, bullied or chastised by others. 

Any words of wisdom for younger bi people – or older ones? 
Come our of the closet and enjoy love with whoever you desire without fear or guilt.

Chip is on Twitter @chipobrien - he is looking to meet bisexual men or women for friendship and more.


Would you like to help combat bi erasure and increase the visibility of bisexual people over 50? There are plenty of us out there, but far too many people don’t know that.

I am looking for other individuals over 50 who would like to contribute their “email interviews”, as Chip has done here. For more about what to do, look at this post

Thanks.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Bi and nearly 50 2: Mary

Due to popular demand, I have expanded the remit of this blog series to include people who are nearly 50. There are even more of us out there!

As before, the questions in bold come from me. Everything else is written by the interviewees themselves.

****

My name is Mary Rowson, I am nearly 49 (just about 50!) and live in Australia with my husband and grown-up daughter. I was born and raised in Nelson, New Zealand - a very beautiful part of the world. I am a social worker by trade and also a writer and musician (I play the violin).

How did you come to think of yourself as bisexual?
I recognised attraction to more than one gender as a young adolescent (1970s) but didn’t fully understand it until my late 30s/40s. I thought I was mistaken or ‘confused’. The AIDS epidemic was hitting NZ at the time I was recognising my bisexual feelings. Unfortunately bisexual men were getting a hammering from the press then for being ‘the evil spreaders of disease’. The negative stereotypes really affected me, and I pushed all those feelings down. Of course, they exploded 25 years later (as feelings tend to do when pushed down!).

What does being bisexual mean to you?
Being bisexual means being attracted to more than one gender to me.

Has this changed over the years, and if so how?
Yes, things have changes significantly for me. I have tried polyamory (loved the person but decided it wasn’t for me). I have become increasingly interested in writing short stories with bi characters in them and have also (like Harrie) written a novel with bisexual main characters.I am also involved with the bisexual alliance in Melbourne and think it is crucial to keep pushing bi visibility. I think older bi visibility is particularly an issue, so I like what you are doing here!

What do other people in your life know about your bisexuality and how do they react?
My friends and family have been pretty ok with it apart from a few! Presenting as confident about my sexuality certainly helps to reinforce positive reactions back from people.

Looking back over your life so far, is there anything you wish you’d done differently?
I wish I had come out earlier but actually I don’t think it would have worked out, so no, I don’t have regrets.

What about your hopes or fears for the future regarding bisexuality?
My hopes are that bisexuality will be recognised as real and bisexual people will be able to be themselves –in all their wonderful diversity.

Any words of wisdom for younger bi people – or older ones?
Be yourselves. You DO exist and you are absolutely OK.

Would you like to help combat bi erasure and increase the visibility of bisexual people over 50? There are plenty of us out there, but far too many people don’t know that.

I am looking for other individuals over 50 (or thereabouts) who would like to contribute their “email interviews”, as Mary has done here. For more about what to do, look at this post

Thanks.


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Bisexual and over 50 4: Lynnette

Here's the latest in the series of email interviews with bi people over 50. Other potential interviewees always welcome - do get in touch!

Each of the "interviews" is written by the individuals concerned, with the questions in bold coming from me.

*****
My name is Lynnette McFadzen and I live in Portland, Oregon, USA. I am a 57 year-old single white cis-gendered woman with three daughters and four grandchildren. I am single and, at the moment, celibate.

I am disabled but have had many occupations in the past, from nursing to chainsaw chain packaging. The packaging job is where I lost most of my hearing but it really started way before then. After the death of my estranged husband and my mother, I had my biggest breakdown and attempted suicide. That time I sought help. I spent the next 10 years healing and figuring out why my life was so dysfunctional. There was no room for relationships during that time.

How did you come to think of yourself as bisexual?
          
Last year I had finished my second round of chemo for Hepatitis C that I probably contracted as a nurse in my 20s. Not that it is important where I got it - Hep C is non-discerning. The first round failed so I spent a total of two years in treatment. That's a lot of down time to think.

At the end I felt ready to try dating and my old demons re-emerged. I found women attractive. I always had. My first crush was on Audrey Hepburn and I had a series of “girl crushes” throughout my life. But I truly believed all the lies I had been told about bisexuality.I spent the best part of my life proving to myself I was heterosexual and somehow broken and wrong inside. I know that was a contributing factor to my depression and suicide attempts. I really believed my loved ones would be better off without my evilness. What saved me was realizing I could not leave the legacy of suicide to my children and grandchildren. My father had done that to me.

I had never really acted on my same attractions but once and it was a disaster. But with the help of good friends and family I began to learn bisexuality was not what I thought. I turned to the LGBT community and was met with disdain, coolness or outright hostility. I was shocked and disheartened.

So I searched for a bisexual community and eventually was able to find it online. I made good supportive friends with similar stories and similar struggles with internalized biphobia. Through this I was able to accept that, yes I am bisexual. But it took some searching And the search engines at the time were not much help.

It also spurred me to help others like me who felt lost and alone and confused to find and build their support, and realize they can be proud. And have a community of their own since I am limited physically I decided to learn to podcast. And with friends and volunteers we created The BiCast. A podcast for the bisexual community. 

What does being bisexual mean to you?

It means being a complete whole person with no internal shame or feeling of wrongness. Of understanding myself. It means being at peace with me. It has really to do with sex and everything to do with self love. And knowing that just because I am bisexual it doesn't alter my moral compass at all

How has this changed over the years?
I just came out last year. Doing that to myself was the biggest issue. The climate is changing for the general public perception of bisexuality. But the biggest reason I could not accept sooner that I was bisexual was because of what most people believed as I grew up and many still do. That it is a lifestyle choice, that you are shallow, indecisive, hypersexual, liars and all round morally bankrupt. It is changing, but not fast enough for me.

What do other people in your life know about your bisexuality and how do they react?

Everyone knows I'm bi. It's part of being on a podcast about bisexuality. My family and friends are totally supportive. I am blessed with a diverse and loving family and have been fortunate to find amazing people as friends. I am a lucky one. I am in a really safe place.

Looking back over your life so far, is there anything you wish you’d done differently?

I wish sometimes I had come to terms with this at a much earlier age. That I may have dismissed a good relationship as a possibility based on gender. That I had not tortured myself for no reason at all.
I get a bit melancholy but then remember it gives me a better appreciation of the happiness I have now.

What about your hopes or fears for the future (regarding bisexuality)?

Truthfully, I want to see how all bisexuals are treated change, and help others understand they are OK.

Any words of wisdom for younger bi people – or older ones?

For both really. Don't believe what you are told. Find out your own truth. Stay strong.

YOU ARE NOT WRONG. YOU ARE NOT BROKEN. YOU DESERVE RESPECT.YOU ARE A HUMAN BEING. YOU ARE BISEXUAL.

Would you like to help combat bi erasure and increase the visibility of bisexual people over 50? There are plenty of us out there, but far too many people don’t know that.

I am looking for other individuals over 50 who would like to contribute their “email interviews”, as Lynnette has done here. For more about what to do, look at this post

Thanks.


Monday, September 01, 2014

Bisexual and over 50 3: Brian


This is the third in the series of email interviews with bi people over 50. Thanks again to everyone who has shown interest in this project.

Each of the “interviews” is written by the individual concerned, with the questions in bold written by me.

***

I am Brian Driscoll, aged 59, married to a woman for 31 years and living in a medium-sized city in British Columbia, Canada. Retired from a career in journalism

What does being bisexual mean to you?
Being bisexual means (to me) being sexually attracted to, and enjoy being with, both men and women. 

How did you come to think of yourself as bisexual?
At age 18, I realized I wanted to experience gay sex, even though I felt strongly attracted to females. I thought that meant I was gay and felt confused and disturbed about the situation. About a year later (this is 40 years ago), I heard the term bisexual and intuitively recognized that it described me.

Has your bisexuality changed over the years, and if so how?
Over the years I have heard that gay people follow a path from bi to gay, and wondered if that would apply to me as well. It hasn't really. I've remained bisexual though I lean more toward homosexual in terms of physical needs and straight in terms of emotional needs. I have never felt the need for an emotional relationship with a man.

What do people in your life know about your bisexuality and how do they react?
My wife has known I am bi for many years but most friends and acquaintances are only now learning about my bisexuality as I have come out recently on social media. The reactions have been muted, at best. Nothing really negative or positive. In fact, I've had no reaction from most people. That does not surprise me, though. If I learned on a friend's Facebook page that he was bisexual or gay, I may not have commented directly, either.

Looking back over your life so far, is there anything you wish you had done differently?
I came out late in life. I deeply wish I had done so twenty or thirty years ago. If I were twenty today, I would probably come out at that age. But then, today's situation is different from the 1970s.

What are your hopes and fears for the future, regarding bisexuality?
That difference between then and now makes me profoundly hopeful for young bisexuals. They can (and probably should) come out shortly after they come to accept their sexuality. Coming out early can make a great difference in their lives. 

Would you like to help combat bi erasure and increase the visibility of bisexual people over 50? There are plenty of us out there, but far too many people don’t know that.

I am looking for other individuals over 50 who would like to contribute their “email interviews”, as Brian has done here. For more about what to do, look at this post

Thanks.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Bi and nearly 50 1: Laura

Due to popular demand, I have expanded the remit of this blog series to include people who are nearly 50. There are even more of us out there!

As before, the questions in bold come from me. Otherwise, all the words are from the interviewees themselves.

***

I am Laura, 48, female, chronically sick from Ehlers Danlos, living in the USA since February 2013, in The Netherlands before that.

I am married to a woman, since May 2013. From 1986 till 2005 I was with a man and had two children with him.

How did you come to think of yourself as bisexual?
I have always had crushes on boys AND girls. Sexuality in The Netherlands is not a taboo and certainly not in my family. When I told my mother that I was seeing a girl, my first sort-of-relationship when I was 16, it got accepted without any word of surprise. When I got my first real relationship with a boy at 18, that was no subject of discussion either. I don’t even remember when I started calling it bisexuality, I do know that when I dated that girl it was not a word I used. And it did not change for me during the years.

Has this changed over the years, and if so how?
After my first girlfriend I had a few sexual experiences with girls but after that I met my boyfriend, later husband, and stayed with him for almost 20 years. After that I started dating again, but by then I had a chronic illness and the responses of the men I dated was horrifying. The last date ended with the guy asking: “But what if I want to go out on Friday evening and you are tired?” and that’s when I decided I’d had it with men. So I contemplated: how about dating women. And that was quite a step. Because I knew I was interested sexually and I knew I could fall in love, but having a relationship with a woman? And I didn’t want to date women and then have to tell them, no sorry, I’d like a night with you but a relationship no thanks... But I took the step  and never looked back. I met my present wife, by the way, very unconventionally, via Farm Ville on Facebook.... She was a new neighbor, saw my pic, thought hm ho, asked me if I needed something for FV and after the second talk we were both hooked.

When I was dating, many lesbians had atrocious statements on their profiles, like “if you’re bi, don’t even bother dropping me a note, I won’t even write you back”. The bi-hate is so big in the lesbian world. That was very very hurtful, and still is. They try to make it sound like just one of the many preferences they have, like preferring tall women, but it boils my blood. So lets not go there today.

What do other people in your life know about your bisexuality, and how do they react?
Here in the US I don’t know a lot of people, and since being gay is hard enough, I refrain from taking it one step further. When I started dating women after my divorce though, there were people who were sort of offended that they didn’t know that about me. Well, when I am with a man, you can’t TELL that I am bisexual. And if the subject doesn’t come up...

Looking back over your life so far, is there anything you wish you’d done differently?
Not in regards to my bisexuality, no.

What about your hopes or fears for the future (regarding bisexuality)?
I hope that the biphobia and bi-erasure will stop, certainly from within the LGBT-community.

Any words of wisdom for younger bi people – or older ones?
Don’t let others tell you what your bisexuality means for you. People like to think that they know better, but there’s only one person who knows you best: you!

Would you like to help combat bi erasure and increase visibility of bisexuals over 50 (or thereabouts)? There are plenty of us out there but far too many people don't know that.

I am looking for other individuals who would like to contribute their "email interviews" to this blog, as Laura has done here. For more information about what to do, take a look at this post.

Thanks.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Bisexual and over 50 2: Jan

Here's the second in the series of "email interviews" with bi people over 50. There has been a lot of good reaction to this on social media, so many thanks! We are out there.

Each of these "interviews" is written by the individual concerned; the questions in bold come from me.

***
I'm Jan Steckel, 51, white, female, writer and former paediatrician. I live in a house in Oakland, California, USA, with my husband who is also bisexual.

How did you come to think of yourself as bisexual?
I’d had boyfriends since the eighth grade [aged 13] and assumed I was straight. Then, the summer before I turned 18, I sang in a band. I was falling in love with the lead guitarist, a man, when the drummer, a woman, asked me out. I made out with her that night and realized that I was bisexual, even though I ended up with the young man.

What does being bisexual mean to you?
It means I am sexually attracted to some people who are the same sex as I am and to some who are of a different sex from me.

Has this changed over the years, and if so, how?
Not much since I realized I was bi. It’s my gender identity that has changed instead. When I was a kid I thought I was a boy and that some mistake had been made. In college I wished I was a man. I was pretty dysphoric about my body’s curves, such as they were. I wanted the hard planes of a man’s body, and I wanted to love a man as another man. Almost all the fiction I wrote then was first person male, and my closest friends were male, too.

Now I’m comfortable with being female. As an adult, I was always more sexually attracted to women but had a tendency to fall in love with men. Since my recent menopause, I think I’ve become more attracted to women as well as to trans and nonbinary people and less attracted to men, though my attraction to my husband has remained constant.

What do other people in your life know about your bisexuality and how do they react?
Most people who know me know that I’m bi. I’m pretty out and loud about it, and have been for decades. Since my poetry book The Horizontal Poet won the 2012 Lambda Literary Award for Bisexual Nonfiction,  I pretty much lead my literary bio with that. One of my older female relatives told me angrily that by putting the fact that I was bisexual on the back of my book, I had disrespected my marriage to my husband, but most of my family has been pretty cool.

When I first came out to my mother, she was worried that if I ended up with a woman I wouldn’t have children, or my children would be screwed up. She got over that well before I was out of my childbearing years, I think, though in the end I didn’t have kids. My Dad was probably more uncomfortable at first than my Mom, but he’s pretty cool about it now. My brother’s always been fine about it.

It was definitely not cool, though, with many of my fellow physicians. That’s part of the reason I’m not in medicine anymore. Poets and writers are a lot more accepting.

My husband is bisexual, too, and it’s a pretty big part of our lives. We march every year in the bi contingent of the San Francisco Pride parade, and he hosts a social group called Berkeley BiFriendly where we met. We’ve both been published in bisexual anthologies and periodicals. I just had a short story come out in Best Bi Short Stories, and he has a painting being reproduced in a forthcoming anthology of work by bi men. Many of our friends are queer, so we get a lot of support from our community around it.

Looking back over your life so far, is there anything you wish you’d done differently?
I wish I had dated more women early on and had longer-lasting relationships with them. I was a little passive at first, waiting for people to pursue me instead of taking the initiative.

What about your hopes or fears for the future (regarding bisexuality)?
I belong to an online writing critique group where some jackass keeps attacking me every time I mention writing for bi periodicals or any honor I’ve got for bi writing. He accuses me of playing identity politics. My answer to that is that I’d be delighted not to need identity politics anymore. When discrimination against bisexual people goes away, then if people don’t want to label themselves according to their sexuality, fine. Until then I’m sticking to my label and making sure young people see plenty of bisexual characters in literature. I want young bisexually inclined people to see themselves reflected in what they read. I want them to have a peer group of other bisexual people, unlike me when I was coming up.

Any words of wisdom for younger bi people – or older ones?
Find a peer group of other bi people, even if it’s only online. Get support from them. Try to find a safe way to come out, even if it means moving to a city with a visible bi population. 



Would you like to help combat bi erasure and increase visibility of bisexuals over 50? There are plenty of us out there but far too many people don't know that. 

I am looking for other individuals who would like to contribute their "email interviews" to this blog, as Jan has done here. For more information about what to do, take a look at this post

Thanks.


Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Bisexual and over 50 1: Harrie

This is the first in a series of "email interviews" from bi people over 50. Yes, we are out there!

Each of these "interviews" is written by the individual concerned; the questions in bold come from me.

Happy reading!

I’m Harrie Farrow, a 54-year-old, androgynous woman. I am a novelist (“Love, Sex, and Understanding the Universe”), a bisexual blogger, a bisexual activist, and am a Life Coach for Bisexuals at Navigating the Biways. I live in the US, in a small LGBT-friendly town, and have a grown son and a grandson. I’m currently single.

How did you come to think of yourself as bisexual (or whatever label/non-label you use)?
I read an article at age 14 in a “girly” magazine, that someone had left laying around, written by someone who was of the opinion that everyone is bisexual, and I just thought, yes, of course, and therefore knew that I was bisexual.

What does being bisexual (or as above) mean to you?
Being bisexual to me means being attracted to same and different gender(s).

Has this changed over the years, and if so how?
No, my identification, and understanding of bisexuality has not changed.

What do other people in your life know about your bisexuality and how do they react?
Being a bisexual blogger, activist and an author of a bisexual themed novel means that I’m about as out as a person can be. Reactions are of course varied. Often, I am not directly present when a person becomes aware of my bisexuality and so I do not see their reactions. I find that being very confident and comfortable in my sexual identity, and presenting my sexuality in a way that conveys that the only possible response from others is respect and acceptance, results in usually not having negative things said to me. Occasionally, people will make misinformed comments based on their lack of information.

When fighting biphobia, for example as @BisexualBatman on Twitter, I actually seek out biphobia, and the person receiving my response usually knows nothing about me except for my tweet. In this role, I have had many hateful and harassing responses. Happily, I do also get people apologizing for their biphobia, or asking for more information to educate themselves. 

Looking back over your life so far, is there anything you wish you’d done differently?
From a young age, I’ve always quite consciously tried to live in a way that would result me being able to say I have no regrets. I can say that, though things did not always turn out as I would have liked, I did make the best decisions based on the realities of my life at the time.

What about your hopes or fears for the future (regarding bisexuality)?
I would like to see bisexuality become recognized and accepted as just another sexual orientation, and that we reach a time when all bisexuals are comfortable and confident with their sexual identity.

Any words of wisdom for younger bi people – or older ones?

Recognize that your sexuality is integral to who you are, and that accepting, embracing and being true to yourself is a necessary component of mental health and happiness. Do what you can to remove yourself from situations and people who cannot honor this, and find, and reach out to, the community that does. 



Would you like to help combat bi erasure and increase visibility of bisexuals over 50? There are plenty of us out there but far too many people don't know that. 

I am looking for more people to contribute their "email interviews" to this blog, as Harrie has done here. For more information about what to do, take a look at this post

Thanks.