probably heard of me: I'm a fence-sitter, almost
a lesbian but not gay enough, almost straight but
with a few kinky predilections; I'm incurably promiscuous,
I'm just going through a phase, I'm cashing in on
"bisexual chic," I'm clinging to heterosexual privilege,
I'm just trying to gain access to the Sydney Gay
and Lesbian Mardi Gras, I'm a perfect Kinsey 3,
I'm a switch-hitter with twice the prospects, I'll
fuck anything that moves.
not unusual to find myself marching under the banner of
not when I'm really trying to explain what
is. Bisexualityhaving sexual desire for people of
the same and opposite gender -inspires a whole swag of
misrepresentations that need to be swept aside before
a clear vision of "bi" can be evoked.
own thinking about bi identity began not with the sudden
discovery that I was bi (I'd known that ever since I
was a little girl), but with the heart-sick realization
in my mid-twenties that I had virtually no public identity.
Anywhere I lived, I was invariably labeled either hetero
or homosexual, depending on the length of my hair. There
was no dialect at my disposal-no codes or imagery that
said bi. How could I render myself visible?
no bisexual hotline in the phone book, I called the
local lesbian line in a state of distress. The woman
at the other end met me with hostility as soon as the
B word was spoken--No, we cannot help you.
locus of bisexuality has always been something of a
riddle. Alfred Kinsey placed it along a 0-6 continuum,
with heterosexuality at one end and homosexuality at
the other. Many observers since-both straight and queer-have
made similar assessments, depicting it as a sort of
intermediate stance. But bisexuality is the potential
for absolute inclusion. It beckons us outside dichotomies
like homo/hetero and suggests that a person's sexuality
can be an ever-shifting narrative-a fluid yet whole
identity that defies the limits of a continuum. My desires
overlap with Kinsey 6's and 0's, but for me this indicates
something beyond rather than between.
Between is not an identity.
in lesbian and gay communities accuse bisexuals of messing
with category definitions. In the parlance of the seventies-feminism
is theory, lesbianism is practice-bisexuality suggests
betrayal, sleeping with the enemy. Still others believe
that bi people won't be there at the end of the day-that
a bisexual woman will eventually leave her female partner
for a man, rendering pain as she goes. For many, it's
easier to maintain that bi identity is not valid.
denial and fear dishes up a more poignant hurt than
dismissal by the straight world, coming as it does from
people who are intimate with the pain of invisibility.
Bi people find themselves doubly negated, and often
relegated to the status of mere lover instead of partner.
The result can be an extraordinary loneliness.
our struggle for visibility and parity in a largely
straight world suggests we are the natural allies of
lesbians, gays, transgendered folk, and other identities:
the widely divergent population that is queer. It is
important that bisexuals have a place at the queer table.
is a relative newcomer to the world of identity politics,
so while I'm still dreaming up a handy set of signals
that will establish visibility, I've decided to just
blurt it out whenever conversation (or my editor) offers
the chance. In the meantime, I know that from where
I stand, sexually attractive is a head thrown
back in laughter, a pair of legs that wear boots like
they mean it, the ability to cook a great Thai laksa,
a penchant for driving too fast in old cars, muscles,
a deeply asleep face, compassionate and razor-sharp
intelligence, scars, a lopsided smile, kindness.
Patrick is an Australian writer.