Over the summer I had the pleasure of visiting with the Secular Student Alliance of St. Cloud State University. Among the very interesting and thoughtful people I met was a bisexual student in his forties named Patrick RichardsFink. Patrick has just launched a new blog called Eponymous Fliponymous.
His first post was an excellent and insightful discussion of labeling of various people of non-heterosexual and non-cisgendered sexual orientations and genders. He quickly followed it up with a post about the invisibility of bisexuals and his own monogamous bisexuality. Many people leap to the unwarranted assumption either that a bisexual really is “gay after all” or “straight after all” simply based on who their most recent romantic partner is or was. Also many people assume that because bisexuals are sexually/romantically interested in members of more than one gender or sex that they must be inclined towards polyamory to meet their needs. The hasty assumption is that one partner, of one gender and sex, simply could not satisfy them. Patrick addresses these presumptions by talking about his own monogamous bisexuality:
Should your sexual orientation be defined by what the gender of that last one is? If you answered yes, why? If you answered no, then why should who you partner with at any time be deemed to define who you are?
I’ve been bi for as long as I’ve had a definition of sexual orientation. I was bi before I ever had a relationship. In my teens and early 20s, I had relationships with cismen and ciswomen, and the only reason that my relationships were restricted to those particular categories were because those were the only people I knew, the only people I was close enough to to have relationships with – in fact, at that time, the word cisgender didn’t even seem to exist (the earliest reference to the word I can find is 1991). Even in the absence of the word, though, my desires were never restricted to people who fit neatly into gendered boxes.
In those early heady days of blooming sexuality, I experimented with polyamorous options, but quickly found that was not the path that works for me. On an emotional and romantic level, monogamy suits me best. I’m one of those people who wants the intimacy and mutual trust that I can best develop in a dyadic relationship. Nothing against polyamory – if it works for you, it works for you, and I’m the last person to judge you for it, whether your polyamory expresses itself as multiple dyads, a triad, a group arrangement with or without in-group exclusivity, gay, straight, or bi, it just doesn’t bother me. The only reason I bring it up is that while I have (ultimately unsuccessful) polyamory in my history, it doesn’t make me poly. I know gay men who have been married and either considered themselves straight at the time, or were trying to pass (to others or to themselves) as straight but have now identified as gay. That’s OK too, even though it’s a source of another myth I’ll be writing on.
Being monogamous, and having that monogamous relationship be between two cisgendered people of opposite gender, makes me invisible, though. I just look straight. An interesting note is that a lot of the ways I present as queer are ways that have nothing at all to do with sexuality but are transgressions of gender norms: fingernail polish, long dangly earrings, wearing pink clothing. But when I do these things while I am kissing my wife, the picture presented to the people around me is one of straight, not of bi. On the other side, when I get excited and proclaim something to be FABulous or spontaneously break into song with a Broadway tune, people assume gay.
I have loved reading Patrick’s writing all over Facebook for the last couple of months. It’s stand out stuff and based on his first two blog posts, I am very excited for his blogging efforts. Show some love to a promising new blog about an invisible minority by a talented writer. Consider giving him a serious boost by passing his post around wherever you can.