Thursday, 12 December 2013

Getting bi amongst the gays

(I'm going to apologise right now for the over-used pun in the title of this post, but to be fair, I don't think I have ever used it on this blog before, so it's almost like doing my duty to let it appear just once).

Regulars to this blog will remember that I watch the daily vlogs of Will and RJ, who are a couple "demonstrating just how normal gay life can be". The reason I've brought it up in the past, and I bring it up again, is that RJ identifies as a bisexual man (see previous post).

Unsurprisingly, they regularly hang out with a social group that consists of gay men, and whenever they film a group situation, there often references in the footage to 'all the gays in the room' or 'that's what we gays do' or similar, you get the idea. I have mixed feelings about the fact that RJ goes along with it, and sometimes he's even the one who says it.

On the one hand...
RJ is in a MM, long-term, committed relationship and hanging out with people he cares about who are all gay men, including his fiancee. It is a gay setting, and no one is denying his bisexuality by including him in the plural noun 'gays'. No one is calling him gay specifically, nor does anyone have malicious intent of any kind by using the term (though I cannot speak for any individuals who might of a private opinion that often occurs in gay men that RJ is in fact gay and should stop calling himself bisexual. Probably none of them think that, and as a viewer I've never seen anything that explicitly indicates any of them think that, but I wanted to acknowledge that it was a possibility); it's just a cultural reference because he is involved in that culture, and it is a method in maintaining their friendship bond by emphasising their commonality.

It would be annoying and awkward to demand that everyone always acknowledge that he is not attracted to just men; off the top of my head, I don't know how that would even work, referring to 'the gays and RJ' or 'the gays and bi men' - it would be odd and difficult to say 'that's would we do' and have the 'we' meaning both gay and bi men, especially as, despite a lot they often have in common, they are actually different. I'm sure it would feel like RJ wanted attention, to seem special, which obviously it wouldn't be. And it would potentially put up a barrier by emphasising their differences.

RJ seems comfortable with it - he has chosen to support the general banner of defending same-sex love, and has never indicated he is interested in the specifics of the bisexual battle against prejudice, which is a perfectly fine choice to make, as would the choice to not do anything and just get on with life. There is no onus on bisexuals to put effort into waving the bisexual flag.

On the other hand...
It makes me uncomfortable, and I think that's because I would not like to be included in any reference to 'us lesbians' because yes, I do identify with the LGBT community as a whole, but not 'lesbian' or 'gay'. If I was to get extreme, RJ is accepting and perpetuating bi-erasure. Putting a bit of thought into it, surely an alternative such as 'all the queers in the room' or 'that's would us LGBT lot do', or similar is a lot more inclusive and not rendering invisible any orientations present. Also over-used are racial/gender comparisons, but it is true that if you had a mixed gender group, it wouldn't seem like a special allowance to refrain from talking about 'us gents', 'we women', etc, and using neutral terms like 'guys' or even 'us lot'. I feel that we need to get into that inclusive way of thinking with LGBT language as well.

As I said, I have mixed feelings, and I can see both sides. I would not suggest that RJ take some sort of stand with his group; like I said, he seems absolutely fine with the playful banter of his friends, and I have noticed that when he's vlogging alone or just with Will, he refers to 'LGBT' when he means more than just gay men, so I'm reassured that it is likely he is not victim to internal biphobia; and everything seems cool within the group.

He's established how it operates with them, and I have established how I operate in my social group, and we've simply got different styles. My friends have developed inclusive language for our group interactions to the point where it's almost second nature, and that makes me content, because I feel acknowledged as present and involved, and also reassured that they are aware of the wider LGBT community and their separate issues; and because I get the impression (and hopefully I'm right) that they have no problem with it as they think it's the right thing to do too. I would hope that if they had felt it was annoying that they would have told me, and I think our friendships (plus the fact that they know that I deal happily with directness) are such that they would feel they could bring it up with me.

Big picture, I think it's an indicator of how the 21st Century English-speaking world is struggling to deal with the great changes in sexuality and gender knowledge, awareness, and attitudes using an outdated vocabulary.

Friday, 29 November 2013

The Pilling Report - A bisexual perspective

The Church of England published today a report commissioned in January 2012, named Report of the House of Bishops Working Group on Human Sexuality. Many news agencies are trumpeting the news that it contains recommendations that "there can be circumstances where a priest, with the agreement of the relevant parochial church council, should be free to mark the formation of a permanent same-sex relationship in a public service but should be under no obligation to do so."

Exciting as this may be, it was when I was perusing the CofE's official news item on its website ( that I came upon this sentence - "It warmly welcomes and affirms the presence and ministry within the church of gay and lesbian people both lay and ordained."

Oh here we go, I thought. Where are the bisexuals please?

So I am going to search the report (PDF: for the word 'bisexual' and write notes here as I go (I haven't the time to read through the whole thing, thought I wish I could).

1. First mention is in the classic LGBT list in paragraph 32 on page 6. Not a good start.
2. Same again in par. 41
3. Ooh, quoting stats now. 2012 British survey by Office of National statistics - 0.4% identified as bisexual. Unsurprising that, seeing as it is misunderstood, marginalised, and discriminated against by straight, gay and lesbian people!
4. OMG they've raised their game, I'm impressed! The next paragraph is actually quite rational and reassuring: These data give a combined total of 1.5% of the adult population that self identifies as homosexual or bisexual...only gives a snapshot of those who self-identified in this way when the survey was taken. It does not take into account those with a degree of same sex attraction who chose not to identify as homosexual or bisexual, those who would have identified as homosexual or bisexual in the the past but who no longer chose to do so, or those who did not identify as homosexual or bisexual at the times of the survey, but might go on to do so in the future.
5. Par. 199 acknowledges that sexual fluidity is probably a thing! Again, surprised and pleased at the level of knowledge show. 
6. FOLLOWED BY THIS AMAZING PARAGRAPH: Rather than thinking about the human population in terms of a fixed binary division between two sets of people, those who are straight and those who are gay, it seems that we need to accept that while there is a large majority of people who only ever experience heterosexual attraction and a smaller number who only experience homosexual attraction, there is also a significant minority of people who either experience some form of bisexual attraction or who move between heterosexual and homosexual attraction at some point or points in their life.
7. And back to being part of the LGB/T list.
8. Interesting phrase "bisexual and same sex attractions" in par. 418. What are bisexual attractions?? I think they've gone too far with trying to use inclusive language. But good on them for trying!
9. OOH Par. 419 points out that we're well beyond just dealing with homosexuality and homophobia! Yay.
10. "What...would the Church of England say to someone...who says they identify as gay or lesbian or (increasingly likely) as bisexual..." Interesting.
11. Oh, mention of those bisexual attractions again, quite a few times.
12. And finishing back in the LGBT list.

Wow, okay, that is encouraging. Amazing that the investigation really stuck into the nature of sexuality, an understanding of which is, I believe, crucial. I think it is that education, above all, that has enlightened the writers and led to their recommendations of progress and improvement. Small steps, but my Church might just be on the right track after all!!

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

New place, new people, how/when to drop the B bomb

I am currently on a work placement. To pass my degree, I have to do a minimum 4 weeks at a place of work related to my course/career (usually a theatre or theatre company) and the ideal is that each student finds their own placement ie goes job hunting without the scary part. Nice idea, right?

I was very lucky on a recent project to meet a member of the stage management team of a well-known theatre company whose latest show is currently running in London, and through that contact secured 6 weeks with the show. I'm just coming to the mid-way point as I type, and I've mostly been with stage management, but I've also been with the production management, design, and lighting teams.

I have yet to use the word 'bisexual'. And I feel bad about it. The question is whether I should feel bad, whether there was an onus to on me to come out early on, make it clear and obvious (but not in a way that shoves it down people's throats. We wouldn't want that) to which I have somehow not lived up. Because I have no idea if any of the people that I have met, got to know, and worked with over the last three weeks have any idea that I'm bisexual, and I suppose I want them to know.

[Oh no, I can already see this post getting self-psychoanalytical... Bear with me, I'm sure there'll be a point somewhere along the line.]

I can tell you that I've tried, attempted to spread the word. Just today in fact, I was talking about my hair, how it refuses to be anything but straight, "which is ironic, because I'm not straight" I said. Seems quite a neat trick to getting it out there, or at least, that's what I thought. I was irritated that none of the three assistant stage managers with me within the small, dark box room hidden on set questioned this statement. Similarly, at another time, I mentioned the project I just finished, and upon being asked to explain further, I told of the LGBT nature of the research. And again, no comment was made to clarify my own orientation.

 I can tell you. I'm disturbed that my reaction of disappointment shows an unconscious desire for drama and intrigue about my orientation - I'm pretty sure this stems from my pride being hurt, which I do not like to realise about myself; compared to how I feel consciously and objectively, which is that I want interest, as opposed to intrigue, and no drama.

I haven't talked about much else that's personal with them, we haven't reached that stage in our working relationships; plus I am here on a temporary basis, and establishing deeper friendships is unlikely to occur in this situation. So it does seem like communicating that I'm bisexual is unnecessary, the same as my love of Disney, and how I schedule my meals.

But it's an integral part of who I am, especially how I interact with people - I'm a very flirtatious person, I really enjoy being flirty even with people I have no intentions on, and obviously I flirt with people of all genders, so surely giving that interaction some sort of context will improve things. I have my cross round my neck at all times to express my Christianity, which puts things like anecdotes I might tell from church into a context that negates the need to extra exposition. But I have nothing like that for my bisexuality.

And yes, it would be irritating as hell if I constantly had a bisexual flag pinned to my chest every day. Religion is one thing, something that influences all aspects of my thought process, behaviour, and decision making, but orientation involves personal relationships, and sex, and all sorts of things that don't actually have an impact on most other parts of life, especially at work.

As you can see, I'm of two minds on this one; objectively, revealing my orientation would be helpful, but it is not necessary, but emotionally, it feels like hiding, like dishonesty, and I suspect people not knowing (or at least, not knowing if people know or not) affects my behaviour and interactions. Should be letting it get to me, or should I be more laid about about it? I don't know.

Friday, 1 November 2013

My coming out as bisexual - this time as a video

There is already a post I wrote about my coming out somewhere in the archive of this blog, but I've been meaning to post it as a video on Youtube for sometime, and I finally got round to it!

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Tell me it gets better

I watch a lot of Youtube, it's part of my daily life. Today, one of my regular shows (shep689) recommended a coming out video, which I dutifully clicked to and watched.

It has invoked such a depressing reaction that I need to reach out for some support, guys. It was a young, Australian gay man telling his story. After going through the part about coming out to friends, mother, college, father, the gay man in the video starts using the phrase 'it gets better', and for the first time of hearing that (having heard it many times before, of course) I realised that it actually applied to me.

I don't feel like I'm in a place with my sexuality to testify to the fact; one thing stands in my way - my parents. For over half my life, the only people who understood me were my parents. Apart from two exceptions, it took me until 16years old to find other people who completely got me, totally took me for who I was and loved me for it.

Now I'm here; I know who I am and I love myself. It all makes sense to me and I know my place in this world as a queer, bisexual, cisgendered woman, with mostly-feminine-but tendency-towards-some-masculine self-expression. I have surrounded myself with people who I care for deeply who also know me and love me on this level.

But now, my parents don't understand. And they seem to think that because their world is cisgendered heterosexual, they have no need to see me as anything but a blip in that world. And I've never been a blip in their world before! They've always shifted their world around me to include exactly who I am as a totally integrated part of that world (it's the same with my brother, I'm not being egotistical, I'm pointing out this is their way of parenting, and I've always thought them great parents) but I don't feel integrated any more.

It hurts. It's upsetting. It doesn't feel right. As much as I don't think they mean it to be, it is a rejection. I suppose it is made worse that I'm not just living a bisexual life, I am engaging with my sexuality beyond romance (ie this blog, being head of the LGBT society, going to pride, etc). But that's not the part that hurts. I would get them leaving me to go about all that without them engaging with it, the same as they leave my brother to his fitness regime, diet and MMA (mixed martial arts - also known as ultimate fighting) training.

It's the fact that I get the impression they think it shouldn't change how I live my life at all, that they see it as a weird thing, as if it isn't normal for who I am. That's it - I would understand bisexuality being weird to them because they don't know it, but they treat it as if it should be weird to me as well, making it a blip. Every other thing that I do, that I am, they accept as normal, whether it's unpopular, not average, unmainstream - to them, I am perfectly normal watching Disney films, going into a career in theatre, being close friends with a church community that it on average 40 years older than me, because that's who I am; but my sexuality being not-majority - that is apparently a strange thing for me to be doing, as it they expect me to stop at some point.

Thinking about it, I think they would react different to me being a lesbian. Lesbian is more normal to them, it's unusual by dint of being minority, but I think they would embrace me being lesbian. Bisexual is being weird for the sake of being weird. That's the impression I get. I've gone past the line of things I do that are weird that they can accept as just being me, and now it's-

I don't know. I don't want to think that they think that ultimately I'm experimenting, rebelling, trying too hard, essentially identifying as bisexual simply to be different rather than it being fact. But they behaviour and their attitude seriously worries me to the point of suspecting that they might.

I don't think I'm being unreasonable in feeling rejected and betrayed. My relationship with them has been, on their side, a constant love of who I am and proactive welcoming of whatever unlike-the-majority characteristic I have shared with them. And the feeling that they just tolerate my bisexuality, that they don't understand how fundamental it is to who I am, that they don't feel like they need to understand more - you can't treat your child's sexual/romantic orientation the same as their interest in doing a sport.

And talking of my brother's MMA, it's a good way to show how my parents treat me bisexuality, because it's pretty much the same, which, now I realise it, appalls me. To my parents, my brother wanting to be a professional MMA fighter is something he does with like minded people, that makes him happy, and they accept that he sees it as something that fits him to do. They will support him in what he chooses to do now, without knowing more than a rudimentary amount about what he does.

Now, you might ask, Esme, why do you want your parents to know more than a rudimentary amount about your bisexuality? That implies you expect them to want to know all about your romantic life. But that's not what I mean. They treat my bisexuality as if they don't and can't know more than a rudimentary amount about what it is in life - they don't understand that it is in fact the same concept as my brother's heterosexuality, in terms of how parents understand their children's sexuality ie. to them, they assume a deep understanding of the social structures and norms that make up my brother's sexuality, and they assume only a rudimentary understanding of those things that make up mine, when it fact, because the only difference with mine is a wider gender pool of possible partners, they can understand it as the same as before they knew about they extra possibilities of partners.

But they don't see it as deep, valuable, and ingrained like my brother's heterosexuality; it's almost like they think I'm pretending, just to be edgy.

Urgh, you see why this video made me depressed? I still struggle with my parents - they don't take me sexuality seriously. And it doesn't feel like it's getting better. It upsets me that they also don't understand why I'm upset by their attitude - they think they're being accepting and loving, but they're doing it a distance, treating it like a fucking phase, a trend that will pass, and therefore does not need to be considered something to be integrated, it is a blip, inconsequential. But it's the characteristic that defines how I go about finding that one someone to combine with to make one life together til death - not inconsequential!

Communication. Tell them how I feel. Yes, yes. But these are my parents - I'm not the responsible one in the relationship, I'm the child, and the parent-child relationship is heavily biased towards the parents' responsibility in relationship maintenance. Yet I also keep stum to maintain their happiness, because they would feel guilty that they're failing on the "how to deal with your child coming out as bi" score. Endless circles.

Do the circles have an end? Will it get better?

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Does it feel weird being bisexual?

The title of this post comes from my blog statistics. You may or may not know that Google like to collect lots and lots of stats and as a content creator, I can look at the stats relating to who is reading my content, from where, and how they got here. Tidbits include my top five countries for audience - US, UK, Germany, Latvia, Russia. I find the last three inexplicable. My most read posts include my Dr Who rant, the one that used to be called 'bisexual video', and one of the ones about my mother. This is more understandable.

As I was glancing through all this today, idly in a moment of quiet when I was up to date on all my subscriptions to YouTube and online TV catch-up, I noticed something in the 'searches' section. This tells me what people who found my blog through web searches put into the search engine. One of the things that someone, or more than one person, had searched was "does it feel weird being bisexual?"
Something about that made me stop and think, and I want to share my thoughts.

This is a question I would never have conceived of being asked, as it seems to be one from the outside of bisexuality, and of course I am on the inside. I have never been asked this, and I find it really strange to answer it. What does it mean? What makes someone not bisexual think it might be weird to be bisexual (as opposed to anything else that isn't their own orientation)? It's the use of 'feel' that gets me. I could understand 'is it weird to be bisexual?' But 'does it feel weird?'

Does it feel weird being bisexual?  How could your orientation feel weird? Is the person asking someone scared that they are bisexual, wondering if it's a bizarre thing to be and therefore it should feel weird? Because that is saddening; it breaks my heart. My immediate answer to that is it shouldn't feel weird. But it does feel alienating. I feel like I'm seen as weird, because most people identify as straight, and most people think the only other option is gay. It feels weird to moderate my behaviour to fit into the binary world, it feels weird that I can't fully engage with people how I want to, because me being with a man is not seen as bisexual, nor is me being with a woman, even though whenever I am with anyone I am attracted to, it feels bisexual. And I know the world doesn't get that.

Does it feel weird being bisexual? In many ways, no. It's my natural state; it's intrinsically who I am and influences everything I say, think and do, the same as being a ciswoman, or white, or British. Being attracted to more than one gender is the only way I understand the world - the thought of being attracted to only one is weird! It feels like exactly how I ought to be, the best way for me to be, the path that I am meant to take. It feels good because it's right for me, and it gives me something solid about my identity, and that in turn gives me membership to a great, worldwide network of everyone who goes under the 'B' umbrella, and it's so amazing being part of such a diverse set of people whilst still having something in common.

Does it feel weird being bisexual? It's not like I have anything to compare it to. Though it took until I was 14 to realise that I needed to use that label as opposed to the default 'straight', actually being bisexual is how I've always been as far back as I can remember even having a concept of liking my peers even just platonically. I didn't know it at the time, but looking back, as an eight year old, I felt as 'bisexual' as much as the majority of my prepubescent peers felt 'straight', without any true understanding of intimate relationships. So if I've been bisexual since I was aware of my relationships with peers, how could it feel weird? It's all I've ever been - it's all that I've ever known. It's normal for me.

Does it feel weird being bisexual? If I sat outside myself, and looked objectively at the concept of being bisexual compared to the gay/straight binary, it can look weird. It seems insubstantial almost, so undefined and flexible, which doesn't seem human. But then, coming back to myself, it seems like the only plausible option! Love is, to me, the greatest goal, and everyone has the capacity to love, so why would you not be open to loving and being loved by anyone? Gender seems such as arbitrary thing to be picky about, especially when you know how sex/gender/gender expression are all one spectrums between the concepts of male and female. But then, I wholeheartedly accept that straight people feel absolutely nothing for the same-gender, and gay people feel absolutely nothing for any gender except their own. That's how they feel, and it doesn't feel weird to them.

Does it feel weird being bisexual? It's not a specific sensation to feel. It's a state of being, it's a worldview, it's part of what's floating behind my eyes. There's no set of criteria, or symptoms. It's a label I use to describe a very personal part of my life - attraction, and intimate relations; it's a fact of human existence that some of us are attracted to people, and some of us are distinctly not attracted to people, and me, I am attracted to people. It's as important to me as breathing. I'm bisexual head to foot, outside and in, every molecule, because my relationships with people I am attracted to affect me mind, body and soul, and the power of it rings through my life like a sound wave bouncing off a canyon's walls and filling to whole thing with echoes.

Does it feel weird being bisexual? It might do when you first realise life is not going to be how you expected it to be. It might be when you first crush on someone of a gender you haven't crushed on before. The first time I kissed a girl, it felt good, but it felt weird, because I had spent 14 years not expecting it be part of my life. But now, kissing women, and kissing men; sleeping with them, loving them, talking to them, sharing affection, wanting them - it doesn't feel weird. It feels bisexual; it feels like what I want, and who I am.

Does it feel weird being bisexual? Not now I've embraced the truth of who I am. It feels great.

Monday, 19 August 2013

The Gay Moralist

I don't know if you've ever encountered John Corvino "The Gay Moralist", but I hadn't until today when he popped up on my Youtube 'What to watch' recommended videos (based on what I have watched before). I thoroughly enjoyed the video I was recommended, so much so that I spent the entire morning going through his back catalogue of videos, and after I post this, I will get out some nail polish and sit down to watch his hour long lecture "What's Morally Wrong With Homosexuality?"

I wanted to pass on my recommendation to you, if you don't know him, to have a look at what he has to say. Yes, he's gay, but we won't hold that against him; like a lot of gay things, it is still relevant to us to engage with conversation about same-sex relations (even though we cannot conceive of only being attracted the just the same sex - weird). He's a philosophy professor, he is handsome and charming, very articulate, and simply likable. His humour is also topnotch, and he wrote a book with an anti-same-sex marriage campaigner, so he must have significant patience and a kind heart.

He even mentions us! This is the specific video that I'm going to post for your first dive into his style of vlogging:

Have look at it, and if you like it, I heartily recommend that you browse his channel to see if he covers any topics that take your interest. My goodness, do I wish my videos could turn out half so well - but of course, I'm a twenty-one year old student, and he's much more experienced and has a PhD, so duh!

Monday, 5 August 2013

Bi guy and a straight guy sit on a sofa

I just uploaded a video response to one of my favourite Youtubers, RJ, a bi man in a same-sex relationship who does a daily vlog with his boyfriend Will, to show that two men can have a completely normal life together - they are amazing, and entertaining, and I watch every day! They just moved into a place together, so there's been a lot of trips to Ikea, but they've also had a few friends round, and one is a straight guy, Chris, who is also a vlogger. On RJ's extra channel, he posted a conversation he had with their straight friend about bisexuality, and I found it so good I had to respond, and what I had to say wouldn't fit in a comment.

Go check out the original video :

and then my video response (it might not appear under RJ's until he approves it):

and tell me what you think in the comments - do you agree?

Friday, 2 August 2013

Talking about being bisexual with my parents - advice please!

I just had a majorly heated discussion in my kitchen with my parents and younger brother about my bisexuality.

This is major in itself, because they don't have conversations about sex and gender - I even started telling them about the spectrums of sex/gender/sexuality/gender expression! Think that blew their minds a little.

Anyway, my dad and I were the ones really going head to head. I was expressing my disappointment in him that he felt we needed to keep my bisexuality from his siblings and their kids - my aunts and uncles. He said he'd tell them when I had a girlfriend, because it was immaterial until then.

He said that in three years since my coming out, there has never been a moment in conversation with his siblings when it seemed the right moment to just mention it casually. I don't believe him, but he's sticking with it.

My brother then asked why I never came out to him. It was then that I really realised that, yes, what they were saying was true, it does feel like you're making a big deal out of it to tell people directly - but that's why coming out to your parents is a big deal, and that's why I was relying on them to pass it on in a less direct manner than a specifically convened time, like my coming out, to relevant family members, who they talk to relatively frequently.

I told my brother, 'I suppose I expected them to tell you'. I eventually had the courage about a year after coming out to them to specifically bring it up with him by saying "you know I'm bisexual right?" and I was shocked to find out that he knew from reading it on my Twitter profile!

Who is right? My father thinks it's none of their business, and even when I get a girlfriend, there's no need to specify, because one's sexuality is a private thing. If you do, you're ramming it down their throats and making a big deal.

I think sure, some people don't want to be particularly open about being a minority and just get on with their lives, and fair play to them, I've got no problem with them doing that. But I don't feel like that about my life; I don't want people to think I'm straight when there's opportunity to correct their assumption, because it's untrue, the same way I don't want them to think I'm anything else that I'm not.

And in my wider life, I want to enhance bi-visibility, and the way to do it in my intimate network of the family is be out and proud, which I don't think is shoving it down their throats. I don't think anyone is going to think my dad is making a big deal if, say, in conversation with his brother about my cousin's upcoming wedding, talk of my future wedding comes up, and he mentions that it might not be a man, and when his brother asks for clarification, dad tells him I'm bi.

And I'm not saying make my grandparents' lives difficult by telling them, because there isn't much point. It'll get sticky when I do bring a girl home, and I'll probably have to fight them about telling the grandparents then, but that's not the issue. Am I right to be disappointed that my dad has kept it from my family?

Please leave your thoughts in the comments.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Is it worth it?

I promise this post is bisexuality-related, but let me lay out some context.

On July 12th I finished my second year of my three year degree course in stage management. I went home, and spent a week working as the stage manager for a kid's holiday drama club. I then went to Bath for a few days to see my friend who's working at the university over the summer. The day after I got back, I drove across the country for an interview. I spent the entire of Sunday at church, working throughout for the Patronal festival.

Monday, I started work on my graduation project.

Apart from two weeks at the end of August when I'm working with the National Youth Theatre, I will be spending my entire rest of the holidays, and then the first six weeks of my term, working on this research project. My few days in Bath are pretty much the only true holiday I'm going to get, and that's fine. I think my project is worth putting that time in.

So when I posted on a tech theatre forum here on the good ol' internet, asking for participants to be interviewed, I was hurt by the unexpected condemnation of several posters, telling me that my project was a waste of time, and that I must be a piss-poor stage manager to pursue it.

The title of my project is "Can LGBT professionals be 'out and proud' in technical theatre?"

Their claim was that backstage is free of any problems, no one cares as long as you do your job well. And I truly hope that by some miracle, that ends up being my conclusion. But it seems to be a reigning perception (I don't know whether my critics are straight/cisgendered or not), and it's shaken my faith.

Is it worth interviewing LGBT and non-LGBT technicians about the attitudes towards and the experiences of LGBT techies just to prove that the myth is true that backstage theatre it's a refuge of non-discrimination? Will I have wasted my time if it turns out that there are no issues?

On another note, seeing as I'm unlikely to give up and do something else even if it isn't worth it, if anyone reading this in Aug/Sept/Oct 2013 is or knows anyone working in technical theatre in the UK, tweet me @iamabisexual.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013


So news these past few weeks has been full of stuff I like! The same sex marriage bill finally got passed, making it all the way to the final stage when it got signed off by the Queen on 17th July, good ol' Liz. Yes, I am a fan of monarchy, for all sorts of reasons, like the fact that they make us a lot more money than they cost us, and really, I'm a real sentimental sort at heart. That's the reason I like the second big news, of the birth of Prince George of Cambridge - well, that and Cambridge is my hometown, which makes it more exciting.

But this is not a monarchy or baby blog, so dear friends, we will concentrate on the bill, The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013. As much as it is a huge success for gay and lesbian people to finally be able to get properly married, I feel it is much more of a victory for bisexuals. This is due to the civil partnerships being introduced way-back-when, because that at least was a step in the right direction for gays/lesbians, giving them some (though obviously not enough) legal support and recognition.

Whereas it was almost worst for bisexuals - almost being the operative word, because, to be honest, it just added a new option to our unequal, combination lives; 'commit to an opposite sex person and get married, or commit to a same-sex person and sit in legal nothing', changed to 'commit to an opposite sex person and get married, or commit to a same-sex person and get a few legal concessions'.

Those legal concessions did not make up for the fact that we still had to live out our lives differently depending on the gender of the person we ended up with. It is only with the passing of this bill that we can legally live how we feel - that the gender does not change the love and commitment in the relationship, and we can choose how to commit to them the way we want, rather than the way dictated by their gender.

This difference in effects of this bill between us and the LGs makes me want to point out how it still hasn't sorted out all the legal issues for our T allies, the trans* community having stronger mutual links with us than the LGs, I feel. This bill doesn't change the already existing marriage law allowing husbands or wives to void marriages if their partner fails to reveal part of their gender history when they wed, nor does it rid marriage law of the option for a partner to have their marriage declared void if their spouse failed to disclose the fact that they possessed a GRC. And it adds the caveat that before obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate, trans* individuals in a marriage must obtain the consent of their spouse. (Source: So celebrate, but keep supporting our trans* friends and allies in their continuing battle with marriage law.

And on a LGBT rights-related note, I wanted to share this video - The Riddle - if you haven't seen it already, from the UN human rights office, published back in May. I like it. Quotes that struck me were (paraphrasing) "Being LGBT exists in every corner of the world, existed in every country throughout history, but some people still consider it abnormal, it is illegal in 76 countries, and carries the death penalty in 7." The UK has given us same-sex marriage, but we are long way from a free and equal world.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Write to the Lords

With less than a week until the Lords begins to debate same-sex marriage, I used to write to a random Lord. I got given Lord Kalms, and here is the email I sent him.

Dear Lord Kalms,
Life is sometimes difficult. This is true for everyone, whether Lord or
student, like you and I, or lover of Disney cartoons, secret collector
of bookmarks, or simply obsessed with stationary. Okay, that's also
like me too. But others will have those things in common with me, as
well as other aspects of my character.

Some people are like me because they have brown hair, or white skin,
they want to own a horse, or find it difficult to remember to brush
their teeth. Whether we are similar or distant, life is difficult for
everyone else sometimes, and life is difficult for me sometimes.

Enough beating around the bush, I want you to help pass the same-sex
marriage bill that's going to go through the House of Lords soon. My
life is made difficult by the inequality my country's law forces upon

I'm a bisexual woman. You've met many us I'm sure, whether you knew at
the time or not. Some of us have brown hair, and some of us will sing
along to the Lion King with a little too much gay abandon (if you
pardon my choice of words). And many of us want to get married. 

I'm a twenty-one year old woman; of course I've thought about getting
married. I want to be a wife, to live one life with the person I love
and who loves me, to make the lives of the people in our life better,
together, and to set an example of truth, faith, hope, loyalty, honour,
and good, to those younger than us.

I have the potential to fall in love with men and women. The one person
I end up spending my life with could be either; where ever they may be
(I'm still searching!). But I will only be able to marry them if
they're a man. Society would not see my civil partnership with a woman
the same way they would see my marriage to a man, even though that
marriage would be all that I have already described, regardless of the
gender of the person with whom I happened to meet, fall in love, and to
whom I want to commit my life. I don't want that lower status.

Pain and suffering. That's what this inequality causes, to bisexuals
like me, gay people with brown hair, trans* people who collect
bookmarks, and a great many others within our society, within our
country, within our sixty-two million strong family.

Our family needs your help. Make their lives a little less difficult.
Think of me and my poor dental hygiene, and help pass the bill.

Yours sincerely

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Will being bisexual affect my career?

This post is inspired by my last few weeks considering my third year (next year). It will be my last year of my vocational honours degree, and so comes with a few extra things on the to do list. A work placement, a 2500 words self-evaluation essay, and working on the college's in house productions as stage manager/deputy stage manager/costume supervisor/production electrician are three of the four necessary elements I need to pass to graduate.

The fourth is a a graduation project. There are three options - production portfolio, creative project, or research project. The creative project is for students to put together a show or piece that indicates their skills eg a light show, a gig, a soundscape, a piece of furniture, a model, a six foot butterfly that flaps its wings whilst the lights in the wings change colour, a tutu, or a replica of a costume from Cats (all of which had been done). This is not for me; I am creative but not artistic, and whilst the only thing I can creative is stories, writing a piece of prose will sadly not be an acceptable submission.

The production portfolio is often the choice for stage/costume management students, though techies who thrive at production management will sometimes do it as well. The idea is to work on one of your allocated productions as normal, but at the end of it, produce a folder that details every element and step in the production process for your department, with all the paperwork and accompanying explanation, to such a high standard that an entirely new team in that department on a revival of the show could produce exactly the same result. This is also not for me because, let's be honest, that sounds incredibly dull!

So what? you cry. Get the bisexuality! All will be well friends, I am getting there.

I wanted to explain the situation that leads this bisexual stage management student, whose degree has almost no similarities to traditional academic subjects, to writing an essay. My option is to do a research project, which is parading around as a dissertation, but is only allocated 6 weeks for a 6000 word document, rather than the longer amounts of time dedicated to true dissertations, which much larger word counts.

When this was all laid out before me, and I came to the conclusion that research it must be, and I started thinking about what the f*** I was going to research, I resolved to find something that did not bore me to tears. This proved to be difficult, because the only caveat for this option is that the subject must be related to your studies and career. Good grief, I thought, what on earth could I research about stage management? Previous projects from techies had been on the surge is use of LEDs, and the affect on pre-recording on sound in live entertainment. Kill me now. Effective lighting cue notation? The gender divide? Where to buy the best stationary? Backstage footwear? I couldn't bear the thought.

What were my interests? How could I wrangle the criteria to suit my need to do something exciting? I remembered a similar situation back when I was 17, and found I didn't want to take up another subject when I dropped Drama at A2. But I had to take up something for my Upper 6th year, and the only viable option seemed the Extended Project (essentially a practice in research for uni). I had free rein over that choice of subject, so I took the opportunity to look into something that bothered me about Christianity that my RS lessons hadn't covered. Homosexuality. Just why on earth did so many Christians think their faith did not marry up with acceptance of homosexuality? I wanted to know their reasoning, and see if my personal thoughts on the matter held in the face of their claims. Using my love of RS and the personal effect on my faith and sexuality, I devised a research project. In that case I was lucky enough that I didn't even have to write the 5000 word essay. I could write 2000 words and do an 'artefact' instead. What was my artefact? A story, of a young woman coming to terms with her faith and her sexuality. Prose was at option at that point.

So, what could I learn from this experience? I needed to feel personally involved in the subject, and feel like it was a worthwhile line of inquiry. And I came to the answer; not my sexuality and my faith, but my sexuality and my career - LGBT theatre technicians. Are there lots? Are they out? Do they feel comfortable at work? Are their colleagues positive or negative about their orientation? Does it affect their employability? Is there support available?

I realised when brainstorming the idea that whilst I was kind of interested in the situation at large, I really just wanted an answer to the title of this blog. Will being bisexual affect my career? Am I right to assume that I am going into an industry that is a refuge from the troubles of the wider working world? Or will being an out bisexual cause problems? Will I have to fight for equality in opportunity and treatment by others? Will I find solidarity, or will I be a lone voice?

I worry. I worry because I am open and unapologetic. And as much as in my last post I reported that this quality is something others admire, I can't help thinking that I'm doing myself a disservice and making things harder for myself when it would be easier to keep quiet. Making things harder for my career seems a shot in the foot - I'm sure my parents would think so - so I want to find out if it will be harder, if it will mean fighting, because I know I will do it. I know I will carry on being open and unapologetic. This project is my recon mission, my scouting ahead, looking into the industry with an eye on whether it meets my standards. Because I don't want to give up on the career that I know I'll be good at, that I will enjoy, that I've dedicated much time and many resources toward gaining; I don't want to give up that career just because the industry is against me.

But I will save myself the suffering if I find that is the case. I could hope that I would be strong to deal with the problems and negative experiences, but really, I don't know if I'm that brave. A part of my is shouting out that someone needs to be brave, someone needs to barge into any industry that harbours LGBT suffering and fight for success, visibility, and change. But am I that person?

I may not need to be. I may find that being in backstage theatre is a great environment to work for an out LGBT technician. All I can do is go out and see.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Jessie J the bisexual

"I've never denied it. They say how my sexuality isn’t “exclusive”, but I’ve never hidden it – even in the early days. I’m not afraid to say I’m very comfortable with who I am and I love who I love.’ Whoopie doo guys, yes, I've dated girls and I've dated boys – get over it. It’s the person, not the genitals. The frustrating thing is that if I was with a guy right now, I’d be [considered] straight. But if I was with a girl, I’d be “gay.” When I was with my ex-girlfriend, I used to take her around and say, “This is my girlfriend.” People would be comfortable with it because I was. That’s what annoys me about the media. The bisexual label irritates me. They'd never write 'Adele – the straight singer', but that's how the world works. I don’t drink or smoke, so this is what people like to talk about. I’ve never tried to make [my sexuality] something that’s going to put me in newspapers or magazines. I’m never, ever going to let it be something that sells my music. Sexuality shouldn’t define you. It should be part of who you are."
- Jesse J.

For me, she and Anna Paquin are my favourite popular culture bisexual role models. They have different stories - Jesse never came out to the public as such, she just was, whereas Paquin did a public announcement in support of an LGBT equality campaign - but there's something about their breeziness about their sexuality, and their candour, that I really like.

By not making a big deal, by getting exasperated at the media's obsession with it, by being entirely honest and unapologetic about who they, by being successful as themselves, and by claiming the right in their public presence to be a full member of society as a whole, rather than sticking with being only a queer public presence, they are what pop culture needs, what we need in pop culture, to elbow our way to normalising bisexuality.

They are my role models, and I was honoured enough to be told today that I'm like a role model to a woman thirty years older than me, for exactly the same reasons - how casual, unapologetic, comfortable, and open I am about who I am and who I fall in love with. But I can't take all the credit - it would be harder if I wasn't encouraged by the examples of those bisexual celebrities who are not exactly Out & Proud bisexuals, but Out & So What? bisexuals. More please, popular culture.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

LGBT glossary

This glossary is from the San Francisco Human Rights Commission LGBT Advisory Committee Bisexual Invisibility: Impacts and Recommendations report ( which I 'reviewed' in an earlier post. It's just such a good glossary.

Fear or hatred of bisexuals, sometimes manifesting in discrimination, isolation, harassment, or violence. Often biphobia is based on inaccurate stereotypes, including associations with infidelity, promiscuity, and transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. See also homophobia, transphobia
An individual who’s enduring physical, romantic, emotional, and/or spiritual attraction is to people of more than one sex/gender. While some people call themselves pansexual or omnisexual, these terms should be avoided unless quoting someone who self-identifies that way.
VARIATIONS: Fluid, ambisexual, pansexual
AVOID: Bi-sexual, fence sitters, switch hitters, “try”-sexual
Describes people who identify with the sex they were assigned at birth. See also gender-variant
Describes people who are not open about their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Note, though, that for a transgender person, being closeted is different from passing as one’s preferred gender, which does not have the negative connotation of hiding something (see passing below).
Cross-Dresser, Transvestite
An individual who occasionally wears clothes traditionally associated with people of a different sex.
Cross-dressers are usually comfortable with the sex they were assigned at birth and do not wish to change it. “Cross-dresser” should NOT be used to describe someone who has transitioned to live full-time as a different sex, or who intends to do so in the future. Some people prefer to use the term transvestite to describe themselves, but it is not universally accepted and should be avoided unless quoting someone who self-identifies that way. See also gender expression
Different-Sex Couple
A romantic pairing involving two people of different sexes. The individuals involved may identify with any sexual orientation.
AVOID: Opposite-sex couple, straight couple, heterosexual couple
Drag Queen, Drag King
An individual who wears clothes traditionally associated with people of a different sex primarily as a costume or persona, usually in the context of a public event or performance. The outfits of drag queens/kings often include elements that are exaggerated or over the top, such as elaborate gowns or fake facial hair. See also gender expression
Traditionally a pejorative term, dyke has been reclaimed by many lesbian and bisexual women to describe themselves. Some value the term for its defiance. Nevertheless, it is not universally accepted and should be avoided unless quoting someone who self-identifies that way.
An individual who’s enduring physical, romantic, emotional, and/or spiritual attraction is to people of the same sex. The term usually applies specifically to men. In contemporary contexts, lesbian is often a preferred term for women, though some women of colour, working-class women, and older women still describe themselves as gay. Avoid using gay as a collective adjective when LGBT would be more accurate (for example, LGBT movement rather than gay movement).
VARIATIONS: Man-loving man
AVOID: Homosexual, fag
Gender Identity
One’s internal, personal sense of being male, female, or third-gender. For transgender and thirdgender people, their birth-assigned sex and their own internal sense of gender identity do not match.
Gender Identity Disorder (GID)
A controversial DSM-IV diagnosis given to transgender and other gender-variant people. Because it labels people as “disordered,” gender identity disorder is often considered offensive. Replaces the outdated term gender dysphoria.
Gender Expression
External manifestation of one’s gender identity, usually expressed through “masculine,” “feminine,” or gender-variant behaviour (including interests and mannerisms), clothing, haircut, voice, or body characteristics.
Refers to anyone whose gender identity varies from the male/female binary, including transgender and third-gender people.
The set of power relations that normalize and regiment sexuality, marginalizing everything outside the ideals of heterosexuality, monogamy, and gender conformity.
Heterosexism; Heterosexual Privilege
Heterosexism is the attitude that heterosexuality is the only valid sexual orientation. It often takes the form of ignoring bisexuals, gay men, and lesbians. Heterosexual privilege refers to the benefits granted automatically to heterosexual people that are denied to bisexuals, gay men, and lesbians.
Bisexuals are sometimes accused of hiding behind “heterosexual” privilege when they are in different-sex couples.
An individual who’s enduring physical, romantic, emotional, and/or spiritual attraction is to people of a different sex.
Fear or hatred of lesbians and gay men, sometimes manifesting in discrimination, isolation, harassment, or violence. Prejudice is usually a more accurate description of hatred or antipathy toward LGBT people. See also biphobia, transphobia
Intersex; Person with Intersex
Describes a person whose biological sex is ambiguous. There are many genetic, hormonal, or anatomical variations that can make a person’s sex ambiguous (such as Klinefelter Syndrome or adrenal hyperplasia).
VARIATIONS: Disorder of sex development; person with an intersex condition
AVOID: Hermaphroditism; hermaphrodite
A woman who’s enduring physical, romantic, emotional, and/or spiritual attraction is to other women.
VARIATIONS: Woman-loving woman
AVOID: Homosexual
Acronym for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender.” LGBT and/or GLBT are often used because they are more inclusive of the diversity of the community.
VARIATIONS: GLBT, BGLT, LGBTQ (queer), LGBTQQ (queer, questioning), LGBTQQI (queer, questioning, intersex)
Marriage Equality
Access to civil marriage regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. If necessary to distinguish between different types of rights, benefits, etc., use same-sex marriage and different-sex marriage. However, because same-sex couples are seeking access to an existing structure rather than trying to create a new one, it is preferable to refer to marriage equality whenever possible.
AVOID: Gay marriage
Men who have sex with men. This term is used, particularly in research, to describe sexual behaviour as distinct from sexual orientation.
Men who have sex with men and women. This term is used, particularly in research, to describe sexual behaviour as distinct from sexual orientation.
Openly Bisexual/Gay/Lesbian/Transgender
Describes people who self-identify as bisexual/gay/lesbian/transgender in their public and/or professional lives. Unless the openness is important in context, it is preferable simply to describe the person as bisexual, gay, lesbian, or transgender.
Out/Coming Out/Outing
Being out describes a person who is open about being bisexual, gay, lesbian, or transgender. Coming out is a lifelong process of self-acceptance of one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity. People forge an identity first for themselves and then may reveal it to others. Publicly identifying one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity may or may not be part of coming out. Outing is the act of publicly declaring or revealing another person’s sexual orientation (sometimes based on rumour and/or speculation) without that person’s consent; it is considered inappropriate by a large portion of the LGBT community.
When applied to a transgender person, describes someone living as her/his preferred gender without (or rarely) being questioned. However, when applied to a bisexual, gay, or lesbian person, the word takes on a negative connotation (see also closeted).
Traditionally a pejorative term, queer has been appropriated by some LGBT people to describe themselves; some value the term for its defiance and because it can be inclusive of the entire LGBT community. Nevertheless, it is not universally accepted even within the LGBT community and should be avoided unless quoting someone who self-identifies that way.
Refers to people who are uncertain as to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. They are often seeking information and support during this stage of their identity development.
Same-Sex Couple
A romantic pairing involving two people of the same sex. The individuals involved may identify with any sexual orientation.
AVOID: Gay couple, lesbian couple, homosexual couple
The classification of people as male or female. At birth, infants are assigned a sex based on a combination of bodily characteristics, including chromosomes, hormones, internal reproductive organs, and genitals. See also intersex
Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS)
Refers to surgical alteration for transgender people (see transition). Not all transgender people choose to or can afford to have SRS.
AVOID: Sex change operation
Sexual Orientation
The scientifically accurate term for an individual’s enduring physical, romantic, emotional, and/or spiritual attraction to members of the same and/or different sex, including bisexual, gay, heterosexual, and lesbian orientations. Also note that gender identity and sexual orientation are not the same; transgender people may be bisexual, gay, heterosexual, or lesbian.
AVOID: Lifestyle, sexual preference
Third-Gender, Genderqueer
Refers to people who identify their gender as not conforming to the traditional western model of gender as binary. They may identify their gender as combining aspects of women and men or as being neither women nor men.
VARIATIONS: Androgynous, androgyne, polygender
Transgender; Transgender Person
An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. Transgender people may or may not choose to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically. The term may include but is not limited to transsexuals, thirdgender/genderqueer people, cross-dressers, and other gender-variant people. Use the descriptive terms (transgender, transsexual, cross-dresser, female-to-male [FTM], trans man, male-to-female
[MTF], trans woman) and pronouns preferred by the individual.
AVOID: She-male, he-she, it, trannie, tranny, gender-bender
The multi-step process of altering one’s birth sex over a long period of time. The cultural, legal, and medical adjustments made as part of transitioning may include telling one’s family, friends, and/or co-workers; using different pronouns to describe oneself; changing one’s name and/or sex on legal documents; beginning hormone therapy; and/or possibly (though not always) undergoing some form of surgical alteration.
AVOID: Sex change; pre-operative, post-operative
Fear or hatred of transgender people, sometimes manifesting in discrimination, isolation, harassment, or violence. See also biphobia, homophobia
An older term which originated in the medical and psychological communities. Many transgender people prefer the term “transgender” to “transsexual.” Some transsexual people still prefer to use the term to describe themselves. However, unlike transgender, transsexual is not an umbrella term, and many transgender people do not identify as transsexual. It is best to ask which term an individual prefers.
VARIATIONS: Transexual
A term often used in Native American/First Nation cultures to describe people whose sexual orientation and/or gender identity falls beyond binary definitions. Historically, these individuals crossed gender boundaries and were accepted (sometimes revered) by Native/First Nation cultures.
Women who have sex with men and women. This term is used, particularly in research, to describe sexual behaviour as distinct from sexual orientation.
Women who have sex with women. This term is used, particularly in research, to describe sexual behaviour as distinct from sexual orientation.

Bisexual Invisibility: Impacts and Recommendations

San Francisco Human Right Commission LGBT Advisory Committee published a report called Bisexual Invisibility: Impacts and Recommendations and this I suppose this is my 'review' of the document. You can find the PDF here:

First, it has a really well-written note on language, which I think reflects the overall thinking on the term 'bisexual' and its alternatives. Then it shows great references to published resources in its footnotes. For the number crunchers, there are some interesting figures regarding percentage in the population, indicating it is more likely for younger generations to identify as bi as opposed to gay, which isn't a surprise given the inch-by-inch progress of bi activists in the last couple of decades. It seems very in line with current thinking that I read in blogs and other resources, acknowledging "behaviour is distinct from identity", and the frustration and stupidity of lumping bi's in with gay and lesbian.

It's interesting how bi men and women differ, or at least that's what the research suggests, and I can identify with the historic narrative of trans and bisexuals having to band together.

What would be useful with the nice entries of testimonies is a clue at the start of each as to whether it is a bi man or woman, because otherwise it gets confusing if it's not clear.

I find it very interesting (and infuriating) to read about the exclusion of bi's from organisations that claim our name in their title or mission statement - how often have we all been there, right? What's bizarre is the fact it is LGBT opponents, not supporters, who are more inclusive in their language. And it's shocking to see the figures for how few grants go towards bisexual needs.

Then comes the most comprehensive list of common biphobia I've ever seen.

I always have trouble reading about the health implications. It hits me in the gut, that because I fall in love with both men and women, society is set up with such pressures and resistance to me that I am more likely to be at risk of health problems. It's horrific. I also find it difficult to connect with research on bisexuality and race/ethnicity, because it's harder to relate to being Caucasian.

The report ends with recommendations, as is the way with reports, and a very good glossary, which I will put up in a separate post.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

'Men & Women in Marriage' by the CofE / a bisexual Anglican rants

They've done it again. Those busy bees at the centre of my denomination, the Church of England, have published another document that underlines their understanding of marriage:

And reading it it makes me angry, and sad, and more anger, then a little despair, pushed aside by rage, and levelling out at somewhere between livid and seething.

Theirs is not a faith I recognise. They seem a stubborn child, who has gone via it's own convoluted logic to come to a conclusion, and refuses to listen to actual reason when it's pointed out that they've made a mistake or twenty, by those with more experience and understanding, refuses to see how they're just simply wrong; instead, sticking with their viewpoint on the principle that of course they're right, if they've been right up to now, how can they be wrong?

What are we, CATHOLICS??

Sorry, I don't mean any disrespect to the Catholic church and community, but a fundamental difference between Catholic and Protestant thinking - and however some parishes use incense and Latin, the CofE is still philosophically Protestant - is that Protestants left behind the belief that the Church never got things wrong. Protestantism accepts that the Church is a fallible institution, like anything human, and therefore accepts that the Church is perfectly within it's nature to change it's blinkin' mind.

This document reads like it was written by a medieval arsehole. They have no concept of what humanity actually is! Humanity is an infinite collection of combinations - sexuality is on a sliding scale, gender is on a sliding scale. I mean "persons are not asexual, but are either male or female" is just so outdated, it's embarrassing. Like so often when dealing with the church, this makes us cry out yet again for modernisation - get with the times, our understanding of what the human condition is is not longer the constricted, binary concept of yester-century that you guys seem to be working off. Get out in the fresh air guys, muck around with us grunts and you'll see, a) your categories are way off the mark and b) sometimes it isn't possible to define all the aspects of a person and c) you don't HAVE to define everything. They even state "The Church guards a common traditional understanding of marriage as a human, not only a religious act." Then guard the understanding that humanity is complicated, so marriage is not a set-in-stone, just-one-option thing, why don't you?

I'm going to get religious now. You have been warned.

God made a vastly complex universe. At least you've acknowledged that, Church of England. Yet God is vastly more complex. And a person is made in God's image ie just as complex; we don't understand God, so why would we be able to pin down that which is made in Her image?? The arrogance of thinking that the people of this planet are as easily confined to a 'proper ordering' of two boxes is astonishing.

To glory in God, to love His creation, to see the divine in all things and relish in the splendour of creation so that we can be the best that God made us to be, means to accept that an individual's gender, sex, and sexuality are separate things, to accept that God purposefully made an individual whatever combination of gender, sex, and sexuality they might be - the combination nor the components are not a mistake, something to be fixed, or anything wrong - and to accept that an individual may not be able to figure out who they are and what God means for them to be, and you have no right or authority to decide that they have only two options; accept that they may change their minds, several times, while figuring it out. And accept that this is natural, it is human, to be a minority and different to what is usual is in NO WAY unnatural, or wrong, or something to aspire against.

I am angry at the arrogance. I am angry at the stubbornness. I am angry at the illogical, unreasonable, and downright out-of-touch thinking. I am outraged at the clinging to words from Genesis, literal acceptance of an ignorant and bigoted understanding of humanity written by people with over two thousand years less experience, knowledge and understanding than the people sitting in the pews every Sunday right now. Listen to the people in the pews! Listen to the people visiting the church, to the people on the street, the people next door, people in every corner of humanity.

I agree that marriage is important; in fact, I agree with a lot of this document, but the thing is, anything you say about marriage, including most things about parenthood, is entirely applicable to any marriage, whatever the combination of gender there is between the two parties. Marriage is about complementarity, but two people complement each other, it's not the complementarity of gender that creates the bond of marriage.

And I agree that "marriage is a form of committed Christian discipleship for those who understand their own love as part of God’s love towards the world" - direct from the document, and yet, they cannot see the hypocrisy of not including some people and their love as a form of committed Christian discipleship, when Christian discipleship is grounded in an open arms policy, and the obligation to not exclude anyone. It's sickening.

So ultimately, same-sex marriage is a legitimate, natural, and divine state of two people. So why refuse same-sex weddings? That's all the church has to do. The church isn't involved in marriage - that's between the spouses and God. The church's part is the wedding, a celebration and commitment ceremony, not some vehicle for binary, blinkered meddling. Sure, we'll probably have to continue to change attitudes so that the church can give "pastoral help to those who seek to engage with the challenges of life responsibly" to same-sex married couples too, but that's the next battle. We don't need that yet. For now,

stop being stupid.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The Laramie Project

I just watched the amazing HBO film production of the play The Laramie Project as research for working in the costume department on an up-coming stage production of it at the Silk St Theatre, London.

I spent most of the time watching it with the feeling as though I had just had the air knocked out of me, and not for the first time (or the hundredth time) I thanked God that I grew up and live in England in the period of history that is today.

As a young queer, it is very hard to comprehend that life was so awful back before I was old enough to be aware of the world and my place in it. I'm not saying life now is perfect - we've a long way to go to achieving a world where non-cis genders and non-hetero sexualities go unremarked - but my goodness, I am lucky I wasn't born before 1992, and didn't have to experience life as it was before then, and even in the 90s.

If you don't know the Laramie Project, it's a play by a theatre group who went over the Laramie, Wyoming two weeks after a hate crime. A 21 year old out gay man, Matthew Sheppard, was driven out to a field by two of his fellow residents, beaten with fists and a pistol, tied to a post, and left for dead. He was found in a coma, and rushed to hospital, but eventually died without waking up. The theatre group spent the year and a half following (during which time the two young men who committed this atrocity were tried and convicted and the world media descended on the small town) interviewing the residents, hearing how they were involved in the case, and how it had affected them. The play condenses these interviews and uses the townspeople's own words to convey the attitudes at the time, and the effect of being used as the stage for the debate over anti-discrimination laws and hate crime legislation.

I am so lucky that the worst I've had to face is people who don't understand what bisexuality is. I've never been bullied, discriminated against, attacked, abused or hated for being bisexual. But still my heart is with all my fellow queers who do face these things, and worse in places where the law is against them as well; that's the pain I feel, the hurt that I bear; I weep not for myself but the continuing struggle to keep going, keep fighting ignorance, fear and bigotry, to push for more on top of what we've already achieved.

It is warming to look back at the last century and realise how far we've come from that point. Life for me was great growing up because of the efforts of those who fought those battles, people who were enraged by Mattew Sheppard's story, and so many others like it. But now I am battling, it's my turn to pave the way for the generations after me (which is weird for me to think about age 21) as well as those still suffering right now, so that they may live better lives without pain caused by who they are.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Forgetting that I'm bi

I think I've talked about this before, but I just have the compulsion to talk about it now.

How can people forget? People forget I'm bisexual, like they might forget I don't like pink, or something. It feels ludicrous to me. They don't forget about the gay people, but they always need prompting, a reminder, to add women into the equation about me when talking about men, or other similar situations.

I'm a romantic - a soppy fool if you will, full of marshmallow and loud ballads - and love is a big deal for me. So it gets on my nerves that people stumble when talking about me and love, that they get it wrong, forget, in a way that doesn't apply to my preferences to colours. I don't care if they forget that I don't like pink. But forgetting I'm bi, well, that's a part of me that majorly affects my life, basically runs it.

My passion for love, my enthusiasm for human connection, it's in everything - my interactions with others that wants to be a good person so that they may be happy; my love of story, and how it explores what it means to be people, that leads me to writing my own prose as well as reading copiously, and choosing a career in theatre; throwing myself into the faith and community of Christianity; honing my cooking skills and appreciation of food so it can be shared with others - the human condition fascinates me, and the bare essential of the meaning of life, and the ultimate underpinning of the universe for me boils down to LOVE.

And I fall in love with men and women.

And you forget that the basic principle of my existence involves both??!

Or that's what it feels like. Is it because I know I'm a misunderstood element of a misunderstood minority, that I am projecting forgetfulness onto them, because I expect it? How can I tell if my perception is wrong?

But if I'm right...

You can see my problem. I want to let it go; I want to forgive them on the grounds of human error, or ignorance, as we are all guilty of committing of course, and I wonder if my difficulty to do so is justified or not. Is it righteous indignation? Or is it part of my selfish desire to be understood and remembered? Is it part of my activist attitude that I must pick people up on the mistake in the hopes of spreading the word and decreasing the ignorance? Or is it on par with the pink thing, and I'm just making a mountain out of a mole hill?

I only ask questions because I genuinely don't know. And I pose the issue because I wonder whether other bisexuals meet with forgetfulness, and if it annoys them, and if it does, whether they feel guilty for being annoyed.

Also wondering whether to use the upcoming Valentines Day to make a move on the guy I like. You're probably not surprised to learn that most of my thoughts - outside of working on the costume of The Marriage of Figaro - are taken up with this man, and how I can communicate my interest to him.


I just smiled to myself. I witter on about the drama of the bisexual life, and how socio-politically we operate in society, but I'm glad I can remind myself of what it's all about - one person fancying the pants off another person, and feeling the butterflies when they see them.

Them butterflies. Get every they do. Run the universe ya know.

Anyway, I'm not saying someone's bisexuality should define them, or determine how others treat them. I'm not even saying that others should be aware of my enthusiasm (sight obsession) with love. I just think others should treat bisexuals like whole people, including their bisexuality.

Yep, butterflies.