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Author Topic: Bi-invisibility
MusicNerd
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I guess I just need to rant. *sigh* So, my mom and I were randomly talking about sexual orientation and attraction today (I don’t even know how we got onto that topic, honestly), and it made me think about the term “bi-invisibility”.

She was talking about how she thinks some people are born gay and others do it because it’s become more “mainstream”. She also thinks that some people are born straight and others do it to fit in. Some non-straight people pretending to be straight sometimes I could see, since we live in a heteronormative society and we’re taught to conform to that ideal and to accept that as "normal", but she basically thinks that sexual orientation in general (regardless of whether you’re gay, straight, bi or whatever) is a “lifestyle choice” as opposed to being based on someone’s genuine attraction; she thinks that only some people are “born this way” when it comes to their orientation and others choose who they’re attracted to. The whole “attraction = a choice” is what I disagreed with her about.

I told her that none of us can control who we’re attracted to, and she said that we can, “I chose to marry your father even though he and I are different races. I could’ve said ‘no’ since I knew people would give us a hard time for being an interracial couple, but I didn’t. I accepted that some people were going to discriminate against us and I chose to be with him.” I replied, “Sure, you could choose to be in a relationship with someone or not, but you couldn’t control the fact that you were attracted to him. For example, a gay man technically could marry a woman, but that doesn’t mean that he could force himself to be attracted to her. Attraction’s not like a light-switch that people can turn on and off”.

What killed me at one point is that she said that she understood how people could find female celebrities beautiful, but she could never picture herself being in a relationship with a woman even though she thinks there's nothing wrong with two women (or men) being in a relationship together. I was thinking to myself, You probably can't control that, right? You can't force yourself to desire being in a relationship with a woman. I tried to convince her that people can make a choice to be or not be in a relationship, but they can’t control who they like. We agreed to disagree on that, but it was still upsetting as I’ll explain later on.

Then, she went on to say that “People can be bisexual and experiment and go through that phase and that’s totally normal,” and I’m like, “Uh… Being bisexual doesn’t mean you’re ‘experimenting’. Being bi-curious is ‘experimenting’ with people of different sexes, not being bisexual. That’s something entirely different.” She’s into the idea of sexuality being a fluid thing, but I don’t think she acknowledges the credibility of bisexuality. I thought she was starting to, but when I had the conversation with her today it seems like she’s going back to the bi-invisible way of thinking. She pretty much thinks Lady Gaga and other people don’t really know what they’re talking about when they say they’re bisexual.

Normally I’m okay with when we agree to disagree on things, but this really seemed to hit home for me. She seems to delegitimize the credibility of bisexuality, and I recently came out as bi to her and my dad. When I came out to her as bi she said that homosexuality and bisexuality have always been around and that people were just better at hiding it, but now she’s saying the kind of stuff that she used to say before I came out to her, like “bisexuality being experimental” and “being heterosexual or homosexual is a choice in lifestyle” as opposed to not having control over who you’re attracted to. She said that she and my dad would still love me and support me (which I’m truly grateful for), but it seems like she thinks that I (along with every other person of every other orientation on this planet) can choose who they like. I don’t think she does that on purpose or tries to hurt me intentionally, and she likes that I have my own mind and that I don't agree with her on everything, but it doesn’t change the fact that it hurts when she says things like that about bisexuality and attraction, you know?

If attraction was so easy to control, I probably would’ve chosen to only be attracted to men as opposed to being attracted to either sex (if we’re thinking in binary terms of sex) since that would’ve made my life easier in our heteronormative society. I actually did try that at one point for years before coming out to myself, and I felt so uncomfortable in my own skin. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with being bisexual or anything, but I thought my life would be made harder as a result of other people's disbelief of its existence so I tried to get rid of my attraction to women and only focus on my attraction to men. That obviously didn’t work.

To whoever gets this far: thanks for reading this lengthy ramble. [Smile] When it comes to being a bisexual woman, society thinks that you’re “doing it as a fad” or “to get guys to like you” or something like that, but they don’t take it seriously. It seems like bisexuality in general isn’t taken seriously. It’s just really annoying. I guess I just want to know: What can I do to combat bi-invisibility? What have you all at Scarleteen done to combat it in your everyday lives? How can I have my mom accept that my bisexuality is not some sort of “lifestyle choice” or indecision of attraction or something? How can I tell her that it hurts when she says things like “people can choose who they’re attracted to” and when she sort of invalidates bisexuality? Should I even bring it up to her since I'm about to leave for college in two weeks anyway? I just don't even know what to do since I don't want to pick a fight with her before I go.

[ 07-15-2012, 10:16 PM: Message edited by: MusicNerd ]

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"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." ~Dr. Seuss

Posts: 301 | From: a galaxy far, far away... | Registered: Jun 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
copper86
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Hi, MusicNerd!

You're leaving for college in two weeks?! You better have an internet connection asap!! I love talking with you on here! [Smile]

I have similar arguments with my mother surrounding homosexuality; and I'm so sorry that you are hurting and going through this. I'm sure you don't need this on top of packing and gettinf ready for school.

Will you be going home often? If you are going to be home at some point, you can always "schedule" to have more of an honest conversation with her later; but two weeks is still quite a long time, so you could still have a talk with her before then. Tell her what you've told us - that it hurts you when she says some of the things she says, especially regarding how people choose to be of a certain orientation.

I'm just about to head off soon, but tomorrow I'm going to post a long theoretical component regarding "nature versus nurture" and how society debates that so many things - like homosexuality or bisexuality (or any sexual orientation), juvenile delinquency, and other traits - are either (and not both?) influenced by biology or certain environments. [Smile] I love those theories! Lol.

I really hope you have a good night, and try not to worry about anything!

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"I do the best that I can. I'm just what I am." - Rush (Best I Can)

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Karybu
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As just a bit of an aside, on the "nature versus nurture" topic, I've always found it a bit funny that we only ever try and figure out where supposedly "negative" traits come from. So much time and effort has gone into attempting to explain why some people are homosexual or bisexual, but no one ever seems to try to find an explanation as to why some people are heterosexual, because that's "normal". It's interesting to think about.

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"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." -Arundhati Roy

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MusicNerd
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Copper, don't worry, I most definitely will have internet connection when I go to college! I love talking to you here, too! *hug* [Smile]
Thank you so much for your supportive and understanding words of advice. They actually brought tears to my eyes and I tend not to cry about much, so that's saying something. Yeah, I guess I could talk with her, but I don't know... I might do it before I leave, and I'm sure she would want to know if she was hurting my feelings. I don't know when I'll do it, but I know that I need to muster up the courage to do so first.

Karybu, that is definitely an interesting point! We do always try to figure out where the so-called "negative" traits come from. We've done it with racism, sexism and classism in the past and unfortunately we still do it today. I guess it's because society assumes (and the media perpetuates) the idea that every single couple on the planet is able to/wants to have biological babies of their own via the monogamous-heterosexual-couple model. Who knows? I don't think it makes sense to assume that way of living is for absolutely everyone since that pretty much excludes non-heterosexual people, infertile people and people in polyamorous relationships, which leads to labeling all of those people as "abnormal". *sigh*

[ 07-16-2012, 12:43 AM: Message edited by: MusicNerd ]

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"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." ~Dr. Seuss

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WesLuck
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-hugs for MusicNerd, the very unique and normal bisexual!- [Smile]

And one thing I like to say:
unique is normal,
normal is weird,
weird is good! [Smile]

And also, in the past, and to a lesser extent in the present, views on sexuality have been used as a weapon to prevent people reaching their true selves. As time goes on I think we'll start to reject the warlike views for positive, self and life-affirming ones more and more. In fact, we are doing that right now! Which is also part of the reason why I would like to try a closed triad with two bisexuals, to be an example of acceptance of the self and of all that sexual expression is, a part of being yourself and resonating on your own unique frequency. I have already been sticking up for the rights of different orientations to my dad, and I think I'm slowly educating him to be more accepting. [Smile]

[ 07-16-2012, 09:08 AM: Message edited by: WesLuck ]

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MusicNerd
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quote:
Originally posted by WesLuck:
-hugs for MusicNerd, the very unique and normal bisexual!- [Smile]

And one thing I like to say:
unique is normal,
normal is weird,
weird is good! [Smile]

Wes, that was absolutely wonderful. You're hilarious. Thank you! *accepts hug* [Smile]

quote:
Originally posted by WesLuck:

And also, in the past, and to a lesser extent in the present, views on sexuality have been used as a weapon to prevent people reaching their true selves. As time goes on I think we'll start to reject the warlike views for positive, self and life-affirming ones more and more. In fact, we are doing that right now! Which is also part of the reason why I would like to try a closed triad with two bisexuals, to be an example of acceptance of the self and of all that sexual expression is, a part of being yourself and resonating on your own unique frequency. I have already been sticking up for the rights of different orientations to my dad, and I think I'm slowly educating him to be more accepting. [Smile]

True, I agree with the whole "sexuality used as a weapon" notion, especially when it comes to women. It's so ridiculous. *sigh* That's great that you've accepted your desire to have a triad and ignoring what society considers "normal"! And I understand where you're coming from when it comes to educating your father on sexual orientations. I had to educate my father to be more accepting and understanding, too. I mainly did that through making friends with LGBTQ kids and he just kinda realized that if his daughter was hanging out with people of different orientations, then they couldn't be so bad. He still has his moments though, but he's accepted my bisexuality for the most part. Even though I secretly plan on having casual sex and not having a relationship right at this point in my life, I told my dad he still might have to worry about a boyfriend in the future. hahaha [Big Grin]

[ 07-16-2012, 03:37 PM: Message edited by: MusicNerd ]

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"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." ~Dr. Seuss

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copper86
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Im so excited that you'll have an internet connection asap! *hugs* You must be so excited to start school! I was always a bundle of nerves come school time: excited, nervous, scared, anticipating... And a whole bunch of other stuff! How's your packing coming along? I sometimes put mine off a little as I got into upper years... Lol. [Wink]

I know what you mean about gathering your courage. I actually have a tough time doing that; but I find that a ton of my courage comes from my faith. I pray before everything - like exams - and knowing that I had someone looking out for me always has helped me (even in times of doubt). I'm not saying that you have to pray or anything, but do you have a safe person in your life - a good friend, a relative - who supports you and roots for you? Since you're so sweet and supportive, I bet there are a ton of people in your corner, rooting for you to succeed and to do what's best for you! We're all in that corner! Think of all who love you and support you - including your parents - as you think of when to have this talk with your mother and if and when you decide to gather your courage for that.

My mother and I clash over sexual orientations sometimes; and we don't have arguments per se, but disputes. She sometimes hurts my feelings, as two of my close friends are of "different" (I'm not quoting that word because of any negative conotation; it's just to state that they vary from our individual orientations (hers and mine) and from one another, as one is gay and the other is a lesbian) orientations. I once told her that one of her statements hurt my feelings (of course now, I forget which one it was), and she apologized and told me she didn't mean to hurt my feelings. Again, she's just a bit more conservative - it's not as if she doesn't accept them as individuals with rights and freedoms - but I digress. Your telling me that you know your mother doesn't mean to hurt your feelings made me think of that situation with my own mother. Sometimes, I think our opinions just come out, and we don't mean to hurt the other person at all; and we only think that we might have hurt them later. I'm guilty of that, too.

With the "nature versus nurture" debate, I've always found it fascinating, especially around criminality. One seems to think that a trait - be it delinquency or anything - could be in one's genes; and they are therefore predisposed to "being" that way because of those genetic traits. Or, they are predisposed to those traits because of those genetics, but a certain environment into which they decide to enter (like a criminally-prone neighbourhood, for example) can trigger that previously-dormant or not-too-explored or thought of trait. That kind of goes into the nurture side of the debate, stating that traits become "acquired" via socialization from different environments. Really, I think there are benefits from both positions, and they can even work together to explain many things and, as Karybu said, they can explain what our society would call "normal" behaviours or traits or anything. So, your sexual orientation can be "within you" or perhaps dormant until you're within an environment that "triggers" it. I think it's really a matter of personal opinion, but I never "chose" to like men. I just randomly started having crushes on guys in Grade 4. And later, I chose to date and like men; but I indeed chose to date or like specific men, or pursue certain relationships, like you said - but I never sat down and thought "I want to be heterosexual." I think my parents might think that choice is a part of homosexuality and bisexuality, as well... I'm not sure anymore. It's definitely a tough discussion to have, since everyone has their own opinions and are set in their own ways.

What would you like to have happen upon having that discussion with your mother? Remember those goals when you're deciding when to have that discussion with her. The first week or so of school will probably not have a big workload for you, so your timeframe to think things through won't be too affected by school work. Try writing down what you'd like to have happen as a result of that conversation, and think through her possible statements and questions, so you can have possible answers for her if she does voice those questions.

I hope you're feeling better today, and take care! You must be so excited for school! I'm excited for you too! [Smile]

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"I do the best that I can. I'm just what I am." - Rush (Best I Can)

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MusicNerd
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My mom's forced me to pack my stuff and clean up my room early, so I'm pretty much ready to go now. hahaha Thanks for asking! I'm definitely really excited! [Big Grin]

Interestingly enough, I got into a conversation with my dad about sexual orientation today (how do I keep getting into these random conversations with my parents?) and he thinks that people of all orientations are "born this way" and they can't help who they're attracted to. So, I was glad to hear that he pretty much doesn't think that I choose mine or he chooses his. [Smile]

I forgot about the whole making-a-list thing. I should most definitely do that! Anyway, I guess what I'd like to happen with my mom is for her to understand that I didn't just sit down one day, listen to some Lady Gaga and go, "You know what? From this day forward I shall be bisexual! It has a nice ring to it..." lol [Big Grin] But really, I don't want her to think that I can choose who I'm attracted to, no matter how much I'd like to, but I can choose who I'm in a relationship with. I just don't want her to dismiss bisexuality I guess, or more specifically, the fact that I'm bisexual.

[ 07-16-2012, 09:53 PM: Message edited by: MusicNerd ]

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"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." ~Dr. Seuss

Posts: 301 | From: a galaxy far, far away... | Registered: Jun 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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