Donate Now
We've Moved! Check out our new boards.
  
my profile | directory login | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Identity » Bisexual Invisibility

 - UBBFriend: Email this page to someone!    
Author Topic: Bisexual Invisibility
-Jill
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 5375

Icon 1 posted      Profile for -Jill     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I read an article the other day that got me thinking about bisexual invisibility. This thread gave me even more to think about.

For those of you that are bisexual, I'm wonder if you do in fact occasionally feel invisible. Are you perceived as homosexual when you're with a same-sex partner? Do people assume you're heterosexual when you're with someone of the opposite sex? Does it bother you when people come to conclusions like that? What, if anything, do you do to increase your visibility?

I know I personally tend to make assumptions. If I see someone with a partner of the same sex I automatically think queer and I think straight if a person is partnered with someone of the opposite sex. I'm definitely going to try to be more mindful of the other possibilities in the future.

Posts: 3641 | From: Truckee, CA, US | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
AB
Activist
Member # 29608

Icon 1 posted      Profile for AB     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
My sister's friend, Jen, is bisexual. She and Cam(male) are married and have two kids together.
AND she is also married to Mag(female) who is a lesbian, so her and Cam have nothing going on between them.
I know, I know, that's a different subject altogether, but I guess because of her... If I see a couple, same-sex or opposite sex, I always keep in mind that one of them(or both of them) could be bisexual.

--------------------
"think outside the box, collapse the box, and take a f***ing sharp knife to it."
- banksy

Posts: 58 | From: Canada | Registered: Jun 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
In my experience, it has to do with who is doing the guessing, and also with some gender roles.

For instance, when I'm out and about with my current male partner in spaces which are either queer spaces, or where the person doing presuming is or appears to be queer, I've found that unless I'm femmed to the nines (which is a serious rarirty for me) that I'm more often presumed to be lesbian or bisexual than not. (To the point that often enough, I do have to tell someone approaching me with a flirtation that I am both partnered as well as with my partner right then.)

However, I've found that in hetero community, spaces or with hetero people, that unless I say something, no matter who I'm with or how I'm presenting, I'm assumed to be straight, almost always, and for as far back as I can remember. And often, when it gets brought up that I am not stright -- nor have I ever been -- despite being with a male partner, often enough, some comment wil be made that I "switched teams" for my male partner. When that happens, I generally just try to make clear that I did no such thing, but that a) my partner is more an exception to the rule than anything else and b) not being heterosexual nor exclusively homosexual, I don't have a team in the first place.

But too, again, how my gender is percieved sometimes has an influence there, too. If I'm wearing a suit rather than a skirt, those assumptions get made less often, ridiculous as that is.

I've made clear to my partner from the get-go that I'm outer than out, so he also knows that if the question comes up, he's to be honest about my orientation.

(I feel like I should mention that I have noticed a change in this as I have gotten older. That may be due to things getting better with this out and about in the world, but I'm more inclined to think it simply has to do with my age, the people I usually find myself around, and the fact that I'm also someone who has been very visibly out -- more than most people -- for a very long time and someone who many people know have had partners of all genders, including serious partners.)

[ 08-22-2007, 08:35 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
summergoddess
Activist
Member # 11352

Icon 1 posted      Profile for summergoddess     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I haven't really felt invisible with being a bisexual much. People who know about me also mention my sexuality when it comes up when we are out with others that we don't really know that well. I am married as well, but i am very open with being a bisexual and my husband is honest when he mentions or introduces me so there isn't no problem there.

If problem arises with being invisible, my responses are similiar to Heather's. It's just said in a different way.

--------------------
~Jules

Posts: 369 | From: Ontario, Canada | Registered: Jan 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
everyone_needs_love
Neophyte
Member # 35040

Icon 1 posted      Profile for everyone_needs_love     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I think that as long as your being honest with yourself and seeing who you want to see, then there really isn's an issue. When I want to go out with a girl, I do, and when I want to see men I do. I mean, get involved in the gay community and the straight. It's about everything in moderation. [Smile]

--------------------
Let no tears fall from none ya'll, just remember the beauty as well as the flaws L-O-V-E-L-I-F-E

Posts: 4 | From: Albuquerque | Registered: Aug 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I think though, everyone, that that doesn't really speak much to the topic brought up here, which is about invisibility. In other words, not about who one chooses to date, but about how bisexuals are perceived by others, and how often visibility is such a challenge and one one cannot alter by dating who one wants to or being honest with oneself. I'm also not sure how moderation would have anything to do with how one is perceived.

For example, it can be pretty painful when in a long-term relationship with a same-sex partner, wherein you live together, share a family, the whole enchilada, to constantly find that in being out and about, strangers presume that person always to be a friend or sister, rather than a partner -- an assumption which would often be made if that partner was opposite-sex, even if that person WAS a friend or sibling, not a partner.

I know that on one side of my family, as another example, when I brought a male partner to the last family gathering, he was received very differently than my girlfriend was a year or so before, despite the fact that both are/were quality people who cared for me deeply and were wonderful to be around. My male partner now even has said he perceived that in some respect, certain members of my family treated him as if he'd saved me from some awful fate -- because, per invisibility, the assumption being that if I'm with a male, I also would then be straight somehow, despite being actively bisexual and out for more than two decades -- and somehow made me credible in some way. Pretty cruddy, and not a reaction I could have controlled in any way.

[ 08-22-2007, 11:27 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
PenguinBoy
Activist
Member # 28394

Icon 1 posted      Profile for PenguinBoy     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I think many people, those who make these assumptions, seem to assume there to be a huge divide (rather than a spectrum) between gay and straight people. They assume themselves either to the gay community or the straight community.

I've got a friend who's identified as Bi for years... but she's always telling me about how people talk down to her, and they do, especially when the actual topic of sexuality comes about. They feel as though she mustn't actually know what her sexuality is, and that she must be confused.

I hear plenty of people talking about fetishism, campness and dress-sense as though they're inevitable attribute of all gay men. And a multitude of physical and personality characteristics that are thought to be direct results of homosexuality by straight-identifying people, and of heterosexuality by gay-identifying people. And to me it feels like they're trying as best they can disassociate themselves from what they're not comfortable with(the gays), or feel rejected by (the straights).

It makes me feel like there a huge canyon of denial between the two "sides", where they can't except anything existing.

It's even got me talking about it as if there are two sides! It's definitely easy for anyone to feel invisible who doesn't identify as "straight" or "gay".

--------------------
Jacob - my Scarleteen Blog - Please help sustain scarleteen

Posts: 633 | From: Bedfordshire, UK | Registered: Apr 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
plain milyeh
Activist
Member # 32511

Icon 1 posted      Profile for plain milyeh     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
i kinda grew up in a family where you're assumed bisexual (as opposed to straight) until proven otherwise.

i think this sometimes leads to me confusing people a little more than i might otherwise do. i forget that other people expect coming out to be some kind of big production, so there often comes a day after i've known a person for a long time that i say something like "oh yeah, my ex-girlfriend blahblahblahblah..." and they're like, "OH MY GOD YOU LIKE THE LADIES?!"

aside from just being awkward, i always feel like a big jerk at times like that because i'm all like, "visibility is key, blahblablah," but obviously in some ways i'm really not visible at all.

then again, there are also people who automatically assume i only dig chicks after taking one glance at my rainbow necklace or what have you. so i really can't be responsible for all the crazy assumptions people are bound to make, right?

*shrug*...still, i'm working on it.

Posts: 108 | From: caaaaanada. ('cause we've got rocks and trees and trees and rocks...) | Registered: Jan 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
fallchild
Activist
Member # 28780

Icon 1 posted      Profile for fallchild         Edit/Delete Post 
My sexuality has been a source of frustration to me lately, not because I don't know what it is (I've been out as bisexual for two years), but because I'm tired of so many people having skewed ideas about bisexuality, and yes, being invisible. I'm COMPLETELY invisible as a bisexual person. Like Heather was saying, if I'm with a guy, I'm perceived to be straight no matter what. I'm engaged to my male partner, but I'm still a bisexual person. It just bothers me that people judge in the first place, but I don't think there's much I can do to change that.

My parents don't even "believe" that I'm bisexual yet. My step-father still says that I'm just confused because the female body is so much prettier than the male's (how's that for illogical) and that bisexuality isn't even a legit sexual orientation. He says gay people choose to be gay (except "the really manly women and the really girly men who just can't help it). When he said that it made me insanely angry. He has very rigid views about what is "male" and what is "female" and what is "homosexual" and what is "heterosexual." For example, when I was telling my mom about a girl I was interested in awhile ago (my mom is a little more open to this stuff), he overheard and said, "Now is she really bisexual or is she just pretending?" (meaning he thinks I'm doing it to get attention). He also says that because I've never been sexual with a girl I can't know for sure that I'm bisexual. To flip that around, he says I must be straight until I have sex with a female. I tried to explain to him that if that were true then people must have perceived him as gay until he slept with a female to prove his heterosexuality (or something like that. I don't understand his stupid logic). Sorry for the rant. I'm just TIRED of all the double-standards and just plain bi-phobia.

--------------------
"It's better to die on your feet than live down on your knees"

Posts: 117 | From: SLC, UT | Registered: May 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
I tried to explain to him that if that were true then people must have perceived him as gay until he slept with a female to prove his heterosexuality (or something like that. I don't understand his stupid logic).
Actually, for some men who are homophobic, or who were/are reared in homophobic communities that IS a common motivation to have sex with women, believe it or not. pretty scary, but than most effects of homophobia tend to be.

It sounds to me like any more argument or discussion with your step-father about this is simply a wasted effort on your part. Clearly, he's got some very deeply entrenched ideas about sexual orientation and gender, and clearly, it's very important to him to hold on to them and not have them challenged. I know that really, really stinks -- especially for a GLBT person living in a household where that kind of thing is present -- but sometimes it's less taxing and saps less of YOUR valuable energy just to accept a person like that probably isn't going to change. I tend to advise the very quiet approach, which is that when he or your mother brings the subject up, you simply answer with a "No sense in discussing this, we just don't agree," and drop it.

Too, though, you might want to talk more to your Mom about this and make clear that you could really use her support sometimes.

Sorry you're having to deal with this, fallchild.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Comic lass
Neophyte
Member # 37720

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Comic lass     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
i often find that i am invisible when i am with one of my friends simple because we are close we are seen as gay if she is a girl or straight if a man. when i am at one of my friends house's i am seen as gay simple just she is and when meeting her gay freinds or her mothers gay friends once they find out i am bi i am often talked down to by at lest one of them. and it really sucks. however when i am hanging out with one of y guy friends they are normal throwen for a loop if a girl catchs my eye. they just don't know how to take it. i move with in both groups and have been seen as confused or have even been told to pick a side, that i have to choose that being bi is just a fad. sone of my friends don't want their parents to know that i am bi because i might not be allowed to spend time with them if their parents knew, which fustrates me to no end. but i am comtable with who i am and who i love and what i am attrated to. i guess i am lucky like that.
Posts: 9 | From: vancouver | Registered: Mar 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

   Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Get the Whole Story! Go Home to SCARLETEEN: Sex Ed for the Real World | Privacy Statement

Copyright 1998, 2014 Heather Corinna/Scarleteen
Scarleteen.com: Providing comprehensive sex education online to teens and young adults worldwide since 1998

Information on this site is provided for educational purposes. It is not meant to and cannot substitute for advice or care provided by an in-person medical professional. The information contained herein is not meant to be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or for prescribing any medication. You should always consult your own healthcare provider if you have a health problem or medical condition.

Powered by UBB.classic™ 6.7.3