Disability and Bisexuality

Bisexuals have activism and exposure. and online forums and Facebook groups like “BiNet USA,”and in the UK [….]  magazines and e-zines like  ‘Biscuit’, magazines like  Bi Community News, and events like BiTopia BiCon  and bi media in general, work against the common erasure of bisexuality and the biphobia of media output of  “straight women” who cheat” or “cheating bisexuals”. Bi groups also have stalls at larger Pride events though not enough.  This enables bi activists to challenge stereotypes such as the idea that bisexuals have “passing privilege” or “straight Privilege” (the freedom to move between both the heterosexual and the bi/gay/straight worlds)

However the current  academic definition of bisexuality is ” the “capacity for attraction to your own and other genders” or the potential for attraction to “our own and other genders.”

For many of us , involvement with “our own and other genders” could mean we have had bi/bi relationships gay/bi partnerships or  relationships with trans, non binary , genderfluid or ace individuals as partners and so on plus a number of possibilities I have not listed.

Bisexuality, attraction to “two (or more) genders” often attracts the prejudice of the ‘greedy, indecisive or ‘confused’ bisexual” but such prejudice actually overlooks the fact that bi not only covers a range of possible attractions but overlooks the fact that many bisexual individuals will lack the attraction to certain other genders, certain orientations or particular personality types within the genders orientations we are attracted to due to prejudice, past experiences or other social or biological factors in our personal makeup including trauma*.  (*This is expressed in sexual politics as “the threat you pose overrides any possible attraction to you”)

There  are many survivors of sexual abuse who lack the capacity for attraction to a particular orientation or style of individual within that orientation and this is am issue often discussed by feminists and lesbians yet a distressing element of being  bi the “capacity for attraction to your own and other genders” (the common academic definition of bisexual)  is often read as meaning that bisexuals are necessarily attracted (or have the potential to be attracted to heterosexuals.  As with many gay or lesbian individuals  a bisexual person’s entire engagement with the world of hetero-sexuality may have been  abusive. It may have been so limited by circumstances such as cultural background, disability or religious prohibition or a social world in which attraction to anything but ‘the opposite sex’ was even discussed or deemed possible. And where homosexuality was mentioned but the world ‘bisexuality’ never crossed their path.

For many others the presence of straight men or women in their life is almost incidental based on the fact that they hadn’t found a word for their feelings or the style of their attractions before society started to stamp its assumptions and heteronormative cultural framework on their  life.

Many bi people who may have had little or no consensual heterosexual contact are read as straight in a world where norms and assumptions are framed by heteronormative and  monosexual assumptions that bisexuality means attraction to _two_ genders. The common bisexual erasure  that an apparently het couple are both straight may also be complicated by social assumptions around disability

Disabled and non-neurotypical men and women who are often assumed to be either straight or to have no sexuality (or too much!) may also be read as straight if their carers are straight and may be read as straight all their life because so little thought is given to the sexual preferences of disabled people.  They be subjected to hostility (monosexual biphobia) when in queer spaces and read as straight  and subjected to either biphobia or homophobia in straight spaces if their carer is *same sex* even if they are straight! (less commonly)

With  the exception of two brief and non-consummated consensual relationships between the age of 16 and 19 all my relationships and non consensual encounters have been with heterosexual men for complicated reasons that have very little to do with love, mutual attraction or consensual sex and far too much to do with notions of heteronormativity and a disablist ablebodied hegemony and a disabling society.

Any look at feminist blogs  a library  or the bookstore will tell you that  heterosexual  male privilege  can be difficult to shake off because they start with the assumption that any woman they fancy is a) straight and b) unlikely to say no. The assumption of straight can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.  It is a distressing element of being  bi that a “capacity for attraction to your own and other genders” (the common academic definition of bisexual)  is often read as meaning that bisexuals are attracted to heterosexual men.  In such a context ‘Passing privilege’ is NOT a privilege.  And even less so when if people who ID as gay or queer or bi are read as ‘not gay enough’ or people with straight _carers_ are being read as straight and subjected to biphobia and  confrontation on the basis of a _non- existent privilege and non existent relationships! .

The assumption that you are bi means you move between straight-gay orientations is as common incorrect assumption. Monosexual prejudice (gay/lesbian) is so prevalent that  people don’t take the time to ask or listen to bisexuals about what it means to them.  As with homophobia  biphobic people insert what they read in the press about assumed orientation based on  prejudice about a particular orientation is. For one thing many bi people have no preference at all for straight men or women: a bisexual may be bi and still have  never slept with a heterosexual person just as a gay person may well know they are gay long before they sleep with someone of the same gender.  I did not know I was bi when I was 18. I don’t know that I’d even heard the term. I DID know I was not a lesbian and I had worked out what it meant because of a regrettable homophobic incident at school. I had worked out that there were gay males. I hadn’t worked out there were other options and nor would I do so for another  15 years.


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