SS 265: Bi Invisibility & The Closet

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It’s no secret that in the pantheon of the LGBT spectrum, bisexual people are looked down upon, told they don’t really exist, avoided in dating life. Bisexuals also often feel less pressure to come out, as they can so easily pass as one side or the other. Paradoxically, this leads to bi invisibility and erasure, so we discuss, and make an attempt to deconstruct this in today’s episode of Life on the Swingset, along with Dr. Liz Powell, Mike Joseph, Cooper, and Dylan.

Today’s episode of Life on the Swingset is sponsored by Better Than the Hand, a website that aims to deconstruct stigma and toxicity surrounding male sexuality and masturbation through articles, blogs, toy reviews, and an online store. We’re also sponsored by Castle Megastore, a one stop shop with everything you could want, from wand vibrators, to harnesses, to lube and condoms, to a complete suite of BDSM equipment including sex furniture. If you use the promo code SWINGSET at check out you can save 20% on your order.

 

 
National Coming Out Day was a pretty big deal for Cooper this year. He discussed his reasons as coming out, specifically to his conservative family, as someone who has struggled with his sexuality and is still working through it, and why he chose not to identify to them as queer, even though he specifically identifies with queer.

The conversation moves to reasons why not to come out, whether because livelyhood may be jeopardized (as in Dr. Liz’s relaying of her experience of being in the army before Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was fully repealed), or child custody may be revoked, or any other reason to stay in the closet.

Mike posits that many people aren’t all open to themselves (as with straight identified men who still seek men), and mentions that even being the out partner in a gay couple has stress that comes with it.

The panel talks specifically about ways that people specifically disappear bisexuality, telling men who identify as bi that they are gay and they haven’t admitted it yet (bi now, gay later), or that bisexual people, because so much effort has been exerted to create the separate gay identity that having a bridge between those identities, muddy the waters.

To Dr. Liz, the conflict presents differently as women, that there’s a “penis phobia” that can exist so that bi women who have sex with men are tagged as higher risk because there is less transmission risk between women who only have sex with women. Dr. Liz also takes time to lament the fact that before she got her “super stereotypical queer haircut” everyone assumed she was straight, but now that she has it, everyone assumes she’s gay!

Mike brings up that at many events he attends, almost every woman identifies as bisexual even though most men identify as straight, even if they later identify as curious or fluid, and that it may be a holdover from the aids crisis in that if you identified as bi or gay you were automatically more likely to get infected. Dr. Liz adds that there’s a challenge to masculinity involved, and that men who identify as straight but still fuck men create a safe space to sexually express themselves without the stigma of challenging that masculinity, and that any question as to why that man may marry a woman even if he fucks men doesn’t get asked. Dylan brings up that many bi woman in monogamous relationships get the same challenge, and they get questions as to why they “even bother” identifying as bisexual if they’re marrying a man, because they’ll never get to do anything about their attraction to women. Dr. Liz mentions that bisexuals get misidentified sexually based on the genitals they’re interacting with as opposed to their actual preferences.

Dylan asks about the pansexual label, and whether people identifying as pansexual get to skip some of the bisexual stigma or confusion… but gets that thought dismissed as most people outside of the queer community would just not understand what it is. He follows up with a questions about whether bisexual men are seen as, as dangerous as bisexual women are to “the husbands” of straight women in monogamous relationships and… yes. Mike, as a queer man, has had his male friends told by their female partners not to hang out with them or has had his male friends’ sexuality questions because of their desire to be friends with him.

Cooper mentions that whenever you present an alternative to traditional heteronormative nonmonogamy to people who actively try not to look into and not think about it, that anyone with predispositions to something other than traditional heteronormative may show interest and that’s dangerous.

Dylan compares it to Doctor Who weeping angels and… pretty much stuns everyone into silence, and into a little bit of weeping.

After a break, Dr. Liz discusses ideas to help with bi erasure, whether thinking about the bi celebrities you know (and with say, Anna Paquin being bi but being identified as straight because she’s married to a man), and that when you meet someone you really only have one datapoint, and to stay open.

We talk about attraction, and how you don’t necessarily need to identify the way your attraction takes you, because it’s ok to explore fantasy, explore the juiciness of, and even still decide to act it out without identifying as your attraction.

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Leave us a comment on this post or at contact@lifeontheswingset.com or leave us a voicemail at 573-55-SWING (573-557-9464). Find Cooper on Twitter @CooperSBeckett, Dylan on Twitter @DylanTheThomas, and Ginger on twitter @GingerNTheProf.

You can Cooper’s novel about swinging, A Life Less Monogamous, at alifelessmonogamous.com or his memoir My Life on the Swingset: Adventures in Swinging & Polyamory at mylifeontheswingset.com as an ebook, paperback, or audiobook and if you buy them from his sites, use promo code SWINGSET to save 10%!

 

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Life on the Swingset

A podcast about swinging, polyamory, open relationships, and "the lifestyle" from the trenches. A diverse group tackles many issues involved with non-monogamy and what it means to be a swinger or polyamorous from the point of view of educating and illuminating what, for many, is a confusing journey to start on. Subscribe on iTunes Subscribe on Stitcher Subscribe via RSS

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