What does Pride mean to you?

30 08 2010





A bi-vangelical moment

24 08 2010

GUEST WRITER – the Fencesitter

I’m fed up now. Everyone is talking the queer talk, but when the chips are down our lesbian sisters are just not walking the walk and keeping it cool with their bi-sisters . I want to be down with my dyke lovers, partners, sisters and friends,  and be part of their cuddly queer family. I am, after all, the very essence of queer. I love both women and men – sometimes at the same time, sometimes one at a time. I blur the boundaries of gay/straight and confuse my partners, lovers, friends, parents and child.

I’m not one thing or another. I’m bisexual.

I have tried being straight and being a dyke. It would be cleaner and easier for people to digest. But it’s not me. And anyhow I thought that’s what we were all meant to do? Rise up, love ourselves for who we are and stand proud?

So why do we bisexual women throw such a spanner in the works of the queer community, especially for dykes? Why do they get so furious with us? Why is it hard to just let us be? We do really, really love you (you do know that, don’t you?).  It’s just that we can love and have sex with men also.

It’s like, just when you think you have found some friends, they bloody attack you on the basis that you are NOT enough like them. I’ve actually been refused entry to queer clubs because scary butch bouncers asked me if I was a dyke and I told the truth. Where’s the community in that?

I mean, I get all the stuff about protecting lesbian space and identity. I understand. It’s an identity that needs as much support as it can get. But is blocking out the ‘fencesitters’ the way to go? (And I know we are not meant to mention it, but I know quite a few of my dyke sisters who like a bit of ‘male on them’ action now and then…)

So here in my bi-sermon is a non-exhaustive list of all the comments on my sexuality I have received – and my translation of those comments back into how they might sound delivered to a lesbian sister. Fellow bi-women, please print these off and laminate them for use in the war at the frontier of control on our sexuality – as the spit begins to fly off the moral high ground you can just keep wiping it away and read back these answers to the shit we have to deal with. It will save energy and head space that can be used for more interesting topics.

What I’ve had said to me by dykes:

It’s just a phase – you’ll grow up to be a lesbian

Response:

It’s just a phase, you’ll grow up to be straight or if you are really lucky, bi

What I’ve had said to me by dykes:

You are confused

Response:

You are confused

What I’ve had said to me by dykes:

You have not met the right woman yet

Response:

You need some real cock to sort you out

What I’ve had said to me by dykes:

You don’t know what you want

Response:

Ditto

What I’ve had said to me by dykes:

You are not really bisexual – you are so good in bed and really turn me on

Response:

(Blush and small giggle – we’ll let that one go)

What I’ve had said to me by dykes:

You’ll leave me for a man

Response:

You’ll leave me for a woman

What I’ve had said to me by dykes:

How do you know what to do in bed?

Response:

Whatever

What I’ve had said to me by dykes:

You are a fence-sitter

Response:

I’ve got a good view from up here

What I’ve had said to me by dykes:

You want to have your cake and eat it

Response:

Why not?

I hope these handy frequently uttered insults and handy responses prove useful. After all, when people tell me that being bi means never being short of a date, I just smile. Because I know that being bi means my quality standards can be so much higher than either straight or gay can manage – because I’ve got so much more choice. Come on over to our side. The sun is out and we don’t care who you sleep with.





How to own a leopard

22 08 2010

Why do people take photographs?

I mean it. Do we know why we keep taking photographs? Everywhere we go, whatever the event or circumstance, someone will produce a camera, usually one of those tiny ones the size of a matchbox that shoots immensely high resolution images that can reproduce at hoarding sizes, and start clicking.

There is hardly any place left in the world where photography is inappropriate, except perhaps some far northern states of india where extremely photogenic tribeswomen walk around in brilliantly coloured saris – any photographer’s dream shot, especially those with visions of national geographic wallpaper floating before their eyes. These women however have stern and fixed ideas on the matter of having their picture taken by every passing tourist and you will be roundly cursed in hindi every time you point your camera at one of them.

I like this.

I like the fact that there is still a no go zone or two left in the world where cameras and photographers are not welcome. On a recent visit to a wildlife park I realized that there exists in many an amateur photographer’s mind, a sort of hierarchy of wildlife in which the leopard undoubtedly reigns supreme, closely followed by the elephant, crocodile and bear. All the other animals of the park come a poor third, while the birds hardly register at all, (unless you are one of those peculiar people who actually prefer birds to leopards and walk around with a bird book in hand trying to identify each one.) Birdwatching has its own set of rules and hierarchies, and some birds give you extra points when reported later over dinner, especially the rare or colorful ones.

So the creatures of the wild are now reduced to popular photographs with no value beyond show and tell. Observe the jeeps, vans and buses full of yelling sightseers that career over the dirt tracks of yala in pursuit of some poor animal who is then surrounded and photographed by twenty five people at once, all using high end cameras worth shitloads of money which couldn’t take a bad shot if you tried.

People take photographs to ‘capture’ a moment, a place, a face or action. These are then framed and kept as memories. Most pictures aren’t worth anything unless they are shared. This means that every picture is something we plan to show/share, even before we click. But what really happens is that you start to lose the reality of the moment, the place and the face. Everything is seen through the lens and our desire to possess the picture becomes greater than our pleasure in the subject.

The world around us is astounding. It keeps changing and no one can ever possess the smallest fraction of it. The next time you go to yala, leave your camera behind.





What do you do when you arrive as an NGO?

20 08 2010

Spreading like a disease and very difficult to stop, this “NGOisation”. It starts insidiously with funders demanding registration of companies, progress reports, and audited accounts. And before you know it, you have been NGOised. Not that those processes are bad or evil in and of themselves. Money sent for specific groups must be accounted for. But if you don’t watch it, suddenly you are spending more time in AC rooms, writing up progress reports, and going to exotic countries to network with a clique of people who can vouch for each other when funding orgs try to decide who to give money to. Every new call for funding proposals is seen with lit eyes that can’t look away. Staff is chosen with their communication and networking potential in mind. Collective sighs are heaved about how the constituents we serve are not aware of what they really need. Secret mutterings can be heard of how little commitment ‘”our people” have and how difficult to get them to come for anything if we don’t offer money. And the bigger your organisation becomes, the more entrenched and ensnared you are in these coils, mindlessly deciding which community organisation deserves attention or which can die a neglected financial death. And suddenly you look around you and wonder where that inspired individual wanting to “make a change” has vanished. How does one keep from losing sight of the initial dream of a small organisation doing work that can be felt in your bones?





Rage

17 08 2010

when i cannot speak
cannot walk
cannot go here go there
do this do that

when i’m not permitted
forbidden from
accompanied fed
and ordered to

when i am not heard
not seen
not known nor listened to
told what’s what

when i put up
shut up
and cannot get up
or stand up

when I am put down
pulled up
pushed forward
and sent home

its for my own good
after all.





Would you get married if you could?

15 08 2010

I have always doubted the whole institution of marriage. My parents had a terrible one. My mother married young and it just killed her spirit. They separated after about 7 years and divorced sometime later. My grandparents, as far as I remember, were happily married although my grandfather once told me, rather morosely, he gave up ballroom dancing because his wife didn’t like it….he still wanted to dance…but that’s beside the point.

What I am talking about here is good marriages, based on trust and faith in today’s context….in the age of the internet and online sex. A marriage in which people are together because they want to be with each other and that alone keeps them together. Not children, not a shared bank account, not the lack of finances and not your families. Just you and the other person, wanting to be together.

I haven’t seen too many couples around me who are truly happily married in this fashion. That’s not to say there aren’t any. It’s just that I haven’t seen too many.

So in the West, when lesbians and gay men started wanting to get married, and advocating for the same rights as straight people, I looked on with scepticism and doubt. I kept wondering “Why should we want to ape what straight people have, why replicate an institution that has failed in our current context.

Why can’t we try and create something different?”

We often spoke of this among friends. Many gay people I know have migrated to the West from Sri Lanka and the rest of the sub continent, because they can’t be themselves in their home countries. Some went as asylum seekers, some migrated legally to work, most just went as students and found ways – legal or otherwise, to stay on. Some have obtained citizenship overseas and are thinking of gay marriage as well. But that’s because in some countries, lesbians and gay men can get married. Canada is one such country – full of Sri Lankan immigrants! In Europe, the Netherlands, Sweden, Iceland, and Norway are a few. I think there are others including Belgium and Spain. In the UK, same sex couples can enter into a civil partnership. Some states in the US also have this system of Civil Union or partnerships. However a marriage and a Civil Partnership are not the same. Far from it.

For example, in a marriage, the relationship is recognized across cultures, countries and religions. Although I marry in Anuradhapura, it would be accepted and recognized in Afghanistan. Not so for a civil partnership. That would be recognized only in the country where it was performed. Worse still -if, as a Sri Lankan, I chose to marry an Australian, we would be able to choose to live either in Sri Lanka or in Australia. Not so for a gay couple. Gay couples being forced to separate because of immigration regulations are more common that we realize. (I believe there was a film made on this subject as well!)

There are loads of other benefits that married people have that the rest don’t. Getting a bank loan together in joint names is another. Or a joint insurance policy, Or a joint club membership. People who aren’t married, can’t do these things together.

So I find myself now advocating for rights to marriage  – for those who want it, that is. It should be equally accessible to gay people as it is to straight folk. I think civil partnerships are a poor replacement, but better than nothing at all and far better than being considered criminals in your own country!





Vasopressin shots for ALL lesbians, please!

13 08 2010

I am a little put out. I was reading up on this Casanova gene: the VASOPRESSIN RECEPTOR GENE. Yep. You don’t know what that is? These Casanova dykes are hiding it. That’s why you never heard of it. Here’s what it is: a vasopressin receptor is a cell surface receptor which binds vasopressin, which is a peptide hormone that controls the reabsorption of molecules in the tubules of the kidneys by affecting the tissue’s permeability and affects the central nervous system in such a way that it initiates and sustains activity supporting pair-bonds between sexual partners. Righti-ho.

Translated, it means the vasowhatever is a gene which makes you either stay faithful or fuck around. Men may be influenced by it and voles definitely have it (sounds absolutely perfect, that vole-male connection). Lady voles, on the other hand, have Oxytocin (fondly called OT by scientists) that make them prone to such things as staying with their first love and looking after everyone (i.e. men and babies).

But we need research to be absolutely sure that we humans have it too. So some committed scientists have patiently got hold of a number of Swiss men, unravelled their DNA, asked them and their wives/girlfriends questions like “How often do you kiss your mate?” and “Have you discussed a divorce or separation with a close friend?” and voilà! Link found between the vasowhatever and human stable long-term relationships (as in over 5 years). That’s us baby, humans.

My non-lizzy sisters. Now you know. You thought it was some woman’s short skirt and the famed 64 seduction techniques, but you don’t have to blame it on your fellow women anymore. Neither do you have to castigate yourself for his straying. Some of these poor things have the short end of the gene and it makes them absolutely need to have sex with someone nice that they see. (If you are already with one of them, don’t worry, I think an antidote is being developed).

And this is when it started smelling fishy. For my lesbean self, that is.

Lizzy sisters. Some honesty is in order here. That dyke you said can’t stay with someone for more than a year? And that really hot woman who just had to hit the dance floor to pull a girl (in a straight nightclub, for fuck’s sake!)? What about the lizzy friend you caught making eyes at your girl? Obviously there is a place I can get these vasowhatever shots in our community. Put ‘em on the table, girls! Not fair.