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.





I need you

28 02 2010

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nxq-wCf5G8o

Anyone who’s ever been in love would have used the words ‘I love you’ at some point of their campaign of persuasion. And most people over the age of four would have heard and understood the phrase at some point of their lives.  ‘I love you’ is possibly the most emotionally moving, courageous and meaningful thing anyone can say to another person and it takes precedence over any other claim that a lover especially, might make. ‘I love you’ has the power to remove all doubt, reaffirm one’s faith and even perhaps re-create feelings which might be fading away. ‘I love you’ is magical.

The words ‘I need you’ though, are not half as exciting and are not advertised half as often as ‘I love you’ in popular music and culture – implying as they do a more selfish wanting which is not necessarily a compliment. Unless of course you are of a masochistic turn of mind. And that’s the thing.

People leave relationships for all kinds of reasons. Discoveries of sexual incompatibility, differing life-agendas, infidelity and boredom are some of the common reasons one hears. (There are lots more of course, such as violence, mental trauma and other psychological issues which are more complex). Excessive neediness by one person however, is not really seen as a valid reason for the other to leave a relationship, possibly because it is not often very obvious and can take years to manifest itself to its true maximum potential of horror. Indeed, a person ditching someone for reasons of simple boredom might be astonished by the levels of uncontrolled insecure behaviour they could be forced to witness from a previously calm and stable individual. But how could we not know this about them? Is it an entirely new development in their character? Can we simply blame them and quietly sneak off or do we too have a responsibility for their condition? Why have we spent so many years with someone whose black hole of neediness is now driving us away? Can we honestly claim that we were not attracted to and turned on by this very need? Didn’t it appear to be sweetly vulnerable and didn’t it arouse all our most protective instincts – back then? Before it turned into this monster? Neediness could be the reason so many of us are in co-dependent relationships, that weirdly work if both parties are on the same page but not if one person decides to grow or change.

We all have needs, and these are mostly made manifest in our love relationships. And while we know that the failings of our childhood relationships with our parents almost always drive the flaws within the relationships we have as adults, it is interesting to observe how neediness works across all ages to different degrees. Since many of us have huge insecurities about ourselves, we seek to find the perfect partner. That is, one who will validate our lives, boost our egos and give us unconditional love. This is not easy. Some people spend their entire lives seeking their Soul Mate and most never find them. Most other people, gay or straight, settle for the closest thing and if this means compromising on attributes such as strength of character, will-power or critical analysis skills, then we are usually willing to do it. And some of us find our partner’s failings and flaws very attractive. Their fears, phobias and little white lies might be enchanting at first. In time however, the cost may be high and distressful.

In Sri Lanka as elsewhere, many straight relationships and marriages are founded on common interests, mutual benefit, social acceptance and family values. Gay relationships are not always so clearly defined and certainly do not have the public and private support systems that straight people can access. Sexual attraction is often a primary driving force and other factors may not be considered so important when falling in love, especially in a small queer community such as ours where choices are limited anyway. And neediness manifested appropriately can be the best means by which to attract lovers, especially in lesbian relationships. Many ‘fragile’ femme women’s maternal instincts are aroused by their ‘strong’ butch women’s need for mothering (which can lead to lasting relationships). However it could be that in crisis, the butch identified woman might completely lose the plot while the fragile femme might reveal herself to be the real Schwarzenegger of the two.

It is an interesting paradox. The very characteristics that many of us claim to aspire to and celebrate – independence, strength and unwillingness towards emotional manipulation, are not our most common experiences on the route to finding companionship and love. The refusal to use the weapon of need is rare. In reality the woman whose inner strength is too apparent could be so intimidating that few women and fewer men, would dare approach.

Where lies the difference between one person’s desire for honest intimacy and the other’s desire simply to possess?





If you love somebody…

18 10 2009

“If you want to keep something precious

You got to lock it up and throw away the key

If you want to hold onto your possession

Don’t even think about me…”

“If you love somebody, set them free”

Sting  (Dream of the blue turtles 1985)

You’ve heard the rest of the track. And you certainly know the end of that quote.

I believe in freedom, independence and giving people the power to choose. I also understand that freedom, independence and the power to choose are all huge concepts and in practice they are necessarily limited by numerous factors – colour, race, religion, income, social rank, geography, environment, genes and personal history. But I still believe that there is a gap between the degree of freedom each of us could have and what we actually dare to embrace. And maybe more importantly – a very clear limit on how much freedom we are willing to give other people in our lives.

By freedom I mean personal space, physical space, an absence of suspicion, jealousy, insecurity and all the anxious and controlling behaviors that seem so common in love relationships. People often seem to require constant attention, interaction and incessant reassuring communication while demanding conformity to accepted norms of behavior. We have a need to change the other person ‘to fit’. Even worse, the absence of this sort of possessive control in one person is often perceived as lack of care by the other.

There are clear boundary lines drawn on every interaction, acceptable opinions, fashion, eating habits and life style. And so partners in both gay and straight relationships often seem to end up with identical political views, religious convictions and sense of humor. Is it why they are together in the first place? Is it just more convenient that way? Or did it all come on over time…as part of that relentless melting of one personality into another that inevitably takes place in most relationships?

People make compromises in life for many reasons, especially when they marry or enter a relationship, however superficial. Reasonable compromise is necessary to maintain any relationship, a sort of oil in the gears – assuming the other factors such as sexual compatibility and affection are already present. But how do we decide what’s worth giving up? Do we gradually become conservative from being a liberal? Do we change our religion – become born again or buddhist? Turn vegetarian? Stop wearing short skirts? Give up our friends? Stop talking to ex-lovers? Change jobs? Get pregnant? Stop working? Move in with the in-laws? Or visit them every Sunday? Do we stop eating sushi? Give away the dog? Start wearing make-up?

Do we chuck our Celine Dion CD’s? Lose weight? Stop reading? Stop smoking? Colour our hair?

What do we have to do and how much are we willing to give up in order to keep that special someone in our otherwise lonely lives?

Someone always gives up something and too often it is a one-sided stream of sacrifice by women on behalf of their men. Observe the patient girlfriends at rugby matches, wandering around car sales or watching league football on tv? Is that ‘sharing’? Or ‘pleasing’? And are the men ‘letting’ them have their little entertainments…girl’s nights out or the spa on Sunday morning?

On the other hand are most women just filling in the time till the right man comes along with Saturday plans for the car sale, rugby and footie? And is the real unseen exchange the Child that virtually every woman seems to need and desire so passionately? In exchange for which the men get an uncomplaining wife and the power to rule unchallenged, as long as they continue to protect and provide?

These quiet manipulations are not necessarily gender biased or dependent on sexual orientation. Queer relationships are often very emotionally manipulative and controlled too. Everyone does it to everyone else all the time to different degrees and in different ways. And often the personality that gets swamped is quite happy to be that way – passive, accepting of guidance and the state of benevolent dictatorship that guarantees the comfort of the relationship. It removes responsibility and the need to make decisions. Often it guarantees that one person (usually the woman) need never have to work for a living again. It takes away the need to think for oneself. It fits into and wins approval from society. And so, in exchange for uncritical support you get a socially acceptable, comparatively peaceful life.

But why can’t we arrive at the same place while accepting or even insisting on our own and the other person’s right to be independent? Surely this is something to aspire to? How can we become fully developed personalities if we get sidetracked on the way by the desperation of our need for love, sex, social acceptance, escape from parental control, maternity or companionship? None of which are available without the accompanying sacrifice of a degree of our thinking selves? How do we become accomplished writers, artists, scientists or musicians – or even simply free-thinking individuals, if we have taken this smooth path to hell?

The alternative is terribly difficult. It requires constant effort to find a balance between necessary compromise and independence of spirit. It is hard work to defend one’s beliefs if your partner does not always agree. The battle for freedom to live in the way that makes you happy can often be fatal to the relationship itself. But this is surely one of the finest efforts in life? If one has the slightest interest in personal development, surely this is the place to start? Neither to bully nor go under but to find a way to live with someone else as two individuals together, different but equal.