Given the society that we live in, we’re basically all always going to have things to unpack when it comes to gender and sexuality. I’m no different. Happy Pride <3  

Follow Heron on twitter @herong  

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A transcript for this episode is below…

Callie: [00:00:00] Hey friends, important Life Update. Thanks to a recent uptick in patreon support,  I’ve figured out that I can get the bills paid between patreon and rideshare driving a few nights a week. I want to thank you so so much for this. Telling these stories is almost sure to be what I look back on as my life’s work and it means a lot to me that you’ve chosen to support me to that end.

I can’t say there’s no chance. I’ll take a job opportunity if it presents itself. The stability, the health insurance, and so on that would come with full time employment is something I may not be able to turn down if that opportunity presents itself, but for now Celes and I are doing okay, and we have you to thank for that I want to keep building this thing to where I can treat it as my full-time job, so if you want to help out check out, and if that’s not something you’re able to do, even a share of this episode would be a big, big help. Most people find new podcasts through the recommendations of their friends, and your recommendation can go a long long way toward helping this thing grow.

Thank you so much for the patreon support the supportive messages you all send, and thanks for just believing that it’s necessary to tell these stories. I love you. 

My name is Callie Wright, and this is Queersplaining.

When I came out as trans, my sexual and romantic attractions were kind of an afterthought. Figuring out gender stuff, and all of the trappings of that-  how it would affect my life, hormones, surgeries, name change, social status, all of that stuff. That was all so big and at the tail end of that a friend asked me… “Hey, so does that mean you’re a lesbian now?” And I’d literally not considered that question at all, up to that point. I’d never found myself attracted to men. I was still at the very very beginning of understanding that gender wasn’t a binary, so I hadn’t considered that part of it either. So my train of thought went, when I was asked that question, “well, I’m a woman who seems to be attracted exclusively to other women, so yeah, I guess that makes me a lesbian.”

 And then I went to the movies. 

The movie version of the book The Giver had just come out. The Giver was one of my favorite books as a kid. So I was really stoked. Alexander Skarsgard played the main character’s father.

And I remember the first time he showed up on screen. The first thought I had was “holy shit. He is hot.” The second thought I had was “wow. That’s a new !Feeling” I didn’t interrogate it too deeply at the time because I was to embedded in my own gender feels to think too deeply about my attractions, and what label, if any, made sense to use. But every once in a while, I would think back to that moment.

At least for now, I’m pretty settled in in terms of my own identity as a woman. And I’ve been giving some thought more to how I relate to other people and the words they use to describe that, and then I saw a Facebook post from a friend. 

Heron: [00:02:55] my name is Heron Greenesmith. I am a volunteer policy attorney for the bisexual movement and communities. By day

I… What do I do? I am a senior policy researcher, no, I’m a senior research analyst for Political Research Associates, where I monitor the anti-LGBT right both here in the US and abroad. 

Callie: [00:03:25] So Heron created this survey to give to people at workshops they give about bisexuality. I read some of the questions and it got me thinking. So I invited them on the show to administer their survey to me and see where things end up. 

Heron: [00:03:43] So. We all know that biphobia exists, and one of the biggest impacts of biphobia and bias against bi people, both from straight folks and from gay and lesbian people, is that people might be reluctant to identify as bisexual. Even if they are non-monosexual in the sense that they have experienced or have the potential to experience attraction to more than one gender. And I have had so many conversations with people who have either started by asking me why I identify as bisexual, having a long-term a partner of a different gender than myself. Or conversations with people who have said to me in whispers in hallways or in the back of cabs. “Oh I once kissed someone of the same gender or of a different gender, but I would never identify as bisexual.”

And it’s taken me a good 10 years to figure out a great format for how to help that person interrogate how their personal internalized biphobia may be impacting their own feelings about their potential for attraction to more than one gender, and then potentially more importantly how their own internalized biphobia might be impacting their ability to truly advocate for all of our community, including bisexual and pansexual people. And I’m referring specifically obviously to members of LGBT advocacy communities but broader communities too

I think it’s important that we all understand where our biases are impacting our work. So that’s where this questionnaire started. Are you ready? 

Alright, here’s number one. Callie, why don’t you identify as bisexual? 

Callie: [00:05:51] I think the main reason that I’ve hesitated to attach any label to my sexuality other than queer, including bisexuality, is that I don’t feel like I’ve been able to nail down any anything super specific aside from the fact that I am not heterosexual.

So, queer is the word that seems to fit the best for expediency’s sake. Depending on the audience, sometimes I will just call myself gay or lesbian, because the average person knows what that word means and for some people the word queer is very loaded. And a lot of people don’t realize that that’s something that the community has sort of largely taken back and started owning.

If I’m in an environment where I feel like that could be misunderstood or taken the wrong way. I usually just use the word gay or lesbian to describe myself for expediency’s sake, but in terms of thinking about my own identity, the only thing that I can nail down for sure is that I’m not heterosexual. And part of the reason that I wanted to have this conversation is that there’s been this creeping sense of that bothering me a little bit. In the same way that defining myself primarily as an atheist bothers me because you’re defining yourself as something you’re not, right?

You’re not saying “I am this thing” you’re broadcasting “I’m not this thing.” I’m identifying myself in opposition to the default as opposed to just what I actually am. And it’s not that that’s not useful. Because we do live in a society where heterosexuality is seen as the default. And I mean most people are heterosexual when you you know, boil things down. But obviously we don’t live in a society where we can talk about those things without the context of that being “normal” therefore okay. 

And so just doing that has bothered me a little bit and I’ve been thinking like “I really should maybe try to nail down something that I can actually call myself that’s not just in opposition to the default and and actually figure out like who I am as opposed to who I’m not.”

Heron: [00:08:00] It’s interesting that you say that most people are heterosexual, and I wonder how you will feel after a couple more questions and a look at Robin Ochs’ definition of bisexuality if you will still stand by that statement.

 Question 2: Callie, have you ever in any way, sexually, aesthetically, romantically, or emotionally, found any member of a different gender attractive? 

Callie: [00:08:28] Yes, and actually a bookend to question one that kind of dovetails into this, is that part of the reason that I have hesitated to use a label like bisexual or pansexual is because the way that the language that we are used to using around around attraction doesn’t usually distinguish between romantic and sexual attraction.

 And if I describe my romantic and sexual attractions, they are not congruent with one another, and that’s another part of part of that reason. And so the answer to question 2 is definitely yes.

It’s a little bit more complicated in that like, there have definitely been people that are like, “I really want to snuggle and emotionally connect with you romantically, but I don’t know that I’m interested in you sexually” or there have definitely been people that are like “you are hot and I would love to do things with you sexually but I definitely couldn’t see myself being in any sort of emotional or romantic relationship aside from just being a friend.”

And, and so yeah, definitely yes to question 2. 

Heron: [00:09:32] Question 3: Callie, have you ever in any way, sexually, aesthetically, romantically, or emotionally found any member of a similar gender attractive? 

Callie: [00:09:44] Yes, definitely. I am a trans woman who is married to a trans woman, so… I mean and primarily my attractions, both romantic and sexual, are to women and people whose presentation sort of codes towards feminine, but, but yeah, definitely. 

Heron: [00:10:03] All right question 4: Callie, have you ever in any way, sexually, aesthetically, romantically, or emotionally, found a non-binary or agender person attractive. 

Callie: [00:10:15] Yes, most definitely, and again sort of bookending back to question one…  Is that like a way that I have always understood the difference, for example… And please tell me if I’m misunderstanding this but, the way that it’s been explained to me is that one of the differences between the label bisexual and pansexual is like how important gender is in the attraction. And I have found that I do find certain… I’ve seen people who are who are making an obvious effort to promote more androgynously, and again, like that’s such a squicky word because again, we’re like defining things by societal standards, but I think you know what I mean. Like people who are definitely trying to sort of bridge the gap between like stereotypically masculine and stereotypically feminine presentation. I have found folks like that attractive and specifically for those reasons as well. So definitely, yes. 

Heron: [00:11:15] Before we go on to the last question, I’m going to read you. Robin Ochs’ definition of bisexuality. For folks who may not know Robin, she is one of the mothers of the bisexual movement. She’s been out for decades.

She leads the Boston Bisexual Women’s Network in Boston, and has also for decades, Boston has one of the oldest flourishing by communities in the country. She is also the editor of the Bi Women’s Quarterly, which is the only bi wome’sn newsletter in the whole world and I recommend everyone to sign up. It’s a free subscription, and it comes out quarterly that’s. Bi Women Quarterly, It’s on Twitter, It’s on Facebook, It’s on line and I write for by women’s quarterly. It’s amazing. 

The issue that just came out was, I think it was a like, beyond binaries issue. I can check in a second to see. So Robin identifies as bisexual and pansexual, and she goes across the country training folks, mostly college students, on bisexuality and queerness and she has a definition that has become super important to a lot of the bi community.

Here it is.

“I call myself bisexual because I acknowledge that I have in myself the potential to be attracted romantically and or sexually to people of more than one sex and/or gender. Not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree.”

 Does this change your thoughts on bisexuality?

Callie: [00:12:52] It does, because if we’re using that definition that definitely fits for me. You know, and this is something that I have been thinking about ever since I saw that post and asked you to join me for this episode. Because I am fully aware that I have internalized phobias to deal with, and I feel like I have, I’ve spent a lot of time interrogating my internalized transphobia, my internalized misogyny, my internalized transmisogyny…

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking through those things and that’s, I’ve made a lot of personal progress as a result of interrogating those things. Which is why I’m like… I’m comfortable having short hair even though that’s not something that women are quote unquote supposed to have or you know, wearing like, band t-shirts and jeans instead of dresses. And like I don’t always have to have my nails painted and all of that sort of stuff.

 And I feel like a lot of that is a result of unpacking all of those really unhealthy ideas around femininity and womanhood and gender specifically. And I’ve been thinking a lot about that and thinking why have I been so hesitant to apply this label to myself. Because it’s definitely not the first time I’ve been exposed to the idea that the definition of bisexual is not “I’m attracted to men and women both because those are the only two genders” you know what I mean?

 Like. there are a lot of people who think that’s what bisexuality is and this is obviously not the first… Like I’m deeply connected enough to folks who are bisexual to know that’s not what most people who identify as bisexual mean when they say that. But I think there might be.. Just because for so long I thought that’s what that was, right? 

When I was not really involved in queer politicking or anything like that, most people who were bisexual in my experience were like, people that I went to high school with that were girls that made out with other girls occasionally, and that was bisexual.

 Even though I could pay lip service to the idea of like “well, that’s not what that actually means.” I do think there was that embedded sense in my brain that like on some level that’s what that is. And that’s not me, so that label doesn’t apply to me. And I also think that it comes back to some kind of black and white and binary thinking 

The idea that, one of the criticisms and the pushbacks that so many bi people face is that they’re confused and like “you have to pick a side” or like, you know, “if you’re a bi woman and you marry a man, then you’re not bi any more, you have therefore chosen a side” and I know all of that is not true. But if I really examine my thinking I think there was some of that subconscious ideation going on around those ideas.

And that like if I say, “I’m gay” if I say “I’m lesbian,” that’s making a definitive statement, and I am owning my queerness more when I say that, than if I say I was bisexual. And when I say that out loud, it makes me feel really really gross that that’s how I was thinking. But if I’m really truly honest about the way that I was thinking, honestly, I think that’s probably what it is.

Heron: [00:16:01] In what you’re saying, I hear myself resonated, and I hear all those people from those conversations  whispered in halls, and in the back of cabs, also reflecting the same thing. I have a couple thoughts that I’ll go for a second back to those girls in high school who made out with other girls, and I will encourage you to think of that as one really important facet of bisexuality. 

It’s been a journey for me to come from… I came out in college and I think that I experienced my own internal thoughts as kind of, I wouldn’t call myself a LUG,  like a Lesbian Until Graduation, because I wasn’t dating women.

But on some level, I felt very much like what I was doing was performative. And it has only been through conversation with amazing bi folks, and through my own internal processes, that I’ve been able to understand that, you know, first of all, on some level, all sex is performative, whether it’s performing for yourself or performing for others or performing for heteronormativity for safety or performing for you know, your own wonderful Comfort or pleasure.

All sex is performative and and that is not a condemnation of it. And secondly, that It is absolutely okay for your sexual orientation and your attraction to go through periods of fluidity in your life. 

And then thirdly, I have realized that the ways in which we condemn the fluidity or the the seeming fluidity of bisexuality, we Praise In other sexual orientations.

So, for example, if someone, for example, slept around a lot in college, but only with a particular gender and then settled down afterwards that’s considered a natural part of life. But because the gender remained consistent across that period, we don’t condemn those people. Likewise, if someone doesn’t have any sex with anyone for a certain period and then either maintains, you know, resumes sexual activity or for the first time initiates sexual activity, that is also considered a natural part of that person’s life. 

Either that person was what we call like, a Virgin. But while that person was what we call a virgin, they still could have asserted a sexual orientation, be it straight or gay and it was never questioned regardless of the lack of sexual activity.

So, Lesbian Until Graduation has the same hallmarks of that fluidity, but because the only thing that’s different is the gender change, then, that is considered a sign of confusion, as you say. And that, to me, directs our criticism at the person’s sexual orientation, not the actual behavior. Because if it was the actual behavior, then people who slept around with tons of folks in college and then settle down would be condemned as much as LUGs and bi folks. And people who were what we call virgins, and then decided to resume or initiate sexual activity, would be condemned as much as we condemn LUGs. But it’s not, it’s just the gender change.

So that’s my small plug, LUGs are amazing. If you were a lesbian till graduation, I love you, and you are a part of my bi community.

 This first thing I’ll bring in, the, the big thing is the facets of sexual orientation as examined by social scientists. So, when people servey sexual orientation, or take data, Ask people about their sexual orientation, they look at three factors. 

They look at how the person identifies. That is what label they use. And what label they choose at the time relies entirely upon what choices they’re given in the survey. 

The second facet is behavior. And again the choices that someone has in front of them are just the choices in the survey. I’ll get back to that in a second.

 And then the third is attraction. So, who you are, who you sleep with, and who you think about.

 Going back to the choices on the survey and how deeply they impact our data on bisexuality and queerness. If a survey asks you how you identify, and it’s options are straight, gay, or lesbian, and bisexual, which one would you choose Callie? 

Callie: [00:21:07] The answer before and after this podcast I think will be different (laughs)

Heron: [00:21:11] okay! What would you do right now in this moment just for sake of this. 

Callie: [00:21:14] Right now, in this moment, I think bisexual is what I would choose. 

Heron: [00:21:17] Okay, and if it offered you straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and queer, what would you choose right now?

Callie: [00:21:30] Right now, I think I would go with bisexual again. I think, I think previous to this it would have been queer, for sure. 

Heron: [00:21:37] cool, and then if it chose, if it offered you straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or other, what would you choose? 

Callie: [00:21:45] I think right now it would be, it would be bisexual. I don’t think there would have been any point at which I would have chosen “other” out of those options.

Heron: [00:21:52] And the final one is just straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or pansexual. 

Callie: [00:22:01] I would say bisexual again. 

Heron: [00:22:03] Okay, so, that was just to illustrate that it really really matters how surveys are constructed. And I’m often asked, through my work, you know, “what do you recommend for survey construction?” And I have kind of changed from recommending specific questions, to instead recommending internal consistency across data. Because while I think it is important that we have a “best question” certainly, the second best and maybe more important result would be to have data that we can compare across data sets.

And one of the most important data sets right now is the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Because it’s asked across many states, and has enormous amounts of data. So I strongly recommend that folks use the LGBT optional modules in the youth risk behavior survey to ask their sexual orientation identification questions.

Another reason why data is important is because… I’m sure you can imagine when a survey asks a series of questions and the options for non monosexual people are broken up, non monosexual people themselves are divided. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We can talk about it more, but some people identify as pan some people identify as bi they’re all amazing and beautiful and they’re all part of my big non monosexual community.

But when a survey is asking people “are you straight?” “Are you gay or lesbian?” And then a bunch of different options that non monosexual people, or people thinking about their sexual orientation in more complex ways could answer… Then what we get is data on straight people, data on gay and lesbian people, and then a bunch of data that may show things about non monosexual people but is really hard to aggregate because we don’t know who is what, and who answered what and why.

Callie: [00:24:05] Right because each person’s definition is going to be slightly different and so it’s tough to get meaningful data from that. 

Heron: [00:24:11] Exactly, and you’ve diluted the community that would have potentially all answered, for example, bi or pan or queer if there had only been one answer. And I can’t give a solution to this problem. I don’t have a solution.

I think this is why I also go back to saying “use questions that are already in use” because it gives me an out. I don’t need to like answer the question exactly. I just say, oh just use the YRBS question, which I think is gay, uhh, straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and other. And of course the ace Erasure in these questions is just absolutely intense that there’s no place for folks to put their who are asexual in there.

Callie: [00:24:55] Well right and bringing that in, part of the confusion for me recently, you know, I mentioned earlier that part of the reason that I have hesitated to ascribe a label is that there is definitely a clear separation between the way that I experience romantic attraction and the way that I experience sexual attraction. For really complicated reasons that are an entirely new podcast episode, sexual attraction and sexual desire for me are like really, really, really in flux at the moment.

But romantic attraction and romantic feelings are still, you know, full-on and the way those feelings are directed are very very different from one another. And as a society, I feel like, broadly a thing that the queer Community is aware of, is that romantic and sexual attractions are different from one another and not necessarily congruent.

But as a society, I think we have only really not even really scratched the surface of that conversation. And that’s another reason why you know, hitherto I have hesitated to ascribe a label because those things are so different for me. 

Heron: [00:26:05] Yeah, like there’s those I’m trying to look them up in my phone right now.

There’s those Latin words for love that are that are more distinct, right? There’s Agape. There’s Philia. I’m looking them up now, so I don’t make a fool of myself, but in English, we have one word for love and that’s the same word we use between partners and between children. I have a daughter now and it is very strange for me to tell her that I love her, and then use the same word for my partner when the feelings are so radically different.

 And likewise the words for my friends. You know, I love my friends as much, meaning as deeply as, I love my daughter. But if my friends and my daughter were in a fire. I would save my daughter because I have a different obligation built out of love for her. 

And okay here they are. Agape is the highest form of love or charity, the love of God for man, and for men of God for God. And then the other word is philia, which is friendship or attraction. Eros is romantic love. And then Storge is familiar love. So there are four Latin words for the different kinds of Love, even below the I just described, you know your love for God, your love for family, your love for, well, sex, and brotherly love.

 And so it makes sense that we struggle with being able to, in English to articulate the difference between romantic and sexual attraction. 

The second measure is behavior, which is you know, like whom have you had sex with, depending on the definition of sex in the survey, and you would be unsurprised to know that there are far more folks who report having had sexual contact with more than one gender than people who identify as bisexual or pansexual or otherwise non monosexual.

In the Youth Risk Behavior Survey going back to that, the options are like, boys or girls (laughs) which obviously deeply limits data collection and especially for youth right now who like magnitudes more are identifying as bi, not to mention are talking about having had sexual contact with more than one gender.

And tons of folks, tons of youth are coming out as agender or non-binary or otherwise trans, that is, different from the gender they were assigned at Birth. So we’re missing enormous swaths of behavior and attraction there that are probably really important for us to understand.

 And I want to add here that among bisexual folks, there are distinct and overlapping disparities. Both for people, including youth, who identify as bisexual and adults, and youth who don’t identify as bisexual.. Or do identify as bisexual, but report having had sexual contact with more than one gender. 

So the disparities that come with being bi are not just based on biphobia, that is, based on someone coming out as bi and facing bias and harassment and discrimination.They’re also based on someone having sexual contact with more than one gender. And I don’t think we have good enough data to understand whether that is because they face bias for being out about their sexual behavior, or because… What I think is more likely, because there’s just no resources for bi people or bi youth right now. When people are experiencing attraction to, or behavior with people of more than one gender and they look to find resources online that can support them or Community. There’s very very little out there and none of it is funded. So their mental health suffers, their physical health suffers.

They face Violence by their partners and from their Community. They face economic insecurity. They face lack of safety in schools. So there you have the disparities.

 And then the last measure is attraction. And you’ll be unsurprised to hear that there are lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of people who report having attraction to more than one gender, way more than the people who report having had sexual contact with more than one gender, and way way way more than people who report identifying as bisexual or non monosexual.

So I’ll go back to that question that you said, that that statement that you had in the beginning that you said there were, most people are heterosexual. Do you still find that to ring true? 

Callie: [00:30:56] I mean, I I trust that the data you’re citing is accurate and so I would say no. 

Heron: [00:31:01] Well, I guess my question to you is do you think people who report having had attractions in a particular time period to more than one gender… I guess I’m interrogating when we identify people as bisexual. Because some something that people accuse me of is well, “you’re saying everyone is bi!” Absolutely. I’m not. I am saying, and I say all the time that if you have had sexual contact with more than one gender If you experience attraction to more than one gender and you want to identify as bisexual. Baby, you’re bisexual.

But I would never tell someone that because they have had sexual contact with or experience attraction to people of more than one gender, but they must identify as bisexual. I would encourage them to take my survey. And to make sure that they are part of the data collection that goes into examining the disparities around people who identify as bi or who have contact with or her experience attraction people have more than one gender, but I would have never say that someone is bi against their wishes.

I have been mis-sexual orientationed before and it is nightmarish. I had this Twitter exchange with someone who said well, aren’t you describing pansexuality? And I was like “first of all fuck you.” I’m like second of all “who the fuck are you to tell me what my sexual orientation is like, my god…”

Callie: [00:32:32] I guess what I was, what I was actually saying without realizing I was saying it is that most people report being heterosexual.

Heron: [00:32:41] Yes! Excellent!

Callie: [00:32:43] and, and I mean that’s, that’s an important distinction to make. The way that, at the very beginning of me exploring all of this, this was explained to me, is that you know, at a basic level, being bisexual is being attracted to more than one gender. Actually the way that it was originally worded to me is attraction that goes towards your own gender and other gender or genders. 

Heron: [00:33:13] I’m rolling my eyes and I’ll explain my rolling my eyes in a second 

Callie: [00:33:17] and that for pansexual folks, the distinction there is that gender just is irrelevant and doesn’t matter at all and. Like when I have explained that and used that definition, I’ve not gotten a ton of pushback from folks, but I’m interested in your perspective and your thoughts on where that distinction lies.

Heron: [00:33:39] There’s been a couple informal surveys online about people’s personal definitions of bisexuality. And I bet if you asked a thousand people they would all have different definitions. But those people who are not extremely online lads like you and I, I think would mostly say whether they are bi or pan that they just like people.

I find that the distinctions between bi and pan are mostly built around fear of irrelevance, and fear of bi and panphobia, both internal to our large non monosexual community and externally. This desperation to feel like you have to Define yourself into legitimacy. Whereas straight and gay and lesbian people have the luxury of not having to continually Define and defend themselves.

So I’ll go back a little bit to etymology, because I think that I’ve seen the rise of that definition that you just mentioned of bisexuality, to yourself and to your own gender and to others. That does not resonate to me at all. My own gender, whatever this is going on here. I don’t really know what it is right now.

But like whatever this is, is not among my constellation of genders I’m attracted to. So that definition doesn’t make sense to me at all. It makes sense more if I was thinking of myself as like a quote un quote woman. I can maybe I’m identified. Maybe I’m attracted to women, but I find that definition to be kind of an end run explanation for why we have the prefix bi in front of our label.

 And that’s just some backronym fucking bullshit because we are the only community that has to defend our etymology. Straight has an original term means like in an even line. I don’t even know how to define the word straight, but it means like, even, right?

Callie: [00:35:59] Well, right and I mean speaking of etymology. Like I don’t know this, but there’s part of me that has to believe that, that part of the reason “straight” became parlance for “heterosexual” is because there is a moral connotation with being straight and morally correct. 

Heron: [00:36:13] Thank you! Absolutely! And I mean, the implications around etymology are just staggering. Like yeah, first of all straight has so many moral connotations,absolutely. 

And then if you wanted to look at heterosexual, we don’t constantly ask straight people to, to convince me that the person, that the gender of the person that you’re attracted to is like completely different. It has to be “you said hetero! It has to be completely different than your gender right now!”

“No, I’m sorry you both have legs, that, that’s not allowed!” Like that isn’t, we don’t insist that people defend their their prefixes. And then if you want to talk about gay and lesbian at like, are you fucking kidding me? Like, your average person who’s a lesbian is not from Greece. We no longer rely on etymology to describe our communities.

So we should absolutely not rely on bi people and Pan People to Define themselves in relation to the etymology of our community label. Come the fuck on! 

Callie: [00:37:23] that’s the most common thing “bi means two!”

Heron: [00:37:26] Yeah, no. No, I’m sorry. Yeah. Yeah, it does and gay means really happy but you’re being a huge asshole, so where are we now?

Bi and Pan both mean you’re attracted to more than one gender. You know, if your individual bi person, it is important for their personal definition of bi to mean “attracted to people of their own gender and of different genders or a different gender,” that’s totally cool with me. And if a pan person wants their personal identification to be “I’m attracted to to people regardless of their gender”, that’s cool too.

But I am not here for any in fighting, whether it is infighting within our non monosexual Community or attacks from straight or gay and lesbian people that rely on etymology. It is the oldest trick in the book and it makes me so sad that people are being so transparently hateful, that that’s what they’re relying on as the hinge of their biphobia or their pan phobia, and then that leads me to talking about community and personal labels, so.

You may be surprised to hear that bi is actually not my personal labe. Like you, I identify as queer. I’ve written about it before, and queer, to me, is much more expansive and connects me deeply with other queer people and allows me to explain my gender and my sexual orientation in one word, and I can just say it to other queers and we have a connection that, whether it is because of biphobia or because of other cultural constructs, cannot be achieved when I call myself bi. Queer is just What I Call is like, in my heart. My heart is a queer heart. But bi is my community label. Bi is the community who I marched with at Pride, Bi are the shirts that I wear. Bi, the pins that I wear at conferences and by is what I respond to when I write, when I respond to surveys, for a lot of reasons.

 Politically, I think it’s important to represent the bi community. I am attracted people of more than one gender. So. I’m a bi person. And I think there is some level inside of me that wants to explain how I… How my queerness manifests, especially when I have a long-term partner of a different gender, that I want to like kind of almost defend.

“Oh, I don’t know like when I say, I’m queer like I’m not just a random straight person who’s like trying to be cool like no. I am actually a bisexual person who is attracted to more than one gender.” So I don’t know if that helps you kind of understand, or place yourself, whether you have a community label and a personal label, or whether those constructs work.

Callie: [00:40:17] Yeah you know, I don’t think that I had ever named that, but like in practicality, I think that’s definitely a thing. Because I like, I think about that in terms of gender right? In my relations with everyday people, I’m a woman, right? But I am a trans woman. That is a distinction that you know,  colors the way that I navigate the world and the way that I interact with some people and so both of those things are important. And you can’t get a full picture of me without knowing both of those things.

 And I feel like you know, sexual orientation labels in that way are sort of analogous. I mean, I’ve always defined Queer as sort of this umbrella term that I guess it’s like, Sort of like rolling down the hill of specificity like, like, so I’m definitely not straight. And that’s an important way that I relate to people and my community. But just saying queer doesn’t give you the fullest possible picture of who I am and how I relate to other people.

So if we’re going to have a deeper conversation, I need other words to describe that too. And I think before our conversation, I probably would have had to use a lot of sentences to describe it. And I think now it’s pretty easy to just say like “well, I’m bisexual” and I think that, I think that fits for me. 

Heron: [00:41:41] alright! well, do we want to ask the last question then?

Callie, if you answered yes to any of the two previous three questions… That is “have you found any member of a different gender attractive?” “Have you found any member of a similar gender attractive?” And “have you ever found a member a non-binary or agender person attractive?” Do you identify as bisexual?

Callie: [00:42:08] I do. 

Heron: [00:42:10] Ahhhh! Your unicorn will arrive in six to eight weeks. Make sure that you are at the door to sign. It’s a very small unicorn but it does arrive in packaging. It needs to be put in the refrigerator fairly quickly. 

Callie: [00:42:24] (laughing) listen i’m going to be really mad if that doesn’t happen 

Heron: [00:42:28] I’m so sorry. It’s not going to happen. But I’m going to mail you something. I just need to get your mailing address. Can you imagine, if I mailed every single person who came out because of this, I’ve had like seven people come out to me like in the past week because of this thing. I’m going to get, I’m going to run out of unicorns.

Callie: [00:42:45] So there it is, friends. I’m bisexual. I am attracted to, and excited by the radical diversity in our species. I find our masculinity, our femininity, our androgyny, our in-betweenness, our none of the aboveness exciting, and hot, and sexy, and stimulating. I see you, I see your gender, I see your lack thereof, It’s all valid and it’s all wonderful.

June is a month for comings out, and here’s mine. I’m bisexual. And it’s not that I’m coming out in terms of the way my queerness actually manifests itself. Nothing here is actually changed. But finding the right words to describe the things we feel is so important. And after a lot of thought and a lot of unpacking some shit, I’ve found my word. Happy Pride, friends. 

Thank you so much for listening. If you want to support the show, please share this around to your friends. The best way to keep this thing going is to help it keep growing, and you taking a few seconds to share can make a huge huge difference.

 Before I go, I want you to know that if you’re lost, you’re hurting, you’re scared, if you feel like no one cares and no one understands – You need to know there’s a community out here that loves you, cares for you, knows that you’re capable of amazing things, and that you are worthy of love. If you’re struggling, please don’t be afraid to reach out. Until next time friends, my name is Callie Wright, and this is Queersplaining.