I, like so many, am struggling to process the recent massacre in Orlando. If you or someone you know were impacted by this tragedy, I mourn with you. No one should have to shoulder the crushing weight of this grief alone.
And yet… For many people who don’t fit neatly in certain identity boxes, a tragedy like this one can feel isolating as hell. Those of us who identify as bisexual and pansexual feel a very different brunt than those who fit more securely in other queer archetypes.
“Passing privilege combined” with bi erasure and femme invisibility means that unless I tell someone “I’m queer” they will probably assume I’m straight. It means that when I come out to people, they don’t get it, I don’t fit the narrative they are used to hearing. It means straight people make jokes about “Spring Break” or “Katie Perry”. It means straight men ask if they can watch. It means that people, both gay and straight, DON’T BELIEVE ME when I say I’m gay. It means coming out over and over and over and over again…sometimes to the same person. It means I get dragged back into the closet every damn day. It hurts every time, but today in light of this already bleeding wound, biphobia and erasure is excruciating.”
Hoo-boy did that passage cut me to the quick. It highlights some of the reasons why, until yesterday, I never actually publicly identified as bisexual. It’s not something I’ve actively hidden per say, I’d never gone out of my way to advertise it. Orlando changed that. For me, at least… And Marah Wilson, apparently.
Someone asked on a Facebook discussion thread why the Orlando shooting brings up so much angst around identity for bisexual folks.
For me, the tragedy is just so big… It feels important to stand in solidarity. At the same time, it feels disingenuous to take that stand without acknowledging that I have skin in this fight. I’m not a straight ally. The victims and their loved ones are my kin.
Invisibility, as Elle pointed out, has mixed and interesting baggage. There’s a ton of privilege I have to reckon with, and the people most affected by this massacre have veritable crosshatches of vulnerability. This brings up all the shame, and survivors guilt-like discomfort.
I have the option of hiding, of blending, Which is not a luxury many of my LGBTQ brethren share. Since all of my long term relationships have been with men, I didn’t necessarily have to come out to my folks if I didn’t want to.
At the same time, there’s a lot of stigma in gay and straight circles about being bi. We’re told that we’re greedy. We just haven’t made up our minds… We do it to get attention… Etc. So even gay spaces don’t always feel safe. (Case in point, Erika Moen, the badass mind behind Oh Joy Sex Toy, provided a snapshot of the stigma she experienced as a queer woman who married a cis man.) So much of the tragedy here is that a safe haven was invaded and coated in blood. When safe spaces are thin on the ground, that hits hard.
It’s only natural that this sort of tragedy stirs up emotional and personal stuff. That said, I can see how, to some outside observers, writing about individual identity during a national crisis can seem like narcissistic navel gazing. And things are seldom what they seem. This massacre is not just about me. I get that. Nevertheless, I have to be introspective about my place in the rainbow alphabet if I am going to be authentic and effective in my activism.