Saturday, April 11, 2009

Open Forum: The Bisexual/Bi-Racial Overlap

Society tends to see things in black or white and often does not see shades of gray. Differences challenge us to open our minds and see that most things and people are not an absolute but simply fall into some shade or variation of whatever attribute we happen to be discussing at the time.

I see an overlap between bisexual and bi-racial people who probably know all too well what it is to not fall into societies neatly arranged categories of self identification. For bi-racial people many struggle with being stuck between two races and cultures. They are plagued by a society forcing them to choose one identity or the other but seldom allowing them to be who they are which is indeed a bit of both. Even if they do self-identify more with one identity, people often look at that person as a wannabe and not truly part of the race and/or culture. This creates a no-win proposition for bi-racial individuals and families.

Bisexual people face a similar struggle. Most bisexuals fall on a continuum of attraction towards men and women, some leaning more to the gay side and others more to the straight side. It creates a struggle for self-identification because if they label themselves straight, they are lying and if discovered will be considered a deviant. If they label themselves gay and then date someone of the opposite sex they are considered a traitor and confused about their sexuality. This creates a dilemma for the bisexual to accurately self-identify as who they are.

Do you see a parallel between bisexuality and bi-racial issues when it comes to identity formation?

12 comments:

seitzk said...

YES! Definitely.

Thanks for this post. Nothing to say concretely, yet, but I am so interested in what others will say.

(bi/bi, myself)

batshua said...

I wrote my thesis on the subject of construction of identity. While I mostly focused on cultural and ethnic identities, I think I made brief mention of sexual identity. I wish I'd had this post to read when I was starting out!

Anonymous said...

I don't really see it, but I suppose that I just never gave much thought to my racial identity. I usually put "other."
Race isn't really a big issue for me in my excessively sheltered environment, though.

Queers United said...

I was curious to hear from people but I guess this post didn't elicit much thought. I thought it was interesting, oh well.

Queers United said...

I'd love to hear thoughts on this subject matter. I find the parallel fascinating.

mave said...

Well, I think that like race and gender, sexual orientation is something society at large tries to impose upon people. If you have black skin then you're black. If you have white skin then you are white. If you date same-sex people, then you're gay, if you date opposite-sex people then you're straight. You're not allowed to choose for yourself. So, for example, some people who are from black lineage but have lighter skin are treated as though they aren't really black.

That's the problem with assumptions and labels in general. Unless they are self-imposed, they have no place in a civilized society.

Adriana said...

I think your blog is spot on and I'm surprised there hasn't been more comment. Bisexuals truly don't fit in the either/or dichotomy and struggle against perceptions that they must "choose" - and that if they do choose, the bisexuality was a phase on the way to discovering true identity. Here's hoping for the day when our culture can move away from the assumptions that force people into such boxes, whether by race or by sexual orientatin.

Anthony in Nashville said...

Where I can see a similarity between the two issues is the sense that people who have that background ultimately have to make a choice as to how they will identify.

It may not be fair, but people like labels and it's confusing to have someone claim multiple identities.

I think society is closer to being more accepting of bi-racial people than bisexual. There are too many complicated political issues, particularly the "sexuality is a choice/ is immutable" argument, raised by bisexuals.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, I'm sorry that we bisexuals complicate your politics and confuse you, Anthony, but reality is like that sometimes. The only choice that I have "ultimately" made is to acknowledge that I am, and alway will be, bisexual. I have no intention of pretending that I don't exist for the sake of increasing your comfort level with your "sexuality is a choice/ is immutable" problem. There are millions of us who identify as bisexual - perhaps it's time you put politics aside and accepted that fact.

Anthony in Nashville said...

You're right -- reality is complex. It is not about my comfort level with bisexual people -- clearly they exist and after reading several articles over the last couple of weeks I'm starting to think there are more bisexuals than gays.

I was speaking more in terms of why people have issues with bi people. My "thing" with bisexuals is in terms of relationships, unless it's a 3 way relationship where partners of both genders are involved, they're living either as gay or straight. That is why I feel some look at bisexuals as proving that you can choose to be gay or straight.

T. R Xands said...

Anon - co sign...everything pretty much. Damn those biseckshuals making life complicated and shit.

Anthony - saying that bi-racial people are probably more accepted than bisexuals is...really...really confusing and problematic. And when I say confusing and problematic I mean I have no idea what you were even going for.

Frank said...

Anthony, rather than worrying whether bisexuals "prove" that you can choose to be straight or gay (you CAN'T), perhaps your energy would be better spent educating people that sexuality is not a choice and that the vast majority of humanity resides somewhere between the two extremes of the Kinsey scale. The best course to secure LGBT rights is to simply get the truth out there. That truth is that human sexuality falls along a continuum between heterosexual and homosexual and all points along that spectrum are normal and should be accepted.

Those trying to deny the existence of bisexuality for political expediency or trying to buy their rights at the expense of ours, are not only dishonest, but immoral. And any movement based on a lie is ultimately doomed to failure, and deservedly so.

By the way, regarding your "thing" - I've identified as bisexual for 38 years now and have been happily married to a wonderful woman for almost 31 of them. But I am still, and always will be, bisexual, not straight or gay. I have nothing against the other two options - it's just who I am.

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