Rebecca Bodenheimer, PhD
Previous new york Council Speaker Christine Quinn sent the world wide web as a tailspin early in the day this w eek whenever she labeled actress and newly established gubernatorial prospect Cynthia Nixon a вЂњunqualified lesbianвЂќ. The uproar so far has primarily dedicated to the salaciousness of governmental infighting between two queer females. Nonetheless, whatвЂ™s lacking is a review of Quinn for mislabeling Nixon as being a lesbian. Nixon has described by herself as bisexual, and glossing over this distinction is a definite illustration of bi erasure, or perhaps the presumption that bisexuality just isn’t a genuine identification, but quite simply an intermediate stop from the intimate orientation train that includes just two feasible locations: gay/lesbian and right. The apology did not relate to mislabeling NixonвЂ™s stated sexual identity although Quinn later apologized for her comment.
While bisexuality is becoming a whole lot more visible in popular tradition within the previous several years having an increase that is important bisexual figures on television in specific you can still find numerous stereotypes connected to the label. вЂњOn the fence,вЂќ вЂњwishy washy,вЂќ вЂњgoing through a phaseвЂќ: they are all typical misconceptions about bi people. Unfortunately, a few of the stigma and bi erasure arises from the queer community, from self identified homosexual gay hairy me guys and lesbians whom donвЂ™t believe bisexuality is definitely an identity that is authentic.
as they are marginalized with their intimate orientation, they continue steadily to reinforce the heteronormative indisputable fact that sex is binary, this one must either be homosexual or right.
ItвЂ™s interesting to compare the narrative about Nixon to that particular of Oregon Governor Kate Brown: whenever she ended up being elected the media identified her as bisexual, that I assume had been because of repeated efforts on her behalf component in order to make her identity that is sexual understood. Nixon hasnвЂ™t been as clear about her chosen labels; yet, she’s been clear about her intimate and intimate history and the truth that sheвЂ™s enjoyed men and women. One difference that is major those two ladies is the fact that Brown is hitched to a guy while Nixon is hitched to a female. While this may well not look like a difference that is relevant when it comes to queer identification politics, it really is.
Bi ladies hitched to guys are assumed to be right, and because itвЂ™s not obvious from their choice of partner if they are interested in claiming their queerness publicly, must repeatedly come out to people who donвЂ™t know how they identify. Whilst the presumption of heterosexuality is certainly not astonishing, it shouldnвЂ™t be studied for given that a stand set for their sexual orientation. Bi individuals donвЂ™t have actually to be participating in romantic or intimate relationships with both genders at precisely the same time so that you can recognize as bi; in reality, I would personally guess that most bi people have been in monogamous relationships at any time. (Incidentally, the theory that every bi people are polyamorous is another major myth; non monogamy is practiced by folks of all intimate orientations.) Thus, i could just assume Brown publicly identifies as bisexual given that itвЂ™s the way that is only her to claim her queerness.
Nixon, having said that, is hitched to a lady and it is therefore thought by many people to be a lesbian. As bi ladies have actually long stated, there is certainly frequently a stigma that is particular determining as bi inside the lesbian community: вЂњsheвЂ™ll make you for a manвЂќ the most typical stereotypes about bi ladies among lesbians, and grounds why numerous wonвЂ™t consider dating bi ladies. In the LGBT community, then, Nixon has less explanation to desire to loudly claim her bisexuality, as she would most likely be (and IвЂ™m certain she happens to be) derided by some lesbians as attempting to retain some section of heterosexual privilege by maybe not вЂњfully committingвЂќ into the label of lesbian.
In the long run, itвЂ™s not necessarily in regards to the certain terms Nixon utilizes to spot herself. Most likely, many bi people prefer the word вЂњqueerвЂќ with regards to their self identification since it emphasizes their connections with all the bigger LGBT community; other people utilize various identification labels within various contexts. But, clearly mislabeling Nixon as a lesbian, as Quinn did, is a type of erasure that also reinforces binary notions about sex. ItвЂ™s high time we stopped considering sex as an either/or phenomenon and started using bi individuals at their term, once we compensate definitely the biggest team inside the LGBT community.