Thursday, February 12, 2009

The wrong word

Bisexual(ity) is the wrong word.

It's wrong from beginning to end. "Bi" implies binary: only two genders, two sexualities. "Sexual" implies that this is all about sex and with whom we have sex, that we must all be sexual or sexually active people. It excludes trans people and asexual people and genderqueer people. It ignores the fluid nature of sexuality, identity, gender. In defining "in between" it misses the point of between.

And yet I've been very careful to use it on this blog, in describing myself. It's a deliberate choice, despite the fact that I feel increasingly at home with the word "queer" and, as the above paragraph explains, increasingly dissatisfied with all permutations of "bi."

Why this choice? Because when, just a few years ago, I was struggling to come to terms with my own identity and sexual orientation, I never thought to use "queer" as a search term. "Bisexual" was the only word I knew that might apply to what I felt. It was the only thing I had to hang onto. And it allowed me to find people like me, people who were going through the same thing, who understood.

I talk about "bisexuality" and define myself as bisexual here because I want to make sure people can find me.

But I also wear the label because there really is no good, precise word for who/what I am. "Queer" covers a multitude of identities and preferences, and non-queer folks have no idea what it means. (Sometime, I'll have to write here about trying to explain queerness to my parents.) "Pansexual" seems like an overstatement (especially for someone who is extremely picky in her attractions). "Non-monosexual" is overly technical and a negative definition. "Polysexual" suggests non-monogamy as much or more than non-gender-based attraction. I'd kind of like to popularize "humansexual" but for shorthand use, again, no one has any idea what that means.

"Bisexual" is the word people know, and language is inadequate, and oh hell no one really knows what "bisexual" means either. But it provides a starting point, at least. It opens a dialogue about between-ness. It allows me to be visible in my communities.

And visibility is crucial, which is one reason I've begun this blog.

More later.