Bi out

May. 18th, 2009 12:00 am
jreilly4261: (Default)

An acquaintance recently came out to his mother as a bisexual man.  According to him, she all but disowned him.  She didn’t really, but that’s how he felt.

I thought back to my own coming out experience sixteen years ago.  I know going into it I feared the worst--that my family would cut me off.  I was prepared to be financially cut off, and even a bit socially ostracized.  What I didn’t think I could handle was to be emotionally shut out, disowned, abandoned. 

I called my aunt, someone I (and everyone in my family) knew to be a lesbian, to ask her advice on coming out.  When I asked how my family, and particularly my mother, responded when she came out, she surprised me by asking, “What do you mean ‘came out?’”  I suppose I got to “out” the family to her.

That call gave me some confidence.  I knew that my family loved her and supported her even when she thought wrongly that she was hiding herself.

I called my Mom.  I explained that I had dated women and I had dated men.  I wasn’t comfortable claiming the bisexual label at that point.  I waited for a response, but there wasn’t much of one.  I wasn’t expecting what I heard:

“Oh, your dad and I have been talking about this for years.”  Really?  I suppose there were all sorts of possible indicators, but my own process of discovery had only taken months, not years.  Not only was I queer, but I was oblivious to my own queerness. 

“I’ve always thought that you just liked *people* regardless of whether they were men or women.”  Okay.  My mom was not only more tuned into me than I was, but she understood the essence of bisexuality, that it wasn’t about liking men because they were men and women because they were women—it wasn’t about the dichotomy, the binary, the sex.

Fast forward to a few months later.  Life was in disarray because I was 19 years old.  I’d gone to a military recruiter, taken the ASVAB and essentially signed up to join.  I called my dad, a retired veteran, with the good news.  Aside from telling me I’d need to get in shape so that basic training didn’t kill me, he warned me, ominously, “If they ask, you will need to lie.”  Being a naïve 19 year old, the thought that my mom might continue having discussions about me with my dad hadn’t entered my mind.  “If they ask me what?”  “You know.”  “Ohhhh, you talked with mom?”

I didn’t join the military, in large part because of a surprise visit my dad made shortly after the phone call with a wonderful heart to heart conversation, and in larger part because I knew I didn’t want to join anything on the pretense of a lie.

In retrospect, I see that my parents couldn’t have responded any other way.  That’s got to make me luckier than a lot of people out there.  My parents acted with love, tolerance, acceptance and sound guidance, the way they always have. 
jreilly4261: (Default)
 Celebrate Bisexuality Day was September 23.  January was Bisexuality Awareness Month.  And 2010, according to me, will be the Year of the Bisexual.

 

Why should you care?  Because we are everywhere.  And we don’t mind if you know it.  As a matter of fact, we are often unrecognized on the front lines and the trenches.  Sadly, sometimes we are in the closet, daring not to move outside the boxes of gay and straight.  Sometimes, we get put in those boxes in spite of modest efforts to be ‘out.’  And sometimes we are screaming at the tops of our lungs and are still misinterpreted.

 

Robin Ochs, for instance, became the first woman in Massachusetts to marry her same sex partner (okay, her spouse shares the distinction).  She is the founder of the Bisexuality Resource Center in Boston.  She was identified as a lesbian in the media in spite of repeatedly drawing reporters’ attention to her bisexuality.  By definition, the marriage couldn’t be gay or lesbian. Only one of the spouses was a lesbian.

 

Sometimes, we are placed in those boxes through omission or error.  We are easy to overlook as our agendas are similar to yours.  But, sometimes, we are squeezed into those boxes for better marketing (‘gay’ marriage plays better to the Joe and Jane America than ‘same-sex’ marriage). 

 

“Homosexual” people get cool names like ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’ that leave thoughts of sex on the cutting room floor.  Oh, sure, we’ve tried on omnisexual (really?  omni? everything?), pansexual, ambisexual and bi-affectional, but the first three still point primarily to sex (and apparently a good variety of it) and the last makes us sound like we can be really good friends.  The ‘bi’ in bisexual (Hey Microsoft Spellchecker—there is no hyphen in the term “bisexual”) still points back to those two boxes, gay and straight, male and female.   Unfortunately, we aren’t so uncomplicated.  Even ‘queer’, while seemingly ideal, is overly broad.

 

So, we are stuck with ‘bisexual.’  Fine.  So what do bisexual people do?  Well, I wondered that too.  So I found some.  We got together at Coffee Social (new, organic, eco-friendly, queer/poly-friendly).  We drank some great Doma coffee and played dominoes.  Apparently bisexual people are easy to please after all.

 

What I really found was that we were an eclectic group with varied ages and interests.  And it wasn’t the coffee or the dominoes.  It was a vague sense of togetherness.  While we didn’t talk much about bisexuality, it was amazing and wonderful to be able to look around the group and realize that everyone in the group was like me.  One participant wrote to me to say he finally felt comfortable in a public group.  While it is great to be one letter in the alphabet soup of our movement for equality and dignity, it is a little breathtaking to be a ‘B’ in a veritable sea of ‘B’s. 

 

If you would like to join us, meet at Coffee Social, 113 W Indiana Ave, on Wednesday May 13 and May 27 from 6-8pm.  Dress in a smile and loudly ask where the bisexual people are.   

 

“A normal person is just someone you don’t know real well yet.”

--Robin Ochs, Bisexual Activist and Author www.robinochs.com

jreilly4261: (Default)

Wednesday April 15, 2009
6:00pm-8:00pm

Join a diverse group of bi-identified friends to shoot the breeze and plan social activities which might include dinners, coffees, picnics, kiddy play dates or group outings (no pun intended). We'll break the ice with Totally 80s Trivial Pursuit.

There will be children and I'll make sure there are some kids games, crayons, paper, neutronium, etc.

I'll provide some treat's from Coffee Social's terrific menu.

Coffee Social http://www.coffeesocial.net
113 W Indiana Ave
Spokane, WA 99205
Open Daily 7am-10pm
(509) 327-7127

Contact Joe Reilly for questions re: this event
509-536-7518 jreilly4261@gmail.com

This may put it on your calendar for you:

jreilly4261: (Default)
I had the great fortune to see k.d. lang's Watershed concert last night at the restored and appropriately gaudy Fox Theater with my wife last night.    [livejournal.com profile] hippybear has a great review.  I agree 100% with his assessment and add only that I was laughing and crying throughout the night.

Before the concert, the wife and I shared a leg of lamb, a goat cheese mashed potato dish, and a mushroom sauce that were delicious, thanks to the skilled chef at Vin Rouge.  We attended the Watershed pre-event party hosted by The Inland NW LGBT Center, Inland Northwest Business Association, Odyssey Youth Center, and OutSpokane.  It was a lovely gathering with many familiar faces and some that were new to me.  A lovely gentleman named Steve, who previously found and returned my indispensable thumbdrive, and Bridget Potter, Diva of OutSpokane and other ventures, greeted us to check in.  Representatives from the four organizations, Cat Carrel, Marvo Reguinden, Sandy Williams, and Christopher Lawrence, respectively, made impassioned pitches for shared donations.  It was a very pleasant event.  They auctioned a signed Watershed CD for $500 and announced they'd received another $500 from the Pride Foundation.

Once we were seated for the concert, we found ourselves next to another male/female couple.  At a point in the conversation, the woman in the couple commented that she thought we and they were the only heterosexual couples at the pre-event party.  I was stunned and stupified.  It reminded me how invisible an important part of me is in my own community.  I know that. technically, heterosexual is an accurate term to describe our relationship as we embody different sexes.  But I'm pretty sure her comment was meant to communicate that the people in the relationships are heterosexual.  Hmmmm....

I saw a special on k.d. lang once in which she told that she had decided to not reveal her sexual orientation in order to support her stage/character presence.  Her act as an artist is to entice everyone in the audience regarless of gender.  A revelation of her personal life, could cause some of her audience to become disinterested or put off.  She engages each of us of every gender and sexual orientation.

I saw a shirt today online displaying "100% Bisexual."  This dispels several myths:
Bisexual people don't exist.
Bisexual people are part gay and part straight.
Bisexual people divide their attention between men and women in a measurable fashion.
Bisexual people are confused and don't understand their true sexual orienation.

In truth,:
We exist.
We are not partially or wholly gay or straight.  Bisexuality is a unique and valid sexual orientation.
Bisexuality is complex and not easily described by using ratios and percentages of attraction toward various genders.
We are certain about our sexuality, our social lives, and our attractions.  No need for confusion on our part.

I hate to wear labels, but I may wear this shirt, especially to lgbtqa events, in the future.  It may alleviate some confusion on the part of onlookers and save me some frustration.  It is, after all, a better brand than Wal*mart.
jreilly4261: (Default)



"How does my same-sex marriage hurt your marriage?"

Glenn Stanton, Focus on the Family's Director of Social Research and Cultural Affairs (I love that job title!) gave it a whirl and what he came up with is that while he doesn't have a problem with individual same-sex couples marrying, he worries that blanketly allowing same-sex marriage will cause his children to think they aren't a necessary component of marriage.  If his daughters see gay and bisexual men married to each other, they won't see the importance of a woman in a marriage and if his sons see lesbian and bisexual women married to each other, they won't feel they are needed in a marriage.

In reality, what he fears is that if his children see men married and women married, they might think being gay or bisexual is alright.  If his children see that being gay or bisexual is okay, they may want wait twenty years in fear and self-loathing to come out.  They might come out as kids or teenagers and embarrass him into leaving his job as a hatemonger.

And don't get me started about gender.  He claims same-sex marriage will dilute the importance of gender in his children's eyes.  Oh, the horror.  They might not learn that female is only a function of and corollary to male.  They might figure out that in the creation story, Adam and Eve were equally duped and equally punished by their God.  They might realize that when man wrote "man" in the bible, God meant him to write "people."  They might note that it was people their father who ensured that the Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution was doomed.  And if gender is so important, why do they claim otherwise when it comes to the rights and dignity of transgender people?




jreilly4261: (Default)
Sodomy and Civil Rights

 

David R. Weiss, November 7, 2008

 

This country has a sodomy problem. And until we have the wisdom and the courage to be honest about what that means we're not going to resolve the question of civil rights for homosexuals. We need to be clear about why sodomy is such a threat to the common good of civil society, why it undermines the family, and why it is such an evil when afoot in faith communities. It's not going to be easy. But it needs to be done.

 

The word "sodomy" comes from a biblical text (Genesis 19) where the ancient city of Sodom is marked out for divine destruction because its evil ways so angered God. Sodomy names those who act like the inhabitants of Sodom.

 

 

Fine. But listen carefully... )

 

 

So let's be clear: the desire to close off the protections afforded by marriage to persons living in committed same-sex relationships (and to their children) is itself an act of sodomy and it has no place in civil society or in communities of faith.

 

Further, when African-Americans and Hispanics vote in large numbers alongside conservative white Christians to ban same-sex marriage they ally themselves with the same strand of Christianity that in the past quoted other biblical texts just as effectively to justify genocidal policies toward Native Americans, xenophobic laws toward immigrants, and abominations like slavery, Jim Crow, and apartheid.

 

So, yes, this country has a sodomy problem. But so long as we think it has anything to do with gay sex we've missed the point of God's outrage. Sodomy happens when any group uses their majority or their power to abuse and marginalize another group. That's what happened in California, Arizona, Florida, and Arkansas on November 4. And it's time for us, as citizens and as Christians, to stop acting like the inhabitants of Sodom.

 

 

David Weiss

 

David Weiss is a theologian and author of To the Tune of a Welcoming God (2008). He lives with his wife and children in St. Paul, MN.
jreilly4261: (Default)
 

The Church issued the following statement today:

It is disturbing that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is being singled out for speaking up as part of its democratic right in a free election.

Members of the Church in California and millions of others from every faith, ethnicity and political affiliation who voted for Proposition 8 exercised the most sacrosanct and individual rights in the United States — that of free expression and voting.

While those who disagree with our position on Proposition 8 have the right to make their feelings known, it is wrong to target the Church and its sacred places of worship for being part of the democratic process.

Once again, we call on those involved in the debate over same-sex marriage to act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility towards each other. No one on either side of the question should be vilified, harassed or subject to erroneous information.

Let me get this straight. It is "wrong" for protestors to make Church worship places part of the democratic process. These would be the buildings owned by the Church, the buildings which host those who fund the Church, the buildings which serve as symbols of bigotry enacted into law. But it is not "wrong" for the "Church" to pay for the removal of the right for loving couples to marry? Does a protest at a Temple make the matter too personal for Church members? Does the Church now say this should be the most civil and depersonalized of public discourse? I've never really had reason to agitate against this Church, but it has now bought itself and its membership a front row seat on the wrong side of this civil rights battle. It cannot claim to be innocent.



jreilly4261: (Default)
Small pleasures...being quoted in an article. Be sure to digg story.

"Bi Body Politic" is William Burleson's take on the concept of Bisexual Erasure, an idea defined by Kenji Yoshino of the Stanford Law Review. The theory suggests that the invisibility felt by bisexual men and women is the intentional outcome of gays and straights preserving their social order--knowing who is on which team. (My quote is paragraph eight.)

Bill Burleson's article is much more interesting than my commentary, but here's what I wrote:

My perspective is that bisexual people are typically viewed by those in the larger Lesbian and Gay community either as non-existent/invisible or as a set of people without a credible sexual identity. I've found in politics, activism and and non-profit activity that bisexual people are not represented excepted as a letter in an acronym. I don't believe that gay men and lesbian women have an adequate experience/knowledge base for or feel comfortable with advocating for the bisexual segment in our community.

On the other hand, I almost never read about the opposition singling out--even for a sentence in a long diatribe--bisexual people as evil-doers. For the most part, the James Dobsons and Pat Robertsons of the world never mention us because they don't use "our" acronyms. Even when their compatriots, like Ted Haggard and Larry Craig, were exposed as hypocrites, the thrust of media coverage focused on a 'gay' label and practically ignored the possibility of bisexuality, or simply that they were heterosexual men who had sex with men.

What the opposition, the media, and too often the lesbian and gay community too often assume is that sexual identity and orientation hinge on the genders of ones sexual partners. Through this warped logic, every man or woman who marries a person of another gender and later comes out as gay or lesbian they would obviously define as bisexual. This is why clinical definitions for sexual identity don't work. We get to claim the identity that fits best. And, to everyone's annoyance, it could change. Or, it won't.

P.S. I don't discuss the transgender community regarding this issue because they have a more complex path to discovery or definition of their sexual orientation and identity with its relation or lack of relation to their gender identity and expression. Transgender people are more likely to empathize with bisexual people. Additionally, I believe that bisexual people may be the strongest allies and advocates for the transgender community. If not, we should be.

read more | digg story
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Makwan Moloudzadeh

Iran hung a man on Wednesday.  This makes me so sad.  Please note that Makwan Moloudzadeh is was accused of being a 13-year-old rapist of 3 teenage boys.  Please note-the plaintiffs dropped their accusations of rape.  Please note-only homophobia, fear, and lack of compassion explain why this young man was murdered by Iran.

When I am asked why I feel the need to share my sexual orientation publicly, this murder is the reason.  I don't have to do it.  Despite my orientation (bisexual), I'm in a position of heterosexual privilege--I'm in a monogamous, legally recognized marriage to my wife, complete with two wonderful daughters.  But why would I not speak out in a world where it was acceptable to kill a man because he sexually experimented with his peers during puberty?  The more I and others like me (LGBTQ, and especially A) are OUT, the less acceptable such murders will be--the less frequently such murders will occur.

The murder, injury, torture, torment, teasing, bullying, and jeering of people because of their gender identity or sexual orientation cannot be tolerated.  Examine your conscience--are you any more fit than the government of Iran to judge a man?

Gay City News article

365Gay article

Advocate Article

Amnesty International Report

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"It was only in retrospect that I realized why I never found the sense of authority I was seeking. Authority was not a thing to be bestowed or claimed, but a verb. Doing the thing itself had become the authority." 

-Margaret Robinson, "Queering the Dyke March", biMagazine.

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