Tag Archives: bisexuality

Making trouble

I’m a member of the committee of Bisexual Alliance Victoria (Vice President since you asked), and am one of the founding members of that group.  We participated in our first (as Bisexual Alliance Victoria) Pride March in early February 2011, and unsurprisingly (to me at least) we received negative feedback from the crowd, “Make a decision”, “Get off the fence”, “Make up your mind”, “No such thing”, etc.

I expected these comments, which really sucks at a queer event, because every time I’ve marched since 2007 as a bisexual, I’ve heard them.  Some of our members were really upset by the negativity, and so as a committee we decided to write a media release indicating that we were disappointed with the negativity and that we were working with Pride March Victoria to march prominently and be involved in tackling further biphobia.  At the same time, two of our members wrote an article which was published in the Star Observer.  This article has also attracted biphobic comments – neatly proving our point.

So I wrote a comment in response to the biphobic comments, which I’ve captured below in the very unlikely event that it doesn’t get through moderation.  I started with the lyrics from The Whitlam’s song I will not go Quietly (Duffy’s Song), which I think neatly captures the fight that bisexuals go through constantly at the moment (hopefully less so each year.

One final thing before I get to my comment.  The San Francisco Human Rights Commission has put together a paper on biphobia titled, “Bisexual Invisibility: Impacts and Recommendations” which is an eye opening read into the effects of bisexual invisibility and biphobia.

Ok, my comment:

“I will not go quietly
I will not accept your rules
gonna live with myself
before I live with any of you”
(I Will Not Go Quietly (Duffy’s Song) – The Whitlams)

I identify as bisexual and have now for 20 years – I’ve never thought I was straight or gay – always bisexual.  Yet at the Pride Marches I have been in, when marching with the bisexual community (since 2007), I have been booed, told to decide, told to get off the fence, and had my sexual identity derided.

Let me be very clear here – this is a queer event (Pride March) and so is attended by a large number of gay and lesbian Melburnians.  At this queer event, I have had my sexual identity called into question and made fun of.

I’m made of relatively strong stuff, and so laugh at bigots who tell me that I’m being dishonest when identifying as a bisexual, but there are bisexuals who aren’t made of teflon coated kevlar like me – and do you think that it is fair to tell them that they’re wrong with their own identifiers?  Do you think it’s ok for you to identify someone else on their behalf without any consultation?

I wish it wasn’t the case that the way SOME gay and lesbian people treat bisexuals mirrors quite closely the persecution that gay and lesbians fought against for years.  I wish it were actually true that those who don’t believe that bisexuality exists actually spent some time listening to bisexuals about their lived experience and let us decide whether we exist or not.

We’re not a danger to you.  We don’t dilute your movement.  Like any group of individuals in any community, there are always arsehats, but no one should take them as representative – just as broader society is learning not to take gay or lesbian or women arsehats as representative of an entire group.

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Sexpo reflections – the good and the bad

I thought, now that I’d spent a shift at Sexpo and the organising and grumping about the whole thing is over, that I’d write a list of the good and bad things about Sexpo, because there are some really fantastic things about Sexpo that a lot of people don’t realise under all the sleaze and heteronormality.

The Good

Let’s start with all the positive stuff first.  This will be a little long because there is one really great thing that needs to be pointed out, with a whole lot of background.

  • The ACCSEX Coalition.  With the permission of the activists at Sexpo, I’m going to reproduce their brochure below so everyone knows what Accsex is.  The thing I love about Accsex is that it makes Sexpo a safe (ish) place for disabled people to be, to discuss their needs with vendors of sex toys, and to be sexual beings enjoying what is going on.  The fact that the activists are also people with disabilities really brings the message home to people.

The ACCSEX Coalition

We are a network of people who aim to assist consenting adults with disabilities to access their choice of sex, friendships, sex education, intimate relationships and the adult industry.

We recognise those social attitudes and structures around disability and sexuality interfere with the fulfilment of this aim.

We therefore see changing community attitudes and influencing social institutions as a major priority.

We believe that dominant attitudes need to be challenged, the foremost belief that people with disabilities are asexual, unattractive and unsuitable social and sexual partners.

Issues being looked at now

  • Access
  • Policies
  • Physical and financial access
  • Social connections
  • Research and Sexuality Education
  • Legal and ethical issues & discrimination

How you can be involved

  • Contribute to our information sharing – we want to know about research, education and social support activities
  • Help us to identify key issues that we as a group can help to address through our work

“Sexuality is often the source of our deepest oppression; it is also often the source of our deepest pain” [Finger, 1992: 9]

You may benefit from being a member of Accsex if:

  • You are a person with a disability and you want to meet people and work with other to create change;
  • you are a parent with a disability;
  • you are a partner/parent/carer of a person with a disability;
  • you provide services to people with disabilities;
  • your organisation is interested in service improvement;
  • you are an advocate, or from an advocacy organisation; and/or
  • you are a researcher or educator interested in sexuality and disability.

The social institutions that we wish to influence are:

  • Governments, so that they can fund initiatives and support legislative changes that facilitate the sexual choices of consenting adults with disabilities;
  • The Media, who nearly always represent people with disabilities using two dominant stereotypes.  We are portrayed as either the tragic but brave “Supercrip” who triumphs over adversity, or as the pathetic and passive victim, the object of pity.  We are never seen as consenting adults.
  • Attendant care agencies, so that they can train their staff and shape culture and policies that facilitate the sexual choices of consenting adults with disabilities
  • Providers of commercial sexual services and the adult entertainment and retail industries, so they can make their venues, goods and services accessible, affordable and inclusive of consenting adults with disabilities.

Membership information

If you are interested in becoming a member of the ACCSEX Coalition, come to our meetings and/or link up with our E-group listing.

Share information, news and views

Email: ACCSEX@yahoogroups.com

Web address: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/accsex

I’ve left off the names and personal contact details provided by ACCSEX because I don’t want them to be spammed to death by bots.  If you are interested in finding out more about them, I’d start with the yahoo group listed above.

  • The bodies.  The beauty in seeing people of all sizes attend an event that is mostly about sex.  The fact that there were people of all sizes buying sex toys, lifestyle products, and generally being sexual beings.  This also includes the fact that there are several clothing (corsetry, bustiers, underwear, lingerie, etc) vendors who are selling clothing in what is termed “plus sizes”.
  • The costumes.  There are a huge number of people that dress up to go to Sexpo in all sorts of clothes.  Makes people watching at my stall lots of fun.
  • The event is quite queer friendly.  I organised the Bisexual Alliance stall – the volunteering, decorations, rosters, etc (James did the paperwork with the Sexpo organisers).  Although some people almost cause themselves whiplash when they read our sign and then immediately turn away.  Talking to other vendors, they’re very supportive of our presence and happy to engage.  Those who approach, wherever they are on the LGBTIQ spectrum, they’re happy that we are a queer presence at Sexpo.  Generally I have experienced or witnessed very little homophobia/biphobia or at Sexpo.

The Bad

  • There are bits of overwhelming sleaze.  Some vendors (a very small minority) are very sleazy and make me feel really uncomfortable.  Some of the products being sold are somewhat ick to me.
  • The co-option of queer women’s sexuality for the male gaze
  • How bored the (female) pole dancers are if you actually look at them
  • The fact that the event is quite heteronormative
  • The music is too loud to hold conversations with others at times
  • The airbrushed [and thin and white] women on posters/brochures advertising various products or services

Overall, it is a very positive thing for our community stall to be present.  We’re a queer presence in a straight assuming event, and welcomed by many.  Organising the event is tedious, and spending time there can be boring sometimes, but generally it’s good to be out, proud and active.

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