On Biphobia & Homophobia in LGBTQ Spaces
Devon Price

Being active in organized bisexual community for decades, I’ve seen the spaces you describe as well as others. I always tell my trans* sibs that I first found other enbies in the bisexual+ spaces I came out into in the ‘90’s (we were just creating GQ in them days; the very idea that those of us outside the gender binary could someday obtain transgender healthcare was way beyond our dreams). Bisexual & transgender people were generally equally excluded from gay community at that time, so we created space together mostly outside of it.

As marriage displaced nondiscrimination and HIV support as THE gay agenda, those of us on the on the BTQQIAA+ part of the QUILTBAG weren’t on it anymore. This caused lots of retreat, organizational dissolution, and generalized trans/bi-phobia. Great exhibits are the works of a J Michael Bailey in the forms of “The Man Who Would Be Queen” (nominated for a Lammy before being pulled after we all organized) and the NYT feature “Gay, Straight, or Lying” a few years later which became fodder for Savage Love’s hatred of bisexuality.

As a one who has always fought for my tiny individual spaces inside gay & lesbian communities being a bisexual & nonbinary femme person, code switching, playing “ally” when needed, I have often found myself in the role of interpreter to bi & trans people who haven’t found, needed, or were afraid of gay & lesbian communities and spaces or just never had access to them. These are some of the intersections where lateral mistrust occur.

A whole lot of bisexual & transgender people come out/transition without any or much experience in gay/lesbian spaces. Part is access, part is the internalized phobias we have yet to address. Then there is the fear of gay/lesbian spaces, some warranted some not. TERF’s for instance, do exist. While a tiny minority of lesbian communities today, lots of us trans*femmes stay out of lesbian spaces we need to be in. Bisexual women also fear TERFdum because separatism targets them as well. Testing which lesbian spaces were safe for bisexual women & transgender femme of center people and which weren’t is a role for tour guides like me.

Another piece is what I call IRL vs URL communities. In social media spaces, lots of the negatives of exclusion dominate. These stories create fear disproportionate to any real threat in gay/lesbian spaces. And really, just getting bisexual+ people connected on social media into the local LGBTQ+ Community Center is a job for the organizers. Add to that organized parts of the organized national bisexual community which is openly hostile to Community Centers… In the circle of a face to face, in real life community discussion, so many of the problem typed response hides is seen.

Thanks for this. We have to have many adult conversations about how SOGI/GSM people need to stop harming each other and figure to ways to share better. I don’t care if our QUILTBAG is overrun by letters or we all just adopt queer as an identity as long as we find common ground.