Settling In

Bi history, and writing about nothing.

I’m still at work on the biphobia piece. On the one hand, I could feel bad about not having finished it. What’s nice is that I don’t. Yesterday I worried about it not being the kind of post I planned to write this month, but I’m realising spending longer than a day on it is helping me write these updates, which was the goal. At the same time, it’s just the sort of piece I couldn’t get past paragraph one on before. Thanks to doing this, I have fifteen hundred words of first draft and five hundred tidied-up. (It’s grown a bit since yesterday, becoming less of a response to the Mail and more of its own thing. There should be subsections—seductive things—in the final version and it’s got a first paragraph that doesn’t yet entirely earn its place, but which I like. There’s a darling I may or may not kill.)

The moral, I’ve decided, is to keep at what I’m doing. There’s a sense now of having found the right rhythm to settle in for the long haul, and I’m much less anxious than yesterday about continuing. (As of this post, we’re already a tenth of the way through the month.) There’s something extraordinarily freeing in writing about nothing: this post and yesterday’s feel like letters to myself, with any other reader’s presence quite beside the point. ‘I’m not having the public in to shows again,’ Stewart Lee says at the end of one set. I worry this will cease to be a joke.

While writing the long post, I’ve been thinking about bisexual history—where the explosion of bisexuality in young people stems from, how the b-word has been defined at different moments in the recent past, and how many early activists for gay rights might now identify as bi. That train of thought led me to dig up Carl Wittman’s ‘Gay Manifesto’, written the year of the Stonewall riots and published in 1970. Not all of it has stood up well to five decades of queer dialectic—‘we are only at the beginning’, a disclaimer admits early on—but on the whole, it’s as vital as anything being printed now. (‘It’s not a question of getting our share of the pie. The pie is rotten,’ remarks Wittman, writing in a socialist rag. Part way through a 2013 TED talk, Mads Ananda Lodahl echoes the line.) Toward the start of Wittman’s text, one finds the following.

Homosexuality is the capacity to love someone of the same sex. Bisexuality is good; it is the capacity to love people of either sex. The reason so few of us are bisexual is because society made such a big stink about homosexuality that we got forced into seeing ourselves as either straight or non-straight. Also, many gays got turned off to the ways men are supposed to act with women and vice-versa, which is pretty fucked-up. Gays will begin to turn on to women when 1) it’s something that we do because we want to, and not because we should, and 2) when women’s liberation changes the nature of heterosexual relationships.
We continue to call ourselves homosexual, not bisexual, even if we do make it with the opposite sex also … We’ll be gay until everyone has forgotten that it’s an issue. Then we’ll begin to be complete.
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