I was still in High School in 1999 when the first Bisexual Visibility day was celebrated, so I'm not old enough to be considered the old guard. I am a small-town Bisexual millennial from the "pre-pan" days. When I was younger, I was told that liking women was "just a phase" and that I would meet the "right man" and he would "sort me out". I'm not the only Bisexual who was told that; I know I won't be the last.
23 years ago we needed more visibility for bisexuals, 23 years of arguments that bisexuals aren’t confused, or waiting for the right partner, being told that we’re too gay, or not gay enough. Sadly, the need for Bisexuality visibility day still exists.
The real midlife crisis seems to be fighting against the same old accusations for Bisexuals, that we are greedy individuals who can’t make up our minds. Why, after 23 years of Bisexual visibility day are these old tropes still around and used, is the QILTBAG+ community so resistant to change?
Bisexuals encounter backlash from all sides, the heterosexual and the QILTBAG+ that "Bisexuals need to get off the fence and make up their minds." We can be invisible and straight passing, or out there and flag waving, but NO, not that flag! We must “Make up our damn mind.” It is one of the reasons that Bisexual Visibility day was needed (and all the other visibility days, and where is the one for male homosexuals?) The more each of us are able to share ourselves with the larger community and be accepted by the community the less squabbling.
It’s 2022, and the level of ignorant discrimination is too damn high within the QILTBAG+ community. If we can’t accept each other then why should the CisHet community accept us for who we are? I live in a small country town, and the views here are narrow, the local council won’t even fly the rainbow flag for IDAHOBIT because several of the conservative people will explode in response. I could choose to hide here, simply be a single white woman of no sexual preference and with one cat who is my child, a spinster if you will.
But what about the baby gays? The ones who are currently in school and are told that no other members of the QILTBAG+ exist at the school and they will grow out of their phase and return to being ‘normal’.
I lived that experience when I went to High School here (location redacted). I was told by the principal that there was no need for a queer youth alliance because there were no queer students and I quietly accepted it and melted into being invisible when I should have shouted my resistance from the roof tops.
I fear the current QILTBAG+ youth will mirror my schooling experiences. The same schools I attended still spin the narrative - there is no room to be yourself. Remain scarce. Even worse, the lack of support in the existing and established community as we squabble over which definition is correct and continue to gate-keep the QILTBAG+ community.
I am now a trained teacher, and two years ago the high school I attended dead-named a student and I was able to support that student and sit with them as they filled in the forms that made sure the school respected who they are as a person and the choices that they made with their identity. That is why all visibility days matters, being open and sharing who we encourage others to feel safe sharing who they are as well.
The entire space should never be about gatekeeping and checking if you are suitable to be included in the QILTBAG+; it was about being open and making things better for those who follow in our footsteps. Without being open, accessible and visible, the past fights are today's fights. They'll be tomorrow's fights if we keep focusing inwards and squabbling about who is enough to be classified worthy enough to be queer.
If we want to be treated with respect, we need to treat others with respect, and that includes all members of the QILTBAG+ not just the originals who fought at Stonewall and mourned the loss of so many lives.
“Divide et impera” - Philip II of Macedon Because the more we focus on fighting and squabbling with each other, the less focused we are on making real social changes. Everyone has value, everyone has an individual voice and an individual origin story. As a community, we waste so much time arguing over who has the right to belong in the patchwork quilt that we lose sight of the bigger embroidered artwork.
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