I love your work and I was so happy to find that to had a Tumblr. I don't know if you're the right person to ask, but I really respect how intelligent you are and I'm hoping you can help. I'm a bisexual woman who is in a long term relationship with a man. I love him dearly. But because I'm in a passing relationship, I'm starting to feel the hate from my fellow queers, who are passively shaming me for who I fell in love with. What should I do? I never got treated like this dating women.
I completely understand. I had exactly the same thing happen to me. Gay women mistakenly think that dating a man magically makes you heterosexual, forgetting of course that men don’t magically cure you of your love for women and other genders, and that all that sleeping with a man makes you is sleeping with a man.
The ‘passing privilege’ is something I specifically want to address.
We all have passing privilege. All of us have different levels of passing privilege. Every single one of you will pass at some point in your lives, ranging from either just online to every situation you’re in. For most people, when you walk down the street, people assume you’re cishet. When you interact with someone new they ask you about your ‘husband’ or ‘boyfriend’ (and if you have one!) and any children. People assume you are straight. ‘Passing privilege’ is not something exclusive to bisexual folks, and just because there are a few more situations they can pass in, and a few more obstacles they avoid, doesn’t mean they don’t face most of the discrimination like gay folks do.
FURTHERMORE, bisexuals may sometimes avoid some of the obstacles gay people face when they date someone that appears to make them look like a cishet couple, but in avoiding those, they face something incredibly isolating that we all understand: being invisible, and feeling like no one understands.
When I was dating a (lovely) man in my mid-twenties, every time someone would say something homophobic, I felt it. Every time someone would assume I was with a man, even though I was actually with a man, I noticed. Every time the government debated gay marriage and gay rights I intimately felt all that stuff because you know what? I’m still queer. I still love women. That part of me didn’t magically disappear. My boyfriend didn’t understand, either, because he was like, “At least that doesn’t affect you anymore!” Yeah, babe. It actually DOES affect me. I’m not straight.
Worse: my mother acted like I was ‘cured’ when I was dating him. She was so overjoyed, and that broke my fucking heart because nothing had changed about me. I was the same. She just didn’t like the bisexual truth about me. So the idea that I get to have my parents acceptance and love is false, because that’s not what I had. I had conditional acceptance, and believe me, it hurt. Because it wasn’t for all of me.
On top of that, every time I dated a guy, my lesbian friends would essentially excommunicate me. They’d stop inviting me out for ‘girl drinks’. They’d talk about me behind my back. They’d all have fun without me and the message was clear: you’re not welcome here anymore. Nothing about me had changed at all, nothing: but by dating a man, somehow I was suddenly ‘impure’ and unwelcome in ‘pure’ lesbian spaces. It was disgusting. I even had a lesbian call me a “sperm recepticle” once, which is not only biphobic, but transphobic to the fucking max.
Bisexual folks face many (all, if they’re dating someone of the same gender!) of the same obstacles gay folks face with the addition of straight people and gay people dismissing them.
So: don’t let anyone tell you you’re not queer. Don’t let them passively excommunicate you: CALL them on it. Tell them nothing has changed. You’re still attracted to women, and sleeping with a man doesn’t change that one bit. Don’t let them discriminate against you without (gently, or not gently, if necessary!) calling them on it.
You’re just as queer as they are. You’re just a different sort of queer. You’re not a lesser queer. You’re not an ‘impure’ queer. You’re a different flavour of queer and the rainbow needs all colours <3