So since a lot of us identify as queer, we're going to create a separate community of just people who identify as queer.
YOU'RE FORCING A LABEL ON EVERYONE?!?!?
Could you please not call our identity a slur? There is nothing wrong with how we identify ourselves. We're aware that some people don't feel comfortable with this label, but as we've reclaimed it and identify with it, it's hurtful to refer to our identities in such an extreme derogatory way.
FORCING A LABEL ON EVERYONE AND PRETENDING THE HISTORY DOESNT EXIST
Telling kids about invisible identities helps them better understand themselves and others. Also, it's 100% okay to be vague, unsure, or even hyper-specific.
Some of us believe that MOGAI is a better and more inclusive acronym, which is much easier to say and type than a fluctuating set of letters.
SO YOU HATE GAY PEOPLE OKAY
I know you enjoy representation, but could these few canon bi/pan/ace/poly(am) characters please not have their various attractions be erased? Also, would you mind letting us headcanon more ambiguous characters as less visible orientations?
I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer. It took me a long time and much painful boomeranging of my expectations to achieve a realization everyone else appears to have been born with: That I am nobody but myself.
I know you had a post about LGBT Slytherins so do you have any specific headcanons about how the other Slytherins react when a fellow Slytherin comes out as nonbinary?
They do the only rational thing, of course. They ask the house elves to make a cake in the NB colours.
The Slytherins have a third dorm room for all the non-binary Slytherins, and the sign on the door says ‘THEY/THEM’.
A particularly intelligent 7th year worked out a charm that the correct pronouns will appear over someones head if you accidentally misgender them. (No one purposefully misgenders because if anyone knows what it’s like to feel invisible due to their identity and something they can’t do anything about, its us)
They use whichever bathroom they want, of course.
During notorious Slytherin girls vs boys prank wars, they are the ultimate weapon. Not only can they choose which side they want to be on, but they are also double-spies, as well as being able to enter the opposition’s bathroom, meaning no place is sacred anymore.
My generation of lesbian activists, who honed our identity politics
and confronted racism and classism in the spaces of women’s music events
and women’s bookstores, are approaching a cultural expiration date.
Having achieved many of the radical goals we pursued through the late 20th
century—same-sex marriage, antidiscrimination laws, openly lesbian
celebrities and politicians—we are indeed celebrating new opportunities
to be out and proud. Yet having been permitted to be “out,” many of us
are now spending the energy of our menopausal years pushing back against
encroaching disappearance; our own invisibility. Dyke identity, that specific nomenclature of the fierce woman-identified woman, has been replaced by the more inclusive queer, as a new era of thoughtful LGBT activists proclaim their disidentification with the categories woman and lesbian.
The recent, ongoing interrogation of those categories in academic
theory and cyberactivism clashes with concurrent efforts to preserve, as
historically meaningful and valuable, the past 40 years of lesbian
cultural spaces. Yet making peace with the radical separatist past is an
important historical step for those charting the progression of LGBT
visibility, rights, and power. The present impasse, in the LGBT
movement, is over how to frame lesbians’ successful construction of an
autonomous subculture that was not G, that was not T, but L.
My concern is that as we advance further into the 21st century, we are witnessing the almost flippant dismissal of recent, late 20th-century
lesbian culture, particularly the loss of physical sites such as
women’s bookstores and women’s music festivals and their material
legacies (books, journals, albums, tapes, magazine interviews with
artists). This was a specific performance culture: a movement through
which fresh ideas about woman-loving were transmitted via song, speech,
and the written word and marketed to a like-minded audience at
quasi-public but distinctively lesbian-feminist spaces. At its peak,
lesbian performance culture in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s was every bit as
unique as gay male drag, punk rock, Seattle grunge, and other genres,
particularly because it put a new face on the tradition of grassroots
American folk. However, because most women’s music recording artists
earned very little money, and not only neglected but rejected commercial
male approval and participation, their contributions are difficult to
place on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame timeline.
Despite so many gains in LGBT rights, sexism and sex discrimination
have not been vanquished, and scholarly support for examining women’s
lives and communities remains contested. The traditional academic canon,
with its focus on male achievement and leadership, embeds many
contributions by gay men through the ages, whereas lesbians have had
barely a generation and a half of scholarly scrutiny (corresponding to
how recently women were allowed to attend college at all). Although
women’s studies programs have always been charged with pushing a lesbian
agenda, or just being controlled by man-hating lesbians, this was never
true and is even less true now. In fact, as women’s studies programs
expand to attract male and trans-identifying faculty and students, many
administrators are backing away from the word women altogether, striving for inclusion by renaming departments gender studies.
Although various woman-identified, lesbian separatist platforms and events that characterized a self-proclaimed dyke subculture
throughout the 1970s–’90s still exist, they aren’t yet popular subjects
of historical inquiry. Instead, these remaining activists and
institutions have become popular subjects of criticism and contempt.
Despite a wealth of feminist scholarship on aging, elder abuse, and the
intersectionality of ageism and sexism in older women’s economic
vulnerability, far less work has been produced on the aging lesbian, who
(whether activist veteran or not) offers a wealth of generational tales
The disappearance of lesbian spaces is also one aspect of the aging
baby-boomer generation. Many, though not all, of the most creative,
visionary, and accomplished lesbian activists from the 1970s and ’80s
were born in the late 1940s and early ’50s, their politics informed by
childhoods spent crouched in Cold War air raid drills, McCarthy hearings
on new television sets, and the civil rights movement. It’s not
coincidental that the lesbian-feminist movement included intense
scrutiny of militarism and racism and turned politics into a musical
stance. Although younger women (and men) may feel that Americans born
between 1945 and 1961 have been studied enough, have indeed monopolized
cultural attention for decades, are a tiresomely overcredited American
demographic, with lesbians it’s a different story. Despite our national
fascination with the 1970s, most historians still fail to inscribe the
accomplishments of that decade’s lesbian pioneers in our national
textbooks. Right now, it’s imperative that we find better ways for the
vanishing ideas, sites, and inherited stuff of late 20th-century
lesbian culture to be valued, preserved, and known by future
generations. Later, we’ll wish we had these feisty dykes in front of us
to explain what they did—and what it meant—and how they did it with no
Who’s still willing to bat for Team L? Once an empowered statement of out and proud, it’s now an identity buried within the topical hierarchy of queer studies, gay marriage, gender
identity. The disappearance of the L may be due in part to
mainstreaming LGBTQ civil rights issues into one catch phrase, but it’s
also an intentional disruption of what the aging “flannel shirt lesbian”
stereotype signifies: a person who symbolizes folk guitar at festivals
in the woods; politically correct potlucks attended by crystal-wearing
numerologists in Birkenstocks and bi-level haircuts. These images are
all white, as well as derisive. If the L-defined woman and her
separatist cultural spaces are troubling remnants of an exclusive,
retroactive essentialism, why would anyone want to interview her now?
Lost in the stereotype is the backstory of unlearning racism workshops,
disability activism, drum circles, and poverty activism, which
characterized events of the 1980s and ’90s.
Generational change is inevitable, healthy, and necessary to
progress. What I am living through right now is a painful transitional
moment in which some of those older lesbian institutions are
still going strong, and seeking participation and funding, while a
current generation of activists are distancing themselves from such
events, or even demonstrating against them. Younger, queer activists
were vocal in opposing the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival; right-wing
religious groups once eager to shut the festival down had moved on to
bigger targets. This dynamic—a next generation of feminists attacking
earlier lesbian institutions and disparaging their participants as less
evolved—is not unique to the 21st century or the United States; it is embedded in Jill Gardiner’s powerful book From the Closet to the Screen, which
describes a 1970–71 Gay Liberation Front “zap” against London’s
Gateways Club bar. As this generational shift grinds on, how should the
most recent decades of cultural production be interpreted, understood,
and preserved? How will we use the tools of history to examine something
we know existed as an investigable community?
For veterans of a certain kind of lesbian activism, who poured time,
energy, and resources into sustaining alternative spaces when other
doors were closed to us, the triumph of civil rights is a bittersweet
victory if our tremendous efforts and contributions are to be written
out of the record. The fearless Amazon generation that built an entire
network of lesbian music festivals, albums, bookstores, bars, presses,
production companies, publications, and softball teams is teetering on
the brink of oblivion, just gray-haired enough to be brushed aside with
an impatient “good riddance” by younger activists, yet too recent a
movement to enjoy critical historical acclaim.
The mainstreaming of gay rights and gay marriage, the end of Don’t
Ask, Don’t Tell, the elevation of Ellen DeGeneres to talk show mogul and
cosmetics cover girl on billboards in every mall, and the gradual
inclusion of same-sex couples by institutions of faith was inconceivable
when I first came out as a lesbian teenager—on the eve of Ronald
Reagan’s election, in 1980. There were few youth support services, no
anti-bullying programs in schools, no LGBT studies conferences in
academia. In fact, at age 19 I attended my first lesbian concert less
than half a mile from the gates of Georgetown University, then in the
midst of its costly legal battle against its own gay students, who
simply wanted to form a campus group. Thirty years later, this same
Jesuit campus now hosts an annual Lavender Graduation, as well as
funding a well-staffed LGBT Center and paying me a handsome part-time
salary to lecture on lesbian history. Today we see far greater
representation of LGBT families and couples on prime time television and
in commercially successful films. Thankfully, across global
entertainment networks there are also more and more heterosexual artists
willing to speak out for equality (and/or to play LGBT roles). This
gradually LGBT-friendly media is redefining who “lesbian stars” are.
But while it is a victory to see lesbians gaining acceptance into the
mainstream of American culture—due to stronger civil rights
protections, informed political allies, and other successful
advocacy—recent media validation has been limited to those lesbian
couples with “successful” roles or individual women who are beautiful,
able-bodied, affluent, and white. Less often depicted is working-class
lesbian culture, which thrives in small towns and urban bars; in house
parties and social events where women still meet as they always have.
And the politically engaged lesbian activist is portrayed as dressed for
Congress. For better or for worse, the stereotype of the angry radical
lesbian marching with fist raised against the patriarchy has been
replaced by the embossed wedding invitation to Megan and Carmen’s
This shift in media representation idealizes lesbians’ participation
in the American dream: settling down with a partner, marrying a
beautiful wife, raising children, being active in the local school PTA
and church community. It’s a wholesome, nonthreatening participation in
middle-class values by women who just happen to be gay. This is
the image mainstream LGBT groups have promoted since the late 1990s:
lesbians as soccer moms, as consumers, as participants in faith, nuclear
family, and military service. Vanishing from this landscape are the
many large-scale gatherings once typifying dyke subculture, where talking points included some very tough critiques of church, state, family dynamics, and military imperialism.
We’re still here. But there we were. And we remember.
Shout out to the invisible orientations and identities!
Shout out to bi people who have to hear characters say they are just “experimenting and not limiting themselves” instead of just saying the B word.
Shout out to pan people who have to deal with endless questions like “arent you just bi?”, “do you like everyone?”, “is that a real thing?”.
Shout out to ply people who even get left out of positivity posts for the orientations that are usually left out and who are constantly misunderstood.
Shout out to aromantic people who have to justify that, “no Im not just heartless”, “no Im not just out to have sex with everyone without any comittment”, “no its not that I "just havent met the right person”“.
Shout out to asexual people who have to deal with people misunderstanding and speaking over ace people about what asexuality means constantly.
Shout out to abro people who constantly get showed under the bus. Having fluid orientation and attraction is valid.
Shout out to pomo people who dont want a label, pomo people who cant find a label, pomo people who dont believe in labels and pomo people who wish there was a label for them but there just isnt.
Shout out to questioning people who use questioning as an identity of its own and either doesnt want to stop questioning or who cant stop questioning. Questioning is a valid identity.
Shout out to people who are undesided who have to deal with being told to just pick a label, to just choose. Being undesided is valid on its own.
Shout out to people who are just queer. Because just queer is enough. Just iding as queer is valid. You dont need to specify how. Queer is enough.
Shout out to the invisible orientations and identities!
"tumblrs not a source", they say. so you cite the very very few actual studies that have been done to them, and... "omg, dont you know that (a bunch of things that are literally standard practice for doing studies) being in this study mean that this is completely worthless? weve debunked this SO many times"... like no shit a near invisible identity thats only getting any attention very recently doesnt have a lot of scientific and academic literature on it!? shocker!
its weird that people demand scientific sources for something thats not a scientific concept. Same with when terfs and truscum are like “learn basic biology” in regards to gender like hi im a bio major and im here to tell you that gender is a sociological concept, not a biological one, and any attempt to prove or disprove the existence of trans people with science is just bad science.
at this point i honestly couldn’t give less of a shit about being told i’m ~*~fetishising myself~*~ or whatever the hell, but feeling like i was finally allowed to start writing about dudes with bodies like mine being confident and loved and extremely sexually desirable 100% helped me to come to terms with a whole lot of body image stuff and helped me to work on some dysphoric hard points that affect/ed me considerably irl
if your own body and your own identity is invisible in The Media at large, or only exists as a punchline to a homophobic and transphobic joke, then being ballsy enough to make something that /does/ feature yourself - in an analogue, as an autobiography, whatever - is good as hell.
real 4:53am honest posting hours, no embarrassment, we let our insomnia make earnest but incoherent posts like men
It’s just something that takes a long time to come to terms with, especially when you don’t fit the stereotypical model of like what gay looks like. I don’t know, I’m pretty feminine. I like makeup and I like shopping. Like, I can’t be gay, that’s not what gay looks like.
Queer identities are gaining more and more ground in written and visual media. While this is splendid, portrayals often seem limited to gay people. Bisexuality is, in many ways, still an “invisible” queer identity. Way too often, I hear people who don’t know what it is, doubt its existence, or just plain don’t consider it when telling a story.
About the author: I am a bisexual woman in my mid-twenties who has studied gender and queer theory non-professionally for a few years. I’m by no means an expert on anything, but I do have an interest in seeing my sexuality represented well.
Let me start with a disclaimer: There is no one way to be bisexual. This doesn’t describe everyone by a longshot. The best way of learning is to go out there, listen, ask and listen some more. This article is just a starting point for knowledge and questions.
With that in mind, let’s start!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is bisexuality?
Being bisexual means you are able to be sexually, romantically and/or emotionally attracted to more than one gender. Some people make a distinction between being attracted to both genders (bisexual) or being attracted to all genders (pansexual), but for most intents and purposes, bisexual is the term you want.
For some bisexuals, gender is a factor in the attraction, some are genderblind, some fluctuate between genders, some have a preference, etc. Point is, there are many different ways to be bisexual. The one thing they all have in common is the sexual attraction to more than one gender.
Isn’t it just a phase?
While it’s true that some gay people identify as bi before coming fully out, and that some straight people identify temporarily as bi, bisexuality is a completely legitimate orientation. Bi adults tend to stay bi.
Part of the “phase” idea comes from the fact that most bisexuals indeed settle down with a person of a specific gender. This doesn’t make them non-bisexual though. It just means that their perfect match happened to be male/female/whatever.
How and when does a bisexual person know that they are bi?
That differs a lot. Some have known all their lives, some figure it out through experimenting, some only realize when BAM they’re in love with someone unexpected. Personally, up until my early twenties I just figured everyone was a little gay until I realized that hey, maybe it’s just me.
How do bisexuals choose?
The same way as everyone else. We meet someone fantastic, and we decide that we want a relationship with them.
Aren’t you just greedy?
No, no and also no. Bisexuals are not attracted to everyone. We can be attracted to anyone regardless of gender, but we still have taste and standards. The specific standards depend on the bi individual, just like libido, faithfulness, etc. - all things that have nothing to do with the orientation and everything to do with the individual.
Writing a Bisexual Character
The top 6 most important things to remember while writing a bisexual character are as follows:
“Bisexual” is not a personality trait, nor does it say anything distinctive about the character apart from their shipping potential. Sexuality informs personality, sure, but just like you can’t base a character around their hair color, you can’t base a character solely around their sexuality. Flesh ‘em out.
Bisexual people face discrimination from both straight and gay communities. Bi girls are seen as flaky teases or “drunken straight girls”. Bi guys are seen as equally flaky, unable to settle down, or as gays in denial. All bi people are seen as more promiscuous and less trustworthy. Many people will avoid serious relationships with bi people because of this.
Since bisexuals are regarded as more sexual, bi characters (especially female) can skirt the line of Mr./Ms. Fanservice. It’s not fair, but know that a same-sex couple kissing will often be seen as shocking and/or pandering.
Most (Western) bisexuals live happy, well-adjusted lives at peace with our sexuality. The media has a tendency to depict queer characters in a very dramatic and traumatised light, and there is some truth to this (e.g. the suicide rate among bisexual teens is higher than for both straight and gay teens), but the angst is currently overexposed in media. The angsty queer story needs some spotlight, but it isn’t groundbreaking or edgy anymore.
Related to this, be careful about killing off one half of a same-sex couple. It has been done. A LOT. I’m not saying it can’t be done well, but it leaves me a bad taste in the mouth to see just how many storytellers don’t believe I deserve a happy ending.
If your bisexual character is the only non-monosexual person in the story, be prepared for extra scrutiny and criticism (as this character will stand as ambassador for your view on bisexual people). Avoid this by having a broader selection of LGBT+ characters.
How to Out a Bisexual Character
It can be tricky to out bisexual characters, especially if they’re uncoupled by the time of writing. Here are some easy ways:
Casual outing. Mention same-sex partners/exes in passing. “Yeah, my ex always did so-and-so. S/he was crazy!”. Date stories are also good fuel here. This is the most casual way of coming out.
Sexy outing. Let the character join in on “that person is so hot!” conversations, or have them hit on someone of the same gender. This type of outing may be at little ambiguous, at least to the other characters, and it emphasizes the sexual aspect of the identity. But it can be a fun way.
Explicit outing. Let the character explicitly and directly out themselves. This may be in response to some bigoted speech (“whoa dude, you know it’s me you’re talking about, right?”), during a relevant conversation point (“Actually, since I’m bi, I know so-and-so”), or it might be a bigger gesture (“Since you’re my friend, you deserve to know”). There are lots of reasons one might bring it up.
Forced/accidental outing. Someone else outs the character. This might be an enemy throwing it in your character’s face, a friend who slips up and mentions it, someone who comes across old love letters, etc. Depending on setting and other characters, this can be quite the drama fuel.
In real life, most bi people are acutely aware of how we mention our dating lives. We have made active decisions about whether we’re out or not, and who we’re out to. Very few bi people are careless about this.
That said, please out your bi character to, if no one else, then at least to the reader. Representation only matters if it is, you know… represented.
Tropes and Caricatures To Avoid
There are lots of weird and harmful tropes and stereotypes regarding bisexuals. Namely:
The sex fiend. Yes, some people like sex a lot, and sometimes those sex lovers are bisexual. But there’s nothing inherently promiscuous about bisexuality, and the world doesn’t need any more sex-crazed bi characters.
The straight-then-gay. A person who has genuinely enjoyed sexual relations with the opposite gender, then starts dating someone of the same gender, is probably bi. Don’t erase their identity, and the genuineness of their previous relationships, by proclaiming them suddenly gay. Or vice versa.
Crushing on the straight person. While this can make a compelling story, and it certainly happens in real life, it has been done to death. It also tends to cast queer love as inherently more tragic than straight love. Maybe not avoid outright, but certainly tread with caution.
Too Good For This World. While it is a nice gesture, killing off your queer character to make a point about the world’s cruelty has been done. To death, if you’ll pardon the pun.
The Tease. Especially common with female characters. It’s a bisexual person, often very sexy, but her orientation is never stated outright. It’s played with, alluded to, flirted with, but she never crosses the line of plausible deniability. Almost always overlaps with the sex fiend or Ms. Fanservice. Just… just don’t.
The most important part is: It’s not hard! As long as you build an interesting, three-dimensional person not relying on stereotypes (the way all characters should be written), you can’t mess it up. And the world sorely needs good bi characters, so you will be doing both the queer and the writing community a solid by including us.
Also: Please remember that there are as many ways to be bisexual as there are bisexuals on this planet. Sexuality is fluid, and complex, and just a small part of one’s identity.
If you’re interested in reading more, here are some good starting points:
seeing those “reblog if you’re part of three forgotten/invisible lgbt identity!!” posts are really annoying, especially rn, considering lesbians are literally always forgotten and left out of pride posts/lumped in w/ gay men :^)
Sometimes I think to myself “ugh discourse is so pointless to the real world” and then I remember that I have to actually exist as a non-binary person and cope with the frustration and depression of being invisible and without identity or words to describe myself and I remember why I care about all this shit.
Mass personalization. Individualization of all conditions — life, work and misery. Diffuse schizophrenia. Rampant depression. Atomization into fine paranoiac particles. Hysterization of contact. The more I want to be me, the more I feel an emptiness. The more I express myself, the more I am drained. The more I run after myself, the more tired I get. We cling to our self like a coveted job title. We’ve become our own representatives in a strange commerce, guarantors of a personalization that feels, in the end, a lot more like an amputation. We insure our selves to the point of bankruptcy, with a more or less disguised clumsiness. Meanwhile, I manage. The quest for a self, my blog, my apartment, the latest fashionable crap, relationship dramas, who’s fucking who… whatever prosthesis it takes to hold onto an “I”! If “society” hadn’t become such a definitive abstraction, then it would denote all the existential crutches that allow me to keep dragging on, the ensemble of dependencies I’ve contracted as the price of my identity.
The Invisible Committee, The Coming Insurrection
I don’t think I’ve seen a lot of posts like this before, so here it goes; I want to give a shout out to all of my fellow agender aces:
Shout out to the agender aces who feel like they have to hide their gender and sexuality offline because they are “invisible identities”.
Shout out to the agender aces who do not feel a need to be out, and shout out to the ones who do.
Shout out to the agender aces who feel like one part of their identity is used to invalidate the other by discoursers.
Shout out to the agender aces who hate being called trans because they feel like it erases their identity.
Shout out to the agender aces who embrace the label trans, as well as the ones who feel like they have to because they feel like at least they’re being recognized as non cis.
Shout out to the agender aces who are accused of being “transtrenders” or cishets wanting to be “special snowflakes”.
Shout out to the afab agender aces who are told they are just cisgender straight girls trying to escape accusations of homophobia.
Shout out to agender aces who ever felt like they don’t belong anywhere because they don’t have a binary gender and don’t feel sexual attraction.
Shout out to the agender aces who ever felt like they were less human because they don’t have a binary gender and don’t feel sexual attraction.
All of my fellow agender aces, both your gender and your sexuality is valid. There is nothing “absent”, and you are not broken. You are not invisible and you are not broken; you are alive and wonder and here.
I had no desire to destroy myself even if it destroyed the machine; I wanted freedom, not destruction. It was exhausting, for no matter what the scheme I conceived, there was one constant flaw – myself. There was no getting around it. I could no more escape than I could think of my identity. Perhaps, I thought, the two things are involved with one another. When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.
Ralph Ellison, who was born on this day in 1914, wrote this in Invisible Man, which was a critical novel for me at multiple points in my life, particularly during my transition.
*makes a post vaguely referencing that gay people aren’t violent bigots for only being interested in one sex and not making their bodies available to those of the opposite sex, regardless of those people’s invisible internal personal gender identity*
*loses ten followers along with my faith in basic human decency*