Sunday, July 27, 2014

Collie McNeil’s Speech – Dyke and Trans March 2014


At the beginning of the summer, a friend of mine had witnessed a flood of tweets from people expressing anger, frustration, and contempt at those who they assumed to be faking bisexuality to garner attention. Aside from the fact that this sentiment expresses a grave misunderstanding of what it is like to be bisexual by assuming that the attention that we receive is such that heterosexuals would give up their straight status to receive it, it also worked up a handful of emotions that we wanted to share stemming from years and years of being invalidated. We took over the hashtag Bi For Attention and began to discuss a variety of ways that this line of thinking harms bisexuals, specifically bisexual women, who nearly all of the tweets were about.

In the most basic sense, the policing of bisexual identity and the gatekeeping that faces us within our own community is most definitely a cause for concern. The harm that is caused to bisexual people when they are treated like watered down homosexuals, devious heterosexuals, or a combination of the two is long-lasting, and it gets deeply internalized. There is a strong feeling of isolation that comes with not being accepted into straight communities for being queer, while also being denied access to queer communities on the grounds of being half-straight. There seems to be a lack of understanding that bisexuality is a separate, valid identity.

I am bisexual. This does not change depending on who I may or may not be sleeping with. I am bisexual when I wake up in the morning, I am bisexual when I eat breakfast, I am bisexual when I am doing homework, when I am watching television, when I am taking a nap – my bisexuality is part of me, of my identity, and it doesn’t disappear suddenly based on how valid other people may or may not think that it is at any given moment.

This idea that bisexual women are only identifying as bisexual as a ploy to receive attention from straight men is very much rooted in heteronormativity, in such that any woman who is known to experience attraction to men will be automatically stripped of her agency and presumed heterosexual, even when engaging in romantic or sexual activity with another woman, which is immediately invalidated or repackaged for male consumption. Heteronormativity and misogyny being so pervasive in our society makes it almost impossible to be viewed as an Authentic Bisexual Woman regardless of thoughts, feelings, or behaviours.

More so than that, the idea that bisexual women are only identifying as bisexual as a ploy to receive attention from straight men also plays into a much uglier and violent side of the bisexual experience. It ignores the fact that much of the attention that we do receive from straight men is unsolicited and inappropriate. There is an implication within the BiForAttention sentiment that we are constantly desperate or wanting for the attention of men as bisexual women, and therefore we must always be inherently consenting to the attention that we are receiving, even when that attention exists in the form of harassment, invalidation, misogyny, stalking, abuse, rape, or objectification, as it so often does.

This attention is also packaged in the form of medical discrimination that is a grave concern to me as a disabled bisexual woman, who has to navigate a trifecta of ableism, misogyny, and biphobia on a daily basis. Some of the most memorable incidents that I can recall from this year are the discovery of a book being published about borderline personality disorder listing bisexuality as a symptom of mental illness for being attention seeking or considered risky behaviour, and someone recounting their experience discussing sexuality with a gay male psychiatrist who blatantly admitted that he would accept a patient identifying as homosexual, but would immediately begin to treat bisexuality as part of the mental illness of a patient.

When looking at the impact that these ideas have on bisexual people, it is extremely important to note that the bisexual community is predominatly women and people of colour, that we are facing higher rates of mental illness, poor health, and poverty, that a large portion of the trans community identifies as bisexual, and that the intersection of these things strongly impacts the ways in which we are treated and the access that we have to the resources that we need.

It is also worth noting that, despite bisexuals comprising 40% of the LGBT community, in 2010 when LGBT organizations received almost 100 million dollars, not a penny was put into bisexual specific research, resources, or organizations. This was the second year in a row that excluded bisexuals from receiving any funding.

Instead there have been articles published in The New York Times titled The Scientific Quest to Prove Bisexuality Exists, rape apologism, misogyny, gatekeeping, exclusion, erasure, and people like Dan Savage, who are viewed as powerful voices in our community, who claim to tell people who identify as bisexual to come back to him in 10 years.

In fact, the most common answer that I received when discussing the opportunity to speak today with fellow bisexuals and asking what they feel needs to be conveyed was simply, “can you please explain that biphobia is real”, and other variations of validating bisexuality.

The fact that we still need to explain bisexual erasure, that we still need to explain bisexuality in general, is preventing a lot of necessary discussion from happening. There have been many, many important discussions happening amongst bisexuals, but those are being drowned out and ignored.
Social Media has given bisexuals a platform to use their voices, to gather and discuss amongst each other, and to find community. It is my hope that if we keep doing this and if we keep pushing campaigns and discussions like Bi For Attention on twitter, that we can bring attention to the dire situation facing our community and attempt to kickstart some kind of a change.
I thought it would be relevant to close with a short piece that I wrote earlier this year in response to having to defend my existance as a bisexual woman:

They say that we are either bisexual until proven gay,
or that we must be bisexual until proven straight.
But, why are we on trial for this?
We are forever placing our hands on a book of rules that digs into our skin.
We must take the stand to defend every kiss, every fuck, every potential feeling of love.
We must plead our case, only to always be found guilty.

Our mouths have gone dry from constantly licking our wounds.
We refuse to be interrogated by an assembly of those trying to disprove us,
By our own community trying to disprove us.
We will no longer take to a jury of our peers to be dissected like frogs.
We do not have to bleed for you to confirm our humanity.
Our humanity is not debatable.

We will no longer be pretending to tip our scales in an attempt to feel validation.
We will no longer crawl back into stuffy closets waiting for you to let us breathe.
We will no longer answer the invasive questions that you ask in your attempts to erase us.
We will no longer let you silence us.

We have voices like battle cries, echoing from the stains of war,
and we will use them to tell you:
“We exist,
but we do not exist for you.”

I DO NOT EXIST FOR YOU



Friday, July 25, 2014

Guest Blog: The Invisible Stereotypes of Bisexual Men by Alon Zivony & Thalma Lobel


Alon Zivony
Bisexuals face two broad social problems: public invisibility and discrimination. Invisibility refers to the lack of representation of bisexuals and knowledge about bisexuals in society. In either the media, the sciences, and even in the LGT community – people are nearly unaware of the existence of bisexuals and the issues that affect their lives. Discrimination refers to prejudice and stereotypical attitudes towards bisexuals. For example, the notion that bisexuals are closeted gay\lesbian, untrustworthy, confused, and hypersexual. 

At first glance, these two phenomena (invisibility and discrimination) seem paradoxical. How can invisibility and discrimination coincide? In other words, how can someone discriminate against a group they are not familiar with? The answer may be surprisingly simple.

In our study we evaluated social stereotypes of bisexual men in light of bisexual invisibility. Participants were presented with two characters on a first date and asked them to evaluate one of the characters (based on answers to various questions). Whenever the evaluated character was described as bisexual, he was evaluated as being confused, untrustworthy, and unable to stay in a relationship. In other words, he was evaluated based on negative stereotypes associated with bisexuals.

Thalma Lobel
In another experiment we asked participants to indicate what are the stereotypes associated with bisexual men. In light of bisexual invisibility, it is not surprising that participants had little knowledge of these stereotypes. For example, only 20% of participants knew that bisexual men are often considered as closeted gay. Only 7% of participants knew that bisexual men are often considered as confused. 

But we found something surprising as well. The results showed that prejudiced individuals knew even less about these stereotypes that non-prejudiced individuals.  In other words, prejudice not only coincided with lack of knowledge, but was correlated with it. The meaning of this finding was spelled out for us by one participant. He wrote: “I'm not familiar with any specific stereotypes of bisexual males. I do sometimes feel that they are actually homosexuals, but are afraid to identify as such due to social stigma.”

In other words, this participant holds stereotypical beliefs about bisexual men, but doesn’t know these beliefs are considered stereotypical. On the other hand, people who are familiar with bisexuality, bisexuals and the stereotypes associated with bisexuals, were also less prone to hold prejudices against bisexuals.

If prejudice against bisexual doesn’t come from knowledge about bisexuals, where does it come from? We think that bisexual stereotypes are the result of misconceptions regarding sexuality and gender in general. For example, as men and women are considered as completely separate and “opposite” genders, people automatically imagine bisexuality as two dual attractions that work in opposite directions. The implication of that image is a constant conflict and turmoil. This is how bisexual stereotypes can be both common and unknown.

This unique situation is quite problematic for bisexuals: people don’t try to suppress their prejudicial beliefs and behaviors unless they know they are prejudicial. Also, you can’t fight stereotypes unless people know they are stereotypes. The solution for this problem surely lies in education. Both bisexual invisibility as well as discrimination against bisexuals can be addressed by increasing society’s exposure to bisexuality.

"The Invisible Stereotypes of Bisexual Men" is available for purchase from the Archives of Sexual Behavior here.

Bisexual, Asian, Out & Proud at NYC Pride 2014


Last year, I missed Pride season in two countries, so this year I was excited to be celebrating it in the most culturally diverse city I've ever lived in - New York City. When they announced the Grand Marshals for this year’s event, they listed three people I absolutely adore. As a fan of the entire cast of Orange is The New Black, I loved that Laverne Cox was one. As an online student of The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, I was excited that Rea Carey was going to be representing. Jonathan Groff, whose voice/ grin/ face I love, made the team of three. Initially, I was annoyed that there wasn't a bisexual grand marshal. Was it that they didn't have a viable candidate? Did they not have the budget? Did they not know how to be allies?

BiNet USA’s Faith Cheltenham initiated a petition for NYC Pride to become bi-inclusive and I got on board. Alan Cumming, Amber Heard, Margaret Cho, Anna Paquin, Evan Rachel Wood, Missy Higgins, Raul Esperanza... are only a few of the amazing bisexual celebrities that could have been representing the Bi Community. It wasn't because of the lack of options, from my perspective. There was a lot of conversation online about how the bi community was entitled to representation because Pride was Brenda Howard’s idea to begin with. Coming from a history of having to be the person to create a bisexual space within the LGBT community in India, this perception was new to me. If I've wanted to be included, I've needed to show up and be visible, vocal, out and proud – I've needed to be my own representation.

Instead of being upset about the lack of a Bisexual Grand Marshal, I decided to do the one thing I could. The only thing in my control is how I perceive and allow things to effect me. So I changed my own perspective to see how the Grand Marshals who were chosen did represent aspects of my own identity. Laverne Cox inspires me to be a voice of honesty; Rea Carey inspires me to be a better eloquent leader; and Jonathan Groff inspires me to follow my dreams. That is good enough for me for the moment.

At the Rally on Friday night I met some of the people who were going to be up on stage. I spoke to them about Bi Visibility and they were welcoming and supportive. I also met with volunteers and executive board members who were responsible for putting together Pride Events. They were incredibly nice and almost whoever I met, took a few moments to sit with me and talk about inclusiveness and about how they could do better at being bi visible. Rea Carey wore a Bi Pride pin as she gave her speech, we also had a conversation about how The Task Force helped me as an activist through their online classes and about how we (she included) needed to use bi inclusive language. Susan Sarandon, pointed at my pin and said that we needed more bi pride going around! Betty Who gave me a big tight (tall) hug and was excited to do the picture with me. Well Strung, the adorable boy band, were more than happy to show some bi pride too!

At the Rally that night and at the Dyke March the next day I was caught off guard by women who noticed my Bi Pride pin and said that we needed more of it. For the first half of the Pride March, I walked with NYABN. Somehow, I ended up walking by myself holding the bi flag, at the front of the group. There were moments of silence for me to reflect on how I got to being right there and my own history with bi pride. I looked at the group of people around me and realized that from where we stood (and walked), we existed, and we were visible, vocal, out and proud. In my mind, I still felt that my struggle with my Queer Indian Community isn't over. We're still fighting for equality in India and that was on my mind the entire time.

Two thirds of the way through, I decided that it was time for me to go represent with the Queer Asian Contingents. I ran back about 30 city blocks to join SALGA NYC and walk back up with them. (That was when I realized that I had on the wrong shoes for Pride!) Right behind them walked Q-Wave, the first Queer Asian group I connected with in NYC. There is a sense of cultural pride intertwined with who we are as South Asian queers, and that again was a new experience and I embraced it. At one point, I tied the bi flag to the side of the SALGA float to walk with a friend of mine and she smiled and told one of the other organizers – SALGA finally has its own Bi Flag.

That there was my personal moment of Pride.

I've always had one label, but now I've got a few more. For the first time ever, my cultural identity matters within a queer space. The experience of NYC Pride, has helped me realize that it is important for me to identify as an Asian Bisexual and I feel the need for more bi visibility within the existing Queer Asian spaces, with which I feel the most affinity. You can be sure that I will be doing something about it. I am also realizing that this movement for increased bi visibility is where I belong, and possibly the reason for me being here right now. It is within my DNA to be the change I wish to see in this world, and I have promised myself to have the courage to follow my destiny.

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Apphia K. is a bisexual activist from India and is a force to reckon with. She believes in being brave, empowering the people around her, changing the world, unconditional love, real hugs and laughing out loud. 

Monday, July 07, 2014

School Board Member on Coming Out as Bisexual


by Harrie Farrow for BiNet USA


Bonilla was first elected to the board in 2011, at age 21. He said he ran for the position because, "I felt that our students at that time didn't have a voice on the school board, and as a recent graduate I felt I could provide that voice. I also felt that many of the issues facing the minority community were being ignored."

In regards to coming out to himself, Bonilla explained, “Once I was able to finally understand that I can't control what others would think, or how they would feel, I began to move forward.”

When he came out to his family, they were very supportive, and he said he "felt extremely relieved." However, he explained, since "The idea of being bisexual is one that many people don't fully understand... The difficult part was not only having to tell my family, but also, educate my family.” 

Bonilla feels that, “…we as a community need to do more to educate our communities as to what it means to be bisexual. They all know what it means to be Lesbian or Gay, but bisexuality to many is a new concept…many times I have been asked what it means to be bisexual. I am asked does that mean I have both a boyfriend and a girlfriend?... We even face questions from the LG Community. Some gays say ‘People say they are bisexual because they are afraid to say they are gay.’”

“It was a very though choice to make,” Bonilla explained, about deciding to come out publicly. He spoke of the reasons why he did, while recounting some of the reactions, “I heard from a number of people who said, ‘I don't have anything against people who are bisexual or even gay, but we all don't need to know about your private life.’ My response to them was simple. I didn't do this publicly for you. I didn't even do it publicly for myself. I did it because of the position that I am in as an elected official… I need to be honest, open, and upfront with the people I represent. Too many politicians today hide things… I also did it publicly for the members of the LGBT community who are judged because of their sexuality… who are bullied… I did it for the people like myself who were in the ‘closet’ and scared to be themselves. I wanted them all to know that…it is ok to be who you are regardless of what other may think and say. I wanted them to know that is better to live their lives as they want to, than having to hide behind a mask to please others. If by coming out publicly I can change one person's life or make it easier for one person, I… know that I did the right thing!” Bonilla also said that being out, would make it easier for him to “fight for true equality.”

After he came out, most people were supportive, he said, and there was far fewer negative reactions than he'd expected, “Yes, there has been that occasional person who makes a comment, but it has been very rare. Many feel that it is my private life and they just don't care.”

In 2013, Bonilla received a Community Service Award from the Pennsylvania Diversity Network for his role in bring same-sex medical benefits to members of the district, which he said benefits not only the staff, “but also the students and members our community who can point to our board and say ‘they get it, they understand, and they care.’" At that time, he said, someone came to a board meeting to complain, yet, no one did after he came out, “I would like to believe it's because we as a community and a society are moving forward.”

Bonilla said he's “received a lot of messages from students asking for advice, asking if I was nervous, asking how I told my parents.” Some told him that his story inspired them to come out too.

Asked what he'd say to someone struggling with a bisexual identity, Bonilla replied, “Know that you are not alone! There are those of us who are here and want to help you if you need it. Be who you are!” Bonilla feels that, “Had I had someone like myself to look up too growing up, I think I might have realized my sexuality sooner, and have become more comfortable with it.” He added, “Growing up... I faced many hurdles… from being sexually abused at a young age, to isolating myself from others, being bullied, to being judged based on my race.... but I have never wanted any pity. I have worked hard to get to where I am…. to rise against the barriers I faced. If I can do it then anyone can do it.”

Since coming out, Bonilla was asked to become a member of the Advisory Board for a new LGBT Community Center, and asked to contribute to an article in The Central Voice, which will look at how bisexuality is perceived in the LGBT Community and beyond.
Bonilla, who is also the school board representative on the Superintendent's Advisory Committee on Diversity, said about his future, “I am not sure if I will run for the Board again or higher office, or maybe leave politics and be a community activist.”

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Bisexual Alliance Victoria, Australia, Looking for Film Participants

Entitled Then & Now: Exploring the Experiences of Older LGBTI Australians, the Bisexual Alliance Victoria from Australia is searching for participants to take part in a short film project.

If you're over 65 and comfortable sharing your story on film, they would love to interview you for Then & Now. The group is producing five eight-minute films, with one that focuses specifically on the
experiences of older bisexual people in Australia.

The films will explore:

  • Past experiences that demonstrate the context that participants grew up in.
  • Experiences of significant social events or changes. 
  • Perceptions and experiences related to living as an older bisexual person.
  • Connections between past and present experiences.

Basically, what was it like for you then and what is it like for you now?

If you would like to be involved, please contact Anastasia of the Bisexual Alliance Victoria at 0424 584 303 or via email at info@ bi-alliance.org


Applications close June 30, 2014.

Friday, June 13, 2014

NYC Pride + Happy Bisexuals!

BiNet USA is pleased with the results of talks held between BiNet USA and NYC Pride volunteer staff on the topic of bisexual inclusion atNYC Pride, one of the largest LGBTQ events of the year. BiNet USA and the NewYork Area Bisexual Network, joined by leaders from NYC based organizations BiRequest and S.i.S.T.A.H, were successful in our efforts to communicate concerns.

Bust Biphobia: NYC Pride March
We feel like we've been heard. 

We have received a firm commitment from NYC Pride on its intention to be inclusive of bisexual communities and identities this year at Pride. We also feel confident that NYC Pride will welcome bisexual community participation in the planning stages for future NYC Pride events.

Thank you for signing our MoveOn petition if you took the time to support our campaign. We had 496 signers who believed that bi people deserve to be at an equality table they helped to build. 

NYC Pride has informed us that Larry Nelson, surviving partner of bisexual rights activist and important figure in the modern LGBT rights movement Brenda Howard, was the 1st group leader to sign up in this year's NYC Pride March. Nelson who continues to work as a coordinator for NYABN, a group which was co-founded by his partner Howard, annually registers the Bisexual Contingent that includes All Bisexual/Non-Monosexual Groups in the greater NYC Area, and is usually the first to register every year in honor of  "our Brenda". 


Howard is known as the "Mother of Pride" for her work in coordinating a rally and then the Christopher Street Liberation Day March to commemorate the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. She also originated the idea of a week-long series of events around Pride Day which became the genesis of the annual LGBT Pride celebrations that are now held around the world every June. Brenda passed away in 2005, but her memory still beats strong and fights on in each and every one of us working for unequivocal equality.  
NYC Tri-state Bisexual Contingent in LGBT Pride March

We thank NYC Pride for their willingness to move forward in a spirit that would see our whole community recognized with the bravery it deserves.

#FlagsUp,
Faith Cheltenham, BiNet USA President

Special Thanks:
Learn more about the history of bi-identified LGBTQ Right's Activist Brenda Howard

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

#ALLY OP: BiNet USA supports J Mase III, #black #trans #queer poet, because names are important

When I read this post by J Mase III, I really wanted to cross-post it on the BiNet USA blog because his thoughts are an important part of the conversation that needs to keep happening for ALL cisgender, transgender, agender and gender nonconforming people. Let's keep creating opportunities to build bridges beyond boundaries, and through them. ~Faith

J Mase III
"This post is for my cis-LGBQA counterparts that are often gatekeepers within the LGBTQIA community and expect us to just accept whatever morsels of attention we are given. Fuck that. I am an adult, not a puppy, and I do not accept table scraps when I deserve to sit down to dinner. 
A few days ago, someone passed my contact information over to an openly gay cis writer named Richard Morgan, who was looking specifically for a trans poet to be interviewed in an article about queer artists of colour. (Let’s not even mention the fact that if he was truly part of an inclusive community in NYC, he would already know a trans person to interview.) So we set up a time to talk on the phone. Once on the phone I was asked what my name was. That’s a simple enough question. So I said, ‘Well, as [X] said in the email, my name is Mason and my writing/stage name is J Mase III.’
‘But what’s your driver’s license name?’
What? This can’t be real, right? Anyone writing about a trans person must know it is not okay to just ask someone in the first 30 seconds what their ‘real name’ is.
When I asked what relevance my legal name had in regards to an article about my art, the response I was given was that since many artists – like Diddy and Ke$ha – change their names, my government name was needed in order to keep a consistent record of ‘who I was’.
Clearly, as I shared over the phone, Diddy and I changed our names for very different reasons. And the whole conversation went downhill from there, as I explained that not only was my full government name not even something I get on my paychecks, but that 99% of people in my personal and public life wouldn’t recognize it.
It would be one thing if Mr. Morgan simply said, ‘Hey, I get that this is important to your identity – let’s just use the name you feel is most representative of you.’ However, when I inquired what happens when trans folks aren’t safe or comfortable sharing their legal name, the response was, ‘Well, those people don’t get written about.’
Seriously? This is how we show trans-allyship?
I encouraged Mr. Morgan to check in with any of the trans-led and/or inclusive organizations that exist in this massive city – like the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, or FIERCE, or anywhere else there was someone telling him why that was not appropriate – because, clearly, me saying that about my own experience wasn’t enough proof. I even sent him a section of GLAAD’s Media’s Reference Guide, which details why journalists should acknowledge trans folk’s names and why not doing so is disrespectful.
- Read More of J Mase III's important article on why you should respect his name, and names in general here.

BiNet USA welcomes opportunities to promote all allies of the LGBTQIAA+ community. If you have a guest article or a post you'd like to see cross-posted please email us at press@binetusa.org with the Subject Line, #AllyOp!

Saturday, June 07, 2014

#BECAUSE2014 Live Tweets!

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Alec Mapa Apologies With Grace and Humor

Alec Mapa Twitter: June 5th, 2014 2:21pm
From @AlecMapa:
"Apologies to my bi brothers and sisters. i bear no ill will. Some of my best exes are bisexual. I've experienced your magic first hand."
We're so thankful for the quick turn-around on this Alec Mapa!

Also, we completely agree about the magic.

Guest Blog: Bi Woman Reflects on Illinois Marriage Equality

Here’s to Illinois by Elizabeth Harrison

Elizabeth Harrison, http://lizadare.wordpress.com

I grew up in a closet.

I first came out as bisexual when I was in tenth grade. It is a little shocking to me that I even knew the word, with how little our media discusses bisexuality. I told a friend at a leadership retreat. She didn’t know any of my friends from back home. It was safe.

In the coming years I would convince myself that those words were some sort of fluke. Something that didn’t need to mean anything. Perhaps everyone said things like that from time to time. I put myself back in the closet and there I stayed.

And who could blame me? In Colorado Springs, Colorado, where reminders that same-sex attraction was a sin were a fact of daily life. Literally down the street from New Life Church and Focus on the Family, megacenters of “family”, “Christian” values telling me that same-sex love was inherently wrong.

The law agreed. My own country and government agreed. I grew up in a world where it was a simple fact of existence that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people could be denied basic civil rights because of who they loved. GLBT people could be fired from their jobs for being too “out”, they could not openly serve, and they certainly could not marry. I heard military members talking about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”- how GLBT people should just be quiet about it. I remember a 9th grade teacher’s homophobic rants in class, well-supported by the school and the parents. I remember military members saying that it was a problem for GLBT people to serve because “we just wouldn’t want to shower with one of them” or “it just wouldn’t be right to share a tent”.

This bothered me. As long as I can remember, this bothered me. I raged against it. In 9th grade, I remember a boy calling me an “angry, feminist liberal” in English class and other girls telling me to act less opinionated so boys would like me. I remember wanting to start a Gay Straight Alliance or some other GLBT club in my high school. I emailed the national GSA chapter and they strongly urged me to consider if starting such an organization on the north side of Colorado Springs would be safe. I didn’t come out. I didn’t create a group that would help others come out. Because we feared for our safety.

By high school I had noticed that I liked boys and girls. I liked one girl in particular, and friends were quick to call us lesbians. But I knew that I wasn’t a lesbian. I liked boys too. So I must be straight. Same-sex love was wrong, so I dated boys instead. I pretended it didn’t matter. It was just experimental. It wasn’t real. Things ended badly with her.

My male partner of 4 years eventually knew that I was bisexual, but I didn’t tell many others. After all, I was with a man, so I told myself it didn’t matter. With men, I could picture the white dress, the church wedding, the kids, the life. I knew I liked women, but I grew up in a world where a marriage to a woman would be a ceremony not respected by the law. It wouldn’t feel like a real marriage, because it would not be equal to a marriage with a man. It would be a scandal. I could lose my job.
I grew up in a world where my civil rights were denied so fully that it began to seem like a fact of life. I don’t know when it happened, and I hate that it happened, but at some point it began to seem normal. Society told me that same-sex love was less, that I was less worthy, that the bisexual part of me was deviant and wrong, and eventually a part of me believed it.

I didn’t realize how much I had accepted this utter violation of my rights until marriage was legalized in my current state of residence, Illinois. It didn’t feel real. I didn’t know what to do. It still doesn’t feel real. Now spending the rest of my life with a woman is just as viable an option as spending my life with a man. I can really, fully, love and marry who I want. I don’t know how to feel. I am finally equal (at least under the law), and I feel happy, I feel like jumping up and down, I feel like crying, I feel… more than a little scared that it will be taken away.

 

Read the rest of this poignant post over at Liz's blog: http://lizadare.wordpress.com/2013/11/21/heres-to-illinois/