Nicole Kristal: "Why I created the 'Still Bisexual' campaign"

2408oat-w800h800z1-85019-yes-im-still-bisexualI’m still bisexual.” It’s the phrase we utter to our friends and lovers, our families and co-workers, year after year, until we’re blue in the face.  It’s difficult to accept that reminding people of our bisexuality is both necessary and never-ending, so some of us abandon it altogether out of tedium or to avoid the scoffs and disbelief our orientation often inspires.

In the short-term, it seems easier if we’re partnered to just let people assume we are straight or gay. We let our bisexuality slip into our silent pasts just to make our boyfriends, girlfriends, wives and husbands feel more comfortable. But making everyone else more comfortable is coming at a tremendous expense to our own health and happiness. And it needs to stop. We need another way.

Going to the trouble of reminding people we are still bisexual is about choosing truth over convenience and bravery over shame. And I am writing this to encourage you to scream it in people’s faces, despite what a pain in the ass it might be.

WHY I CREATED THE CAMPAIGN

I created the #StillBisexual campaign for one simple reason — because after 20 years as an out bisexual, I realized things really hadn’t gotten much better for our community. In 2006, I co-wrote The Bisexual’s Guide to the Universe: Tips, Quips and Lists for Those Who Go Both Ways to try to remedy this, but it wasn’t enough. Twenty years later, and the rest of the world still believed a.) we didn’t exist and b.) that they knew my sexuality better than I did.

 

I realized we have to destroy the conventional wisdom that bisexuals don’t stay bisexual in order to change the public perception that bisexuality disappears when you commit to someone. If those things could be accomplished, then our visibility problem could be solved.

So the challenge to me then became, how do I show people who just don’t get bisexuality to understand that bisexuals stay bisexual? How do I get people to stop mistaking monogamy for orientation? And the answer was through confessional-style videos, much like in the anti-bullying campaign, where bisexuals themselves tell their dating and relationship histories by writing it on title cards so people can see what the dating life of a bisexual actually looks like and that it persists over time.

And with that, the hash tag #StillBisexual was created in my living room along with the @StillBisexual Twitter handle, Still Bisexual Facebook page, and the official #StillBisexual web page.

So far, our campaign includes videos of men and women, trans and cisgender, of various races and ages…and we are just getting started.

YOUR PERSONAL STORY IS A WEAPON

The #StillBisexual campaign believes there’s no more powerful weapon in our arsenal to destroy biphobic stereotypes than bisexuals telling their own personal stories of how they realized their bisexuality was here to stay. This is crucial because stories of transitional bisexuals dominate the cultural narrative whether public figures are actual transitional bisexuals or not. (Did the Drew Barrymores and Angelina Jolies of the world really go straight — or just tire of saying they were #StillBisexual and then assumed to be heterosexual by the monosexual media?)

Don’t get me wrong — I’m not saying that sexuality isn’t fluid and that some people don’t transition into other identities. I’m saying that after a certain number of years there’s a pattern of behavior that you can look at and say with confidence is decisively bisexual. If you can look at your love life and see a pattern of loving relationships with more than one gender or a pattern of enjoying sex with more than one gender, then there’s no denying that your bisexuality is not a phase. It’s lifelong.

My #StillBisexual video starts out with me coming out as bi to my secret girlfriend in high school and having her tell me she thought I was really gay. Then it details how I went to college and finally dated men but didn’t have sex with them because I was afraid I would just find out I didn’t know myself as well as I thought I did. That I was actually gay (because that’s what the world told me—that I was one or the other). Then ends with me finally having sex with guys, loving it and being pissed off I’d let the world scare me out of what I knew all along: that I was #StillBisexual.

Some lesbians have attacked the video as evidence that because I stated that I enjoyed sex with men that it meant I don’t also enjoy having sex with women, using my video as evidence that most bisexual women “prefer dick.” I’ve also been told since I started the campaign that I have nothing to complain about because bisexual women do not experience hate crimes and ultimately all end up marrying men.

But I take this biphobia as proof that the #StillBisexual campaign still has a lot of work to do—and I hope you will help me.

erwtweetSHARING YOUR STORY

The first phase of the campaign is to create a safe space for bisexuals to be open about their lifelong orientation and the challenges they have encountered within the gay and straight communities. To tell their stories, their dating histories and the biphobia they’ve suffered and how they came to accept themselves.

The videos are silent, aside from a music track, to draw viewers in and have more of an emotional impact, so I encourage you not to speak at the camera. I also encourage you not to make a video longer than two minutes because most people have the attention span of gnats. Tips on making your #StillBisexual can be found on the #StillBisexual website: www.stillbisexual.com.

Right now, the campaign is about two months old. Because the stigma against our community is so great, it’s been tough to inspire people to make videos outlining their love lives, particularly bisexual men. Those who have not felt comfortable making a video have shared the fact that they are #StillBisexual in other creative ways anonymously on Twitter.

One woman sent in a photo of her holding a sheet of paper telling her dating and relationship history and her pride about being poly, while others simply tweeted. One woman wrote: “Married a woman. #StillBisexual.” Another wrote, “Having a relationship with a man doesn’t make me straight. #StillBisexual.”

Some of my favorite tweets outline how long people have been out bisexuals… “Knew I was bisexual at 14, almost 55 #StillBisexual.” One bi guy tweeted about being an out bisexual for 36 years. Another younger bi guy tweeted that it’s been five years and he’s #StillBisexual.

If you’re still hesitant to participate, ask yourself to envision what would happen if all the closeted bisexuals in relationships came out and said they were #StillBisexual. If we lived in a world where the dominant cultural narrative was that bisexuals stay bisexual. I would prefer to live in that world…wouldn’t you?

You can follow the #StillBisexual campaign on Twitter @StillBisexual at https://twitter.com/StillBisexual and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/StillBiDealWithIt.

All of our #StillBisexual videos can be seen on our YouTube channel and on our official web site, www.stillbisexual.com.

Main photo © Cafe Press

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