Mariella's medicine: A Spoonful Of Bisexuality

3311788402_13de5d5fd0In this week’s advice column in the Guardian there’s a lot of good advice from Mariella Frostrup. A man writes in to say that he’s recognised his fiancee’s father as someone her had sex with once and that he’s now being pressured by him to come out as bisexual to his beloved. Her advice is pretty spot on. Be honest, be true to yourself. Don’t allow yourself to be blackmailed. I cannot quibble with that. But although that medicine is good, I think the spoon could do with some work.

People Have Attractions, You Won’t Believe What Happens Next!

Here’s the thing – when I was younger I went out with both men and women (and some others, for what it’s worth) which my wife knows all about. But I don’t think she realises how tall some of my exes are. I’ve not sat down and spelled out for her that when I’ve said that I don’t find height an issue what this actually meant. Some of them were really tall. Others really short. And, if I’m honest, the sex was variable but it was definitely with a range of different statures.  As Mariella writes: “it’s not conducive to happiness as a couple for one partner to be deluded about the true nature of the other”.

Although I’m married now, to my wife as it happens, have I really put my desire to have sex with people taller or shorter than her to one side? As she asks her correspondent – ” Are you so confident that you have been reinvented and that this chapter isn’t just on pause?” I think everyone who went out with both tall and short people has to wrestle with this.

Not to mention the fact that sometimes I went out with people, as Mariella’s letter writer did, considerably older than me. The largest age gap I recall was about 30 years. But while she asks her correspondent to carefully mull over his attraction based on gender, she doesn’t address the fact that his fiancée only has one age. I guess the waiting game applies there though.

Hair colour too. Wouldn’t I be having more fun with a blonde? Blondes, we’re told, are more fun. My wife’s not blonde. Of course if my partner was fluid in her hair colour then maybe that’d sate my desires, but it’s a worrying thought for anyone who has a partner who doesn’t regularly dye their hair too.

Oh wait, no – no it isn’t.

Free Yourself From The Twilight Of Shadowy Ignorance With This One Weird Trick!

All of the above is of course somewhat sarcastic. As a society we ascribe far more significance to people’s genders than we do heights, or hair colours, or even age. But why? What if we didn’t see bisexuality as something that needs to be “admitted” and a hurdle to get past? What if having been out with a range of genders before committing to a relationship was no more remarkable than going out with a range of body types, or musical preferences?

And above all – why do we keep telling people that if they don’t come out as bisexual that they’re deceiving people?

If a gay man is in the closet and marries a woman he’s not attracted to, but tells her he is, then that is arguably deception. If a man attracted to long hair and short hair marries a woman with long hair that he is attracted to, but doesn’t mention he once dated a skinhead, who is he lying to?

If a bisexual man marries a woman he is attracted to, then he’s not being deceptive.

Bisexuality isn’t the cursed dagger that the fairy-tale hero thinks he’s thrown down the well, only to find it sitting on his pillow when he returns to the inn. It doesn’t come back to haunt us. It’s just being attracted to more than one gender.

Bisexuality isn’t any more significant than that.

We’re not marching at Pride, or campaigning for equal rights, or gathering in our hundreds at events like BiCon, because bisexuality is some sort of amazing super power or evil curse. We do that because the curse is people’s attitudes to it. And the truth is that while “God, that’s wrong, you people should be shot!” is awful, it’s easy to spot and peak up against. What’s harder to spot the poison in, especially to well meaning allies, is the subtler drip drip from the spoon into our ears of “but you have to tell people, because it’s a big thing they deserve to know the real you”.

Mariella ends saying ” turning your past into a dark secret is also a life sentence for misery” and I really do agree. But it’s not our reluctance to speak up that does this, it’s everyone else telling us that we are defined by who we have found attractive. The real me isn’t a writer, or a campaigner, or a father, or a magician, or a cook, or a son, or a loving husband.

Apparently the real me is a ratio, inaccurately labelled “male/female”.

That doesn’t go down in the most delightful way.


Image: “Masks” by Racchio, shared under CC BY- ND 2.0 via Flickr

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One Response to Mariella's medicine: A Spoonful Of Bisexuality

  • “We’re not marching at Pride, or campaigning for equal rights, or gathering in our hundreds at events like BiCon, because bisexuality is some sort of amazing super power or evil curse. We do that because the curse is people’s attitudes to it.” Thank you Marcus!!!

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