Good lords, people. Is Cynthia Nixon really our biggest problem?
Right now queers are under especially virulent attack from viable presidential candidates. Although DADT is over, trans people are still not able to serve, largely because the DSM still lists us as having a pathological mental disorder; this shows no signs of changing any time soon, given the pedigree of the doctors in charge of the next edition of the DSM. Our queer kids are still killing themselves, still being bullied into desperate acts, because states like Tennessee are trying to pass laws that make it punishable to bully anyone unless they’re gay, because that’s totally fine. Trans women are still being hassled (and much, much worse) by police, employers, self-appointed dressing room and bathroom monitors, and Girl Scouts. People still think RuPaul is a useful spokesman for trans women (note: spokesMAN for trans WOMEN) (right. exactly). In most states, it’s still legal to fire someone for being GLB, and in even more, for being T. Elderly queers are almost completely invisible in the movement, and health care for queers is often shrouded in harassment, denial of care, homophobia, transphobia, and a total lack of cultural competency and medical understanding.
Do I need to go on? I could, you know. There are scores of other major issues facing the LGBTQetc community, and yet…
And yet everyone’s got their boxer briefs in a knot because a popular, out actress said she didn’t like the word bisexual.
I don’t know Cynthia Nixon personally. I have no idea what her perspectives are on any agenda that matters to me. I don’t know anything about her except what I read in the press. I do know that she has made a point of coming out and remaining out and putting a face on LGBT. In her recent interview, she talked openly about being “in love and in lust” with both men and women. She said that for her, being gay is a choice.
Then she said that she didn’t like the term bisexual because “people don’t like bisexuals.”
The world exploded.
Here’s what I think:
I think that she probably does not mean that she chooses the people to whom she is attracted, the people whose ankles or arms or cheekbones excite her, the people who make her heart beat a little funny. She does choose how she presents herself, as a sexual human who responds to a wide range of other sexual humans. So for her, yes, presenting as gay is a choice. She says to herself, “Self, clearly we are not straight, so what are some other words?” This is a hard question, because she seems pretty assimilated, and in that world, there are not a lot of other words. In the interview, she said, “I don’t pull out the ‘bisexual’ word because nobody likes the bisexuals. Everybody likes to dump on the bisexuals.”
Apparently this has set the movement back 900 years.
Here’s what else I think.
In the straight world, bi women (and presumably men) don’t like coming out as bisexual because the response is ALWAYS something along the lines of a) Oh, so you’ll do it with anyone? b) Can I watch? and c) You just need to make up your mind.
One of the big ugly secrets of the mainstream LGBT world is that bisexual is erased and insulted and only grudgingly allowed into the acronym. Bi women (and presumably men) get the same responses when they come out as bisexual, but instead of asking if they can watch, the naysayers say, Oh, she’s not a real lesbian, then dismiss the bi woman entirely. This was true when I was new in the LGBT community twenty-something years ago, and it’s still true now.
This is why I identify as queer. I also do not like the bisexual word. At the moment I am trying hard to present myself as gay, which is hard given that I’m in a long-term monogamous relationship with a woman, but I’m damn well trying. Queer opens it up a little and allows for the fact that I have been attracted to women in the past, am currently deeply attracted to the one who lives here with me, and get the vapors when I see certain types of men (really, almost all types, but that is another story).
Erasing bisexuals and queers (among many other groups) and maintaining the binary either/or system is how the assimilated gays and lesbians try to make us “presentable” as a community. They don’t want go-go boys or dykes on bikes or pansexual leatherqueers in their pride parades. They think RuPaul is a trans advocate. They are reasonably certain that being able to marry our gay boyfriend or lesbian girlfriend and then send them off to join the Army is our number one most important goal, the thing our community needs most.
Leave Cynthia Nixon alone, people. Go help the homeless queer kids. Stop trading “bathroom bills” for marriage legislation. Surely you can find something more productive to do than this.