Tag Archives: identity politics

Bisexuality, invisibility and erasure

I’ve just read this blog post about Dan Savage, and horrible comments that he’s made, basically saying that most people who are bisexual either grow out of it, or end up in relationships with opposite sex people. There have been a bunch of responses to these comments, and I don’t want to rehash them all. Most people can see how erasing, belittling and biphobic his comments are. Many bisexual people, myself included, already feel invisible, trapped in the definitions of whatever relationship (same- or opposite-sex) we are in at the time.

What seems to be missing from the debate, perhaps because it’s framed in a male context, is sexual fluidity (see for example Lisa Diamond or this blog post, and I specifically mentioned the male context because Dan is referring to gay men, and many theorists think sexual fluidity is more prominent in the female population, though this is a contested fact). Really though, all of these words are just labels for how we feel, what we do, and how we conceive of ourselves. Sexual fluidity is a concept which describes how a person’s sexual attractions and feelings, desires, likes, dislikes, etc., may change over time. Many people describe “coming out” as gay/lesbian and then “coming out” again later as straight, or moving from bisexual or pansexual to another identity. Part of this is about identity politics, but part of this, I think, is about the way some people have a multiplicity of sexuality and sexual identities across their life span, and perhaps our current lesbian/gay/bisexual/pansexual type identities aren’t adequate to describe this. Probably, in some kind of utopian existence, we wouldn’t need all these damn labels (I know, we’re nowhere near there). I’m not trying to say that identity politics has no place, the GLBITQ rights movement(s) would have gotten nowhere without the use of identity politics; when I read comments like this from people like Dan Savage though, I can’t help but think that the time has come to move beyond such labels towards something else? But what?