This is why we need a bi community

There is a television drama series on BBC3 at the moment called Lip Service which depicts the lives of a group of lesbian and bisexual women in Glasgow. I’m really enjoying the show and i’m pleased that the BBC is doing something to increase the visibility of lesbian and bisexual women on television. It hasn’t done a great job of depicting bisexual people so far, but i was pleased in the last episode when they showed that Frankie’s bisexuality is more than just words.

The episode provoked a strong biphobic reaction from a lot of people who were apparently shocked to see Frankie, one of the main characters, having sex with a man. They apparently missed Frankie talking openly about being bisexual in the first episode and flirting with a man in the second episode. I wasn’t at all surprised at the way the story developed; it made perfect sense within the storyline.

I commented on twitter that it was a shame to see such a biphobic reaction. Somebody gave me this response:

not biphobic I don’t think, just disappointment that what was billed as a lesbian drama has turned out to be a bi one. That’s fair

Well unfortunately, that comment in itself sounded biphobic to me. I pressed the person whether a gay character in an otherwise straight drama would make the series a gay drama. As it turned out, the issue was more that they felt the show had been wrongly advertised.

We chatted a bit more. I said i thought it was realistic: bi people exist within the LGBT community, and we often feel marginalised, and i wondered whether they could see how these comments make us feel exculded. To which i got this response:

yes I totally agree that bi exsists in the queer community but not in the lesbian community, they are two conflicting lables

At this point i was so upset and shocked that i decided to pursue it no further and went to bed. But this should not be left unchallenged. This is prejudice from within the LGBT community: this person (who identifies as lesbian) believes that bisexual people are unwelcome in the lesbian community. This person claims not to be biphobic but makes comments like “LESBIANS DONT SHAG MEN!!!!!”

Bi women do exist within the lesbian community. Some are open about their bisexuality, and some are not. Some people who describe themselves as lesbian sometimes enjoy sleeping with men. Some are scared to admit their attraction to men in a community that might consider them a traitor. I know all this is true because i know people in these situations.

I just find it so sad that people who know what it’s like to be discriminated against feel it’s quite okay to do the same to others.

The upside to this is that it made me all the more grateful for the bi community, which is so accepting of everyone. Gay, lesbian and straight people are welcome in the bi community, as well as bisexual, pansexual, omnisexual and queer people. The bi community is a place where all kinds of people feel at home in their diversity. I rarely see discrimination, and i often see great care taken to be inclusive of everyone. People make an effort to learn about different minorities and how to be more encompassing. I’ve known people to feel terribly distressed if they unintentionally discriminated against somebody through their lack of understanding.

I was recently asked why we need a bi community. Being put on the spot, i floundered a little and said something like, “Because it’s nice to be part of a community where no questions are asked and no assumptions are made.” If i were to be asked the same question again now, i might answer, “Because, sadly, we are not always accepted within the wider LGBT community.”

I’m looking forward to Lip Service tonight, to see how the characters on screen react to Frankie having slept with Jay. I wonder whether the reaction will be similar or different to the overwhelming negative reaction on twitter.

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16 comments on “This is why we need a bi community

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention A little place of calm -- Topsy.com

  2. “I just find it so sad that people who know what it's like to be discriminated against feel it's quite okay to do the same to others.”

    Very well put and exactly what I was thinking. Although we've made leaps and bounds in the realm of acceptance, some things will never change.

  3. After reading all this I ll simple say one thing that this is nothing but the lame excuse of one to be a bi sexual and going against the natural needs and natural rules.P.S: natural rules and social rules are two separate things…

  4. I'm confused, Jack… are you saying that being bisexual goes against nature (“to be a bi sexual and going against the natural needs and natural rules”)? Because being bi is as natural as any other sexual orientation. Forgive me if I misread, but that is what you appear to be saying — and if so, you are wrong there. Bisexuality is entirely natural, for humans and in the rest of the animal kingdom.

  5. Great post. Good topic of conversation. I couldn't get into Lip Service myself (just didn't like the acting or writing; personal taste) — but the controversy over Frankie's bisexuality is similar to the controversy among lesbians over the film The Kids Are Alright where a self-identified lesbian sleeps with a man. I can see the point that if the show was billed only as a lesbian drama (the ads could well have mentioned that it was about lesbian & bi women, which would have been nice!) then it could be a shock or disappointment for the lead character to go 'off topic' so to speak. But for someone to say that this is all wrong 'because' bi women are not part of the lesbian community is just dumb really. That's like saying there's no water under a frozen lake — there just quite simply is.

  6. I find it ironic how some lesbians (fewer nowadays than before) are still hostile to bi women, treating us like 'half lesbians' (as one woman put it) or 'lesbians in training' who get half the respect if we get respect at all for just being ourselves. Particularly ironic because so many bi women are in relationships with lesbians — so, yeah, we certainly are a part of the lesbian community as well as other communities.I can only hope this bi character in Lip Service does not get watered down by the writers and producers the way the L Word's Alice was. She started as a bi woman and ended the series a biphobic lesbian who felt the need to throw all bisexuals under the bus with the line “Yeah, you're right. Bisexuals are disgusting.” Let's just hope Lip Service shows a bit more integrity than that…. and that the bi character can be seen as a well rounded person with a variety of storylines to follow.

  7. It seemed to go quite well in the follow-up episode. A few questions were asked but nothing too derogatory. The story seems plausible and realistic.

  8. The study of gender and its role in the community is one of my favorite subjects in college. However, it is sad to note that a lot of people nowadays are degrading the morals that our forefathers or even religion have been teaching us. The influence of media is so powerful that it changes people. What people see in the television or in the internet, they apply it to their ways of living. Wherever we go today, we can't deny the fact that there are lots of bisexuals; lesbians and gays who are slowly taking over the role of men and women in the society. Sometimes, it is hard to accept the truth but we can do nothing about it. That's the truth and we can't go away from it.

  9. This is an interesting article. I thinks some of the bis feel probably superior to the lesbians because they feel they can love both sexes. One of my best friends in US, she was really confused before and now she only loves men, but watching her growing up was quite an experience.

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