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.