Welcome to J&J Chats! A series of advice and discourse discussions from J (Jess) & J (Jas, aka, my girlfriend). Topics sent anonymously via curious cat. Current topic: Lesbians who refuse to date bisexuals and bisexuals who refuse to date lesbians.
[Jas] It’s harmful because some people clearly have outdated or inaccurate views on bisexuality and lesbians.
[Jess] For sure, and actually when I thought I was bi and used the label for around three years, I didn’t feel like I had really experienced any inter-community discrimination. I never felt unwelcomed by lesbians or others, apart from one thing I saw. It was this YouTube video where somebody had interviewed a bunch of lesbians and asked if they would date bi women, and a lot of them were like, “No, I would never do that.” That was really the first—and only—time I’d seen strong, widespread biphobia from within the community.
[Jas] I haven’t myself really experienced this, even when I went by the bisexual label, but I do know a lot of people think of bisexuals as cheaters or they can’t make up their mind, and I think that mindset has carried throughout LGBTQ history. Which is wrong. Just because that’s how bisexual people are treated on TV and in films, doesn’t mean they’re all cheaters. I’ve met lesbians that have cheated on their partners with other lesbians. Everyone has the same capacity to cheat; it doesn’t mean bisexuals are going to cheat the most.
[Jess] I know that is a stereotype—the bisexuals being cheaters—but apart from that one video I watched about seven or so years ago now, I haven’t really seen anyone in the community say, “bisexuals are cheaters.” I hear that it’s a stigma, but I never see this stigma perpetuated by the community. I’m not really sure why that is the case, but I assume I hear about the stigma because it exists, I’m just not very familiar with it myself.
[Jas] I’m sure part of the reason is because we’re lesbians and our Twitter followers/following are predominately lesbians too. So, we just might not see all of that discourse.
[Jess] I think it absolutely can be true that I’m not as in tune with the bisexual discourse, simply because I’m not bisexual. I know that will make me not as sensitive to it, for one, and that I just won’t be seeing as much. But for three years I was out as bisexual, and then I didn’t really see it then either. I think it’s something I want to be pointed towards more, to be aware of its concrete existence and know where it’s coming from and combat directly. Because instead, I only see people talking about the stigma and offsetting it with posts of bi-positivity, but not really the root of what sparks that.
[Jas] I think I see it more so in older queer people, but not so much in our generation.
[Jess] That’s true, maybe it’s more of an older view.
[Jas] Yes, and I think a lot of the time it’s that outdated view of bisexuality that gets passed down. Because that’s also the stereotype where the 50% men 50% women definition comes from too, I think. (Even though it can be this way for some people, it’s not the default.) But it’s not something I usually see from younger gays, that I know of. But then again, it’s not something I see a lot of in general.
[Jess] That’s true, maybe the biphobia is something that’s more of an “older gay” thing, and because of that, it gets trickled down. But I think we are coming into a generation of queer people who are a lot more open and accepting of all genders and sexualities.
[Jas] And I think the more TV shows and films that portray bisexuals in a positive way without these stereotypes, the more that will help a lot with newer generations not carry on with this stigma.
[Jess] That’s another thing I wanted to comment on. I feel like the “bisexuals are cheaters” stereotype could be something that comes more from straight people, not as much from LGBTQ people. You just mentioned media having the possibility of changing this stereotype in the community. Those representations of bisexual people are probably 90% created by straight people for straight people than it is by queer people for queer people, so that’s what they think of bisexuals. And media has a lot to do with how bisexual people are viewed by the general population, but who are the ones pushing these stereotypes for the whole world to see again?
[Jas] And you can sometimes tell when straight people write gay characters, especially with lesbians for me, because of the fact they’re so stereotypical. Like, butch dykes and nothing else.
[Jess] Yeah, or the hyper-feminine lesbian. There are only two kinds of lesbians, you know, you’re either a butch dyke or a hyper-feminine lesbian.
[Jess] There was a flip-side to this whole request though, which was about bisexual women refusing to date lesbians. I have only come across this once. Do you have any instances, Jas?
[Jas] I’m lucky enough to have never come across it. I don’t really understand it. How is that an issue?
[Jess] According to the request, it says lesbians are “too closed-minded” to date. Actually, that made me think of another instance. So, the first example. I have a bisexual friend who was first starting to date more girls, and she had told me, “I don’t want to date a lesbian because I’m scared she’ll jump into the relationship too fast,” which is obviously a stereotype. Valid of her to not want something quick but bought into that lesbian stereotype.
[Jas] I mean, to be fair, lesbians are like that.
[Jas] But bisexuals can also be like that.
[Jess] I know which is hilarious because she ended up being like that.
[Jas] Maybe it’s just an LGBTQ thing. Well, I also know straight people like that.
[Jess] The other instance, a friend was telling me that her friend—who identified as pansexual I believe—had told my friend, “Why would you identify as a lesbian when you’re cutting off a whole gender? Why would you do that? It doesn’t make sense.” Which is a problematic thing to say to a lesbian. And this wasn’t a “I’m not going to date a lesbian” situation, but it was a situation that points to the “lesbians are closed-minded [because they don’t want to date men].” But that’s not a closed-minded thing to know that you aren’t attracted to a gender.
[Jas] You could say the same to straight people; it’s ridiculous. If a person knows how they experience attraction and they’re confident in that, there’s no need to invalidate someone for it. Lesbians do a lot to try to validate other sexualities’ experiences—that I’ve seen—but this situation is definitely a moment where a queer non-lesbian invalidated a lesbian’s experience.
[Jess] Oh, 100%. If we open this can of worms, it’s going to be a whole other discussion on discourse. Lesbians being expected to constantly validate every other queer person in the community and never receive that back from queer non-lesbians? That’s a whole different thing that maybe we should avoid for now.
Summary: Obviously, it’s a problem for bi women to refuse to date lesbians and for lesbians to refuse to date bi women. It’s harmful to pit ourselves against each other when there’s a whole world of people out there who already hate us. Bi people: your existence is not innately immoral. Lesbians: your existence is not innately closed-minded.
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