Should bi people leave the LGBT community?

This video is one of the most thought-provoking, as well as difficult to watch, things I’ve seen in a while. It’s 7 minutes long, so you might want a cuppa before watching. Is the LGBT community biphobic to the extent that bi people should leave?

This is something where his premise is correct, and his conclusion.. incredibly saddening. Is this really all we can do? Is the LG(bt) community really so beyond help?

But then again, in another way I know that there is a lot of truth to what he says. I didn’t start Bi Ireland and spend the past few years working on that community just for fun. I did it because I was tired of hearing bi people talk about never having knowingly been in a room with other bi people. Or of abuse and exclusion from lesbian and gay (let’s be real: if they exclude bi people, they’re not LGBT. And they’re probably terrible to trans people too) communities. Teenagers being kicked out of Pride parades by biphobic gay people. Looks of disgust on gay people’s faces when they came out to them. A neverending litany of microaggressions leaving people feeling like, wherever their home is, the gay community isn’t it.

But on the other hand? I hate the idea of giving up on LGBTQIA. Partly that’s due to the many wonderful lesbian and gay people I’ve known, with whom I have felt community. I call myself queer because queer spaces have always felt right to me, in a way that straight spaces don’t. I feel like my space in that community isn’t something that can be given or taken away by lesbian or gay people. It’s as much of my birthright as it is theirs, isn’t it?

I don’t have an answer. I’d love to hear what you all think, though. It feels like a conversation to have.


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13 thoughts on “Should bi people leave the LGBT community?

  1. 1

    It makes me so sad to realize how many bigots there are in the movement. That recent petition to remove the T was horrifying, and the stories I’ve heard of how so many of the Ls and Gs treat Bs (I’ve never been involved in the movement, so I’ve been fortunate to have only heard about it from other people) make me wonder if an umbrella LGBTQIA movement is even feasible in the long term.

  2. 2

    There are communities that are non-heterosexual and that at least tend toward significantly better treatment and inclusion of trans* folk. These communities tend to be better described by the term “Queer” than lesbian, gay, GL, LB, GB, or LGB.

    I advocate the use of QT to describe a certain set of communities that are usefully distinguished. And I do it not only because I like how “QT” and “QTs” sound.

    1. 2.1

      I’m generally a lot happier in communities that call themselves Queer than LGBT+ alright. In my experience they’re far better at bi/trans/ace inclusion and far more interesting places for it.

      Recently, though, I’ve started hearing some pretty terrible stories of transmisogyny and denigrating of femme folk generally coming from those kinds of spaces. Not really here (luckily! Hopefully!), but I know some people (specifically trans women) who’ve had bad experiences elsewhere and who’re iffy about queer space because of it.

      Defo with you on the QTs though 🙂

  3. 3

    I consistently include my B self among the rainbow coalition at work and elsewhere because I’M NOT STRAIGHT. The straight people outnumber the everything-else people by such a huge margin that I think we dilute our message dangerously thin if we begin partitioning ourselves into more precisely defined groups. But I haven’t experienced any particular pushback from the groups I associate with for being bi, so I’m not necessarily the best one to evaluate this.

  4. 4

    This situation demonstrates two universal truths on social issues and changes in culture:

    1) Just because a person or a group is a victim of discrimination does not mean they are incapable of discrimination. Or worse, they start once they are no longer discriminated against.

    2) Just because discussions have been had and lessons learnt doesn’t prevent people from forgetting, ignoring, never hearing them or, worst of all, changing to an intolerant view.

    The “no bisexuals” view among gays and lesbians in the 1980s ended with “anyone not heterosexual is one of us”, how the acronym LGBT came into being. Are things going backwards, from acronym to acrimony about bi and trans inclusion?

    There are good reasons to shun people (e.g. Harris’s racism, Dawkins’s cluelessness about feminism), but this is not one of them. Excluding and dehumanizing people because of one’s own biases and bigotry is unacceptable. People should be building alliances and proving the bigots wrong, not burning bridges and proving them right.

  5. 6

    I think the problem outlined here about the “LGBT community” not really existing is absolutely true, but not merely because B’s are often shunned there. I think the struggle by queer folk for equality has gone on for so long, we have largely forgotten that LGBT was, at best, always a “marriage of convenience” . It was (and still is) merely a political identity, a lobbying group, rather than the declaration of some kind of “true” united community that has all the trimmings the word “community” implies. Many people (especially those under fifty or sixty) seem to forget the old days — when L’s openly had huge disputes with G’s and vice versa (like fights in the streets kind of disagreements), and L&G’s had long shunned B’s and T’s for various reasons (which, I agree, are often stupid and petty, but nonetheless still flourish and thus keeps the real “community” aspect of LGBT from fully taking shape). In fact — when it comes to real “community” (in that social and emotional supportive way) L’s and G’s have long looked to their own very narrow social groups for the kind of community support, and not to any kind of larger LGBT “community”. I think what might be lacking here — what this video author is alluding to — is that Bi’s perhaps may not have adequately built themselves a smaller, like-minded, narrow infrastructure like that of the L’s and G’s largely have and have had for decades now, which provides them with the added emotional and sense of camaraderie that belonging to like-minded subcultures give to people who belong to them.

    But this is not a reason to reject the LGBT “community” concept altogether. As a united “minority” group in the greater hetero-world, we still have a need to looked like a unified lobby worth considering. But perhaps, with all the legal victories of late allowing the older, deeper, more primal “dislikes” to resurface again with more visibility — its time to also recognize and perhaps spend more of our money and energy building up our own like-minded narrow communities — our own “real communities” that are just G or L or B or T — to make them stronger.

    BUt don’t abandoned the need to at least give lip service and some support to the political arm of the notion of a united LGBT community, as this struggle for equal treatment under the law for all of us is hardly over. The sentiment of, “I still love you my gay brothers and sisters, but I’d rather spend time with my bi-freinds than you” is not at all offensive and has in fact been the lingua franca of G’s and L’s all along.

    1. 6.1

      Yes and no. So to speak I feel like bisexuals get me very easily even though I’m monosexual, the same way my experience as a non-straight person actually allows me to understand the vast majority of bi struggles. There are things I haven’t experienced – the treshold Aoifa spoke of in one of her previous posts on that topic, for instance – but the most of it (having your identity invalidated, being treated like a walking sexuality, etc) I have dealt with and therefore can easily empathise. It may not be perfectly the same, but still seems similar enough for me to be included in the letter soup we have. Same with transgender people. A cis gay man doesn’t know what gender disphoria is and god forbid we DO have the gender police amongst gays and lesbians, but a lot the discrimination we face are based in gender policing and you cannot put two men and two women in the same flat and have gender work the straight way.I think a lot of the problem is that we internalize the same shit as other people more than it is about us not having enough in common to relate or feel home.

  6. 7

    As a B and a T, I’ve definitely witnessed the hostility from the L’s and G’s in this community. I helped found a non-binary meetup at my local LGBT center, and it was like pulling teeth to get the L and G meetup groups to vacate spaces we reserved for our meetup times after their meetups ended. It was there, in writing and accessible both on the website and the schedules posted in every room, that we had claim to the lounge at a certain time every week.

    Suffice to say, this wasn’t just a little ‘ugh why do I have to move’ bristling. When it came to community meetings, we got complaints that our meetings were off mission, because “crossdressers don’t need a safe space here”. We’d even get people who sit in and refuse to leave – as we had no authority to actually force them to vacate – which made it hard to feel like the space was particularly safe. Eventually, I disbanded the group and some of us just meet up informally, because the center was just too hostile to us.

  7. 8

    My preferred acronym is QUILTBAGS: Queer, Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian, Trans, Asexual, Bi and Straight. In other words, let’s include everybody who agrees that people are all unique and just human beings. Now please pardon the shameless promotion – it actually is on topic.

    We’re making a web series (dramatic comedy) to promote tolerance, diversity, and understanding. We have ten episodes up now, but you will get the idea if you just watch the theme song at the beginning of Episode 1. http://www.artisanmovies.com/quiltbags/2015/06/01/quiltbags-episode-1-little-pitchers/
    We’re just getting started. Please leave comments on the site.

    I self identify as bi, and I have encountered hostility on a LGBT discussion thread. But I never expect or need support, so it had little effect on me. I suppose if your expectation is that you will get support from everybody, you will be disappointed by any group. There will always be assholes. We need to set up systems, codes of behavior and sanctions, to weed the assholes out of the group. I don’t think fragmenting is the answer.

  8. 9

    I am bisexual and have dated bisexual men and women since I can remember because those are my options and that works for me. Bisexual men are their own breed and many of them have the inferiority complex due to gay men in the 80’s blaming us for spreading AIDS even though that has been debunked. Those men came out as gay so they weren’t bi. We were ruined and biphobia exists between bi men and women too. Some of them think we are gay and some of us think they are ‘stepford sluts’ just doing it for straight guys. Before we got blamed for AIDS, we were hot… uhhhh David Bowie anyone??? This probably pertains to LGBT identified bisexuals and they are only 8% of us. It’d be nice if people looked at actual bisexual communities and their research rather than gay normative LGBT propaganda. I suggest we should join some LGTB community or sites(such as http://www.top10bidatingsites.com), rather than leaving.

  9. 10

    im 50 50 on leaving the lg community
    the funding thing makes me angry
    and the fact that it’s always runs by homosexuals
    as well.
    i just cant imagine setting up a separate pride parade away from
    the monosexuals

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