Bisexual Visibility Day

Today is Bisexual Visibility Day. I’m not sure who determines that but it is all over my Facebook newsfeed so it must be true.

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My favorite visual for today.

Sexual identity is not always a simple concept for one to accept. Not only are there tons of phrases that can be accurate (bisexual, pansexual, bi-curious, fluid, etc) but how you identify can change during different times in your life and with different people. While bisexual isn’t my preferred identity it is one that accurately describes me. This won’t surprise many people in my personal life but I don’t think I’ve ever really came out like explicitly in a public forum like this. In fact, it was difficult for me to accept my self for many years.

Growing up in a religious conservative home meant that being gay was a sin. It was very clear from the sermons at church, the books around my house growing up, and off-hand comments from my family that not being straight was unacceptable. This, of course, turned into an incredible fear in my heart that I was gay. Any attraction to men lead to guilt and a drive to prayer to take Satan’s curse away from me.

During my high school days I was very outspokenly religious, but looking back I had some same-sex attractions but would never allow myself to really admit it. This lead to some moments that I am now ashamed of. One particular experience comes to mind. I was asked by an openly gay man in our school if I believed in marriage equality and a look of disgust crossed my face. I don’t remember exactly what I said but it certainly was a disapproval of the whole idea.

Years went by without any real maturity in my viewpoints. It wasn’t until a fateful day in the Army that the issue came up again. I was riding in a truck with a fellow soldier and I noticed a belt in the back that said “I like boys” written on it. My first assumption was it must have belonged to the soldier’s girlfriend and she left it in the car. When I pointed it out he kind of laughed and told me that if that bothered me he understood but hoped that I wouldn’t tell anyone… this was long before “don’t ask, don’t tell” was repealed. I told him that his secret was safe with me, but it brought up the internal struggle again. I wasn’t attracted to this soldier but here I was with someone that I knew and trusted with my life and part of his existence was supposedly so reprehensible that he didn’t even belong on the military base.

After leaving the military I began to re-evaluate my political views and pulled away from neo-conservatism. As that political pillar of my identity crumbled it took down my simple views on sexuality, religion, and society with it. Out of the rubble of my previous views sprung a much more tolerant and open view of sexual identity. I still didn’t think I was anything but straight (the mind does a great job of suppressing truth at times) but I had no problem with extending equality to others.

At some point after college I found I couldn’t be honest with myself and see myself as simply “straight”. My attractions, my desires, my fantasies, and my identity was more complex than that. Looking back I think my attraction to being an “ally” and voicing for equality was partly (subconsciously and consciously) to out myself as being more complex than straight. It was a way for me to peak into the queer community safely. I enjoyed when guys bought be drinks at gay bars or when they flirted with me… I think part of me assumed that gay men were more physically picky than straight women so I must be cute if guys liked me. I found myself enjoying bisexual porn. I had a desire (that became more open when on MDMA) to explore, touch, and let my curiosity run wild.

At some point I realized that bisexuality doesn’t mean 50/50 attraction. I love women, I find them sexy and attractive, I enjoy feminine energy and nothing gets my heart pumping like that moment when you meet eyes with a woman and both kind of smile with mutual attraction. I can only see myself in relationships with women, but I also want to be sexual with men. And it is okay that the desires, fantasies, and attraction doesn’t split evenly by gender… in fact, as a pansexual (the term I prefer) the person, not the gender is what matters. I feel daily blessed that I have a partnership where we both not only support, but encourage the exploration of our own sexual identities and desires as they evolve over time.

There is an old joke or saying or comedy routine or song or something that says “we’re all a little bit gay”. I don’t think that’s true, I think we are all a little bit “bi”. We all have the capability, and potentially desire, to love others regardless of their gender if the situation is right. But, in the end it isn’t up to me or my theory that we’re all a little bi, identity belongs to the individual. How you define your sexuality is up to you, and you alone. And you should be proud of who you are.

I can’t help but end with this quote from today’s Huff Po article:

“There is something exquisite and profoundly beautiful about the capacity to love other human beings in a way that doesn’t take gender into account as a ‘deal-breaker.’ Bisexuality is bigger than itself, in that it allows for love while teaching us new meanings/ways of love – and that’s cause for celebration.”

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Facebook, Libertarianism, and Your Name

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As many of us in the queer community know there has been a lot of anger brewing in the last week about Facebook’s “true name” policy. Recently Facebook has cracked down on drag queens who violate their policy to only use your real name on the social network. While the policy has long been in place the recent crackdown has sparked outrage from many across the queer community because it puts them in the unenviable position of leaving Facebook or exposing their birth name, which could lead to serious harm from bigoted family members, employers, or neighbors.

While the easy position for libertarians to take is to say they are a private business and they can do what they want, I find this approach to be heartless and lazy. Many libertarians take the stance on marriage equality that the government shouldn’t be involved in marriage at all, therefore they don’t support marriage equality. While that might be philosophically pure it is again, heartless and lazy (and in a few cases a way for bigots to cloak their hatred behind a noble cause). But, if that is your stance you should be encouraging non-government agencies to see identity, relationships, and names as something owned by the individual and not the state. Those companies that view people as individuals instead of looking only at their government issue IDs, accreditation, or marriage certificates should be praised. Libertarians should be standing next to the queer community and fighting Facebook on this policy, your name and identity belong to you. It is not the property of the state (or your parents who named you), it is your personnel property to define and use as you wish.

It is particularly sad that the liberty community is being so silent on this issue when many people use fake names like “Freeman”, “Rothbard”, “Liberty”, etc as their online identity. Facebook says that they are not targeting members of the queer community, that it is a computer algorithm that identified them. I don’t know if this is true, given Facebook’s very progressive stance on gender identity I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt on this, but it is still a bad policy and libertarians should fight it. I don’t think the state should be involved but we should put pressure on them by writing to Facebook, boycotting those that advertise with them, and doing everything we can to stand in solidarity with those currently targeted, who face a very real fear of harm by this policy change.

Many have said that you can always have a “page” instead of a “profile” if you don’t want to use your name. While this might seem to be a solution on paper, the truth is separate but equal (and this would be far from equal) is not a solution. Facebook treating people differently because of their identity is discrimination, pure and simple. They are looking to the government as the only legitimate source of identity, something libertarians should be furious about. This policy, if left unchecked, encourages Facebook to require government verification for marriages, hometowns, and every other factor of our existence. We should draw a line in the sand here and vocally oppose it. There is nothing un-libertarian about encouraging private companies to change their discriminatory policies, but there is something heartless and lazy about remaining silent.