Savage Love Re-Answer: The B in LGBT

This is an oldie, originally published at Savage Love on December 23, 1999, but it really encapsulates Savage’s biphobia-which hasn’t mellowed over the years.

Question: You recently gave this advice to a gay man involved with a married bisexual man: “DON’T MESS AROUND WITH BISEXUALS.” You went on to say he shouldn’t mess around with married men, either. Staying away from people who are in committed relationships is sound advice. But condemning all bisexuals as poor relationship material is prejudiced, biphobic, and hurtful.

Most condemnations of bisexuals are made on the basis of their presumed inability to be monogamous, a generalization that is in many cases false. But you yourself admit that most gay men are equally unable to be monogamous. Therefore, the only possible explanation for your anti-bisexual response is pure, irrational bias. You do all your bisexual readers a disservice, along with the gay and straight people who love them, by allowing your prejudices and fears to color your otherwise valuable advice.

Jennifer Coderre, Co-Founder, Bisexual Insurgence

450px-Bi_flag.svg

The Bi Pride Flag

So, obviously, this is in response to a previous question answered at Savage Love, and per my policy of not intentionally giving him traffic, I won’t provide a link. You can search for it in the archive if you really want to.

What Dan said to the original reader was that he shouldn’t have gotten involved with a bi guy who was married to a woman, because he was always going to choose his female partner. The problem, as Dan saw it, was the bisexuality of the dude with whom the reader was involved, rather than the desire the reader had to be his boyfriend’s primary partner when there was already a primary partner in the picture. I wonder how Dan would’ve answered had bisexuality not been a factor?

Dan Savage’s main thought on bisexual folks, particularly bi guys, is that they will always choose a long term partner who will afford them heterosexual privilege, and so they are not a good choice of partner for gay men. Consequently, stay away from them if what you want is a long term, primary partner. The best you can hope for is to be a side bizzle (as my friend Keeana might say), or a trick.

There is so much wrong, and this is so full of Dan Savage’s own personal hangups, it’s tempting to just say, “BELIEVE THE OPPOSITE OF WHATEVER DAN SAYS ABOUT BISEXUAL FOLKS,” and call it a day.

That’s pretty good, actually. Do that. But I won’t quite call it a day. Here’s a list, as those seem quite popular on the internet.

1. Bi folks, when they want to be, are quite capable of monogamy. Monogamy may not be their cup of tea, but it’s not a lot of other folks’ either. Better advice on this point is: date people who have similar views/hopes around monogamy or polyamory as you do. Talk about that shit before it presents itself as an issue. Seriously, don’t make assumptions.

2. Bi folks, like the rest of humanity, fall all along the Kinsey scale. Some may never even act on same/similar gender attraction, and some may act on it almost exclusively. It’s not a compulsion, and it’s ridiculous to imply that eventually, that bi boyfriend of yours is going to have to hook up with a woman, and will choose her over you because privilege.

3. Bisexuality is a valid sexual orientation. Some folks are attracted to all  of the gender possibilities. I heard a friend once describe her own bisexuality as being attracted to a person, not their genitals. Other folks might just enjoy a variety of genitals. Either way, or in any other way, it’s valid.

4. Dan Savage doesn’t want to hook up with bi guys, so bi guys, stay away from Dan Savage.

Cardinal Rule: Bisexuality is truth for many people, and they aren’t inherently scoundrels incapable of long term same gender relationships. Don’t make assumptions about what your partner expects, talk about it.

2 responses to “Savage Love Re-Answer: The B in LGBT

  1. I came of age in the late 90s, so around the time the question was originally asked/answered and it’s interesting seeing Savage claim that all bi dudes would fall in with women for the straight privilege it affords. I was told by several different people that all bi dudes are secretly gay dudes who just haven’t realized it yet or are in denial about it (and all bi girls just want attention duh but are REALLY straight). So his advice is the exact opposite of everyone else I knew (including gay guys). FOR SOME REASON at the time I didn’t know many people who identified as bi. HUH I WONDER WHY.

    That bit of history aside, thanks for bringing up this subject and addressing some of the myths about bisexuality. I wish I’d had resources like this as a younger person. I’m a woman who’s always been attracted to both men and women, but the “fact” that female bisexuality is simply attention seeking behavior OR lesbianism in denial was drummed into me so thoroughly that I never really considered it an option until after I’d married a dude. I have a four year old and I look at the world that exists now, the information available now, around gender roles and sexuality and I’m glad he’ll have access to a wealth of information and support that I never even imagined. Thank you for adding to that.

  2. *HEART* “Better advice on this point is: date people who have similar views/hopes around monogamy or polyamory as you do. Talk about that shit before it presents itself as an issue. Seriously, don’t make assumptions…Don’t make assumptions about what your partner expects, talk about it.”

    This is so so very spot on.

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