Welcome to the bizarre world of the bisexual. This delightful video parodies ‘public information films’ which really did exist in the 1950s and 1960s to warn young men about dangerous homosexuals:
The film-maker, Mister Sharp, has also made cartoon videos entitled ‘The Homosexual Menace’ and ‘The Splendid Chaps of The Military’ http://www.youtube.com/user/MisterSharp#p/f
Now, it is easy for us to see this video as a satire and a parody isn’t it? We know that bisexual people do not need to have sex with someone of ‘each gender’ every day, and that they don’t have any more problems making decisions than anyone else. But as is often the case with satire, in the wrong hands it can become something quite different. I wasn’t surprised when I found the evangelical G-A-Y Dan Savage had posted the video on his website, as had some of his pure gay cronies such as Joe My God and Towleroad on theirs. They knew it was satire too but they found a way of using the video to promote the literal message it was lampooning.
‘Note that teh gays are their deadliest enemies. Straight people love bisexuals—which may explain why most bisexuals identify as straight’ scribbled Donna, under the video. In doing so he inserted a tiny bit of doubt into his readers’ minds: maybe gay people have reason to fear/dislike bisexuals? Maybe bisexuals are just liars, pretending to be straight because they lack the balls to come out as gay? Maybe bisexuals don’t exist after all? The comments on Savage and the other GAY blogs show that indeed, the video was interpreted, maybe not literally, but through the lens of people who are already very prejudiced against bisexual people and bisexuality. For example this comment on Towleroad http://www.towleroad.com/2010/12/watch-the-bizarre-world-of-the-bisexual.html:
‘I think there are two main reasons for bi resentment. First, many gay men and lesbians started out (in their teens, whenever) saying that they were bi because it was more socially acceptable, then eventually realized or accepted that they were truly gay. I’m not saying that bisexuals don’t exist or should be mistreated, but there is a perception among many gay men and lesbians that bi people are basically using them to fulfill their “edgy” carnal desires until they can move into socially acceptable relationships. Gay men and lesbians can’t do that.’
I think the GAYs were clever to pick up on the video, showing they don’t lack a sense of humour, and they are in touch with the youtube meme generator generation. But they were quick enough to use it to deliver their own, conservative ‘gays are pure’ and ‘bisexuals are liars’ message to their many readers and followers. The idea that bisexual people are more ‘socially acceptable’ than gay people, particularly as many ‘pretend’ to be straight anyway, is widely held, and used to shore up the ‘gay’ identity and the ‘victim status’ of ‘genuine’ gay people. I sometimes wonder if Donna and co. would be happier if bona fide gays were to be emblazened with a pink triangle on their foreheads, just so we knew who was who.
I first saw this video on Mark Simpson’s blog, where he found no need to leave any ‘clues’ as to how we should interpret it.
Context is everything and Simpson’s work has always been about breaking down distinctions between ‘gay’ and ‘straight’ and ‘bisexual’ so his readers were most likely to read the video as the satire it was intended to be.
But, even Mr Simpson missed a few points that I’d like to mention here about the video and about bisexuality.
1) ‘The bisexual’ in the film is a man. Bisexuality is mainly seen as a threat when related to men’s bisexuality, because women’s sexuality is always seen as less significant and potent than men’s. Women benefit from this situation in some ways, but the focus on men’s bisexuality means that it is also gay men that are being portrayed, as the key group who feel threatened by bisexuality. For all the girl-on-girl porn that exists in the world, and the fantasies of men for threesomes with their girlfriends and another hot babe, I think bisexual women still have a hard time being accepted and acknowledged- by straight and gay people. The video had some ‘women’ characters in it but they were incidental to the narrative in my view. Maybe gay men are more threatened by bisexuality than lesbians? But that is not what I have heard. I know ‘lesbians’ who have kept their liasons with men a secret, not just from lovers but from the wider lesbian ‘community’ for fear of being ostracised. As for straight men, I think their ‘bi-curious’ fantasies about women are in part a way of hiding their real fears that their women don’t need them as much as they’d like to think, and could run off with the postwoman/hot neighbour at any point.
2) Does bisexuality exist? Really?
I was thinking about this and I have decided it doesn’t. Just as heterosexuality and homosexuality don’t. Because BI-sexuality relies on the gender BInary, which is constructed in order to distinguish between ‘normal’ sexuality/gender identities and abnormal, deviant ones. Man/Woman Male/Female Gay/Straight can only exist if there is something in between, that doesn’t fit. e.g : intersex, transgender, bisexual. The ‘third gender’. To acknowledge and support bisexuality is in a way to reinforce the binary. I for example have never had sex with a woman, but I have fantasised about it (often about two women-I think my silly submissive sexist subconscious believes it would take two women to dominate me, but only one man. Idiot). I have had a relationship with a ‘bisexual’ man which felt more ‘homosexual’ than anything, surrounded as we were by sodomites, Roland Barthes and Scott Walker. But I couldn’t identify as ‘bisexual’. It feels too fixed. And also a bit of a lie, considering my knowledge of the sapphic arts is so pathetic. I know Mr Simpson doesn’t focus on fixed identities either, but still, it is worth pointing out, when a video like this is doing the rounds, that the ‘bisexual’ is necessary for the gayists and the straights to feel comfortable in their own sense of ‘fixed’ ‘natural’ sexuality. To challenge their complacency we may have to go that one step further and turn the applecart over altogether, get out our pencil rubbers and ‘erase’ all forms of sexual identity if we possibly can.
As Mr Zeeland said: ‘sexual identity is a joke’.
The video did make the joke, but maybe it didn’t deliver it with quite enough punch.
P.s. As for Donna, I am with this SLOG commenter, who suggests why Donna may think bi people identify as straight:
‘Gee, Dan, maybe they identify as straight so you won’t hit on them and get hate cooties all over them? Gods, you’re pathetic. Racist, sexist, cissexist, and biphobic and people ignore that because you’re a cute white cisgay. Fucking tired of it.’