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Making bisexuality a crisis

Not all bisexuals are radicals, but it can be a radical identity. Bisexuals operate outside usual understandings of sexuality – we are not one or the other, we are not this or that, we are everything and nothing, one and the other, this and that and a slice of cake. Our attraction is not fixed but fluid. We are not simple or easily definable; we are complex and difficult to understand. Hell, most of us don’t even really call ourselves bisexual.

This puts us in a uniquely queer position to challenge what it means to question authority, liberate ourselves from labels, confront patriarchy, dismantle the family and monogamy, and experience radical love.

But just as capitalism sinks its claws into anything radical ready to commodify, bastardise, and simplify it, bisexuality risks falling into the same fate. Liberalism tells us that the more we talk about things, the more content and consumables we have ready to buy, the more accepting we must be. Bisexuality has recently become a more significant part of the mainstream in the UK: more books about bisexuality are being written, and mainstream representations of bisexuality are popping up everywhere.

We talk about bisexuality more; there are more things to read, watch and consume; therefore, we must accept bisexuals too. “Look! Bisexuals can come to spend money in this pub too!” “Hey, learn to be bisexual with our easy guide!”.

This gives the false impression that first, we can simply spend and consume our way towards liberation – going to see Disney films where they tease a same-sex kiss or reading books where a character stands up for their bi-ness: “Uhm, actually I’m not gay/straight, I’m bisexual”. And second, people will understand or “tolerate” (I hate that word) us. The complexities of our sexualities make it almost impossible to see representation that truly reflects us all. We are purposely difficult to define, meaning any attempt to “represent” us feels hollow and forced. Of course, this doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be any representation, but this will not be our liberation.

To be bisexual is to be hidden. Unlike the dreamy queer communities that shows like Heartstopper try to showcase, bisexuals do not live this reality. There are few obvious bisexual spaces – queer spaces, LGBTQ+ friendly spaces, and even these so-called “safe spaces” suffer from the problems of discriminating against bisexuals. Ever worried about appearing not queer enough? Ever been called just straight/just gay by other queer people for being in a straight/gay-presenting relationship? Ever just called yourself gay to not have to deal with a more complex discussion about your sexuality?

Bisexuality risks being turned into a commodity and losing its radicality. Because we don’t have many spaces to convene and discuss and be openly and safely bisexual, we rarely know how cool being bisexual really can be. We must fight for a radical bisexuality, and that doesn’t mean necessarily demanding representation in films, TV shows, and books.

Our fight comes in building bisexual communities, talking about bisexuality with everyone, and educating other bisexuals about the awesome power of living outside heteronormativity. Feeling lost in my sexuality, I only realised how many people around me were bi once I began discussing my sexuality and sharing my thoughts. “Why don’t people get my sexuality?”, “Why do I struggle to pass as bisexual?”, “Where do I learn about what it means to be bi?” are all questions I’ve been able to explore by building bisexual communities.

These communities help us understand ourselves and embrace our complexities. It allows us to fight against the simplification of our sexualities, against the commodification of bi-ness, and turn bisexuality into a crisis.

Liberation is what we make of it. No one else will provide it for us, certainly no multinational corporation. By turning bisexuality into a crisis, we fight against a true definition or representation of bisexuality. By making bisexuality a crisis, we fuck with the simple minds and the simplified structures enforced by patriarchal capitalism. By making bisexuality a crisis, we deny capitalism getting its grubby little hands on us. Bisexuality should be a crisis – that is our power, that is our radicality.

~ Daniel Newton

This article first appeared in the Winter 2023-4 issue of Freedom Anarchist Journal

Image: ev / Unsplash

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