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No, bi people are not ‘appropriating gay culture’

No, bi people are not ‘appropriating gay culture’

Nico Tortorella and wife Bethany Meyers at the GLAAD Awards in May

Last week on Twitter, TV writer Graham Linehan [best known for his work on Father Ted, Black Books and The IT Crowd], claimed that the bisexual community is making a ‘land grab’ at the gay community’s oppression and culture.

The comments came after a gay man took to Twitter mock an interview with Nico Tortorella and wife Bethany Meyers. The article, entitled This is What a Queer Family looks Like, appeared in The Advocate. In the interview, Nico and Bethany talk about their queer relationship and wedding.

Appropriating gay culture

In a Twitter discussion, Linehan stated: ‘“queer” often denotes a straight person trying to appropriate gay culture.”’

Graham Linehan Twitter tweet

Linehan compared the couple’s relationship to his own. He suggested Nico and Bethany calling their marriage queer would be like him and his own wife doing so.

Graham Linehan tweet

But here’s the thing: Graham and his wife don’t get to call their relationship queer because neither of them are same-gender attracted. Neither of them have same-gender relationships outside of marriage and Graham, unlike Nico, is not gender-fluid. His marriage is nothing like Nico and Bethany’s.

Graham Linehan twitter

Here’s the difference

Monogamous cross-gender marriages between between bi people aren’t like his either, because neither Graham or his wife have ever had to experience the fear of coming out, facing homophobia or biphobia, or the possibility of being rejected by their friends and family for their identity and sexuality.

Bi people certainly aren’t making a “land grab” at gay oppression when bisexual women are more likely to than lesbians (and straight women) to experience sexual or domestic violence.

Studies in the UK have found that over 10% of bi women are domestic violence survivors, compared to 8% of lesbians and 6% of straight women. Studies from America show that 75% of bi women have reported experiencing sexual violence compared to 46% of lesbians and 43% of hetrosexual women.

Bi people regardless of gender are more likely to have mental health issues compared to their gay and straight counterparts, with ‘double-discrimination’ given as one possible reason. Approximately 40% of bisexuals have considered or attempted suicide, compared to a quarter of gay men and women.

As well as facing homophobia from friends, family, and strangers bi people also often experience discrimination and erasure within the LGBT+ community.

The role of bi people in queer culture

Despite this, the bi community has been vital part of queer culture. Possibly the most famous queer man of all time, Freddie Mercury, was bisexual. The Christopher Street Liberation Day March, which is often cited as the first Pride march, was organized by bisexual activist Brenda Howard.

The first Women’s HIV/AIDS Information Switchboard was founded by a HIV positive bi woman, Cynthia Slater. She also gave safe-sex education at BDSM clubs and bathhouses in San Francisco. And the first Gay right non-discrimination ordinance was co-authored by bisexual activist, Alan Rockway.

Bi activists have always been a core part of LGBT+ rights movement, no matter how much our history and contribution is erased.

Linehan will never face homophobia, biphobia or transphobia

But Graham Linehan doesn’t know any of this. Because he doesn’t need to. He is a cisgender, heterosexual man, who unlike Nico and Bethany, will never face homophobia, biphobia, or transphobia.

Validated by a few angry and misinformed members of the rainbow community, Linehan and other heterosexual transphobes like Posie Parker, have been doing something straight people have been doing for decades; trying to control and dictate queer people’s identities.

Linehan, who spends his time talking over women, lesbians, bisexuals, and anyone else who disagrees with him about their lived experience, has become the LGBT+ rights equivalent of the anti-choice men who call themselves feminists because they’re “protecting unborn women”.

No matter what he or anyone says, bi and trans people will always be here and we’ll always be queer. Get used to it.

Lois Shearing is the founder of #DoBetterBiUs & @NetworkBi. Follow Lois on Twitter at @Lumpi_corn

See also

Is new Netflix show Insatiable really homophobic, biphobic and fat-shaming?

Chloë Grace Moretz slams Boy, Erased: ‘Queer films should be made by queer people’

Queer actor Nico Tortorella comes out as gender fluid with fabulous look