Advice From A. Rose Bi: Does Gender Matter?

Sep 26, 2016 | 2016 Fall - Does Gender matter?, Advice From A. Rose Bi, Articles

A. Rose Bi is thrilled to be writing Bi Women Quarterly’s new advice column. An avid BWQ reader herself, A. proudly identifies as a bisexual woman. She currently lives in New England with her boyfriend and her two stupidly adorable cats.

In addition to being an out bi woman, A. has a degree in Cognitive Science, has completed trainings for LGBTQ+ and sexual assault survivor advocacy, and has experience answering calls for an anonymous LGBTQ+ help line. She is passionate about feminism, the bi+ community, LGBTQ+ and female representation in the media, and helping others.

A. Rose Bi’s column relies on questions from readers like you! You can send any questions you might have or suspect other readers may have to the author directly at askbwq@gmail.com. All questions are anonymous, nothing is off-limits, and anything related to upcoming issue topics is extra-encouraged!

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Dear A. Rose Bi,

My girlfriend jokes a lot about how gross it is that I’ve slept with, and am attracted to, men. She reassures me that it’s all in good fun, and I’m inclined to believe her. How do I know if she’s not simply rejecting my identity?

Thanks,

Is She Joking?

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Dear Is She Joking,

I’m sorry to hear that there’s even a question that your girlfriend might be rejecting your identity! Unfortunately, many bi+ people deal with slight skepticism (or full dismissal) of their identity from their gay, lesbian, or straight partners – and it totally sucks.

For your situation, I’m wondering what makes you inclined to believe her? If you have a happy and healthy relationship, my guess would be that she isn’t dismissing your identity and is genuinely just sticking with a joke, albeit a really unfunny joke. However, if she has said or done anything outside of this that also makes you feel like this, this might need to be a larger conversation. Either way, if her comments, offhanded or not, are bothering you at all, my suggestion is to call her out next time. Let your girlfriend know that even though she might mean it as a joke, what she’s saying is giving you doubts about whether or not she has issues with you being bi. Even if she pushes back and continues to argue that it’s “just a joke,” explain to her that it’s not a joke to you, and that you’d appreciate it if she stopped. At that point, regardless of what the topic is, if one person in a relationship is making a joke that makes the other feel uncomfortable and it’s been communicated clearly that this is the case, the respectful way for them to handle it is to stop making the joke.

Hopefully this is just a misguided attempt at a laugh from your girlfriend and not a sign of a deeper issue, but at the end of the day, you’ll never really know without talking to her about it. And just to remind you, your identity is never gross and no one should make you feel that way.

Thanks & love,

A. Rose Bi

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Dear A. Rose Bi,

I’m in a relationship with a straight guy and most of the people I hang out with are straight. I rarely invite them to LGBTQ events, but when I do, they get really uncomfortable and never want to join, including my boyfriend. And since I don’t want to go by myself, I end up not going at all. I understand that they might not feel welcome or comfortable, but I miss being part of the LGBTQ community and hate going to things alone! What do I do?

Signed,

Surrounded by Straight People

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Dear Surrounded by Straight People,

I totally understand what you’re going through. Having a formal or informal LGBTQ+ community that you feel a part of is so important and I’m glad to hear you’re looking for that! I’m assuming, since these people are your boyfriend and friends and probably care about you a lot, that their discomfort isn’t coming from a place of judgment or unacceptance, but instead just genuine discomfort in entering a community to which they “don’t belong.” I would recommend two different approaches, depending on what’s most important to you.

First, explain to your friends how much their presence would mean to you, either by having a conversation now or by taking the time to appreciate their support/presence if they do come to LGBTQ+ events. You can also start “small” – invite them to your city’s pride parade if you have one where they won’t be the only straight people, instead of a more intimate setting. Remind them that they are welcome (as long as it is an event or community that welcomes allies)!

Secondly (and you can do this instead of the first one or in addition to), reach out to any digital or local LGBTQ+ communities! The Boston Bisexual Women’s Network has so many great online resources and if you’re local to the Boston area, there are great local meetup options, including Bi Community Activities, managed by the Bisexual Resource Center. Email a few people, go to a small event – reach out and expand your LGBTQ+ network! Once you take steps to do that, I bet you’ll be surprised how quickly it will grow, and then not only will you have events to go to, but a group of people to go with!

For a list of resources from BBWN, check out their website at biwomenboston.org/resources-and-links/ and feel free to reach out to askbwq@gmail.com for help finding something that fits your interests!

Thanks & love,

A. Rose Bi

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