The Big Tent…(Or F*ck Biphobia)
It’s 9/11, and I’m not really going to go into that because so many other people have so many more enlightening things to say on the subject. My friend Georgia Beers has written an amazing book on the subject called 96 Hours, and she wrote a blog last year talking about all the wonderful acts of compassion that followed in the wake of such unspeakable tragedy. It’s been said we were all Americans that day, but I would go further and say we were all human that day. Foreign or domestic, regardless of race or religion, wealth or poverty, we were all shocked and saddened, longing for peace, comfort, and understanding, asking how humans could have so little care for human life. And when we cracked open, what came out louder than the fear, the hate, or the anger was the call for love: the desire to feel it, to show it, to give it, and to hold on tightly to it. Humanity, broken down to its most vulnerable and raw, cares little for who and how someone loves so long as they do, in fact, love.
But things change. People forget. Life goes on even in the wake of tragedy. Wars start. People starve. Children are attacked in their schools. Memories of goodwill toward all are hard to come by, even in our own little circles. Just this week there was a huge row in my small little lesfic community that brought home how awful and hypocritical we can be. A woman said horrible things that aren’t worth repeating about an organization many of us care about and people I personally love. The root of her malice was biphobia: The fear, aversion or hatred of bisexuals. It’s not terrorism, and no one died, so I’m not even trying to put it on that level, but I was once again shocked at the idea of people hurting other people over such petty differences. Queers attacking other queers for not being queer enough.
I wrote response after response. Some of them angry, some of them sarcastic, many of them both. I had one full-on tirade about how as far as I could tell, I am the only one (seriously: THE. ONLY. ONE!) who ever brings a cisgendered male to any of the lesbian fiction events, so perhaps I needed to apologize to anyone with a pea-sized brain for the confusion and trauma my six-year-old might have caused with all the hugs and high fives he gave. But I deleted that because ultimately the mere presence of a male, or even someone who doesn’t hate men isn’t the issue here. Neither is the quality of the writing, because I’ve seen several people who bash bisexual authors in the abstract turn around and post about how much they LOVED a book by a woman they don’t know identifies as bi. So let’s just cut that crap right now. The writing is not the issue. It’s not about how these authors conduct themselves in our circles either. As I said, most people don’t even know which writers are bi because those women work just as tirelessly or more so than anyone else to further the causes of LESBIAN fiction. So entitlement isn’t the issue either, no matter what lies anyone tries to spread. The “real issues” as people always seem to make them out, are about dividing lines.
The us and the them. The self and the other. The “real” lesbian (whatever that means) and the posers who are here to steal our…our what? Our money? Let me tell you, no one writing lesbian fiction is living the high life. Our clout? Sorry, we don’t have much of that either. Our…our… I’m sorry. I honestly don’t know what a bisexual or straight woman could possibly take from the lesbian community that they couldn’t get tons more of by writing a heterosexual romance. So this can’t be about anything legitimate being taken from us. It’s got to be a people power trip, a control grab, using our community lines as way of making oneself feel bigger by making someone else feel small. I’m sorry, but we have got to be better than that.
We need to stop drawing our circles as small as they can be. We need to be open-hearted and open-minded. We need to reject bigotry, both outside and within our community. We need to seek each other’s humanity. We need to judge each other and each other’s work on their merits. We need to stop trying to tell people that who and how they love makes them somehow less than we are. Dear God, we of all people know the damage that type of persecution does to the human psyshe. And these are human beings we’re talking about. Real people, with real hopes and dreams and feelings they are shattering with their malice and vitriol.
I did not decide to write lesbian fiction to tear women down. I write lesbian romance because I believe in the transformative power of love to shape our lives, our communities, and our world. I believe love given freely, recklessly, and without boundaries is the calling of every human life, and the cure for every human ill. And so this is the only dividing line I will draw: Love over hate.
As master Yoda says, “Anger, fear, and aggression. The dark sides of the force are they.” It’s time to lay down whatever petty differences have caused division in your life and come on over to my big queer tent. We have light and love, and all are welcome.