This morning I wrote about an article I saw regarding the book, “Lesbian for a Year.” The author wasn’t too happy with my commentary on the article- she took it as if it were poorly researched journalism about the book, whereas I think it was far more commentary on the piece written about her book and the quotes of her.  I admit it isn’t fair to judge her book or her thoughts solely on one article about her, but I personally find her quotes problematic. The subject matter is important and I hope others dig into her book to see how she flushes out more full ideas.

I took Hemphill’s criticism seriously- that I hadn’t done enough research and have bumped around the web looking at stuff about the book. I stand by all of what I wrote, but I will say I appreciate her efforts to broaden a dialogue around sexual liberation. She is quoted in the Daily Telegraph this way:

…if everyone went out and spent some time hooking up with their own gender we would probably be in a much more tolerant place and it would open up much more conversation and dialogue around this,

I’m all for talking about sexual liberation, but In my opinion, she muddies it. Lesbian for a Year gets too close to declaring a sexual orientation. I find this telegraph headline really bad:

MEET the ‘straight’ Sydney woman who kissed a girl and liked it so much she spent the next year living as a lesbian.

All in all, I don’t think I have a problem with her content per se, but rather the marketing of it which seems to be all about selling books using controversial language.

Not Adam and Steve

Another story of bisexual visibility was also in my news feed today. In this second case, controversy is about a youtuber who is a part of a gay couple, although he self-identifies as bisexual.

“Yes, I’m a bisexual male,” R.J. Aguiar says in a video published Monday. The 25-year-old is currently engaged to Will Shepherd, his fellow YouTuber and cofounder of the brand Not Adam and Steve. That relationship, combined with the couple’s online visibility, has led to a seemingly endless stream of questions about the validity of Aguiar’s orientation, he says.

RJ’s story describes a different part of the bisexual predicament. I don’t know, maybe lesbians are equally bad about this, but gay men can be truly horrific dismissing another guy’s self-chosen identity. No wonder bisexuals feel so invisible within the larger LGBTQ community when there are gay guys telling them that they don’t exist, they are lying or they don’t know who they are. Those critical of RJ are utterly clueless about sexual orientation.

I’m a fan of the base notion of using “born this way” as a self empowering concept, but born this way must end up meaning more than gay. We are all born with a sexual orientation either towards members of the same sex, opposite sex or both. We then – each of us – align our identity and our expression with hat orientation in some way, and our right to self identification is crucial to real liberation. We have done such a disservice treating gay as the same as “not straight” when in reality both bisexual and gay/lesbian are not straight.

I’m of the belief that failure to allow a bisexual person to so identify is really a matter of the internalized homophobia of the person judging. That homophobia forces rigid categories which people must fit in, and these are so often connected to conforming or non-conforming gender expression.

Here’s the video:


I think it is far easier to come out as gay or lesbian than it is to come out as bisexual. Maybe that’s why Hemphill’s book isn’t called, “The Year I explored Being Bisexual.”

Both of these persons confront the notion held by many straight persons as well as many lesbian/gay persons, that you are either one or the other- gay or straight.


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