The New York Times seems to exist. There are millions of copies in print, proclaiming that they are, in fact, The New York Times. They each have the New York Times label proudly emblazoned on their mastheads. Many people interact with issues of The New York Times. Some are even subscribers and thus in daily contact with The New York Times. This evidence suggests that, not only does The New York Times exist, but that any scientific quest to prove its existence should be met with laughter and confusion.
But the fact is that no one is on a quest -- scientific or otherwise -- to prove the existence of the Times. Seeing even just one copy of a paper with the label New York Times on it is proof enough that there is such a thing.
As it goes for the existence of the Times, so it goes for the existence of bisexuality. Millions of people identify as bisexual. In fact, there are as many people who label themselves bisexual as there are people who identify as gay and lesbian combined. And I dare you to find even one (legitimate) scientist on the planet who is on any quest to prove that bisexuals do or don't exist. You won't, because that would be junk science.
So why would a paper with as storied a tradition and valuable a reputation as The New York Times put out an article with the title "The Scientific Quest to Prove That Bisexuality Exists"? This bisexual is definitely confused. (But only about that! Not about anything else.)
The article seems to imply that the bisexual community itself -- in particular, via a bisexual organization, the American Institute of Bisexuality -- is on the quest or is funding the quest, because that organization is funding research looking at arousal patterns in men (of various orientations) watching porn. However, that is simply not true. I will not and cannot speak for the AIB, but I don't believe that porn research or penis-measuring machines tell us squat about bisexuality or represent a quest for bisexuality.
That's because the location of bisexuality is quite a bit north of the penis (for those who have penises -- many, perhaps most, bisexuals do not).
The proclivity to love resides in the heart.
(Note: this is not an invitation for "scientists" or scientists to start hooking bisexuals' hearts up to machines.)
Not only is there no quest to prove that bisexuals or bisexuality exists, but there has never been one. Because, of course we do. And, of course we do, for two reasons:
2. We say we do.
Show me the quest for scientific proof that heterosexuality exists. It begins and ends with even just one person saying, "I'm straight." Show me the young adult who has ever come out as gay by saying, voice trembling with emotion, "Mom, Dad, when scientists hook up my penis to machines and show me porn featuring two men, I get an erection, but if the porn shows a woman entering the room to engage in a threesome with those men, my erection subsides."
Sexual orientation -- that great proclivity of ours to love, whether or not that love takes place within gendered parameters -- is not something that can be measured, confirmed, or ascertained on a penis machine.
This is my quest: to experience health and well-being in the loving possibilities of our lives. To not be scrutinized as to whether or not we exist, but to be partners in the quest to examine what that existence currently looks like -- bleak, distressing, with elements of resilience -- and what it could become.
I want to read a New York Times article that talks about what's really going on for the bisexual community. For example, we face higher rates of domestic violence victimization, compared to people of other sexual orientations. I've previously referred to this as the hate crime that happens in the home. In the Times article, the author talks a lot about discrimination that bisexuals face from the gay and lesbian communities, and this is a theme I've seen in other pieces.
But I'm kind of tired of that "Oooh, we gays hate them, too -- that's so mean. We should be nicer." rhetoric. It comes with a tinge of internalized homophobia and self-flagellation, and, quite frankly, it's boring and misses the point. Considering the astronomical rates of domestic violence faced by bi women in relationships with men, I'm less worried about the lesbians who won't date bi women and more worried about the straight men who will! Can we talk about that, please?
And can we talk about depression, and anxiety, and suicidality, and all the very unsexy, un-penis-machine-y stuff that happens to a group of people who have been denigrated, yes, by the group that they are supposedly a part of (LGbT) but even more so -- much more so -- by the mainstream to the point of mental illness and physical illness and violence? I would like to see that in The New York Times. Because that's the real story -- or at least, a real story -- about our community, and what we're facing and what we're working diligently to overcome.
And speaking of overcoming things, while we are dealing with oppression and violence and illness, we are also a resilient bunch. No one organization speaks for us or represents all our needs, but we do, thankfully, have several national bisexual groups working on our behalf. I'd like to give a shout out to the Bisexual Resource Center, among others including BiNet USA, who have been promoting March as Bisexual Health Awareness Month. As this month comes to a close, I hope that the awareness -- and the action that that awareness may inspire -- continues to grow. If you are bi and you are reading this, please know that you exist, that we exist, and that we are a fierce and fabulous force to be reckoned with.
And maybe write a letter to the New York Times editors, to let them know too.
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