Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The various forms of biphobia

The various forms of biphobia


1 - Plain old biphobia:

Biphobia comes from within the LGBTQ community and outside the community. Bisexuals and pansexuals are just lucky that way...  

Personally, I have never dealt with hatred from within the community in person. When other queers hate on me, it's usually online where they can hide behind screen names like cowards. 
I am crossing my fingers it never happens in person because I don't need this kind of heartache. 

But I have gone through LGBTQ hatred in person.
However, it wasn't biphobia (most people outside the community usually just erase me, which isn't much better). 
It was homophobia. But homophobia also affects bisexuals and pansexuals because it taps into the gay part of us. It affects who we are and hurts us deeply. 

I have been told FF relationships are gross and perverted (by my own family), that I would go to Hell (by bigots who deem themselves the right to come and harass queers at Pride), that I deserve AIDS (also by bigots at Pride), that being gay is unnatural (by my family), that gay = porn (by my own family), and so on...

Which leads to the next topic... Gaslighting.


2  - Gaslighting:

Goodness gracious have I been gaslighted as a queer in my life, both in person and online. 

Things like:

"You're in a straight relationship, what do you know about the pains of the LGBT community?" 
(Right, because it doesn't hurt me in any way, shape, or form when my own mother tells me queer women are disgusting).

"There can't possibly be that many biphobic people out there. I'll have to ask some bisexuals." 
(I am standing right here and saying it to your face. I am bisexual. Half the people I know (online and in person) are bisexual, but you want to teach me about my own experience?) 
This usually comes from so-called allies too... People who like to claim they support LGBTQ people while gaslighting us at every corner and telling us our experiences cannot possibly be real. They usually invalidate and deny our pain, often very subtly, but in ways that add on to that very same pain. 

I have literally heard people claim there is no homophobia in their country!! Honey, there isn't a single country on this planet without homophobia. Just because you, as a straight person, are lucky enough that you don't have to see it or live through it doesn't mean you get to invalidate what gay people live through every day. Doing so is disgusting and appalling. And boy does it make you a horrible "ally."

"No one hates you; it's all in your head." 
(Really? Please tell me that the next time we walk into someone holding a sign saying "God hates queers," or the next time our dear politicians talk about potentially taking away queer people's protection in the workplace and in real estate...)

Gaslighting bisexuals is a form of prejudice, not to say a form of subtle or subconscious biphobia. 
Remember that being queer doesn't mean you're not prejudiced against bisexuals, and considering yourself an ally to gay people doesn't mean you're not prejudiced against bisexuals or certain members of the LGBTQ community either. 

***

In fact, I have seen many people invalidate the pain of entire communities, only because they have never experienced that specific kind of prejudice or pain themselves. 

Invalidating a marginalized person's pains and fears is one of the worst things you could do to them...besides hating on them directly.

You can be an ally and still be prejudiced against some LGBTQ people. You can be part of the LGBTQ community and still be prejudiced against some of them. It is something we ALL need to work on... 

***

Also, when you are friends with a marginalized person, don't go thinking it gives you the right to talk for their community. 

I have seen far too many "friends of bisexuals" use that as an excuse to diss pansexuals and non-binary people or transgender people. 

Do not use our community to push your bigotry! 

Don't speak in our name to invalidate other people's pain in our community. If you're not part of the bisexual community, you don't get to speak for us. 
Even I, as a bisexual, cannot speak in the name of the bi community (and even less in the name of the entire LGBTQ community). I can only speak about my own experiences and express my personal beliefs. 

Bisexuals do not need those kinds of conflicts with their queer family only because you, as a "friend of a bisexual," decided that you have the right to diss other members of our queer family, using our name to do so. 
If you want to be a bigot, do it in your own name, not ours, thanks.

So please, stop going around claiming that bisexuals aren't attracted to transgender or genderqueer people because your "bi friends" told you so. It is not your place or right to speak for us. What you say does not affect you, it affects us and it brings us a whole lot of trouble, so please stop.


3 - Bi erasure:

Oh good old bi erasure, my old nemesis! How I've missed you..not!

I come from a region of France where bisexuals basically do not "exist."
Of course, they do exist... I mean, I'm pretty sure I'm real, but by that, I mean that it doesn't even cross people's mind that people like me are valid and real. 
We just aren't. 
To them, we are non-existent.
I have lived my life being a ghost, basically. 

They erase us by putting us in the gay or straight category. There's no in between. Don't even get me started on pansexuals... I don't think they've ever heard that word. 

They erase us by changing the subject as soon as bisexuality is mentioned. 
For example, I once told my parents that one of my characters was bi. My mom changed the subject like I hadn't said anything at all, like the conversation didn't even happen. Because to her, me talking about LGBTQ people is me seeking to provoke people, it's me seeking conflict...

Bisexuals are so erased where I come from that I didn't know I was bi until I was 22 years old and moved to a country where being bi was actually normal. 
Because believe it or not, but being bi is more normalized in the USA than it is in France. 

When I tell Americans how erased LGBTQ people are in rural France, they're shocked to hear it. 
They think French people are more open-minded than Americans. 
It is not true. French people don't show hatred rooted in religion the way some Americans do, but they do erase queers constantly. 
We are "allowed" to exist and "tolerated" as long as we are invisible to them. 
I have lived through that for over 25 years. 
25 years of non-existence!
25 years of being a ghost in my own life!
Before I spread my wings and flew to the life that is rightfully mine!

Now, please note I have never lived in big cities where it's probably better because we can find our LGBTQ family there more easily, but in rural France, bisexuals simply do not "exist." 

Actually, if you watch videos of Pride in Paris, you will only see the rainbow flag... 
In an American Pride, you will see ALL the flags because we are ALL valid.
I think that sums up how bisexuality and pansexuality are viewed in French culture, even in the French queer culture. 


4 - Another form of bi erasure:

This happens when our so-called allies ask why characters in books and movies have to state out loud that they're gay. First of all, I don't see why that's an issue. Second of all, they have to say it because it is so rare to see actual gays in movies.

Until the LGBTQ community is represented in ALL media and not just as token characters making straight producers and writers feel good about themselves for being "inclusive" and "woke," there is no other choice but to point out that a character is gay. 

The straight community put us in a situation where we are non-existent in entertainment. 
We didn't do this to ourselves. We never asked to hide. We never asked to be erased. 
So until the situation is fixed, it is necessary to point out which character is queer or not, so queers can finally see themselves clearly in all media.

Also, the LGBTQ community isn't just made of cis gay people. 
Because of that, it needs to be clearly stated when someone is transgender or gay or bi or pan or genderqueer and so on, so we know which part of the community is being represented. 
But also because when producers/writers don't state clearly which part of the community the character belongs to, all interpretation is possible and that can sometimes hurt certain communities.
For example, when the main female character isn't labeled and is in an FF relationship, but then she cheats with a man (I can give you more than one movie title)... Which community do you think is going to be hurt by that? 
That's right, the bisexual community... 

Good and accurate representation matters.



Bi and valid

Bi and valid

To my bi family, this one is for you:



Thank you for reading.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Why do your characters speak English if they are French?


I received a few messages asking me the same question, so I decided to respond on the blog because it would take too long to tweet my response.


 The question was: Why do your characters speak English if they are French?

That's a really good question. Thank you for contacting me and asking me.

The thing is my characters do not speak English. They speak French.
The dialogues, though, are in English because the whole book is written in English. It wouldn't make sense to write a book in English and have all the dialogues be in French. It is implicitly understood that their language is French.
There are a few instances where it is even made very clear that they do not speak English.

"We're going to the Cameo," I informed him quickly. "Where they have subtitles."
Enzo's shoulders relaxed. "Thanks."
"Why are you thanking me?"
"Because you're accommodating me," he signed.
"I'm not doing it for you, actually. I have to maintain my English for business. I get a lot of foreign tourists, and my English isn't the best."
"I doubt that. You were the best student in our English class."
"Doubt all you want, but it's true. I'm far from fluent."

And

"It is not taught in their native language."
Cyrille raised an eyebrow, his gray eyes blazing. "Their native language is French. We teach in French. What is your point?"
I stared him straight in the eyes. "Their native language is French Sign Language, not spoken French."

So why are the dialogues in English? Again, because the entire book is written in English. I wrote it in English because I cannot reach international readers with a book written entirely in French or with dialogues written in French.

Now, if you want me to write the dialogues in French, I can, but then the book would look something like this:

"Au fait, on va où?" I asked Patrick, who sat in my dark green linen armchair and crossed his legs at the knees while I settled on the matching couch.
"Ils ont ouvert une nouvelle disco au centre ville. Rue des Maréchaux."
I nibbled at my thumbnail. "Et qu'est-ce que je fais s'il est là? Tu sais qu'il adore tout ce qui est nouveau."
New cars. New furniture. New clubs. New boy-toys.
I didn't need to run into Cyrille humping the leg of some hot guy. At age twenty-six, seeing my ex with younger men never failed to punch me in the guts.
"Mon chou, tu peux pas passer le reste de ta vie à te soucier de lui. S'il est là, tu l'ignores. Tu te trouves un mec pour la soirée et tu parades avec. C'est aussi simple que ça."

Now, I don't think this is a book anyone would want to read.

You also asked me why there are some French sentences in the book. I apologize if that confused you. I did it because it cracks me up to slip French sentences in my books. And well, the characters are French after all. It is something I will be doing in all the books, so if it's not something you enjoy, I'd rather let you know now.
Since the characters then respond in a way that makes it clear what was said in French, I don't see it as an issue. 

I hope this answers your questions. Again, thank you so much for asking. Please, feel free to ask any other questions you may have about anything you want. I am more than happy that you reached out and I am glad to answer. 


Now, since I am discussing this subject, I would like to tackle a less pleasant topic and make something clear: I am drawing the line at people messaging me to imply I am not a French author, but that I'm an American pretending to be French. I do not owe it to you to prove my identity. My social media makes it pretty clear I am French. If you are unsure of my origins, feel free to follow me online, but I'm not going to take your false accusations without saying a word. 
I also do not appreciate that the same person told me that if my characters were French, their dialogues would be in broken English.

I am not sure if you even realize how xenophobic you sound, but I was really taken aback by the xenophobia surrounding my writing, especially coming from people within the industry.

You telling me my characters should speak in broken English implies that French people (myself included) are not capable of learning a foreign language correctly. In fact, your implying that I am not French because my book is written in English really adds to my belief that you are deeply xenophobic and biased against foreigners like me.

I do not owe it to you to butcher my dialogues and write a book in incorrect English only because you have decided that foreigners and immigrants like myself can't speak English correctly.

As someone living in the USA where xenophobia is on the rise and rampant everywhere, I can tell you that the message you are sending me is not coming across too well.

It makes me wonder if you also tend to message American authors who write books set in foreign countries, telling them their English is too good or if you're just doing it to me because I'm an immigrant?
Again, considering the atmosphere I am currently living in, I have good reasons to wonder... especially when those comments are coming from someone within the industry.


I will finish by adding that my pen name is English because I am a queer and I do not need my family to find out about that aspect of my life. Living in the closet and protecting ourselves is a reality of life for many queers. As someone writing/reading/editing queer books, you should know that. Otherwise, I truly fear to read how you represent us queers in your novels.

Having an English pen name makes it easier for me to protect myself and my identity. I do not owe it to you to write under my French name just because you cannot stand the fact that a French person is writing a book about France in English under an English pen name.

I do apologize to the readers if that confused them. I only did it to protect myself. 
But as far as people inside the industry (authors, editors, publishers), I don't owe you anything. I especially do not owe it to you to put myself in a bad position in my personal life because of your bias.

I would like to know if you also attack non-French speaking authors who set their books in France and completely misrepresent my culture, my country, and butcher my language? At least, I have the decency to not butcher your language in my writing. I am just saying this because I've seen my fair share of books where it was said that my country smells like piss among other unpleasant stereotypes, without mentioning how mutilated my Native language is in those books.

My books are own voices when it comes to French culture, bisexuality, and queerness.
My logo is both French and bisexual... Again, if you write queer books, I think you should at least know what our colors are. It's just the basics, really. 

I wrote a book about French queers because, during my entire life, I have never, not once, read an own voices book representing me: a French queer.
The only book I found was a book I found recently written by Edouard Louis. He is the only author out there that I know of with characters that represent me accurately, and yet I am not a French gay man, which is what his books are about.

I hope this will settle this issue because the xenophobic comments are getting ridiculous. 
I would advise you to spend more time working on your own books and your own career instead of worrying about mine. 
I don't mind readers asking me questions (it is their right as readers purchasing my books), but I will not let people from within the book industry attack me, and just sit here and take it. 

Thank you for reading!
- Rowan

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Am I bi enough to call myself bi?


I know that bi doesn't mean "50% straight, 50% gay" and that some even experience a fluctuation they call bi-cycle but still, when the percentages are more like 90% and 10% (or not even that), is it possible to feel worthy of calling yourself bi?

And to me it's not just a matter of numbers. My interest in women is also very... secondary? Not sure if that's the right word but what I mean is that I've never liked a woman without liking a man even more so there would be a high risk of making any girlfriend suspect that I'm only with her because I couldn't get the man I wanted. But still, I can't call myself straight, knowing that there are exceptions.
So... bi is what I would prefer to call myself, although something like "straight with exceptions" seems more accurate. Is there any chance of it being considered acceptable?

***

I can't speak for the entire community (though I'm sure many would agree), but I personally think that what matters the most is what YOU prefer to label yourself as.

If you feel bi, no one has the right to tell you that's not how you feel. No one gets to control your feelings, how you view yourself and your position in this world. No one has the right to tell you that you're not bi or not bi enough to call yourself bi.
Basically, no one gets to tell you who you are.
That is your right only. If bi is what you feel comfortable with, then you are bi. It's that simple. No matter your level of attraction for various genders.

Here is the Kinsey scale explaining the bispectrum:


As you can see, it seems you could fit in picture number 1. Not that we have to fit in a picture or a box. Technically, we shouldn't even have to wear labels at all. We only do because our heteronormative society forced us to by identifying us as different. Now the same heteronormative society is asking us to drop our labels so they can erase us and pretend we don't exist... (You know, the "why does this character have to say they're gay?" kind of people). Nope, sorry, I'm bi, I'm here, and I won't call myself anything else. :-)

Not everyone is the same though, and the bi community is large and comprises all kinds of people, some leaning more toward gay, some leaning more toward straight, some in the middle. Still bi if that's what they identify as.

I have a friend who is straight but is sometimes fluid sexually. She identifies as straight, and that's her right as well.


In some of my tweets, I have raised the issue of straight girls or women calling themselves bi to be trendy and to attract men, or straight women pretending to be bi to bait our community and make sales. That's something I am profoundly against. I am against it because it is an exploitation of the bi community by a straight person trying to make money off of it. It is unethical and wrong.

But I cannot stress enough how different it is from bisexuals who are not in the middle of the scale. It is different because the person who is consciously straight and uses the bi label does it for a selfish purpose, which is completely different from a bisexual who feels lost and unsure where they stand.

In the end, what matters is what people do, how they are as a person, how they treat others. It is obvious that you being bi doesn't hurt anyone, so why should it be a problem? It concerns you and you only.


Also, there is no such thing as being "worthy" to be bi. You feel bi, you are not using the label to hurt others, exploit them, abuse them, so I really don't see an issue here.

Finally, I always tell bisexuals who are worried about how others will view them that there are many bisexuals out there to date... We can't control whom we fall in love with, but if people are giving you a hard time, it is more than okay to seek to date someone who is like you, someone who will accept you. We don't owe it to anyone to be with them if they don't respect us, if they erase us, if they barely accept us.

I hope this helped. To sum it up, call yourself bi if that's how you feel. No one has the right to tell you otherwise. :-)

Thank you for trusting me with your questions.

- Rowan