“If you say you’re gay, very few people say, ‘Well, what do you mean?’ Bisexuals have to come out every time they walk into a room . . . I get it from both communities. We like to joke that’s the one thing straights and gays agree on: They don’t understand bisexuals" . . .
. . . . When the bigotry comes from the straight community, it’s hurtful. But when it comes from the gay community, it’s worse—because they should understand. This is the experience of the gay community—having the straight community tell them they’re wrong, they don’t exist. For me, it feels like personal betrayal. I feel like ‘I was there with you, in the beginning,’ and then I hear ‘What has bisexuality done for the movement?’ That just floors me. The history has been rewritten.” ~Denise Ingram
Ingram, 41, grew up in Jamaica—where being anything other than straight is punishable with jail time but is more often handled by mob violence—and she spent the ’80s and ’90s advocating for gay rights in New York City, where she identified as a lesbian before coming out as bisexual. Ingram met her husband of three years, James Klawitter, at a meeting of BiUnity, a Philly-based bisexual support network.
She feels connected to the LGBT community—entitled to the connection even—and she remembers the times when no one in the movement was accepted by the mainstream, when no one thought to check her gay credentials . . .
Linda A. Hawkins is a counselor and research coordinator at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she works with LGBT youth. She previously worked as a counselor at the Attic Youth Center and sees some gold at the end of this rainbow. But even in her field, she says, there were sometimes issues among colleagues when she disclosed her bisexuality (she’s in a long-term committed relationship with a woman—who, yes, also initially had some reservations about dating someone who’s bisexual).
But what Hawkins—and nearly every other person interviewed for this article—has found is that the kids, or at least the younger generation, seem to have a lot fewer hang-ups about being bi, gay, gender non-conforming or whatever. “I see more acceptance from youth,” she says. “I’ve worked with young people for the last 15 years in Philadelphia, and I can tell that the flexibility around gender and sexuality has expanded. And that leads to kids being more accepting of themselves, of others and of bisexuality.”
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