Thursday, April 3, 2014

Why Tom Daley being Gay kind of sucks.

His speedo brings all the boys to the yard. Damn right, it's better than yours.
Four months ago, social media became ablaze with the news that Tom Daley - adorable British diving Olympic speedo-clad sensation - was...not a heterosexual man. In a video he recorded and posted to his YouTube channel last December, the heartthrob proclaimed that he was in a relationship with a man, but that he still '[fancied] girls'. While he didn't use, and insisted that he didn't want to use, the label of bisexual, people inferred that he was, at the very least, representing the folks out there in the middle of the Kinsey scale. Today, he's setting social media ablaze again...because he's decided he prefers the label 'gay'.

And...the more I think about that...the more it sucks.
Now, before you go postal on me and leave me hate mail, let me be clear: I love that in some alternate universe if I were about 1000x hotter and he were single and we were to meet I might have a chance of having a gay love story with Mr. Daley. Welcome out, Tom! I fully support him in whatever label that he wants to apply to himself, and support his right to marry whatever legal adult he wants.

Since we've got that out of the way. This really has little to do with Daley and much more to do with biphobia.

I will admit to my own bisexual prejudices. For pretty much the entire time I was a young gay kid going to clubs, hooking up, and going on dates, I made it a rule that I wouldn't date bisexual guys. The way I saw it, it took me years to come to terms with who I was as a gay man, and if a bisexual guy ever dumped me or cheated on me or otherwise left me for a woman I knew I wouldn't be able to deal. I didn't want to feel like some straight guy's college experiment. And, I've heard the arguments. Their sexuality and dating choices aren't about me. But, the way I saw it, it was about me...at least the part of me that was emotionally invested in a man who wanted to be with another man. I didn't have the choice of dating a woman and being legitimately happy. Boy, life would be easier if I could...but I can't.

While I can say that my opinion and beliefs about bisexual people has changed over the years, I will still admit to buying into the expression - even if only a little bit - 'Bi Now, Gay Later'. The idea that people, men specifically, aren't actually bi. They're hiding behind the moniker of bisexual to keep parents, colleagues, and perfect strangers in the mindset that this might be a phase, and there's still a chance he could end up with a girl.

Like God intended. (I feel like that's how they phrase it in their minds.)

Bisexual women are seen as sex objects, rare unicorns for guys to capture and date in order to engage in every straight man's fantasy of an endless buffet of 2 girls-on-1 guy threesomes.

Bisexual men are ostracized by both the gay and straight communities, because a lot of gay men think like I did that they're just experimenting and want nothing to do with them. While many straight women don't want to be with a man who either would have sex with another man or has already done so, because he must actually be gay. Male/Male sex = gay forever, no exceptions...apparently.

In both cases, these groups of individuals are not seen as the spectrum embracing humans that they are. They see gender, yes, but they are attracted emotionally and physically to both. (Though I've heard more than one bisexual person say that there are spectrums in both categories, respectively. More physically attracted to women, but emotionally attracted to men, or vice versa.) Their sexual preferences are denied by the culture around them, and I find that to be incredibly harmful.

One of the big reasons why biphobia and bi erasure occur is the same reason why homophobia and racism occur: lack of interaction with people who identify as bisexual. We have very few bisexual celebrities, and those that are are mostly women. This doesn't help because, as I said above, bisexual women are seen as keys to straight boy threesomes and not as individual, real sexual beings. Bisexual male celebrities?

Well, bisexual men are treated to the criticisms of every gender and sexuality. They can't be action stars, because we can't have action movie actors that might secretly also want to get poked in the butt. We can't have bisexual rock stars, and while we do have some gay singers they don't make the mark that straight ones do. We want men to either like men or like women, but there's something icky about them liking both.

So, when it seemed like Tom Daley might be an out and proud bisexual man...it was a big WOOHOO moment for the bi community. An exceedingly attractive, popular, legitimate celebrity (an Olympic medalist, no less, in a sport other than figure skating) with staying power had come out saying he was in a same-sex relationship but was still attracted to women.

There's our very first bisexual heartthrob, ladies and gents.

But this week on a British TV show, Daley seemed to have confirmed that he is, indeed, a gay man only attracted to other men.

The argument can definitely be made that humans have a labeling problem. We want to apply labels to everything, and that frustrates folks who don't feel they neatly fit into any particular category. We have dozens upon dozens of terms to define sexual orientation and gender, and, as discussed in a recent episode of my podcast, it is quite possible that the list could continue indefinitely. But, until we perfect telepathy and are able to psychically communicate the full scope of our internal spectrum of feelings and attractions, people need labels to communicate. Folks that are frustrated by labels are right to feel how they feel about being pigeonholed, but there is a need for language to function as a communication device and right now words are the best we have.

I wish Daley all the best, but the hunt continues for the first actual bisexual poster boy. I think the bisexual community could use some representation, and I hope there's some brave soul out there willing to be the first.

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

3 comments:

  1. I have seen a whole bunch of that lately, people having a hard time with bi, a, or some other gray area sexuality. Look at it this way, if a guy cheated on you with a woman and acted like you were just some experiment, how sad is it that he is so insecure with his own life choices and/or sexuality that he needs to put up a front like that? It's really unfair for people to assume that a gay person is a pedophile and thus shouldn't be around kids, but isn't a similar thing to assume a bisexual person is a revolving door when it comes to sexual partners?

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  2. Alan Cumming is all the poster boy we'll ever need.

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  3. Just on the subject of Bi rock stars here is a quote from Kurt Cobain in the Advocate, "I'm definitely gay in spirit, and I probably could be bisexual… If I wouldn't have found Courtney, I probably would have carried on with a bisexual lifestyle." I'm not trying to argumentative and it doesn't necessarily prove anything but I just found that surprising when I read it.

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