Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bi Visibility Day

Today is Bi Visibility Day.  Bisexuality, as I've said before, has become in some people's eyes a sort of Schroedinger's Cat of sexuality - bisexuals exist in a state of indeterminacy, either gay or straight, which will be fixed when the "box is opened", the box-opening moment being the person getting involved with a person of the same or the opposite sex, thus becoming gay or straight.

This, of course is bollocks, but the inability of people, both gay and straight, to see beyond a binary division of sexuality remains a problem.  I myself have been part of this problem - there was a time when I saw someone saying "I am a bisexual man who's never had a homosexual experience" as ridiculous posturing, rather than a legitimate statement of identity.

It's also a problem in scholarship on the ancient world.  For instance, I have seen the fact that Achilles and Patroclus are described by Homer as having sex with girls in The Iliad employed as an argument to demonstrate that they could not be themselves lovers.  Not the case, of course.

The binary divide is also employed in Eric Shanower's Age of Bronze, where Achilles is depicted as completely losing interest in Deidamia once he meets Patroclus.  It's as if a switch has been flicked from "straight" to "gay".  And I suspect that some people's problems with the poetess Sappho derive from the fact that she writes love poems to both men and women.

In the end, one has to accept that human sexuality is not that simple.


Ika said...

Yes - there's a really nice book called Bisexuality in the Ancient World which is one of the key works on same-sex attraction and practices, but refuses to have 'homosexuality' in the title for all these reasons.

(Also with you on the feeling-shame for youthful biphobia around "posturing", usually aimed in my case at that Brett out of Suede. Sorry, Brett, I was being a dick.)

Sarah said...

A man one asked me whether I'm bi-curious. I asked him whether he was straight-curious before he had his first sexual encounter with a woman. He admitted that he had always just known.

Tony Keen said...

Ika, in the version of this post that didn't involve me realizing halfway through The Three Musketeers that there were only 45 minutes left of Bi Visibility Day, and if I was going to write this I ought to get on with it now, I might have addressed such things as the fact that Dover in Greek Homosexuality doesn't seem to mention bisexuality at all, and whilst Davidson's The Greeks and Greek Love does use the word, it sits very much in the background.

Though I was actually being a dick about a friend, Brett Anderson was involved a bit up the line. So sorry Brett from me as well. But not about never liking Suede's music.