by Blythe Aimson
According to The Tab’s William Lloyd, I am not Cara Delevingne. Damn. I wish someone had told me sooner. No wonder DKNY aren’t returning my calls.
In all seriousness, The Tab recently published Lloyd’s article ‘Saying you’re bisexual is no substitute for being interesting’ (original article found here via donotlink). The central points of his argument are as follows: most people who identify as bisexual are lying; you must have slept with someone of the opposite sex to be ‘legitimately’ bisexual; bisexuality is a largely modern phenomenon caused by the desire to be dramatic and interesting on social media.
The first error in Lloyd’s pretty abysmal article is the assertion ‘So this is it: the gay-straight binary is collapsing’, as though gay and straight are the only two sexualities to have ever existed before social media told us otherwise. It’s true that the media has recently fixated on bisexuality as hip subversive trend, as more celebrities open up on the subject, such as his example Cara Delevingne, but this certainly doesn’t mean that bisexuality never existed before Miley Cyrus said so.
there have been individuals recorded as pursuing relationships with people of many genders as far back as Ancient Greece
Aside from the fact that the Kinsey Scale (the go-to for explaining bisexuality) was first used in 1948, there have been individuals recorded as pursuing relationships with people of many genders as far back as Ancient Greece. Some of your favourite cultural icons are openly bisexual – David Bowie, Freddie Mercury, Marilyn Monroe. One of the founders of the Pride movement Brenda Howard was bisexual. Hell, even Herman Melville was (probably) bi. Lloyd is writing from the point of view of someone who knows little of LGBTQIA+ culture or history, and seems to have assumed his limited knowledge is both all-encompassing and entirely accurate.
Shortly after this comes the second pitfall – ‘How many of those 49 per cent polled by YouGov d’you reckon have actually slept with a member of the opposite sex? My guess is not many.’ The YouGov poll referred to is the one that shows roughly half of young adults in Britain do not identify as straight, 49% of them falling somewhere from 1 to 6 on the Kinsey Scale. But this isn’t good enough for Lloyd. He is of the opinion that actually these people are lying about their sexuality because ‘identifying as not quite straight is to identify as bolder, better and fairer’. That’s right. 49% of 18-24 year olds who answered this anonymous government poll lied so they didn’t look boring and normal.
I didn’t have a female sexual partner till I was 20. Does that mean for those seven interim years I was actually just a straight girl who made out with other girls occasionally?
His statement is also erroneous for another very significant reason: the idea that one must have slept with, and still actively be sleeping with, someone of the ‘opposite sex’ to legitimately be bisexual. Leaving his use cissexist use of ‘opposite sex’ for someone better qualified to comment on, the main thing I want to stress is sexual history does not equal sexuality. Sexuality is simply one’s experience of sexual attraction, and different labels are a way of describing this experience.
I came out to friends at the age of 13, and while I had kissed girls and had brief same-gender relationships, I didn’t have a female sexual partner till I was 20. Does that mean for those seven interim years I was actually just a straight girl who made out with other girls occasionally? Hell no. I was still bi, through and through. Let me say it again: sexual history does not equal sexuality.
And as for the idea that by labelling sexuality and breaking down ideas of sexual and romantic attraction we’ll ‘end up creating a situation where people have to come out as being straight’, it’s downright untrue and offensive to say so. Coming out is more than saying to the people around you know that actually no I’m –insert correct LGBTQIA+ letter here– thankyou and that’s end of that. For many it’s knowing that they’ll be disowned, ejected from their homes, denied job opportunities, abused emotionally and physically. Is a more open dialogue about the human experience of sexuality going force these things upon straight people? No, and pretending it will is irresponsible at best.
And on top of everything, this article violates The Tab’s own (loose) rules of journalism. On their blog, under the heading ‘Media Law 101’ it says:
It says right there, in point number 2 – do not publish anything you can’t prove is true. How does Lloyd know that most ‘modern’ bisexual identified people are just lying for attention? He doesn’t.
I contacted The Tab to enquire if they had an official complaint procedure via email, Twitter and their website. Over email I pointed out the article violated The Tab’s own rules, as well as being virulently biphobic. I have yet to receive any reply, and the change.org petition requesting The Tab remove the article has received no response either.