What does the Roe V Wade overturn have to do with bisexuality? Is there a difference between bi and pansexual? Why does the queer community erase bisexual identities? Hear it all on this episode of the Queer Joy Podcast; where two relationship therapists explore what it looks like to see joy in queer relationships.
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Keely: It's such an individual exploration. And I think on that note too, as you said, with the compulsory heterosexuality, also really validating that attractions can change over time. And this is why identity and labels and all these pieces are becoming increasingly complicated because, okay, so someone says they're bisexual. And then two years later say they pansexual. When a person says they're non-binary and now they're trans, like all of those are valid, right? Every, every piece of how we identify is valid. Melisa: Well let's encourage the exploration, not just the destination. Hello, everyone. Welcome back to Queer Relationships, Queer Joy. Keely: Hey Melisa. Melisa: Hey. Keely: How are you doing today? What's going on? Melisa: I'm good. I am like just reeling after having a wonderful summer weekend. It finally feels like summer's officially here, but now I'm really nervous cuz we're we're in heat wave land again. Keely: I know, we just didn't get a break. It was like right from like pouring rain, like rain all through Pride weekend to now, it was perfect this weekend. And now today it's like 97 or yeah. Melisa: I could, I could do without the nineties. Keely: Yeah. Or just stay it like 90 ish, but yeah, whenever it starts pushing a hundred, I'm like our little trees. I love our trees. Melisa: I did not move to Portland for this. Keely: Oh yeah. That too. Well, but if it was raining, we'd all be bitching too. So... Melisa: That's true. Keely: We can't have it. So I, what was, well, we'll get to our weekends probably in Queer Joy. We have been kind of hinting at talking about bisexuality specifically and bisexuality within the queer community and labels. We have these constant discussions about academia and words and how we identify and generationally different identifications. So. Yeah. But before we jump in that, I wanna get down to where my intro is just like super fast, but I will say , we'll do intros real quickly before we start talking about bisexuality. My name is Keely Helmick. Pronouns: they/ she. I am the owner of Connective Therapy Collective. I'm a white, mostly able bodied, currently acute injury. Solo poly. Non-binary femme. Queer and white. Melisa: And I'm Melisa DeSegiurant. I'm a licensed professional counselor and licensed marriage or family therapist with Connective Therapy Collective. I'm bisexual, polyamorous, white, able bodied and gender fluid. I use she and they pronouns. Keely: So, one of the things I am thinking about is I just actually listened to this great episode of gender reveal and they had a guest who works for John Hopkins. I, I should know their name and the person who they were interviewing. She works at John Hopkins Historian, and she was talking about different identities in the way we identify and the history of trans trans women specifically, but also trans men. Such a good interview. I will look that up and make sure to say it at some point today. And so I had that in my head, and then just thinking about labels and back and forth. I think the labels in general is like wanting to have labels to identify and create more understanding, but then also this framework of like not having any identity and just being whoever we are in whatever bodies. And I think I mentioned, when I was listening to this episode, I was with a friend, with an ex and the two of us were talking about the episode, and at one point I was like, what if we just in the world, just had bodies and didn't have labels. And it's just who we're attracted to is who we're attracted to. And it wasn't based on saying, "oh, I'm bisexual or I'm queer or I'm pansexual or I'm heterosexual, homosexual." And in actuality, the terms homosexual and heterosexual are like these terms that were made up in like the 19th century. And so it was really, and I don't know now to talk about the history a lot, but it did get me prep for talking about this particularly continuing labels. But I think beyond the labels, we also wanna just talk a little bit about the stigma and some generalized stereotypes. And in all honesty, how Roe v Wade overturn is affecting how we talk about bisexuality and pansexuality and AFAB folks who are having sex with CIS men. Melisa: Yeah, totally. When we start talking about bisexuality, one of the pieces for me that comes up right away is visibility and bisexual erasure. Yeah. And that could be, you could say the same for pansexual erasure. And maybe we can even talk about that. Like, What is pan versus bi. Some people use that interchangeably, some people don't, right? Keely: Yeah. Yeah. Melisa: But that's the thing is we still have this mindset that if we see two people together, that, and again, we're based completely on assumptions and what people look like, what they're presenting as, but if we see two people who appear to be of different gender presentations, we'll often say, well, that's then a heterosexual relationship, right? And then if we see two people who seem to be the same gender presentation, we're like, that's a, that's a queer relationship. That's a gay relationship. That's homosexual. So like, where are the bisexual relationships? Like, we exist too. . Keely: No, like you can, that's this episode, you get to be on your soapbox. Melisa: It's gonna be Melisa, just like ranting . Keely: Well, and I think with the expansion, I mean, I'm curious, I, it would be nice to have some. And maybe we'll do this later, like some youthful representation. I see youth. Okay. I'm 41. So based I'm saying like under 25, Melisa: mm-hmm mm-hmm Keely: because I think this is a very generational thing and you know, one of the assumptions, and I will say based on my age and my experience, I mean, I remember at the age of 19, coming out as bisexual and then it, at that time, especially, I think, I mean, there has been shifts and changes, but I do remember very clearly this idea of bisexuality or the label bisexual. It was safer to say bisexual Melisa: mm-hmm mm-hmm Keely: and it was looked at oftentimes from both straight culture and gay culture as this like transitional. Melisa: Like a stepping stone. Keely: Yeah, sure. And that was so prevalent when I was, during that time. And then I remember coming out because a lot of us come out multiple times. Obviously we've had that conversation before, but that then really wanting to almost cast away that term bisexuality is like, oh my gosh, because I wanted the... the desire to be accepted within the queer community, whatever that even fucking means, casting that label. And then I, and then I was just very much like, oh, I'm a lesbian Let's try queer. Wait what fits? But then we also get into the thing, like, this is where it gets really nuanced and almost academia, like, because then really isn't everyone pan or isn't everyone like cuz then if I'm sitting here being like, I would, I don't just date CIS women. Mm-hmm I don't, I definitely date non-binary folks, CIS women, I've dated trans men. Melisa: It's all about how people define it, right? It's not just the label and the definitions have changed. And especially with bisexuality, I know there was a whole. I don't know if you would call it -a movement, but there's a lot of critique of bisexuality as a label in more recent days because of the original use that may have been for a lot of folks. Like that means I like men and women, and so exclusionary to non-binary folks and trans folks, the way I reconcile that for myself, I, and this gets even more confusing now that I identify as gender fluid, I admit. But for me, the distinction with bisexuality is that means that I, I, or I am attracted to people who have a similar gender profile as me and people who are different. So that's the, that's the two categories: it's like same gender and different gender. So it's not about men and women. Yeah. I think pan would be a little bit different. And again, I'm not, I don't use that word. And so I, I'm probably not the best person to try and name the, the definition, but I, from what I've heard from my friends and, and clients who identify as pansexual, it's like gender is kind of irrelevant. It's like, I just, I, I am attracted to the person and it could be somewhat of any gender. It doesn't really matter. Keely: Yeah. And when I think about these labels, I think about when do they have this importance? And it does seem to really, it comes up a lot in dating. Melisa: Mm-hmm Keely: and it's specifically online dating. And so it's like, when are these labels even important? Because I also think when we talk about labels, we're also wanting to be inclusive of celebrating. There's, there's something that really celebratory of like how people express gender and express themselves. And that in it itself is attraction. Melisa: Mm-hmm. Keely: And I will say. It's also been interesting and I think it's coming up a lot and this could be really controversial, but the idea of attraction itself. So when we think about labels, we're thinking about, oh, we're, we're telling people in words, so on a dating app, inwards, we're saying who we're attracted to. Melisa: Right. Right. Keely: And so then what does that exclude? And the person, you know, I think that this was a really good point. That's the, when I was, again, going back to this podcast, I listened to this episode, gender reveal, and the person I was talking to, we were talking about like what attraction. And they were like, so they are a non-binary trans masc person. And so they were saying, well, AFAB. And so they were like, well, I could maybe date a CIS man, maybe, but like politically and how they are as people, the majority of the time, I just don't even want to go there. Melisa: Mm mm-hmm mm-hmm Keely: and so. And, and to be, and also clarify a little bit, this person has male, CIS male friends, CIS straight, you know, male friends. And so it's not a matter of like the, that story, like, oh, the dyke that hates men or that hates men. It's like, it was more this interesting coming together and, and really just being really exploratory and thinking about it. And I think this comes up, this does come up in therapy. And another interesting thing around this is when couples are coming in and a person is transitioning. And when they, when they're doing transitions, you know, they've always been who they are, but if they're changing, like a person who has a bigger chest that has breasts is getting a chest reconstruction, and then the partner, you know, oftentimes it's the spouse, you know? So they've been together for quite some time and it's this hetero period marriage and the person, the spouse is like, well, I'm not really attracted to that anymore. Melisa: Mm-hmm mm-hmm. Keely: And then the question, what therapists are asking were saying, oh, is that okay? Is that okay? Yeah. For your attraction to change? Well, to, to not be attracted to a person based on their changing appearance. Or coming more into a, what it is, is coming more into a gender expression. Melisa: Sure. Yeah. Yeah. Do you have a take on that, Keely? That's a, it's a, it's a good controversial question. And it does come up. It does come up. Keely: It does well when we're talking about bisexuality and pansexuality and labels, and if someone is like, I mean, Ooh, I will. I know. I feel like these are the times when doing this podcast is like, okay, I'm a therapist and people are, but yeah, I will say that I do think that some of attraction is construct social construction. Melisa: Mm-hmm Keely: There is this piece that I feel like no one can explain science, therapists, medical doctors, there's this attraction thing that happens that we cannot fully explain by words or medicine or medici- there's this energy that happens. Now, I do believe. That if we are open, I believe that obviously, because we're talking about bisexuality and pansexuality, there is this ability for the expansion of what humans are attracted to. Melisa: Sure. Yeah. Keely: I do believe that. And do I believe that with work, if this person wants to do work, they can find that attraction to their spouse. But it is not my job as a therapist to tell them that they have to be attracted to their partner. Melisa: Right. That I'm glad you said it that way, because I can support, you know, loving a person. And not based on presentation or, you know, I mean, gosh, yeah. There's so many different ways people change in life. Like what happens if there's an accident, somebody becomes disabled, you know, there's so many different ways that people's appearance and way of carrying themselves in the, in their life can change. So I'm, I'm definitely all about the expansion. What I don't like is criticizing people for how their attractions work. Yeah. I don't think we get into a good place if we're shaming ourselves, we're like, I should be attracted to this person, but I'm not anymore. I, I, I think we could do more damage by staying in a relationship or we're not attracted to the person, you know, and, and so I think there has to be room for some compassion and discussion around like, is this dynamic still working for us now? We're, we're embodying kind of different people. We're we're in a new phase. Keely: Have you seen the movie "Good Luck to You, Leo Grande"? Melisa: I have not. Keely: Okay. So Emma Thompson, I'm not gonna get into it cause we could talk about there's so many pieces to it, like from a sex therapies we talk about, but there's a piece for those that have seen this movie. It is by the way, various CIS hetero. But the moment about this attraction, what I loved is Emma Thompson plays this widow, or I think in her like late sixties and. She hires a sex worker, an escort and he's maybe early thirties, very like stereotypically attractive. Emma Thompson is a gorgeous person, by the way. And she's older, especially like she makes a comment like, you know, over the age of 42 or the age of 41, something, something, but there's a scene where she's like, well, do you find me attractive? How do you have sex with people that are attractive? And he, oh gosh, just such a great cinematic scene where he looks at her, and he touches like her shoulder blade. And he is like that your neck line is so beautiful. Or, and I don't know if he says beautiful, but he talks, he points out these parts of her that are really beautiful. And he talks about how he sees the beauty in the people that he has sex with. Cause in her head she's like, well, you could be attracted to me. I'm like 60 something or however old, maybe even 70. And so that's the potential that we can as humanity be attracted to all different people. And again, I know I'm saying the same thing I just said, and I know you just said this Melisa, it's not my job. It's not our job as therapists to tell someone, have someone do that work and frankly, some people, because it's socialized wherever situation they're in. Yeah. We also don't wanna force people, this idea of like, if you're not attracted to your spouse, you should stay there anyway. Melisa: I, I really like the point about being expansive and not just dismissive of someone because they're embodying something different and I just, it, it can't be a black or white situation. We have to get out of that thinking because for some people it will change, you know, how they feel. And. Again, if we're, if we're forcing something out of a should, like, that just feels like a terrible reason to be in a relationship. And it doesn't feel like that's a foundation for continued growth, you know? And if, if, yeah, if it's one of those situations where like, okay, I I'm just not feeling this way anymore. I'm because what does that lead to? Right. Like what do we see in the therapy room? Like, well, we haven't had sex in six years. Okay. Like, that's fine. That works for some people. Is that working for both of you? Well, no, but I'm just not really attracted. Like maybe, maybe we should have other, maybe we should all be poly. Keely: That's where my head always goes. It's like Melisa: I had, I had to say it there, there could be a compassionate release and movement into the next chapter of relationship. Yeah. Which may not be as romantic or sexual partners. And that. Okay. I, I, I think, gosh, cuz when I then I'd think about like queer repression and when I was repressed, it was because I was ashamed of my attractions. So I don't wanna shame people for their attractions or their non attractions or their lack of yeah. Right. I, I, I wanna encourage really honest, vulnerable communication. Keely: Well, and so when we're talk, so it's interesting. Yes. I mean, we're talking about the expansion of attraction and also the expansion of relationship dynamics, and then the expansion of the thought of, well, maybe this doesn't work anymore. We talk about the relationship escalator a lot. And so in these dynamics for what it, it is normal, it is also normal to not be attracted to a partner for whatever reason. Melisa: Totally. Keely: And. And that can shift. And when we're having more of these conversations and talking about romantic versus sexual attraction versus companionship and yeah, I mean the option always, I mean, I always bring that into the session that doesn't work for everyone to be non-monogamy, no mono- non-monogamous, but yeah, of course that's an option because you can not be sexually attracted to somebody, but still love them and still have enjoy being in their company. Melisa: Totally. Keely: If you have children or pets wanting to continue that dynamic of that relationship and right. So, and then I think about just maybe when we were talking about this, it made me think, going back to like bi specifically is the stereotype of also a person who's bisexual wanting being in this dynamic of dating a man and a woman, which obviously is very trans erasure also. But this, this image of like, a bisexual woman, having a male partner and a female partner, all kinds of issues with that, those, those examples. But that is a stereotype that also comes in. And then we can also talk about the unicorn hunt. There's like all these pieces. Melisa: There's so many, there's so many, well, there's so much stigma still. Yeah. Within any community, the heterosexual community and the queer community. Yeah, no, no one likes bi people and everyone likes bi people. I don't know. Keely: I was gonna say no one in every there's plenty of, I mean. Melisa: Well, and it's different too. I'm coming from an AFAB bisexual experience. It's very different for bisexual men. And I I'm certainly don't have the lived experience to talk about that, but essentially like it's, it's kind of like not okay. Like it's more acceptable for people who appear to be women to be bisexual. Still, Keely: Well, it's a male gaze. If you think about, when we talk about what is quote, unacceptable, as we're talking about CIS male gaze, CIS male heterosexual gaze. And so, right. Yeah. The, the fantasy. And where when we think about, yeah, I mean, I think about bisexual men and historically speaking, very hush hush. And in fact, we have a whole genre to keep the label away from men. We don't, we don't talk about women having sex with women. We call bisexual women. Mm-hmm . But with men, we have this label in research, in general culture. I mean, Joe Kort talks about all the time, we had that in the interview with him, is men having sex with men. So that we, because there is such a stigma of bisexual men and gay men that we have a term for that. Melisa: You're right. And it, and it comes, like you said, from the male gaze. Keely: Yeah. I know men not wanna. Come on men don't wanna think about men having sex with men. Literally, what is porn? But like CIS males looking at dudes. Melisa: Truly, that's never made a lot of sense to me, by the way. Keely: so like how, if you are actually quote unquote straight, how can even watch porn? Unless you're just watching two women. Okay. Fine. I mean, that's obviously legit, but like, let's be- Melisa: no, all the straight girls are watching two women and four- I know what's up. Keely: And the lesbians are watching gay men. It's all a thing. It's a thing. Oh my gosh. Oh my, I there's, you know, this, this is total off topic who cares? I'm imagining a podcast, can you imagine a podcast? One of the questions you always have that beginning or ending question, what kind of porn do you watch? Like yeah, sex podcast. And like you admit what kinda porn you watch anyway, back to attraction? Yeah. There's so much stigma stick. There's so much. I can't even talk today. It's a Monday. there's so much stigma. Melisa: Right. And I, one of the pieces, I guess, is like this idea that, that bisexual people are untrustworthy. Oh. And that, you know, can't make up our minds and especially' in a monogamous relationship structure, like, well, if you've "picked" one gender to be with then. You know, are you always gonna be longing to be with someone else? Can I trust you? Are you gonna cheat on me? Keely: Well, and I think, yeah, and, and alongside of that, there's this other piece that I hear in, in queer circles, especially like lesbian circles or queer AFAB folks, non-binary folks. Talking about really this, this veiled judgment around. Again, I mentioned earlier beginning episode, especially since Roe v Wade was overturned is saying, oh, well, if bisexual women can choose whether they date men or women or non-binary folks, then they are just choosing privilege. By being, if they're with a man or if they choose to date CIS men, then they're just choosing privilege. Yeah. And so, and then this idea of choice, or yes, there's a choice, but if you're attracted to some, like going back to this attraction thing, it's like, if you're attracted to somebody, you're attracted to somebody. Melisa: Right. Yeah. Yeah. The idea of like, not choosing something, because someone else said, so feels really icky and uncomfortable. Keely: well, it's very second wave feminism, honestly. And we wanna be really clear of when we start getting inside, like why I love history. And I think it's really important to talk about queer history because it's not really talked about is that yeah. Second wave feminism, which was very turf. There was a lot of talk last name Gilligan. Anyway, I'm, I'm blanking on names today, but Gilligan, she used to write articles and, and there was quotes around her talking about lesbians that are lesbians by choice, you know, not wanting to be with men for political reasons. Now I don't think there's anything wrong with someone choosing to not be yeah. Political reasons. But again, we're not here to force that or say I love, I mean, don't get me wrong. I love the idea. I actually have one of my, the person I'm casually date, which will update, I'm not dating them anymore, but that's a whole nother story. maybe I'll, I'll talk about that dating episode. Is, you know, they were saying they, they identify as pan and they're like this person who is very non-bi- non-binary trans masc. And they're like, fuck that. I just hung out them the other day. They're like, fuck that. I'm not dating men anymore. Fuck them, in response to Roe V. Wade. And that's totally fine. Like great. That is a very valid, awesome response. Mm-hmm and there's also memes about. women, mainly CIS women who are saying, oh, if I could choose not to be attracted to men, this is the time that I would choose not to be attracted to men. Melisa: So I've even heard people who are saying no, literally fuck them. Like, let's get the strap on bend 'em over and fuck them. So I've heard, I've heard all sides of . Keely: Yeah. Like, okay, we're not, we don't, you know? Yeah. A woman, a person with a uterus doesn't wanna get pregnant. And so, yeah. Fuck the person. Yep, exactly. Melisa: that's one way to do it. Keely: that opening up? There are many ways to have sex that does not include getting pregnant. Melisa: As we're, as we're talking about bisexuality, another piece that just feels like useful to name is the idea of compulsory heterosexuality and how that's such a relevant conversation. And really confusing or at least was very confusing for me as a bisexual person. Yeah. Because I went through a whole process of like, well, that must be what I was doing. And I was, you know, repressed. And so I wasn't dating, you know, any AFAB people for most of my life. Yeah. But then I had to go through that whole, I mean, I went through literally two weeks where I'm like, am I a lesbian? Is that really what this is? Is, was this just kind of compulsive me doing the thing? And it, it took me a longer time that I like to admit to really unpack that and realize like, no, I'm actually still attracted to- I'm attracted to cis men. I just am. Yeah. And that, again, it, it was just difficult because we've got these concepts that are again, so relevant. But also, how do you reconcile that as a person who is attracted to multiple genders? Keely: Yeah, and I think that, I mean, obviously this is something that we do a lot at CTC exploring this with individuals and exploring this with couples, but really it's such an individual exploration. And I think on that note too, as you said, with the compulsory heterosexuality, also really validating that attractions can change over time. And this is why identity and labels and all these pieces are so are, are becoming increasingly complicated because, okay, so someone says they're. You know, bisexual. And then two years later say they pansexual. When a person says they're non-binary and now they're trans, like all of those are valid, right? Every, every piece of how we identify is valid. Melisa: Well let's encourage the exploration, not just the destination. Keely: Well on that note, I think that's a good, I mean, we can keep talking about this topic forever, but this seems like a good place to switch over to our Queer Joy after all that political talk. Melisa: Let's bring in some joy. We need it. Keely: I know. Right. Do you wanna start Melisa? Melisa: Yeah, I will. I, I had a really lovely weekend, like I said earlier, the weather was just wonderful. And I've made sort of my list. So last summer was my first living up here and I just, because of everything I had been through personally did not have the bandwidth to do much of anything. So I've got like events every weekend. I've got like concerts and just things I'm going to. And I, I ended up having a little bit of downtime yesterday and I, I, I went walking around and I walked across one of the bridges to actually kind of watch where the big float was happening. And I got to sort of watch people. Yeah. It was really fun. And it was also a win, I mean, nice to be outside and see part of the city. I haven't really spent a lot of time in, but for me, the, the, the real joy to be honest was in my physical ability to do so. You know, I, I do, I've got injuries that some of them were birth defects and some of them were from when I was like three years old and it just impacts my mobility a lot. And I'm still in a, in a long recovery process. You know, I was a person who used to be able to hike 10 miles. And when I moved up to Portland, I could walk two blocks and that was it. So we are slowly getting back, but I hit two miles yesterday before I was limping. And that for me was like, alright, I could do, I could do short little hikes I could do like a mile and a half loop. Great. So truly it's been such a process for me and a shift in identity. I used to be a dancer. So this is like, trying to get my body back. Such a joy to be able to do that and not worry about like, am I gonna be able to get home? Keely: oh yeah, well that's oh yeah. I mean, I feel, I, I do not have the same situation as you, but I do have a fractured ankle and still mobility issues right now. I just wanna go on a hike. So yes, I understand side note. I do wanna clarify before we. Before I say my queer joy, I do wanna make note and we may even have Cardinal mentioned, but I do wanna make sure and give credit to the person we're talking about from gender Reveal. Her name is Jules Gill Peterson. So check out that episode, but a really great, awesome historian and just fun person to listen to. So I Wanna give her credit. So my Queer Joy, I just had a really awesome weekend. Adventuring down to Eugene. I did not go to country fair because of my injury. However, I still experienced the essence of country fair being in Eugene and really just with one of my you know, I would say they're my friend, but still ex, but maybe queer platonic relation. I don't know. That's what makes it super queer is that's who I drove down with. Like they just, they, they got, they finished up with COVID so they're celebrating no more COVID and we just drove down together and just had this awesome time. Reminiscing about our past, but then also like, what is this relationship? Who are we? And we're like, oh fuck it. Let's just have a fun day. So just had a really beautiful, lovely day and was sitting at this vegan restaurant, actually, it's vegetarian. It's not vegan. Vegetarian restaurant and listening to, or just happen to overhearing other queer people. And so like, you know, whenever we're out, the two of us especially will be like, oh, who's, you know, who's queer? And really obviously having this group, we're like, are they therapists? Or who are they? And really scoping out all of our community flagging people. So anyway, that was queer joy. Other than that, do we have things I just wanna start Mentioning not to like, over talk about it, but I do wanna put it in people's ears, little bugging people's ears, we will be having a party in October, which sounds far away, But really isn't that far away. Melisa: It'll be here before we know it. Keely: Yeah. And then we're gonna, and you and I, we're gonna be doing our poly polyamory training again in September, September 15th for therapists. So if you are a therapist or some other social worker person who wants to check out our training, didn't make it to it last time, September 15th, six to eight. And otherwise check us out on our website, Instagram, all the fun things, and I hope y'all have a great Queer Joyful week. Cardinal: thanks for listening to queer relationships, queer Joy, A podcast by the Connective Therapy Collective. Hosted by Keely C hemic and Melisa DeSegiurant with audio edited by Mars Gasper produced by me. Cardinal marking intro music is by bad snacks. If this episode made you smile or think, tell us about it. If you hated it, tell us about that. Review us on iTunes or Spotify, or send us an email at media Connective therapy, Collective dot com for more queer joy. Visit our website at www dot Connective therapy. Collective dot com. Love you by, um, love ya. Bye.