Bisexuality and the Politics of Belonging

Maia Baker  ’19, Opinion Columnist 

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On Monday night, Arizona elected not only its first female senator EVER but also the first out bisexual person ever to serve in U.S. Congress, Krysten Sinema. Appalling as it is to write that sentence in 2018, approximately 200,000 years after human bisexuality came around, Krysten Sinema’s victory is amazing. 

Congress is meant to be representative of the U.S. population, not just in numbers but in beliefs – that’s why we elect our own officials and why they run on platforms of ideas. A Williams Institute survey found that 2% or more of the U.S. population identifies as bisexual; the House of Representatives is significantly down from that, at .003% (1 out of 435 members), but that number is up from 0% a week ago!

Bisexuality often gets erased or ignored in discussions about sex and sexuality. That a person could be attracted to someone of the same gender, while apparently revolutionary for some Americans, is still somehow less shocking than that someone could be attracted to more than one gender, as if that’s inherently stranger than the utterly subjective ways that heterosexual attraction works. (Someone dated Post Malone for three years.) Bisexuality is considered “a phase,” a made-up identification, imaginary or illegitimate or aberrant or insignificant. In fact, bisexuality is often excluded from both heterosexual and queer dynamics: though bisexuality gets labeled as “deviant” from the heterosexual paradigm since people who are bisexual can feel homosexual attraction, it also gets excluded from queer spaces, since people who are bisexual can have long-lasting heterosexual relationships. With stigma both from heterosexual regimes (bisexuality is deviant) and some LG(B)T communities (bisexuality isn’t deviant enough), bisexuality gets squashed between the rhetoric of deviance and defiance, and people who identify as bisexual don’t have a place to belong.

But, of course, we do belong. I’m bisexual, and Krysten Sinema’s victory reminds me that I do belong – not only on my campus, in my country, but in Congress. Bisexuality is getting acknowledged and accepted every day. In “Big Mouth,” a cartoon-for-adults on Netflix, *spoiler* Jay realizes he’s attracted to both men and women, and it’s fine. Jay is gross, but that’s fine: he’s a regular person, a bisexual one, and his bisexuality belongs, he belongs. I’m over the narratives that society tells bisexual people in attempts to police, diminish, or dilute our sexuality to make it more palatable to the heterosexual culture. I’m over our exclusion from LGBT+ spaces – we’re literally in the name; we belong in that space, too. And I’m over any rhetoric that excludes, disrespects, or marginalizes people who are bisexual or of any other identity. We’re right here. We’re in front of you. We’re asking for dignity and respect as human beings, and anyone incapable of affording us that humanity wasn’t paying attention when Krysten Sinema won her election in Arizona.