Bisexuality as an inner path of transition: from mono he and mono ho to polybi and beyond
What an experience!
Two European conferences on bisexuality in a row. EuroBiReCon16 (research) lasted for one and a half day and EuroBiCon16 (activism) for two and a half days, from Thursday the 28th till Sunday the 31st of July in Amsterdam.
I am still in the process of digesting the events. What follows are my first impressions.
More than anything else, this edition of EuroBiCon was a reconnection for me. A reconnection to the movement in which I was intensively involved back in the eighties and nineties, amongst others as one of the initiators of Gobi, an organization in the city of Nijmegen that was centered around the subject of bisexuality.
More than two decades have passed, and it seems like not much has changed. The themes are still the same, such as ‘bi erasure’, as it is called nowadays. Bi erasure means the keeping away of the bisexual presence in public life, in the psyche and in wrtitten history.
One of the things that I noticed in this context, was that Gobi didn’t get a fair mention in a – otherwise very elaborate and comprehensive – research guide from the LGBT movement in Nijmegen. Gobi is missing in the list of ‘verified organizations’ and, oddly enough, the same goes for the list of ‘unverified organizations’. What is mentioned twice in this guide, but without further explanation, are the archives of something by the name of Gobi. This isn’t a fair mention because Gobi existed for 20 years and consisted of a mixed group, a women’s group and a group for young adults. Gobi stood in the heart of the local LGBT movement in Nijmegen as well as the nationwide movement and supported them in many ways. But in the guide this isn’t said anywhere. It has been erased. Severely overlooked.
There is no use in complaining, though. We have to reconstruct our bi-history and write it down for ourselves, because if we don’t watch out, we will lose it.
A significant difference with how it was 20 years ago – something that struck me during both conferences – is the influence of gender studies. Bisexuality is nowadays a recognized field in social sciences. But frankly I’m not so sure if we should rejoice about this. I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, it is great that there is scientific research on ‘us’. How many of us are there? What bothers us? How could we improve our living and working conditions? And so on. This is a really good thing.
But… this research also introduces a specific set of notions that intuitively sound alarming to me. How progressive are these mainstream social sciences actually? Will they really help us ahead? I have my doubts about it. It would take a thorough study of all this scientific material to see if my doubts are right, and I hope that one day someone will really dive into the matter. The pivotal question for research would be: does the view of mankind promoted by contemporary social sciences truly encourage the emancipation of people with a bisexual lifestyle, or of those who would prefer to live like this? (A side thought: during the conference on research I heard nobody mention the word ‘emancipation’; it seems as if it has been annihilated.)
Another novelty compared to 20 years ago is the discussion about polyamory. Not so very new all in all for three decennia ago we used to call this ‘open relations’. But in the meantime we did acquire much more experience with relationships like this. As a result many useful tips and best practices came by, for example in the excellent workshop by Juliette Siegfried . She gave us a handout that I will summarize in a posting on this blog later on.
Bi and poly. What a Mighty Combine! Polybi. What a tantalizing word! It sounds like the Dutch word ‘kolibrie’ (hummingbird) and recalls an image of butterfly-like gaiety, life energy and promiscuity.
Naturally there is also plenty of mono bi. Someone who appears from the outside to be in a hetero- or homosexual relationship could be totally bi on the inside and has every right to a recognition of this status. Likewise, two monogamous partners could be totally bi on the inside too. Still, they do lock themselves up in a self chosen cage. Polybi will blow this cage to smithereens. Bahm!
Of course polybi is also a cage, even if it is a truly vivacious place to be. But some day, that cage will explode too. Bahm number 2!
What remains? A fluid identity. Light creatures in a human body who softly touch other light creatures or totally merge for a moment and then release one another again. To put it differently: what remains is nothing but love.
For those who want to go deeper, some links to research materials that were discussed during the EuroBiReCon16 can be found here:
Ageing and bisexuality
Case studies from the ‘Looking Both Ways’ project link pdf
Workshop on aging (blogpost) link
Presentation Rebecca Jones on aging (not during this conference) link
Blog Robyn Ochs link
Towards Bi-Inclusive Policies: Suggestions Based on Research on Dutch Same-Sex Attracted Young People (Jantine van Lisdonk and Saskia Keuzenkamp) link
More postings in English?
Select Category English in the right column.