I like kissing and the perfumed flavor of nipples, their fullness and pampered erection when touched. I am a hedonist, a pleasure lover, at home in the courts of cool, jousting or playing croquet or regaling the company with tales of adventure and conquest. I thrive in the barrios of the baroque, bizarre and burlesque - I am Bisexual.
Two-Spirited. Took me a while to figure it out, about four years. But those four
years were the ones that mattered in my life. They were my college years and my
New York and London years. They were the years of my first love, my first
orgasm, my first rejection, my first refusal to change my life-style to conform
to convention, my first student demonstration, my first vamping as a boy in the
street, my first marriage, my first commitment to understanding bisexuality. I
wrote answers to fan mail about sexual persuasion. I spoke at Eton, an English
Public School on the subject, " Influence of Entertainment on
Industry". I spoke of judges and clergy decked out in their drag finery and
brought the auditorium to its feet.
am I? A writer, an actor, social commentator, an architect of lifestyles, a
sculptor of dreams, a loving mother of two, an ardent lover, a devoted daughter
and I am Bisexual. Call me blunt, outspoken, frank, honest, inquisitive or bold
and bisexual. I am Two-Spirited. Hey, I am standing up! I am Mary Angela Barnett
or Angela Bowie, former wife of a Rock singer and daughter of Col. G. M. Barnett
and Helena Marie Galas. I was born on the island of Cyprus. My dad was a mining
engineer and ran the mill for Cyprus Mining Corporation. I went to school in
Switzerland and to college in the US and England. I studied marketing and
economics. My ambition has always been to write, perform and direct in theater
Bisexuality is the ability to be attracted to both sexes. It is a state of mind
rather than body. This media postcard resulted from my being asked to lecture on
Bisexuality. I am comfortable with the subject matter but felt that my personal
experience would hardly justify lecturing unless I researched the media impact
on homosexual and bisexual lifestyles. It has been 30 years since I slammed into
the bisexual riddle of my sexuality. In that time the media's access to
information has changed the landscape of isolation and alienation that I felt as
a youngster. Now, there are books, films, television, songs and plays that
address all forms of sexuality. For those finding their feet before the
eighties, conventional thinking was not so free form. There was restrained
tolerance of those whose sexuality was not primarily of a breeding and marriage
function but very little acceptance or support.
Baldwin put it best, "I think Americans are terrified of feeling anything.
And homophobia is simply an extreme example of the American terror that's
concerned with growing up. I never met a people more infantile in my life. It's
a way of controlling people. Nobody really cares who goes to bed with whom
finally, I mean the state doesn't really care. They care that you should be
frightened of what you do. As long as you feel guilty about it, the state can
rule you. it's a way of exerting control over the universe, by terrifying
people." (James Baldwin - American Writer 1924-1987) The Public, the media
audience are interested in SEX, Families, Home Improvement, Sports, Gossip, UFOs
and Elvis sightings. These interests are the direct response of consumers. They
drive the advertising and manufacturing fabric of our economy. They have to be
catered to and are included in the profit making concept of media and
advertising. By putting their programs on the air and then analyzing the viewer
figures media experts determined there was a strong interest in the softer areas
Understanding the role of the media in softening attitudes and allowing different folk to get to know each other without fear has been a tremendous advantage in avoiding discrimination by the process of familiarity, enjoying their shared mutual interests and celebrating their differences. Dr. Rheinhardt elaborates "Bisexuality is much more than sexual preference. It is a framework of social, emotional, behavioral and ideal preferences as well. We all have a need to belong but the first acceptance that we must have is our own".(l)
"Bisexuality is not disguised homosexuality nor is it disguised heterosexuality. It is another way of sexual expression. It is a way of being." (Fritz Klein. The Bisexual Option) "In Elizabethan England, where young boys played all the feminine roles on the stage, the device of having a boy play a romantic role of a girl disguised as a boy and fall in love with a man had almost infinite possibilities of amusement for the court and the crowd alike. At other times groups of writers, artists and musicians and men and women related to the theater have cultivated bisexuality out of a delight with personality, regardless of race, class or sex." (Margaret Mead. Anthropologist 1901-1978.)
Who are we?
We bisexuals: we are you and me. Bisexuals include soldiers and emperors, writers and philosophers, working men and women of all professions, singers, actors and performers. Books published before 1990, seem to hold the view of Dr. Hatterer in his book, "Changing homosexuality in the male." "The bisexual exists only in a disguised group along with closet queens, married males who regularly practice homosexuality." This almost universally held opinion is passed on to the public both heterosexual and homosexual. And because it is easier to accept and understand the bisexual as a disguised homosexual, public acceptance of expert opinion goes unchallenged.
Fritz Klein reiterates this theme, "As a disguised homosexual, the bisexual is by this process reduced. We tend to categorize people and place them in the most readily available group. In the world of commerce, government and religion, this is to some degree logical. That this mistaken practice is also adopted by the individual in his/her search for self identity and held onto at all costs for lack of a suitable alternative is tragic."
History is recorded by the media. The media covers and discovers history. Then the artsy side of the media - theater,film and music - idealize what is going on around them. This is another way to interpret history. In our lifetimes, we have witnessed the surprising development of communication technology. Information is the motive for most media outlets whether it's happening news or recycled opinions. Our high tech environment has changed the format of newspapers. They are smaller, tabloid size and color has been added to provide us with a handy portable item. The original network system of television has been accelerated into the twenty first century and the dawning of the new millennium by CABLE.
Radio has categorized and expanded and provides us with much local consumer information and the most radical area of expansion is the INTERNET and expanded SATELLITE phone service. The availability of information is at our fingertips, sponsored by advertisers or utility users. The advertiser pays for time to spread messages of product availability or services offered or the special price available through a specific distributor. Information is not free but it is cheap.
THE TWO-SPIRITED HISTORY
Take a bird's eye view of bisexuality and homosexuality in a few thousand years of recorded history. Edward Gibbon in "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" has this to say, "Paederasty became the crime of those to whom no crime could be imputed." (referring to persecution of homosexuals during the reign of Justinian) This establishes the presence of homosexuals/bisexuals as a visible group in Roman times. There have been notable artists, painters and warriors who were bisexual. The history of bisexual visibility is entwined with that of homosexuality due to the nature of who we are.
In the last decade, bisexuality has emerged on cover stories in Newsweek and many major periodicals. Al Kielwasser's comment in Media Watch, July 14th, 1995; expounds, "Newsweek's July 17th cover story declares a new sexuality emerges ... now it's coming out in the open ... Of course Bisexuality is hardly a new sexuality. But it is news to much of the mainstream press and the public. It is a welcome contribution to bi-visibility." Time Out, New York has been impactful with several front page stories on bisexuality and homosexuality including a coming out issue in Oct. 11-18th.
My favorite coming out story is the following, Ellen Abrams, 47, Ad Rep. "I have this dream of a general strike for gay, lesbian and bisexual people. Instead of coming out, we'd have one day where we'd all stay at home instead. We wouldn't go to work and we wouldn't go to school. We'd spend all day in bed or something. We'd just stay home and show the world how many of us there really are."
Connecticut College for Women, I fell in love with a freshman. We were
inseparable, until I was asked to leave at the end of the first semester. This
experience changed my life completely. Upon my return to England I met Dr.
Calvin Mark Lee in 1967. He was Asian-American from San Francisco, California.
He was the epitome of flower power, bright colors in clothes and glorious, long,
black hair down his back and yet the sides cut short to his shoulders. He wore
purple or turquoise velvet suits from Carnaby Street and had a love jewel stuck
on the middle of his forehead. I considered this Calvin's public acknowledgment
of being bisexual.
London was loving everything American. Flower Power was big and with the exporting of British groups during this period - Beatles, Stones, Herman's Hermits, Joe Cocker, etc. There were British sounds permeating the air waves in America and in London, everything was bright and exciting. Harold Wilson and the Labor party were in power. The stress of post-war England was lightening. By the late 60s, London was-being rebuilt with determination and plenty of Anglo-American cooperation. American companies had branch off ices for Europe located in London.
Parliament enacted the Clean Air Act in the early 60s and within 5 years it was
already paying off, the smog and fog for which London's weather had been
synonymous had finally been dissipated. The Green belt was established around
the city of London. The motorways were under construction and the Greater London
Council encouraged the Arts. Britain's exports and allure were intensifying, led
by the Beatles , Mary Quant, Vidal Sassoon, Twiggy, George Best, the favorable
exchange rate for the British pound to the dollar was an incentive for American
While I was at college in England, Calvin enjoyed great success in the music business. His boss was a man called Lou Reizner who was the director of Mercury Records for Europe. Calvin was his A&R man, he was responsible for David Bowie's first American record deal. David was 21 years old, very beautiful and Calvin had a crush on him. Meantime Bowie had a band called "Feathers". there were three members in the group, Bowie, his girlfriend Hermione and Hutch a guitarist from Yorkshire. They were booked at the Roundhouse supporting the Who & Scaffold (Paul McCartney's brother's band).
In 1968, I went to see "Feathers", this show was before the signing to Mercury Records. Calvin decided he needed to introduce me to David again as he had broken up with his girlfriend and was feeling pretty low. By now David had been signed to the Record Company and it was time to start the album. Calvin wanted to cheer him up so the album didn't suffer. This time the three of us went out to dinner. We discussed music and the album of course, Tibetan Buddhism and bisexuality, which we all agreed, we were. Soon after this, David and I were best friends and lovers.
We worked together for 9 years until in 1978 there was nothing left to hold us together, not even our son. Our open marriage and self-confessed bisexuality impacted the media. David told the English music paper - Melody Maker - that he was gay and I spent many years in print, television and radio defining that statement so that Bisexuality became the word of choice. I did not want David's teen fans to be distanced by somebody whose sexual orientation was only one thing - gay. David did not say bisexual because at that time the term was seldom used. This was before AIDS and all the criticism heaped on bisexuals by various magazines, specifically Newsweek who blamed bisexuals for the spread of the AIDS virus. In 1987, they featured a cover story on bisexuals becoming "the ultimate pariah of the AIDS crisis."
The article qualified "bisexuals as less socially recognizable than the homosexual and make them a greater threat and amoral and duplicitous and compulsive." I enjoyed the delights of both men and women. I chose this sexual freedom in response to my school, the affair at College and the realization that I didn't want a traditional marriage. David let me know that he was not 'in Love' with me but he loved having me around and unless I had a green card, I had to leave the country every six months. We had an open marriage. I adopted the attitude, What's good for the goose is good for the gander. We didn't have the same expectation as other people have for marriage.
In 1979, Dr. Fritz Klein published, "The Bisexual Option". Dr. Regina Rheinhardt tells us in that book's forward, that the New York public library had not one reference to bisexuality. There were no source books. Nothing had been written save for mentions in books on homosexuality and usually as a disparagement. There was no information connecting the lives and adventures of well-known historical characters such as Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Virginia Woolf and Elizabeth I with tales of their bisexuality so we could learn from their experience or use what they found out about their sexuality and how it relates to our handling of it now.
Alexander the Great: being raised in Cyprus, Alexander was the rock star of antiquity, the blonde angel you wouldn't mind sneaking up on you! I mean the guy was only 33 years old when he died. He decided he was going to make the world Greek. He was an outstanding warrior and enjoyed the task of conquering the impossible, sounds like my kind of guy. As he got to the top of a cliff during a particularly daring battle, he saw Roxane and fell in love at first sight, spared the village and married the wench. She didn't see too much of him, but enough to birth a son known as Alexander IV. He had only five years to live and plenty of battles to fight. So then he married Barsine-Stateira, as she was Darius' daughter (king of Persia and one of Alexander's recent foes). Barsine wanted to be wife # 1 and by the court so accepting her, she sealed her fate. A year after the death of Alexander, Barsine-Stateira was murdered by Roxane and her body thrown down a well.
This soap opera plot is understandable from Alexander's point of view. He sees a beautiful babe and instead of fighting, he can marry the daughter of his enemy and they're all friends. Heck, I'd have offered to marry Roxane too. Then you come home, Darius is one of the big boys, Alexander decides he'll firm up the deal back in Athens, he's got the second politically correct wife, this one's a Persian. Obviously, the only thing Alexander had to do was to keep bedding everyone he conquered.
Sounds like the tactics of some Rock n' Roll acts to firm up their radio play! Alexander can go back off to battle, not get bored, sitting around in Athens listening to a bunch of poets and philosophers discuss the meaning of life. He was busy living it. So this is what he does at the same time: when he defeated Darius III of Persia, Alexander received amongst the spoils of war, the youngest court eunuch. He was hot and beautiful and a singer and dancer. This relationship lasted until Alexander's death. But he was not exclusive. There is also the wonderfully romantic tale of his best friend and comrade in arms, Hephaestion.
Hephaestion was supposed to be even taller and better looking than Alexander. They were sexually and emotionally involved throughout their lives. Spirituality played a part in Alexander's interaction with his various lovers. Because of the culture by which he was surrounded, Alexander's bisexuality is not surprising to us and we can enjoy the truthfulness of hindsight as history reveals itself. On his Two-Spirited side, Alexander makes me hot. Listen to this; "Beginning his career simply as a member of the king's own cavalry regiment, Hephaestion was promoted eventually to the highest and military civil rank and was never defeated in any of his independent assignments. His unexpected death nearly unseated Alexander's reason. For twenty-four hours Alexander lay on the body until his friends dragged him off by force; for three days he fasted, could only lie weeping, and was unapproachable. He forbade all music in court and camp, ordered mourning in every city in the empire, and dedicated to Hephaestion to bear his name in perpetuity." (Fritz Klein-Bisexual Option)
Goethe once wrote, "homosexuality and bisexuality can be considered natural because they are as old as the human race itself." Historical knowledge would certainly affirm Goethe's belief. "It is fairly well-known that particular societies at different historical times socially approved of homosexual and bisexual liaisons. Before the eighth and second centuries before the Christian era, Greek art and literature assumed that virtually everyone responded at different times both to homosexual and to heterosexual stimuli." (Sister Jeannine Gramick c 1986.) Historically, the repression of homosexuals and bisexuals is in direct response to their association with Christians and Jewish religions. Why is this? I'm with James Baldwin on this one: FEAR.
The Jewish doctrine had to set limits against the paganism of the ancient empires of Rome and Greece. Therefore the Rabbis controlled the legislature. There was little division of Church and State. The Rabbinical guys interfered in the daily lives of their rulers and the people. With the ten commandments in one hand and the whip of economic necessity in the other they drove those people to migrate all over the world in an attempt to escape and find some peace and quiet from that whiny, guilt-stricken religion. They meddled in every aspect of life. They were drawn into collecting taxes, they prescribed food as in Kosher(though this was probably a good thing to combat the substandard preservation processes which existed to keep food fresh) and sexual practices, women thrown out of the matrimonial bed during the time of their menses.
Geographically, right next door, the customs of Islam were cruel and unusual to women. Some unenlightened members of Islam circumcised the women so that their only function was that of a brood mare as opposed to an individual with any ability to feel pleasure. They could be expelled from the husband's house after he said "I divorce you" three times.
We all sit around and act surprised that there is discrimination against those who have different sexual preferences and yet millions of us were raised in one of these three perversions of religious behavior called Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In the society of Ancient Greece it was not unusual for a man to have a wife and a lover of the same sex. After the formation of the Christian churches, the attitude to homosexuality worsened in terms of tolerance because they took much of their discriminatory practices from the old testament and interpretations of the Torah.
"The sexual codes in the Torah describe male homosexuality as an "abomination" punishable with death like other major infractions of the moral code, such as incest and sexual contact with animals (Lev. 18:22: 20:13) (From Robert Gordis' essay; Homosexuality is not on a par with heterosexual relations.) The Judaic ecumenical hierarchy used the old, "plow-the-land-and-reap" rubbish to ensure the survival of their tribes in direct competition with the ancient empires of Greece and Rome. Whose side would you rather be on? Those good-looking, warlike gods in chariots with capes or a bunch of commandment-toting rabbis struggling up a hill to make life even more bizarre and miserable in those times of no lap tops and no T.V.s.
This rigid thinking is illustrated in Terry Tafoya's "Native Gay and Lesbian Issues: The Two-Spirited "c 1992. "When Native American people discovered Columbus five centuries ago, they presented a unique conundrum of identity. Not only did most tribes not organize themselves by Kings and Queens in European Tradition, but the majority classified members as having more than two genders. This radical (for Europeans) way of seeing the world brought swift and tragic responses. The Spanish explorer Balboa, for example declared such individuals who were not considered male or female to be 'sodomites' and literally had them torn apart by his dogs in the sixteenth century. Thus from the very beginning of European contact, Native people learned not to openly discuss matters of sexuality and gender with the newcomers, because they could be killed for being 'different'."
Richard the Lion Heart lived during these times. He survived as a Two-Spirited person with many children out of the Cypriot Princess Berengaria and mistresses. He had assorted same sex friendships. Times lightened up during the Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo were both Two-Spirited/bisexuals. As we creep up on the 20th century, Vito Russo confirms, "The love that dared not speak it's name in English was surprisingly fluent in Germany throughout the silent movie era." European cinema was shaping the older lessons of life into a more realistic battle of the sexes.
The age of sexual enlightenment that flourished in prewar Berlin spawned the first gay liberation movement led by Dr. Magnum Hirschfield whose Institute for Sexual Science was the focal point of the battle against the anti-gay Paragraph 175 which outlawed homosexual acts between men. "Different from the Others" released in 1919, was a scare-tactic film to demonstrate that anybody who strayed from the established path of sex for procreation would die miserable and lonely.
When this film was screened, these program notes, startling as they are, were distributed amongst the audience, "False beliefs and unjustified concerning a sector of male and female sexual behavior known as homosexuality or love of the same sex, have been predominant up to now and still influence large part of our population. These people are often regarded as wicked criminals and libertines. Scientific Research has determined that homosexuality is an inborn tendency for which the individual cannot be held responsible. In Germany, every thirtieth person has homosexual tendencies. Homosexuals are in every class, among the educated and the uneducated. The love for one's own sex can be just as pure and noble as love for the opposite sex, the only difference being the object of desire, not the nature of one's love."
"In Paragraph 175 of German Penal Code, homosexual men (and in Austria homosexual women) are threatened with disgraceful penalties and due to extensive oppression, a large number of these individuals have been driven to disgrace, despair and even insanity and suicide. The scientific Humane committee founded in 1897, director Magnum Hirschfield they have taken on the task of bringing about the abolition of Paragraph 175 and eliminating false prejudices by enlightening the public." (The Celluloid Closet, Vito Russo) Gay awareness was around a long time ago but persecuted or hidden. In 1969, in New York's lower east side, the police raided a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn. This was a routine raid. There was a dormant law on the city books of not serving alcohol to homosexuals. Whenever it was around election time the police would make the rounds and harass and abuse the drag queens and homosexual or lesbian patrons. This time the Two-spirited - the "sissy boys" and the "tomboys" fought back and Gay Civil rights was born in the United States.
Robert Gordis from his essay "Are homosexual and bisexual relations natural and normal?" (Who ever wanted to be normal? I don't know any body.) "Substantial success has already crowned the efforts of the various organizations in the gay liberation movement to remove discrimination in employment and housing from homosexuals in the United States. In France, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Mexico and Uruguay, the practice has long been decriminalized. Great Britain took the same step in 1967 and Canada in 1969." In English Language film and television there has been repeated, reinforced character assassination of gay people in films and if not that, tragicomic role playing of stereotypes.
The same typecasting of racial groups and the way characters of homosexual persuasion have been written and directed is the thrust of a new serious initiative to have everybody just play their parts and not discriminate against different groups by making fun of them. There are some areas of acceptance on the planet, the Native Americans, the Chinese and Japanese, the Tanala of Madagascar, the Largo of East Africa, the Koniag of Alaska and the Chuckchee of Siberia, the Siwans of Africa, the Keraki of New Guinea, but this is hardly mainstream! In the past, the Far East also tolerated homosexuality and bisexuality. From ancient to modern times same-sex behavior has been acceptable in China and Japan. In China, where male brothels were common, boys were trained for prostitution by their parents. In Japan during the feudal times male homosexual love was considered more manly than heterosexual love. Male geishas in tea-houses were prevalent until the middle of the nineteenth century and still existed until they were suppressed at the end of World War II by the American occupation forces.
Bisexuality may be examined from these perspectives: spiritually, socially, professionally financially and physically. Sexuality impacts our lives. These areas are the categories from which we carve our destiny and plan our legend. 25 Million Americans, Please Stand Up!
I am not taken with primitive, old disciplines that do not support the human condition. To be at peace with yourself, one must come to terms with what you believe. If you have evolved your own set of beliefs, you are way ahead. If on the other hand, you are a member of a primitive religion and expect to attend the coffee klatsch at the donations depot (church) you may be in for a rude awakening. But in the same consumer mentality, most churches will forgive anyone anything because they are the real estate managers for the heads of church or they are managing tax write-offs. They, like the government, are constantly looking for a hand-out and a way to stabilize their cash flow by recruiting affluent people.
If you are not wanted at one church, you will be welcomed elsewhere. All you need to do is make a decision - how much ceremony and interference you want from your religion. How many rules? How much money? What is their agenda? Do they approve of you or do they just tolerate you?. No-one needs to spend time around non-supportive people. If on the other hand, you go to church for a useful purpose, like a country club, child care or business/social interaction you may be better off just avoiding a conversation which includes 'coming out' to your church. But there are plenty of self-designed spiritual disciplines and plenty of other doctrines you can cleave to if you so desire.
Tony Schwartz" s ambitious book, 'What Really Matters' tackles his Pilgrim's Progress through a major sampling of physical and mental disciplines. He is indefatigable, first Ram Dass, Psychedelics and the Journey to the East, Esalen, the Yoga of the West, Befty Edwards and the Right Side of the Brain, Connecting the Mind and the Body, Flow, Learned Optimism and the Toughness Model. The man is all over the place and puts the spiritual mind set into its proper perspective. If you are bisexual or homosexual and feel alienated by the religion in which you were raised maybe it's time to give some thought as to why you would be involved in anything that is not assertive in contributing to your well-being.
Sister Jeannine Gramick argues eloquently the meanings of 'Natural', "Between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries most theologians writing on sexuality divided sexual sins into two categories: those in accordance with nature(i.e. open to procreation) and those contrary to nature (i.e. inhibiting procreation). Thus anal and oral intercourse, masturbation, bestiality, coitus interruptus and intercourse during pregnancy were considered unnatural: adultery, fornication and rape were considered sinful but natural."
You see what good would it do for a church to wish you to hell and fiery brimstone when you are a potential paying customer? There is no right or wrong about human behavior. All there is in a judgmental frame of reference, is what is acceptable behavior from a civilized unit. We may become one gender and procreate by cloning. There were be no need for physical interaction. We could do away with passion and intelligence from the human manifesto. We have the tools! All the work towards civil rights on this planet will go up in a puff of smoke if ulterior selection methods result in breeding the perfect Terran explorers to be our representatives in space. I specify this term because we do not know how long it will be before there is an organized colonization of the moon and planets for profit or adventure. I cling to the belief that this new generation will finish the work that has been started in this century and apply balm to the wounds of discrimination and the international abuse of civil, sexual and all human rights.
"Bisexuality is not so much a copout as a fearful compromise" Jill Johnston, American feminist and gay activist, 1973. Fritz Klein, The Bisexual Option, 1984, "Research into Bisexuality is hampered by three basic difficulties: the myth of non-existence; the difficulty in interpreting sociological findings; the confusion of labels and identities, including the one of self identity. How many Bisexuals are there? What percentage of the population is bisexual? There are a number of popular notions on this question. Some say there are no bisexuals at all (the nonexistence theory), others count fewer bisexuals than homosexuals, and still others believe everyone is bisexual. Actually, around 15 percent of the male population is definable on the Kinsey scale as bisexual if we look at a three-year period in the lives of his respondents, and half that percentage of the female population, i.e., 7-8 percent.
This means that, conservatively speaking, there are 25-30 million bisexuals in the USA." This is a perfect place to make the case for the Two-Spirited. Terry Tafoya has supplied potentially fire-cracker information. She refers to the forced removal of Indian children to state-operated boarding schools. This amazes me. Why was I not made aware of this? Who neglected to explain to me that along with my sexuality being in jeopardy, Native American children were being brainwashed by the state into forfeiting their culture. This is brutal educational insemination of a conquering culture on the same par as Russians sterilizing Polish men and breeding their women after the Second World War.
There are still a number of Indian Boarding Schools operating today. Children were forcibly removed from their parents, sometimes at gun point, to deliberately prevent them from growing up with the influence of their culture and language. This forced segregation had a devastating impact on Native communities as a whole. Critical teachings and attitudes regarding sexuality and gender that would have been provided at the time of puberty, for example, were never passed on in many families and tribes because the young person was away at Boarding School. Such things were not permitted to be discussed.
Of the 250 or so Native languages still spoken in the United states, at least 168 of them have been identified as having terms for people who were not considered male or female. In the anthropological literature, the most common word used to describe such an individual is 'Berdache'. This is an unfortunate historic choice, reflecting as it does an old Persian term for a male sexual slave. The word was picked up in the Middle Ages by Europeans during the Crusades, and its pronunciation and spelling evolved into its contemporary form. When the French fur traders, explorers and missionaries encountered Native people in North America who did not fit European standard of gender roles, they used the term 'Berdache' to describe them. In the 17th century, the word in French implied someone who engaged in receptive anal intercourse. It also has a connotation of someone with a biologically male identity and so tends to exclude Native people who are biologically female.
Many contemporary native people have difficulty identifying themselves as Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual feeling as though they are being herded into such categories by the power of English. In response to this, the term 'Two-Spirited' or 'Two-Spirited People' seems to be gaining a greater acceptance for many of today's Native people...'Two-Spirited' indicates that someone possesses both a male and female spirit.
A number of non-native gay, Lesbian and Bisexual researchers and writers have suggested the Two-Spirited tradition as an historic 'Gay' role model since it often carries with it a sense of positive acceptance or even celebration within many Native communities. For example, an American gay male nurse reported being surprised and delighted to be visiting a Catholic priest on an Apache Indian reservation when a proud mother came in and told the priest, "My sixteen-year-old son is attracted to other men. We need to arrange for him to be initiated with the Medicine men".
The nurse was amazed to discover that there was a respected and sanctioned role for such a young person among the Apache, and to note that the mother's response was somehow different from his own mother's had been .... Historically, the status of the Two-Spirited person was valued in many Native communities, since an ordinary male sees the world through male eyes and an ordinary female sees the world through female eyes. However a Two-Spirited person (who possesses both a male and female spirit, regardless of the flesh that is worn) will always see further. For this reason, many Two-Spirited people have become Medicine people, leaders and intermediaries between men and women, and between tribal communities and non-Native people. Their greater flexibility provides possibilities to discover alternative ways of seeing oneself and the world...
The role of the Two-Spirited person is critical in its relationship to those who are not Two-Spirited. The alternative behaviors and creative option of the Gay and Lesbian community informs the entire society of what possibilities exist and ... offer guidelines and directions for exploring and living life to its fullest potential. A man or woman is more clearly defined by the existence of a Two-Spirited person, just as a straight person may more fully understand him or herself in coming to know and understand Gays and Lesbians."
I investigated the availability of information on bisexuality on the Internet and there are many resources available. I was particularly impressed with these commonly asked questions about bisexuality, the answers edited by Maggie Rohde: Do bisexuals have to have lovers of both sexes to be bisexual? Sometimes it is useful to distinguish bisexual identity and bisexual behavior. People who call themselves bisexual are saying that they are attracted to both men and women. They don't necessarily have to act on that attraction. Isn't everyone really bisexual?
Research carried out at the Harvard School of Public Health in 1994 found that 20.8% of the men and 17.8% of the women admitted to same sex behavior at some time in their lives. Attraction and behavior are the key words here. You may be attracted, you may not necessarily act on it. It's important to bear in mind the time and place, these affect behavior and help us make better decisions in our lives concerning interaction with all the people who complete our lives.
I've discovered that I'm bisexual, should I tell my family? Look at your life, decide if by telling them you will help yourself and by not telling them you won't hurt yourself (one doesn't necessarily preclude the other) Both ways are fraught with problems. They may not accept you, maybe they will. Not telling them may leave you at peace or it may gnaw at your mind constantly with 'I need to tell them" or I really need to tell someone that knows me well.
"Aren't bisexuals -just going through a phase of being confused about their sexuality? The simple answer is No. Many of us are absolutely certain that we are attracted to both sexes. There is no confusion. Many people are bisexual for life, which proves it is not necessarily just a phase. It is natural to be confused when trying to come to terms with a sexuality that is not the society's norm. For some people bisexuality is a phase between homosexuality and heterosexuality and the individual could be going in either direction. Sexuality may shift over times.
I have run across complaints of discrimination. This seems to happen to anyone that's different. I recommend the trickle down approach. Never discuss religion, politics or sexuality in the work place. Unless you are in that workplace on a covert operation with a hidden agenda: converting people to your religion, campaigning to enlist people's support in different political parties or because you fancy someone you have met during the course of business. You can be attracted and lay back or you can be attracted and react. I
think there is a little of 'let the fur fly where it may' in my attitude because I don't respond well to hiding who or what I am. In my case, coming out was trickle down, because I just talked about my lifestyle in print and on television and radio. So it was public knowledge and therefore I didn't have to address it on a personal level. I never spoke with my parents about bisexuality. My mother's breast cancer and my father's heart condition were of far more consequence in their final years than whether or not I was/am bisexual.
For the people who are not as close or understanding as one's family, I have one piece of advice in dealing with them - Use the Law. This is specifically to do with bisexuality as it affects one's security and happiness in the work place. 'The law'- works for all life's dramas protecting your home and transportation when poverty is looming, being evicted, child kidnapping. I speak from personal experience.
Use the law and support groups. Ask the government what resources they have to help you. If it baffles you, it probably baffled somebody else and steps may have been taken to program a solution to the problem. Yes, believe it or not this also works for problems of sexuality. If you're confused or challenged by a situation - Ask, research, there is so much more information available for these kinds of issues now than there were 30 years ago when I was coming up. Take advantage of it all. "Whatever the public blames you for, cultivate it; it is your self." (Jean Cocteau, Writer/director 1889-1963.)
Are you shocked? I am a marketing man and therefore it is appropriate to look at how bisexuality can impact you financially. For years the term gender-bender described androgyny or unisex. Clothes and hair designers have embraced this new wave and contributed to its popularity. The acknowledgment of being bisexual affects one's pocketbook. "You can convert your style into riches." (Quentin Crisp, English Writer/Critic 1979) This is an intrinsic result of discovering a new interest, in this case sexuality!
When we discover our family history we are intrigued. It is fascinating to children and adults to hear the stories of where the family came from, what religion they were, how they reached their final destination, what adventures happened to them on the way. In the same way we collect information for projects, for health, for having children, for being sick, learning to cook; so with bisexuality.
There can be financial aspects to embracing a lifestyle: first the reading and learning of what's gone before, the viewing of films that deal with the subject matter, clothes or hairdos, makeovers that boost our confidence and self-esteem. We take ourselves out and observe social gatherings and meeting places where we can make the acquaintance of others like us.
Sometimes the acknowledgment of a lifestyle contributes to making a career change or a lifestyle change, even a geographical relocation to center the new information and beliefs that are the result of all this soul searching. Marketing in a free economy requires a manufacturing and media marriage. The products must be produced and the consumer must hear of their existence. Information and Interest are the warriors of the 21st century. Our computers, libraries, films and television are the weapons with which we arm ourselves.
Unfortunately in the last 15 years, the advent of AIDS caused a state of mental siege, which helped bring the national gay organizations into clear view. They were seen to be doing a terrific job of lobbying for AIDS Research funds and caring for their neighbors who were not all as well situated financially. So the meals on wheels programs and all the AIDS volunteer work was under the microscope of the media and Gay Pride never flinched. I think they buried the hatchets when the light was shone into the dark recesses of the twilight life of this festive and creative group of men and women.
Homosexual men and women and bisexuals were united in a group effort to try and avert this killer disease which threatened to enshroud the planet like the plague. Bear in mind, twenty years ago there were no gay yellow pages. Gay Clubs and hangouts often did not advertise their location because they feared they might be compromising the safety of their customers. Hardly a problem now, where gay cabarets, bars, stores and restaurants are important to the tourist dollars, a city earns. You see Gay Pride consumers for the most part are affluent. We are a consumer society.
The Gay and Bisexual spending power have had an enormous effect on many areas of consumerism. One is product memory. These are discerning consumers. They want value for money, quality, style or at least individuality. The widespread popularity of certain retail outlets that meet these specifications have seen success and profits: Travel, Home Depot, Office Depot, LL Bean, tattoo parlors, fetish boutiques, accessories and clothing, computers, Country and Western Music and trucks. The propaganda manufacturers for consumerism now have to present an acceptable Bisexual Star with whom shoppers identify. They need a woman because they can explain away bisexuality with the 100 media stars you get for having children, i.e. Rosie O'Donnell.
This is not a small market. Fritz Klein estimates the conservative number of bisexuals at 25 - 30 million. Fifteen percent of the male population is bisexual and 7 to 8 percent are women. There are more bisexuals than there are homosexuals but you'd never know it due to their lack of projection. Bisexuals were very visible during the AIDS crisis but that was confounded by their being blamed in a way for contributing to the spread of the disease.
Many volunteers gave their time during the worst years of the epidemic. I know I worked all the time for AIDS-related causes and witnessed their energy and selfless devotion and will continue to do so until the plague is finally defeated with the finest resources available. I predict within the next couple of years, someone on Madison Avenue will come up with a commercial in the same vein Tide's single parent families - the mother and daughter one. In this bisexual oriented commercial: the adorable tomboy will be self-employed, successfully working at home on her computer, kissing her live-in boy and girlfriend 'bye' as they go off to work at their corporate office jobs. She'll take a couple of kids to school and then she'll throw the laundry in with Tide and they'll have another marketing peak due to a new demographic. It's a commune, no it's a kibbutz, and it's anything you want as long as it sells the product.
One of the recurring themes I examined, was the impact of AIDS on bisexuals. I am not prepared to waste any more time with hazy assumptions based on clumsy and often incorrect information. AIDS has impacted the world, men, women be they gay or straight or children. I came across a personal example of this when I had a reunion with somebody I had known years ago and who was still interested in pursuing a relationship with me. I was astounded at this lady's gullibility and allowing falsehoods and rumors to affect her personal life and sexuality. She was terrified of AIDS and she saw specters hiding everywhere; kissing, making love. I had to tell her that these irrational fears were inhibiting the physical side of our relationship. Finally she came over armed with latex gloves and vaginal condoms for her interpretation of safe sex. "No more." We could not continue with her belief in every new outrageous supposed safeguard. Either you become Howard Hughes and live in isolation due to phobic behavior regarding germs or you take as many precautions as you can and then stop thinking about it.
It's one of my pet peeves that as soon as you have health insurance you start reminding yourself of all the things that are the matter with you because you want to get your money's worth. Aren't humans odd? Long gone were my days of casual sexual encounters and so I felt it was necessary to stop seeing her. Maybe she was using the whole issue as a resentment factor because I was interested in a young guy and since that time he and I are still living together.
Bisexuals have the opportunity to carry out their fantasies if they choose to act upon their attraction. Marjorie Garber, author of Vice Versa: Bisexuality and the eroticism of everyday life, "Young people want to leave themselves undefined. They choose the term bisexual because it leaves their options open. They don't really know what's going to happen and for some the alternative categories don't fit, so they choose bisexuality as the most accurate term. One reason why we're seeing more young people calling themselves bisexual is that there has been progress in the visibility if gays and lesbians. Nowadays people see that they have a choice, that there are options and feelings that they may have had (of attraction for both sexes) are real feelings. "One could never pay too high a price for any sensation." Oscar Wilde. English Author and Playwright.
Dr. Ruth (Westheimer) makes some interesting points in her 1994 Encyclopedia of Sex, Health Risks of Bisexuality. "Concern with HIV transmission has prompted an examination of the rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including AIDS, among bisexual men and women. In general bisexual men report lower rates of STDs than exclusively homosexual men and higher rates than exclusively heterosexual men. Of the 65,389 who have had sex with men and whose AIDS diagnosis was reported to the United States Centers for disease control and prevention through June 1990, 74% reported having sex only with men and 26 percent with both men and women since 1977.
Given the large number of infected gay men in the United States and the greater ease of HIV infection from man to man than from woman to man, it is probable that most bisexual men were infected through same-sex contact. Data on STDs among bisexual women are strikingly different from those for bisexual men. Bisexual women are more likely than lesbian women to report abnormal Pap smears, cystitis, genital herpes, gonorrhea and vaginal infections.
Through 1989,103 cases of AIDS in bisexual women had been reported, compared to 79 cases in lesbian women. Nearly all of these women reported injection drug use as their primary risk factor for HIV: the remainder reported sex with a male partner at risk for, or infected with, HIV or a history of blood transfusion. While there is potential for transmission of HIV and other diseases through woman to woman sexual contact, the risk for bisexual women is related primarily to the frequency of intercourse with a male partner.
Additional studies have reported that bisexual men are more likely to have injected drugs and to have received money or drugs in exchange for sex. Bisexuality has not been systematically studied in the United States and knowledge of bisexuals' behavior is tentative at best. Given the number of persons who are bisexual or whose lives are touched by those who are, it is important that we develop greater sensitivity and scientific understanding of how individuals manage life-styles that include sexual relationships with both men and women."
Dr. Westheimer continues, "Several studies have suggested that there may be cultural differences in bisexual behavior, and the Afro-American and Latino men are more likely than white men to have sex with both men and women. African-American and Latino bisexual men are more likely than white bisexual men to identify themselves as heterosexual, to be married and not to tell their female partners about their same-sex contacts. African-American lesbian and bisexual women report more extensive heterosexual experiences than do white lesbian or bisexual women. The reason for these cultural patterns is unclear.
Many different patterns of bisexual behavior have been identified among men. Examples include youths exploring their sexuality, men who have sex with other men for drugs or money, men in prisons or other all-male institutional settings, men in primary relationships with women, and men who identify themselves as bisexual ... Very little is understood about the bisexual patterns in women. Like men they are believed to have very diverse life styles and sexual histories. The development of a bisexual life-style may be somewhat different between men and women.
However, bisexual women report having, on average, earlier opposite-sex sexual experiences but later same-sex attraction and sexual experiences. Unlike male bisexuals, who may marry women despite an awareness of same sex attraction, female bisexuals' awareness of sexual attraction to other women typically occurs after marriage. Bisexual experimentation may begin with intense, affectionate friendships among women."
Thus physically, like everything else we must take the risks and hazards of beginning one's journey as a bisexual with a pinch of salt.
Caution is a good thing, being informed is a good thing but becoming psychotic is excessive.
Rule of thumb? Do not engage in sexual intercourse with IV drug users and let your intelligence and the magic of your heart rule as opposed to the emotionally charged, alcohol or drug enhanced experiences which lead to bad decision making. I credit this system of empowerment for keeping me sane. At least by not drinking or doing drugs until much later, those four decision-making years were not influenced by stimulants or artificial mood enhancers. Understandable really, if you are in a position to think straight it's easier to make an intelligent decision about a person's motives or whether they are the sort of character whose involvement will benefit you or set you back, physically, spiritually, socially and professionally and financially.
It is appropriate I should close this section on the physical approach to bisexuality with quote from the master Oscar Wilde himself, the Duchess of Padua, "They do not sin at all who sin for love." I am big on tidy wrap-ups.
There are 25 million of us bisexuals. I am not interested in some political platform but I feel there are areas where our voices could do some good. What if all the single parents' issues were lobbied under this banner or the lack of Drama, Art, and Music in our Children's public high school system, or the government's refusal to pay our national deficit with the taxes from legalized sale of marijuana.
The only imperative required by the identifying with bisexuality is to embrace as much of the lifestyle or trappings that suit you. Being free in one's sexuality on all the levels we have examined are admirable goals. Being free physically within the confines of healthy sensible practices does not seem too difficult. Good sense establishes what we can live with. Our urgency to solve life's problems is tempered with democracy. In the United States, we have a legal response to any attack on our civil rights.
Cases have been fought and won to guarantee the right to bear arms, practice one's religion, keep custody of one's children, privacy laws should safeguard us from interference with what goes on behind closed doors unless it involves violence or abuse. There is a yin and yang in everyone. My experience has demonstrated that there is a rise in cross-dressing amongst men and women, a kind of psychological outreach to understand the other gender's point of view. In my experience I am not able to live only as a lesbian. There are advantages to each type of sexual relationship and disadvantages. It is a perfect time to grasp the sword of visibility and make it work for us.
Back in 1981 in Colette Downing's fine book, 'The Cinderella Complex', she attacks dependency and in her research comes up with a startling statistic: 'Displaced homemakers constitute an emotionally disabled class of 25 million women.' These figures are specifically for women through the study conducted by Marjorie Bell Chambers. Apparently, in 1976, 9.5 million women between the ages of thirty-five and sixty-four have become responsible for their own support as a result of divorce, separation or the death of a husband.'
According to Milo Smith, the figure was 25 million back in 1981. I estimate the number of emotionally unbalanced, displaced homemakers is even greater in 1997. Add to this, the fact that these were figures for women. There are many displaced homemakers and partners who are men and have not been considered. By the year 2000, Bisexuals will be not only tolerated but also welcomed for the understanding that emanates from the Two-Spirited soul and their consciousness. I was floored by these statistics. The synchronicity of watching millions of people pursue a pilgrim's search for their sexual identity or to cast off the yoke of the Cinderella complex, they seem to be entwined.
On the front page of the New York Times Arts and Entertainment section, the headline reads "The Gay take on 'Straight' makes its way into the movies.' In this article, Frank Bruni reassures Vito Russo that the 'Celluloid Closet' is at an end. But most interesting is his final quote from a bisexual, when being asked about his film, 'Kiss me, Guido,' Tony Vitale explains, "I've taken liberties in offending both communities, who won't identify himself as heterosexual or homosexual, 'I call myself an equal opportunity offender.'
Bruni details the most recent gay and bisexual themed movies. The timing of this article coincides with the New York Lesbian and Gay film festival. 'It's in the water', 'All over me', 'Kiss me, Guido', 'Love! Valor! Compassion!' are among the films being shown, "For the most part, the jaundiced eye cast on heterosexual characters is a phenomenon of independent film-making, and reflects both the rise of low budget features and a simultaneous discovery of a rich market of gay and lesbian filmgoers that is big enough and reliable enough to promise a return on relatively modest investments. Because these movies do not need to reach a diverse audience to succeed, their makers face no economic imperative to present fully integrated, even-handed portraits of society. In fact doing the opposite may be the more financially sound strategy. A celluloid world where in which homosexuals are presented as the norm and heterosexuals as aberrations provides understandable entertainment, not to mention a sense of overdue justice, for gay and lesbian moviegoers stepping into theaters from a society in which the opposite is often true."
Bruni lists other gay-themed movies where heterosexual ridicule is an audience pleaser, satire for crossover film going audiences. "The Birdcage" whose magic is the original stage show and film from Europe, Mike Nichols as director and Robin Williams bring a whole new audience to this satisfying drama-comedy. In "To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar" one gay character says it best, 'Sometimes it just takes a fairy' or a Two-Spirited to effect communal change.
Frank Bruni, 'These mainstream Hollywood movies do not go so far as to present homosexuality as an idealized norm. They make certain that for every moment a heterosexual in the audience feels a stab of recrimination there is another moment when he or she exorcise any discomfort with a good belly laugh at the limp-wristed man in a ridiculous dress." For any gender there is no better goal than self-realization, spiritually, socially, professionally, financially and sexually. The time has come to stand up and be counted. The time has come to turn the chaos and anxiety of gender panic into the wise and stoic acceptance of all persuasions as fine.
My father used to say, 'Don't wish your life away.' In his spirit, I planted a garden while I was composing this article and now my piece is finished and my garden has filled my refrigerator with ripe zucchini and French beans. The broccoli is coming and corn is early and bursting out of its cobs. Acknowledging bisexuality in my own life has given me intense pleasure. In the same way, one tends the garden, it was time for me to tend the garden of my sexuality by being visible, being a witness, talking, lecturing, testifying and passing the awareness along.
have been remiss in my mission for a few years, I just got busy. Forgive me, I
had a teenager to deliver to maturity. I forgot one of my chores on the planet,
helping make bisexuality more fun and more exciting than ever, as the ultimate
choice, no barriers, no limits and spreading the word about pleasure and the
abolition of gender panic. We've got it all. Let's sashay, pliee, jette into the