Where’s the B Oprah?
Oh, Monday, October 2, 2006 was a tame, tame day on Oprah despite the hyped episode “Gay Wives.” It was so not the “down low,” about married men and their secret men on men affairs, nor was it any one of the gender switching episodes from sex changes to spouses dealing with their transgender partners’ transition. That circus left town, which was in many ways a relief. Monday’s Oprah was more like a tea party: quite polite, suburban, and so attractive and appealing with one thing, the B-word, that was ignored.
Only once throughout the show was the possibility or the option of bisexuality mentioned and in an odd way, if I will say so, when one of the ex-husbands stated that he knew his ex-wife was a little bit bisexual when they first started dating. But when the first woman interviewed on the show, whose husband came out four years after she came out, adamantly stated that she liked having sex with her now gay ex-husband (Oprah asked her twice) and she responded with eager glee and a breathless, “Yes, I liked having sex with my husband!”
Hmmm…let me get this straight…oh wait let me get the right bent on this, what is a “little bit bisexual” and what would you call liking having sex with your ex-husband? I’ll say it, because I was called out several years ago when oops! some long ignored sexual tension was released when I had a fabulous night of sex with a male friend of mine who I was deeply emotionally attached to. Suddenly, the bisexual herald was calling and well, leave it to my dear close friends to bluntly correct me while I was struggling to identify as a lesbian with an occasional appetite and taste for men, “Honey, you’re bisexual not a lesbian.” That night, being identified, and friends I assumed were lesbian coming out to me as bi finally brought me to my current straight forward deal with it bisexual identity.
So in an authentic (because that was the illusional thread strung through out the show), but not so composed state screaming at the TV: “You’re bisexual!”...“Hello! You liked having sex with your husband.”..."What does a little bit mean? Two, three, oh four is getting too close to being really bisexual on the Kinsey Scale," and a final breathless rally cry at the end of the hour, “What about bisexuality?” May be I’m missing something, but I would like to think right when the statement, “Oh, no, I liked having sex with my husband,” blazed in a blushed, unashamed giggle from the guest that Oprah would have said something about the possibility of bisexuality rather than being shocked by this phenomenon. But the B-word wasn’t on her radar.
Oprah admitted that until October 2, 2006 she didn’t know that the Kinsey Scale existed or what it was. She was so confused and uncertain about what the scale means that she couldn’t recognize that perhaps the correct theme for the show might have been "Bi Wives" or would that not be as dramatic as “Gay Wives”? That’s a new twist, bisexuals not thrown into the media circus and used as fodder for ratings. Or was Oprah just playing dumb insisting that in Oprah's world you are either gay as a daisy or straight as a nail, there's no fence sitting that just isn't an option because you know you're gay from a very early age, you go one way or the other -- not the bi way.
So, can Oprah be forgiven for her ignorance, or her staff’s failure to brief her properly on the Kinsey Scale and bisexuality, or is bisexuality too edgy and hot to handle for afternoon tea with Oprah? Enquiring minds will have to wait and see if Oprah picks up the forthcoming The Bisexual’s Guide to the Universe: Quips, Tips, and Lists for Those Who Go Both Ways by Nicole Kristal and Mike Szymanski (Alyson Books 2007) and Jennifer Baumgardner’s (former Oprah guest representing third wave feminism) Look Both Ways: Bisexual Politics (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux 2007). Stay tuned.