Sunday, August 26, 2007

Bisexuality gets a positive review

ABC News, child of Disney, took a look at bisexuality last week, giving it a somewhat happily ever after ending.

In an article on ABC News’s Web site, “Young women defy labels in intimacy with both sexes,” in a surprising turn of events bisexuality was given a wink or a nudge towards being okay.

The opener to the article was the typical sensationalism around bisexual women, referring to them as “recreational lesbians” then launching into Anne Heche’s and Angelina Jolie’s public bisexual displays.

I thought the article was doomed as another sensational look at bisexual women, but then the author of the article, Susan Donaldson James, stated that the stars who “flaunt” and then “change their minds” about their sexuality make it difficult for young women exploring their sexuality. Close, but not quite I cringed.

I continued to be skeptical as I continued to read the article and didn’t see actual commentary from bisexual activists, experts, and organizations in the article. James interviewed Roberta Sklar, director of communications of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Kaaren Williamsen-Garvey, director of the Gender and Sexuality Center at Carleton College in Minnesota, and two bisexual young women. It is unknown if any of the experts who contributed to the article are bisexual.

Why were bisexual experts, when there are so many, not included in the article? The answer is unknown, but they could have contributed greatly to James’s article. Bisexual author Jennifer Baumgardner, who wrote
Look Both Ways: Bisexual Politics, about young women’s bisexuality and the exploration of this aspect of their sexuality, or Nicole Kristal and Mike Szymanski, co-authors of The Bisexual's Guide to the Universe: Quips, Tips, And Lists for Those Who Go Both Ways, who wrote a hilarious guide through the twist and turns of being bisexual. Nor did James contact any of the bisexual organizations, BiNet USA or the Bisexual Resource Center, to interview them for the article.

Despite the omission of bisexual experts, the article took a positive turn acknowledging that sexuality was complicated and that it was okay to explore sexuality. The article went further when James quoted Williamsen-Garvey who stated, “It’s hard to maintain bisexual identity without a community [of support].”

By the end of the article, James changed her tune about Heche’s and Jolie’s fluid sexuality that has been splashed across the tabloids during the past 15 or so years. She thought it might be good. James even mentioned Eleanor Roosevelt’s alleged bisexual affairs, suggesting that bisexuality is somewhat new, but not quite so new.

The article ended on an open note projecting into the unknown future of sexuality. James quoted Sklar, “We are seeing something out there that is different than what we have seen before.”

I don’t know if bisexuality is something that different than what has occurred throughout time, but we do have a name for it whether we like it or not and we are becoming visible. That’s nice to know.

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