139
Chapter 9
Another Divide:
Bisexuality in U.S. Politics
Victor J. Raymond
Contents
Dening Bisexuality ..........................................................................................140
Background .......................................................................................................142
Bisexuality in the Post-Stonewall Era .................................................................142
Bisexuality in the 1990s ..................................................................................... 144
Bisexuality and the Marches on Washington ......................................................145
Bisexuality in the Current Era ...........................................................................145
e Problem of Bisexual Erasure .......................................................................146
Social Norm Enforcement of Binary Identity ................................................ 147
Lack of AcknowledgmentofIndividualBisexualsand Bisexuality ................. 147
Lack of Institutional Support for Bisexuality ................................................. 148
Co-optation of Bisexual Activism ..................................................................150
Bisexuality and the Great Divide .......................................................................150
Case Study 1: AIDS/HIV Crisis....................................................................151
Case Study 2: Colorado and OregonasEarly Battleground States .................152
Case Study 3: Minnesota as an Ongoing Battleground State ......................... 153
Case Study 4: Bisexuality and the “Ex-Gay” Debacle ....................................154
Case Study 5: Bisexuality and Marriage Equality...........................................154
References .........................................................................................................156
140Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Civil Rights
In order to understand the place of bisexuality within the larger discussion of lesbian,
gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning (LGBTQ) issues and politics in
the UnitedStates, one must rst recognize the contested nature of bisexual iden-
tity. Bisexuality remains largely misunderstood, with dierent groups advancing
their own conceptions of what bisexuality actually is and what it means within
the constellation of LGBTQ identities. Within the context of the discussion of the
“empowered” and “disempowered” states, bisexuality has been something of a stra-
tegic football, conceptually deployed, avoided, or erased as part of larger political
eorts and struggles. is essay begins with the task of dening bisexuality, then
moves to a consideration of bisexuality in recent political history, the role of bisexual
erasure and its eect on the empowered and disempowered states, and nishes with
ve brief case studies.
Dening Bisexuality
In order to explore the dynamics of bisexuality and its place in the larger LGBTQ
movement, we should rst dene what bisexuality is. is isand has almost
always been—more complicated than might be rst expected. Some of these
tensions are reected in the range of denitions of bisexuality actually used by
self-identied bisexuals (see later). e range of denitions is itself something of
a conundrum, since ambiguity in relation to sexual orientation creates social ten-
sions, from interpersonal interaction to relations at much higher levels between
organizations. For the purposes of this essay, “bisexuality” should be understood as
having attraction to more than one gender. is includes people attracted to both
men and women, including when there may be attraction more to one gender than
another. It also includes people whose sexual identity is uid and may change over
time. It also includes people who see their attraction as unrelated to gender, as well
as people who dispute the idea that there are only two genders (Barker etal.2012).
Additionally, this denition does not immediately take into account dierences
between how people feel, how they act, and how they identify. e range of deni-
tions originating within the bisexual community may also reect a greater level of
comfort among bisexual-identied people for dierent denitions but also poses
problems for establishing a denition recognized by those on the outside of the
bisexual community as legitimate and valid. To this extent, this also provides an
opening for others—heterosexuals, lesbians, gays, and transgender people—to
impose their own denitions. is tug-of-war also reects the fact that those out-
side of the bisexual community do not agree on what bisexuality is. On rst blush,
bisexuality is often understood as having attractions to men and to women, but
even this seemingly innocuous denition is seen by some as reifying and reinforc-
ing a dualistic construction of gender. is has led some people to adopt terms such
as “omnisexual” or “pansexual” in order to work around this somewhat limited
view of sexuality and gender identity. Within the gay male community, bisexual is

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