Queer

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I like the word queer. (A lot of people don't - I'm not saying that you should, just saying that I do.) I like it because it's broad, inclusive, a little in-your-face. I like the literal meaning. Two of the pieces for me are number and gender.

Closets

In 1987, at 16, I had a boyfriend and my first serious girlfriend. Looking at the historical record, this was a terrible time to come out. Personally, I couldn't do anything else. I'm not made to be in the closet. There was no vocabulary for polyamory (the term wasn't coined until 1992) yet, so it was all swept under being bi despite not so much being one of each. I got a lot of flack from well-meaning people about being confused, about it being a phase etc. I also (we also) got a lot of abuse at school, which was unsurprising but terrible. For many teenagers, it's still terrible.

It Gets Better project: "The It Gets Better Project's mission is to communicate to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth around the world that it gets better, and to create and inspire the changes needed to make it better for them."

I could say that I've stayed out of the closet since then, but that's not entirely accurate. My family knows, my community knows, my friends are often (but far from always) queer themselves. However, most people assume I'm straight, marginally less so now that I'm not married to a man. Being out is coming out over and over again, every time I take a new job, have conversations with new people, etc. At work, it's carefully casually mentioning my partners. The word "girlfriend" doesn't help at all, but somehow "ex-girlfriend" does. It's pride rings on my office wall, pictures on my desk.

Lifehacker, who is always worth a read, says "Coming out leads to acceptance. It shows people you're a little unique, but still the awesome person they've always known. If more people can accept your differences, they can in others as well and that makes the world a little better for everyone."

Number

For years I kept a Polyamory website, and once upon a time it was one of the best resources out there. I've moved the key content from that site to Franklin's More Than Two site, and recommend it highly. He defines polyamory as:

"The fact of having simultaneous close emotional relationships with two or more other individuals, viewed as an alternative to monogamy, esp. in regard to matters of sexual fidelity; the custom or practice of engaging in multiple sexual relationships with the knowledge and consent of all partners concerned."

Here is an Introduction to Polyamory I wrote in 2011 because Poly people needed something to hand their parents, friends, etc to read. In addition, here is an excellent Polyamory 101 written by Franklin & Cherie in 2003-2005

If you want to know more about me, personally, and polyamory, there are two links at the bottom of this page to take a look at.

Gender

Unlike many people who used to, or still, use "bisexual", I'm not terribly attached to the term. There's a very interesting conversation (see below) about whether it's a word that inherently discounts trans folks - my take from the beginning of knowing about that conversation is that I didn't CARE if it was true or accurate. What I DO care about is not being part of making people invisible, and I'm not so attached to the term that dropping it in favor of queer was a hardship. It's also been fun coming up with alternate terms, within queer, many of which are not for a public website.

Is the Word Bisexual Outdated?: "...they affirm that there are indeed differences between themselves (people who identify as pansexual) and people who identify as bisexuals, because pansexuals are attracted to all genders and sexes whereas bisexuals are not (even though the group of bisexual people who are not sexually attracted to trans, intersex or gender nonconforming people etc are yet to be found). "

Words, binary and biphobia, or: why “bi” is binary but “FTM” is not: It appears increasingly acceptable of late, in transgender/genderqueer communities and activist discourses, to portray bisexuality as a binary identity, and thus intrinsically transphobic. As the claim classically goes – since the word “bisexuality” has “bi” (literally: two) in it, then it is inherently gender-binary, pointing to only two genders/sexes as its sources of reference – thus erasing non-binary sexes and genders out of existence. "