Issue 10, Semester 2, 2019
I was dumbstruck a few months ago when I watched an episode of Slutever entitled ‘Do Bisexual Men Exist?’. I thought the question had been solidly answered in the affirmative. I thought the real question was, ‘do hets exist? Aren’t we all bi?’ I thought we had established a consensus!
This certainly was a reality check. After managing to pull my head out of that bisexual fantasy world, I remembered that queers are used to having their identity policed. A TV show was seriously debating whether or not I exist. The truth hurts.
If you don’t fit into a clearly recognisable gender/sexual-box, people feel entitled to ask so many personal questions. When someone asks me ‘so are you really attracted to girls?’ they are really asserting their own sexual identity.
I will never forget the first time someone told me I was ‘gay’. I was twelve years old and I didn’t even know what sex was. I told my classmates I had a crush on a girl and they told me that I was lying. I can hardly blame them for this wanton bullying. We are all constantly devising sexed narratives about the people around us. My classmates, faithful soldiers of heteronormativity, were just reciting the story they’d learnt - bisexuals don’t exist.
The same system of compulsory heterosexuality appears in actual policing. In the utterly cooked case of R v Brown gay men were imprisoned for private, consensual S/M activities. Lord Justice Jauncey stressed there was a ‘real danger’ in the ‘corruption of young men’ and held that it was for parliament to declare gay s/m legal as they had declared ‘buggery’ to be legal.
In a similar vein, McClintock writes, ‘in sentencing S/Mers to bondage and discipline, floggings and ritual humiliation in Houses of Correction, the law, far from exhibiting refined disgust at the exhibition of pain, is merely asserting its jealous right over the penal regime.’
The law, like all social discourse, expresses public condemnation of deviance to reinforce sexual norms and suppress internal dissent from the heteronormative regime. Underlying this system of punishment is a jealousy of queer sexual freedom which manifests in an active denial by heterosexuals of their own homosexual desires. The heterosexual ruling-class criticises queers in order to shield their own precarious identity from scrutiny by questioning the identity of others. The threat of being attracted to all genders reveals this precariousness because it proves that sexuality is not a binary.
The instinct to punish is therefore borne out of a fear of losing political power. If the heteronormative regime is to be maintained, then there can be no middle ground. If the taboo of same sex attraction falters, allowing subconscious homosexual desires to be expressed, then the hets’ position of superiority quickly fades. The easiest means of protection is to say that bisexuals just don’t exist. It’s the same narrative I’ve been told again and again. You must be confused. You’re actually gay.
It won’t be easy for you to accept you’ve been playing a part in a totalitarian heterosexual regime. But you need not succumb to your repressed desires. You can still choose to be straight or gay and that’s fine. But whether or not we (bisexuals) are right or wrong in the sexuality that we think we’ve chosen, please just return us the same courtesy. If we say we exist, then we do.
 McClintock, ‘Maid to Order: Commercial Fetishism and Gender Power’ (1993) 37 Social Text 87
Jacob is a Third Year JD Student.