Dear DIVA: One Does Not Simply Justify Biphobia

Dear DIVA:
One Does Not Simply Justify Biphobia

Last month, DIVA Magazine, which advertises itself as one of the leading magazines for queer women, ran a feature in which they examined biphobia in the queer community. Seeing as this is the magazine which, not so long ago, listed Lady GaGa in an article entitled 'Top Ten Women We Wish Were Gay' ('...already calls herself a bisexual - but, come on, lesbian is so much more Lady Gaga.'), my excitement at finally seeing the issue addressed was mixed with rather high levels of trepidation.

This trepidatious feeling was soon to be realised. The article is advertised on the front cover as 'How To Face Your Fears And Date A Bi Woman' - suggesting that a) the article is aimed at lesbians and not the non-monosexual section of DIVA's readership and b) that biphobia is rooted in some sort of legitimate fear that needs overcoming. This seems to set the tone for the rest of the article. In the article, bisexual women are encouraged to 'understand' the fear that grips lesbians when faced with dating non-monosexual women, lesbians are encouraged to air their views as to why they would not date a non-monosexual woman, and the given 'solution' is that bisexual woman will just have to work that little bit harder to prove their fidelity. 

In a somewhat misguided attempt to show balance, DIVA seems to have forgotten something that is fundamental to the queer fight for equal rights - if you dislike someone because they belong to a specific group which they cannot help, and actively act upon this dislike, then that is the essence of discrimination, prejudice and bigotry.

Although I feel obliged to applaud DIVA for attempting to address this issue, I cannot feel anything but despair and disapproval over the acting out of this address. Stating that bisexual women must work harder to 'prove' that they will not cheat suggests that non-monosexual women are, in essence, guilty until proven innocent. This shouldn't wash in a court of law, and it certainly shouldn't wash when we are discussing real people, with real lives and real feelings. I, and any other non-monosexual person, should not have to prove my fidelity when the only thing I have done to garner suspicion is being born in the first place. To suggest that we do suggests a deep-rooted feeling that we are pre-programmed to cheat, and that is not only deeply offensive to a large group of diverse and wonderful people, but also deeply hurtful and the kind of thing that can stay with someone for a very long time.

It is also very kind of DIVA to provide a wonderful, confidence building section in which lesbians state just why it is that they would never, ever think about dating a bisexual. It is even kinder to suggest that these experiences have to be understood before bisexuals make any wild accusations of prejudice.

'These women have had bad experiences,' we are told. 'Can you really blame them for not wanting to date bisexuals?'

Call me insane, but this statement brings to mind something that a friend of an older generation once said to my mother:

'People of my generation have had bad experiences with gay people,' said he as she tried, in vain, to protest. 'Can you really blame us for not liking homosexuals?'

I'd wager that the latter would be called bigotry. Blaming your dislike and discrimination of an entire group on a bad experience you have had with a few members of that group? Out, foul bigot, or I shall wave a banner in your face!

So why is the former, by DIVA at least, not considered bigotry? It seems that that one change - the replacing of 'homosexual' with 'bisexual' - is enough to lower 'discrimination' to 'understandable trepidation'.

And that view in itself, as expressed by DIVA, is perhaps bigotry encapsulated.

If one takes a look at the original question, which was posed on DIVA's Facebook Page, one finds comments that are more hateful, more virulent, and more full of bile than anything that eventually made it into the article. In one block of comments, all bisexuals are tarred as 'cheaters', 'unfaithful', 'confused', 'greedy', 'untrustworthy' and, in perhaps my favourite indictment of the entire non-monosexual community, 'dirty' people who spread STIs from men's penises to poor, unsuspecting lesbians.

DIVA in no way discrouaged this type of response. In fact, all they did was throw the meat into the pen and let the lions feed.

These 'experiences', as recounted by lesbians in the magazine, are peppered with a few weary, almost pained recountings from non-monosexual women about how their failure to fall into an acceptable group had led to heartbreak for them. This is, perhaps, one of the saddest things. These comments are exclamations of true emotion, of true hurt, of true heartbreak, and they break something in my soul. I myself have felt the feelings that they were recounting - on many occasions, I have liked a girl but been unable to ask her out or express my liking for her because I fear that, the moment I 'out' myself as not quite gay enough, I'll be out on my ear without a second glance.

That each person who commented, including myself, felt compelled to prefix their answer with 'I am bisexual and I am not a cheater/greedy/promiscuous/confused', is a sad indictment of how engrained this prejudice is. It is an automatic response to defend ourselves against an accusation that has no solid basis. We should not have to defend ourselves in this way, precisely because the accusations are unfounded. Of course, there are unfaithful or promiscuous non-monosexual people, just as there are unfaithful or promiscuous lesbians, gays and straights. And yet, despite this, it feels like every single hurt voice is engaging in an ultimately futile attempt to make people understand this - and to understand that we are hurting. To be discriminated against is a painful thing.

It's even more painful reading these - because I know that the majority of lesbians that I know do not feel this way. But articles like this only heighten the extreme sense of isolation that a bisexual, young or old, may feel within the queer community. It's not helpful. It exacerbates a problem which they claim they want to solve. Why cause more pain? I can't understand it. All I know is that, immediately after reading the article, I crawled under my covers and had a good, old-fashioned sob fest over the projected belief that no one will ever love me.

Because it hurts.

When I started writing this, I had the idea that I would somehow detach it from my emotions. But, looking back at it, there is no way to detach emotion from it, because my immediate reaction to it is rooted so deeply in my own sense of hurt, insecurity and stolen confidence.

But, DIVA has made it quite clear that they don't in any way support the notion that the bisexual experience is any more painful than the plight of lesbians who have been 'the victims' of bisexual behaviour.

In this month's edition of the magazine, I found a rather wonderful letter by Simone Webb (who has also written a blog post on this subject, which is, in all probability, a lot better than this one!) which called DIVA out on the utter failings of this misguided piece.

I was really quite disappointed in your article on biphobia (April). Could you really not find a single lesbian who would date a bi woman or had had a positive experience with bisexuality? The readers’ experiences were divided into bi women who’d faced bad reactions from lesbians for being bi, and lesbians who talked shamelessly about their bigotry against women just because they liked men as well. I know there are lesbians out there who don’t behave like this. Furthermore, even the line on the front of the magazine – “How to overcome your fears and date a bisexual” – seemed to imply that such fears were totally natural and understandable for lesbians to face. They’re not.

This, it seems, sent DIVA immediately on the defensive - as they left this editor's comment:

Ed: The article aimed to acknowledge the painful experiences of both lesbians and bi women and looked at ways to move on within relationships. Neither lesbians nor bi women can claim to be more hurt, as the reader stories showed.

Which basically sums up the whole thing, really. Even in an article which is ostensibly about biphobia, bi women are playing second fiddle; 'the painful experiences of lesbians and bi women' - note the order, which even if subconscious says a lot about the inner workings going on here. And although it claims to seek for some way to 'move on with relationships', the main bulk of the article, and the attitude with which it is being treated by the DIVA team, does nothing but reinforce the idea that non-monosexual women and lesbians can never truly come together.

This article is NOT about addressing a deep-rooted prejudice, discrimination and bigotry that has a very real negative impact on people's lives - this article is about justification. Bisexuals have to understand that their pain, as the victims of discrimination, is no worse than the pain of the people who inflict that discrimination. Or so, at least, DIVA would have us believe.

You know what? I haven't sworn yet in this post. I think it's time I did so.

Fuck that bullshit.

One does not 'overcome' homophobia by stating that the homophobes are hurting just as much as the homosexuals. One does not 'overcome' racism by claiming that the racists are hurting just as much as the racial minorities. And, likewise, one does not 'overcome' biphobia by 'understanding' that the people inflicting that biphobia are hurting just as much as the bisexuals.

The only way it can be overcome is by recognising one very key fact.

Biphobia is discrimination.

And discrimination is wrong.

DIVA claims to stand against discrimination. And, in light of this fact, I'd like to stand side by side with Simone Webb in asking DIVA for an apology. And I hope you'll all join me in this.

What Lies Within Us | Chapter One

Title: What Lies Within Us
Author: mercury_pheonix
Fandom: EastEnders
Characters/Pairings: Christian Clarke/Syed Masood
Spoilers: Follows directly on from the 6/01/2012 and chronicles what may have happened in the weeks they were offscreen.
Rating: M - because it's Chryed and they're making up -_-

Summary: Christian and Syed love each other. But the unbreakable has been broken; and now they have to pick up the pieces of their shattered relationship and put them back together.

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What Lies Within Us | Prologue

Title: What Lies Within Us
Author: mercury_pheonix
Fandom: EastEnders
Characters/Pairing: Christian Clarke/Syed Masood
Spoilers: Follows directly on from the reunion of 6/01/2012 and chronicles what may have happened in the weeks they were offscreen.
Rating: M - because it's Chryed and they're making up -_-
Summary: Christian and Syed love each other. But the unbreakable has been broken; and now they have to pick up the pieces of their shattered relationship and put them back together.

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Fic: Creature Of The Night

I know it's been a while since I posted anything on LJ, but my friend nagged me into posting this here. To all my LJ Lovelies - I am sorry for my prolonged absence, and I come bringing PWP to accompany aforementioned apology.

Creature Of The Night
Author: mercury_pheonix
Rating: M
Spoilers: None

Summary: "I'm sure it's just about the plots," Christian licked his lips, a hungry glint in his eyes; it was almost vampiric. "Nothing to do with all those tall, dark, brooding men…" Christian discovers one of Syed's deepest, darkest fantasies.

A/N: The initial idea for this came from a smrabble (smut drabble) I wrote for my 'Cookie Dough' collection: the prompt was 'bite' and obliged by writing a 100 word drabble in which Christian got Syed off by biting him. The next day, I woke up with this fully formed in my mind - the idea of Syed having a Vampire Kink, which Christian consequently finds out about, was something that was determined to be written and my mind wouldn't rest until it was committed to paper. As usual, with these things, it kind of grew out of itself to encompass a wide range of issues and things, including Syed's past experiences with other guys and multiple facets of Christian's character, but the basic framework is there. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Disclaimer: Christian, Syed and other affiliated characters belong to the BBC and EastEnders. The song 'Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me' belongs to Richard O'Brien. I am making no money from this.

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Poem: An Elegy to The Man Of A Thousand Faces

This is a poem I wrote very quickly, without much analytical thought; I wrote it on paper, made a few quick edits and then typed it up, editing as I went. It was one of those rare breeds of creative work that happens in about ten minutes, a short burst of sudden intense creativity which needs very little changing at the end of the process. Usually I write, leave and then edit heavily, but I like this one in its almost-organic form. And I'm quite proud of it. So I'm posting it here. I hope you enjoy!

An Elegy to

The Man Of A Thousand Faces

 In the age of silent movies, Lon Chaney Sr.’s almost brutal dedication to the self-application of grotesque make-up earned him the title ‘The Man Of A Thousand Faces’. For one of his most famous roles, as the deformed Erik in ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ (1925), this process involved elongating his nose with wire, propping his nostrils open with toothpicks, inserting false teeth and applying paint beneath his eyes to give his face a sunken, skull-like impression. As such, he melted completely into his characters, and the images of the sympathetic monsters he played have survived even the memory of his own face.



I worship you.

I’d thread wire through the bridge of my mind,

Slicing, tearing, hauling back my skin.

A warning – what if they see? – moulded into toothpicks,

Dragging my mouth to curl around the points.


I’d drown in plaster,

Bleed blackened blood about my eyes,

Cut my teeth into fangs that

Gnash and grin and screech to the cadence

Of an audience’s hand.


The artistry of self-mutilation.

Glistening tears hydrate the joyous pain of transformation.


My audience would love my monster.


I’d shed my skin to become you,

Offer my flesh to be what you have been.

To imprint a face,

That is not my face,

Upon the sweating canvas of history.



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The 'V' Word

You probably don’t want to hear about my love life.


But you’re probably even less keen on hearing about my lack of a love life.


Today, I was asked the question: ‘are you single?’ This seems to be a question that is perfectly normal, culturally and socially, to ask – so I answered it truthfully. What else was I to do? To discuss one’s love life is, despite my first assertion, considered a relatively safe topic of conversation. But then came the question that turned the whole social situation on its head, plunging us into the very depths of awkwardness.


How long have you been single for?


This is a question that strikes fear into my heart. It makes it dives for cover in my stomach, causing my gut to plummet down to my feet, which in turn diverts all the blood from my brain and drains my body of heat. It terrifies me.


Because I can’t lie. I have to be honest.




This is guaranteed to send every situation spiralling into an awkward silence; the news is digested, mulled over…they try to work out whether I’m being hyperbolic, whether it’s a metaphor…they laugh, say ‘no, but really’…and then they see my unsmiling face, my diverted eyes and my sudden fascination with my nervously twisting fingers…and they have to accept what they don’t want to accept.


Forget the ‘F’ word. Forget the ‘S’ word. Forget all of that. People would rather discuss mad orgies, nymphomaniac glee and the most mindfucking of fetishes than consider the fact that a nineteen-nearly-twenty-year-old could possibly still be on close terms with the ‘V’ word.


Do I have to spell it out?


I’m not going to.


Why not? I shouldn’t be ashamed of that; of using that word, of using it to describe what is, to be fair, accurate. But it’s a word that, in my experience, is steeped in shame.


As much as people make an obvious effort to reassure me that it’s okay - 'lot’s of people wait, there’s no problem with it, it’s not weird at all' - I can see it in their eyes. It’s the fucking pity that I can’t stand. That and the offers to ‘help me’. These looks and words crawl all over my skin: it makes me feel like I’m ill in some though I’ve caught something my inexperience is some kind of disability that they need to help me overcome.


That, or they assume than I’m a prude with romanticised notions about relationships.


Either way, it’s not something I like to tell people. Luckily…or unluckily…people make assumptions. They see me, my age, my general self, and they assume that I’ve been there, done that and got the T-Shirt. I respond with a nod and a smile – I’m not lying, and if they’re going to make those assumptions then surely there is no harm in keeping my mouth shut?


But that’s part of the problem. The assumptions make me feel, inside, like I’m abnormal in someway. Like I’m failing. Like I’ve missed some sort of rite of passage.


I genuinely find it easier to tell people about my bisexuality than to tell them about this. Because this makes me out as a fraud in some way – it negates my bisexuality, shoves it to the side and renders it infallible. It negates me as a sexual being. It makes me feel as though I have failed people, that I have defrauded people, and that I don’t truly belong with the people I am surrounded by.


The simple fact of the matter is that I’m shy. You hear me? I’m fucking shy. I’m so shy sometimes I want to curl up in my own skin and die. My opinion of myself is as low as you can possibly imagine – probably as low as you possibly imagine if someone has then taken a spade and dug down another mile from that. If people flirt with me in anything other than a jokey way, I deflate inwards, I shield myself, I put up the defences.


To be honest, it doesn’t happen very often - the flirting, I mean. I’ve as good as convinced myself that I am an unattractive human being who is never going to find anyone who wants me. People who I’m close to tell me differently…but surely they’re too biased to judge that? They can tell me I’m attractive, or pretty, or nice, or fun, or interesting till the cows come home – I still ain’t got any fucking offers. So how in the living fuck do you explain that?


I was going to be mature or reasoned about this; I wanted to write a post that meant something, that was analytical, perhaps, that explored some kind of cultural attitude from ‘the other side’. It seems, however, as if this was always destined to be some kind of linguistic, technological counselling session.


So I’ll tell you that I lie in bed and cry. I’ll tell you that sometimes I’m so torn up with self-hatred that it physically hurts to get up in the morning. I’ll tell you that behind 85% of my smiles is a silent scream of are you that thick that you can’t see through this? I’ll tell you that I’m lonely, that I want to loved, I'll also tell you that I've as good as convinced myself that this isn’t going to happen.


The ‘V’ word. Virginity.

It's something people laugh at. Giggles and titters and laughter. It’s hilarious. The prude, the geek, the nerd, the sci-fi fan, the forty year old virgin, the old cat woman, the spinster.  Ha. Poor things.


It’s not just about the sex…it’s the experience, the closeness, the affection, the tactility, the fucking love. It’s about feeling like you don’t have that in your life. It’s about feeling like nobody wants you. It’s about feeling like freak. It’s about feeling like a fraud. It’s about people’s unwanted pity. It’s about feeling like you are not and never ever will be good enough.


Yeah. It’s fucking hilarious.


Poetry: Neutered

I haven't written a poem in eighteen months - but, yesterday, something happened which hurt me, and suddenly my muse has been awoken. And the poetry is flowing out of me. It's like lancing an infected wound - I need to do it, to release the poison onto the page rather than  keeping it within me. Please let me know what you think.


 Words are spears; sharp points
In a comfort blanket.

Blood is drawn.
It trickles

Serrated edges kiss the flesh,
That caress I wish I had had,
Distorted: better than nothing.

My eyes are dry.
New tear ducts, gouged out
By syllables:

I love you

Elation; heart swells.

As a friend.

Implosion; too far swollen.

A knife at the throat of my femininity.
Castration in kind, or
Kind castration?

That word:
The caressing hand, which, with
One wrong move,
Becomes an unwitting claw.

A fist – sharp.



Thrust again.

I am weeping.
Within, my tears are red.

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Fic: When The Walls Come Tumbling Down

Title: When The Walls Come Tumbling Down
Author: MercuryPheonix (Your Angel of Music)
Rating/Warnings: M - sexual situations.
Spoilers: Right up to Black Friday.
Summary: Before new foundations can be built, old walls have to be demolished. Following their explosive argument and reconciliation, Christian and Syed still have a lot of issues to resolve - what will happen when the walls come tumbling down?

Fic Here: As comforted as Syed felt within the embrace, he couldn't shake the feeling that, somehow, the caterpillar was protecting the cocoon from the inside.



Desert Island Chryed | Picspam

A few weeks ago, I was set a challenge. violentfemme, a member of Chryedville (also known as WFCTGIO - or 'Waiting For Chryed To Get It On') asked forum members to come up with their top eight Chryed scenes. The scenario, we were informed, was that these had to be the scenes that we would take with us should we find ourselves stranded on a desert island; basically, if we had nothing but these eight scenes, for the rest of our lives, which ones would we choose? So here it is. The scenes that would keep me (mildly) sane in my poor, stranded cirumstances.

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