I’m out. I’m bi. I am fortunate enough to be in a position where I can be more or less out in all of my life. My family, my close friends all know. I work for a company where that doesn’t matter, and so things are good.
But growing up, I knew I liked boys and girls. (Okay, by middle school I knew) Sex ed classes mentioned it was okay to like boys or to like girls. But not both. I knew that bisexuality was a thing, but to be honest, the only time I’d heard about bisexuals it was about bisexual men at Studio 54. And that was all about hedonism and excess.
Which, I just wanted a one person to date. So that wasn’t me.
In community theater, I knew a lot of people who slept with a lot of other people of both genders- but it was either described as a lesbian phase, a self-described slut, or there was no descriptor.
None of which helped me. In fact, I drank a lot in high school in order not to think about how outside of everything I felt. The guilt I felt for covering up noticing someone’s curves by joking that I wished I had bigger breasts, too.
College was where I found my label, and where I realized that biphobia was a real thing. I met a girl. And she liked me. But when she found out I was bi, she told me it wouldn’t work. She didn’t want to be my experiment. And I literally didn’t tell anyone about that until I was already living with TheBoy. Because it hurt and it was mortifying. (Biphobia is any stereotype that suggests that bisexuals aren’t entitled to their own label – like the idea that we’re experimenting, damaged, or sex addicts… not people who happen to be attracted to more than one gender of people)
This week has been Bisexual Visibility Week (and today’s Bisexual Visibility Day), and odds are you’ve seen some silly tweets about myths about bisexuals. It’s the community’s way of dealing with the idiotic things we’ve heard about ourselves.
And most of yesterday, the book side of Twitter and Tumblr watched as VOYA Magazine pulled a Hamilton & the Reynolds Pamphlet.
Here’s the cliff notes version – VOYA Magazine (Voices of Youth Advocates) is a publication for YA librarians. Because of the thousands of books that come out, they review books so that librarians can read the reviews and decide what books to add to their YA sections. They posted a review of Run by Kody Keplinger that was a little odd. The book features a bisexual main character, and ultimately the book warned for a bisexual character and mature themes, saying it was appropriate for mature young adult readers.
But it warned for the bisexual character and didn’t even warn for the heterosexual sex mentioned in the actual review. (Which the author of the book actually pointed out via Twitter)
So SFF author Tristina Wright (who is bisexual) emailed them with her discomfort, talking about the importance of inclusive reviews for LGBTQIA youth. And got a really terrible response from one of VOYA’s editors.
(This is where I noticed it popping up in my Twitter feed)
When people asked for some form of apology for posting a biphobic review, and tried really hard to at least get VOYA to understand WHY librarians and authors alike were upset by this review… VOYA posted an apology on their site. And tweeted a link to it that it was the apology demanded by the LGBTQ community.
And it was one of those apologies that parents hate for their children to give (and frankly, that everyone hates to get from anyome) – where they’re sorry you’re upset. With no actual admission of guilt.
All while someone at VOYA sniped at people trying to explain what was going on, policing tone.
There was another clarification from one of the owners of VOYA that was much better – though it referred to bisexuality as a lifestyle, and people who pointed that out got flack for it.
Then VOYA just started deleting things. Comments, blocking people who posted criticism, and then… deleting everything relating to this entire thing.
If you want to see screencaps, Sarah from Bisexualbooks.com has been documenting it. It’ll show it all in reverse, but there are a lot of screencaps, and it’s worth the read.
Unbiased reviews are important, especially for a publication like VOYA. It’s disappointing to see such an immature reaction to a serious issue, especially given the timing of all of this.
If someone says you’re being any kind of phobic, whether it’s Islamophobic, homophobic, biphobic… you owe it to yourself to listen. It’s hard to hear that you’re saying something hurtful, but take a moment and listen to what they have to say – because odds are, you just weren’t aware that something was hurtful or why.
Don’t double down and act like VOYA’s staff.