I finished reading Bi: Notes for a bisexual revolution this week. The book by Shiri Eisner discusses the ways in which bisexuality is co-opted by patriarchy in order to maintain the status quo. It’s a fantastic read and I recommend it to anyone who wants an academic look at how biphobia and exclusion of most queer people allows power structures to maintain gender and race hierarchies within society.
Eiser’s book is excellent, but it can be very dense and requires a lot of focus to really get all of the points she makes. I read it with a pen and my margins are full of illegible scribbles. Since I want these ideas to be accessible, I’m going to do a couple of posts just to touch on things that stood out to me.
Eisner coined the term, the GGGG movement (The Gay Gay Gay Gay) movement to exemplify the singularity of issues within the mainstream LGBTQ movement (marriage). The image we get from media is a white, middle-to-upper-class gay man as the voice of all queer equality. He is probably married (or engaged where marriage not legal) to another white middle-to-upper-class gay man and they have adopted a child, they have a lot of money. The image of the LGBTQ movement is Neil Patrick Harris. Ultimately, it’s about assimilation. It’s why my girlfriend’s grandmother ultimately “accepted” that she is gay, because “gay couples make more money.”
Instead of working to deconstruct the systems that value some people over others, the GGGG movement, Eisner argues, only gives the system more fuel by assimilating into the narrow-minded lifestyle.
Marriage for the queer movement is racist and classist in many ways, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an important issue. By being barred from marriage and other similar institutions, queer people are barred from entering into institutions that society deems necessary for adulthood. By banning gay marriage, we are infantilizing queer people.
The GGGG movement is much easier for the mainstream media to digest, and thus it remains the image for the LGBTQ movement. Eisner explains, “The promiscuous and traitorous image of bisexuals is likely to cause difficulties for the campaign (for same-sex marriage).” Since bisexuals are seen as immature or unable to make up our minds, we are viewed as untrustworthy and therefore not a good image to assimilate into heteronormative marriage culture.