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Thursday was an oasis in a week that otherwise led me to share this picture when I saw it on Facebook:

I had my usual but abbreviated visit to Yorkshire because I had to get back to take my friend's place at an event she couldn't go to with her partner and...I can't remember if he didn't want to go alone, or if they just knew I'd appreciate free wine and nibbles, or what, but anyway I got asked to go.

All I knew from a conversation I'd only half paid attention to (I was trying to cut a cake at the time...) was that it was an LGBT thing and it was at Steve's work. He's on the LGBT steering group there and indeed someone else from the group recognized me as having been to other events of theirs -- I did a presentation with someone else about biphobia and I went to a Bi Visibility Day event a couple years ago. I had no idea who he was but he said "you had multicolored hair then" so it probably was me! (Though Em J pointed out when we told her this story that she's also been to things and also has had multicolored hair, so I might've been confused for Steve's partner again.

Apart from the posh sandwiches and bottles of beer (mine was called Cwrw so now I know the Welsh word for beer!), it turns out we were there for a screening of some short films from the Iris Prize, an LGBT short film festival.

The first one, "Mirrors" was described as "about two straight men connecting in a gay club." It was probably my least favorite of the night, partly because I've seen enough young skinny white northern lads on nights out already, partly because both Steve and I thought that to describe it as "two straight men" was rather bi-erasing.

Then there was "In the Hollow", about a woman who was shot and her girlfriend killed on a hiking vacation in the late 80s. Dramatization of their young selves is interspersed with the woman who survived going back to that place in the woods for the first time since. Seeing their normal coupley selves -- arguing, making plans, holding hands -- interrupted in such a ghastly way was really powerful, and to see the woman who survived become an activist for hate crime legislation kept the movie from being unbearably painful.

Then "Vessels", a graphic and grim account of what happens when trans people can't access health care they need and resort to the black market. The film's very well done, which means it's scary and sad and I had to close my eyes for some of it.

Then "Aban + Khorsid", which in a more linear form tells a similar story to "In the Hollow," except the terrible ending is mutual and apparently state-sponsored. Filmed from their own points of view, as if on their phones, the young couple are so endearingly normal and coupley that the longer this goes on the more you can feel the inevitable ending. I could hear lots of sniffles in the audience by the end.

It was time for well-deserved break for a quick pee or nabbing more wine or whatever -- and someone even rolled in a trolley with ice creams on it, leading me to joke it was like a proper theatre interval...though I ate a Flake out of a cone instead of the posh ice creams with little wooden spatulas to eat it with. And the last two films were much more fun and light, a good way to end the evening.

My absolute favorite of the whole evening was "Private Life". Sadly I can only find a terrible-quality YouTube copy of this one, but it's great -- the cutest, funniest cross-dressing night out in Manchester in the 1950s with a (very welcome by this point in the evening) sweet ending.

And last of all, "Skallamann" ("Baldguy"), the best Norwegian musical celebrating the virtues of snogging the follicly-challenged that you will ever see. The song is catchy as all hell too, unfortunately: be prepared for "skallamann" to be the only word you'll remember in Norwegian for the rest of your life.

Apart from its joy and silliness, one of the things I loved about "Skallamann" is that it's the only movie I saw all night that wasn't about being gay or trans. The kid who comes home and confesses to his parents he's made out with a bald guy is a boy, but (apart from maybe redirecting the stereotypical shock and disapproval of finding out your son fancies men to the ridiculosity of finding out your son fancies a bald man) it's not the gay story of Coming Out, or The Consequences of Homophobia or the voyeuristic transition story. It's just a story with someone not-straight in it.

I really wish there would be more stories like this: just, non-straight and/or non-cis people getting a puppy or inheriting the kingdom or fighting the baddies or whatthefuckever kind of stories people who get to think of themselves as the default get to tell.
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Due entirely to her saying "Minnesotan immigrants are extra awesome" and me clicking Like on the comment, I have made a new Facebook friend! From Minnesota, as the comment might suggest, but apparently she lives in Manchester too?!

So we're chatting as you do -- where we're from in Minnesota, she's got kids, I'm married, comparing accents -- and then she said "How did you meet your wife?"

It was the first time I've been asked that. First time I've had to correct the assumed gender of my spouse -- it's not the kind of misconception I have to correct when I'm married to someone so beardy! First time I felt a bit sheepish having to say "My husband, actually" before I went on to answer her question. Sort of good practice for me, in being mindful of what this feels like.

I'm really curious what made her assume I had a wife, though!

BVD LDV

Sep. 21st, 2016 06:32 pm
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I've been asked if I want to write something for Lib Dem Voice for Bi Visibility Day.

Which is cool, because for one I always count it a win when someone not bi knows about Bi Visibility Day. But also, because I love it when people want me to write things!

Now I just need to think of what Liberals should know about bisexuality...
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Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] barakta's suggestion, I did indeed write a version of the "bi people in biphobic relationships" blog entry for Biscuit.

You can read it here if you like!
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Okay, this was something I alluded to before but didn't get around to writing about because I didn't want to waste my energy or (poor enough as it is, lately) focus on this.

But what the hell, I'm feeling more chipper tonight. And his tweets (1, 2) got RTed into my timeline this evening and...I find myself just as annoyed as I was at first that he doesn't even get what he's done wrong, and is playing the martyr about persecution he hasn't really gotten.

Way too many words here. )
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By which I mean "boring to people who aren't me," not "disagreed with"!

Lately:
  • the "Habitable Zone"
  • whether Curiosity (Mars rover) singing "happy birthday" to itself is sad
  • everything that's wrong with this, since it's a tab I still have open and it irks me more every time I remember it
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I spent most of the day on the Biphoria stall, and found myself musing about how drastically the experience has improved: when I first started doing this, in maybe 2009 or something, you'd sit down just knowing that something unpleasant would happen. Maybe just a muttered comment and glares, maybe something the person didn't even know was biphobic (like the person who said "I run an LGBT group for older people but we never have any bisexuals" who then went on to spout enough biphobic stereotypes that we weren't surprised no one ever told her they were bi and/or didn't come back) to some of the outrageous examples of biphobia we still cite years later (although sadly one of those that I thought was historical, conflating bisexuality and bestiality, apparently happened three different times in various ways on Saturday!).

Some people did walk quickly past us once they'd read enough of the words on the banners around us to understand what we were representing. Some glared at us when we asked "would you like a sticker?" as if we were accusing them of something awful or trying to give them cooties. But for the most part, people were friendly and interested and if they didn't want a "bi & proud" sticker were likely to take one that said "I ♥ bis." I was cheered by the numbers of couples where one person would take a bi sticker and the other would take the bi-friendly sticker, or sometimes one would stick the other on their partner, either in a kind of "oh, this is you" or "you better ♥ bis, me at least!" kind of cute way that couples can sometimes be.

But then a man wandered over towards the stall and we said "would you like a sticker?" like we did to everyone who gave us a chance to. A woman with him pushed him along in a way she probably intended to seem playful. "Oh, no, you're not getting him," she said, or something to that effect. "He's been mine for twenty years!"

My fellow stall-volunteer and I exchanged a raised eyebrow and a few comments as they disappeared. Perhaps this is what led to her returning -- or maybe they'd been having their own conversation -- and telling us, "he says he's unsure now, so you might get him back!" I just sort of narrowed my eyes at her I think, and the woman I was sitting next to didn't say anything either. The woman laughed uproariously to indicate that she'd said something funny, but we still didn't react so she finally went away.

The two of us sort of marveled at this; I said I was married to a straight person but I'd never expect to be talked about that way and my friend said yeah, it's only when you see people acting like this that you sometimes remember this actually happens. I was angry at the woman at first -- did she think we were trying to recruit people? does she think bisexuality wears off after a while? (my friend said she's been married for 22 years and her bisexuality hasn't worn off yet, which made me laugh) -- but then I was just sad for that guy.

And I was sad for a woman I'd heard about from Saturday, when I wasn't at Pride. [livejournal.com profile] haggis, who was at the stall then, told me that she'd started to go for the "bi & proud" sticker but that her wife volunteered "she was bisexual until she married me" and she pulled away from the sticker and other resources for bis we had out on the table. (Funny how all these "oh they're not bi because they're with me!" things have been said to the married bisexuals among us!)

I know and talk a lot about how prevalent biphobia is in general, but seeing it so active in people's long-term relationships just made me sad for them.
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Now I want a t-shirt that says

SOME WHITE CIS BOYS ARE GAY.
WE'RE OVER IT.
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I worked hard on it, because it's a tough subject and my brain hasn't been working lately (I have so many things to tell you about! but no words!). And it's important so I wanted to get it right. I'm pleased with how it ended up and glad I was able to do it.

Here it is. It's about Ray Fuller, a bisexual Jamaican denied asylum in the U.S. partly because the judge thought his relationships with women meant he couldn't be bisexual.
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So a guy I've never heard of but apparently other people have because he is -- or, was -- on Celebrity Big Brother said some biphobic things: bisexuality is "the worst type" of sexuality, AIDS is "a bisexual disease", bisexuals ruin relationships"...

You know. All the usual things.

The unusual thing, though, is that this time people seem to be taking notice.


The CEO of Stonewall wrote about this in the Guardian. (I can almost forgive all the propaganda for themselves just because a few short years ago I never would've expected to say Stonewall's publicly condeming biphobia!) Stonewall, along with other not-often-friend-to-bisexuals Peter Tatchell, have banned him from hosting events until he apologizes to bisexuals. Twitter was unimpressed (including a lot of my friends, which is how non-TV-having-me found out about this). Biggins was even removed from Celebrity Big Brother, though since he also made a "joke" about the Holocaust it's unclear whether the biphobia alone would've been a banning offense.

Biggins's apology -- if you can call it that -- as quoted in that Gay Star News article is the epitome of the "I'm not sorry I did it, I'm just sorry people are yelling at me" kind of apology public figures have to produce when they've gotten caught saying what they actually think:
‘I am mortified by what’s happened, really mortified,’ he said. ‘I have a lot of bisexual friends and I’m not in any way a bigoted person.’

But he continued: ‘But I think they do fuck up a lot of relationships.’
After a moment to laugh at how, as is so often the case with the fauxpology (I hope it takes a better apology than this to get Stonewall and Peter Tatchell and other LGBT groups to end their ban on Biggins!), the person's real opinions can't help but escape at the end there, I considered the "I'm mortified...lot of bisexual friends...not a bigoted person" bit.

While a lot of people know that the "I'm not racist, I have black friends!" construction (substituting other bigotries for "racist" and other kinds of "friends" as necessary) is a bad thing to say, maybe we don't talk enough about why. Because people, like Biggins here, still seem to think that friendship is a guarantee that you are not, cannot, never will be, able to commit a form of bigotry against any group your friend is part of. The unspoken follow-up seems to be "if I were biphobic, all these bisexuals wouldn't be friends with me!"

Really? I would argue that friendship doesn't work that way. That's not what friendship means. Even if using hypothetical friends to deflect criticism wasn't a reductive, dehumanizing way to talk about your friends (and, I'm afraid, it is!), it still fundamentally misunderstands what being friends entails. Do you have any friends you agree with entirely, condone wholeheartedly? Friends who never make mistakes, never make you roll your eyes, never make you need to change the subject? I am certain that I am never capable of being such a flawless friend. And I don't expect my friends to be any such thing, either.

But perhaps this is what Biggins imagines: that bisexuals are only ever friends with people totally free of biphobia. Does he think it's possible for us to take a "zero-tolerance" approach? I fear so; why else would he mention his bisexual friends in reference to his biphobia?

Biphobia is so widespread that I don't feel I have the luxury of shunning anyone who ever commits it. Getting people to even acknowledge that biphobia is a thing is such a struggle. It's so pervasive that if I decided not to associate with anyone who ever did anything biphobic...it'd have left me even more lonely than I sometimes have been! I've heard biphobic shit from mates. What if one of them, one day, was challenged on it and said "Oh I can't be biphobic, I'm friends with a bisexual," thinking of me? I could imagine it happening. My friendship shouldn't be taken as a certificate absolving anyone of biphobia.

His comments about bis and bisexuality confuse bisexual identity, which is what he disparages and blames for everything in these comments, with bisexuals' behavior, which of course is as varied as that of any other group.

And in the same way, he wants us to care about his identity as Not In Any Way Bigoted more than we care about his behavior in these nasty things he said.

I don't care what he is (or says he is), I care what he does.
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I've done some amateur research on bisexuality and mental health. I feel like I've said a million times that bisexuals experience worse mental health than lesbian, gay or straight people.

This morning I feel like I'm contributing to that statistic.

Lots of people are saying the victims of Orlando's queer nightclub shooting died because of who they love.


My parents know who I love. (Well, they don't know everybody I love, but that's less to do with being bi than being poly.) But they don't know how tough a few days this has been for me and mine.

I don't know what they learned about the shooting from TV news; I don't know what they think about it. If the news is really as keen as people are complaining about it being to erase the LGBT+ identities of the people shot, if they're really making it all about Isalmophobia, that'll probably work on my mom, at least.

But I know that when they bug me to talk on Skype and I make excuses, or when they call and I'm not here because I'm holding hands with strangers (which I really liked! holding hands is something so practical you make little kids do it when you're going to cross a road, and something so affectionate that it's felt like crossing some kind of threshold in nascent romances when I was younger) and then that I'm in the pub with my friends and even if we're talking about politics and work and partners like usual, we're all particularly in need of hugs and company this evening. The unspoken agreement on this makes it feel different, even if we're not outwardly behaving any differently.

And I pick up my phone this morning to check just how unnaturally early I've woken up (5:37) and my phone also tells me I've got an e-mail from my parents, subject line "You." (My mom will probably never know what a great talent she has for ominous e-mail subject lines.) And it's not like the little bubble of understanding and pain and grief and love I've coccooned myself in over the past few days. It's small declarative sentences that, as always with this rural-Minnesota Guess/Offer culture, don't seem harsh or difficult in themselves...but in which as a native of that culture I read guilt and accusation.

And it's all too much and I crumble.

I started crying, not really about the e-mail but about loss and pain and despair and loneliness and whitewashing and gaywashing and ciswashing and all the secondary traumas. I cried because I couldn't tell my parents this, I cried because I can't tell them I'm bi and most of my friends are queer. I cried not because they don't know who I love but they don't know who I am.

This is what being bi is. It's not threesomes or cheating or fancying everyone or being greedy or indecisive. (Of course, some bisexuals will do and be those things, but so will plenty of straight or gay people!) It's not even about who I love.

It's a friend of mine and her different-gender partner getting biphobia at a vigil last night for being perceived as a straight couple intruding on a queer event. It's being told I "pass" for straight or have "straight privilege" for being married to someone of a different gender, as if being forced back into the closet is a privilege instead of a harm to my mental health. I can talk to my parents about who I love (they always ask about him anyway, if they haven't talked to him first), but I can't talk to them about the rest of what being bisexual is like.

There are no employment protections in the state of Florida for LGBT people, nothing stopping the survivors of the weekend's attack from being fired on Monday. This isn't just about how they love, it's about jobs and housing and everything that it's okay to deny people.

I always tell people who say I can't be bi and married that they can be gay (for some reason it is usually gay men who tell me this, though it'd work as well with "straight" here of course) and single. We are who we are all the time, not just when we're crushing on someone, or shagging them, or dating them.

There's a lot of rhetoric about people being unfairly targeted because of "what genitals they like" or "who they love," but it's about much more than genitals and even more than love. And this is actually enshrined in a UK legal judgment! In a 2010 asylum case, the expectation that gay men could return to Iran or Cameroon and be safe from persecution as long as they "lived discreetly" was acknowledged to be a form of persecution itself. One of the judges in the case, Lord Rodgers, said
In short, what is protected is the applicant's right to live freely and openly as a gay man. That involves a wide spectrum of conduct, going well beyond conduct designed to attract sexual partners and maintain relationships with them. To illustrate the point with trivial stereotypical examples from British society: just as male heterosexuals are free to enjoy themselves playing rugby, drinking beer and talking about girls with their mates, so male homosexuals are to be free to enjoy themselves going to Kylie concerts, drinking exotically coloured cocktails and talking about boys with their straight female mates.
I'm in no way insinuating that my parents not knowing I'm bi leads to anything like the same kind of discretion as living in a country where my life would be in danger for it, yet it helps me to know that people recognize "living discreetly" amounts to a kind of persecution itself.

It's an insidious one, too, because it has to be constantly self-monitored. You end up with a little model of biphobia (or homophobia) running in your head all the time. Such hypervigilence is well-known to be a detriment to mental health. And when it becomes a habit to anticipate potential threats in order to be able to control one's reaction to them, it's both mentally and emotionally exhausting. Your brain gets so good at this, sometimes it can think of ways to hate, criticize, or police yourself that your enemies would never dream up.

I think this is part of the reason why bisexuals overall experience more mental health difficulties than gay, lesbian or straight people.
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This Pink News story irritates me.

I mean, not the story -- congrats to the newlyweds and good luck to the religious officials defying institutional homophobia -- but the way it's told.

Just because it's in North Carolina they mention HB2, the bill that removed all LGBT anti-discrimination ordinances and bans trans people from using public bathrooms. This nice white cis gay couple are thus seemingly the face of the fight against a bill that mostly terrorizes trans people.

And it's a story about equal marriage, the very thing that trans activists warned cis gay activists for years would distract from other fights for protections and rights and that we couldn't stop fighting once we got it.

Having lost the marriage battle, conservatives have moved swiftly on to increasing the misery and danger to trans people, and no amount of same-sex weddings is going to do anything to change that.
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"Urrrrgh," I moaned resignedly.

James asked me what's up.

[twitter.com profile] bisexualindex tweeted about something called the British LGBT Awards that currently open for nominations. As usual with these things, I thought I'd try to shock them by mentioning some bisexuals.

"But to nominate anyone you have to click on the category you're nominating for and after looking at the first few I think I've lost the will to live," I told James. "It starts Corporate Rising Star, Corporate Straight Ally...and it's not even like it's alphabetical or anything, because next is LGBT Network Group and then Diversity Champion..." I shuddered. So much wrong here.

"Are there any categories for just someone who's bisexual or gay or something?" James asked.

"Well, there are the vague ones, like Inspirational Role Model and Global Icon, which could mean just about anything," I said. James agreed they're so vague some celebrity will probably still win. Even though, as well as LGBT Celebrity, celebrities also have their own Rising Star and Straight Ally* categories. Because of course they do.

"And there's LGBT Event or Venue," I said. And...Destination? So probably more places will win awards than bisexual people."

"Yeah: 'We didn't give awards to any bisexuals, but we did give one to Brighton!' " James said. " 'And the Costa del Sol because maybe we'll get a free trip there!' "

"Media Moment" gets an award, whatever the fuck that means. Fucking "Brand/Marketing Campaign" gets an award. The logo-splattered name-dropping website says "WE REACH MORE PEOPLE THAN ANY OTHER LGBT EVENT IN THE UK," which just makes me wish I could do better. (If I were going to have an LGBT awards event, I'd start out with four awards for each of the letters, so that at least one goddam lesbian, gay man, bisexual and trans person was recognized. Then probably the same for organizations -- so Stonewall could win the gay man's award and then have to sit and watch while other things were talked about, heh. And then a bunch of awards for marginalized groups that intersect with queerness: people of color, disabled people, older people, people who have been and have done something for poverty, homelessness, abuse, etc as they relate to LGBT people...)

There was one category that actually seemed to have anything to do with what I wanted to nominate: Charity or Community Initiative (for which I nominated Bi's of Colour because so little is acknowledged/researched/understood about this intersection, and [twitter.com profile] applewriter is doing amazing work with little money or other resources...

Seriously, please consider throwing a few pennies to their gofundme; there's no money at all in anything to do with bisexuality in the UK so everything's done by volunteers and, being bisexual, we face higher rates of mental illness, homelessness, abuse, and so on, so we've got a lot of shit going on that keeps a lot of us from holding down high-paying jobs!.

You know, the kinds of jobs that would make us anyone's Corporate Rising Star.


* I really hope straight trans people win the Straight Ally awards. Because they don't say you have to be straight and cis! The use of "straight" for "the opposite of LGBT" seems to me the sign of someone who's done a mental find-and-replace of "gay" for "LGBT," but who hasn't thought through the implications of what that change should actually involve. Not only is it showing a disgusting lack of understanding of gender identity being different from sexual identity that has frustrated trans folk forever...but also "straight" is hardly the opposite of bisexual, either! Bisexuality always complicates this us-and-them straight-and-gay shit (which I think is part of the reason some LG people are so biphobic).

Having awards for "allies" is not a great idea anyway, because it's such a problematic and easily-misunderstood concept if it is to mean anything at all -- I tend to assume it means "person who donated enough money that they can feel good about their privilege", in this kind of glitzy-award context? -- but if you must have such things can't you just call them "non-LGBT allies"? Or not even "allies," then, just "non-LGBT people who..." who've done whatever it is you get a Straight Ally award for, I don't even know.
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Turn on Woman's Hour today to hear me (& others!) talk about bisexuality!
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I roll the dice and say "It's gotta work if I stick with it, right? I know that isn't how probability works...but it USUALLY is! And THAT'S how probability works!"

And then later on: "At least I got the straights! They're always the most difficult for me..."
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Quite apart from anything else about it, one sentence from this article about a guy who says he has two penises answering questions on Reddit stands out to me:
One of the more impossible questions Reddit users asked the DDD [Double Dick Dude] to answer was whether having two dicks made him bisexual...
People really have no idea what bisexuality means, do they? That's the only conclusion I can derive from this.

VisiBIlity

Dec. 10th, 2014 09:48 pm
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I've volunteered to write something on bisexuality and disability, for a big project in which I would be one tiny cog (just how I like it!).

It's taken a lot longer than I'd hoped, but my problem isn't writer's block or that I don't know what I want to say, or anything -- as soon as I saw the possibility, I knew the basic shape of what I wanted to say, and even had the kind of punny title in mind that bisexuals seem to find endearing/mandatory.

No, my problem has been that I've realized that pretty much everything I think or write is, it turns out, about bisexuality or (my) disability. These things inform all my thinking. It's hard to pare my brain down to anything like an acceptable word limit!

But it's fun to try. I am getting there.
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Andrew put away most of the laundry last night but left on the bed a few things of mine he didn't know where to put.

I folded my tops and put them away. Or so I thought! But when he tucked me in bed (I was in pain and feeling sorry for myself and wanted a story read to me) he said "what's this?"

I'd not noticed a t-shirt that had blended in with the duvet. He picked it up. "Oh, it's your Kinsey 8 t-shirt."

(Some years ago for Pride a bunch of people had t-shirts made that illustrated the diversity of bisexual (and bi-ally) attractions. They were made to look like football players' tops, with "Kinsey" across the shoulderblades and the big number underneath. I thought it was such a great idea, and looks great when there are a bunch of people wearing them in a group.)

"Three!" I said. "That's a 3!" (Even three is a bit much for me. I'd ordered a 2 but the t-shirts got mixed up and I'm happy enough with the 3, even if it doesn't really reflect my life (so far at least!)) "It only goes up to six!"

"You're probably still an eight," Andrew said, in that way he does when he likes to be right even when he doesn't know what he's talking about.

"The higher the number is, the gayer you are!" I explained, but my husband seemed totally undeterred, bless him.
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"Okay, what does the W stand for?" Andrew said in a long-suffering voice.

"W?" I said.

" 'LGBTWI,' " he explained.

"W!" I said. "I have no idea. I've never heard that before."

"Maybe it's a typo for Q," Andrew said.

"Could be. It's next to the Q on the keyboard. And that is where the Q usually goes in the acronym."

Still, I think it's funny that his first thought isn't "typo" but "what fresh label is this?"

And it's always possible the W does stand for something. Got any good ideas?
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"Sorry, I talked over you," [personal profile] po8crg said to the guy sitting across from me. "You'll have to repeat your order."

"I thought he was looking at me," the other guy said, whether in explanation or sulkiness I couldn't tell.

We were the end of a table of about a dozen people who'd all just ordered starters. I would be the last one to order.

So in the meantime I said conversationally, "It's easy to get confused when all the waiter says is 'Yes, sir!' " This group is loosely based on a thing called MANLUG, the Manchester Linux Users' Group, and its demographics are pretty much what you'd imagine from that: a lot of black t-shirts, beards that were here before hipster beards and will be here long after...and they're pretty much all men. It's not uncommon for me to be the only not-man there (though it's also not uncommon for there to be another one -- there was on this night -- but more than two would be unusual).

No sooner had I gotten that sentence out than the waiter turned to me for my order and said, "Yes, sir!"

I was so amused by the perfect timing of how elegantly he proved the point I'd just made that it took me a second to splutter out "Garlic mushrooms!" And that gave him enough time, probably combined with how discombobulated I looked, to realize his apparent mistake and say "madam."

When the waiter had left, [personal profile] po8crg looked at me with raised eyebrows. "Happens all the time," I said. "It's the short hair. That's all it seems to take."

I have a lot of faintly-amusing stories about being misgendered, and people's reactions when they find out that's what they've done (they don't always find out, and I never correct them myself unless our interaction involves me giving my name or something else that happens to give the game away), though they get less amusing as I dwell more on the fact that the happiness and well-being of so many people relies on being correctly gendered when I, a cis person who's not in any way trying to be anything else, encounter so many people who get it wrong. I hate to think how much my friends' (and so many others'!) well-being depends on strangers' such generally-poor observation powers.

I used to feel vaguely proud of my supposed accomplishment -- when it first started happening to me, my then-girlfriend called it genderfucking and I took that as a compliment (though, looking back, pretty much everything to do with gender in that relationship was tainted with fucked-uppedness so now I don't think of it so fondly) -- but now I don't want any of the credit. It's really not me, it's them: People are just that unobservant, and likely to say things without thinking, and operating by shortcuts most of the time because otherwise the streams of information constantly flooding into our consciousness would be overwhelming to the point of uselessness.

I'm at least as bad at those things as anybody else, so most of the time I no longer enjoy laughing at or making a big deal of this particular kind of evidence for others being fallible in exactly the ways I am.

What really made me laugh this time was that this same waiter, when handing out pints of Kingfisher or taking our orders for main courses or even wishing us good night, kept calling me "sir"...and then adding a strained "madam!", always as if he'd nearly run out of breath to say it. i was amused, but also curious. Why did it keep happening? Was it just because I was part of such a big group of mostly-blokes, with hair shorter than many of theirs? Was he just in a hurry on a busy Friday evening and not putting any thought into it at all? Were my boobs especially discreet that evening? (I bloody wish they could be!) I've never known one person to be so persistent in misgendering me -- and I'm lucky that no one ever does this to me maliciously -- and it intrigued me.

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Holly

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