Adam Dupuis's picture

Queer Only Events. Do Bisexuals Need To Only Bring Their Same-Sex Partner?

When we are planning LGBT events, are we thinking of all the letters? 

A recent post on Slate.com by

  Dana Sitar is a bisexual woman that is still exploring and growing into her bisexual identity and recently ran into this issue with her and her straight cis male partner.

I long for acceptance in a community of queer people, because I am queer people. But I carry around one giant roadblock to being embraced in LGBTQ spaces: My partner is a cisgender heterosexual white man.

While many LGBTQ people pay lip service to bisexual validity regardless of who we sleep with, date, or commit our lives to, I’ve found actual acceptance lacking in practice—if only by accident. Consider my recent experience with the Madison, Wisconsin-based DJ collective Queer Pressure, which sometimes hosts queer-exclusive events. I asked if my boyfriend would be able to come to one of their queer-only events and was told he could not if he didn’t identify as queer.

She elaborated that the when she reached out to the group, the feedback from the community was that “the queer-only events are super special to people” where they “can get a break from needing to be vigilant about the people around" them and allows people to “curate [their] own beautiful queer utopia, even if it’s just for a night.”

Sitar also explains:

... invites to the group meetings explicitly state when an event is for queer-identifying people only, and “people self-select and respect that.” They also reiterated if a queer person has a non-queer partner, “that partner may not attend, as it is a queer-only event.” As for our place in the LGBTQ community, Akawa told me, “Bi+ people are under the queer umbrella and they are welcome and embraced at Queer Pressure.”

Imagine if you needed to check to see who you were dating to see if they matched a certain definition before you both could attend an event.  If I were bisexual, I would have to possibly lessen my queerness if I was dating a woman, but if I was dating a man, I would not have to worry about where we could go together and what LGBT events I could attend.

Wouldn't allowing a bisexual's opposite sex partner into such groups give them an insight into the Queer community? Or is it more important to check for LGBT ID cards at the door?

Of course not all Queer/LGBT groups are exclusive or shun no LGBTQ+ individuals.  Sitar mentioned Meetup, a group in Tampa, Florida, that gave her "an almost opposite reply to the same question I asked Queer Pressure. The organizer of Gay Friends of St. Pete and Tampa said simply, 'EVERYONE is welcome and [inclusion is] the reason the group was created.'”

What do you think?

Do both types of groups have a reason to exist?

Do queer-exclusive events need to be organized?

Should queer-exclusive events not allow bisexual opposite sex partners to attend?

If you need to create an exclusive space, I encourage you to be flexible about it, and be cautious of bi erasure and exclusion. (It’s subtle, so if you’re not bi, listen to us!) Understand that to be bisexual can mean to share life with a straight person. Put yourself in my shoes, and consider how you’d feel if your partner were excluded from any part of your life for any reason. Then treat my partner and me the way you’d want your relationship to be treated.

For more on  Slate.com.

Comments

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 I am also part of Queer Pressure, and we are always open to feedback, so I've been appreciating the chance to read queer folks' commentary in this topic. BUT, I think Dana's article itself is irresponsibly written. Queer Pressure mostly throws events that are open to everyone, which the author failed to mention. Our policy is "during a queer-only event, queer people are welcome to bring a non-queer person if they need them for emotional or physical support." Both of those facts were made very clear in the interview. 

Secondly, I don't think Queer Pressure should be contextually removed from the community we thrive in: Madison has multiple gay bars, organizations, and event promoters who all offer queer events open to the general public. However, my partner and I started Queer Pressure in 2014 as an alternative event aimed at meeting the needs of our queer friends, especially those who experience multiple layers of oppression and didn't feel good in the existing Madison queer spaces of the time. In 2014, many establishments in Madison had dress codes and no-hiphop music policies that isolated people of color and perpetuated the horrific anti-blackness that Madison is so famous for (see: Race to Equity report). One of the most popular gay bars refused to designate a gender neutral bathroom even after complaints from multiple trans individuals who had been harassed by the bar's staff and patrons. More often than not, going out to a bar in Madison (even if it was gay) meant being ogled at or groped by hordes of straight men. Gay bars often hosted bachelorette parties of straight women who fetishized, mocked, and acted like tourists gawking at gay culture. And nightlife marketing tended to perpetuate the fat-shaming and body-negative imagery we stood strongly against. And so, we set about to create an alternative. 

Both of us had experienced the benefits of occasionally having separate spaces for people with shared marginalized identities-- whether that was music industry events for women, or, in my partner's case, social spaces intended only for People of Color. Neither I, nor my partner ever felt excluded by my non-attendance at a party intended for POC. I am white, and almost every other social space in the city is open to me all the time. By dating a POC, I do not become a POC nor gain lived experience as a POC. (Though, we recognize that a person who may have previously identified as straight or cis, may re-orient as queer in their experience of dating a queer person. In which case, they self-identify as queer and are therefore welcome at all of our events!) With all those experiences in mind, we decided to make a small percentage of our events open only to those who self-identify as part of the queer community. These rare events are sacred to us, and we hope to continue to provide them for years to come.

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Hey, Queer Pressure here - something the author neglected to mention is that MOST of our events are open to all.

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