Bi Guide to the Advocate
By Wendy Curry
( Copyright 2007. The
views expressed are strictly those of the writer and not necessarily those of
BiNet USA or any of its other officers.
The "b" word shows up twice, while the "q" words appears once. One might think this suggests a positive direction in inclusion - until you look at the details. The "q" reference is a photo caption - the article is as monosexual as the rest of the magazine. One of the "b" references is when an interviewee corrects the interviewer for wrongly attributing a sexuality to one of her characters (Rebecca believes the X-men character mystique is bi, not lesbian).
I could give you the full picture of everything that might appeal to bisexuals, but I don't feel like it. I don't know if I'm bored with this exercise, tired of trying to be fair & balanced, too busy, or more interested in playing outside not that the snows gone...
Here's what I think the advocate needs to do...
I may have missed something, but these days we seem more invisible in print than in real life. I plan to reread the magazine on my plane ride today. I'll let you know if I missed something. But i doubt it.
Bi guide to the Advocate, April 24, 2007 issue
I have a confession - technically my dogs shredded this issue before I was able to comment on it, so these thoughts are based on memory (for the most part). Not that it matters. From what I recall, the "b" word appears once. (Comic Jim David riffs on Haggard's ex-gay comment with 4 other examples of people "coming out". "After a weeklong visit with the reverend Haggard in rehab, Jerry Falwell said he is "completely bi."
This is not to say there's nothing in the magazine for us. The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network interview has BiNet ties. Well, not the article (we are invisible), but there's at least one BiNet member working for SLDN.
There was an interview with Savage Garden singer - once married (to his best friend, who at the time he believed he was in love with.), now out as gay. I have never understood this ( i really do! blame it on my brains propensity for thinking of the world as bi). Are these people truly gay? Or merely taking the most appropriate monosexual label? Can you truly believe you're in love with a gender only to be fooling yourself? I respect the label, but I don't understand it.
Mika has a quote - when asked about the lack of sexuality talk in his music, he states..."Have you heard the fucking album? There's a song about a married man who has a homosexual affair" Once again.. assuming married to a woman, is the affair homosexual or bisexual?
I would like to make something clear - just because the "b" word may only appear once in an issue of the Advocate, I'm not suggesting there's nothing for bisexuals in this magazine. For example, I might need a magnifying glass to find the one (yes, ONE) overt reference to bisexuals in this issue, but I did find other items of interest. For example Eddie Izzard, genderqueer (before there was the word) Brit comedian, cum actor is on the advocate.com. There's ton of aids news, some trans news, and an article on crystal meth..
The "b" word surfaces on page 16, deeply embedded in a report of the lack of promised income from the National Gay and Lesbian's Chamber of Commerce's Supplier Diversity Initiative. It seems Jay Forte, bisexual owner of American Language Technologies, has not made any money even though he's certified. Good to hear the Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce was willing to certify a bisexual business owner - even if it didn't buy him much.
There's a refreshing article on queer grrrl writer Michelle Tea. Her voice actually comes through in the interview, unlike many traditional "do you have any gay friends? why yes! in fact, some of my best friends..." printed dialogues. (note for those desperately seeking bi reflection in print, this San Fran Dyke's partner's name is "Rocco").
The last item of note (I am starting to wonder if the new editor has made a conscious decision to ghetto-ize the bis) is about adjectives. Seen too often NOT to be a editorial decision, the word gay is used as the preferred adjective for GLBT in this magazine.
You could argue, from a historical perspective, gay, at one time meant gay and lesbian. Some may say this is still true. However, many feminist Lesbians that I know take issue with using a male word to encompass all that is feminine. You find even less people who believe gay includes bisexuals. And even fewer who will agree that the word incudes transgender.
So why gay??? Unless their demographic is exactly that. Why not queer? No reason, unless their aging demographic takes issue with that word. if anyone has a new "40 something gay male acceptable" adjective for GLBT, send it to me - firstname.lastname@example.org
As I sat down to pen the latest scorecard on the Advocate, today's mail dropped on my desk. It included The first Curve magazine from my new subscription (the first in 5 years). I couldn't avoid the temptation of comparing the big Gay magazine with the big Lesbian magazine. OK, OK, I know what you're thinking.. they're GLBT magazines. While they are inclusive, the Advocate is hopelessly male. And Curve, well..
Here's the skinny on the March 27, 2007 issue of the Advocate. In the Buzz section, Neal Broverman "bravely" calls Hallmark on the carpet for not using the term "gay" in their new line of queer cards. Hello!!!! I was given a packet of these cards at last year's Out& Equal conference and was thrilled that, for once, queer cards can be used for bisexuals & transsexuals!! Clearly, Hallmark is more progressive than Broverman.
In an article called "best places to live", the majority of the descriptions are about how gay a place is - not GLBT or how GLBT friendly. I found it odd that South Boston is a gay friendly place, when the larger area hosts the most vibrant bi community in the country; they fail to mention that!
Finally, on page 40, the "b" word first surfaces in an article about Farley Granger - an actor from the 40s & 50s who unashamedly talks about relationships Ava Gardner AND Leonard Bernstein. Technically, Farley doesn't use the word, but the article's subtitle does.
Shortbus is on DVD (under DVD picks)!!! Run to netflix and check this out ASAP.
Under theater, I see Kathleen Turner is doing Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Turner may not be bi, but I adopted her after seeing her play "Tallullah." She's a classic dame; someone with whom I'd love to drink whiskey and smoke extra long cigarettes (among other things). I also note that Charles Busch is having his latest play performed. That would make an amazing double header.. OK, you guessed it. I'm in a perv mood today. I can explain, but not until I get to the Curve part of this column.
Oh Look! I'm already here! how's that for a short list of Advocate bi inclusivity?
OK, Curve April 2007 edition. Yes, it still says Lesbian magazine on the cover, but the contents put the Advocate to shame. The cover also contains a picture of Jackie Warner. I know she does a work out series on Bravo. But seriously, is having that flat a stomach healthy? Oh sure, if I really WANTED to, I could look like that.. But then I'd be too busy working out to have time with you!
It turns out I'm one issue behind on the bi drama. Fortunately, Ellen Huang of Queer Lounge was there to call them on having a "Have you dated a bisexual?" poll. But, even better, only 31% responded in a negative/biphobic fashion. Unbelievable!! Either the majority of Curve readers are bi/queer.. Or the world has changed a ton in 5 years!
Next - Sandra Bernhard, Margaret Cho are described as bisexuals! And here, I thought they both left our team. Woo hoo! Unless they send a clarification to the editor & get it published in the next issue, I'm officially adding them back on the roster.
Under a column (unfortunately) titled "Girls Gone Wild," we read about Ms Cho, Kristianna Loken, and even Tara Conner's adventures in bi land.
Then, the ultimate bi fantasy.. OK, my ultimate bi fantasy gets realized when they describe how Ms Carmen Electra was seen snogging Ms Joan Jett. Just stop for a minute and imagine that, will you? What makes me even giddier than the pairing is knowing that my ultimate rock & roller is at least open to messing with girls who mess with boys. And just like that, I've forgiven & forgotten the grouping of previously out bisexuals with the rompings of Ms Teen USA.
Unfortunately, my first return issue is fashion heavy. I'm hoping that's not a trend. I'm happy in my 3 sizes too big Pogo t-shirt and sweats. The sight of a fashion show makes me nauseated. On that note, I am looking for someone willing to dress me up for the Lammys. I think jeans & sweats are out, so I'm clueless.
TV listings for next seasons' lesbi-chics are all on channels I don't get.
Page 53. Janice Dickinson Interview. I make a quick prayer ("please don't let her be on my team") and dig in. For those who have not seen VH-1 Surreal Life series (I do understand some of you have a life.. what's that like?), Janice, former supermodel is depicted in this reality show as seriously demented. Like either there's an issue with drugs, or her cylinders aren't all firing. Seriously, if I was single.. she's the type of person to whom I'd be drawn. Hence, I'm no longer single. Quick note - not every woman I ever dated was nuts, ok? So don't write me about how I mistook our past relationship and how I was the crazy one. You're right.. It was all me.
The good news - although she describes having been with women and men, Dickinson refuses to be labeled.
I skipped the fiction section. I don't "do" lesbian fiction. Gay fiction, bi fiction, trans fiction, even str8 fiction; definitely.. I make an exception for Allison Betchell, but that's because of all the pictures. Anyway, that's a topic for another column.
This fashion issue ends with some seriously sexy picture of comedian Kristen Becker. it's kind of a soft version of S. Bear Bergman ("Butch is a Noun").
OK, so what do we get out of this Curve review - Wendy thinks Joan Jett and Kristen Becker are hot.. Girly girl models, not so much. Oh my god! I just realized something.. I totally objectified the women while never doing that in my Advocate reviews. I must be a victim of the male dominated sexualization of women culture.. That or it's been too long since I've been with one ;)
Regarding Kristianna Loken - Letters to the editor complain about her smoking picture and a reference to an ash tray. No one mentions her sexuality. She is quoted in a later section, "[The L Word has] the most difficult cast I've ever worked with.. The amount of egos and insecurities and cattiness... [The show] attracts certain people that want to do something different in their career, but the girls are tough."
The Lady Zeppelins, an all chick Led Zeppelin cover band is spotlighted, with the teaser description - "not-all-straight".
Fall Out Boy bass player Pete Wentz is also quoted: "I have [kissed boys]. Anybody above the waist is fair game."
In typical Advocate style, a story on "Partners 24/7" (same gender couples who live and work together) refers to "gay and lesbian couples who are partners in business and in life". I guess they aren't including bisexual, same gender couples who do the same. Too bad. THAT would have made the story interesting. Its not clear whether this is because bisexuals can't live this life, or if, once partnered, we lose our bisexual identity.
Christopher Lisotta interviews Brian McNaught about his diversity training program and remembers to use the phrase GLBT - whew!
It's no surprise that the cover story (Gays in the NBA) completely ignores the "B" word.
Under CD picks, we have "a date with John Waters". No, he's not bi. But he is an outsider in the gay world, just like us. He loves the freaks. And this cd is a great Valentine's present. Where else can you hear Mink Stole sing about wanting a gun so she can control you?
and that's all she wrote.
There may be less bi references in this issue, but the ones that are there are less negative.
There's an amazingly inclusive full page ad (page 10). It's got a topless male, hidden behind a cut out heart. He's only wearing a bracelet and a ring. In the foreground, there are a few dozen "loves" in various languages. The tag line - "Love has no boundaries". http://loveandpride.com/adv . Unfortunately, when you go to their web site, they claim themselves to be "the premier gay shopping destination". So much for no boundaries.
The Advocate Report starts with a notice about lovely pansexual Alan Cumming's civil union (who reportedly skated to Queen's "you're my best friend" at the event).
Rants and Raves begins with a quote from and I quote "Bloc Party lead singer KELE OKEREKE on his bisexuality in UK newspaper, The Observer, January 7"
There's a better reference to Marlene Dietrich. In the "first person" section, Samuel Bernstein discusses his work on the book "Mr. Confidential." He refers to Dietrich as pansexual
Oh if you're poor, you can advertise for a rich benefactor on Craig's list...
The current GenQ poll - Are young GLBT people afraid to admit they like sex?
The Advocate calendar includes a reference to my favorite Causeless rebel; "Feb 8 James Dean - Los Angeles's Griffith Observatory recently reopened after a long remodeling, with the bust of the bisexual legend being visible to visitors once again. The shrine should be busy February 8 - he was born on that day 76 years ago."
There's a big gays in the military article with no bi references as always. I have to admit; I'm confused on the subject - ARE bisexuals kept out of the military is they state they're bisexual? Are we ok, so long as we have sex with "the right" gender"? All the coverage of the issue implies that it effects homosexuals only.
The Advocate rates the presidential candidates on their gay friendliness. Somehow, Guiliani gets a "more favorable than not" rating. At least John Edwards' wife thinks same gender marriage is a good thing.
An Ellen DeGeneres article finally appears in the Advocate without a reference to that "poser" Ann Heche. It seems like every time they cover Ellen, they feel the need to point out that her ex pretended to be gay for publicity (or could it be that she's bi?)
There's a good article about queer director Pedro Almodovar (side note - if you can stand foreign films and have yet to see an Almodovar movie, get on netflix today and order some!). They even use the 'b" word.
CD picks starts with the new Bloc Party cd.
That's it cats & kittens. The few, the mostly proud, the bi content.
Sometimes I read the Advocate as a media junkie, but other times I can't help but read it as a bisexual... Here's this week's bi report on the latest Advocate
Jennifer Hudson flak - Not really a bi issue, but I loved her in "Dreamgirls." And the fact that a ton o' queers are writing letters against her solely because she mentioned she was a Christian... without bothering to read the article or note that she has a close relationship with her queer sister is a reminder to all of us to get the facts before sending out a letter to any editor
Lambda Legal's new "life without fair courts" cartoon series (running on advocate.com) is the creation of a bisexual cartoonist, Mikhaela Reid
In an article labels "Sundance review", the author repeatedly comments on the amount of "gay and lesbian" content in this years' submissions.. The directors mentioned seem more enlightened that the author (Kyle Buchanan). Second author mentioned, for example is the wonderful Gregg Araki, who deals with queer issues in his films (http://www.glbtq.com/arts/araki_g.html). Of his films I've seen, they should not be labeled merely "gay" as they are much more multi-layered. Ian Iqbal Rashid (who created the campy "Touch of Pink") is quoted as saying "I do believe that a film can have a queer sensibility without necessarily being explicitly about LGBT characters or story lines,? he says. ?But I also believe there?s still a need for stories where queerness is named and explicitly articulated?and yes, I still believe there?s a need for coming-out stories.? Note the queers and the LGBT.. This is the only time LGBT (or any other configuration of these letters) appears in the article.
Under transitions, they report on the passing of Ruth Bernard, 101, a noted photographer of female nudes, of natural causes, in San Francisco, December 18. Bernard had romantic relationships with both men and women and was mentored by photographic legend Edward Weston.
Gen Q discusses VT's Middlebury College's possible plans to have a gay affirmative action (which was later refuted).. How is it even possible, in this day of bi, pansexual, fluid, queer non-labeled to implement affirmative action for gays, and not the larger population of queer kids???? And what about those who come out in or experiment in college?? Would they then get a sudden tuition break? And, god forbid, a "gay" student finds an attraction to a woman - would he then LOSE his special standing? arg!!! I find it hard to believe that an institution of higher learning is this ignorant of current sexuality discussions - ESPECIALLY in the first state that offered domestic partnerships. It's insane!
A mention of my favorite movie is on the advocate calendar. They note the beautiful Christian Bale's birthday and his start is "gay-themed" (gay themed????? are they freaking kidding?????) "Velvet Goldmine"
On a report on Spain's marriage success, they repeatedly speak of gay marriage and gay couples.. ho hum, this is actually getting kinda boring, biphobically speaking.. seriously "same gender couple" is a whole 2 syllables more and is more accurate. How hard would that be?
Health section, the "depression connection" - subtitle talks about being more prone to depression if you are gay, yet, by the 3rd paragraph, it's clear the studies refer to gay and BI men. In fact, the article repeatedly refers to gay and bi men, so why the gay subtitle? Don't they WANT to bi men to read the article?
Bisexual, HIV positive writer Michael McColly is interviewed in a side bar (health section) on his new book, "The after death room: Journey into spiritual activism"
The subtitle for the Krisiana Loken interview: "Bisexual bombshell Kristanna Loken gives us the goods on Michelle Rodriguez, Pink, and her new TV role". Yet - the 2nd paragraph talks about her being half of hottest ce-lesbian couple in the land :p
Note: said article includes VERY hot pictures. The article's weird, though.. because she is labeled in the subtitle as bisexual, she doesn't label herself that way. Instead, she refuses to note the gender of the person she's currently dating and explains:
which, I would think, you have to respect. Yet, some how, the subtitle writers failed to do. I'm not saying, I wouldn't welcome her onto our team in a heartbeat (and might secretly add her to my list of famous bisexuals), but you gotta respect people's freedom to self identify - or not.
I read the reference to "Children of Men" that day after I saw the movie.. Not exactly sure of the queer content (other than the director once did "Y tu mama tambien"), but I do have to agree... this might be the best film of the year. If you do see it, however, be prepared to be exhausted and overwhelmed by the end
Side bar interview with Elizabeth Reaser on her film "Puccini for Beginners"... Intro says she plays "a sexual flip flopper." The interview asks if the director (Maria maggenti.. of "Incredibly True adventures of 2 girls in love" fame.. who they say describes herself as a "hasbian") gave her pointers on playing bisexual. Reaser responds that they assumed she was bi and she thinks they could be right - "I probably could be bisexual."
I finally sat down to read the latest BiTribune (http://www.bitribune.com/) and was reminded why such a publication is vital to our culture. Perhaps it's because I spent yesterday morning critiquing a mainstream GLBT periodical, but I felt compelled to write a media critique, part 2....
1) obits... There is no news filter that will ensure you find out about the passing of important bisexuals. This week's advocate refers to Ruth Bernard without ever using the "b" word. Although I do my best to track any historical bi lives, I somehow missed a big one! Thanks to the Bi Tribune, I was alerted that Scott Lofgren died over a year ago. How did this never come up???? Was I asleep when it was mentioned on some email list? Did the mainstream GLBT media think it not noteworthy that someone who once was responsible for the only big bi magazine ("Anything That Moves", a periodical that took the negative bi stereotypes and turned them on their head) has passed? And that he died trying to save someone else's life?!?!?!
Thanks to google, I did find that Liz Highleyman wrote an obit for him (http://www.ebar.com/obituaries/index.php?id=86).. It quoted Lani, talked about ATM and Black Sheets (another incredible, bi positive magazine.. this one featuring the best in bi erotica and sex stuff). I still don't know how I could have missed this. I guess because we're often focused on countering the biphobic stuff out there and forget to out for each other *sigh*. Thanks Bi Tribune, for making sure I knew about this.
So many wonderful people have advanced the cause of bi visibility and enriched our culture, only to fade back into their regular lives. We often lose track of each other. Without the bi press, we may never know about people who have touched out lives and who have left this world.
2) Advice columns - many of us cheer when Dear Abby says something nice about the "bi" word. We write letters when Dr Ruth says something dumb. But where do we go when we have an honest to goodness relationship question? Sure you can ask in a support group, but what if you only have one question? Do you need to join a group just to ask an expert one question? The Bi Tribune features the "ask a bisexual" column; this expert is an honest to goodness bisexual, author ("Bi America"), organizer of perhaps the most successful repeated regional conference (BECAUSE), long time bi organizer, and all around neat guy Bill Burleson. Here's someone who has actually spoke to - and LISTENED to hundreds of us over the years. He answers questions in a way we can only hope the more renowned advice columnists will some day do
3) Un-news coverage, aka full news coverage. You might ask yourself... why pay for a national bi magazine when I can get my news faster by watching emails from the BRC/BiNet USA/Bialogue? Answer - because a devoted, paid media outlet gets the whole story. A volunteer based media dissemination catches what it spots.
One example, I sent out a note when Nelly Furtado claimed her bisexuality. I missed (as apparently everyone else did) that she later recanted this (as did Megan Mullally). Bi Tribune followed the story and kept us informed.
You may wonder why we should care that people recant their bisexuality... The mainstream GLBT press may report their blips as silly str8 celebs looking to shock, or even typical confused bisexuals. If that's the only reporting, then that's the reality!! How about the truth that many people who come out as bi are forced, rather quickly, to recant.. to pick a side, so as not to ruffle those monosexuals' feathers? Could it be that grrls who kiss other grrls are fun, but once they use the "b" word, their acting offers start to dry up? Or they can't get the press to focus on their career, because they all focus on is the titillation factor or critiques on the reasons behind their coming out?
I could go on and on about this topic, but the point is, we aren't alerted to the full picture unless a dedicated bi press follows the stories and makes sure we're informed.
4) Other bi media - Thanks to the Bi Tribune, I now know about a little known (in this country) British show, Torchwood. It is reported to have 5(!) bisexual characters defying typical gay/str8 roles. Can you imagine??? According to the Trib, Julia Gardner, executive producer of Dr Who,hopes it'll cross over to the US sometimes this year. If it does, I'm sure we'll reads about it in the Tribune.
5) New music - Robin Renee's third cd will be out shortly. She's a "myspace friend", a fellow bi activist (former BiNet USA regional coordinator and Transcending Boundaries co-creator), promoter, someone with whom I exchange emails with on occasion, but I some how missed her new cd is forth coming. Robin has a unique voice. You should absolutely check her out (http://robinrenee.com/musicstore.html). Only the bi press covers these wonderful artists (for now; I have every confidence the larger world will catch on soon). You can be ahead of the musical curve!
6) Marriage news - Isn't it neat to see coverage of the ongoing marriage debate without ever once seeing the term "gay marriage"? 'Nuff said
7) Book Reviews - Natasha gives the goods on "Phyllida and the Brotherhood of the Philander"... a book many of us have heard about, but not in detail.
8) Non-gender assuming relationship articles. Shawn Stewart's article on Valentine's day, goes into detail into how you can determine the reasons behind your kinky holiday gifts in a gender neutral fashion. I don't know about you, but as soon as an article makes assumption re: the gender of my partner, I turn into Xena... ignoring the content as I grumble about the exclusiveness of the article. Here is a fully inclusive bit of relationship advice.
9) bi classified ads!!! This may only appeal to a true media nerd, but I always read the classified ads.. To me, they represent the heart of any periodical.. You can tell who the magazine/newspaper's target audience is based on who is willing to pay for a tiny ad. The Advocate's tend to focus on gay vacation venues, gay wedding rings.. USA Today is full of "get rich quick" schemes and swampland for sale in Florida. The Bi Tribune's classifieds are just for me!! Bi Pride Scarves (which I have & use), bi pride jewelry, bi books, queer cd's, bi therapists (yep! Vanessa Brown is here), queer bar listings and Bi groups
10) Faces of Bi community - listservs are awesome, but you can often get to know a name/nom-de-plume, yet walk by that person on the street without knowing it! The Tribune shows you the face of Bi Organizing, Activism, Celebrity. I hate how I photograph (as do many of us), so you won't see my face many places, but you will in the Tribune. You'll also see Bill Burleson, Robin Renee, Fritz Klein, the 9icb folks, and so on and so on. The people behind the opinions appear more real once you can see their faces.
Support your bi press (national, local, whatever you can)! Without you, we could go back to a time when we are forced to rely on the gay and straight press. That would be a sad day
Other bi media I subscribe to:
* Bi Women (you don't have to be from Boston or even be woman to enjoy this) http://www.biresource.org/bbwn/newsletter.html
* North Bi Northwest http://www.geocities.com/sbwn/north_bi_northwest.html
* The Fence - http://www.thefence.ca/