Monday, April 26, 2010


I don't know if you've noticed, but I've resisted using the term GLBT or LGBT on this blog even though I'm well aware that most other gay-friendly blogs, books, magazines, etc. use it freely. It would be so nice if I could make my peace with these four letters. I wouldn't have to say "gay and lesbian" or "the gay community" all the time, or worry whether using the term "gay" sounds like it's excluding lesbians. GLBT just rolls off the tongue lickety-split. Simple.

My problem is the whole honesty thing that I tend to get obsessed with. Am I really addressing the needs of bisexual and/or transgender people on this blog? Not really. Not because I don't want to, but because I haven't had enough personal experience with bisexual and transgender individuals to make the claim that I can write intelligently about their situations. I don't feel right about using the term GLBT when I'm always going to be leaving the "B's" and "T's" out, or only addressing their situations tangentially. I imagine that bisexual people face different issues than gay and lesbian folks, and being transgender is certainly a very different experience than being either gay, lesbian or bisexual.

Actually I've had more transgender people write to me to share their stories than bisexual. I believe transgender people when they say they have always felt like a woman trapped inside a man's body, or vice versa. I used to think that maybe it was a problem of a mismatch between soul and body, a female soul in a male body for instance. But the latest scientific findings suggest that our sense of "maleness" and "femaleness" may reside in the brain, so perhaps it has something to do with the mismatch between people's brains and physical bodies, whatever that means. Then I'm aware of the people who want to deny that there is any such thing as maleness and femaleness but assert that we all exist in some kind of socially flexible gender continuum. I get the whole idea that we need to be more flexible in defining maleness and femaleness, but in the end I don't really buy into that theory, yet I'm not sure I can explain why. Anyhow, as you can see, I sort of grope around with these thoughts. They are certainly not well developed enough to claim that I am somehow addressing the needs of the transgender community by sharing them.

Bisexuals are even more of a mystery to me. I recall only one person writing to me and claiming to be bisexual, but without any explanation. I know that truly bisexual people are out there, but my difficulty in being able to nail down this issue is two-fold. First, I'm never sure how to distinguish between the people who are truly bisexual, and the people who are claiming to be bisexual but are really just warming up to the idea that they might be gay/lesbian. Second, I suspect many bisexual people feel no need to reveal themselves because they are able to pass themselves off as heterosexuals. I mean, if many gays and lesbians are able to masquerade as straights by dating and marrying opposite-sex partners, how much more successfully would bisexuals be able to remain closeted, especially since they can have satisfying sexual relationships with opposite-sex partners?

I do want bisexual and transgender people to read this blog, especially if they feel my musings benefit them. But I just don't want to add the "B" and "T" as if I'm promising to address their situations, then I just forget about them. I think that would be disrespectful. I believe the situation of transgender people is especially unique and complex and, frankly, I just feel bad when I see how they are sort of tagged on as the fourth letter of the GLBT grouping like an afterthought.