I have never chosen a partner to make a political point. However, I live in a country where my body and my sexuality are constantly under attack by the government. So, even though my attraction and connection with someone is not driven by my politics, who I love is inherently political.
I have been thinking a lot about the intersection of my love life with my political life lately. With the threat to women, LGBTQ folks, POC and others by the incoming administration, I feel a duty to fight for the rights that are threatened and for the rights we still don’t have.
The last time I faced this big of a fight, I was queer AF. I was out, loud and proud on campus and organizing int the gay community. While the bi-phobia of the gay community was (and still often is) overwhelming, I was at least part of a community that was a visible opposition of the harmful policies of the time.
I looked like a dyke. Additionally, dating women (and later with my ex-wife) I was a visible reminder to the world that not everyone is a heterosexual who wants kids, a suburban home, and dinner at Olive Garden on Friday night.
Today, my partner is a man. I have gained weight, especially in my hips and chest, making me pretty typically female. I could pass as a cis-gendered heterosexual woman if I chose too. This bothers me.
Additionally, my partner is Black. We fit the stereotype of a super handsome Black man with a thick White woman. I know that when people see us together there are a ton of stereotypes and assumptions (most which are not true) that are heaped upon us.
It isn’t appropriate or practical to let everyone who sees me with my partner or even who stops to talk to he or I that what they probably assume is wrong. No, I am not “getting even” with my parents by dating a Black man. No, he is not dating a White woman in order to forsake Black women or because he sees White women as more desirable than Black women. No, I wasn’t going to a Black guy because I am a size queen. No, I did not “turn straight” for him. No, he doesn’t think he is “leveling up” by dating me rather than a woman of color. And so on, and so on, ad infinitum.
I see it as my duty, especially in light of the incoming administration, to be queer AF for the next four years and beyond. I feel a need to speak out for the rights of women and queers and POC. My politics have not changed simply because I changed the gender of the person I love.
I face two common quandaries: one of many bisexual folks and one of interracial couples. As a bisexual I strongly identify with my queer brothers and sisters. However, when I am with a male partner, people don’t see me as queer. I disappear with the heterosexual hoards. Many queer folks often question my “dedication to the cause.” I have been asked to “prove” my queerness- as if sleeping with a bunch of women is like gather “queerness” points in a video game. Regardless of how much I work on queer visibility and rights, I am always cast as a potential traitor because I could pass as hetero if I chose too.
As a White woman dating a Black man, there is always the assumption I am somehow using him to get back at my parents for something. I am routinely asked invasive and inappropriate questions about my partner because people are fascinated by our sexual relationship. Our relationship is automatically politicized and fetishized. There is never an assumption that I am with this amazingly special man because he is incredible and I love him with everything in me.
We are all facing an enormous and dangerous battle ahead. Healthcare and women’s access to birth control are already under attack. Reports from the Attorney General’s office are beginning to emerge showing various police forces across the country routinely shot minorities who showed no threatening behavior. There are still discussions about Muslim registries and deporting immigrants and moves for more mass incarceration.
Having to “prove” I am queer enough to stand with you or that I actually love my man and am not using him to make a statement makes coalitions less strong. The internal racism and bi-phobia and sexism in our communities has to be addressed so that we can stand together and fight to make our country a safe place so that anyone can love who they want without threat of harm. I am not alone in experiencing bi-phobia, racism or fetishization in my communities. None of these is okay. We need to get our houses in order so we can take down the huge threat to all of us.