Bisexual Invisibility

I came out many years ago, when the HIV crises was peaking, and when a person still had to cull hard-copies of encyclopedias and the DSMV to see what the word Bisexual even meant – and it meant different things in different resources. I knew I was simply attracted to people. It didn’t matter what their gender(s) were. It didn’t matter what society said – or maybe it mattered more that I didn’t like what society said my being a woman MEANT. So, when I started to work on poems for my MFA in the late 90s, I had run the gamut as a community activist… letter writer, support group facilitator, marcher and button wearer, columnist in Out in the Mountains (our then local Queer newspaper) and the national Anything That Moves magazine (Now sadly defunct, and I hear worth about $20 a pop on the Bi circuit). . .

Here is one of the poems I wrote during my tenure in graduate school in an effort to articulate my identity, both as a woman, and as a bisexual (read: someone who was interested in people – whatever their gender identity)…

I Dared not…

Mother, I dared not ask you

Why I could not seem

to love only men,

to swish my square hips

just so, to leave behind

my favorite boots for a pair

of your immaculate pumps.

You would not listen

if I told you I don’t

believe the skirt

makes the woman.

I’m not attracted to

that great harry lump

of muscle across

the room that winks

and calls me sweetie

when he orders a drink.

I’m intrigued, instead,

by the small-boned man

by the piano with

the delicate fingers

who plays the cello and

smiles sublimely.

I’m all aflutter when

the waitress at table five

with a shaved head and

combat boots winks her

pierced eye at me and

says she’s dying to taste

my dull, unpainted

lips after hours.

I know you don’t believe in

my search for the perfect hybrid

that you don’t want to release me

from the grip of your ideals.

I find myself covered by each bit

of praise you ever gave. Each nod

or no has stuck to me like starfish

splayed over my cheekbones until

your portrait was complete

and only my frightened

eyes peered through,

reflecting your identical face,

until now.

Now, I have gone out to pick

the parts of my gender from the air

Like great bubbles. They float

just out of reach as

I climb out of


in a twisting dance, and

Each piece might burst

as the soap dries or

solidify as the glass cools into

Victorian witch-balls so that –

if I place them in the window –

I know they can deflect the worst of the storm

while still calling down

the lightning I long to feel on my skin.