Or conversations about anything, really. First, it’s important to remember that everything that happens on the internet also happens IRL. You are an IRL person sitting at an IRL computer typing IRL thoughts based on your IRL readings, experiences, conversations, thoughts, etc. So that’s established as indisputable fact before we move on: there is not part of the internet that is not also part of, impacted by, connected to, etc. by “real life”.
But it’s more than just typing up your thoughts and experiences, and on tumblr it’s pretty obvious that being a part of an online community can help someone pay rent and not get evicted that month, or shame people for bigoted behavior and maybe get them to change, or mobilize people to go to a protest or action much more quickly than has been possible in the past.
Which is why I write about bisexuality so much. Living in a conservative, dangerous environment is very isolating. At work once I mentioned I was going on a date with a woman: my boss pressed her lips together and got weird, and just from a casual mention of my weekend plans I could have lost my job without legal recourse (as Oklahoma does not have protections for this sort of thing). Someone who has lived in my apartment complex for 15 years and has the ear of the landlady asked me what I did for a living: I had to lie and use a lot of euphemisms to obscure the fact that I teach sex ed and consent workshops on campus, in addition to waiting tables. He asked me if it was based on a “Christian curriculum”. When I said it was not, he said, “oh”. I was worried about possible eviction since I am not protected by law from that either. I don’t bring women alone to my apartment, I meet people away from my living space if we go on dates. I can’t risk getting kicked out or fired; everyone is watching me, they remind me of that every day.
I am open and highly visible in my community. People recognize me everywhere I go, message me on FB when they have questions they can’t ask in public or because they just don’t know how to talk about abortion or queer stuff out loud. I do so at some risk.
So I am on the internet a lot to connect with other people and learn and challenge my own bullshit and have supportive queer people in my life. I have my close friends, but many of them have moved away to more accepting climates so they could have breathing room, safety, a fucking chance to date someone for the first time or be out and open without constantly holding your breath. I’m on the internet talking about this stuff so much because I am constantly looking for a place that is safer for me, too.
And it seems like I’m constantly calling people out for being shitty to bisexual people and there’s a reason for that. I am looking for a new home where I can find support and an active community and I don’t want to go where I’m not wanted. Where bisexual is considered “toned down” (literally saw a popular feminist blogger write this two days ago), or not queer enough, or any of the other bullshit that shows up on this website but I know is lingering in the minds of many people I might reach out to when I move to my new home.
Even the queer kids here get infected with this nonsense. A person a couple years younger than me tried to pull some bullshit division-making about pansexuality and bisexuality and it was like she was a robot, just repeating some crap she read on the internet almost verbatim from the crap I read here. And when I challenged her on it she couldn’t argue that I was wrong. She was hungry for more in the way of queer community and education and acceptance, and she latched onto some destructive pieces of that and then introduced biphobia into my IRL queer space. To think this was isolated would be foolish.
And I’m so fucking tired of defending myself to bigots and fighting for my right to just exist in a hostile space, I don’t want to do it in a supposedly “queer-friendly” space either. I want to challenge those things so that when I do move, maybe someone has pushed back against this ridiculous division-making and erasure that happens at the expense of bisexuals here and in other online spaces.
It’s personal and self-motivated. I do it because it’s the right thing to do. I do it because I have to defend myself and other people like me because who else will? I do it because I would really like to feel safer and more comfortable and welcome if I do move away from my home.
Fuck. I don’t do this to hear myself talk. I do it because changing minds here, pushing back here, dealing with bullshit here is also a real life pursuit that I desperately need to make my real life livable.
Very well said. I live in a very small town myself, so I feel like I can relate to a lot of this.