Bree, 25, adult-lite, professional writer/reporter/editor for a group of magazines in Toronto.
5'6", she/her/hers pronouns, bi, cis, skinny, white, arms roughly one metre long each. Vegan, cat-mother, WLU Grad, dance teacher, choreographer. Lover of healthy food, animals of all kinds, skateboarding, longboarding, rock and roll, plaid shirts, pretty girls, men with beards, hockey, climbing. Climbing is my life. I cannot overstate the importance of it. Pro-feminist. Anti-radfem. What some might call a "genderist."
It’s an umbrella term that’s only racist on tumblr because it’s associated with evil social justice warriors by people who only noticed the terms use when they got onto tumblr. “People of Color” has been around for a long time, it’s modern use has been around for decades.
It’s mind-boggling because I hear how bad it is to use umbrella terms like people of color from these people, and how it’s erasure, but I don’t see them referring to individuals any time soon. Here you have people using umbrella terms that lumps non white people together that no one has a problem with including the blacks, minorities, and non-white, what you’re using right now anon while trying to say that people of color is racist.
Here’s the run down and explanations on the term:
- "People of Color"
- The Journey from ‘Colored’ To ‘Minorities’ to ‘People of Color’
- Loretta Ross on the Phrase ‘Women of Color’
- What’s wrong with the term ‘Person of Color’
- How not to use the term POC (2-Step Guide)
- You hate the term “PoC”? So what. Stop saying it then. Easy
At the end of the day, the term is a political identity meant to deal with U.S. racial politics.
It’s also necessary to have a term when discussing white privilege, whiteness as an institution, etc., to quickly and leary identify non-white people, and at least this term doesn’t centre around white people.
For bisexual and queer people that are in heterosexual relationships, yes, they do have straight passing privilege. There is no denying that their experiences walking hand in hand down the street with their partner in a “straight” relationship which conforms to heteropatriarchal norms is undeniably different than when they walk down the street hand in hand with their partner in a queer relationship. They may be the same person, but they are walking through a world bound up in heteropatriarchal power. Heteropatriarchy as a system of domination bequeaths power on heterosexual individuals and with that power comes heterosexual privilege as well. As such there is passing privilege when queer people are themselves in heterosexual relationships, as our identities get interpreted differently in those instances. This is the “straight passing privilege” that I was referencing in the tag on that post about Anna Paquin (Sookie) who is bisexual but married to a man.
Straight passing privilege exists for a lot of gay people too though. Like, everyone talks about it in regards to bi/pan people, but lots of gay men and lesbians pass as straight. They don’t fit stereotypes of queer people and everyone just assumes they’re straight.
I don’t think failing to conform to stereotypes is a privilege. There’s no such thing as “looking gay” or “looking straight” unless you buy into the stereotype that gender and sexual orientation are inextricably linked. The other thing is in our society people are assumed to be heterosexual unless proven otherwise, Straight washing is not a privilege. People assuming you are straight and erasing your identity is not a privilege. I’m not even sure I agree with owning-my-truth on this one given the extremely high rates of sexual assault, abuse and rape bi women experience compared to both straight women and lesbian women at the hands of men, mostly their male partners. Not sure how that’s a privilege. Bi women don’t gain access to straight privilege just by being in relationships with men.
That’s why the term “straight passing privilege” brings ire to a lot of people. Because our society assumes everyone is straight until further notice and then assumes you’re not straight if you’re gender presentation deviates from the norm. This also results in assumptions about trans people’s identities too.
It also ignores the fact bi women still can be incredibly masculine and, as you mention, read as queer when in public without their male partner or when not romantically interacting with their partner. When I present as butch people tend to make assumption I’m queer. They would do this even if I had a boyfriend, granted I wasn’t holding hands with him or kissing him. If I live alone and go shopping and go to work and my day to day life without my boyfriend, people would still read me as queer.
Using the term “heterosexual relationship” to describe relationships bi people are in has also been criticized in the past, as contributing to the erasure of bi people, although I can see both sides of that debate.
I honestly would like to get rid of the term straight passing to describe people at least altogether, as it is charged in a really negative way and assumes straight people act a certain way and gay another (erasing bi people a lot of the time) and also reinforcing stereotypes. I think the term “straight passing relationship” makes more sense, and talking about some privileges you can derive from being in such a relationship makes more sense (or at the very least that such a couple has more access to privileges than a same-gender one). But in those discussions it should some with caveats about the fact bi people are vulnerable to abuse from straight partners and suffer from erasure (having higher incidents of mental illness, poverty and other problems compared to straight AND gay people).
As a bisexual woman I find it completely audacious for monosexual gays to suggest we have “straight passing privilege”, as if having your sexuality automatically assumed straight when you are not is some kind of privilege, instead of just the consequence of a hetero-normative society… And frankly, this sounds like some kind of privilege point system for queers. Let’s be frank here. Bi and Pan people are treated like jokes by the gay community as well as by straight people. We are often not made to feel welcome, and quite honestly, I’m often uncomfortable with sharing my sexual orientation with gay and lesbian folk for fear of disrespect. If I am dating a man and am assumed straight, that isn’t a privilege. Because you can’t label it a privilege to be in a relationship, nor is it a privilege to be treated like suddenly you’re completely heterosexual if you’re a bi woman and begin dating a man, and it’s assumed you were just faking your queerness until you found a man to settle down with. Bi women are treated by many lesbians as unbalanced see saws that will inevitably break your heart to be with a man. Bi men are not even considered to be telling the truth when they come out as bi, but secretly gay and afraid of saying so, as if coming out as gay is harder than coming out as bisexual!
I don’t find it a privilege to be assumed hetero by mistake. I don’t find it a privilege to be treated with snark by gays and straights alike who find my sexual orientation to be a joke, non-existent, or narrowed down to simply “confusion” or “experimentation” (and being confused or experimenting is NOT a bad thing, sexuality is fluid for many people and experimentation and confusion shouldn’t be considered negative by the queer community because sometimes sexual identity takes time figuring out for people). I don’t feel privileged when a romance I was having with a woman does not work out and she blames it on my sexual orientation instead of self reflecting on what it is that she may have done wrong to dissuade me, or come to the logical conclusion that sometimes people get to know you and find you’re incompatible. That’s not a bloody crime and it isn’t the fault of my being attracted to multiple genders. I don’t find it a privilege when lesbians won’t even consider dating me anymore after finding out I’m bi instead of gay. I don’t find it a privilege that my entire family, who are all completely accepting and welcoming to gay and lesbian folk, find my sexual orientation to be ridiculous, a phase, or some kind of new and modern “fad”, despite the fact that bisexuality has existed for as long as heterosexuality and homosexuality have. I don’t find bisexual erasure in media a privilege. I don’t find it a privilege that one of the most renowned singers and music performer of all time, Freddie Mercury, is considered a “gay” icon instead of a bisexual one, when he never once stated explicitly that he was strictly homosexual and dated and fell in love with both men and women throughout his entire life.
I do not consider having my sexual orientation constantly judged, by both gay and straight people, a privilege. I abhor the concept of “straight passing privilege” because not only is it one of the absolute most ridiculous things I’ve heard from gay and lesbian people (because it’s literally a “I’m more oppressed than you are” argument), but it continues to perpetuate biphobia and disdain towards people like me. We are constantly battling this silly idea that bisexuals have one foot in and one foot out. We are treated like scum. We receives the same amount of hatred and oppression and disgust from straight people, and then we turn around and receive MORE of it from the gay community. Fuck this so called “straight passing privilege”. If you honestly think that’s a legit thing, you’re fucking ridiculous and you can kiss my ass. Gay people come out of the closet, and that’s it, you’re gay, and in many communities there’s quite a lot of acceptance of that but much of that acceptance was fought for equally by bisexual activists yet when Bisexual people come out of the closet, for the rest of our lives we have to prove we fucking exist, that we’re not greedy and confused and at every turn there is a monosexual person ready to try and invalidate your experience, and whenever your relationship doesn’t work out it’s blamed on your sexual orientation. Just shut the fuck up already and stop acting like bi people are treated better than gays because it could not be FARTHER from the truth.