The Embodiment of Queerness: Interpretations, Interactions, and Experiences of Gender Amongst Bisexuals

Monday, 16 July 2018: 16:30
Oral Presentation
Rosie NELSON, University of Bristol, United Kingdom
The Embodiment of Queerness: Interpretations, Interactions, and Experiences of Gender Amongst Bisexuals

Bisexuality is an under-researched sexual identity. Often considered as part of the broader LGBTQ+ spectrum, bisexuality has not received much individual attention within sexualities scholarship. This is despite evidence that bisexuals experience unique forms of discrimination, such as biphobia, bi-invisibility, and monosexism. The lack of specific attention to bisexuality has meant that bisexual experiences are often not represented in sexualities scholarship, or that bisexual specific issues are under-reported.

Where bisexuality is studied, bisexuality is simultaneously applauded as transcendent of binary thinking, and criticized for reinforcing gender binaries. Sexualities theorists such as Marjorie Garber have claimed bisexuality as the most progressive sexual social identity due to its openness to potential differently gendered partners. Other sexualities theorists such as Steven Angelides have suggested that bisexuality is a sexual identity complicit in the maintenance and construction of sexual social identities.

These conflicting theoretical backgrounds do not give a clear answer as to how bisexuals interpret, interact with, and experience gender - Do bisexuals embody their queerness in a unique way as they navigate heterosexual and homosexual spaces? Does the gender of bisexuals’ sexual partners shape and develop their romantic relationships in different ways? These questions intend to explore the way in which heteronormative and gendernormative power structures shape the way in which bisexuals navigate sexualities and genders, for themselves and others.

This presentation will share interim results from a qualitative PhD project seeking to understand connections between bisexual relationships and gender performance. Following qualitative research techniques involving bisexual participants, the results will explore the way in which bisexuals embody their queerness, as well as how their interactions are shaped by different genders in a sexual-romantic context. Whether bisexuality is transcendent, complicit, or as is most likely, both, will be explored.