Biphobia and Bi Erasure

What do these two terms mean?

Male_and_female_sign.svgBiphobia is to bisexuals as homophobia is to homosexuals. Except people who identify as bisexual can also face homophobia. And homosexuals can be biphobic. Bisexual people face scrutiny from all ends of the spectrum of sexuality. Why? In many cases it’s because people believe that bisexuality doesn’t exist. Too often are bisexuals told that they’re being indecisive or that they’re going through a phase. This is considered bi erasure, a manifestation of biphobia. Homosexuals are just as likely to be guilty of bi erasure, and are sometimes more likely to be biphobic to reaffirm their own monosexual relationships. Bisexuals are often seen as promiscuous, tarnishing the gay and lesbian attempt to achieve heteronormative unions.

Even if this were the case, participation in polyamory should not be a reason to ex-communicate a group of people who have undergone similar oppression on the basis of their sexual orientation. More importantly, the myth that bisexual people are unable to love or commit in the same ways a homosexual or heterosexual can needs to be eliminated. Some bisexual people commit to long term monogamous relationships, some bisexual people enjoy short term sexual relations — the same happens for all sexual orientations and should not be a factor in determining the validity of one’s sexual identity. Bisexual people exist. It’s time to get over it.

March is Bisexual Health Awareness Month, and this year’s theme is Mental Health. Don’t forget to let the bisexual people in your life know that you care — that you acknowledge and validate their identity. The fact of the matter is bisexual people are more likely to suffer from depression, substance abuse, and thoughts of suicide than both homosexuals and heterosexuals. We need to let bisexual people know that they are a part of the greater LGBT community.

Bisexual PoliticsStop by the LGBT Library to check out some of our resources.

Free counseling is also available. Contact to schedule an appointment.

For more information on bisexual health, check out:

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HRC: Buyer’s Guide

hrcThe Human Rights Campaign has published a 2015 “Buyer’s Guide” for 781 companies, products, and services regarding their support of LGBT workplace inclusion. The booklet covers retailers, restaurants, insurance and healthcare, and much more. In 2012, after chief operating officer of Chick-fil-A, Dan T. Cathy, publicly revealed the company’s support and funding for WinShape Foundation, which has donated millions of dollars to anti-gay causes, the public became more concerned with who was covertly being affected by our consumer culture. The HRC has conveniently compiled this resource which ranks businesses on a scale from 0 to 100, assessing workplace equality for LGBT Americans. The HRC ranks businesses either red (0-45), yellow (46-79), or green (80-100). It’s no surprise that Chick-fil-A has been ranked a big red zero.

Some other companies may surprise you. While companies like Wal-Mart (90) and Kroger (85) pass with green ratings, companies such as Burberry (15), Urban Outfitters (15), and Dolce & Gabanna (0) are rated shockingly low.

See if you can guess the scores of some of the following! (Answers at the end of the post)
Domino’s Pizza
Reader’s Digest
Martha Stewart Living
Bed Bath & Beyond

The HRC determines these scores by researching whether the businesses have LGBT-supportive policies. According to their 2015 Buyer’s Guide, the policies include “anti-discrimination protections, domestic partner benefits, diversity training and transgender-inclusive benefits.” Though quantifying the ethical practices of a business is tricky, the HRC has provided a fairly decent launching point for consumers to further investigate their favorite sellers.

Access the HRC Buyer’s Guide here or come take a look at our copy in the GLBT Library!


Domino’s Pizza: 35
Target: 100
H&M: 70
Versace: 0
GNC: 15
Chipotle: 75
Google: 100
Reader’s Digest: 15
Martha Stewart Living: 0
McDonalds: 80
Bed Bath & Beyond: 30 90

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Exposed: A Film by Beth B

Rose Wood

Rose Wood

I was lucky enough to see Exposed: A Film by Beth B at the IU Cinema last week (2/5/15). Beth B herself was there, providing an introduction and Q&A session. Prior to the start of the screening, Beth B graciously provided a disclaimer: “This will shock some of you.” To which she added a strong belief that (hopefully) some of us would walk away excited and informed about this underground culture. It achieved all of the above.

Exposed follows 8 different burlesque performers through their personal lives and public performances, peppered with intimate interviews. The images were graphic, to say the least. In Serial Killer, performer Rose Wood, drenched in stage blood and wielding a chainsaw, staples his genitals. One performer drops an egg straight from her vagina, another two perform fellatio on stage, and one smothers her crotch in lipstick. As shocking as those sound, some were also quite humorous. Julie Atlas Muz, in The Hand, does a great rendition of being attacked by a re-animated, bodiless hand (qua The Addams Family‘s Thing). Dirty Martini performs an ode to the US justice system, with star-pasted breasts and a red, white, & blue striptease.

Bambi the Mermaid

Bambi the Mermaid

The interviews, however, highlight the radical impact this counter-culture is having on normative ideals of sex, gender, and representation. It is clear that these burlesque performers, savagely tearing off their clothes and bearing their bare bodies on stage, are making a statement. What are we so afraid of confronting? How do our bodies dictate our value? Why is the naked body, in all its shapes and sizes, so taboo? Beth B humanizes these figures and understands why it is they do what they do. Some satirize censorship, some reclaim their self-worth, and some just love to perform. Mat Fraser, frequently known as “The Seal Boy,” raises a critical point about burlesque’s place in a postmodern society: we’ve come full-circle, through a culture that degraded “freaks,” to a time of greater self-awareness. To add, Rose Wood, with an elegant strut, poignantly illustrates how a man is capable of all the same affectations of a woman — that what is holding us back from accepting this is our own deep-rooted conventions.

For more information on the film, visit:

Needless to say, we are in works of acquiring a copy for the GLBT Library!

To stay updated on exciting activities, sign up for the QNews listserv. Contact for more information.

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Bloomington PRIDE Film Festival 2015

PRIDE film
The Bloomington PRIDE Film Festival is an annual weekend of non-stop LGBTQ film screenings and events. It is an integral part of fostering diversity and community. It gives the LGBTQ community in Bloomington a chance to celebrate our culture, a chance to see ourselves represented in diverse roles in film and a chance to showcase the issues specific to our identities. This year’s selection covered a variety of issues, but it seems as if Saturday night stole the show with its feature film, ‘Boy Meets Girl.’ We are in the process of acquiring some of this year’s titles for our own library, but here’s a re-cap of Saturday night:

Barrio Boy (dir. Dennis Shinners)
A short film narrated by the thoughts of a barber smitten by his client, Barrio Boy is a quirky look at the oppressive effects of hyper-masculine culture. The barber runs through a list of desires–sexual, romantic, and offbeat–all in his head, but never builds up the courage to confess his feelings. It’s a light-hearted take on an often serious issue, transforming a repressed, closeted man into a simple guy with a secret crush. Nonetheless, it offered a humorous possibility of what really runs through the mind of a hairdresser at work.

Electric indigoElectric Indigo (dir. Jean-Julien Collette)
Electric Indigo was the darkest screening of the evening. Indigo, a young girl with her new partner, recounts the story of her grim past. While being raised by her two heterosexual fathers (who are married to one another in a platonic relationship), Indigo’s mother spirals into a ravaged state and is sent to a psychiatric hospital. Her fathers continue living a bachelor lifestyle, enlisting Indigo to help rid them of one-night stands in the morning. Indigo’s mother arrives years later to find that Indigo’s fathers have masked her identity in a series of lies. What follows is a tragic conflict that, ultimately, leaves Indigo completely alone. Though grim in subject, it offered a haunting glimpse into the struggles of an alternative family that surely introduced audiences to something new.

Mindtease (dir. Iris Moore)
In this animated short, a burlesque dancer slowly strips herself bare. The dancer’s audience is filled with stereotypical men who hoot and cheer as each article of clothing is removed. They soon find she is not what they expected to watch, but not to their discontent. Mindtease was a hilarious short that pokes fun at sex and gender conformity.

Code Academy (dir. Nisha Ganatra)
Code Academy takes place in a future where boys and girls are educated separately to avoid gender biases. In their curricula, the students have the opportunity to explore virtual worlds, essentially leaving their physical bodies. The boys and girls find a way to interact in a virtual space called “The Alley.” Some of the characters take advantage of this space to date each other, while the protagonist finds a way to assume a new body. Like the recent film Her, Cody Academy explores the relationship between gender and body, and how these concepts function in intimate encounters.

Boy meets girlBoy Meets Girl (dir. Eric Schaeffer)
In this romantic comedy, Ricky, a quick-witted transgender girl, finds herself falling for a girl for the first time. Their romance forces Ricky’s childhood best friend, Robby, to face his true feelings. The entire film transcends conventional notions of sex, gender, and sexual orientation, but also presents an intimate portrayal of a transgender female in modern society. Though she is faced with transphobia and misogyny, she also finds herself attracting several characters and being supported by a loving family. Most importantly, [SPOILER ALERT] the film unapologetically presents Ricky’s transitioning body in the nude, de-mystifying the taboo of bodies that do not conform to the binary norm. Though Ricky is an aspiring fashion designer who is celebrated for her talents, it is in this revealing where she faces her greatest vulnerability and fully embraces her identity. Boy Meets Girl is an important film for understanding and empowering transgender youth today.

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Representation at the Oscars

OscarsAs the 87th Academy Awards approach (set to air on February 22, exactly one month from today), we are struck with a recurring issue: the representation of minorities in the nominations pool. Some blogs have rejoiced for the presence of members of the GLBT community. The HRC blog especially celebrates the success of ‘The Imitation Game,’ a film dramatizing the life of Dr. Alan Turing. Moreover, Neil Patrick Harris has signed on to host the event. Despite this, the lack of racial minorities continues to be an issue.

There are implications to omitting the celebration of POC in mainstream media, and questions must be asked. How is it that the “objective” criteria for an Oscar nomination often excludes POC? Why is that when POC are nominated, they are often oppressed in their roles (Gabourney Sidibe in ‘Precious,’ Viola Davis in ‘The Help,’ Lupita Nyong’o in ’12 Years a Slave,’ to name a few)? Are minorities barred from the same opportunities as their white peers, despite their talents?

The representation of Asians and Latin Americans is also dismal (there has been ONE Asian nominated for Best Actress in the entire history of the Academy Awards). Surely cinematic excellence is genetically reserved for the White race. The Latino Post sums it up fairly well: “Audiences may have believed the Academy was finally moving a step forward and were being progressive. However, this year when the race was wide open and there was a chance for surprises, the Academy demonstrated its backward thinking.”

The advances in the LGBT (though the LBT need a little work) community in mainstream media absolutely calls for celebration, but the fight for fair representation is far from over. Just some food for thought.

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Free Screening: ‘Brother Outsider’

‘Brother Outsider’ documents the life of Bayard Rustin (1912-1987), civil rights and gay rights activist. Rustin played an integral role in strengthening Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s leadership by organizing the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Like Dr. King, Rustin supported nonviolent resistance and was a pioneer for the civil rights movement. He is perhaps best known as the chief organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, where Dr. King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

Today, Rustin represents the significance of intersectionality in identity construction. In his lifetime, Rustin faced oppression for both his race and his sexuality; he was arrested in 1953 for “homosexual acts.” Criticized within and beyond his own communities, Rustin is a symbol for modern social activism and the need to promote non-exclusionary equality. As Black History Month draws near, we are reminded of the systemic oppression that has, and continues, to restrict the rights of black communities worldwide. These communities include all sexes and genders, all sexual orientations, all body types. These issues are inseparable.

Come join us for a free screening of ‘Brother Outsider’ on Sunday, January 18 (8PM) at the IMU Whittenberger Auditorium. Bennett Singer, producer of the film, will be present and available for a Q&A following the film. Singer will also be the featured speaker for the MLK Day program sponsored by the city of Bloomington on Monday, January 19.

If you are unable to attend, please check out a copy of the film available in the GLBT Library! lightbox_BrotherOutsider4

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4 Holiday Titles to Get You in the Spirit

With Thanksgiving past, marking the official start of the holiday season, we have put on display some of our favorite holiday titles that will make visions of sugar-plums dance in your head!

1453802630.01._SX140_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_Christmas in Graymoor Mansion
by Mark A. Roeder
Written by Bloomington resident, Christmas in Graymoor Mansion tells the story of friends and family who gather in stately Graymoor Mansion to celebrate the holiday season, but a blizzard traps them in the massive Victorian home Christmas Eve and all of Christmas Day. To entertain themselves, the guests take turns sharing their Christmas memories and special holiday stories. Join Sean, his family, and friends in their Christmas celebration. There’s plenty of food, including wonderful desserts, Christmas cookies, and steaming hot cocoa to go with this set of Christmas tales. This is a collection of previously unpublished Christmas tales to be read year after year.

51j2QPiSLhL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_A Little Fruitcake: A Childhood in Holidays
by David Valdes Greenwood
Ah, the sweet memories of Christmas. Gifts under the tree. Cookies for Santa. And, of course, the annual fruitcake. For young David Valdes Greenwood, the indomitable “little fruitcake” at the center of these tales, nothing is sweeter than the promise of the holidays. A modern-day Tiny Tim, he holds fast to his ideal of what Christmas should be, despite the huge odds against him: Sub-zero Maine winters. A host of eccentric relatives. And his constant foil: a frugal, God-fearing Grammy who seems determined to bring an end to all his fun. A book that’s “fa-la-la-licious” (Louisville Courier Journal) and filled with funny, charming Yuletide memories (from building a Lego® manger to hunting for the perfect Christmas tree), A Little Fruitcake will inspire even the biggest Grinches around.

51yQgQ8RDUL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_The Christmas Truck
by J. B. Blankenship, illustrated by Cassandre Bolan
Authored by a former GLBT office intern, if you are in need of Christmas cheer or have some cheer to spare, here is a book to warm your heart, a gift for friends to share. So settle in and know, my friend, before you turn the page, that this is a story for everyone: for friends of every age.
When celebrating a special Christmas tradition things go awry. Papa, Dad, their amazing kid, and one fabulous grandmother work together and implement a plan to save Christmas for a child they have never met. It’s a story where joy is found in giving and selfless acts unite families.

MV5BNzc5MTM5Mjc0Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzI0MTcxMw@@._V1_SY317_CR6,0,214,317_AL_Make the Yuletide Gay (2009)
Olaf “Gunn” Gunnunderson, an out-and-proud gay college student, crawls back into the closet to survive the holidays with his family. He keeps his cool as his quirky Midwestern-hearted parents try to set him up with his high school sweetheart, Abby. But when his boyfriend, Nathan, shows up at their doorstep unannounced, Gunn must put on a charade to keep the relationship a secret. With pressure mounting from all sides, will Gunn come out before the truth does?

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Transitions of the Heart

13238264The holiday season is a time when those with far-flung loved ones update each other with cards and family letters, family members gather, and adults reconvene in their hometowns. Sometimes when the year has brought about a revelation of a child’s emerging gender or sexual orientation, parents wonder how best to share the news to a large group of people. They want to support their children and share this family news but may also be concerned about others’ potentially invasive questions or insensitive remarks. How can this be handled?

In the book Transitions of the Heart: Stories of Love, Struggle and Acceptance by Mothers of Transgender and Gender Variant Children (ed. Rachel Pepper), contributor Barbara Gurr shares a letter she penned and sent to family members to let them know that her school-age child, who had been labeled a boy at birth, was coming to understand her feminine identity and transition socially. She writes,

Dear Friends and Family:

I apologize for sending you all a crazy form letter, but our family has news to share! And it’s so hard sometimes to get together that we thought we’d send a letter to those people who mean the most to us, and let you in on what’s going on with us.

The news we have is kind of hard to share, and after thinking and praying about it for a while, it seems best to send a letter for two reasons: we have to start letting people know what’s going on with us, and it might be easier for some people to get a letter they can react to honestly and privately—without worrying about hurting our feelings, or saying the “right” thing (whatever that is) or the “wrong” thing (whatever that is).

As some of you have no doubt begun to notice over the last couple of years (especially if you’ve spent time with us more recently), Thomas is presenting us with a bit of a surprise. Our son Thomas is transgender. This means that although he was born with boy parts, he’s really a she. What’s on the outside does not match what’s on the inside of him … We have no doubt that this revelation will be hard for many of you to accept, as well. That’s okay. We know you love us and want the best for us—that’s why you’re getting this letter. We want you to understand what this means so that we can all be honest with each other about our concerns and our fears.

Gurr goes on to explain her child’s transition and share stories from earlier years that led to this realization of femininity. She closes by saying that she appreciates the love and support of those around her. Gurr’s letter provides an excellent template for parents who want to address a child’s gender or sexuality and also send a message: This is our child’s identity. We are happy to answer questions, but we expect that you accept our child for who s/he is.

In the GLBT Student Support Services office, we talk to many parents whose students are attending or planning to attend IU and coming to terms with their sexuality or gender. We are always happy to chat with parents who are concerned about addressing their child’s gender or sexuality with family or community members.

Gurr’s chapter closes with the beautiful statement, “Genders and sexualities are complicated, but love doesn’t have to be.” Through questions, uncertainties, and transitions, this fact holds true. Life is complex—but love is simple.

Written by Jamie, GLBTSSS Office Supervisor

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Celebrate Halloween with Some Spooky Reads

halloweenGet ready for a fright, folks! I’ve gathered our some of our best spooky reads to get you in the spirit for Halloween!

1590212398.01._SX140_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_Queer Hauntings: True Tales of Gay & Lesbian Ghosts
by Ken Summers
An exclusive collection of eerie locales worldwide with a queer bent. This guidebook combines historical fact and unearthly encounters from across the United States, as well as around the globe.
The stories range from the serious, from brutal murders in rural Georgia, to the light-hearted, including the male spirit who enjoys unzipping men’s trousers at a British pub. Ghosts of legendary celebrities intermingle with ordinary individuals. Along with these queer spirits are many businesses, either gay-owned or catering to a gay/lesbian clientele, experiencing hauntings.

1573440124.01._SX140_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_A Ghost in the Closet: A Nancy Clue and Hardly Boys Mystery
by Mabel Maney
With their fearless crime-fighting, good manners, and manly fashion sense, the Hardly boys are the pride of Feyport, Illinois. In A Ghost in the Closet, dark-haired, muscular Frank and his lovable kid brother Joe return from a gay trip to Europe to find that their parents — world-famous detective Fennel P. Hardly and his wife, Mrs. Hardly — have been kidnapped! Even worse, so have six poodles from the Lake Merrimen Dog Show! Pals Nancy Clue, Cherry Aimless, R.N., and Police Detective Jackie Jones help the Hardly boys track down the criminals — and in the meantime, pick up useful tips on fingerprinting, evidence retrieval, and the laundering of sporty twill slacks.

1551522519.01._SX140_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_Fist of the Spider Woman: Tales of Fear and Queer Desire
Edited by Amber Dawn
Fist of the Spider Woman is a revelatory anthology of horror stories by queer and transgressive women and others that disrupts reality as queer women know it, instilling both fear and arousal while turning traditional horror iconography on its head.
In this collection, horror (including gothic, noir, and speculative writing) is defined as that which both titillates and terrorizes, forcing readers to confront who they are.
Subversive, witty, sexy—and scary—Fist of the Spider Woman poses two questions: “What do queer women fear the most?” and “What do queer women desire the most?”

1555839746.01._SX140_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_Triptych of Terror: Three Chilling Tales by the Masters of Gay Horror
by John Michael Curlovich, David Thomas Lord, and Michael Rowe
Combining the storytelling talents of three modern masters of gay horror, Triptych of Terror invites readers into a night of mystery and intrigue, the very time when the fabric of time and space separating the world of the living and the dead is forgotten. A night called Halloween.
The stories involve a televangelist who attempts to reclaim Halloween by banishing a closeted minister to a haunted church, a bullied teen who turns to the occult to protect him from harassment, and a man who’s Celtic background may not be enough to save him from the temptation of one of the fairy folk.

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In the Beginning, There was a March

imageOn Oct. 11, 1987, half a million people participated in the second March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.  It is often referred to as “The Great March” and involved protests in front of the Internal Revenue Services Court, along with the unveiling of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt.  The demonstration results in the founding of a number of LGBT organizations, including the National Latino/a Gay & Lesbian Organization.  Rob Eichberg, founder of the personal growth workshop, The Experience, and Jean O’Leary, then head of National Gay Rights Advocates came up with the idea of a national day to celebrate coming out and chose the anniversary of that The Great March to mark it.  National Coming Out Day (NCOD) was born. Logo_ncod_lg

This Saturday marks the 26th Anniversary of National Coming Out Day.  NCOD serves as a reminder that one of our most basic tools is the power of coming out.  According to Human Rights Campaign, one out of every two Americans has someone close to them who is gay or lesbian, and for transgender people, that number is only one in ten.

Every person who speaks up changes more hearts and minds, creating new advocates for equality.  I’ve gathered some materials and resources to celebrate coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or as an ally.

1. Check out some of our favorite coming out books and movies, including:


Boys Like Us: Gay Writers Tell Their Coming Out Stories

Testimonies by Karen Barber

Testimonies by Karen Barber







2. The Human Rights Campaign celebrates National Coming Out Day on this YouTube video.

3. Check out R U Coming Out, a site dedicated to inspire, support, and unite those who are living their lives either completely, or partially in the closet.  The main focus of the site is the stories: people from all over their world share their own personal accounts of Coming Out.  The purpose of this site is not to encourage people to Come Out before they are ready or to make them feel under any pressure to do things in a particular way; it is simply a source of first hand accounts from people who have already been through, and are still going through, the process themselves.

4. Check out coming out guides and other resources provided by the Human Rights Campaign.

5. If you’re a straight ally, check out Coming Out as a Straight Supporter.

6. And finally, check out some of the more creative ways to come out of the closet courtesy of BuzzFeed: 24 Awesomely Creative Way to Come Out of the Closet. and 41 Awesome Ways to Come Out to Your Friends and Family

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