Thursday, April 25, 2013

Deal With It

I have a piece in The New York Times' Modern Love column this Sunday—which appeared online today. I didn't come up with the title ("Yes, I Really Am Bisexual. Deal With It.") so I'm allowed to love it. Which I do. It's so much more audacious than any title I would ever in a million years write. It cracks me up—as does the fact that whoever wrote the title maybe probably didn't realize my last name is pronounced "deal." Which makes it extra awesome. Yes—I just wrote "extra awesome." Deal with it. (And if you're so inclined, please give it a read. I'll be grateful and love you forever. But only if you're a man. Or a woman. Or both!)

photo courtesy click, morgueFile

47 comments:

  1. Question: as a bisexual, if you fell equally in love at the same time with a man and a woman and you knew you wanted to live with them both for the rest of your life, would you demand the law to be changed to allow you to marry them both at the same time?

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    1. Wow Jay. Bisexuality is not synonymous with polygamy. Try reading the article?

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    2. You know, once upon a time, homosexuality was not synonymous with marriage, either, but now look where we are. Is there an answer to my question or not?

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    3. Jay, I think you're confusing the association of the words as a synonymous pairing. They are not. Gay does not actually mean Marriage anymore than Bisexual means Polygamist. Gay Marriage is a term at large right now but homosexuality is certainly not in any way synonymous with marriage. They are two different things. The idea that it's somehow only a matter time for the issue of bisexuality (when in fact what you are referring to is polygamy) and group marriage to be granted the same renown is a faulty logic.

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    4. Jay, I'm going to assume you're neither homosexual nor racist, if you fell in love with a Caucasian woman and a Hispanic woman and knew you wanted to live with them both for the rest of your life, would you demand the law to be changed to allow you to marry them both at the same time?

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  2. Freaking awesome article! Loved very word! Loved it! You're fabulous!!!!! Thanks for writing it! It was like fresh air!!!

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  3. Terrific piece. Congrats on making the New York Times.

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  4. I read it and 'googled' your name to reach this blog.Your NYT 'love column' was great; loved the humor and am a fan now. Wow! Will track down and read every word you have ever written- a fanatic 'article- stalker'.Keep us entertained by your work. Thank you.

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  5. Thanks for the extremely honest and eloquent column. I've never heard so accurately described how I've felt in my head and heart since (and presumably for) forever. Jake and Maggie equally, for sure.

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  6. I was so refreshed by your column, I had to Google your name and find your blog to say "thank you." It's amazing how many times you have to deal with the "so you're flipping towards women(men) now?" It's great to hear another voice out there who understands what we go through and has put out a public piece about it. We just love who we love, that's all.

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  7. I just read your NYT article and thought it was great! I am also a proud bisexual woman, and next month I'll celebrate 7 years of true love with my girlfriend. Thank you for telling the world that being bisexual is just as normal as being straight or gay.

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  8. Like some others, I Googled you after I read this piece. Brilliant, honest, beautiful!!!

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  9. I too googled your name after reading your NYT article. It so accurately captured the struggles of maintaining your identity when you find the partner you want to commit to. It's so easy to just find yourself swallowed up by people's immediate perception of you - often based upon who you are with romantically at the time. I'm always finding that I have to gently correct people.. Even close friends. No, I'm not a lesbian. I'm bisexual. No I'm not straight. I'm bisexual. And more often than not the response is a dismissive, "oh yeah, right, of course, it's the same thing, you know what I mean." Or some other such variation. Especially with all the negative connotations of bisexuality sometimes it feels like it will always be a fight to be my authentic self. But articles like yours embolden and strengthen my resolve. I will continue to kindly correct, explain, and share my experience of my orientation with the people I meet, befriend, and love. Maybe all together we can change the social group think. Thank you for your article. I really felt reflected by your words.

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    1. Are you so blinded by your "identity" that you can't see how potentially rude and disrespectful it is to your committed partner that you seem to feel the need to remind him/her/your friends/your family that you're sexually attracted to other people?

      How would it make you feel if your husband or wife felt the need to constantly clarify to others that you're not the only one he/she is potentially attracted to? Wouldn't that make you jealous and hurt and eventually resentful that your partner is telling people that you don't satisfy all their needs?

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    2. Hey, Jealous Anonymous - The only way Ms. Diehl's attractions would be a problem is if her husband is really insecure. Secure couples spend a total of ZERO time sweating normal attractions to others. Or do you think that married couples should suddenly STOP feeling attracted to other people or should be forced to pretend to not be?

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  10. Fabulous, well written article!! You are so totally cool!!

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  11. I cannot fathom why, if you are not interested in having sexual relationships outside your marriage (“I’m not saying I want to be with men and women at the same time or alternate back and forth,” I told Jared, cocking my head like a parakeet in an attempt to make eye contact. “And I’m not suggesting, like, threesomes...."), you would make such a giant deal out of people you meet knowing what you like to do with your vagina.

    Why would anyone care? Why would YOU care? What difference does it make? It'd be like me being so fixated on one aspect of my personality that I made a point to ostentatiously mention it whenever I felt someone hadn't sufficiently appreciated it. "Oh, I can't go outside today BECAUSE I HAVE ANXIETY DISORDER." "Hey, nice to see you. Did you know that I love dick? Because I do."

    And this is so WEIRD: "And because my bi-ness seldom has occasion to come up organically, I intermittently bring it up apropos of nothing." Of course it doesn't come up organically. Who just randomly brings up their sexual preferences in casual conversation with people unless they're trying to date said people? WHO CARES? It is so very very strange.

    I could see maybe mentioning it once in the course of making a new friend if you're laughing about old dating histories and you chance to mention that you had a girlfriend at one point. But being worried about your sexual preference not being acknowledged by everyone? Repeatedly? WHY?

    I am not trying to be a troll, I just really do not understand why this is a problem. And furthermore, why would you think that part of yourself would become obliterated by being in a relationship with someone of a particular gender? Did you worry that your man-loving personality aspect would get deleted if you stayed with a woman for the long term? Probably not. It's like you're so fixated on having this one identity that you can't see the bigger picture, which is that you have a lot to offer as a person, not as a label.

    I have no issues with anyone's sexuality (unless it's illegal or horrifying, like pedophilia and bestiality), but I cannot see the point of waving it around in front of everyone no matter what direction(s) you swing.

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    1. Thank you - very to the point and well overdue. Let the "I really don't care" generation commence!

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    2. Very well stated. Many people behave the same way with their religion and politics as well. I always assumed it was because they/we were arrogant, insecure, or self-absorbed in some way, or just had an axe to grind. Maybe it's just a way of asserting one's individuality.

      If you're in a monogamous relationship, it is odd for the amount of time since you've had contact with earlier partners to be something worthy of consideration, much less broadcasting, regardless of their gender/size/shape/etc. There are myriad other attributes to focus on -- race or ethnicity, for example -- that may well trump sexual identity. I guess an article exploring "I haven't so much as held hands with a brown person in seven years" might not fly?

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    3. I think this is absurd. I love your essay, I feel as though you put into words the exact feelings I have about my own bisexuality, and I will always feel this way, even though I've been in a relationship for five years. Fuck the haters! And the title's great, especially considering the pronunciation of your last name. Thanks. You rock. I've never read anything of yours before, but now I'd like to read more. And I NEVER post any kind of comment on this sort of thing. But I just had to point out how oblivious the comments above are.

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    4. I concur, the fixation with your own bisexuality and idea that a piece of you would need to be "honored" is bewildering. People's beliefs, ideals and personalities are constantly evolving and changing. If I honored my past in order to maintain the present then what is going to happen to the future? I'm predicating a future that maintains that status quo. I am who I am now and forever, that is it period. I support your identity, but you're attaching an arbitrary label or category invented by society that inhibits and dictates your identity. DOWN WITH LABELS AND COOKIE CUTTER CATEGORIES!

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    5. You guys are taking it personally rather than as what it is: a gift from writer. Nowhere in the article does she say it dominates her whole life. She is simply sharing insights and truths about one part of her life. Do people not get to write about their children, travels, religion, race family life, if those things are only one part of their life. Do people not get to write about things that mean something to them? People write about much more shallow things for god's sake, like artisanal coffee and dental work. Stop being so selfish and protesting if something doesn't speak to you. Maybe it's not about you. Ms. Diehl, I'm a writer / artist as well and I commend you for writing a vulnerably, generous and thoughtful piece. Write / right on, sister.

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  12. I googled you after reading your piece in the NYT and just wanted to say thank you! Thank you for putting into words what I struggle with as a bisexual woman in a heterosexual marriage. Loved it.

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  13. Really great. Definitely one of the better pieces I've read on the New York Times in a long while.

    As a young writer who is learning the finer points of how to write a good piece of non-fiction I will be using this piece in the future as a gauge of my own progress. Maybe some day I will be able to say "Yes, I am good. Deal with it."

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  14. Congratulations and you're awesome!

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  15. Thanks for letting me take a walk in your boots, I had never thought about the sacrifice someone who is bi makes if they love someone enough to marry them and become hetero-normative. On behalf of America, feel free to tell me that you're a bi-lady anytime, and I think you should, to help dispel the myth of bisexual people being suspect.

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  16. I just read it and loved it! Thanks for such an honest and funny piece of writing.

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  17. 4 out of 100 isn't that big of a deal.

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  18. I dated someone who described herself as you did in the NYT article. Sadly, she broke my heart and then married a man. I often wonder how she feels about the whole hetero normative life she now leads. Thank you for the insight.

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  19. Your column was completely delightful! Next stop: The Moth or NPR?

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  20. Thanks, Wilson! Also googled you after reading the NYT piece. You have very well described my life and feelings before, during, and after a good, long marriage (to a guy). Those who don't understand our need to express our bi identity while in a committed relationship have missed the point of your article.
    I look forward to following your writing! Pat in Gold Bar, WA

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  21. Get over yourself.

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  22. I don't see any rational reason why anyone should ever have had a problem with your bisexuality. As far as prospective lovers go, they should have been happy that you knew exactly what you are and you were happy with it. Mixed up people are potentially much more problematic lovers than people like you. Anyway, health, happiness, and long life to you and yours.

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  23. I loved your article. I, too, am bisexual, but for took a different path. I was born in 1950. My earliest experiences were with men whom I found to be: 1. sexually clueless about my body; 2. could get me pregnant (and I always disliked and knew I did not want children). And birth control was icky and killed my sex drive. At 26 I got involved with an old fashioned butch woman who treated me the way a macho man treats a pretty girl. I am still her pretty girl although 38 years later I am now 62 and she is 78 and we do not have sex. At 54 I fell madly in love with a man and decided I was bisexual. I was postmenopausal, which I don't think was a coincidence. The age of the men I was attracted to was such that their mothers had probably read "Our Bodies Ourselves". I was sick of being the household breadwinner and carrying heavy groceries for someone elderly and frail. I think, in fact, my first hint of a heterosexual attraction occurred in a supermarket when a younger man offered to carry a bag containing four bottles of Perrier. I prefer what women like to do in bed. But I love chivalry and would give my eye teeth to be in a relationship with someone bigger, stronger, younger, and richer. And there are no more butch lesbians. They have all had gender reassignment surgery.

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  24. This was one of my ongoing quests for years. When to tell...jump...reveal.
    Your narrative is so right on! Maybe we're related...

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  25. Loved the article! I've struggled with this, also, and just bringing it up randomly is completely brilliant, because it removes so much pressure to "do it correctly" or whatever. Thank you!

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  26. Loved your article! I am not bisexual, but relate to trying to be understood, heard and celebrated for who I am and what I bring to the party. I don't want to be constrained by the expectations and limitations that our society imparts on women, minorities, bisexuals, gays, the poor and any other group that is not a white heterosexual male. I am what I am...so deal with it!

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  27. Loved it. Found your site via the article rather than the other way around. 25 years in my current relationship... with a man. Raised a child. Have 6 degrees started and completed between us. And ours will always be a monogamous marriage of two bi people.

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  28. For the commenter who says "If you're in a monogamous relationship, it is odd for the amount of time since you've had contact with earlier partners to be something worthy of consideration, much less broadcasting...." As many other commenters note, this essay is art, not trying to persuade, not trying to inform. And art is a gift, as still another commenter notes. Wordsworth well knew the difference between everyday discourse and artful language: "I have said that poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings; it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” Such recollections, like this tour de force of Wilson Diehl, are rare, wonderful, and powerful gatherings of both memories and the human spirit. Would that we all could write, feel, art so well.

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  29. Tofu-sausage scramble? SICK. ;)

    Lovely piece - congrats!

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  30. Thank you for the article and for the discussion it's bringing about. Bi-sexual women have been negated by both the straight and gay community for years as being wishy-washy in their identity. Lesbians may comment that we are "choosing" to be socially accepted by being with men, and straights that we are playing into the B-Movie role of wanting to turn men on when we are with women. That we do choose life partners of either orientation, or other bi-sexuals, and that we remain monogamous doesn't mean that we give up that other part of ourselves. As far as needing to broadcast our orientation, I am pressured by straight society to be "into" male sexuality (why wouldn't I want to see "Magic Mike?" Why wouldn't I want to see Abercrombie and Fitch models with their jeans at pubic hair level?) and question why I'm interested in seeing women's bodies. Maybe it's just the society I'm in, but people's assumptions about who I am based on some choices I've made sometimes need to be corrected, even if they think those assumptions are benign.

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    1. I hate these types of assumptions. For years no one understood how I could be sexually attracted to women and love wearing dresses and makeup and - even when I defined myself as exclusively Lesbian - be flattered if a construction worker (sorry if this is classist) whistled at me on the street. I talk about being bisexual mainly because I find it interesting that I became attracted to men after all these years, and how tied in it is with my changing needs as I have become older and more physically fragile (in addition to no longer having to worry about birth control). In addition to defining myself as bisexual, I am also a "Well Spouse", and well spouses traditionally become attracted to people who are physically strong, because we have spent so long hauling and schlepping for a weaker partner of whatever gender. So for me, "strong" translated into "male" for some odd reason. (Well no, not odd. Most Lesbians would be horrified by the idea that I would like them to carry my heavy suitcase.)

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  31. Just wanted to write and say I really loved your piece in the Times. I'm a 30ish bisexual guy, a few months away from marrying a woman I love a ton – and it's weird, exactly like you put it, to be queer but also to have an opposite-sex partner, to do the wedding thing, to maybe start a family. Not because those things are weird but because there's that thing now where coming out to people feels even more belabored than ever. Why would I feel the need to tell people I'm bi? But at the same time, why do I so dislike the idea of people thinking me straight?

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  32. Speaking as a bi-male myself whose own wife still doesn't know how to process it -- and I announced the fact when we met 16 years ago -- I can understand these feelings expressed here. On the other hand, having to wear our orientations publicly as a name tag, the way many straight and gay couples do, doesn't really appeal to me.

    Maybe it's because I'm in my 50s and my sex drive is nowhere near the Eveready Bunny-level it was 20 years ago, but increasingly I just define myself as myself, and not my sex/color/age/choice of car/coffee preference.

    That said, I would ask yourself why *you* feel the need to define yourself this way in public? I mean, it really doesn't matter at the end of the day. Why the call for attention? Does being mistaken for straight feel like a sell-out? If so, why?

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  33. Hi Wilson, I'm yet another one of those who saw your NYT column and googled you. I too am a married Seattleite in a hetero relationship with kids yet have significant romantic history with women and still identify as bisexual. I also never quite know what to do with or about my bi identity. When you're not single, it seems bizarre to mention it to people -- as though I'm announcing I'm on the prowl -- yet it's an important part of who I am. So, just wanted to say thanks for the fantastic column.

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  34. Thank you so much for writing that column. I'm echoing what a lot of others have already written here, but since there are some downright hostile comments I felt I ought to post to add another positive voice.

    Without going in to a lot of detail, I stumbled on your column in a moment of confusion and emotional turmoil, leading to some panicked Googling, and yours happened to be the first of about a dozen opened tabs I read. Afterward, I simply closed the other tabs unread, because nothing could put in words better how I feel than what you wrote.

    I'm delighted to discover that I wasn't alone, and it literally brings tears to my eyes to imagine future readers finding your column. Thank you so much again, and I'll be keeping an eye out for anything else you write.

    And yeah, the title is extra awesome. There's no other way to put it.

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