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"Bisexual erasure or bisexual invisibility is the tendency to ignore, remove, falsify, or reexplain evidence of bisexuality in history, academia, the news media, and other primary sources. In its most extreme form, bisexual erasure can include the denial that bisexuality exists."

More Resources:
Ash Hardell:
Geek & Sundry:
Erika Lynae:
Gaby Dunn:

Stacks & Facts:
My interview on Go VERB a NOUN:
Sex Geekdom:

Dr. Doe's contact info:
Support Sexplanations by becoming a sexpla(i)naut:

Lindsey: I'm Dr. Lindsey Doe, this is Sexplanations, and we are here in Missoula, Montana where my friend Peter Musser has come to visit me. I have the amazing opportunity to interview him about something I'm particularly interested in: bi erasure. Please tell me what bi erasure means to you.

Peter: Okay, so when I think of bi erasure, I think of those times when I am just living my life, either in like a queer space or a straight space, because there's definitely a difference between the two, and I try and be my very queer bi self and people just choose not to recognize that. So that can mean either having a partner who, like, gets a little squeamish around me when I say that I'm also attracted to men, or also attracted to folks of, you know, a gender that isn't mine, or it can be when I talk to straight folks who are like, "Well, are you sure it's not really a phase?" Although the nice thing about being 30 is I don't get that that often anymore now that I'm getting older.

Lindsey: They either don't see your sexual orientation, they falsify it, they look at it negatively – It's just invisible to them?

Peter: Yeah, so it's like if I'm in a queer space, people assume that I'm queer – like that I'm gay. Specifically gay. That as a man I'm attracted to other men, and they conveniently or not so conveniently ignore the fact that I'm also attracted to folks who aren't men. And if I'm in a straight space, partly because of the way that I just happen to present, people assume that I'm straight because I don't have the common tells that people expect when it comes to being gay. Like my voice is a little bit deeper, people don't really see me as presenting particularly effeminately, whatever that means to them.

Lindsey: And you said that as you've aged, that's gone away a little bit more.

Peter: Yeah, in some – in some respects. So, now that I'm older, there's less of that like, "He's young, he's still feeling himself out. He's going to figure himself out eventually, but right now he's just trying to like, test the waters, whatever those waters might be." And so, like, it was a lot more prominent when I was like 22, 23, 24. And it, you know, after me saying, "No, I don't have a particular preference for men or women or non-binary folk, like, this is who I am," now people are starting to believe me.

Lindsey: Do you think that has to do with your age or do you think that has to do with society's climate at large?

Peter: Well, it could be both, honestly. And it could also be the fact that like, I, as an old, grumpy, lazy person, I just get to the point where it's like, "I'm going to surround myself with people who are going to respect who I am." Knowing that I have that power to surround myself with the people who respect me as a person is really nice, so that's a thing that I try to do whenever I can.

Lindsey: I do the same thing. I choose to spend time with people who are sex-positive because it lifts me up and reaffirms who I am and what I'm doing, and I also think it's important to go into spaces where we push on each other as human beings and have a dialogue with those who might not understand us in such a fundamental way. So for people who are experiencing bi erasure or for people who are bi erasing, what would you say? How can we be part of the conversation and create a safe space for you?

Peter: I recognize that you know, although I still have to confront bi erasure, like, I still have a certain amount of power when it comes to dealing with that. Like, because I present the way I am and because people expect me to be a certain way based on how I present, when I go into places and I say, "Hey, actually, I'm not the way that you think I am," and I say that over and over and over again, people start understanding that, "Oh, well actually maybe like, maybe he's not going through a phase."

Lindsey: One of the ways that you do it is by using gender nonspecific language.

Peter: Right.

Lindsey: And one of the ways that I can have conversations with people to call them out on bi erasure? What would that be?

Peter: I think probably the best way, if you are not yourself bi, is, like, talk about how it's a sign of respect to others. So let's say that you're talking to someone else about me and they say, "Oh, I wonder who Peter's girlfriend is?" You can be like, "Oh, actually Peter's partner is blah blah blah blah blah." Because that removes the gender specificity of who I might be intimately involved with at the moment. It's tricky though, because, like, on the one hand you want to make sure that people get the message across, but on the other hand, like, you don't want to push them so hard that they're turned off from the message that you're putting across.

Lindsey: Where do you feel bi erasure most in your life now?

Peter: At this point in my life I'm fairly lucky that I don't really have to deal so much with bi erasure. Up in Vancouver I've found a really great community of people who are just the most loveliest of human beings. We're just a big old queer pile of love, it's great. The topic of my sexuality doesn't come up anymore because everyone's like, "Oh, Peter is attracted to everything." In the nicest way of course. But like you know, because I have that kind of community and because Vancouver is the place that it is, like, I have a partner now who is just as bi or pan as I am. And there's no lack of people like that in my circles right now. I am where I am after a long process of trying to get here. And even though bi erasure doesn't affect me as much as it did say five years ago, you know, when I was in the Navy and I was trying to find a place where I could be queer, as much as I loved my friends from that time, the term "bi spy" came up multiple times. I still felt like I was part of the community, but I felt like in spite of that I always had something to prove. I had to prove the fact that I was attracted to men. I had to prove the fact that I was attracted to women. And you know, the way that men are socialized these days, they're already socialized to prove a bunch of things. And so having another thing added on top of that was exhausting.

Lindsey: For me it's really important that the community knows that we see them.

Peter: Mm hmm.

Lindsey: That there are people like you and I who are very aware and do our best to increase visibility, not just participate in the invisibility.

Peter: So I guess the thing that I would want to tell people is that you know, if you find yourself being attracted to folks who are like you and who are not like you, that's okay. That is either going to be a thing that is going to be with you for the rest of your life to some extent, or it's going to be a thing that changes, and that's totally fine. Like we know that sexuality exists kind of on a spectrum, like this is a thing that science has tested and that has been shown to be the case. Like this is the thing that I know from my lived experience that sometimes I'm more attracted to women and sometimes I'm more attracted to men, but there's always the attraction to both. And obviously, sometimes I'm attracted to folks who don't fit either of those. Like I would say my last two partners don't really fit neatly into either of those boxes.

Lindsey: No one does.

Peter: Yeah, no one does! Which is great. And so like, if you find yourself with these feelings, be okay with the fact that you have these feelings, you know. Sit with it. Think to yourself, "What does this mean for me?" And you know, let your own life inform what that means to you. Other people may tell you that you're a certain way, and unless they're you, they don't really know.

Lindsey: So to the people who have erased bisexuality... or bi-erase...?

Peter: Sure.

Lindsey: What would you say to them?

Peter: Just believe people when they tell you that they're attracted to folks who aren't necessarily what you would expect them to be attracted to. Whether or not you're gay or whether or not you're straight doesn't really inform who they are.

Lindsey: So Peter, because you're not invisible, let's not erase you! Where are you? Where all the places of Peter?

Peter: So I have a YouTube channel called Stacks & Facts, where I talk about the joys of library and information science. You may also recognize me if you watch Lindsey from another channel I did called Go VERB a NOUN, where I interviewed her back in 2014. And Twitter @the_musser. Be happy to hear from you.

Lindsey: And don't forget to –

Lindsey and Peter: Stay curious!