Jameela Jamil came out as queer, and suddenly the biphobes are coming out of the woodwork to criticize her because she has a boyfriend.
It’s an unfortunate situation because, on the one hand, taking a position away from an LGBTQ+ person in a space that’s meant for them is a valid argument and I don’t at all begrudge people who were initially upset by it. On the other hand, she was sort of forced to out herself before she was ready because of this, and that just generally sucks all around. I wish she’d been able to come out on her own terms, but here we are.
But now that it’s out there, the biphobes are emerging from the gutter and attacking her identity because they are terrible people who don’t understand nuance. Non-monosexual people exist, but that’s a bit too much for them to grasp, I guess.
She officially used the term “queer,” which is also the term I use for my own sexuality. I’ve been with men before, as well as non-binary people and women. For me, the term fits because of its fluidity. Many people who claim the phrase for themselves seem to feel the same. Sia, Evan Rachel Wood, Janelle Monae, Miley Cyrus, and Sara Ramirez have claimed the term for similar reasons.
PFLAG has an excellent definition on their glossary that explains why this term is so appealing to many of us:
Queer: A term used by some people to describe themselves and/or their community. Reclaimed from its earlier negative use, the term is valued by some for its defiance, by some because it can be inclusive of the entire community, and by others who find it to be an appropriate term to describe their more fluid identities. Traditionally a negative or pejorative term for people who are gay, queer is still sometimes disliked within the LGBTQ+ community. Due to its varying meanings, this word should only be used when self-identifying or quoting someone who self-identifies as queer (i.e. “My cousin identifies as queer”).
Why she has chosen this term I’m not sure, but I’d guess that her reasoning is similar. She has made it fairly clear from her recent Twitter post that she’s stepping away right now and doesn’t want to discuss it. And Twitter is a hellsite of epic proportions, so I don’t at all blame her.
If she someday feels comfortable elaborating on why she’s chosen this term, she should be able to do so at her own pace. She didn’t get to come out at her own pace, so at the very least, she should be able to expand on her word usage when and if she wants to.
However, ‘bisexuality’ is a more common term for people who are attracted to more than one gender, so while the two terms do have differences, for the purposes of this particular discussion I’ll be using them in close relation to each other. I respect the differences and I respect people’s individual identities, but non-monosexual people face similar discrimination across the board. We’re different, but a lot of our struggles are the same.
While she didn’t use the term ‘bisexual,’ the backlash she’s facing is absolutely without a doubt biphobic and generally queerphobic. So let’s talk about this absolutely ridiculous biphobic backlash Jameela Jamil is getting…
Solidarity with my fellow bisexuals everywhere, whose busy day of having an anxiety disorder & failing to sit in chairs properly is being disrupted by the predictable bi erasure in the face of Jameela Jamil coming out. A woman having a male partner doesn’t mean she’s straight. pic.twitter.com/ATWjgPuQwQ
— ugh (@sundayfireworks) February 6, 2020
Due to the fact that Jameela Jamil has a boyfriend, many Twitter users are labeling her heterosexual. This is offensive beyond belief. Nobody’s sexuality is defined entirely by the person they are currently in a relationship with. Nor is someone’s sexuality defined by a lack of history of relationships with a specific gender. Our sexuality is defined by what we are or are not attracted to overall, and that’s it.
It’s up to us to decide what label we use, too. If someone who has never been with the same gender wants to describe themselves as bisexual, pansexual, or queer, that’s up to them. It is not up to the masses to pigeonhole them into heterosexuality because of their dating history. We have the power to self identify and those who wish to thrust any label other than the one we choose are the ones in the wrong here.
A somewhat outdated model to describe the diversity of non-monosexual identities is the Kinsey Scale. It’s not perfect as it doesn’t take into account romantic orientation or non-binary genders, but it’s a simplistic way to visualize a very non-simplistic array of sexualities.
The scale rates 0 as completely heterosexual and 6 as completely homosexual. Everything else in between is bisexual (which again, it’s outdated and simplistic, but for the purposes of this argument we are using this as an example). It doesn’t matter if you are a 1, which is closer to the heterosexual side, or a 5, which is closer to the homosexual side.
If you are not on either end of the scale, you are bisexual (or queer or pansexual) and that doesn’t change because of who you are currently dating or who you’ve dated in the past. You are what you are and, again, that’s it.
It’s been an absolutely hellish few days for non-monosexual people on social media. This isn’t exactly new, but whenever a high profile person comes out in any form, Twitter gets swarmed by hate and ignorance. I’m glad Jameela Jamil stepped away from it all because I can’t even imagine what hellish nonsense are flooding her mentions right now. Take a break, girl. You don’t need this.
And for the rest of us folk who deal with hate and ignorance to a lesser degree, I’m urging those of us that have the disposition to keep going to please keep pushing back against this ridiculous binary way of categorizing sexuality. We can’t let this type of offensive biphobia and queerphobia fly.
Sexuality is fluid and diverse and beautiful. And we are the ones who control that narrative. Not the haters.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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