Today, this appeared on the Internet: https://caferisque.blogspot.com/2016/10/labels-by-cardeno-c.html
E(dited)T(o)A(dd): The author has apologized on the original post to commenters and has stated that the way they (and I) took the post was, thankfully, the opposite of their intent. I am choosing to leave this post up, because hey, the fact that I had the words in the first place highlights just how much lack of precision on these two issues can cause harm and confusion.
Hi! I’m bisexual and I have celiac disease. Sometimes, both of those things make moving through the world a little strange or a little difficult. But not usually in combination. And then today happened.
First, celiac disease is not an allergy. It’s an autoimmune disease wherein the body destroys parts of its apparatus in response to ingesting gluten. This destruction leads to both rapid onset symptoms (which vary from person to person, but can include severe intestinal distress, migraines, ataxia, aphasia, and internal bleeding) and increased risk in the long-term of things like epilepsy and cancer. Basically, it’s really, really important for celiacs not to eat any gluten.
Celiacs aren’t the only people who can’t eat gluten or gluten containing grains, however. I fenced with a woman who had an anaphylaxis response to wheat. I have several friends with gluten-intolerances that cause a range of discomforts. Some people avoid gluten because of health benefits that are real or imagined for them.
Now, I love food, and I love to eat out, and I do this even though I have celiac disease. And when I go to restaurants that are not specifically framed as celiac-aware, I often say I have an allergy and will get very ill if I eat any wheat. Why? Because people have heard of allergies. Not everyone has heard of celiac disease. If the server has time and inclination I’m happy to provide more info, but NYC is fast, and I don’t need the world to crawl to a standstill to eat safely most of the time.
This doesn’t make me a liar. It makes me expedient. I am also not required to disclose the details of my medical condition to a restaurant beyond what they need to know.
Next, bisexuality. That means I’m attracted to two or more genders. I use the word bisexual for myself. I also use the word queer because I like it and fought for it and earned it and it covers my sexuality and my gender. I also use the word gay, because I’m old, and sometimes I like the one word for all of us. Similarly, lesbian. That’s what people see when I walk down the street, considering I’ve been partnered to a woman for a decade. Basically, you never need to know more than any of those labels and none of those labels suggest duplicity when used by me or anyone else.
For me to respond effectively to the offending blog post, I’d have to be clear on its point, which I’m not. Is queerness a disease? Is being bisexual a form a lying? Are people required to fully disclose their entire sexual history and get approval from others before claiming a label? Is bisexuality the worst because you don’t want women contaminating your M/M books? Legit, I couldn’t figure it out.
I just know I was born in 1972, came of age as queer in the age of AIDS in New York City, the child of parents who were professional artists.
So you do not, where I can hear or see you, compare any form of queerness to a disease. I was a child who stood in doorways and watched people like me die.
And I also know that I was born in 1972, a point at which celiac disease was little recognized in the U.S. I spent my childhood, my teen years, and my 20s ill. Skinny, sickly, villified, wasting away and being told it must be because of something I was doing (like that whole being bisexual thing). I received 17 diagnoses that turned out not to be correct until, at 33, we finally figured out I had celiac disease, because when the doctor said “maybe it’s cancer” and “let’s take out your gallblader and see what happens” I was done, and did the research to save my own damn health.
I am, at times, the king and queen of metaphors that get more than a little bit away from me. And I understand that there’s all this agita in parts of Romancelandia about bisexual characters lately. Write them; don’t write them; make them cis; make them trans; make them male, female, non-binary; put them in same-sex relationships, put them in different-sex relationships; make them monogamous; make them polyamorous; make them villains; make them heroes — I don’t actually care. And I don’t care why.
But I’m not a disease. And I’m not a lie. Not because of my gender. Not because of my sexuality. And not because of a disease I actually have.