Welcome, my friends, to a world without America. But I'm not here to talk about that so much. I'm here to talk about resistance, and a very personal reason why I will not stop resisting the fascism that seeks to grip my zombie nation forever.
If any of you watched this week's episode of The Real O'Neals, you would have seen a scene where Kenny, our gay Irish Catholic teenage protagonist, goes on a date with his first-ever boyfriend and, in his internal-monologue voiceover, wonders if there could be anything wrong with this Brett guy. This little list of potential reasons, from webbed toes to money problems, ends with a cheap and, for this show, surprisingly offensive "joke" - "Or worse...bisexual?"
That made me do a double take - like, did I really just hear that on a show about LGBT+ acceptance? I mean, it didn't feel too out of character for Kenny, young and naive as he is. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if actor Noah Galvin ad-libbed that line. Galvin's the main reason why I consider The Real O'Neals a problematic fave, mostly because of that interview last summer where he displayed so much bad taste.
A small number of Twitter people agreed with me with their likes and retweets - that "joke" crossed the line, plain and simple. And as far as I'm aware, not enough people have brought it to ABC's attention and/or gotten an apology from the show's producers.
That, I think, was the final straw that broke me down and convinced me I had to write this particular blog post.
Last year, I wrote about freedom of love and my (admittedly limited) exploration of my own sexuality. For about three years now, I've presented as straight, and considered myself straight, after an ill-fated attempt to come out to my parents as bi. They refused to believe it, and essentially scared me into denying it. They acted like I couldn't possibly know I was anything but hetero unless I'd experimented with sex, and as a virgin, I therefore had no right to define my identity as anything but what they said it was. They thought I was only saying so because I'd just started taking up writing and that somehow meant, as a budding artist, I had to fake bisexuality because it was "cool" or some shit. And the worst part was, they acted like me being attracted to men and women both was a one-way ticket to Hell, and that while being gay would be "bad enough" to them, being neither gay nor straight but somewhere in between would be outright unacceptable.
That was, literally, my first experience with biphobia and bi erasure. It educated me on how so many truly god-awful stereotypes surrounded bi people - especially the stereotype of being too curious to ever be truly satisfied, or that it's fake and disingenuous and put on solely for attention or because you can only be straight, gay, or confused or some shit. Uh, no. Just because a guy leans more towards the hetero end of the Kinsey scale, and actively pursues relationships with women, doesn't necessarily make him hetero.
As it is right now, my home, the home I've lived in for 23 years and counting, is not a safe space. Though my parents are far from Trumpists - they had enough common sense to vote for Hillary, even if they disagree with her on so much politically - their frequent casual homophobia and biphobia (and transphobia, though that doesn't affect me as directly) as long as I'm living with them, I can't be out publicly in real life. So I don't confess this to people I actually know in real life anymore - although that could soon change. (Maybe if that girl from Washington in my poetry class is open to dating me, I could start with her. Just be casual about it, Ricky, okay?)
Online, I use an alias. Online, I can be myself a little more. Online, I know people who wouldn't refuse to accept the truth the way my parents would. Online, I have a persona that's more free than my real-world one to reflect who I really am.
I've held back on taking advantage of that freedom too long.
So we'll try this again.
Hi, I'm Ricky Pine, and I'm a bi dude.
So now you have another idea why I write what I write - amazing YA paranormal sci-fi urban fantasy that just so happens to feature LGBT+ characters. Now you know why my parents are all but forbidden from reading my books - they'd act all offended that I've spent three years creating some characters who don't exactly fit their cishet default, as I don't. I mean, I've spent years deliberately putting songs with subtle LGBT+-themed lyrics on my iPod and playing them knowing my parents won't realize I'm thumbing my nose at them. I've already been using sexual identity to rebel - low-key, but no less validly, I hope.
I've wanted to share this for so long, and for so long, I've forced myself (unhealthy though it is to do so) to hold back. I didn't feel I was ready, and I've been tempted to speak up so many times. But now, with my country officially dead from the neck up, I feel I have no choice. My parents think I'll be fine in a post-American world because of white privilege. I'm also invisibly marginalized, being on the autistic and bisexual spectra both. The only privilege I have is the passing kind, and slowly but surely, I'd like to give that up.
Until then, know that I'm still the same old Ricky Pine who keeps writing because it's all he knows how to do in life, keeps failing at making friends because of his damaging social awkwardness, and keeps on forever being that speedster boy waiting for his Supergirl. I'm just...improved, is all. And when one day I'm published and famous, I'll be able to share my true self - real name and all - with the world at last. I'll be able to express myself as I feel I should. And I'll hopefully feel less plagued with harmful feelings once I'm free to well and truly be my own man.
|I think we all need this today.|
To all my friends, you loyal Pinecone soldiers:
To all the LGBT+ creators I've engaged with on the internet - the aforementioned Z Brewer, Adam Silvera, Tiffany Rose, Tristina Wright, Caleb Roehrig, Mia Siegert, and many more than I can possibly name here - thank you all. Stay strong, stay safe, stay you.
To all those who might take offense that I've taken this step, I have no time for distasteful discourse. Take your trolling elsewhere, because you cannot change my identity, as my identity is integral to my resistance.
And until America roars back to life under proper, rightful, chosen-for-and-by-the-people leadership, please remember:
|Remember - Denis Leary is always watching. Always.|