Kelly Anne: Leah, I'm curious to know, what are some of the biggest misconceptions that you've come across about queer people?
Misconception #1 - The Queer Community is 100% Mutually Supportive
Dr. Leah Tidey: It's so interesting. We make this assumption that the queer community all loves each other because we all need rights. And, there's actually a lot of tension. There can be a lot of tension between lesbian women and gay men because gay men have better representation, more resources, and less stereotypes around them.
Misconception #2 - Bisexual Women Are Actually Just Afraid to Say They’re Lesbians
Dr. Leah Tidey: Folks who are bisexual, we kind of get the shit end of both sticks quite honestly. When I was younger and said I was bisexual, there were a lot of people who thought I was actually a lesbian, and just wouldn’t admit it. Here’s the thing, I do love women. I've been in relationships with other women. And if I hadn't married my husband, I may just as likely have married a woman. I still would have been bisexual, though.
Misconception #3 - “Queer Women Are Just Looking for Attention”
Dr. Leah Tidey: The flip side for bisexual folks is other folks assuming you’re actually straight, but are just calling yourself bisexual for the attention. Sometimes people make the assumption that people who are bisexual are “fence sitters”. We just haven't picked a side or chosen a lane.
Misconception #4 - Bisexual Women Find it Easy to Belong
Dr. Leah Tidey: You see a lot of bisexual queer women in straight-passing relationships who really just don't know where they fit in the world. They want to go to pride and live their life in what they would see as a “queer way”. But, the world wouldn't necessarily see them in that way. Because I’m married to a man, people ask if I’m formerly bisexual and now straight. It’s so strange, because if someone was straight and they were single, I wouldn’t ask if they’re asexual because they’re not in a relationship with someone else right now.
Misconception #5 - Sexuality is Simple
Dr. Leah Tidey: Our sexualities are so much more expansive than just who we're in a relationship with, who we have sex with or who are attracted to. People don’t realize that it's hugely complex. I teach a third year sexual health class and one of our first classes teaches them this theory on sexual configurations. I get them to draw and map out their sexuality. They draw things like the first time they felt sexual attraction to another person, for example. They start thinking about things like, what kind of erotic relationships might they want? What kind of intimate relationships do they want? And it gets them to get outside of just sex and only thinking about the gender of whoever they’re attracted to. And as soon as you open your mind up to those things, oh, man, it's so much more fun and interesting and you realize just how rich and complex we all are.
Dr. Leah Tidey had so many other thoughtful insights about sex education, sexual orientation, and relational orientation during her conversation with the Woman Beings. Listen to the rest of the interview here.