While four lovely lesbians, three hot bi babes and two enchanting transdykes flung Bonnie colorful tokens of their esteem via the Internet, one woman shot back a flaming e-mail about her use of the word “bi-dyke” to identify herself. The flamer insisted that “bi-dyke” was an oxymoron: either you were bi or lesbian, but you couldn’t be both.
The woman, who described herself as an “old school butch,” insisted that Bonnie was trying to steal lesbian identity by using the word “dyke” to describe herself (even in hyphenated form), and what was she doing on a lesbian list anyway? The old-school butch was good and tired of bisexuals trying to force their way into lesbian spaces, so why didn’t Bonnie just go where she belonged and play (only) with the other bisexuals? And what the hell, demanded the Big Bad Butch, did she mean by “bi-dyke,” anyway?
The old-school butch was good and tired of bisexuals trying to force their way into lesbian spaces, so why didn’t Bonnie just go where she belonged and play (only) with the other bisexuals? And what the hell, demanded the Big Bad Butch, did she mean by “bi-dyke,” anyway?
Bonnie e-mailed back, “It means that I feel like a dyke who’s bi, not like a mostly or outwardly straight woman who also happens to make love sometimes to other women. The community in which I feel most at home is the queer community, and I have more in common historically, culturally and temperamentally with lesbians than I do with most straight women. As to what ‘bi-dyke’ means to other women who use the term — well, you’ll just have to ask them.”
Bonnie didn’t get a particularly courteous reply. It was clear that the woman didn’t need Bonnie to tell her what “bi-dyke” meant. She just needed to bust out of the time warp in which she had been trapped, like a bug in amber, since the 1970s. Bonnie didn’t say that to her. She was still trying to engender a respectful dialogue. It wasn’t until three long winter months later, during which Bonnie had to parry biphobic sallies from the soi-disant “old school butch” every time she mentioned the word “bi” on the list, that Bonnie decided she was just dealing with an unreconstructed Biphobic Butch.
It was time to unsheathe the sword of snarkiness from its ancient, tattered wrappings. She opened her laptop Book of Power and consulted the oracular online Urban Dictionary. A “byke,” it told her, “from ‘bisexual dyke,'” was “a lesbian or dyke-identified woman who acknowledges a sexual or emotional affection for men, also known as a ‘bi-dyke.'” Similarly, Bonnie defined “Snart” as “snarky art, often used to enlighten the piss-ignorant.” It was time to open a can of Snart, to cry “Havoc!” and unleash the dogs of Snart, to wield the flaming sword of Snart in the service of all that was good and right and true.
The glittery Sword of Snart was made of watered Damascus steel, forged in the fires of fag-phobia and cooled by the tears of a million derided queens. In its hilt gleamed the four Jewels of Self-respect, Self-determination, Self-love and Self-definition. Its edge could split the hair on the leg of a dust-mite, and shave the down from the cheek of a catamite. No man knew where the Sword of Snart was hidden, nor no woman neither, but there were several sex-positive recreational gender-blenders in Bernal Heights who could give you the address in exchange for a single pomosexual, transtheorist, lipstick lesbian kiss, and Bonnie was friends with them all.
The glittery Sword of Snart was made of watered Damascus steel, forged in the fires of fag-phobia and cooled by the tears of a million derided queens. In its hilt gleamed the four Jewels of Self-respect, Self-determination, Self-love and Self-definition.
Having found and burnished the Sword of Snart, Bonnie enlisted the help of powerful search engines to locate other bi-dykes. She discovered no fewer than 25,000 Google references to the term. It became clear that there were as many different kinds of bi-dykes as there were bi-dykes themselves. One of the bi-dykes Bonnie found had chaired the committee organizing the Ninth Annual International Conference on Bisexuality, and was also a poly kinky Wiccan chaplain. Another was an out bi dyke member (she disdained the hyphen) of the AC Transit Board, the immensely powerful agency that controlled all the buses in the East Bay. There were FTM bi-dykes, MTF bi-dykes, and bi-dykes who just said “I’m a bisexual woman who’s dyke-identified, claro?” and then got on with the serious business of soliciting sex on the Internet. Bonnie discovered that she and the other bi-dykes even had their own comic strip: Liliane, Bi-Dyke by Leanne Franson. Apparently the very center of the bi-dyke universe was somewhere near Toronto.
Bonnie imagined summoning all these bi-dykes to her aid in her fight with the Biphobic Butch. So many of them were genderqueer in wild and wonderful ways, and their sexualities were all over the map of the known perverted World. She would raise the Sword of Snart and utter an earsplitting war cry. All the bi-dykes in the world and all the other gender deviants and people with alternative sexualities oppressed by the mainstream lesbian and gay community would rush to her side and join the fray. With the AC Transit Bi Dyke in charge of every bus in town, they would control all movements of ground forces. The Amazons and the Transgender Warriors would lead the frontal attack, the Gender Outlaws would fight a guerilla war in the streets of San Francisco, and the Gender Subversives would conduct a counter-espionage campaign in the suburbs from San Mateo to Walnut Creek. The Poly Pagan Priestesses and the Two-Spirited People would perform arcane rituals to guarantee their victory. She could almost hear the skirl of bagpipes as the company of Ren Fest Fags marched over Mt. Tamalpais in their kilts, jerkins, hauberks, codpieces and every bit of antique detritus they could scrounge from six centuries and four continents. “Back off, Bigoted Butch!” they shrilled.
“Bonnie, I can’t believe someone would give you a lesson in the word ‘dyke’! I think ‘bi-dyke” is a great term and makes it very clear to anyone who wishes to really listen and understand that you identify as bisexual and are primarily woman-identified. The important thing is that we self-identify, that we call ourselves what feels best to us. For me, the term ‘bi-dyke’ gives me a feeling of strength and unity. I think of it as another way of celebrating the word ‘dyke’.”
Under the calming influence of Lord Hastie’s reasonable rhetoric, Bonnie’s wrath abated somewhat, and she returned to her researches. The question became, Bonnie realized: Who had the right to tell another woman what to call herself, or how to identify? What authority would be issuing sexual identity cards, and how would the sexual identity police enforce membership in the categories they deemed legal? Finally Bonnie found a website called Kreative Korps that gave her an answer. The site listed some 900 gender/sexuality names, of which bidyke (now a single unhyphenated word) was just one. Others included “trisexual,” “fourth gender,” “hard femme,” “library dyke,” “homovestite,” “MTFTM,” and “do-me queen.” Wrote the author of the site: “I will not attempt to define all these terms, since no English words could do any of them justice. The exact meaning of each one is undefinable, and there probably isn’t an exact meaning anyway, since some of these even differ among people.”
Zie then went on to suggest visitors combine terms for their gender, sex, orientation, sexuality, identity, etc., pointing out that “there are a total of 8.4527_10 to the 270th power or 8.4 novemoctogintillion possible combinations, more than there are elementary particles in the universe,” and invited readers to “[s]end any suggestions for sex, gender, or orientation terms to genderterms at kreativekorp dot cjb dot net. Send any flames, hate mail, or homophobic/transphobic crap to /dev/null.” If that wasn’t an example of consummate Snart, Bonnie didn’t know what was.
By the time she had finished her search, Bonnie understood there need be no Battle of the Bi-Dykes. She had natural allies all over the known perverted World. The evolution of language and attitudes was clearly on her side. She could call herself whatever she pleased, and she didn’t have to worry about offending some ungallant old-school butch who just crawled out from under a lesbian separatist rock. She thrust the Sword of Snart into a chunk of granite at the corner of Castro and Market. There it remains, awaiting the day that another righteous cause shall arise, and the anointed Autogynephiliac, Bitchboi, Transhuman, Cisgender Boy or Hermaphrodyke shall wrench it free and wield it once again.