Julie Burchill

In praise of bisexuality

In praise of bisexuality
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I've never seen a National Treasure whose head I didn’t have a strong urge to shove down the nearest toilet. So when I read that Christopher Biggins had entered the latest Celebrity Big Brother house for a rumoured £150,000 - far, far less than what I was offered, to put it mildly - I fair hugged myself with glee at how cheap they’d got him. I had every reason to dislike him already; many years ago, when I was showing off about what I’d be like if I was a gay man - ‘Rupert Everett, probably, or Oscar Wilde, or Arthur Rimbaud’ - my husband fixed me with a cold glare (for he dislikes bragging, which often makes me wonder why he married me) and said ‘No - you’d be like Christopher Biggins.’ I never really forgave the rotter for that.

Pretty soon Biggins had told a 'joke' about the Jews which was so vile that it left a Jewish housemate in tears. So imagine my delight when the foul fool was sent packing - not just for this, but for claiming that bisexual people were responsible for the spread of Aids. His exact words were ‘Gays had been really badly treated for so long. Then came a period where they were respected. But suddenly, a killer disease then came along which was attributed to homosexuals – but it was actually a bisexual disease. What the government didn’t realise is that there were bisexuals out there who were having sex with those people.’ (Dirty foreigners, one presumes.) ‘They then brought it back to their families over here and in America. That’s how it became a worldwide disease.’ Earlier, he’d treated us to a choice slice of slime-speak by decreeing (in a house which contains three beautiful bisexual women - Marnie Simpson, Aubrey O’Day and Samantha Fox - the chivalrous old charmer) ‘The worst type though is the bisexuals. What it is is people not wanting to admit they are gay.’ To which his sidekick Renee Graziano had the somewhat surreal cheek to agree: ‘That upsets me. You have to pick a team.’

Pick a team - you have to? Who died and made these two Queens of the May? But the blather of these blundering oafs did cause me to ponder that whereas it was once straight people who had a somewhat neurotic desire to put people in sexual straitjackets for various insecure reasons of their own, now increasingly homosexuals are doing it.

I myself have issues with ‘bisexuality’ - but that’s principally because I’m a word-snob, and it’s such a horrible one. It makes me think of wholesome, earnest things such as bicycles (an unfortunate coincidence, with all the added chance of becoming ‘the village bike’ which one who looks kindly on both genders may engender) and bifocals (pass the pipe and slippers) and bilinguals (poncey little things prancing off to the London Lycée in their preposterous rig-outs believing that demain belongs to them).

The word ‘bi-curious’ makes me feel even more like heaving. Just because I was in love with a girl for six months two decades ago, a swath of unappealing ‘straight’ females for quite a while saw fit to try it on with me after a few Babychams. ‘But I want to experiment with my sexuality!' they would wail as I ejected them into the night. 'Then buy a Bunsen burner and a Petri dish, and stick ‘em where the sun don’t shine!’ I would squeal indignantly. And the current Special Snowflake simper of 'sexual fluidity' makes me feel like burning a rainbow flag - it sounds like something you’d ask the pharmacist for a cure for in a hushed voice, all the while itching madly.

But the act of being bisexual - I prefer to call it 'sexually flexible' or even better 'spontaneous' - is truly to have drawn the golden ticket in the tombola of dirty joy. Yes, some bisexuals are miseries - my ex-girlfriend once sniggered to me that at every Freshers' Week at the universities she attended, there was inevitably a Bisexual Stall bearing the legend 'Twice the fun' and manned by a creature whose misery was so tangible that he made Morrissey look like Little Mary Sunshine. With certain women, you get the feeling that having had mutually dismaying relationships with as many men as they could physically manage, they decided to bat for both sides sheerly in order to double the number of potential partners they can make as miserable as they are.

But still I maintain that between the right two (or three, or four) people, bisexuality is a excellent thing. ‘Pick a team', indeed! We may all have sexual preferences - ever the rebel, I like tall, dark, handsome males best, and I’ve been with the same one for twenty years - but what would we think of a person who said ‘Oh, I’ll only sleep with white people - never black’ or ‘I’ll only sleep with people younger than me - never older’? We’d think they were narrow-minded knobs, and possibly prejudiced ones. How much healthier was the attitude of the late heart-throb James Dean when he said - more than half a century ago! - on being questioned on his sexual preferences ‘Well, I’m certainly not going through life with one hand tied behind my back.’

The beauty of Dean and the hideousness of Biggins perhaps gives us a clue to their opposing attitudes to bisexuality - the glorious casualness of the first, the uptight malice of the latter. Whatever his problems, James Dean was both attractive to and attracted to women, and had no reason to fear or loathe them. If he and a starlet were competing for a hunk, Dean would very likely have won. But how many men does Biggins have a chance with if a half-decent-looking broad sets her Dutch cap at the object of his clammy affections? His misogyny is breathtaking, even in these days of one-handed keyboard onanists. Early on in the show, he had opined that many successful women make it because they give oral sex to men, while also claiming that most women didn’t like doing it/weren’t any good at it ‘and this is why a lot of marriages fall apart.’

Interestingly, the equivalent of the sickening streak of misogyny which runs through certain homosexuals doesn’t exist in lesbians, though you’d think they’d have more reason to be hateful, what with the patriarchy and all that jazz. I find it difficult to believe that a lesbian would ever say of her father’s penis, even in jest, as Stephen Fry did of his mother’s vagina, ‘My first words, as I was being born, I looked up at my mother and said, "That's the last time I'm going up one of those."'

Whatever the night terrors of certain unappetising homosexuals, the fact is that gay men can fall in love with women, and gay women can fall in love with men, and remain very happy with them - look at Tom Robinson, and my adored mate the actress Jackie Clune. Putting someone in a box and demanding that they stay there is just as scared and small-minded when gay people do it as when straight ones do. People fancy who they fancy - and if you’ve got a problem with this, it’s probably because no one fancies you. Maybe get a spray tan, read a book, or cultivate a personality? But don’t try to lay the blame on those of us who remain open to all the fantastic possibilities that life, love and lust lays out like some shimmering smorgasbord before us. I’ve picked my team, and it’s called people.