Getting Sexually Literate: Allies, Biphobia, & Compersion
The world of sex is so vast and diverse, it can be hard to keep up.
Most people are pretty familiar with the heterosexual, cisgender, monogamous model of sex and sexual expression, but there is so much more out there. In honor of getting back to basics, because let’s be honest, we could all use a refresher now and then, we’re bringing you the “ABC’s of Sex” series.
Get ready as we embark on a journey of sexual discovery and exploration together. So buckle your seatbelt, and get excited…
A is for Ally
You’ve heard the term, but what does it mean? Is it like Survivor and you’re in an alliance with someone to try and win that million dollars? Well, yes and no. Being an Ally means you’ve teamed up with the LGBTQIA+ community to try and win equality for all people. While you don’t win any money, being a good person sure makes you feel like a million bucks!
Some allies are already within the community, such as a lesbian person being an ally to the bisexual community, but today we are looking at people outside of the community.
Allies are usually straight and/or cisgender people, who feel that it’s deeply important for everyone to be treated equally – both socially and politically. Allies use their privilege to challenge heteronormative behavior and fight against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. Sometimes people learn best from those similar to them, and having a fellow straight person explain the ways that LGBTQIA+ folks are socially and economically disadvantaged may have more impact on them.
It is necessary as an ally to be up to date on social and political issues, to be aware of the values and policies of political candidates you support, and question if they line up with your own. It’s also important to be vocal about your desire for equality, and to support businesses with appropriate anti-discrimination policies.
A quick and easy way to practice being a good ally is to stop assuming people you meet are straight. Don’t assume anyone’s sexual orientation or gender expression. Ever.
It’s also important to be aware of space that you shouldn’t take up as an ally. There has been an influx of straight customers in gay bars and clubs, and while the support is appreciated by many in the community, it’s important for people in the community to have a space where they can just be, without any comment or judgement. Your well-meaning words don’t always feels so wonderful. Plus, it’s nice to have a place where you can be yourself without observation. Imagine going into a sports bar, and experience several groups of gay people comment on how cute your straightness is. Then imagine that happen every. Single. Time.
Perhaps the most crucial aspect of being a good ally is listening. Really listening – not just waiting for your turn to speak so you can wow your gay friend with how woke you are (*eye roll*).
Really listen to people in the community and hold space for how they feel, their struggles, and their triumphs – without weighing in with your opinion. Check in on your gay friends to see how they are doing. This is especially crucial when troubling things are being publicized in the media.
When the pride march is over and streamers are being cleaned from the street, are you still being an ally?
B is for Biphobia
Ah, the “best of both worlds,” or “having my cake and eating it too,” or when your new partner breaks up with you for fear you’ll cheat. People who can love more than one gender have heard all these and more. Bisexual people are often misunderstood, ridiculed, over-sexualized, and even ostracized for their ability to love more than one gender.
Many bisexual people have been told that they are “just on a detour on the way to being gay,” or that it’s “just a phase.” However, being bisexual is a genuine sexual orientation in its own right, and may be static and unchanging. Bisexual people often feel that they do not have a safe place in either the LGBTQIA+ community, or the straight community, and can feel isolated and alone.
Biphobia can be perpetuated by someone of any sexual orientation – not just straight people.
Bisexual people face many negative stereotypes, and are often thought to be more sexual than their gay or straight counterparts. Not to mention, others often assume them to be promiscuous, which is hurtful and untrue.
Listen to your bisexual loved ones with kindness and compassion, and don’t assume you know anything about their sexual expression. In all honesty, this is actually just a great approach to take with anyone you encounter.
C is for Compersion
Compersion is the sensation of feeling joy in response to witnessing joy, particularly with a loved one. For example, have you ever watched a lover eat a delicious treat they had been craving? Watching them smile as they devour a delectable lemon tart, feeling your own mouth water as you look at the sour lemon and flakey buttery pastry hitting their tongue. You are filled with happiness watching them enjoy their treat.
Now replace that lemon tart with the delightful genitals of another person that your partner is devouring and you couldn’t be happier watching them enjoy. What’s that spell? Compersion! In the sexual realm, at least.
Compersion is certainly not a requirement to enjoy non-monogamy. However, if a person experiences compersion regularly, they may be more inclined to desire exploration of ethical non-monogamy. That said, even if a person does experience this, it’s not a ticket to a smooth ride on the non-monogamy train. Complicated feelings may still arise.
Leaning into feelings of compersion (sexual and non-sexual) in any relationship may strengthen the bond. One person doesn’t necessarily need to provide all the happiness and joy their partner feels. Seeing your partner as a separate entity from yourself is important to the health and longevity for any relationship, regardless of monogamy or non-monogamy.
We hope you enjoyed your ABC’s, stay tuned for our continued exploration of the sexual alphabet next week! Got any requests? Hit us with them in the comments.