“Bi” (Living Colour)

“Bi” could be an indication of psychopathology (if it appears after and even before a declaration), an original state (Freud), a natural proclivity (Mead), a set of desires beyond the binary (Garber), or a final, evolved status (after the churn of taking sides). (And there are at least least eight types of social scientific characterizations that discursively circulate, each with varying degrees of a subject’s investment/praxis.) On its face, it’s a neither/nor; with “tensions and the passions double amplified,” bisexuality is non-dispositive at its limit. Over life, decisions accrete, tendencies seem to appear, and behavioral scales are developed. Amid all the anxiety over a proper diagnostic, we actually need a “closet for the whole world to live in.” The stakes, then, haven’t been made high enough to avoid the “tranquilizing drug of gradualism.” But, contra MLK, it’s about “making [un]real the promises of democracy.”


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“Any Other Way” (Jackie Shane)

Jackie Shane had three strikes against him as he entered the sixties music business: he was queer, cross-dressing, and Canadian. Here, the singer’s friend has been sent to find him by his ex-girlfriend, in order to suss out how he’s doing since she dumped him (she’d love to know he’s miserable and repentant). Even his erstwhile friends are laughing at him behind his back. And Jackie actually is on the verge of tears, but not for her. “Tell her that I’m gay,” he suggests, and here he’s right on the line between “carefree” and “homosexual” (how you heard it, in 1963, depended upon whether you had queer ears). “Tell her I wouldn’t have it any other way,” however, is the key construction here. The implication that boy-girl love/sex is an “other way” subtly and slyly seeks to overturn the logic of the primary and secondary, the normal and the pathological. Yes, he’s out, but this is “it.”


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