in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities
(LGBTQ), three-time Olympic gold medalist and three-time
MVP of the Women�s National Basketball Association (WNBA),
Sheryl Swoopes, is a �lie-sexual,� another sister-girl on
the �down low� with the incredulous news that she�s now
engaged to marry a man.
incurable homophobes, especially of the fundamentalist Christian
variety type, who pedal their �nurture vs. nature� rhetoric
that homosexuality is curable with reparative theories,
they see Swoopes as the prodigal daughter who has finally
found her way home to Jesus.
And to many of my heterosexual
African American brothers, Chris Unclesho, the man Swoopes
is engaged to marry, is the MAN! A bona fide �dyke whisperer�
who has turned Swoopes out to the sexual joys of what it
is to be with a man.
Depending on which of
the above groups you identify with, Swoopes� news sends
seismic shock waves to those of us fighting the de-medicalization
and de-stigmatization of queer sexualities.
And for those cheering
Swoopes� news with thunderous applauses that she has gone
straight again, proves sadly, to folks like Republican presidential
hopeful, Michele Bachmann, that our continuous struggle
for LGBTQ civil rights is nothing merely than a politicized
hedonistic gay agenda to upend traditional family values.
�It is amazing to me
that after all the HOOPLA surrounding Sheryl Swoopes �coming
out� � her recent marriage to a MAN get�s virtually no attention.
Is she now UN-GAY? Why is the fact that this woman went
through a period of �trial� in her life NOT getting any
press? It is obvious that the woman, just like every other
gay or lesbian man or woman in the world, had at that time
made a CHOICE to entertain the idea of being with someone
of the same gender. Sheryl is just more proof that no one
is born gay, it is a learned behavior brought on by experiences
and circumstances in one�s life. I am very happy for Sheryl
� but the �gay agenda� driven PRESS can bite it,� an ESPN.com blogger wrote.
My head spins at the
thought of how Christian� de-gaying� counseling services,
like Dr. Marcus Bachmann�s, Michelle Bachmann�s spouse,
has could politicize Swoopes� seemingly sexual flip-flopping
as their poster-child.
1997, a pregnant Sheryl Swoopes, promoting a heterosexual
face for the WNBA was the cover-girl for the premiere issue
of �Sports Illustrated Women.� At the time, Swoopes was
married to her male high school sweetheart. In 2005, Swoopes
came out as a lesbian, becoming the second in the WNBA,
and endorsed the lesbian travel company �Olivia.� She was,
at this time, partnered with Alisa Scott, an assistant coach
for the Houston Comets that Sheryl played for from 1997-2007.
And now, in 2011, she�s with a male.
And while many suspect
Swoopes has indeed found Jesus in a Bible-thumping homophobic
church because there been a lot about God posted on her
Facebook which might explain her flip-flopping, Swoopes
has neither renounced homosexuality nor retracted her 2005
�coming out� statements about being a lesbian.
�There is nothing I�ve
been through in my life that I regret, or that I would go
back and change. I feel like everything that happened -
personally and professionally - I went through for a reason,
and I learned from those things, �Swoopes just recently
reporter, Mechelle Voepel.
What lies at the center
of various reactions to Swoopes� announcement is not her
seemingly duplicitous sexual flip-flopping, but rather our
ignorance and phobia about bisexuality that complicates
people�s � straight and LGTQ - understanding of the scope
Just lollygagging on
the phone last evening to a dear friend, who�s lesbian,
about Swoopes, she said, �Well, I kinda� could see how a
sister might be bisexual, but there�s no such thing as a
bisexual brother. Girlfriend, he�s really on the �down-low.��
Bisexuals are an underrepresented,
if not invisible, group to those - in both heterosexuals
and LGBTQ communities - who can only conceive of a gay/straight
binary paradigm. The Kinsey scale, developed out of Alfred
Kinsey�s research on human sexuality in the 40s and 50s,
explains the fluidity of sexuality ranging from 0 to 6,
meaning exclusively heterosexual to exclusively homosexual,
respectively, and where a bisexual is 3.
Bisexual women are between
a rock and a hard place within gay and straight circles.
Within bi-phobic lesbian
circles, the place of bisexual women within the queer women�s
community is sadly still marginal, if not non-existing,
and their commitment to feminism is always suspect. Many
lesbians believe that any woman who has the ability to sexually
love another women also has a political obligation to identify
as lesbian. Others believed that the compulsory nature of
heterosexuality in our culture precludes all possibilities
of women freely choosing a heterosexual relationship.
And within homophobic
straight circles, the place of bisexual women is a push
toward them as devout heterosexual Christians.
Who Swoopes is partnered
with or married to is really none of our business.
But this fact is for
For those who are in
the straight camp cheering Swoopes for �crossing back over�
or in the queer camp castigating her for �flip-flopping,
it all signals our bi-phobia placed on Swoopes.
Editorial Board member, the Rev. Irene Monroe, is a religion
columnist, theologian, and public speaker. She is the Coordinator of
the African-American Roundtable of the Center for Lesbian and
Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry (CLGS) at the Pacific
School of Religion.
A native of Brooklyn,
Rev. Monroe is a graduate from Wellesley College and Union
Theological Seminary at Columbia University, and served
as a pastor at an African-American church before coming
to Harvard Divinity School for her doctorate as a Ford Fellow.
She was recently named to MSNBC�s list of 10 Black Women You Should Know. Reverend Monroe is the author
of Let Your Light Shine Like a Rainbow Always: Meditations on Bible
Prayers for Not�So�Everyday Moments. As an African-American
feminist theologian, she speaks for a sector of society
that is frequently invisible. Her website
to contact the Rev. Monroe.