Click here to go to the Home Page Our Bi-phobia placed on Sheryl Swoopes - Inclusion - By The Reverend Irene Monroe - Editorial Board

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To some 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.

BC Question: What will it take to bring Obama home?To 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 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.

In 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 told 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 of heterosexism.

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 sure:

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 is Click here to contact the Rev. Monroe.

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July 21, 2011 - Issue 436
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