DiversifYA: Corinne Duyvis

CorinneToday, we have the awesome Corinne Duyvis on DiversifYA! Corinne is ridiculously talented both as artist and as writer. Her 2014 debut OTHERBOUND, which I had the pleasure to read, is a fresh, diverse, and spellbinding YA fantasy that you’ll want to add to your shelves soonest!

She’s also one of the co-moderators of Disability in Kidlit, one of my favorite new blogs in the blogosphere! So basically, go follow her everywhere.

1. How do you identify yourself?

A queer disabled woman. But to be more specific, a bisexual woman with autism and ADD. I’ll be focusing on the bisexual aspect for these questions.

(As you can see, I have noooo problem with labels. I find they make it easy to get certain concepts across and in forming communities. IMO, labels are only problematic when people can’t see that the labels are just a part of a whole, or when they become limiting in any way.)

2. What did it feel like growing up as a bisexual woman?

In my case: pretty average! I didn’t realize I was bisexual until I was in my early teens. Growing up, I had occasional crushes on boys, but nothing very intense. I realized I was bisexual not by crushing on a girl, but–um–via a music video. I was oddly intrigued by the sight of a woman’s lower back.

I started to wonder if I might be a lesbian.

Then I saw Brad Pitt in the movie Snatch and realized, no, definitely not a lesbian. (It was the boxing scene, yes.)

For a while, I was unsure, and kind of ‘tested’ myself by constantly checking who I felt attracted to, phsyically and/or emotionally, and it was all in a kind of off-hand way. I was lucky to grow up in a country where queer rights are rarely contested, and in a family where I knew no one would give a damn who I felt attracted to, so I was never actively concerned about my orientation. Over the course of a year or so, I think I just gradually accepted, “Okay, I’m bisexual.”

Later, I realized that there had been one or two girls growing up that at the time I thought I’d “admired” and wanted to “emulate.” Yeahhhhh. Keep telling yourself that, tiny Corinne.

Really, though, it didn’t strongly affect me or my experiences one way or another.

3. What are the biggest challenges? Conversely, what are the quirks/perks?

The perks are pretty straightforward: more options!

The challenges for me are very minor compared to those of many other bisexual people. I’m extraordinarily lucky: I have never dealt with any kind of overt, direct homophobia or biphobia. The worst I’ve had was my granddad grouching that bisexual people should really choose, since it was greedy. (I kindly asked him if he was attracted to both blondes and brunettes; he said yes. I asked him if he thought that was greedy. He seemed to get my point.)

Aside from casual homophobia from people around me, I mostly just get annoyed that people seem to forget that I’m bisexual. I’m fairly queer-presenting–very short hair, plaid button-ups, ribbed tank tops–and people who know I’m queer still tend to default to “lesbian.” They’ll make jokes about how I’m not into Matt Bomer (excusez-moi?) or talk about when I’m going to find a girlfriend.

This has even happened with people I’ve explicitly mentioned the word “bisexual” to! Once, I corrected someone, and she asked, “Yeah, but mostly women, right?” I just kind of blinked and went, “… not really…?”

There’s also other things that aren’t exclusive to being bisexual: At which point do you tell people? How do you let another girl know from afar that, yep, queer here, wink wink nudge nudge? Why do people I don’t know insist on asking me about my boyfriend or future husband, like there’s not even the option of my hooking up with a woman? Do I correct them? etc.

Again: I’m lucky. It’s mostly minor irritations for me.

4. What do you wish people knew about being a bisexual woman?

The definition of bisexual is not universally agreed upon. Some people see it as meaning that a person is attracted to both men and women. Others see it as a person being attracted to multiple genders, including genderqueer identities. I like the second definition. Some people use other words for that–pansexual, omnisexual–but I don’t identify with those terms as strongly.

Something I don’t see discussed often is that bisexuality can be very fluid. I have days where I feel very straight and almost feel guilty for identifying as bi. Other times, I feel flamingly gay. Sometimes I feel physically attracted to one gender and mentally attracted to another gender, and sometimes the other way around, and sometimes I worry that when I’m in a relationship with someone of one gender I really am going to miss the other gender.

I realize that last admission falls a little bit into a bi stereotype–wanting to have it all–but it doesn’t have to translate to being unfaithful. We all want what we can’t have sometimes. And if you’re attracted to multiple genders and you’re not poly, well, you’re just going to have to make those sacrifices.

5. What are the biggest clichés/stereotypes you’ve seen?

It’s pretty much just the basics: bisexuals are greedy, indecisive, cheaters, insatiable, etc. Seriously: blondes and brunettes, people. Blondes and brunettes. If my 80+ granddad can grok it, so can you.

5 Responses to DiversifYA: Corinne Duyvis

  1. Really awesome post! I checked out her book and it seems reallllllly exciting! The character was amazing! Just wanted her to know she has a fan in waiting

  2. God I love you. (And Brad Pitt in Snatch. I’ll be excusing myself for the rest of the day. Bye.)

  3. “Seriously: blondes and brunettes, people. Blondes and brunettes. If my 80+ granddad can grok it, so can you.”

    I laughed out loud. Excellent post. 🙂

  4. Libertad: Thank you! And I’m so glad you dig the sound of the book. I’m crossing my fingers it’ll live up to your expectations! 🙂

    Dahlia: I haven’t seen that movie in years. I really, really need to rectify that. (Also <3!)

    Michelle: Thank you kindly! That's my go-to explanation now.

  5. Just love your humor!! Great post!