These are my/our thoughts and objections on the OutProud survey of queer youth, jotted down as I took it and then emailed to them. Halfway through, I realized that they were the same people that hosted the forum that had the post that caused the rant that Jack built, or at least that started this whole bisexual area for us. How interesting :-) I included these thoughts here, even though they're out of context and unfinished, because they are so universal to everything gay media and the gay community seem to produce in the way of content for all GLBT folks. Every survey I've taken, anyway. I encourage you, if you are or ever were a queer youth, to go and take their survey yourself - they have one every couple of years, so you may find a survey or just the most recent survey results there. Oh, and apparently we took the test somewhat as "female" - I think they had a question at the beginning that would determine what version of the test one got.

- When you ask how old I was when i first had "female sex," and then ask how old I was when i first had sex with a woman, and then go on, it makes me feel like you don't care when I may have first had sex with a man (or anyone else) because you're only interested in my homosexual experiences. I mean, there are other places above where the questions are equally asked about males and females - what's up with the lack of interest in my first bisexual experience?
not to mention that it's hard enough answering these questions just for male-and-female - I feel vaguely guilty saying that the first time I had sex with a woman was when i was 18, when I helped them come out as FTM during our relationship. Or that the youngest female I ever had sex with was 17, when they identified as multigendered and later as a boy. What I'm saying here is not "oh whine whine, you didn't include us trannies, et cetera" - that's certainly a valid statement to make about this survey, but what I really want to express is that your survey results will be thrown off by the amount of guessing people have to do to fit genderqueers and other trannies into their answers. I want to make sure you folks keep that in mind.

- I think it would be really good for safer sex and queer youth health in general if you included questions about other STDs than HIV. For example, I would not have unprotected oral sex with someone if I thought they were HIV-negative, but I would if i thought they were HIV-negative AND did not have any other communicable infections or diseases.

- I think it would be really neat if you included questions about "bisexual virginity" with the "gay virginity" question. A lot of the time, the gay community/media makes things into binaries - you have gay experiences or hetero experiences - and then only asks about the gay ones - and if someone is a gay boy and boinks a girl, they say it's a straight experience or something. and we're left thinking "then what's a bi experience? when do i get to be having bisexual sex or be in a bisexual relationship?" It would just be so nice if for once someone asked those questions and made everyone *else* worry about whether they'd had a bisexual old time with someone or not, instead of trying to make us be "half-straight."

- What's up with "with a dildo"? Everything's "with a dildo." I was all "well, I originally thought 'i'm not a virgin anymore' when 'another girl and I mutually masturbate(d) each other with our fingers,' but later on it felt like another de-virginizing when i was fucked with someone's fingers." And then I looked at the list and it made that decision EASY because i *couldn't* say that I was fucked with someone's fingers. It had to be "with a dildo." Frankly, a dildo won't even *fit* inside me. A finger just about will. If you're lucky.

- "Did you know that you can get more information on safer sex on the Web (www.safersex.org)?" Goodness. What if I knew I could get more information on the web, but I didn't use that url? Let's just pretend that's a "yes" and not a paid advertisement.

- It asked me about Female Sex. And I assumed the best and assumed that it would just offer me both categories. That perhaps it offers everyone both categories. Apparently not. Fuck this! From a strictly political sense, it's nice that the default for something is female - but in all other senses, what the hell?!

- "When having vaginal sex, do you use a condom or dental dam?" I use a glove.

- "How do you feel the media (newspapers, movies, magazines, TV, radio) portrays gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people?" Never do this! never ever do this! They do not portray us all the same way! The media *sometimes* portrays gays and lesbians as "normal people." They almost never portray trannies as normal people, or even as people worthy of basic respect. And neither the gay nor straight medias portray bisexuals very well. So I guess I can re-read the question as asking about what *my* experience reading about queers in the media is, and put "mostly negative," but the tremendous differences still bother me in the back of my mind.
(one way of correcting this might be if your eventual survey results show how each subgroup of queerdom feels about the media, but it still poses a statistical problem because you don't know how each of those people were responding, whether they were referring to group X being portrayed badly, or whether they responded just about how gays were portrayed fairly well after decades of activism because that's what they thought you probably meant....)

- "When you watch a movie or TV show that depicts queer people in a negative way, what effect does it have on how you think other people will view your sexuality?" Er... seeing negative portrayals of sexuality has a much lesser effect on me than negative portrayals of transgendered folks, partly because i am more comfortable in my sexuality and partly because i feel that there are also a lot of positive portrayals of queer sexuality out there. But you don't ask about how they'll view my gender expression :)

- you should have comment fields beneath each question so people can expand on their answers like this ;-)

-I think Ricky Martin is bisexual, and I wish he would get over it and just say so, and I wish the entire gay media including this survey would entertain that possibility for ALL the potentially queer celebrities out there. (It probably sounds like splitting hairs. but there *is* a difference, and it frequently explains a lot and ends a lot of argument about things like "but so and so has a wife!"

- "Which of these magazines have you purchased at least once?" Oh my god you MEAN MEAN MEAN people. Everywhere else I was willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and think you were actually trying to include bis and trannies, but this makes it look SO much like you don't. Because as I clicked through the previous questions about having rented queer movies and bought queer magazines, I was thinking "I hardly ever buy queer magazines, they exclude me so determinedly - oh what am I saying, I buy every copy of Anything That Moves and I had a subscription to Transgender Tapestry. I buy queer magazines all the time!" Never even mind lesser-known mags like Black Sheets and Chrysalis. Then I got to your list of "queer" magazines and it was all the magazines I had avoided or given up on, and some gay-focused magazines that i hadn't even heard of and had to look up.
This is particularly bad since Anything That Moves recently had to have a fundraiser to prevent themselves from going under and leaving us without ANY major or national bi magazines.
Even a simple "other" box for queer mags would be a small help. (And what about Girlfriends Magazine? this really seems like a list of "white gay male magazines," not queer ones.)

- "Are you aware that the longest-running magazine for queer and questioning youth - Oasis - is on the Web?" I know that you guys sponsor the survey, but really, what's wrong with a simple "yes" for those of us who know and don't read it? :)

- "During your life, how many times have you taken steroid pills or shots without a doctor's prescription?" You should know that testosterone is considered to be a steroid (despite being VERY different from taking massive doses of body-building chemical steroids) and so you may get a bunch of FTMs skewing these results - since many FTMs deal with truly crappy medical treatment by "borrowing" each others' prescriptions or buying T on the "black market" before they can get a prescription.

- "During the past year, have you ever attempted to hurt yourself (cutting, hitting, etc.)?"
This is fucked-up. There are many, many reasons for self-injury that do not involve self-punishment, and by not including them (or even "yes, for another reason") you're promoting the general stereotype that people who self-injure hate themselves and want to punish themselves. This is certainly one reason for self-injury, but there are many others, like needing to escape emotional pain (for example, of queerphobic parents or abuse memories/situations) and replacing it with physical pain, or being completely detached and dissociated from one's body/emotions and needing to feel *some*thing, or using the endorphins as a means of escape. ("Never" is also not the best wording for an answer to "during the past year," although that's a pretty small detail.)

- "Have your religious beliefs affected your acceptance of your sexual orientation?" Yes - they have made it easier to accept.
It would be really good if "current religious affiliation" were checkboxes instead of radio buttons, so all the Christian Pagans and Buddhists who were raised Quaker and Methodists who go to Unitarian churches could represent their whole religious affiliation experience.

- "Which of these statements most closely says how you feel about being queer?" Darn it - another one where most of the options have "it's only sexual orientation" blinders on :(

- "If you could change your sexual orientation, would you?" This is also a hot question in the transgender community - it would be neat if the next survey had a question for "If you could stop being transgendered, would you?"

- Answering the abusive relationship question is interesting for me. I am a multigendered tranny boy and my abusive relationships were with FTMs, who I would not describe as being the same gender as me, although we're close. From the sex questions, it looks like the survey will record this as incidence of lesbian domestic violence. *sigh*

- "Do you feel as though you are a part of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community?" For pity's sake. See above comment about conflating queer identities in the media section. I definitely do not feel like I am a part of the gay community, I used to feel like I was a part of the lesbian community, and I do not feel like a part of either anymore, but I AM very much a part of the bi and trans communiTIES. But when it comes to "the glbt community," it generally becomes "the gay community" - as in the multiple glbt magazines and newspapers and websites and organizations that focus almost entirely on gay issues and people. So I would say I wasn't... argh.

- "Do you feel that being openly gay could affect your salary potential?
Yes, I will earn less by being openly gay
Yes, I can earn more by being openly gay"
i will never be openly gay. i can't imagine what my experience being openly gay at work will be. I have thought about being openly gay. I am dating someone that I could call my boyfriend (another multigendered trannyboy, possibly the only situation in which i could honestly say i'm in a same-sex relationship ;) I could refer frequently to my boyfriend. I could mention going to visit him on the weekends. And the reason I don't is that I know they would think I was openly gay. and i would be LYING if I let them think I was a gay man instead of a bisexual transgendered person, just as much as if I let them think I was a straight man or a straight woman or a lesbian. This causes me some trouble, and generally I just settle for my friends at work knowing everything about me, and letting everyone else see that I am a femmey boy while looking for more ways to be out. So I don't really think about what it would be like for me to be openly gay. Fortunately, I can say "not at all" at my current job.

- my future... "I hope to have a same-gender spouse?" What about just a spouse? what are bisexuals supposed to do with this - express a same-sex preference or none at all? that's so the opposite of the whole point of being bi! :) Yeah, i know you have the option of saying "I hope to live in a committed relationship." But that's the difference between marrying and living in a committed relationship - it doesn't read as a parallel option to the above question.