Gaby Dunn On The Invisibility Bisexuals Face…

Gaby Dunn is a writer, journalist and comedian in New York City. She’s an editor at and a columnist for the New York Times Magazine.

Her web project – 100 interviews of people she knew existed in the world but had never met – was voted the Best Blog on Tumblr by the Village Voice in 2010.

She’s befriended “Goosebump” author R. L. Stine, flirted with porn actor James Deen and ambushed a taping of The Colbert Report to interview Stephen Colbert.

She’s one ballsy woman and I had the absolute pleasure to chat to her via Skype (so you’ll have to excuse the sound quality) about bisexualphobia and her recent article on “Passing for Straight” in which she talks about why the ‘B’ in LGBT is still confusing for all – even the gay community.

Transcript of interview below:

Mariella: Esther-‘Pocket-Rocket’-Duran!

Esther: Mariella-Mejia-Social-Social!

Mariella: I really really like that – we should do this again.
Guess what I have been doing?

Esther: What, what have you been doing?

Mariella: I’ve been chatting to one of my most admired writers on the internet

Esther: Please, tell me more…

Mariella: Look at you with your little segways, I just love it!

I’ve been chatting to Gaby Dunn…

Esther: Oh wow!

Mariella: Yeah, she’s a writer/journalist/comedian in New York City, she’s an editor of one of my favourite websites called and she’s also a columnist for New York Times magazine.

Esther: Amazing

Mariella: And now she’s going to be working on TV and doing Cosmo as well.

But do you know what the most exciting thing about our interview was, she told me she sneaked a lesbian story into Cosmo!

Esther: Oh wow, that would be great!

Mariella: I know! Who does that, isn’t that great?
Anyway, I had a really good chat with her; we talked about an article she wrote for on, which is “Passing for Straight” because Gaby Dunn is openly bisexual.

Esther: I see…

Mariella: She talks about the hardships she has when you don’t fit in. It’s like a grey area

Esther: You’re kinda like in-between…

Mariella: You are kind of an in-between.
It’s difficult in the LGBT community, but it’s also difficult in the heterosexual community.

But the funniest thing, is that she has a really, really interesting coming out story, listen to this:
Her mum sent her a text message and said R U gay?

Esther: No she didn’t..

Mariella: Yes she did! And do you know what Gaby said?

Esther: What did she say?

Mariella: She replied; 50%

Esther: Yeah!

Mariella: Her mum wrote back and said ‘you always do things halfway’ Isn’t that brilliant?!

Esther: It is brilliant!

Mariella: So anyway, I jump straight into the conversation with her about her coming out story and listen to what she has to say on bisexuality which is really cool.

Esther: Please…

Mariella: Your mum sent you a really amazing text message…

Gaby: Ah yes that joke goes over so well, she texted me are you a lesbian?

Like.. R U a lesbian and I was like ‘uhmmm, well that’s kind of a rude way to enforce this’ so I was like ‘uhmmm half? 50%

And then I thought she would have no idea of what I was talking about or I thought she would be like mad at me, but she was mad in a totally different way, she replied ‘you always do things halfway why don’t you go full lesbian?’ there’s a darker story behind that, wherein she loves my ex girlfriend, loves her, even before she knew we had dated, she was like ‘I love her’ – they’re like besties.

My mum does that with friends of mine, where she becomes their best friend.
So she and this girl became besties and then when I told her, she was thrilled, but then she still (when we broke up) kept that girl in the group of people she love. She’s like ‘be lesbian and be with her’ and I was like ‘sorry, sorry it doesn’t work out for you

Mariella: For those of you who haven’t caught on, it’s totally OK if you haven’t, Gaby Dunn is openly bisexual and dare I say, a potential role model – Gaby what do you think?

Gaby: That is ridiculous! 15 year old me would absolutely laugh her ass off to hear that, particularly as I was so shitty about it when I was young. But I think it’s like – I think my purpose is to normalise.

I don’t want it to be – I’ve kind of had this rude awakening as I was writing this book and I was writing in the book about the boyfriend I had at the time. I mentioned in the chapter about my ‘ex-girlfriend’ and then this guy… I went to the agent I had at the time and asked ‘am I going to have to explain? There’s no room in this chapter for me to put this in print P.S I date both

I’ve had people say ‘you said ex-girlfriend at the top and you said ex-boyfriend at the bottom’ like I made some kind of typo, and no, there was no typo, that’s what it was

In the comments of Thought Catalog there’s been that too.

I’ve written posts about problems with men and then the other article, ‘Passing for Straight’ – I’m just writing what I’m feeling.
I’ve had people in the comments be like ‘wait, I thought you were a lesbian? Wait, Gaby dated Josh, so she must not be a lesbian’ People are still genuinely confused and that’s sort of strange.

I wish it was more normalised, where I could say that and people would just say ‘oh, okay’ and people wouldn’t have that 30 second thing which I call ‘the light bulb’ – Where I’ll be talking to someone and I’ll be like ‘oh yeah when I was dating this person but then it’s a lesbian bar but Chris and I now go somewhere else’.
There’s a moment where there brain has to do jumping jacks and they think ‘oh, oooh’ so I’m trying to make it (through my writing at least) more normalised, where people can just skim and get it. Instead of them scratching their head ‘but she said…boyfriend? And then she said… I don’t und.. What is happening?

Mariella: Speaking about ‘Passing for Straight’ on Thought Catalog, you write there’s invisibility amongst bisexuals and you face that quite often. Even to other gay people, you just don’t exist.
Why do you think the world has such a hard time understanding bisexuals?

Gaby: I think it’s easier to go one way or the other, right?
It’s easier to understand the two ends of the spectrum, but if you’re sort of in the middle, they’re sort of confused because they can’t box you into anything or any culture.
There’s a very particular gay culture. I feel a bit like an outsider there, still, unfortunately. Where I’m met with sort of suspicion by like girlfriends that I’ve hung out with or if I’m for real or what/who is this person? What’s her cred?
Like, I have to read out my lesbian resume. Generally distrusted.

If I, even in a way, that straight people are like that. Boys I’ve dated have been ‘you had a girlfriend before, no big deal!’ but lesbians are ‘you had a boyfriend! What is this/ Get out of here!’ I understand their protectiveness, they don’t want their friend dumped for a guy, I get it, but it’s so sad to me, I want to engage with them and be a part of the community.

Megan Fox one time said ‘If I was a lesbian I would never date a woman who had touched men, it just seems so unclean to me.’ I was like ‘wow’…

Mariella: Wow

Gaby: Yeah, she said it in a magazine, I was like ‘Okay’…

Mariella: Well Megan Fox is definitely not a bisexual role model, I can tell you…

Gaby: It’s just sad, we’re all people. I get it that you’re protective of your community because you’ve faced problems in the past, but the answer isn’t to make bisexual people invisible.

Even on TV, I mean, I’m watching Buffy right now and they’re like ‘Willow dated dudes and now she’s dating Terra and is just gay now’. I’m pretty sure Willow is bisexual, they just won’t say the word, like why can’t they say the word? Strange.

Mariella:  We’ve still got a long way to go in mainstream media…

Gaby: Yeah, I mean, I’m starting to feel like it’s less and less important.
When I was a kid I could certainly use more celebrities and people I looked up to being out and screaming from the rooftop, versus I’m just trying to make it normal, talking about it the way I talk about anything else and trying to be this is normal.
The more normalised it is, the less weird it is that a 15 year old girl suddenly has a girlfriend.
I’m just trying to make it less of a struggle.

To me, when I was a kid, it was such a big deal, the end of the world.
More people that put out there, this is what I do, day to day, not a big deal, I live my life.

I think that’s for the best

Mariella: Yes, absolutely. Why do you think bisexuals are put into the untrusted circle?

Gaby: They can’t possibly imagine that you could stick to one gender- you must crave the other one. They’re missing the point of if you love the person you’re with, straight people do that too, you’re with a girl but you’re like ‘oh but my type is more this’ so you’ll have crushes on girls like that.

It’s not strictly a bisexual problem; I think men would be insecure with being left for a woman.
Although I have one ex that preferred that, then I can wash my hands of it, nothing I could have done. But I had one ex who was worried about it and I think women too, they think you must be thinking of the other one.

But in my experience, if I’m super into someone, I’m super into them and it’s not about, ‘I love both genitalia’ – it’s about that I don’t care about the genitalia. It’s less of greedy and need all of it and more of whatever is in there is fine to me.

I’ve had situations where ‘is that a guy or a girl? Don’t care, going to talk to them anyway’ Have a look, they could be either.

I think it’s less greediness and more openness. I feel bad that people think we’re out to get all the genitals, when mostly we’re a good person, at least in my case, I’m looking for a person I like and that’s secondary.

Mariella: Yeah, of course, do you know what I struggle with?

People who put bisexuals in this untrustworthy circle or corner that is, I’ve asked a lot of people, if someone said to me ‘I’m bisexual’ I would say ‘oh yeah?’ as if you had told me your favourite colour is blue, but for a long time, everyone says ‘oh, but she left me for a man’ it doesn’t matter if she left you for a man/woman, it’s the fact she left you.

Gaby: Yes! Exactly!

This is a different topic, but a lot of people think that bisexuality doesn’t/can’t exist. You have to on the way to one side or the other, or experimenting. I’ve had a gay guy tell me that I’m going to decide to be a lesbian and a straight guy tell me that I am going to end up with a dude.

Are you a fortune teller? How can you tell?

Mariella: Are you putting money on this, or?

Gaby: Where’s your crystal ball, how can you possibly know?

Mariella: Is there a spectrum, do you fall somewhere, or is it just…

Gaby: I think I’m in the middle, people ask me that and I just don’t think about it. Like this person is attractive.

As a kid, it never occurred to me to think like that. I just thought ‘oh pretty’ I wasn’t caring about that stuff, so I think I’m very close in the middle.

I think other people met and hung out with, fall into more kinky scale, like I’m a 2 or a 5.

Mariella: Like 75%

Gaby: 75% this way, yeah…

Mariella: ¾ this way…

Gaby: That’s strange to me, but if you’ve figured yourself out, then good for you!

Mariella: Good for you, I was always terrible at fractions, so double whammy!

Gaby: Good for you, you have your sexuality all figured out!

Mariella: How long did you think you were the only bisexual in the village; did you know there were others when you were younger?

Gaby: That’s a good question.
I grew up in a conservative Jewish community, although Jews are liberal anyway.

I went to summer camp and it wasn’t until I was a Junior High School that I knew other kids my age were up to stuff, but they were quiet about it. One male couple in my school and it was always, are they, aren’t they? They would go on vacations and be like… are they though? We were friends with them, but never got a full story.

Closest we came to finding out if they were a couple, one hooked up with a friend of mine who’s a girl and he had to ask the other ones permission…

Mariella: Oh, wow.

Gaby: Yeah and I was like this is intriguing. Too progressive for my little eyeballs.

And then there was a girl in my school, that she and I would make out sometimes and I was always like ‘what is this? She has a boyfriend’ there was always some weirdness.

There was a couple of things; I was a little bit out.

There was one friend that I talked to about it, I talked to a couple of boys in my youth group about it who found it fascinating and would always ask questions about it and I had one gay friend who was majorly closeted.

When we were in 8th grade he came out to me, but he was the most closeted human.
So there was a sprinkle of it, I certainly knew, my parents were cool with that stuff, but I wasn’t sure if they were cool with me being like that and also did not want, they were majorly into discussion and there was no way I can sit through a parental discussion about my bisexuality without exploding into flames, like I will die, couldn’t imagine it.

Mariella: Have you had a conversation since, or avoided it altogether?

Gaby: It took them forever, I came out to them once and they were…

Mariella: You came out to them more than once?

Gaby: Yeah, I came out more than once, first time, they were like ‘OK sweetheart’. I don’t know if they weren’t listening or what happened and a year or two – a year and a half later, I said something to my dad about being upset about this girl giving me a hard time and we were at my brothers house.

My dad closed the door and was like ‘what?’ and I was like ‘this girl is giving me the runaround’ and dad was like does not compute. I came out to you a year ago and he was ‘I don’t know, I thought you might be kidding’ …

To which I replied: you didn’t think to bring up that you thought I might be kidding for a year? What did you think my ex girlfriend was?

He was like ‘I don’t know, I didn’t really think about it’ what did you think about this, just bringing things up and he was like ‘I didn’t know, I didn’t put it together’.

They were supportive, but they still do ‘oh yeah, your ex boyfriend, ex boyfriend, friend. If they mention an ex girlfriend they’ll call her my friend. It was just so funny.

We were about to go for dinner with everyone and my dad sent everyone out of the house and sat down with me and was like ‘I’m listening, I’m here, alone and listening, I will really listen this time’ So I sat and explained everything, he asked a couple of questions, like when did you start thinking about this and was this friend a girlfriend, just different things and he listened to the whole thing and was like ‘wow, OK I get it.

Mariella: That sounds easy, I don’t know how long this conversation went on for, but it sounds easy enough…

Gaby: It was fine, I was surprised that he hadn’t, I said ‘what did you think’ and he was ‘I thought you were just being silly’ I would talk about it in my stand up and he said people talk about things in their stand up all the time.

So they figured it out.

There’s been a few bumps in the road, I had a girlfriend and broke up with her and my brother was ‘remember the crazy time you were a lesbian?’ and I hung up on him, he was confused, his wife talked some sense into him and he called me and said ‘I apologise, I did not mean to say that’ he told me I was being crazily insensitive, I’m not being twee or anything, they just need to get things.

Mariella: Your family sounds awesome, sounds very much like mine.

Gaby: There’s a lot of stuff with my dad where I have to be feminist, things I will explain to him and he’s like ‘OK’ you know, he doesn’t, this is why this happened and he grew up in the sixties, free love and everything.

He gets homosexuality, that’s never been a problem for him, but he’s a little bit of ‘oh man, I’m alive at a time when women are really changing‘.

He gets it

Mariella: Bless him, he sounds awesome. He sounds really cool.

Gaby: Yeah, they’re great.

Mariella: It certainly sounds like you’ve got your family over the line with the whole “bisexuality thing”. In terms of our community, how can we stop bisexualphobia?

Gaby: I don’t know…

Mariella: Did I just make that word up, bisexualphobia…?

Gaby: No, there is a thing like that.

Mariella: I thought I was being really progressive there…

Gaby: I don’t know, you would think, within the LGBT/gay community, you think we would want you to be a part of us. The B in bisexual or the T in transgender, the B and T are very sequestered which is strange.

Not to get all High School Musical… but we’re all in this together.

It just seems bizarre.

In any group there are people who are well I’m the most of this group and you can’t really get anything done that way because you’re ignoring the voices that want to be heard of these other two groups and think it’s harder to, it’s discouraging to think you don’t belong in the group you’re supposed to belong in.

That’s what gets me upset, is if I am hanging out with a group of lesbians and they’re not quite on board with me, I’m sad, because maybe I’m not the same as them and don’t understand 100%, but we’re all people and clearly have had enough of the same experiences.

I don’t know, the past fort straight thing, they’re just ‘oh, who is this straight girl tagging along?’ and I’m like no, what do I need to do to prove myself? Which is why I think a lot of lesbians, when they first come out, shave their heads or start dressing differently and maybe you are, if you are finally being yourself, then great, kudos.

But if you’re doing it just so you can fit in, it’s hard.

Just stay yourself, have long hair, and still be accepted by our community, it’s baffling to me.

I’m not sure we can help, it’s hard.
I guess have more visibility for those two parts of LGBTQ, for those.

Have more transgender, trans-man, trans-woman writers, writing about their lives and experiences; include them more in things for the LGBTQ community. Maybe have more, like there was an article in Salon, where a teenager was talking about being bisexual and the headline was ‘Teenager comes out as gay’ and I was in the comments, people were like ‘she didn’t’, why are you erasing bisexuality and that’s a thing that needs to be pointed out more.

Mariella: I think you’re right. Here at GaydarGirls, I’m gonna give us a free plug, I promise this wasn’t scheduled, this is genuinely what we’re working on doing…  Is getting bisexual and transgender people and the people we know to get into the spotlight and talk about it – humanise it  and tell their story.

We’re working on it and I hope, in the coming months and years, we start having that conversation more and more.

Gaby: Yeah, definitely

Mariella: What’s next for Gaby Dunn? And where can we find you?

Gaby: Erm.. I’m on, and @gabydunn and what’s next for me?

I’m writing some more stuff, trying to write TV stuff now. I actually, this might be of interest to you guys, I started writing for Cosmo, reluctantly, and my first article for them will be the March issue and two of the people (my article has nothing to do with gay people it’s to do with technology) but two of the people interviewed are lesbians, one is bisexual and I was delighting in the fact that I was gonna get some LGBTQ people in Cosmo, which is seen as such a heterosexual publication.

Mariella: Wow

Gaby: So I was like, oh I’m gonna sneak these lesbians in Cosmo, so hopefully they seem to be looking for more diversity in writing and better writing, so I would be happy to keep writing  articles for them which are a bit more broadminded.

Mariella: You should change your bio Gaby. I think you should change your bio to “Gaby Dunn is a writer/journalist/comedian and also sneaks lesbians into Cosmo.”

Gaby: Just trying to do my part and just to normalise it again, this lesbian can talk about her relationship in Cosmo and I’m sure you’ll relate to it twenty something heterosexual girl.

Mariella: Is that the age for Cosmo readers 20?

Gaby: I don’t know, 20/30?

Mariella: I always… well I read Cosmo in my teens..

Gaby: Yeah it’s teens. I think geared towards twenties and ends up being 15 year olds with her friends on the beach going ‘you should put an ice cube on his dick or whatever

Mariella: That came out of nowhere!

Gaby: A generation of young men, ‘what you’re not supposed to put peanut butter on your balls? Oh well I’m out!

But I am doing that and also trying to write for TV.

So just signed with an agency to do that, so I have scripts written that are more diverse in a lot of ways and one of the characters is called Gaby and she’s bisexual

Mariella: Oh that sounds familiar!

Gaby: Yeah, they were ‘write yourself into it’ and I have no imagination, so well it’s exactly me.

So I’m trying to do stuff like that, have people look at them, get them made.
We’ll see, 2013 is going to be a transition year, from journo to whatever this TV writing thing I might be doing now, so we’ll see.

Mariella: Watch this space.
We talked about bisexuality by Buffy, High School Musical and putting peanut butter on a man’s balls thanks to Cosmo. This interview couldn’t have gotten better if we tried, it was heaps of fun.
Thank you very much.

Gaby: Yeah, no problem. Thank you.

Mariella Mejia; works at GaydarGirls and is always on the lookout for great content, inspiring stories and restaurant recommendations – she can’t help herself.



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  1. hello girls… i just finished listening to a convo you had with ms. gaby dunn.. and it kinda left a bit of a question.. i hope you dont mind me asking… is bisexual girls ever come out easily?? i mean its more of hard to be out when you were some kind of butch/lesbian knowing that your community or society rather is not okay with it.

    Ms. Gaby Dunn i totally dig everything you said about bisexuality.. though bisexual here in our country usually stays in the closet. i guess they’re just scared to be out and let people knows that they exists

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