'Celebrate Bisexuality Day' completes our year-long programme of writing which celebrates significant days in the Aotearoa and international queer calendars. What an apt day to mark our finish line with - a day with 'Celebrate' in the name. US bisexual rights activists Wendy Curry, Michael Page, and Gigi Raven Wilbur started Celebrate Bisexuality Day in 1999, to draw attention to, and combat, the prejudice and faced by bisexual people, both from within and outside of the queer community.
Caren Wilson's editorial in the March 1990 issue of Bi-lines, the newsletter of the Wellington Bisexual Women's Group, gives us a snapshot of bisexual life three decades ago: "...we have to stay aware of the wider political reality. Heterosexuality is enforced and rewarded in this society. Lesbians and gays are vilified. We, as bisexuals, float somewhere between these two positions - and individual differences between us mean some of us get more of the rewards, others more of the punishments. This may change for each of us over time, as the way we live changes." Further issues of Bi-lines, and other queer newspapers, newsletters, and journals from Aotearoa's past, can be read by visiting the Lesbian and Gay Archives of New Zealand, which lives at the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington.
Today, we're marking Celebrate Bisexuality Day with poetry by Stacey Teague and Tate Fountain.
kylie minogue’s gold hotpants permanently altered the chemistry of your brain
in 90s bedrooms girls were secretly undressing their barbies
ripping the velcro off of their pink playsuits
wondering what it meant to mash their plastic bodies together
they coveted esmeralda toys from mcdonalds
had never seen the hunchback of notre dame
but they knew about the way her dress fell off her shoulders
the soft white fabric opening draping over her breasts
corseted waist and flowing purple skirt
then there was kylie minogue spinning around in her gold hotpants
ass fully out gold heels clicking on the dancefloor
while they were sitting cross-legged on the carpet 10am on a saturday morning
faces too close to the television
they were tearing out pages from dolly and girlfriend magazines
that they dutifully saved up pocket money to buy
plastered walls with pictures of models
beach babes skater girls women who rolled out of bed looking like that
somewhere among them a picture of a home and away heartthrob
his hair bleached from the sun styled into small spikes
what about the mummy (1999)
taped off the tv and watched repeatedly
rachel weisz charmingly flustered librarian
brendan fraser lighting a match on his jaw
begging the question
is this movie good or is everyone just hot
as teenagers they kiss their friends at parties for fun
lips, tongues, hands, pressing
they write down sad lyrics with gel pens
in flowery notebooks
leaden with longing and desire
they listened to bright eyes, rilo kiley,
& death cab for cutie on their discmans
on the school bus home
waiting for something to happen
then it is real life
no glittery music videos
no disney princesses or australian soap stars to objectify
this is how we begin
kissing women they just met
on subway platforms
late night apartments
mashing their plastic bodies together
it’s less a clicking into place
than the cracking of a snap bracelet
as it curls around the wrist
they rewatch the episodes of the O.C.
where Marissa dates Olivia Wilde
the first time they hold hands
grinning at one another
all dark denim mini skirts
plastic bracelets and
it is short-lived
not to be taken seriously
don’t even talk about willow and tara
after their first queer heartbreak
they are born again into new places
they can now survive anything
it’s the kylie minogue hotpants
to crying in bus stops pipeline
that they never expected
now they collect childhood artifacts
in the inventory of their chests
until they open and decide
to let bloom
Save the Date
10/18 A SOARING JOY, AND A POETIC CIRCULARITY
There she is. There she is, and she is singing.
11/19 RELIEF OVERWHELMING AND SWEET,
ITS OWN KIND OF BODILY INERTIA
We clamber onto the bus and I remember spontaneity
and my own agency, and what it’s like to laugh
uncontrollably in a confined space with someone you
really, really love. We sit there, still and yet sprinting;
some teenager doesn’t pay her fare and the driver doesn’t
seem to notice.
And on the walk down the hill from the bus stop, the
air itself thrown open: a world of warmth, endless blue;
marigolds and violets and sun-kissed, diaphanous green.
We order hot chocolates. They’re too sweet. We are free.
We don’t owe anyone anything.
??/?? THE HEIGHT UNPRECEDENTED,
THE DEPTH UNBRIDLED
The ceiling is high, the walls are white, and there
are flowers everywhere. There is art, hanging; the
bookshelves teem with well-thumbed pages. Perhaps a
record player. And the last of the sun has set: one final
kiss through the open windows as conversation floats
out to meet it.
I get off the phone. My lover has been listening in,
watching me with a smile so wide it’s blinding. We look
at each other a moment. Then: rapture. Everything, all
of it, worthwhile. The news is good. The world is good.
It has come for me and mine.
A version of this poem first appeared in Starling, Issue 10. This version was first published in Short Films (Tender Press, 2022).
Stacey Teague is a poet and teacher living in Te Whanganui-a-Tara. She is a publisher and editor at Tender Press.
Tate Fountain (she/her) is a writer, editor, theatremaker, and producer based in Tāmaki Makaurau. Her poetry collection Short Films was released in 2022 with Tender Press. She has held various marketing, programming, and coordinating roles at festivals across Aotearoa, and is also the Editorial Committee Lead for Starling. She manages her desire to pursue floristry by releasing monthly bouquets on Substack.