The leader of the American Institute of Bisexuality (AIB) has been condemned for blaming conversion therapy on pansexuals in a bizarre post about a Schitt’s Creek character.
Ian Lawrence-Tourinho is executive director of the AIB, a charity which oversees the Journal of Bisexuality, the online publication Queer Majority and the website Bi.org.
His controversial comments came after Bi.org was criticised for describing the Schitt’s Creek character David Rose as bisexual, despite the show’s co-creator stating on multiple occasions that David is pansexual.
The site met with further criticism after it refused to change the description and allegedly blocked, limited or hid replies from people who highlighted the inaccuracy.
When one Twitter user directly challenged Lawrence-Tourinho on this “pan erasure”, he replied: “[David’s] *dad* uses the word. David never does. The whole point of the show is that the Rose family is eccentric and detached from reality.
“Bisexuality has meant the same thing since 1892 and is built on the framework invented by the first [LGBT+] activists,” he continued. “Pansexuality gave us conversion therapy.”
Lawrence-Tourinho offered no explanation for how he came to this baffling conclusion, even as his comments ignited an uproar among LGBT+ people online.
This is absolutely disgusting and a complete lie
Bisexuals should stand in solidarity with our pansexual friends and family, not ridicule and lie about them https://t.co/HhzmyPP9pU
— bly von gay (@ReligiousStudie) September 28, 2021
WHOA WHOA WHOA
Do NOT just call something conversion therapy only cuz you don’t understand or like it.
— a demigirl s-BOO-nie (She/They/Xe) (@bgpereira3) September 26, 2021
I can’t find any positives here, or any accuracy. This is really shameful and counterproductive.
— Misty Gedlinske (@PalatablyQueer) September 27, 2021
Their concern was echoed by Belle Haggett Silverman, president of the Bisexual Resource Centre, who described Lawrence-Tourinho’s comments as “unproductive and harmful”.
“I’m really sad that our community is in this position of being unnecessarily divided,” she told PinkNews.
“The Bisexual Resource Center firmly believes that pansexual people are an integral and valued part of the bisexual+ umbrella. Regardless of the terms we use, the bisexual+ (or m-spec) community is a home for every person who is attracted in some way to people of more than one gender.”
Haggett Silverman objected to the perception of bisexuality and pansexuality being in opposition to each other, explaining that the identifiers people use is “a deeply personal and ever-evolving decision to make for oneself”.
“Some people choose the word ‘bisexual’ because it connects them to a history of activism and inclusion, because it’s a more widely recognised word, or because they experience attraction differently with different genders.
“Some people choose ‘pansexual’ because it feels more inclusive to them, because it succinctly communicates their lived experience of attraction, or because it aligns with their values. And there are many other identifiers and reasons someone might pick these or other terms for themselves.
“It is absolutely everyone’s right to find identities that best communicate their experience and allow them to connect with others who feel similarly. There is nothing problematic about identifying as bisexual or pansexual, and all of us are bound together in the march toward a culture where bi+ can thrive without the weight of bi+antagonism and bi+erasure.”
Bi.org agrees that pansexuality is considered part of the bi+ umbrella, but claims that pansexual is a term used by people who wish to put “a political emphasis on non-binary gender identities”.
PinkNews has reached out to Bi.org and the American Institute of Bisexuality for comment.
A spokesperson for the AIB said: “Twitter, with its character limits, is not a good place to explain how words like ‘pansexual’ have been used in different ways at different times.”
They cited Sigmund Freud’s interpretation of sexuality, stating that his theory of pansexuality had “further pathologized non-heterosexuality and represented a major setback for LGBT human rights”.
“The term bisexuality is part of a proud legacy of generations of human rights work and progress. Bisexuality does not imply a gender binary, or that bisexuals are somehow incapable of attraction to trans or non-binary persons,” they continued.
“We are not ‘in opposition’ to pansexuality, only to any doctrines that seek to redefine or spread confusion about bisexuality. Bisexuality offers, in scientific terms, a concrete resolution to the reality that not everyone is 100 per cent straight or 100 per cent gay, without dismantling those or any other categories.”