Dear Vogue, Cara Delevingne's Bisexuality Is Not A 'Phase'

06/25/2015 05:58 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016
John Phillips via Getty Images

Vogue is being criticized -- and rightly so -- for the way bisexuality was framed in a July cover story about Cara Delevingne.

Rob Haskell's interview with Delevingne delved into the model and actress' romantic relationships with both men and women -- specifically her current relationship with singer Annie Clark, a.k.a. St. Vincent. “I think that being in love with my girlfriend is a big part of why I’m feeling so happy with who I am these days," Delevingne told Haskell. "And for those words to come out of my mouth is actually a miracle.”

She also opened up about being confused by her sexuality as a child "until [she] first fell in love with a girl at 20 and recognized that [she] had to accept it.” The model told Haskell that while "women are what completely inspire" her, it's men who she tends to have sexy dreams about. Delevingne's comments come off as open and honest, painting a complicated picture of sexuality that feels authentic. After all, sexuality can be a messy, confusing thing and it's refreshing to hear public figures acknowledge that.

Instead of applauding Delevingne's honesty, Haskell surmised that, "Her parents seem to think girls are just a phase for Cara, and they may be correct."

He also tied her checkered relationship with her mother to her attraction to women, and later offers her unsolicited (and deeply condescending) advice: “When I suggest to Cara that to trust a man, she might have to revise an old and stubborn idea of hers -- that women are perennially troubled and therefore only women will accept her -- her smile says she concedes the point.”

"I'd wager that her smile more likely meant, 'You're a homophobic moron. F**k off,'" wrote Cosmopolitan.com's Lane Moore. We'd have to agree.

In the wake of the tone-deaf piece, Julie Rodriguez launched a Care2 petition which currently has over 13,200 signatures, telling Vogue that "Being LGBT Isn't A 'Phase!'" Rodriguez writes:

The idea that queer women only form relationships with other women as a result of childhood trauma is a harmful (and false) stereotype that lesbian and bisexual women have been combating for decades...As a bisexual woman myself, I’ve experienced hurtful comments like this many times. People are quick to assume queer women’s identities are a “phase” and to refuse to recognize the important relationships in their lives -- an attitude which can cause depression, result in families rejecting their daughters (or forcing them into abusive conversion “therapy”), and even put young women at risk of suicide. Vogue should have taken this opportunity to combat negative stereotypes, not reinforce them.

The idea that bisexuality is just a "phase" one goes through -- either on the way to being gay, or as a rebellious period before settling down into a heterosexual relationship -- is a misconception that many bisexual people feel acutely in their daily lives. We asked our female readers who identify as bisexual to weigh in on Haskell's comments, and they echoed deep frustration because their sexual identity is often not taken seriously.

"With bisexual women in particular, the orientation is fetishized and treated as a joke," wrote Emily Clemons. "Bisexual women are treated as if their sexuality fits more into the subplot of a summer flick or a porno, a tool of heterosexual men to become aroused... As a bisexual woman, I crave positive representations of bisexuals in the media because we are struggling for acceptance in both the gay and straight communities."

Bisexual women don't need the Vogues of the world doing more to marginalize and delegitimize their identities. Attraction and sexuality are complicated, and it is imperative that people who write about these subjects be responsible to the communities they are covering.

So here's some free advice for Haskell and anyone else writing words about a group he or she is not a part of: Before you dismiss an entire sexual identity as a "phase," pause for a minute, look at your keyboard, and then hit the delete button.

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