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  • Sue George 2:38 pm on August 21, 2014 Permalink  

    Bi and nearly 50 1: Laura 

    Due to popular demand, I have expanded the remit of this blog series to include people who are nearly 50. There are even more of us out there!

    As before, the questions in bold come from me. Otherwise, all the words are from the interviewees themselves.

    ***

    I am Laura, 48, female, chronically sick from Ehlers Danlos, living in the USA since February 2013, in The Netherlands before that.

    I am married to a woman, since May 2013. From 1986 till 2005 I was with a man and had two children with him.

    How did you come to think of yourself as bisexual?
    I have always had crushes on boys AND girls. Sexuality in The Netherlands is not a taboo and certainly not in my family. When I told my mother that I was seeing a girl, my first sort-of-relationship when I was 16, it got accepted without any word of surprise. When I got my first real relationship with a boy at 18, that was no subject of discussion either. I don’t even remember when I started calling it bisexuality, I do know that when I dated that girl it was not a word I used. And it did not change for me during the years.

    Has this changed over the years, and if so how?
    After my first girlfriend I had a few sexual experiences with girls but after that I met my boyfriend, later husband, and stayed with him for almost 20 years. After that I started dating again, but by then I had a chronic illness and the responses of the men I dated was horrifying. The last date ended with the guy asking: “But what if I want to go out on Friday evening and you are tired?” and that’s when I decided I’d had it with men. So I contemplated: how about dating women. And that was quite a step. Because I knew I was interested sexually and I knew I could fall in love, but having a relationship with a woman? And I didn’t want to date women and then have to tell them, no sorry, I’d like a night with you but a relationship no thanks... But I took the step  and never looked back. I met my present wife, by the way, very unconventionally, via Farm Ville on Facebook.... She was a new neighbor, saw my pic, thought hm ho, asked me if I needed something for FV and after the second talk we were both hooked.

    When I was dating, many lesbians had atrocious statements on their profiles, like “if you’re bi, don’t even bother dropping me a note, I won’t even write you back”. The bi-hate is so big in the lesbian world. That was very very hurtful, and still is. They try to make it sound like just one of the many preferences they have, like preferring tall women, but it boils my blood. So lets not go there today.

    What do other people in your life know about your bisexuality, and how do they react?
    Here in the US I don’t know a lot of people, and since being gay is hard enough, I refrain from taking it one step further. When I started dating women after my divorce though, there were people who were sort of offended that they didn’t know that about me. Well, when I am with a man, you can’t TELL that I am bisexual. And if the subject doesn’t come up...

    Looking back over your life so far, is there anything you wish you’d done differently?
    Not in regards to my bisexuality, no.

    What about your hopes or fears for the future (regarding bisexuality)?
    I hope that the biphobia and bi-erasure will stop, certainly from within the LGBT-community.

    Any words of wisdom for younger bi people – or older ones?
    Don’t let others tell you what your bisexuality means for you. People like to think that they know better, but there’s only one person who knows you best: you!

    Would you like to help combat bi erasure and increase visibility of bisexuals over 50 (or thereabouts)? There are plenty of us out there but far too many people don't know that.

    I am looking for other individuals who would like to contribute their "email interviews" to this blog, as Laura has done here. For more information about what to do, take a look at this post.

    Thanks.


     
  • jen 8:36 pm on August 20, 2014 Permalink  

    Bis are not more evolved… 

    One of the bi stereotypes / cliches that gets rolled out is that bisexuals are more evolved than other people. Cos, y'know, we see personality not gender or genitals. And by 'see' they mean fancy, or indeed intimately enjoy.

    Though that's a worrying definition of bisexual so far as I'm concerned, because I've 'seen' a lot of personalities, a lot of genders and (gasp!) even some genitals as well.

    It is I'm sure a well-meaning thing to say. It implies a certain "I wish I were, I just don't have it in me", and it's complete nonsense. We're as evolved and as prone to cockwomblery as anyone else.

    Earlier I was reading someone (no links, doesn't deserve the traffic) bewailing that they had tried going to bi spaces, but it was just so terribly unwelcoming because they had to listen to women, too.

    More evolved? Pffft. In this case: the 1950s called, they miss you and want you back.
     
  • Sue George 11:00 am on August 12, 2014 Permalink  

    Bisexual and over 50 2: Jan 

    Here's the second in the series of "email interviews" with bi people over 50. There has been a lot of good reaction to this on social media, so many thanks! We are out there.

    Each of these "interviews" is written by the individual concerned; the questions in bold come from me.

    ***
    I'm Jan Steckel, 51, white, female, writer and former paediatrician. I live in a house in Oakland, California, USA, with my husband who is also bisexual.

    How did you come to think of yourself as bisexual?
    I’d had boyfriends since the eighth grade [aged 13] and assumed I was straight. Then, the summer before I turned 18, I sang in a band. I was falling in love with the lead guitarist, a man, when the drummer, a woman, asked me out. I made out with her that night and realized that I was bisexual, even though I ended up with the young man.

    What does being bisexual mean to you?
    It means I am sexually attracted to some people who are the same sex as I am and to some who are of a different sex from me.

    Has this changed over the years, and if so, how?
    Not much since I realized I was bi. It’s my gender identity that has changed instead. When I was a kid I thought I was a boy and that some mistake had been made. In college I wished I was a man. I was pretty dysphoric about my body’s curves, such as they were. I wanted the hard planes of a man’s body, and I wanted to love a man as another man. Almost all the fiction I wrote then was first person male, and my closest friends were male, too.

    Now I’m comfortable with being female. As an adult, I was always more sexually attracted to women but had a tendency to fall in love with men. Since my recent menopause, I think I’ve become more attracted to women as well as to trans and nonbinary people and less attracted to men, though my attraction to my husband has remained constant.

    What do other people in your life know about your bisexuality and how do they react?
    Most people who know me know that I’m bi. I’m pretty out and loud about it, and have been for decades. Since my poetry book The Horizontal Poet won the 2012 Lambda Literary Award for Bisexual Nonfiction,  I pretty much lead my literary bio with that. One of my older female relatives told me angrily that by putting the fact that I was bisexual on the back of my book, I had disrespected my marriage to my husband, but most of my family has been pretty cool.

    When I first came out to my mother, she was worried that if I ended up with a woman I wouldn’t have children, or my children would be screwed up. She got over that well before I was out of my childbearing years, I think, though in the end I didn’t have kids. My Dad was probably more uncomfortable at first than my Mom, but he’s pretty cool about it now. My brother’s always been fine about it.

    It was definitely not cool, though, with many of my fellow physicians. That’s part of the reason I’m not in medicine anymore. Poets and writers are a lot more accepting.

    My husband is bisexual, too, and it’s a pretty big part of our lives. We march every year in the bi contingent of the San Francisco Pride parade, and he hosts a social group called Berkeley BiFriendly where we met. We’ve both been published in bisexual anthologies and periodicals. I just had a short story come out in Best Bi Short Stories, and he has a painting being reproduced in a forthcoming anthology of work by bi men. Many of our friends are queer, so we get a lot of support from our community around it.

    Looking back over your life so far, is there anything you wish you’d done differently?
    I wish I had dated more women early on and had longer-lasting relationships with them. I was a little passive at first, waiting for people to pursue me instead of taking the initiative.

    What about your hopes or fears for the future (regarding bisexuality)?
    I belong to an online writing critique group where some jackass keeps attacking me every time I mention writing for bi periodicals or any honor I’ve got for bi writing. He accuses me of playing identity politics. My answer to that is that I’d be delighted not to need identity politics anymore. When discrimination against bisexual people goes away, then if people don’t want to label themselves according to their sexuality, fine. Until then I’m sticking to my label and making sure young people see plenty of bisexual characters in literature. I want young bisexually inclined people to see themselves reflected in what they read. I want them to have a peer group of other bisexual people, unlike me when I was coming up.

    Any words of wisdom for younger bi people – or older ones?
    Find a peer group of other bi people, even if it’s only online. Get support from them. Try to find a safe way to come out, even if it means moving to a city with a visible bi population. 



    Would you like to help combat bi erasure and increase visibility of bisexuals over 50? There are plenty of us out there but far too many people don't know that. 

    I am looking for other individuals who would like to contribute their "email interviews" to this blog, as Jan has done here. For more information about what to do, take a look at this post

    Thanks.


     
  • Guest Writer 12:22 pm on August 7, 2014 Permalink  

    Bi Yourself 

    Guest blog by Louise from SqueamishBikini about BiCon. Original here.

    PictureBisexual? Perhaps you’re also polyamorous, or monogamous and with someone of another gender. Maybe you are asexual or misanthropic or promiscuous. Maybe you’re not quite sure if you’re a ‘good enough’ bisexual, or if you’re not queer enough, or perhaps a little too stereotypical. Sound familiar?

    I just got back from Bicon, and as always my mind is buzzing (What’s a Bicon? Read this and find out). There must be so many different Bicons. All those different sessions to attend – you could pick a theme and dip in and out; try lots of entirely new things; or just sit around chatting to people and catching up with the friends you might not see for another year.


    I’ve tried a few different approaches to Bicon now (often though not always united by missing the morning sessions because I am mostly incapable of getting up for 9am if I don’t have to). And if there’s one thing that always seems to happen, it’s that I leave with my mind running at 100 miles an hour. I also leave sad to return to the ‘real world’ – it feels like a space where I can be all of myself without having to self-censor or worry about what anyone will think of me. I’m not going to claim that’s the case for every attendee – how could it be? – but I’m lucky to have made good friends and, whether it’s in workshops, the bar or on a sofa, get to discuss things that matter to me.

    One that stuck with me this year was around the idea of stereotypes and how we present ourselves to the world. The stereotype of bisexuals is that we are greedy, indecisive, promiscuous.

    So it’s tempting when talking to people to say: “not all bisexuals are like that! Person X has been with her girlfriend Y for 10 years and they have two kids! Person Z is married and respectable and runs their church choir!” (these are not real examples, I am just worried that if I make up names they will also belong to people who go to Bicon…)

    I don’t think we help to create that world by pretending that the best bisexuals are those who look the least like the stereotypes.

    But what’s wrong with being greedy and promiscuous? Or for that matter with being monogamous and religious?

    I have encountered this before in feminist circles. By saying: “not all feminists have hairy legs and don’t wear bras! It’s ok, we’re safe, join us,” there’s an implicit criticism of those feminists who do do those things. Meanwhile there are other women claiming it’s impossible to be a feminist if you wear lipstick or like dresses, as if these choices were more important than beliefs and activism.

    I do understand the urge to ‘normalise’ ourselves – I do not want to tell someone I’m bisexual and have them immediately start quizzing me about my sex life.

    But I also want to live in a world that accepts gender variance; where heterosexual monogamy isn’t seen as the only (or even best) relationship choice; a world that accepts difference and diversity and realises that not everyone has had the same experiences. And I don’t think we help to create that world by pretending that the best bisexuals are those who look the least like the stereotypes.

    Maybe that’s why I love Bicon so much – there are so many people there who (whether it’s just for the weekend or not) are being themselves and in the process modelling every conceivable way of being bisexual. There’s no point-scoring (that I’ve seen), and each year I leave just that tiny bit braver and tiny bit more willing to go and shout about these things.

    Squeamish Louise

     
  • jen 12:05 pm on August 6, 2014 Permalink  

    Join the Bi Visibility Day tweet-storm! 

    Are you on twitter? And if so, have you joined in the 2014 Bi Visibility Day mass-tweet yet?
    Sign up here to be one of LOADS of bis and allies tweeting to mark Bi Visibility Day on September 23rd

     
  • skibbley 12:51 pm on August 5, 2014 Permalink  

    Class and bisexuality 

    Whenever we look at protected strands, for example code of conduct, BiCon guidelines and feminism or anti-racism discussions we seem to mention class. Most recently I've often seen words like intersectionality and privilege. I’m liking the feeling of trust I have with so many people that we are trying to be expressive and supportive and practical.

    Intersectionality absolutely makes sense to me. We are part of many overlapping groups and all have a place in the unequal power landscape in each of the protected characteristics. Part of my learning is spotting my own place and that I’m in there and can label that and not just be the “normal” and others are “ethnic “ or old people or some labelled group. It makes sense that each of our personal environments are combinations and some things come to the fore in some places. I’m used to this happening being the “cyclist” or the “vegetarian” and the “bisexual”

    I am a bit wary of this stuff. Partially I’m dealing with my own discomfort around being in the power-over position and acting following my prejudices and biases and harming other people. I need to go deal with that and certainly not expect people I am channeled to punch down towards to use their energy supporting me.

    I’m aware of previous anti-oppression arguments and more importantly styles and (mis)representations. I’m aware of stereotyping and ridiculing of say radical feminists and how those conversations, newspapers and cartoons probably shape what I think of as history. I find myself avoiding aligning myself with a ridiculed group and thus are separated from them and we are divided. Humour can also sharply make great points, particularly about ourselves.

    I then don’t want to expose my ignorance. I also have the unearned privilege of being able to choose not to spend my time correcting my historical understanding. Right now I’m choosing to focus on the present and future. I am OK being challenged on that choice.

    I hope this will be a space to open up a little about my ignorance because it will help me work out how to change it and perhaps give a view into the process of change that others can analyse. I hope that people make an informed choice whether to read this and I do not take up space from the less privileged to muse over my privileged position.

    So, in my ignorance I spot the term “multiple oppression” and it sounds a bit dated. Again, “dated” is a dismissal in my aim towards being modern. I know this isn't a thought out position and that is a problem. That noted, I’ll still say it rather than ignore it because it is a bit embarrassing and so perpetuate it. I also note the term “oppression bingo” and give it no more space than that.

    I think that modelling lots of axes of oppression can be done to try to understand and change it (kyriarchy, My Gender Workbook spring to mind) and can also be good to get away from compartmentalising everything and losing cross domain learning and solidarity and ignoring intersections and so losing people in the gaps who are most hurt by this stuff.
    I also wonder with any model to what extent it models reality, what it is for: what aspects of the world are we highlighting and comparing and putting together or differentiating and why. Is this pyramid supposed to correctly model everybody’s experience? If not, whose does it model and who is not included? Where’s the evidence of fit to the world? Does it fit for me and those I interact with? Also, is my mathematical and sciency tendency towards graphy models the best way to look at this stuff. It certainly isn't the only way and human social interactions can be described in prose and poetry and meditated over without words and form the powerful stuff of art and music and drama and fiction. The science white coat isn't the only thing to wear and I’m aware it is more embraced or more rejected by some as true.

    I’m aware some people are more affected by some prejudices than others. Some seem to cause more harm at times than others and to different people. People have differing levels of knowledge and focus. I don’t want to pull energy from other fights for my struggles of personal interest. I am aware everyone has limited resources. I’m also aware my resources come partially from a history of oppression and unearned privilege and may be gained and used every day in ways that harm others.

    I’ll admit right here that the word “privilege” passes my eyes and ears many days and doesn't engage with my brain. Partially that happens to any commonly used word: under/over definition as general semantics would say (a big part of how I interpret the world)

    I reject single radix politics: that every problem comes down to one fundamental thing.

    I read of that single root idea mainly from Marxism – that oppressions come from a more basic class struggle and capitalism is named. I find a certain brand of communist activist, while aligned with my thinking in some ways and when our aims intersect, really boring. I’m also highly critical of the idea that things not being right should be allowed or encouraged to build up to a sufficient head of steam to power a revolution. I and my world are not your cannon fodder. That said, I don’t think the economic and class status quo is OK, particularly for queers. Neither do I have a clear idea of how to fix that.

    I’d like to know more about anarchist and feminist and Quaker and non-violence and other methods of building change so the ends and the means both do good and not harm.

    So: the thing I was trying to get to when I started this: CLASS.

    I hear class highlighted when we look through the lens of official protected characteristics and it isn't there. I hear it rejected with gusto both by people who reject socialism and people who want to keep an apolitical position and not take up term that favour the left.

    I read older bi texts and there is an affinity with certain political parties. Then I read of accessibility and wanting a broad community and welcoming all. Then I read of important differences and oppressions being glossed over for the sake of unity or drama avoidance or the unacceptable being thrown under a bus for the rights of the already slightly more powerful. Then I read of history of homophobia from all parties and support from all and the struggle to rewrite and selectively highlight history to favour a favourite political position. Then I hear politics and think of pointless student posturing and then I think of politicians: Then I get angry and distracted or turned off an bored and I don’t want to so…

    Back to CLASS.

    I hear it strongly attached to race in US and international context.

    I hear it from working class folks and people who work with them.

    I know some of the places I've been and places I go are very class based. I probably get manipulated all of the time by advertisers trying to play on my class desires and fears.
    I ask every now and then about reading on class and get few suggestions outside of Engels or blogs which are interesting but very US context based and also are blogs, not a collected and structured resource or marshalled teaching or argument like a good book. I also wonder if I’m making excuses not to engage.

    I’m aware my own class background is a bit weird. I’m generally wary, and with good reason, of being labelled by others and so I’m also wary of asking others to tell me what class I am and what that means.

    I've read Watching the English.

    I want to read more and understand this more and talk about this more and understand my position in the landscape of class and what that means I do and have done to me and what I might want to change about all that.

    What do I do now?

    comment count unavailable comments
     
  • Sue George 11:00 am on August 5, 2014 Permalink  

    Bisexual and over 50 1: Harrie 

    This is the first in a series of "email interviews" from bi people over 50. Yes, we are out there!

    Each of these "interviews" is written by the individual concerned; the questions in bold come from me.

    Happy reading!

    I’m Harrie Farrow, a 54-year-old, androgynous woman. I am a novelist (“Love, Sex, and Understanding the Universe”), a bisexual blogger, a bisexual activist, and am a Life Coach for Bisexuals at Navigating the Biways. I live in the US, in a small LGBT-friendly town, and have a grown son and a grandson. I’m currently single.

    How did you come to think of yourself as bisexual (or whatever label/non-label you use)?
    I read an article at age 14 in a “girly” magazine, that someone had left laying around, written by someone who was of the opinion that everyone is bisexual, and I just thought, yes, of course, and therefore knew that I was bisexual.

    What does being bisexual (or as above) mean to you?
    Being bisexual to me means being attracted to same and different gender(s).

    Has this changed over the years, and if so how?
    No, my identification, and understanding of bisexuality has not changed.

    What do other people in your life know about your bisexuality and how do they react?
    Being a bisexual blogger, activist and an author of a bisexual themed novel means that I’m about as out as a person can be. Reactions are of course varied. Often, I am not directly present when a person becomes aware of my bisexuality and so I do not see their reactions. I find that being very confident and comfortable in my sexual identity, and presenting my sexuality in a way that conveys that the only possible response from others is respect and acceptance, results in usually not having negative things said to me. Occasionally, people will make misinformed comments based on their lack of information.

    When fighting biphobia, for example as @BisexualBatmanon Twitter, I actually seek out biphobia, and the person receiving my response usually knows nothing about me except for my tweet. In this role, I have had many hateful and harassing responses. Happily, I do also get people apologizing for their biphobia, or asking for more information to educate themselves. 

    Looking back over your life so far, is there anything you wish you’d done differently?
    From a young age, I’ve always quite consciously tried to live in a way that would result me being able to say I have no regrets. I can say that, though things did not always turn out as I would have liked, I did make the best decisions based on the realities of my life at the time.

    What about your hopes or fears for the future (regarding bisexuality)?
    I would like to see bisexuality become recognized and accepted as just another sexual orientation, and that we reach a time when all bisexuals are comfortable and confident with their sexual identity.

    Any words of wisdom for younger bi people – or older ones?

    Recognize that your sexuality is integral to who you are, and that accepting, embracing and being true to yourself is a necessary component of mental health and happiness. Do what you can to remove yourself from situations and people who cannot honor this, and find, and reach out to, the community that does. 



    Would you like to help combat bi erasure and increase visibility of bisexuals over 50? There are plenty of us out there but far too many people don't know that. 

    I am looking for more people to contribute their "email interviews" to this blog, as Harrie has done here. For more information about what to do, take a look at this post

    Thanks.
     
  • Guest Writer 8:50 pm on August 4, 2014 Permalink  

    Post BiCon Thoughts 

    A follow-up anonymous guest post from the writer who contributed the ‘jerkbrain’ post last week. We welcome one-off guest posts as well as regular contributors: see the join us page.

     

    This was a lovely, chilled, relaxing, introspective BiCon for me. After writing here before BiCon about feeling insecure about shoes/performing femininity in a way that’s unusual for me, I ended up wearing skirts a lot and uncomfortable but pretty boots for only a short time :).

    A big theme of this BiCon was internalised biphobia and the way that manifests as feeling ‘not queer enough’, especially for people who are in relationships that might be externally perceived as ‘straight’. I got into a discussion about the term ‘heteronormative’ on Twitter just before BiCon and a bi woman described her life as heteronormative because she was an invisible bisexual. I argued quite stridently that this was *blaming* invisible/erased bisexuals for having been erased/made invisible by a biphobic culture.

    My argument felt strident because I struggle to convince myself of this, especially when I acknowledge that being invisible is quite useful while working in a conservative industry. However, this feeling of being ‘not queer enough’ and needing to constantly prove your ‘queer credentials’ seems to run really deep in the bi community. It’s even notable as a fear among bi activists, who you would expect to have the best resources to combat this sort of insidious biphobia.

    Finally I want to mention the huge relief that simply talking about this stuff can bring. The Biphobia Consciousness Raising workshop was a good example of this. We each talked for 5 minutes without interruption about how biphobia had affected us. We didn’t try to fix each other’s problems or try to change our minds. It was such a relief to be able to speak and be truly heard and to hear people expressing the same feelings. The Bi Carers workshop worked in a similar way. Somethings are not fixable but being listened to makes them more bearable.

    Wow, this is all very heavy! I mixed this stuff up at BiCon with the silly and fun Giant Pass The Parcel, a very inspiring workshop on Blackout Poetry and lots of relaxing chatting / hugging / flirting with lovely people.

     
  • Blogging in Shadows 5:52 pm on August 4, 2014 Permalink  

    BiCon 2014 was a chilled out affair for me. I was very anxious… 












    Game of Te


    Arthur Dent, from Hitchikers guide to the galaxy


    2 Jayne Cobbs


    Star Trek next generation


    Delirium

    BiCon 2014 was a chilled out affair for me. I was very anxious to start with, and as a result, I missed my train up. But when I arrived I had a good time. I did a bisexual blackout poetry session that was well received, with all the participants creating amazing poems. I also attended some good sessions, including Creative writing, and Zine making.

    There was also lots of time to catch up with friends, and snuggle with lovers. The staff at Leeds Trinity University were very friendly, and the accommodation was nice. I felt relaxed in an environment where I could be myself all the time.

    Thank you to everyone who made BiCon such a fab event!

     
  • Sue George 1:57 pm on July 31, 2014 Permalink  

    Looking for bisexuals over 50 

    Yes yes I know – I keep saying I am relaunching this blog and nothing happens. Blogging is difficult, people! Not blogging in the short term, but retaining motivation over years and years…. That’s tough!

    So what I want to do is to ask you for your help. I really do think there is a gap when it comes to bisexuality and people over 50. Bisexuality is still connected in so many people’s minds to youth, deciding who you want to “settle down” with, experimentation. But it is so much more than that.

    The Journal of Bisexuality – an academic journal, written mainly by and for people in universities – is currently seeking contributions to a volume on bisexuality and ageing. This is great as far as it goes.  But I know full well that this will not be accessible, especially in terms of language and cost, to people at large.

    What I am going to do on this blog is to focus on the things that are important to bi people over 50 (or thereabouts). One of the ways I want to do this is to ask older bisexual individuals to be featured on this site via email interviews. We are so often invisible, both as bi people and those who are older, and any way that this can be counteracted  must be beneficial. So for this, there needs to be a format, and I have posted that below.

    Would you, bi (or however you define yourself) person over 50, like to be on this blog? I can offer as much or as little anonymity as you like. If you could send a photo too, that would be great. You don’t have to be recognisable at all. No nudity though and no intricate sexual details in the text please.

    Don’t post this in the comments, but put the information in an email to me at sues_new_email at yahoo dot com. I will get back to you as soon as I can.

    Apologies to those people who agreed to do this last year. I hope I remember who you are, and I will contact you if I can find your details….

    Thanks!

    Format for interviews (please write between 600-800 words)
    • Basic demographics: (name or pseudonym), age, race, gender, occupation/prior occupation, country, living situation
    • How did you come to think of yourself as bisexual (or whatever label/non-label you use)?
    • What does being bisexual (or as above) mean to you?
    • Has this changed over the years, and if so how?
    • What do other people in your life know about your bisexuality and how do they react?
    • Looking back over your life so far, is there anything you wish you’d done differently?
    • What about your hopes or fears for the future (regarding bisexuality)?
    • Any words of wisdom for younger bi people – or older ones?

     
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