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Bi Beginnings.

I came out as Bi at the age of 17. That was many years ago.

Here is what I heard.

  • You’re probably just a lesbian.
  • You’re confused.
  • You  just like sex too much. Editors note: Really is there a too much on that one. 😉
  • You just haven’t met the right man.
  • Have you even had sex with a man/woman?
  • How do you know?
  • You have to grow up.
  • Pray it away.
  • That’s sexy. Wanna have a threesome?
  • My boyfriend loves Bi girls.
  • I don’t want to date you. You just can’t make up your mind.
  • You’ll grow out of it.
  • Could you have sex with me so I can try it out. Editors note: This one always came from allegedly straight women.

I could go on but you get the gist. A lot of things have happened in the years since that day but suffice to say it was not a phase and I am still as Bi as I have ever been. I started using Twitter this year and what I found is very little has changed since I came out. Bisexuals still face the same Bi-phobia I did and, in some ways, it is worse because due to the proliferation of social media there is intentional ‘outing’ of those not quite ready to make their sexuality public, there is cyber-bullying, there is cyber-stalking. It almost makes the Bi-phobia I faced seem ‘quaint’ in comparison. However, the truth is that Bisexuals still struggle with their identity, still spend more time in the closet than gay men or lesbians, have a higher suicide rate than gays or lesbians,  and have difficulty finding a supportive community. It felt good, even in an online forum to dispel some of the toxic assumptions that cause so much pain and heartache for the Bi community and so I decided, perhaps, I could provide the same support in blog form to young Bis, to those just coming out at a more ‘seasoned’ age, to those who don’t have Bi friends in their geographical location or to those just tired of all the ‘weird bi-phobia’ that we have to put up with all the time. It also felt freeing to do so without the 140 character limitation. 😉

There are a zillion blogs out there…some that’ll help you with sex questions/some providing information about polyamory/some strictly political in nature/some with answers to kink questions/the list goes one. I don’t purport to be any Bi expert but I have been around a while and maybe (I hope) I have accumulated a little wisdom on the subject. This will probably be a mix of political/social information, hopefully some laughs,…but most importantly support for those struggling, those doing ok but could be better, those tired of the anti Bi bullshit, or those just looking for a place where it is absolutely ok, no…fantastic to be Bi. In my view, being Bi is a gift, a joy, a delight, a superpower and I would not change the way I am for anything or for anyone!

When only 28% of Bisexuals come out as compared with 77% of gay men and 71% of lesbians (per 2013 Pew Research Center survey) we know there is a serious problem. Bis don’t feel safe. Bis don’t feel supported. We have to work to change that. My personal solution is ‘radical visibility’. I make every effort to make sure the people in my life, the people at work, the people I come in contact with on a regular basis know that I am Bi. It may seem a small thing but almost everyday I have an opportunity to say nothing or say something. I choose to say something. I choose to speak for those who don’t feel they can.

If anything I share helps one person, supports one friend, heals one heart then my mission is accomplished. I just hope I can do more. ❤ Together we can create a community where Bis feel supported and where they feel safe enough to be visible.

Dear Bis. You are valid. You matter. You are important.  I see you. We can do this. ❤

 

Be Bi Proud!

It has been a very busy couple of months. It has taken a lot of work but it has been well worth it. Bi+ Pride Milwaukee has made great strides in the 414 and beyond. Our Bi Fi signal has been strong and has been amplified. For such a new organization we have really come a long way.

We marched in the local Pride parade again. Our numbers were larger, our Bi finery was better and we received the same warm, affirming welcome from the crowd in attendance at the parade.

Our social media numbers continue to grow, we are organizing more events  and we are welcoming more and more folks to our events.

The true icing on the cake was receiving a Pride Award from Milwaukee’s Pridefest. There were a number of folks who won an award but among them was Bi+ Pride Milwaukee. This was notable in that one year ago I don’t think most folks in the local LGBT community knew we existed and little had been done to support and welcome the Bi+ folks to most LGBT events or activities. That has changed significantly. It was fair for many of the folks I met to say they had no idea whom to contact to establish a connection with the Bi community.  That was true. However, that has changed. We’re here, we’re queer and we are not going anywhere. We know we are fulfilling a need and we will continue to do so.

Over the past year we have finally been able to have our local LGBT center host a Bi event and now the Bi+ discussion group meets on a monthly basis. To have the signal boost the LGBT center can provide and have access to their facilities has been beneficial. And, it is only the start.

When I made remarks upon accepting the Pride award at the Pridefest opening ceremonies I made the point that Bisexuals have been in the community and have been fighting for the rights of all Queers, right along with gay men, lesbians, and trans folks. In fact, there were Bi folks at Stonewall and Brenda Howard, the Mother of Pride, organized the Christopher Street Gay Liberation March, 1970. I also made the point that our organization was inclusive and if you are non-monosexual (no matter which label resonates with you) or an ally you are welcome to join us. We are not an organization which participates in gatekeeping. We experience enough of that and will have no part in encouraging it.

All in all, it has been equal parts exhausting and exhilarating to get BPM going but I think our future is bright. A few other folks are starting to participate very actively and having been acknowledged at Pridefest has definitely elevated our ‘brand’.  Here we are with a few of the folks who joined us in the Milwaukee Pride parade. Don’t we look marvelous.

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I am putting my full remarks here. Not so much to share as to have them for myself when I want to reflect next year on how much progress we have made. : )

Thank you. Good Afternoon. What a beautiful day to be proud. (Editors note: and it was truly gorgeous)

My name is Amy Luettgen and I am here on behalf of the wonderful people who are Bi+ Pride Milwaukee. Five of our activists are here with me today and I would like to give them a well-deserved shout out: Sarah, Grace, Sean, Michelle and Lexy.

When this all started happening/coalescing over a year ago we really did not have great expectations or lofty goals, the idea was to create a safe space for folks who identify as Bi to meet each other and begin to craft Bi+ community. We certainly could not have expected to have our work recognized with a Pride Award on the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall.

But, actually, it is really appropriate in that Bi Trans women were a major part of that initial riot for Gay Rights five decades ago. And, Brenda Howard, a Bi woman, known as the Mother of Pride was the organizer of the first Pride parade and festival. She organized the Christopher Street Gay Liberation Day March and had the idea to have speakers and activities at the same time as the march. Brenda’s legacy is the reason there is a Pridefest here in Milwaukee today.

Bi the way, we want to be abundantly clear that while our organization is called Bi+ we welcome and embrace all the many and diverse labels folks use to describe their non-monosexuality: Fluid, Queer, Pan, Bi, Poly, Omni, Unlabeled…whether you’re Trans, Cis, non-binary, gender non-conforming, gender fluid, gender expansive…you and your partners and allies belong so just drop Bi and join in the fun. We aren’t gatekeepers, if you shelter under the big Bi umbrella you are welcome.

The B has always been around…we’re here, we’re Queer and it means a great deal to us to be seen and recognized. We have strong Bi-Fi but we really appreciate the signal boost provided by Milwaukee Pride. Amplification is always welcome. So please stop on Bi to one of the events we have going on. Check out our Facebook page or our website. Come to a discussion group (third Thursday of the month at the LGBT center), join us at Bi café or Bi Happy Hour. We have a lot going on and with your help and support we will continue to grow valid and vibrant Bi+ community. We are making big waves on a Great Lake. Join us for the fun and frolicsome Pan-demonium.

 

Oh, and Bi the way, thank you all  so much!!

Coupled, Bi and Coming Out.

Let’s say you’ve been married for some time, could be 5 years, could be 25 years, and you are finally accepting the truth that you are bisexual. You probably knew deep down for years, you may have known before you coupled up, but our society is heteronormative and marrying your high school girlfriend/boyfriend just seemed like the natural thing to do. It could be your marriage/relationship is very satisfying and you are not inclined to seek other partners but you’re hiding a very important part of your identity.
Or, another scenario… you were deeply attracted and enamored of your partner and had no thought of anyone else or anything else, you knew you had found your soulmate. Yet, as the years went by you found folks of other genders catching your eye and engaging your attentiveness. After many years, you want to take that feeling from fantasy to reality. However, you have never even considered broaching the subject you are Bi with your partner.
It could be you were well aware of your bisexuality prior to coupling and felt that you had found your person and others would never be on your radar again. Then, you met someone else who had your pulse racing. You had not discussed your bisexuality with your partner for years and this revelation would surely either surprise them or, you fear, cause damage to your relationship. You had both agreed to be monogamous and now you have other urges.
Folks in longer term relationships can experience their sexual fluidity in many ways and may or may not wish to act on their sexual or emotional desires. However, keeping them hidden causes severe emotional distress for most people. Keeping your sexuality under wraps because you don’t want to hurt your partner or because you fear their response is not uncommon. I just don’t think it is healthy, for you or for your relationship.
First of all, it is never wrong to be who you are. No human being should ever leave a part of themselves in the closet. People can make bad decisions based upon all kinds of things. One of those things can be sexuality but there is really no reason it has to be.
Honesty remains the best policy. While there may be hurt feelings and also repercussions it has not been my experience that anyone likes to be lied to. When you do that you do not give you partner the respect they deserve. There are times your partner may feel as though they are not enough for you, sexually or emotionally. This may or may not be true but the main thing is to provide them with the information so they can make the best decision for themselves. Not allowing them to do so is unfair. Hiding because you fear the outcome has no benefit for anyone.
There are times a person simply wants to be seen as precisely who they are. They may not wish to act on their feelings but simply have them acknowledged. Being honest about who you are can deepen a relationship. It can also open a relationship. I am not going to debate the benefits of polyamory, bi-amory, swinging, ethical non-monogamy, ‘friends with benefits’, etc over monogamy. That is a decision each couple must make for themselves. However, it really should be made. Cheating should never be the chosen option.
The decision to refresh or revamp a relationship may involve soul-searching, role-playing and trying to figure out how some desires can be met within the relationship. There are as many ways to address bisexuality within a relationship as there are couples. The only way you can make the decision is by being honest with each other.
It could also be that your relationship won’t last once you come out or make your desires/identity known. There is no way to truly predict the outcome of coming out, whether it is the first time you have done so with your partner or whether it is reminding them of who you are. The one thing I can predict is by being your authentic self you are treating yourself and your partner with respect. There is little enough of that in this world.

 

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Bisexuality is all about ME!

Yeah, you heard it. Bisexuality is all about me….and you….and every other Bisexual. Bear with me and I will try to explain what I mean by this seemingly narcissistic statement.
As a bisexual person I can be attracted to any but not all people, I can have sex with any but not all people, and my attractions can ebb and flow over the years and the decades. This is why bisexuality is not about the people I have sex with or relationships with….it is about me. The reason I say this is bisexuality is not defined by my partners but rather it is defined by my way of looking at the world, my way of seeing other human beings and my way of experiencing attraction.
I sometimes think this flexibility of outlook and attraction is what befuddles and confuses monosexuals. Their worldview cannot include the idea of being attracted to humans of their own and other genders. They don’t see romantic or sexual partners of multiple genders as an option and I do.
I am going to get real in saying there has never been a time, even when I was coupled, when I did not see folks of other genders than that of my partner (or my own)as attractive and potentially fuckable. That truth does not mean I have ever cheated or that my partner meant any less to me. It simply means the universe is full of truly beautiful and enchanting people of all genders and to not see them and appreciate them I would have to have blinders on.
I just want to make clear I don’t discriminate or think less of gay/lesbian/straight people. I am just confused by their declaration they can only be attracted to people of one gender. Nawww….just kidding….while I find monosexuality limiting I will defend their right to be monosexual and I certainly understand what they are saying. Do I feel just a wee bit sorry for them. Well, given how much being bisexual has illuminated and enriched my life I would have to say I do. I just got lucky when I happened to be bisexual.
And, as Bi Health Month draws to a close, I challenge monosexual folks and LGBT organizations to stand up and support the Bisexual community. We definitely need your support. Our health outcomes are poorer than the straight and gay/lesbian communities, we suffer partner violence at higher rates , we earn less and have higher rates of poverty, fewer of us come out of the closet and we struggle with biphobia and bierasure,
And Bi+ siblings, if you are doing alright, if you have the support of family and friends and are able to be out and vocal speak up for our non-monosexual community. While I said being bisexual is all about me I also know the only way to build strong, stable non-monosexual community is to speak out about things that matter….and to walk that talk.

 

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Bi Elders – Where are you? I’m here!

I am a (non-binary) woman of a certain age. In fact, I have no problem telling anyone what my age is. I am 61. I am working with others to build Bisexual community where I live. I enjoy the energy from all the folks in our organization. However, I miss having more Bisexuals close to my age to commune with. I enjoy the young people, don’t get me wrong. We have a great deal in common because we are non-monosexuals.  It just would feel good to have the shortcuts you can have with folks closer to your age and experience level. It would be great to have a larger cohort of Bi folks who remembered the activism and challenges of prior decades. Who would have my back when I explain where our roots are and what work has been done before. Who would be among those who could say we have been HERE and QUEER for a long, long time.

I think one of the reasons it is hard to connect with other Bi folks who are closer to my age is that we are so defined by our partners. Over time I do think our ‘friend’ groups can sort of fall into more Gay folks or more Straight folks.  I know that happened to me once my kids were born as I did have a lot in common with parents…most of whom were, or appeared to be, straight. Another reason being  so few Bisexuals come out it is hard to know we’re here. While I have gone to various events for older LGBT folks the majority of those in attendance are gay men or Lesbians. I have no issues with that but we all know biphobia is fairly common among the Gs and Ls and I don’t always feel as though I fit in. I want to make clear that I cherish all members of our LGBT community but I don’t always feel as cherished.

Often by the time folks are closer to my age they have gotten to a comfort level with where they are and who their friends are. I have many friends who are gay men and Lesbians but precious few who are Bi. There are many Bi men and women in similar gender relationships who leave a part of themselves in the closet to fit in. This is not an uncommon scenario. There are men and women like this in my own community. I know this fact but it is hardly my place to say…hey y’all, join me out here in the Bi-verse….be everything you are. I know, anecdotally, that sometimes the gay or lesbian partner would prefer their Bi partner not be radically visible. Why, you ask, Biphobia, I say… I realize these are broad strokes but I have had that experience in the past so I am speaking from what I have lived. All of these factors combine to result in fewer older Bi people being out and seeking out Bi friends in their own age group.

I think it is definitely a missed opportunity. I think we would feel so valued and visible if we were among those who have weathered the storms but have stayed strong and certain in our Bi identities. I think we have so much to offer each other and so much to share with younger generations of Bi+ individuals.

I wrote to our local LGBT center today. A center which has zero Bi programming and suggested a monthly Bi+ discussion group. Baby steps, right? And, if this idea comes to fruition I will try to make the argument we could/should encourage an inter-generational emphasis for the group. I’ll be there and I hope my fellow Bi-elders will join me.

 

 

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The Constant Struggle to be SEEN!

While I don’t have access to network television or cable (by choice) I know Rami Malek, who portrayed Bi-icon Freddie Mercury in the film Bohemian Rhapsody, won an Oscar for his performance in the film. I also know that in his acceptance speech he referred to Freddie as a ‘gay man’. Freddie was not a gay man, he was a bisexual man,  and he not only knew who he was but he said who he was.

It is appalling that an actor who portrayed a Bi man would perpetuate the invisibility of the Bisexual community by mis-labeling the flesh and blood human being he inhabited on-screen. There is an outcry from many quarters of the Bi community but why must we continue to fight this battle. It is #20BiTeen and it is long past time for our vibrant and valid community to be recognized and respected.

Bisexual erasure is a pervasive problem in both the straight and LGBT community and it impugns the existence of and legitimacy of bisexuality. Whether you are questioning us or outright denying our existence irreparable harm is being done.

The bottom line here is talking about us can save our lives. This is not a minor concern. It is a major problem. It is only because of our amazing resilience we have survived at all. Enough. Just. Enough. The time is long past due to respect (and accept) our existence.  I am an old battle-axe and I WILL call you out if you mislabel me. But it takes immense energy to continue to do so. Think of the young person or the closeted person who desperately needs validation. Continued mis-labeling can result in their questioning what they know, who they are. Stop it. Just Stop IT.

Support our bravery when we tell you who we are. If you are a member of the LGBT community make sure there is Bi representation in your local organization. Trust me, we’re here and we’re queer and we belong. Celebrate us. Realize that our history of struggle is the same as yours. There are many early LGBT pioneers who identified as bisexual. Educate yourself about our community.

The B is not silent. Just listen and you will hear us roar.

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You’re Bi, so do you like women or men more?

I wish I had a dollar for every time I have been asked this question! There are so many things to unpack about such a nonsensical query. I will try to touch on most of them.
Let’s start with the fact that not all Bisexuals are attracted to only cis men and women. (In fact, I would argue few of us are so limited in our attractions) Regardless of how we label ourselves (bisexual, pansexual, fluid, queer) we are very often attracted to folks all along the gender identity spectrum. This means that restricting us to explaining our attraction to either women or men won’t even compute with most of us.
Additionally, while I would love to be able to foretell the future I do not have the gift of clairvoyance. Because our attractions can run the gamut I could not possibly predict who might tickle my fancy on any given day and for those who are not in a relationship with whom we may end up with long-term.

During the course of a lifetime, bisexuality can ebb and flow and sometimes shift somewhat. This is called fluidity and is a component of bisexuality for some of us. It is not always a 50/50 proposition (especially since we can be attracted to human beings of varying gender identities). In addition, my eye might spy more female – identified humans for a bit and then swing a slightly different way for a while. I think in my life my attractions probably would add up pretty equally but the point I am trying to make is if for a while you find yourself more attracted to male folks it doesn’t mean you’ve changed your Bi ‘stripes’ it just means for a bit you have seen some very attractive men. ; )

The fundamental truth about bisexuality is that we cannot predict our attractions nor would we have any desire to do so. Our innate ability to see beauty and magic in folks of any and all gender persuasions is our true superpower. We should be straightforward (no pun intended) and embrace the fact we cannot predict whom we will be attracted to or who we may ‘end up with’ any more than we could predict winning lottery numbers. ; )

 

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In fact, a lot of folks are Bi.

Bisexuality remains the type of sexuality that often  is considered taboo. The biphobia that Bis face is the major reason so many stay in the closet. Over 70% of bisexuals are not out to their family and close friends. This is in comparison with gay men and lesbians where about 70% are out to family and close friends. Why does this biphobia persist? Why is it that so many people fear bisexuality? Fear is what fuels biphobia as psychologists tell us we often hate that which we don’t understand or don’t understand. Urban Dictionary defines biphobia as an unreasoning fear of or antipathy toward bisexuals and bisexuality. The important word in that definition is unreasoning. Who we are is a pretty simple thing. We are folks who can be attracted sexuality or romantically to persons of our own or another gender. Not too scary, right? I mean, if society can accept that gay men and lesbians are attracted to genders like their own why is it such a leap that those of us who are bisexual can be attracted to those with genders like our own or dissimilar to our own.

It is past time for individuals to examine their aversion to bisexuality. Knowledge is power and I often think if society understood us better we would not be faced with such challenges. I also think that for those of us who can we have a responsibility to be visible and vocal. So, to monosexuals, I challenge you to examine your unreasonable prejudices about those of us who are non-monosexual. And to my non-monosexual sibs I ask that (if safe for you) you step up and identify yourselves as bisexual, pansexual, fluid, polysexual and answer the questions folks have about our sexual orientation. It is only be being seen and acknowledging who we are that we can dispel the myths surrounding bisexuality and encourage other non-monosexuals to be out and proud of who they are.

 

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