See and Be Seen.

There was a time, and it does not seem all that long ago, when I could not have named a single out high profile Bisexual. And now they are legion with the most recent being Ryan Russell, a NFL free agent. I don’t pretend to know much about American football but I do know that having a sports figure come out as Bi is probably a very big deal to many sports loving bisexuals especially Bi+ men/masc. I will just name a few of the folks who come to mind as out and proud Bisexuals as we should always make sure to give them a high profile: Alan Cumming, Stephanie Beatriz, Angelina Jolie, Halsey, Bella Thorne, Cynthia Nixon, Billie Joe Armstrong, Drew Barrymore, Janelle Monae, Gillian Anderson and so many more.

The fact that out bisexual celebrities is a long list which I don’t have the space to mention is incredibly meaningful. When I was young the only out bisexual I knew of was David Bowie and it meant a lot that he was unashamed, unapologetic and used the actual word. I knew who I was and seeing even one person be open about their bisexuality made a major difference in my life.

So, here we are in the 21st century, many folks have come out as Bi+, young people are identifying as Queer in droves and yet there is still a massive stigma and many misconceptions and myths about Bisexuals.

Only 28% of Bisexuals come out. This is in comparison with about 77% of gay men and 71% of lesbians. You might ask yourself why this is the case. Well, in a word, Biphobia.

I have literally had folks tell me they don’t want to come out because it is more comfortable for them to remain closeted than deal with the stigma of being the greedy, creepy Bi person.¬† This is internalized biphobia at its most damaging.

Bisexuality is still sometimes seen as taboo. Heteronormative society can understand a gay man or lesbian who is attracted to folks of their own gender but those of us with more expansive tastes are more difficult for het society to swallow. ; )

Of course, there is the fear of sharing your true self and not being believed. That has happened to me a lot and it never gets easier to disabuse people of the notion I am straight due to the gender of my long term partner. There is nothing more belittling and demeaning than to share your truth and have someone tell you that you’re wrong or that you don’t know yourself. (my response has always been ‘why thank you for knowing me better than I know myself! and feel free to use it. Saying that usually, at least, makes folks think a little deeper about their assumptions….)

There are some who refuse to believe bisexuality exists. That is a tough one. We are not truly invisible, that is a super power most of us have not achieved at this point, but it can make it extremely difficult to share your truth. Het society needs to wrap their collective mind around the fact that we don’t have to and never will ‘choose’ a gender. As Bisexuals we cannot do that….no matter who our partners are we will always have the potential to be multi gender attracted.

And some folks just think living their lives as happy, healthy bisexual people…sometimes dating a woman/femme, sometimes dating a man/masc and sometimes dating a genderqueer person should speak for itself. In a perfect world, I would totally agree. I look forward to a time when a queer person’s attractions are treated equally as another person’s heterosexual attractions. We are not there yet and that is why I strongly advocate for visibility. Yes, it might take you out of your comfort zone. Sometimes the only way to grow is to be uncomfortable on occasion.

And know that as we become more visible as a community there will be more and more safe places and spaces for Bi+ humans. We do need to push the envelope and make our presence known. It is the only way to change attitudes and behaviors.

For now, if you cannot come busting out of the closet consider telling a person you trust. Take things one step at a time. Even if you tell one person and are authentic with one person it can start a gradual process of feeling more comfortable walking in the world as your beautiful Bi+ self.

(Cautionary note: If you don’t feel safe being out in any situation do not do it. I don’t want anyone harmed for being themselves. )

 

 

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MGA and Genderqueer

Almost every day I learn a new acronym and often I find the acronym applies to me. MGA is pretty much me, in a nutshell. It also applies to most, if not all, bisexuals. We are non monosexuals and, by definition, multi gender-attracted folks. To me, this is just being a regular, magical bisexual person.

Being able to love and be attracted without limits is, by far, the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me. Have their been challenges? Definitely. Would I change who I am? Absolutely not.

Being bisexual is more than having a certain type of sexuality. In my view, it is looking at the world in a way that is far beyond binaries. Gender is important in that we must respect everyone’s gender identity. However, as a bisexual, I see the beauty and pure sexiness of every type of gender. As a non-binary person myself I have had to give a lot of thought to how I present myself. And, very often, how I explain myself and my attractions. I have made the mistake of saying I am attracted to humans despite what their gender is. That is flawed language. I am attracted to them because of what their gender is or no matter what their gender is. I still struggle with the right way to express how I feel but using MGA might solve that personal shortcoming. ūüėČ

We have so many acronyms in the LGBTQ community but I think it is past time to adopt MGA. It also helps define the way many bisexuals feel about their bisexuality. It is limitless and infinite. : 0

 

 

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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 caf√© 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‚Ķ.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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Bi: All Day, Every Day

I met a woman recently who was close to my age (61) and was just coming out as Bi. Now when I say coming out I mean just barely cracking that closet door. Our conversation was a real eye-opener for me as she was a grown woman who had been hiding for her entire life. She knew who she was. She knew she was bisexual but she was hiding and pretending. All of her relationships had been with men even though she would have sex with women under a veil of secrecy. What truly shocked me is that she thought this was the way all bisexuals of her generation lived their lives. She thought this was standard operating procedure for  bisexuals of my generation. She was tremendously surprised to hear my story and learn I had been out for decades.

This really gave me pause as I had come out at 17 in 1975 and felt I was joining a vibrant and focused gay liberation (the verbiage we used then) movement. I did not feel I had to hide. I felt the world was going a seismic sexuality shift and my generation was at the forefront of that exciting moment. To be sure, there were challenges, there were times when I walked down the street holding a girlfriends hand thinking a group of guys outside a bar might hassle us. It happened. We dealt with it. I knew that there were many who did not accept gay men, lesbians, bisexuals….who did not even have non-binary folks, trans folks or genderqueer people on their radar. I cheered for every victory whether it was Harvey Milk winning an election as an openly gay man or Anita Bryant (an anti-gay religious zealot and orange juice spokesmodel) getting a pie in the face. I won’t say every experience of sharing my sexuality was a good one but the positives of being my authentic self far outweighed the negatives.

Here I was having a conversation of someone who had not lived their truth at all and it was humbling. It made me very grateful for the wonderful family and friends who have supported me and my activism all these decades.

In addition to not being out and proud she also had internalized so many biphobic tropes. She felt maybe she was ‘too sexual’ because she desired both men and women (she did not really seem to have a grasp of the concept of non-binary gender identity while I did try to explain it as a genderqueer person myself). She questioned whether she could ever be true to herself as her family would never accept her. She felt unless you were actively having sex with people of multiple genders you could not really call yourself bisexual. She wondered if perhaps she was just going through a phase. It was quite a laundry list of biphobia. For my part, I listened. Her experiences were not my experiences but we shared a sexuality and the least I could do was hear her story.

Now, doing as I do, I also directed her to resources I felt would benefit her in her journey. I jotted them down and encouraged her to make use of whatever resonated with her. I know she is not the only one who has not embraced their identity for fear of losing friends and family. This realization made me unutterably sad.

The last thing I said before we went our separate ways was to suggest she¬† reach out to those in her community who will embrace her, and disregard those who wouldn’t,¬† and finally to realize it is never too late to be who you have always been.

 

 

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