The first ever Bisexual Awareness Week ends today. In the last seven days, groups have released illuminating reports about the bisexual community, bisexuality hashtags have popped up on twitter, and people have hosted and attended events around the U.S. Bi people made connections and shared their stories. Robyn Ochs and Heru Khuti released a new book on bisexual men that I can’t wait to read. It’s awesome to see so much activity and learn about all the bisexual people who are doing amazing work.
I realize most of the world is entirely unaware of the week. Despite vibrant efforts from GLAAD, BiNet USA, and other organizations, the mainstream media didn’t pick up on Bi Week. All the coverage I saw came from queer sources — The LGBT verticals at Slate and Huffington Post mentioned the week and the 15th annual Celebrate Bisexuality Day on Tuesday to varying degrees, and The Advocate had a few good stories, mostly from the pen of their new bisexuality writer Eliel Cruz. Our friends over at Elixher had some great stories and hosted a Twitter talk. And I wrote a few pieces and lifted up the voices of our amazing bi readers. At events, bisexuals came together to celebrate and articulate their experiences, like in this video from GLAAD that gave me at least 10 feels:
There were moments of disappointment. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force chose Tuesday to publish a column from a woman calling for a dismissal of the term “bisexuality.” She argues that bisexuality lifts up a hateful binary definition of gender and doesn’t acknowledge that bisexual activists have grappled with and found bi-friendly answers to that concern. The comment sections of many articles I read were quick to call bisexuality a myth — though I didn’t have to moderate a single biphobic comment on Autostraddle, because you are all perfect and I love you.
I am generally suspicious of awareness and visibility campaigns. Sometimes it’s hard to gauge the impact — how much do pink product breast cancer awareness efforts contribute to the fight against cancer, and how much do they line the pockets of foundation presidents and company executives, for example. And that whole ALS ice bucket situation was out of control (though arguably effective). Visibility is a complicated question within the queer community, too — for many people, visibility and outness do not help achieve personal or political goals, and for others being visibly queer is dangerous. Making the bisexual community visible to the larger world won’t guarantee our safety or our rights. Awareness of our challenges and needs as a community is a worthy project, but only if it comes with follow up action.
We can’t fix every problem in a day, and bi week was highly effective in at least one way: It made bisexual people more visible to each other. On Facebook and Twitter, bisexual people found each other and had conversations. For example, activist Feminista Jones, who identifies as pansexual, started a great conversation on the hashtag #MyBisexualityIs, where people shared resources, asked questions, examined labels and supported one another. In the comments on the bisexuality stories here at Autostraddle, I was overwhelmed to see so much openness, kindness and thoughtful conversation from the bi people in our community.
Two of my friends from college came out publicly on Facebook, and two other friends came out to me personally. On Tuesday, posts in English and Spanish celebrating Bisexual Visibility Day and Celebrate Bisexuality Day were all over my newsfeed. I had dozens of conversation about bisexuality online and in real life. I learned about work happening within the bisexual community and created a long list of texts, organizations and resources to explore and share. Bisexual people are more than our sexuality and we’re committed to many things. It was important and powerful to set aside a week to come together to talk about our experiences, establish roots within the community and promote our causes and projects. A population that exists year round seized the opportunity to amplify its voice and invite people in for seven days. Work began that will continue, relationships formed that will grow and knowledge spread that will inform conversations and policy work.
I don’t mind too much that bi week didn’t go mainstream. We see each other in new ways, and I don’t think I can underestimate the impact that will have on our lives every day between now and Bisexual Awareness Week 2015.