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The Task Force – formerly the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force – has declared Bisexual Awareness Week, or is that Queer Awareness? The Week is marked by events, proclamations and social media sharing. On Twitter on Tuesday, #BiAwarenessDay was retweeted to nearly 32,000 followers.
Bi Visibility Day is held on September 23rd every year. The Bisexual Visibility Day website, which includes statistics and resources, reported that this year events were held in over 18 countries, including United Kingdom, Iceland, Wales, Croatia, and Russia. They noted that 414 Twitter followers participated in the first mass-tweet that reached nearly 554,000, and the second was half that amount, which is also significant.
One person, Xanna, tweeted about the financial inequity that exists within the umbrella of LGBT – lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender. She said that this represents challenges for inclusion and equality for bisexuals.
Xanna reported that in the 40-year period from 1970 to 2010, projects and organizations identified as lesbian and gay received nearly $65 million. Transgender groups received nearly $17 million. Those projects that identified as bisexual received only $84,000, which averages to $2,100 per year.
A leader within the bisexual movement, writer and activist Robyn Ochs, writes on the inclusion and oppression of bisexuals. Ochs says that inclusion is not about one group allowing access to another, but rather recognizing the fact that formerly invisible groups are in fact present.
Ochs continues that bisexual and transsexual people have often been a hidden part of what was originally called the “gay and lesbian community” without being identified as who they are. To foster inclusion and bisexual awareness, she speaks of the communities as being “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and allies.”
Robyn Ochs says that oppression exists when anyone is required to hide any part of who they are. Acceptance is acknowledging the entirety rather than merely parts of the whole. She gives a definition for Bisexuality that is being shared widely:
Evangeline Weiss is the Leadership Programs Director of The Task Force. She writes about the inadequacy of language and how the term bisexual, which was tentatively embraced by the gay and lesbian movement of the 1980s, does not work today.
Weiss claims that Bisexual Awareness Week might be changed to Queer Awareness Week. She explains that the term bisexual implies a binary function – yes or no, on or off –and that most people’s identities, attractions, and lives are either more fluid than that or monogamous. She speaks to how gender assignments can hurt young people when there is expectation for a person of a gender to have certain attributes and they do not.
Weiss explains that the term “pansexual” has been used lately, but for her that term too might not be quite accurate. She likes the term “queer” because it holds fewer limitations and allows for more diversity in self-expression, desire, and erotic experiences.
Stacey Long, Director of Public Policy & Government Affairs at the Task Force, writes about having had to justify her bisexuality to people. If she had a male partner, she had to explain to the lesbian community. It was the same when she was with a female partner, speaking to her heterosexual network.
Long felt that she had to hide part of herself in both situations because there was lack of understanding about her identity as a bisexual. When she married her female partner, she had to explain that she was still bisexual because that is a personal characteristic. That did not nullify her monogamous relationship with her spouse. Long expresses that her sexuality is deeply personal and should not be judged. That recognition has been a sense of personal liberation for her.
Whether the label is Bisexual Awareness or Queer Awareness Week, the goal is to affirm and unite those who identify in this group. The purpose is also to educate and inform those who lack knowledge or are questioning. With the growing numbers of those participating globally and public and open expression, the goal of acceptance and inclusion is closer to being attained.
By Fern Remedi-Brown
The author writes about LGBT and other social justice issues.
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