Bi+ Visibility Week Master Post

Bi+ Visibility Week Master Post

Today is the first day of Bi+ Visibility Week!

You can find global events collected at the Bi Visibility Day website.

Why does Bi+ Visibility Week matter?

It matters for so many reasons, but for me personally, it matters because my bisexuality is such a fundamental part of who I am. It matters because bisexuality, pansexuality, asexuality, and other non-monosexual (not gay/lesbian or straight) identities are still too often rendered invisible even in queer spaces, are still treated as a “phase”, as immature or somehow flawed.

It matters because visibility is important.

I’ll pull together links and share them here later on, but for now…

Bi visibility matters because I have seen first-hand how much it hurts when we are not visible. I have been facilitating Possibilities Calgary Bi+ Community events since 2010, and in that decade, I have continued to hear stories of biphobia in medical and mental health support services, in workplaces, in families, and in intimate relationships. The effect of this (which is sometimes an erasure and invisibilizing, and sometimes a scrutinized hypervisibility) impacts the people in my communities.

The bi+ community includes intersections of race, gender, class, disability, neurodivergence, body size, substance use, sex work, parenthood, housing and food insecurity, under- and unemployment. At each of these intersections, there is further harm that happens as a result of the layering of biphobia on top of existing oppressive discourses such as white supremacy, fatphobia, ableism, transantagonism, and so many others.

Two years ago I wrote:

I am bisexual. My bisexuality challenges, destabilizes, disrupts and dismantles the binary of gay and straight. In the wake of the disruption there is space for new ways of being and knowing.

I am non-binary. Right there in the labeling of my gender is the challenge to the binary. My gender does all of the same rich disruptive work that my bisexuality does, just in the realm of gender rather than orientation.

I am also invisibly disabled. My chronic pain means that I am not normatively abled, but my body looks like it should be.

This identity, too, troubles the binary that suggests people are either abled or disabled, and challenges the idea that you can tell just by looking.

In the first year of my undergrad, I read Cyborgs Among Us: Performing Liminal States of Sexuality by Elizabeth Whitney.

She writes, ‘As long as oppositional binaries of sexuality exist between heterosexuality and homosexuality, those caught in the middle suffer as scapegoats for any issues that arise between the two… one cannot embody both aspects of a dualism – i.e., nature/culture, homosexuality/heterosexuality, etc., – for to do so would be to dispel the cultural myths which we have collectively embraced.’

Rereading the essay for this post, I don’t agree with everything in it. But sliding across these familiar words, I remember the way it felt to read about the potential for my identity to align with my politics in such a deep and meaningful way. It was a moment of intense euphoria. A moment of my body and identity feeling deeply right. In bisexual theory, I found myself and the self that I found was a self that I wanted. A self that I could love. A feminist cyborg self with the power to disrupt systems of harm. Amazing!

Later in the essay, Whitney writes, ‘Beyond binaries of sexuality, Hutchins and Kaathumanu warn that ‘building a bisexual movement without a multicultural, feminist perspective is disastrous… Bisexual liberation necessitates the recognition of not only the sexual dynamics among us but all the race and class dynamics that impact and affect ones sexual identity as well’.’

What this means to me is that bisexuality can, but will not automatically, be a liberatory theory for people beyond the white middle class. There are bisexual folks from every class, and race, and gender, of course. But just like queer theory, bisexual theory does not automatically include every class, and race, and gender. We have to make those choices explicitly and intentionally. We have to challenge the cultural myths which we have collectively embraced. All of them!

I love the binary smashing cyborgian parts of my identity.

There are a lot of theorists I’ve read since then who have deepened and expanded my understanding of both bisexuality as a theoretical position and also of myself as a bisexual.

I am so thankful for the theory that lets me see myself in the world, as a person with agency and the ability to challenge and disrupt the binaries that cause so much harm.

But I’m also thankful for the world that I am able to see myself in. Not everything is theory. I love theory, and I love my books and papers. But I also love sitting in the park with bi pride coloured make-up, with my sister in her own bi pride make-up. Bisexuality is one of many liberatory liminal identity theories, and I love the theory of that. But my life, as I live it, is its own liberatory liminal identity. And I love that, too.

Originally posted on Facebook Sept 2, 2018.

Bi+ Visibility Week matters, and posts about it matter, and events matter, and zines and articles and conversations matter, because even though our perspectives will change and grow and our contexts will shift and we won’t agree with our earlier selves or our earlier thoughts, still, these moments of euphoria upon seeing ourselves reflected matter.

This week matters.

And I would love to celebrate it with you. Hence, this post!

Although there have been quite a few posts all over my blog and social media in anticipation of this week, this post pulls together all of the upcoming events, so that you know where to find me and how to RSVP for the various events.

Ongoing

First, from now until the end of September 2020, I’m offering 23% off enrollment in An Unexpected Light. This is an online course in narrative therapy and speculative fiction, and it’s probably the best thing I’ve ever created. Find full details at this post, or just zip right over to Thinkific and enroll! Use code ‘jellyfish’ for that 23% discount. (Why 23%? Because Celebrate Bisexuality Day is on September 23, and I like things that are on theme.)

There will be a special new lesson released on September 23 to celebrate Bi+ Visibility Day.


The next announcement is the Ocean of Possibilities zine! I received submissions from eight contributors and I think it’s going to be lovely. I’ll update this page with a link, as well as creating a post for the zine itself, once it’s complete!

Now, on to the events.

Friday, September 18

Our first event is the Jellyfish Jam. This virtual dance party will be happening on Friday, September 18 from 8-10 pm mountain time. You are welcome to join from anywhere in the world, and there is no expectation that you’ll either be dancing the whole time or that you’ll have your camera on. This is an all-ages dance party, and will be hosted on Zoom. You can register for the event here. There is no cost to attend.

Saturday, September 19

The Seeing and Being Seen panel on Visibility and Care will be happening on September 19, from 1-2:30 pm mountain time. Panelists Osden, Jane, Pedrom, and Crystal will be talking about what it means to be visible, why it matters, and how we can care for ourselves and each other. Find their bios and more details about the panel in this post, or just email me to RSVP! This event will be hosted in GoToMeeting, and I’ll send you the link when you RSVP. There is no cost to attend.

The September meeting of the Shiny! speculative writing group will be happening on Saturday, September 19 from 4-6 pm mountain time. This writing group meets once a month to write speculative fiction together, and our work bridges genres and styles – these writing meet-ups, which have been happening in GoToMeeting since the pandemic started, are consistently encouraging, inspiring, and welcoming. Our Bi+ Visibility Week special event will include writing prompts that step into the liminal spaces that bi+ identities open up. Although you do not need to be bi+ to participate, this event is specifically in celebration of non-monosexual queer identities. Email me to RSVP and receive the link. There is no cost to attend.

Wednesday, September 23

Our final event is the Pride Jellyfish Paint Night on September 23 from 6-8 pm mountain time, on Bi+ Visibility Day / Celebrate Bisexuality Day itself!

This virtual craft event will be hosted in GoToMeeting, and there is no cost to attend. You can join us from anywhere in the world! For participants in Calgary, I have 15 craft packs (with thanks to Kensington Art Supplies for the discount on materials!) that include:

  • One canvas board
  • Two paint brushes
  • Small paint jars in the following colours:
    • Yellow
    • Blue
    • Pink
    • Purple
    • Grey
    • White
    • Black
  • A copy of the Ocean of Possibilities zine
  • A set of bi+ pride postcards

There is no cost to attend this event. RSVP by emailing me, and let me know whether you need a craft pack! Craft packs can be picked up in SW Calgary, and if you need help getting a pack, let me know and I will do my best to arrange delivery.


Keep an eye on this page for further posts and announcements.

And if you want to support my work, consider backing my Patreon!

And take the course. Seriously. It’s really good!

An Unexpected Light special offer

An Unexpected Light special offer

From now until the end of September, use code ‘jellyfish’ for 23% off the cost of An Unexpected Light in celebration of Bi+ Visibility Day on September 23.

Register here.

An Unexpected Light is an online course in speculative fiction and narrative therapy. The course is fully asynchronous, meaning you can sign up at any time, and complete the modules at your own pace. When you enroll, you’ll have immediate access to the 95 core lessons in the course, which include narrative therapy practices, curated reading selections, writing prompts and lessons, and integration and care lessons.

The six textbooks are also included in the cost of the course, and so is access to the twice-a-month video chats, the Discord server, feedback and editing for your writing, and ongoing access to new content as it is developed.

An Unexpected Light has been designed to support participants in finding possibility – finding the unexpected light together – in times that feel increasingly hopeless and overwhelming.The course is inspired by Walidah Imarisha’s definition of visionary fiction as “fantastical writing that helps us imagine new just worlds. Visionary fiction encompasses science fiction, fantasy, horror, magical realism, alternative timelines, and more. It is fantastical literature that helps us to understand existing power dynamics, and helps us imagine paths to creating more just futures.” (From this interview, which is one of our readings.)

We read visionary fiction, talk about visionary fiction, and write visionary fiction together, while also using narrative therapy to turn a visionary eye to our own lives and stories, inspired by David Denborough’s statement that “who we are and what we do are influenced by the stories that we tell about ourselves. While we can’t always change the stories that others have out us, we can influence the stories we tell about ourselves and those we care about. And we can, with care, rework or rewrite storylines of identity.” (From Retelling the Stories of Our Lives, one of our included textbooks.)

And we link these two things, speculative/visionary fiction and narrative therapy, through the frame that Avery Alder offers, an invitation to “sincerely imagine impossible things, to develop empathy towards impossible creatures, to practice being impossible. When we learn to see ourselves in the fantastical, the impossible, the absurd – when we construct new lenses by which to understand our own power and identities – we also put forward a challenge to the world around us. We challenge the reigning paradigms about what is possible, about what power looks like and who is entitled to claim it. We challenge the notion that difference is shameful. We challenge the notion that our bodies, our lives, or our hearts are shameful.” (From Variations on Your Body, another included textbook.)

Does that sound exciting?

Do you want to join?!

I would love to share this space with you. <3

(You can find out more about the course at www.tiffanysostar.com/an-unexpected-light)

Seeing and Being Seen: A Bi+ Visibility Week Panel on Visibility and Care

Seeing and Being Seen: A Bi+ Visibility Week Panel on Visibility and Care

Join Possibilities Calgary Bi+ Community for a panel discussion on visibility and care for Bi+ Visibility Week.

In this discussion, we’ll talk about what it means to be visible as bisexual/pansexual/asexual/queer folks, what makes it possible to feel seen, how we work at seeing each other, and how we care for ourselves and each other.

This panel will take place on September 19, 2020 from 1-2:30 pm mountain time. It will be hosted in GoToMeeting.

Register by emailing me for the link.

Our panelists are:

Osden
Sheri Osden Nault is an artist of Michif and mixed European descent, whose art practice and research are grounded in queer, feminist, and Indigenous world-views. Osden lives in Tkaronto on the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee, Wendat, and Mississaugas of the Credit First Nations, under the Dish with One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, which precedes colonial treaties on this land. Through their work they strive to elicit a sense of social and ecological responsibility to one another on a damaged planet. 

Jane
M. Jane Colette writes tragedy for those who like to laugh, comedy for the melancholy, and erotica for lovers who like their fantasies real. She believes rules and hearts were made to be broken—ditto the constraints of genres. Her flirty-funny-occasionally filthy novels include Tell Me, Consequences (of defensive adultery), Cherry Pie Cure, Text Me, Cupid, and the Cupid in Monte Carlo trilogy. She’s also the curator of the YYC Queer Writers’ fabulous anthologies Screw Chocolate, Screw Chocolate 2, Queer Christmas in Cowtown, and A Queer Summer Night in Cowtown. Ask her to send you love letters at mjanecolette.com/loveletters, talk to her in pictures at @mjanecolette, or tell her your story at TellMe@mjanecolette.com. Her alter-ego is a provocative legal affairs/business writer and journalism instructor.

Crystal 
Crystal (she/her) is a Queer, fat member of the community. By day, she is a nurse that works at the intersection of mental health and the law. In the evenings she is a yoga teacher certified in Trauma Sensitive Yoga from the Centre of Trauma and Embodiment. She also volunteers as a film programmer for the Fairytales Queer Film Festival, and loves to spend time playing with her niblings. Her partner Kalem (he/him) started decorating their yard for Pride in the early 2010s, and each year the decorations seem to get a little bit bigger! While at first glance, Crystal and Kalem might appear to be a cishet couple, they are both fiercely Queer and love queering their yard for Pride! Crystal is excited to share the story of how their “Pride Yard” came to be, and the positive responses they have received.

Pedrom
Pedrom Nasiri is a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology, at the University of Calgary. Their doctoral research examines the increasing prevalence of multiple-partner families in Canada, and their intersections with ongoing racial, gender, and class formation projects. They are the co-founder of the organisation PolyamQ: Calgary’s Queer + Polyamorous Community, a published author on the intersections of race, gender, law, family, and sexuality, and a social justice advocate.


We will be asking questions like:

  • What is important to you about bi+ visibility? 
  • What do you want folks outside of bi+ communities to know about us; how do you want to be seen?
  • Visibility includes both seeing and being seen, and this means that in addition to working towards bi+ visibility in monosexual spaces, we also need to work on ‘seeing’ the members of our own communities who are at other intersections. What intersections feel important to you to highlight for within our bi+ communities? 
  • What might care, both for our communities and within our communities, look like?

There’s no cost to participate, and if you want to participate from outside of Calgary, you are welcome!

We have a focus on community care and narrative discussions for the bi+ community (bisexual, pansexual, asexual, two-spirit, with an intentional focus on trans inclusion).

This is an intentionally queer, feminist, anti-oppressive space. The discussion is open to all genders and orientations, as well as all abilities, educational levels, classes, body types, ethnicities – basically, if you’re a person, you’re welcome!

These discussions take place on Treaty 7 land, and the traditional territories of the Blackfoot, Siksika, Piikuni, Kainai, Tsuutina, and Stoney Nakoda First Nations, including Chiniki, Bearspaw, and Wesley First Nation. This land is also home to Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3.


Bi+ Visibility Week is September 16-23!

There is also a virtual video dance party on Friday Sept 18 from 8-10 pm MDT. The Jellyfish Jam will be hosted in Zoom.

Register here: https://us04web.zoom.us/meeting/register/upUqcuqgqjIqGdUtCAPnVK0DgAqT0UjSuuVx

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

And lastly, a virtual paint night on Bi+ Visibility Day, Wednesday Sept 23 from 6-8 pm MDT. Anyone can participate, and for folks in Calgary, I’m putting together craft packs with a canvas board, paint brushes, and paint. You can find details and RSVP in the FB event – https://www.facebook.com/events/1175049712880550.

And, lastly, if the idea of finding light in the gloom appeals to you, you can use code ‘jellyfish’ from now until the end of September 2020 for 23% off An Unexpected Light, in celebration of Bi+ Visibility Day on September 23, 2020. An Unexpected Light is a course in speculative fiction and narrative therapy.

Our Own Deep Oceans Writing Prompts

Our Own Deep Oceans Writing Prompts

Perhaps you want to send something in for the Ocean of Possibilities Bi+ Visibility Day Zine, but you’re not sure where to start.

These prompts, which expand on our jellyfish theme, might be helpful.

If you’re having trouble getting started, I would suggest reading through these questions and prompts and picking the one that brings a thought to mind most easily. Then set a timer for 15 minutes and write. Try not to edit yourself as you go, just let the words flow! You can edit afterwards.

If you love what you’ve written, awesome! Keep going on that track.

If you don’t love it, that’s okay! Pick another question or prompt, or take another crack at the one that first drew your attention.

(Keep in mind that you do not need to stick to a jellyfish or ocean theme – this was just a fun theme I went with this year. The zine will include all kinds of writing and themes.)

Send your submissions in by midnight, September 13, 2020.

The prompts:

Jellies have been around since before the dinosaurs, and our communities have also always been around.

  • What community do you identify as belonging to, or being part of?
  • Do you know the history of that community?
  • When did you first learn that there was a community that shared your bisexual, pansexual, asexual, or otherwise non-monosexual orientation?
  • What experiences have you had in these communities?
  • Have you felt welcome in queer communities, either communities of shared orientation or other queer communities? What has contributed or stood in the way of feeling welcome in these communities?
  • Write a story about a bi+ person in history. (This could be in any genre.)

Jellies are found in every ocean, and in every part of the ocean, and our communities are also found everywhere.

  • Our bi+ communities overlap with trans communities, fat communities, Black, Brown and Indigenous communities, disabled communities, poor communities, substance using communities, sex working communities, and every other community. What overlaps exist in your bi+ experience?
  • Are there places you didn’t expect to find bi+ community, but then they were there?
  • Write a story about a bi+ person in an unexpected location, such as the moon, the bottom of the ocean, or a space station. (This could be in any genre, but my love of speculative fiction is certainly present in this prompt!)

Jellies can be hard to see because they blend in, and our communities can be hard to see, too.

  • Have you experienced a sense of invisibility, or erasure when it comes to your bi+ identity? What was the effect of this?
  • Have you experienced being seen in your bi+ identity? What did that visibility make possible?
  • What do you wish people knew about bi+ experience, that tends to get lost when we are blended into our contexts (such as the discourses that flatten us down to “spicy straight” or “gay/lesbian lite”)?
  • Where would you like to see more bi+ representation?
  • Write a story about blending in. (This could be in any genre.)
  • Write a story about not blending in. (This could also be in any genre!)

Jellies are resilient and they survive in so many different contexts, and our communities are also resilient, and survive in many different contexts.

  • What skills of survival have you learned as a bi+ person, and in bi+ communities?
  • What are some of the obstacles that you have faced?
  • What are some of the skills of resilience that you have developed as a bi+ person, and in bi+ communities?
  • What is the history of your skills of resilience and survival – where did you learn them, and who supports you in them?
  • Write about your “care toolkit” – the skills and resources you use to care for yourself and others.
  • Write a story about bi+ survival. (This could be in any genre.)

Some jellies are bioluminscent, creating their own light, and so do our communities – bi+ communities have been creating queer-inclusive spaces for generations, including Brenda Howard and the first Pride March!

  • Has there been a time when you’ve “created your own light” for yourself or others – a time when you have held out against the gloom, or when you have offered hope to someone else?
  • Has there been a time when another member of a bi+ community offered light and hope to you?
  • Who in your life, now or in the future or in the past, would you want to create light and hope for?
  • Who in your life knows that you are holding onto hope or possibility?
  • What allows you to be bioluminescent?
  • Write a story about being a light in the gloom. (This could be in any genre.)
  • Write a story about finding a light in the gloom. (This could be in any genre.)

And if the idea of finding light in the gloom appeals to you, you can use code ‘jellyfish’ from now until the end of September 2020 for 23% off An Unexpected Light, in celebration of Bi+ Visibility Day on September 23, 2020.


Bi+ Visibility Week is September 16-23!

The zine is only the first of the Bi+ Visibility Week events!

There is also a virtual video dance party on Friday Sept 18 from 8-10 pm MDT (please RSVP for details – we’re still figuring out exactly how it will work but it’s going to be super fun). RSVP at the FB event – https://www.facebook.com/events/313322403260174 or send me a message.

And a panel on visibility and care on Saturday Sept 19 from 1-2:30 pm MDT. Watch for a blog post coming this weekend with full details.

And lastly, a virtual paint night on Bi+ Visibility Day, Wednesday Sept 23 from 6-8 pm MDT. Anyone can participate, and for folks in Calgary, I’m putting together craft packs with a canvas board, paint brushes, and paint. You can find details and RSVP in the FB event – https://www.facebook.com/events/1175049712880550

An Ocean of Possibilities Call for Contributors

An Ocean of Possibilities Call for Contributors

Bi Visibility Week is coming up from September 16-23 and plans are coming together!

One small project is a little zine about our queer experiences, open to contributions from anyone who identifies as somehow non-monosexual (not gay or straight, attracted to something other than a single gender). This includes bisexual, pansexual, asexual, and a whole range of other queer folks.

Since all of the Possibilities Bi Visibility Week events have a bit of a jellyfish/ocean theme going on, consider the following possible prompts for your writing:

  • Jellies have been around since before the dinosaurs, and our communities have also always been around! Not like The Bis Before Time, but, you know.
  • Jellies are found in every ocean, and in every part of the ocean, and our communities are also found everywhere!
  • Jellies can be hard to see because they blend in, and our communities can be hard to see, too!
  • Jellies are resilient and they survive in so many different contexts, and our communities are also resilient, and survive in many different contexts!
  • Some jellies are bioluminscent, creating their own light, and so do our communities – bi+ communities have been creating queer-inclusive spaces for generations, including Brenda Howard and the first Pride March!

Although I am quite excited about the vast ocean of possibilities presented by this marine theme, that doesn’t mean you need to stick to the jelly theme at all. You can write about anything related to your bi+ experience. About presence and visibility and resilience. About connections and community (blooms of jellies, schools of fish). Write a short story, a poem, an essay. Draw a picture. Make a collage. Whatever you’d like!

Anything that is about non-monosexual experience is welcome, and I am especially interested in writing with some kind of focus on visibility (and all the pieces around it – invisibility, hypervisibility, conditional visibility).

Submissions must be received by September 13, 2020.

All contributors will receive a printed copy of the zine, and the zine will be available for free download on my website, with physical copies available for purchase (to cover the costs of printing and shipping). Submissions can emailed.

If you want support in the writing, you can attend the Warm Water Write-Along on Thursday, Sept 10 from 6-7:30 pm Mountain time. Message me to RSVP!