Trans Day of Remembrance 2020

Trans Day of Remembrance 2020

It’s Trans Day of Remembrance.

This is for my trans siblings. The entire amazing spectrum of us. The way we are part of every community, the way we hold every possible intersecting identity. This is especially for my trans siblings who are on the margins, not because of anything internal but because of enforced marginality, the pushing out from the centre, the unnecessary creation of scarcity and risk. This is for my trans siblings who are Indigenous, Black, and brown, disabled, neurodivergent, young or old, fat, unhoused, sex working, un- or underemployed, who are in unsafe and hostile contexts.

I love us.

In this year of intense and layered grief, I love us with a love that comes from the root of anger – love that is also rage against injustice, love that is also a refusal to accept injustice as inevitable. It is *not* inevitable.

But, if it’s not inevitable, what else is possible?

What other worlds and ways might be possible?

On this day, I am reflecting on these questions, and I am inviting you to join me:

  • What are the stories that you were first told about trans lives and trans people? Do you remember the first time you learned that we exist?
  • If these first stories were hostile, skeptical, or degrading, how did you learn to resist them, refuse them, or re-author them? What has been the effect of these stories on your life? What has been the effect of your refusal?
  • If these first stories were welcoming, affirming, and honouring, what did this make possible in your life? What has been the effect of these stories on your life?
  • Who told you these first stories? What was their relationship to trans lives and trans people?
  • What was the first story you heard directly from a trans person about trans lives and trans people? What changed for you, what became possible, when you started hearing stories directly from trans people?
  • When did you first feel grief for how trans people are treated? What did this grief change in your life? What did it make possible?
  • When was the first time you learned that trans experience also includes joy and ease? What did this learning make possible in your life?
  • If you are a trans person, what has kept you connected to the possibility of your own life? What do you hold onto? What do you cherish? What do you know is true about you, even in moments when hostile contexts might seek to distance you from this self-knowledge?

Today, we honour our dead. There are too many. Too many of us track our lives against the average and know that we are in danger.

But also, today we fight for the living. Care for the living. Hold space – cis folks, especially, make sure you hold this space! – for what is vibrant and vital about trans lives, trans communities, trans people. Listen to stories from trans folks.

Read stories about our possible futures, not just our traumas or our pasts. If you need a book recommendation, pick up Love After the End, edited by Joshua Whitehead, full of Indigiqueer and Two Spirit speculative fiction.

In Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals, Alexis Pauline Gumbs writes, “Breathing in unbreathable circumstances is what we do every day in the chokehold of racial gendered ableist capitalism.”

It’s TDoR, and we are breathing in unbreathable circumstances. We are naming and honouring those who are no longer breathing with us. We are naming and knowing that access to breath is differential, even within the trans community. We are not each equally under threat, even though we are all under threat.

Hold the margins in the centre of this day. Gather them all in. Everything we are told is unloveable and unliveable, bring those threads in. Find their stories. Breathe.

(Maybe cry a bit, too. I know I am.)

All the sudden, mushrooms

All the sudden, mushrooms

The right rain comes and all the sudden, mushrooms.

A letter for our friends in the United States, following the 2020 presidential election.

From Lindsey Boyes and Tiffany Sostar

Artwork: mycelium and mushroom 2 by Lindsey Boyes

Download this letter as a PDF here, or email Tiffany to have a physical copy mailed to you. You can support more of this work at Tiffany’s Patreon.

“Mushroom Mycelium represent rebirth, rejuvenation, regeneration.”

– Paul Stamets

A small imagining, based on the metaphor of mycelium in forests. In this imagining, we are the trees.

Mycelium are fungal material, spread throughout soil and other substrates, which can fruit into mushrooms under the right circumstances. Mycelium can be tiny, or, as the Armillaria in Oregon, vast and ancient. Mycelium not only break down dead matter, they also distribute resources across ecosystems. The mycelium network within a forest can link trees across a vast distance, sharing nutrients from one part of the forest to another.

  • What is the soil in which you find yourself?
    (Your social context, your environment.)
  • Does this soil feel rich and nutrient-dense, or does it feel depleted?
    (Are you nourished and supported by your social context?)
  • Do you remember a time when you were in different soil?
    (Have you ever found yourself in a different social context?)
  • Who is in this soil with you? Who is in your forest?
    (Who is alongside you? Perhaps these are cherished companions, perhaps they are not. Forests are places of magic, and also danger, after all.)
  • What else is present in the forest?
    (Are there birds, squirrels, bears, bees, mosquitoes? What other non-tree / non-human companions are in your forest?)
  • Who are you connected to across distance?
    (What companions do you cherish and stay connected to? These may be living or not, they may know you in return or not. The mycelium network is magical because it can connect us in seemingly impossible ways.)
  • What nourishment is shared across your connection?
    (What do these connections make possible – what do they offer that you do not receive in your immediate environment?)
  • What information is shared?
    (What have you learned from these distant connections?)
  • What do the mycelium share from you, out to other parts of the network?
    (What contributions have you made, what has your existence made possible in the lives of others?)

Dear friends,

We (Lindsey and Tiffany) are writing this letter from Calgary, Alberta, in so-called Canada. From Blackfoot Confederacy (Siksika, Kainai, Piikani) and Stoney-Nakoda (Wesley, Chiniki, Bearspaw) and Tsuut’ina land. Métis land. From the place where the Bow meets the Elbow river.

This is beautiful, breathtaking land.

We wonder about the land that you are on.

Are there trees? Rivers? Mountains?

What do you see when you look out the window, when you step out your door? What do you smell? What do you hear?

What is the landscape, and what are the plants and animals that you share space with?

What is your relationship with the land you’re on?

In an Indigenous Counselling and Trauma Work course, Cree/Métis therapist and academic Karlee Fellner taught Tiffany that the land is old enough, strong enough, wise enough to help us hold our pain, no matter how vast that pain is. As we write this letter, we are thinking about the pain that exists following the events of the last years.

The land we write this from, and the Indigenous people on this land, and every marginalized community here, is currently threatened not only by the conservative government in power in this province, but also by Canada’s ongoing commitment to extractive and exploitative relations with land and people.

We’re sharing this context because we want to be clear that we recognize as much racism, as much white supremacy, as much racial capitalism and neoliberalism here in our country, in our province, in our city, as we see happening in the US. We are not writing from a position of distance or superiority, but from a position of shared struggle against these oppressive discourses and systems. And, as white settlers, also from a position of complicity with these discourses and systems.

We planned to write this letter before the results of the 2020 presidential election came in, because we wanted to offer some care to our friends in the US. But we found ourselves, like so many other folks, slowed down by the thick mud of distraction and doomscrolling through our social media feeds. So, instead, we are writing this after Joe Biden has been named president-elect, after the wave of celebration and the deep collective sigh of relief. (We were relieved, too!)

This little document contains some of our hopes for you, and reflects some of our hopes for ourselves. It also contains some art, a little recipe, and a few reflection questions that we have found helpful for ourselves. The document comes out of our work together in the Unexpected Light speculative fiction and narrative therapy course, and we hope that this document can be a tiny invitation to imagine more just, more liberated, more possible futures.

We wonder about what kinds of futures you hope for, and how you learned to hope for them.

What are the systems and structures that you hope will change?

What do you hope will be possible once these systems change?

What are the existing forces that have the power to change these systems – what are the networks working underground to transport nourishment, encouragement, information; what are the histories of collective action, the legacies of resistance?

Do you see a place for yourself in these existing frameworks of resistance and change?

We hope that you can sink your strong roots down into the earth, and feel the mycelium surround you, supporting you and enabling you to support others.

How to Make a London Fog

To start:
2/3 mug of strong Earl Grey tea

Flavouring:
Spoonful of vanilla sugar
Splash of vanilla extract

To finish:
Warmed and frothed milk or milk alternative

London Fogs are one of Tiffany’s most cherished soothing rituals of care, both alone and with friends. This recipe was included in the Unexpected Light course, and has become one of Lindsey’s soothing rituals, too. So, we decided to share it with you, too!

What are some of your rituals of care? Who taught you these skills? Who do you share them with?

We chose mushrooms (or, more accurately, the mycelium network!) because of the way that both hope and oppression can live underground, barely visible for such a long time, sustained by nearly invisible threads sometimes across vast distances and over unimaginable lengths of time, and then, given the right circumstances, the right rain (to quote Tiffany’s beloved Nathan), they spring up again like mushrooms.

We were thinking about how shocking the rise of fascism has been in the US and also in our own province, and yet how unsurprising, how these networks and threads have persisted. Death cap mushrooms. Indistinguishable from harmless button mushrooms when they are just sprouting.

And we were thinking about hope, too. About collective action. About the community care, the mutual aid and networks of support that sprang up in response, and that had always existed. Truffles. Precious, hidden, sustaining the roots of trees and feeding the forest, even when they are deep underground. Protecting ecosystems from drought and making the most of available nutrients in times of scarcity. (May we each be some glorious truffle-hunting animal, seeking out what is delicious and life-giving.)

What are some delicious things in your life right now?

What delights you?

What comforts you?

What brings you joy and ease?

And what are some nourishing things in your life right now?

What sustains you?

What warms you, strengthens you, fortifies you?

What brings you energy to keep working towards change?

We thought about how, in the last four years, many mushrooms have sprung up, and how some of them represent decay, rot, destruction. How the mycelium network can be so sustaining but also how it can be something other. How it can represent “ruptures in our unspoken contract of trust and care” (to quote BK Chan[1]). And also, how even decay (maybe especially decay) offers us the opportunity to take something noxious and turn it into something nourishing.

To quote Paul Stamets[2] (the real-life mycologist that the Star Trek: Discovery character is named after), “fungi are the grand recyclers of our planet, the mycomagicians… Fungi are the interface organisms between life and death.”

If we are, then, between life and death, and with choices about how to navigate this liminal space, perhaps we can learn from the fungi around us.

Have you experienced or witnessed life-affirming transformation?

What made it possible?

What supported the work of transformation

Credit must also be given to adrienne maree brown for identifying a tugging between life and death in her post on unthinkable thoughts[3], which was written specifically for movement organizers in Black and Brown organizations.

We recognize that the nourishment we find in her words was not first meant for us, and parts of it are not ours in any way. Thinking about life and death, cultural urges that sustain life or that threaten it, we must acknowledge how white supremacy, which benefits us, which makes our lives easier, makes the lives of Black and Brown and Indigenous people in both of our colonial nations so much harder to hold onto. As Claudia Rankine and Judith Butler[4] so clearly named, the scripts available to us as white people acting with whiteness lead to the death or incarceration of Black people. Access to life, to systems that support life, is not equal across social location.

And, equally true, we share adrienne maree brown’s hopes when she writes:

“i want us to want to live in this world, in this time, together.

i want us to love this planet and this species, at this time.

i want us to see ourselves as larger than just individuals randomly pinging around in a world that will never care for us.

i want us to see ourselves as a murmuration of creatures who are, as far as we know right now, unique in all the universe. each cell, each individual body, itself a unique part of this unique complexity.”

We thought about the ruptures that interrupt our togetherness and how perhaps hope can be a balm for the ruptures. We thought about hope as a collective practice (to quote Angel Yuen[5]), hope as a discipline (to quote Mariame Kaba[6]), hope as something that we can carry together.

We imagine the network that connects us to you, our friends in the United States of America, whose country has suffered such ruptures – ruptures as deep, as old as the founding of your country, so similar to the ruptures that also fragment so-called Canada. We want to connect, like mycelium. The threads and tendrils that stretch across distance, and that, given the right rain, fruit into mushrooms.

May we grow the medicinal mushrooms, the transformative mushrooms, the mushrooms that rejuvenate and regenerate. And may we also rest sometimes, knowing that this network is vast, our connections are real, and the mycelium can sustain us even in drought, and support us through transformation.

We love you, and we are stretching our roots out to you, with hope for all of us to find the way through, to do the work of decolonizing, of amending the soil, of being part of an ecosystem that is more wildly diverse, chaotic, joyful, and generative.

Lindsey and Tiffany

mushroom 2 by Lindsey Boyes

References

[1] Chan, Karen BK. (2020). In Calling in: Doing social justice with compassion. Webinar.

[2] Stamets, Paul. (2012). Fantastic Fungi: The Forbidden Fruit. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDkR2HIlEbc

[3] brown, adrienne maree. (2020). Unthinkable thoughts blog post. http://adriennemareebrown.net/2020/07/17/unthinkable-thoughts-call-out-culture-in-the-age-of-covid-19/

[4] Butler, Judith and Rankine, Claudia. (2020). Visionaries Series: Claudia Rankine in Conversation with Judith Butler. https://vimeo.com/473984783

[5] Yuen, Angel. (2020). Dulwich Centre Meet the Author session.

[6] Kaba, Mariame. (2020). Hope is a discipline. https://towardfreedom.org/story/archives/activism/hope-is-a-discipline/

Download this letter as a PDF here, or email Tiffany to have a physical copy mailed to you. You can support more of this work at Tiffany’s Patreon.

November events and happenings

November events and happenings

You can find me at a bunch of public events this month. I’ve put them all together here to make it easier!


A jar of fairy lights on the beach. Text reads: Shiny! a speculative writing group

Shiny! speculative writing group

November 8, 4-5:30 pm mountain time

Our offshoot group from An Unexpected Light is open to anyone who wants to join, whether they’re in the course or not. October’s event was cancelled, and I’m excited about getting back to this group because it is always so lovely to share space imagining better futures, and I think it will be particularly needed this month.

To register – https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUrd-ChqjosGtZNN4oj_-oMNiA6FKBSeat_


A galaxy and tree silhouettes

Possibilities

This month, Possibilities will have two events (this is not because I am so ambitious, but rather because I forgot I had already scheduled the paint night when I scheduled the chat event with the October participants. *facepalm*)

Everything* to do with bi+ sex

November 7, 6-7:30 pm mountain time

* “Everything” includes: representation in media and pop culture; accessing sexual health care; learning how to have bi+ sex; and asexual erasure in pop culture and social spaces; and how we’re navigating sex in the pandemic.

To register – https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZIqd-ChrDgvGtGWRIvprr8fjdYeRBwrzSiq

Paint night: Galaxies

November 17, 6-8 pm mountain time

Our second paint night will be painting acrylic galaxies. I will not be providing craft packs as the default, but I will be offering to help anyone who doesn’t have access to supplies (paint in black, white, and a few bright colours for the nebulas; at least one paint brush; a sponge; and paper or canvas).

To register – https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwpc-uurD8uH9Afo_WG8lBwZklvxFBc2GNY

Succulents. Text reads: “Do not be afraid. Do not be cynical. Continue to trust in yourself and others. Continue to dream of collective liberation. – Scott Crow

Presentations and Workshops

PolyCon Canada 2020

My time isn’t confirmed yet, but I believe I’ll be doing a short (15-minute) presentation at 9 am mountain time on November 23, followed by a 45-minute chat with participants, on the topic of polyamory and speculative fiction. Planning for this talk has been fun, because polyamory has such deep roots in speculative fiction – Robert Heinlein’s influence on North American polyamory is significant! But I am way more interested in the speculative work of marginalized writers, so although obviously I’ll acknowledge Heinlein, I want to focus on works like NK Jemisin’s Broken Earth and the polyamorous representation in Sense8.

I will also be talking about An Unexpected Light at this event.

Anyway! If you want to get up early on a Monday morning to geek out with me about speculative fiction, do it! http://polycon-canada.com/


Ally Toolkit Conference 2020: Free Community Day Programming

Imagining Possible Futures: Speculative Fiction and Social Justice

November 26, 3-4 pm mountain time

I’ll be presenting a workshop on reading and writing speculative fiction as a tool for social justice, for the Calgary Queer Arts Society’s Ally Toolkit Conference. Especially for allies, reading visionary fiction (Walidah Imarisha’s term for fantastical work that makes existing power structures visible and helps us imagine pathways to more just futures), can be one way to be in solidarity with marginalized communities. That’s the angle I’ll be taking in this workshop – how to use our reading (viewing, listening, etc.) more intentionally as a tool for justice and liberation. 

Register at – https://www.allytoolkitconference.com/schedule-1/community-day-free-programming-imagining-possible-futures-speculative-fiction-and-social-justice


If any of these interest you, I’d love to see you there!

And if you’re interested in An Unexpected Light, registration is ongoing and the course is fantastic. Join us!

An Ocean of Possibilities zine

An Ocean of Possibilities zine

The Ocean of Possibilities Zine is finished!

It was available to contributors and patrons a couple days early, and is now publicly available for today, Wednesday, September 23, Bi+ Visibility Day!!

The PDF is available for free, and you can download it here. If you’d like to purchase a copy they are $12 CAD, and you can order one by emailing me.

A line from Candice Robinson-Horejsi’s essay Living the Possibilities, “When nobody talks about bisexuality, how are you supposed to recognize it in yourself?”, overlaid on a pink jellyfish. Photo by Pan Da Chuan on Unsplash.

An Ocean of Possibilities is a zine by Tiffany Sostar, with contributions by:

Jocelyn LaVon
Candice Robinson-Horejsi
Gloria Jackson-Nefertiti
Aoife Byrne
Sheri Osden Nault
Marlena Chertock
Julene Tripp Weaver
Jan Steckel

I’m not sure how to introduce these essays, poems, comics, and fiction, and, like everyone else, I am swimming in the cold waters of exhaustion and overwhelm. Bi+ Visibility Day lands 6 months into the novel coronavirus pandemic. Every one of the contributors to this zine, from Aoife in Ireland to the folks in the US and those of us in Canada, are affected by the pandemic. 

Search for “bisexual health outcomes” and you’ll find years of studies that demonstrate that, as the HRC puts it, “bisexuals face striking rates of poor health outcomes” (you can read the Health Disparities Among Bisexual People brief here).

And we know that the pandemic has already highlighted multiple systemic health and social inequities. The economic impact, the differential access to health care – none of these fall equally on different communities. Fat folks have faced significant increase in fatphobic discourse during the pandemic. Women are bearing the majority of the increased burden of childcare and at-home education. Black, Indigenous, and brown communities are seeing the pre-existing unequal access to health care and social support escalate.

And it is not just the pandemic that impacts these (and so many other) communities. Overt acts of racist violence are more frequent – white supremacy and colonialism lashing back at those who are protesting. The pandemic arrived in Canada as the invasion of Wet’suwet’en was ongoing, and as the pandemic crosses the half year, more colonial violence is being enacted on Mi’kma’ki – coast to coast, Canada has escalated the violence against Indigenous communities. In the US, police violence (in response to protests against police violence!) has been going on for months.

In Alberta, where I live, Bi Visibility Day comes as disabled Albertans are under increasing and aggressive threat, as our government cuts funding from the most vulnerable.

These issues matter on Bi+ Visibility Day because the bi+ community includes fat folks, women, Black, Indigenous, and brown folks. The bi+ community includes parents, and folks who are living alone. This community includes trans and non-binary folks, disabled folks, poor folks, homeless folks. This community includes folks with difficult relationships to substances, and folks who have experienced trauma, and folks who are experiencing trauma right now. 

Every issue of justice is an issue that matters for this community, and when we ignore any part of this community – when we forget that this community includes all of these intersections, includes every intersection! – we just recreate the harms that are already happening.

So, how do I introduce a zine into this context that is so overwhelming?

A line from Osden Nault’s poem ‘habitat: Unravelling substrate-species relationships‘, “a soft and unshakeable belief that we could nourish one another”, overlaid on a photo of physarum polycephalum slime mold by Helen Ginger. CC BY-SA 3.0.

I think, first, by acknowledging that it is overwhelming.

And then, perhaps, by also acknowledging that despite these daunting realities, there is also a resilience, a persistence, a revolutionary ongoingness within this community.

It is worth celebrating our lives and our experiences.

It is worth being visible, today and every other day.

The pandemic, the colonial machine, the vice-grip of capitalism, the clenched fist of patriarchy – these things are not more meaningful than this community.

We exist within these hostile waters.

We exist, and we have always existed, and we will continue to exist. 

We are jellyfish – you can find us in every ocean, in every part of the ocean.

A line from Marlena Chertock’s poem Water bear body, “I can exist through anything” overlaid on a black and white image of jellyfish. Photo by Greg Ortega on Unsplash.

The pieces of writing in this zine touch on issues of aging, parenting, and navigating relationships (with others, with communities, and with selves). They include poetry, essays, fiction, and art. 

Multiple essays address the tensions between bisexual and lesbian spaces, and the questioning of “queer enoughness”. 

This zine is not representative of the entire bi+ community. There are so many intersections missing in these 32 pages, so if you read this zine and find it interesting or inspiring or encouraging, I hope that you go out and find more. 

We are here in every space. 

We are telling our stories. 

We are visible, not just today but everyday, if you know how to see us.


Download the 32-page PDF here.


Dayenu

By Marlena Chertock

 דַּיֵּנוּ‎
Hebrew, it would have been enough

I say to
myself each
day you are

not enough. 
It is so
exhausting

tearing my
own self down.
Not strong, not

queer enough,
not a real
writer. Still,

deep down, I
know the truth:
I’m enough.

Repeat this
mantra.
Believe it.


“Contributors” on a jellyfish background. Photo by Octavian Rosca on Unsplash.

Jocelyn LaVon is an A++ parent, friend, and community member. (This bio was written by Tiffany, not Jocelyn.)

Candice Robinson-Horejsi (Calgary, Canada). Wife, mother, engineer, NaNoML, writer, runner, knitter, nerd. Candice wears many metaphorical hats. You can find out more here: candicerobinson.ca

Gloria Jackson-Nefertiti is a breast cancer survivor, public speaker, workshop leader, panelist, artist’s model, published poet and soon to be published memoirist. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram as GloriaJacksonNefertiti, and on Twitter as @gloriajn. She lives in Seattle, WA.

Aoife Byrne is an artist living in Dublin, with her Partner and two Pups. She focuses on illustration, photography, animation or a combination in her work. She loves cosplay, choirs and dancing.

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.

Marlena Chertock has two books of poetry, Crumb-sized: Poems (Unnamed Press) and On that one-way trip to Mars (Bottlecap Press). She uses her skeletal dysplasia as a bridge to scientific writing. Marlena is a bisexual writer and serves on the planning committee of OutWrite, Washington, D.C.’s annual LGBTQ literary festival. Her poems and short stories have appeared in Breath & Shadow, The Deaf Poets Society, The Little Patuxent Review, Noble/Gas Quarterly, Paper Darts, Rogue Agent, Stoked Words, Wordgathering, and more. Find her at marlenachertock.com and @mchertock.

Julene Tripp Weaver, a native New Yorker, is a psychotherapist and writer in Seattle. Her book, truth be bold—Serenading Life & Death in the Age of AIDS, was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, and won the Bisexual Book Award. www.julenetrippweaver.com. Twitter: @trippweavepoet

Jan Steckel’s latest book Like Flesh Covers Bone (Zeitgeist Press, December 2018) won two Rainbow Awards (for LGBT Poetry and Best Bisexual Book). Her poetry book The Horizontal Poet (Zeitgeist Press, 2011) won a Lambda Literary Award for Bisexual Nonfiction. Her fiction chapbook Mixing Tracks (Gertrude Press, 2009) and poetry chapbook The Underwater Hospital (Zeitgeist Press, 2006) also won awards. Steckel moderates the Facebook group Bi Poets and is an active member of the Bay Area Bi+ and Pan Network. She lives in Oakland, California, USA with her husband Hew Wolff, host of Berkeley BiFriendly.

This zine was initiated and formatted by Tiffany Sostar for Bi+ Visibility Week 2020. Tiffany is a writer, editor, community organizer, tarot reader, course instructor, and narrative therapist. They are bisexual, non-binary, and chronic-pain enhanced. You can find them online at tiffanysostar.com and foxandowltarot.com or email them at sostarselfcare@gmail.com. You can support their work by picking up this zine, enrolling in An Unexpected Light, booking a narrative therapy session or tarot reading, hiring them to facilitate a workshop for your group, or backing their Patreon at patreon.com/sostarselfcare.

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!