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.
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:
- 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!