I’ve spent the past…oh…6 hours of my weekly writing date (it’s not usually that long, but work was canceled today due to lack of work) chatting with my friends, eating two meals, discussing linguistics and how stupid men who believe women aren’t really funny are, reading comics, joining Twitter, and generally doing everything but writing. Maybe I should try to actually get some work done before I give up and go home? No, never mind, it sounds like my friend’s new gentleman friend is coming by and I’ll get to meet him. You all don’t care if I never post again because I have the attention span of a gnat, do you?
Right. Um. Trying again on Thursday. I’m on a train to Philadelphia (Yay Trans Health Conference!) so there’s no internet and really very little to distract me. [Aaaand now the PTHC is in the past, and I failed to give you all a heads up that I’d be there so anyone else who would be could say hello. Oops. Next year.]
I spent Saturday May 30th at the Bi Writers’ Association and NYC’s LGBT Community Center‘s Putting the “B” in LGBT Summit. It was an interesting day. The organizers clearly tried to pack a weekend conference into one day, and the experience suffered for it — everything ran over and got increasingly behind schedule, and all of the panels had too many people in too short a time slot to effectively have a conversation. Nevertheless, there was lots of good networking, and some very interesting things were said. And while the opening plenary was made up entirely of people of the same race and within the same age range, that did change somewhat as the day went on — not as much as I’d have liked, but some. It was clear someone was trying.
Robyn Ochs gave the keynote. I’d never seen her speak before, and I was very impressed. She’s smart and engaging and funny and seems to have good queer, gender, etc. politics. I’m happy to have her representing my movement — which is good, because, um, she does. There are very few bigger names in bi activism out there. So I’m delighted she’s so on the ball.
For example, she made me very happy by acknowledging that the LGBT movement has lots of inclusion problems, and that we’d be focusing on the way bisexuals are often marginalized because it was the topic of this particular summit, not because it was the only or most important marginalization happening within the community. Yay.
She talked about how the ways to be visible (to most people) as bisexual at all mirror the most common stereotypes about bisexuals, thus reinforcing them, and how that and the way the existing language supports binaries leads to a lack of positive images of bi folk. She talked about the importance of choosing a wide range of messages and spokespeople, rather than only “easily digestible” ones. And I got a moment of being quite pleased with myself when she suggested that we think about the kind of resources we want to see out there and then go out and make them.
The first panel was “Bisexuality: Exploding the Myths,” and the only thing I really remember about it at this point is that Ignacio Rivera was on it and as brilliant as always. My notes remind me that I’m always amused when people say things like “You can’t have it both ways” in contexts like this. On the “Bi Community Panel: Telling Our Stories,” people talked about the ways DADT, job discrimination, immigration, etc. impacted their lives. We’ve all heard these stories before, and they’re touching and enraging every time.
During “Crafting the Message: Putting the ‘B’ in LGBT,” people talked about news stories about queer issues, and how important it us to quote bisexuals as well as just teh gays about how they’re affected. Particularly of note was Joshua Lynsen of the Washington Blade saying that he makes a point of contacting bisexuals for comments. He gave out his card so anyone present who wanted to could add hirself to his contact list. (Although now that I actually look up what’s he’s written for the Blade, I’m not so sure I want to plug him…”Black Opposition to Gay Marriage Remains Strong?” I’m so over that meme. And what ever happened to not calling it “gay” marriage, anyway?)
The closing plenary discussion was less a panel and more a whole bunch of people each getting to speak once — that’s what you get when you put something like two dozen people on a panel. Someone made the irritating assertion that the trans community is pulling ahead of the bi community in the race to our rights, which is problematic on any number of levels. (Can we just agree never to ever say again that anything is the last acceptable prejudice? Please? And “bi inclusion is the unnoticed stepchild of trans inclusion?” For fuck’s sake. I wish I’d written down who actually said that.) I don’t remember most of what was said but bisexual and New York State Assembly Member Micah Kellner was there, and seemed pretty decent for a politician. And you know, he was open about his bisexuality during the campaign, and that’s pretty awesome.
Things I was less thrilled with: It always strikes me as unfortunate when people say things like “In this movement, bisexual men and woman fall through the cracks.” So many people fall through the cracks of that statement. And a surprising number of people who did talk about gender in non-binary terms and even spoke explicitly about bisexuals and trans folks as allies to each other then turned around and used phrases like “opposite sex.” But all in all, I’m very glad I went. If they have it again next year I’ll go again.
Next up: That night’s Bi Lines II performance! (Or at least my favorite segment of it.) Tomorrow’s writing date day again…