Bi+ Community Perth talk visibility, stigma and unicorn piñatas

September 23rd is Bi Visibility Day, also known as Celebrate Bisexuality Day, which runs in tandem with Bi Week celebrations around the world.

Today marks 21 years since the occasion was first marked in 1999, and Bi+ Community Perth, the largest community organisation for bi, pan and multi-gender-attracted people in WA, joined Harriet Kenny on RTRFM’s All Things Queer program for a chat about how the group started, the issues faced by bi+ folks in their day-to-day lives and how they’ll be celebrating this weekend.

Members Duc Dau and Jay Chesters told Harriet that the group was started by fellow organiser Misty Farquhar as a casual online space in 2016, and has grown into something much larger for WA’s bi+ community.

“We run not just the Facebook page, but social events as well as march in the Pride Parade. We’ve also been able to receive funding from connect groups to put on educational workshops on binary busting, in terms of gender and sexuality,” Duc explained.

“So our group is a safe space for people to connect and form community, and we started off because the stats showing that bi people have poor mental health outcomes and physical health outcomes compared to our heterosexual, and our gay and lesbian counterparts. Partly because of the lack of community, as well as lack of visibility in the general and LGBTQIA+ communities.”

There are myriad words that can be used to describe someone who is attracted to more than one gender, and Jay acknowledges that these labels coexist under the bi banner.

“I really don’t feel like the definition of bi has necessarily evolved, I think it was always intended to encompass the full cross-section of multi-gender-attracted. It’s more that other multi-gender-attracted identities have evolved,” Jay said.

“For me, bi+ really just means having the capacity to be attracted to more than one gender… not limited to two genders.”

“Bi is very much an umbrella term,” Duc adds.

“I would probably say that there are as many definitions of bi as there are bi people, and it would also encompass definitions that are inclusive of non-binary people. Though you would have bi people, and people who aren’t bi, who would identify it as attracted to men and women, but you could have it as attracted to multi-gender people, more than one gender, despite gender, it could mean many things because I believe, in the words of one of my favourite poets Walt Whitman; “We contain multitudes.”

Duc shared the words of bi activist Robin Ochs, who offers the following definition of bisexuality;

“I call myself bisexual because I acknowledge that I have in myself the potential to be attracted romantically and/or sexually to people of more than one sex and/or gender, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree.”

“I like both her specificity and the spaciousness of that definition,” Duc said.

Duc also explains the importance of ensuring bi people and the issues faced by bi folks stay in the spotlight, highligting the stigma faced by bi people from heterosexuals as well as others in the LGBTIQ+ community.

“I think it’s because there’s a lack of visibility for a lot of bi people, and by visibility I also mean not just the fact that people might say that bisexuality does not exist, but it’s also making a space for bi people to flourish and to have livable lives, and for our bi existence to not be stigmatised or misunderstood in terms of our sexuality, because there is still a lot of stigma and misunderstanding out there.”

“Places like Bi+ Community Perth offer safe spaces for bi people to come together and form community, and feel a connection, and for some people it also means it’s a space that allows them feel safe enough to come out to themselves, to others… as well as their families, friends and co-workers because so many people who are bi are not actually out to the people in their lives in the same way that gay people and lesbians are.”

Bi+ Community Perth will be coming together this Sunday to celebrate Bi+ Visibility Day, with a picnic in Russell Square.

“There’s going to be games and a unicorn piñata, and food, and most of all good friends and a welcoming space just to be yourselves,” Jay said.

“However you define bi, whatever it means to you, it’s a chance to come along and be the most awesome version of yourself.”

Hear the full interview here, including more info about this week’s Stand Bi Us conference, and head to Facebook for more info about the picnic on Sunday 27th September.

OIP Staff

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