Celebrate Bisexuality Day: Join in the Stand Bi Us conference

Today, September 23 is celebrate Bisexuality Day, the pinnacle of Bisexuality Awareness Week.

A day that had its origins in 1990 when people met in San Francisco to discuss how people who are bisexual are often left out of discussions and celebrations about sexuality.

More than 450 people attended from 20 US states and 5 other countries, and the mayor of San Francisco sent a proclamation “commending the bisexual rights community for its leadership in the cause of social justice,” and declaring June 23, 1990, Bisexual Pride Day.

It would be until 1999 that September 23rd would be branded Celebrate Bisexuality Day, an proclamation was made at the 1999 International Gay and Lesbian Association Conference in Johannesburg. The idea for the day was put forward by bisexual activists Wendy Curry of Maine, Michael Page of Florida, and Gigi Raven Wilbur of Texas.

Wilbur previous spoke about the need for the day by explaining how easy it is to not recognise bisexual people.

“Ever since the Stonewall rebellion, the gay and lesbian community has grown in strength and visibility. The bisexual community also has grown in strength but in many ways we are still invisible. I too have been conditioned by society to automatically label a couple walking hand in hand as either straight or gay, depending upon the perceived gender of each person.”

Locally the Stand Bi Us Conference which kicks off today and runs through until Saturday is providing a space for important discussions and advocacy. Duc Dau, one of the organisers of the event spoke about the importance of bi+ visibility on RTRFM’s All Things Queer to mark the occasion last year.

Dau explained that people who identify as bisexual make about 50% of the LGBTIQA+ communities, something which a lot of people appear to be unaware of, including people who are bisexual.

“I think in terms of visibility, or invisibility, we live in a binary world where things are often black and white, straight or gay, and people often defined by their attractions or in particular to whom they are dating. So if you’re with a man or a women, or people who look like a man or a woman, your sexuality is assumed – based on the gender of the partner, gay or straight, but that’s not always the case.”

“This has a ripple effect through out society, so with mainstream services, or LGBTIQA+ services, we’re often forgotten. So doctors will often ask about your sexual health and they’ll just assume you’re having sex with particular people and leave it at that, often you miss out on vital information and testing.” Dau said.

Research is another area where people who are bisexual are often misrepresented, Dau highlighted that too often bisexuality is just lumped together with people who are exclusively homosexual, and noted that the needs of people who are gay, bisexual or transgender can be very different.

Dau said the launch of the Stand Bi Us Conference last year was a ground breaking moment, and was the first time many people who are bisexual had attended an event specifically for their community.

“It’s a great opportunity to strengthen community.” Dau told radio host Harriet Kenny.

“A lot of people don’t feel part of the mainstream or LGBTIQA+ communities, and creating communities is a great way to feel like you belong, and that has allowed a lot more people to ‘come out’ as bi, or to at least feel more comfortable within the bi+ identity and to feel less shame and to have more pride, and all of this is really positive.”

This year’s celebration includes forums with bi+ leaders and experts on topics ranging from racism in bi+ and LGBTQIA+ communities, finding belonging in intersectionality, stories from Sydney’s bi+ community and trans lived experiences.

Here in WA, this Sunday will mark the end of the conference with a Bi+ Visibility Picnic in Hyde Park.

For more information, head over to standbius.com

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