‘Bi Any Other Name’ Remains a Must-Read – A Quarter of a Century Later

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BiAnyOtherName-newBook CoverIt’s often known as The Bisexual Bible, and for good reason.  The editors of “Bi Any Other Name” compiled the stories of bisexuals of all ages, all shapes, all persuasions. They told their stories, as heavy or as funny, or as heartfelt as they were.

“It’s still amazing how I hear from people about how the book affected them, and how it helped them in their coming out process,” says Lani Ka’ahumanu, who co-edited the book with Loraine Hutchins. “I still can’t believe it.”

Well, believe it, Lani and Loraine. You helped ME come out. I’m a known bisexual activistthere are dozens of others I know who also picked up the book and related to the stories inside, too.

“Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out” for a long time was the only book of it’s kind sitting on the bookshelves. That’s where I found it, 25 years ago, in the Gay Section of a bookstore. It was an anthology of fiction and non-fiction that spoke directly to me.

On the Wikipida page, the books is compared to what Betty Friedan‘s The Feminine Mystique is to the feminist movement. I concur.

To quote Wendy Curry, longtime bisexual rights activist and former president of the American national bisexual civil rights group BiNet USA:

This groundbreaking book gave voice to a generation of previously unseen bisexuals. Rather than arguing statistics or debating the sexuality of long dead celebrities, Hutchins and Ka’ahumanu gave space to normal bisexuals who told about their lives. This created a new genre for books on bisexuality.”

According to lore, the book helped spark at lest 10 other books. I’m sure it’s more, and I’m sure that it was an inspiration for my own book, “The Bisexual’s Guide to the Universe.” My co-author, Nicole Kristal, and I have our own dog-eared copies of the great collection of stories.

Many people who are in the book have become famous authors themselves.

In “Bi Any Other Name” there are entries such as

The Queer in Me, by Carol Queen; Beyond Bisexual, by Annie Sprinkle; Sacred Rituals, by Karla Rossi; From the Closet to the Stage, by Robyn Ochs; Love, Friendship, and Sex, by Wayne Bryant; and What’s in a Name?, by Naomi Tucker. All of them went on to write more about the bisexual experience and became must-read bisexual authors of their own rights.

The first openly bisexual military man to speak before Congress, Cliff Arnesen, wrote about his experience “Coming Out to Congress.” Great bi journalist Liz Highleyman co-wrote “The Fine Art of Labeling: The Convergence of Anarchism, Feminism, and Bisexuality” with Lucy Friedland. Well-known Amanda Udis-Kessler wrote “Present Tense: Biphobia as a Crisis of Meaning.”

Recently, Loraine Hutchins and Carol Queen were in Washington, D.C. for a summit with White House staff. Also included was Arlene Krantz, who interviewed by Marcy Sheiner in the book. “It means so much for me to be in this book and be a part of bisexual history so much,” Arlene said to me with tears in her eyes.

The book is being reprinted with a new cover and some updates for the 25th anniversary. It has more than 40,000 copies in circulation, is in the Library of Congress and was translated and published in Chinese. It is used in colleges and universities in LGBT studies programs.

The book helped create a new bisexual rights and liberation movement in the 1990s. Lani and Loraine wrote a new opening, explaining how they created the book that changed the lives of so many.

If you’ve not experienced the first great bisexual book, you can do it again, a generation later, and enjoy it all the more.

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About Author

Mike Szymanski

Mike Szymanski has written about bisexual issues since 1989 and has one of the longest-running regular bisexual columns as the National Bisexuality Examiner. He came out as bisexual in a cover story of Genre magazine, which resulted in more than 50 television appearances, including Ricki Lake, Phil Donahue Show and 20/20. Szymanski won the Lambda Literary Award in 2007 for co-authoring an informative humor book “The Bisexual’s Guide to the Universe: Quips, Tips and Lists for Those Who Go Both Ways.”

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