For the new folk dipping their toes into activism for the first time, it was an overwhelming bath of comfort, excitement and urgency. For us old timers who have walked the walk for decades, it was a moment to shake us from complacency.
Specifically, for the Bi Movement, it was a coalescing of energies, a fusion of thought and a call to activism that can be palpably be measured in the interactions, ideas and emotions that came out of this long-awaited Bi Summit that occurred during the Creating Change Conference in early February.
It had been a longtime dream by Luigi Ferrer and other activists to get bi-friendly folk together during Creating Change and on Feb. 4, a day before most of the other GLBTQ-etc. seminars began, the firstBisexual/Pansexual/Fluid* Organizing Institute at Creating Change in Dallas attracted more than 70 activists.
They were from all across every spectrum you can imagine. They were from every corner of the country—Boston, Los Angeles, Florida, Seattle. They were from every walk of life, every gender identity, every, every ethnic mix and every kind of community. There were people who didn’t like the B-word, and others who embraced only the B word, and many who identified as things I’ve never even heard of before. They were loud and quiet, tall and short, wild and meek, young and old, experienced and fresh, and yet all coming together for a common interest.
A majority of the attendees were newbies to the activism world. And yet, some beautiful words of inspiration and well wishes came from activist/authors Lani Ka’ahumanu and Lorraine Hutchins in a text read by bi mentor-to-many, Robyn Ochs.
The first half of the day, people with long histories in bi activism (legends, really in our movement) like Robyn Ochs, Luigi Ferrer, Ellyn Ruthstrom from the Bisexual Resource Center, Estraven and BiNetUSA PresidentGary North divided up with the groups and listened to what they would like to accomplish and how they can go about doing it.
It was then very exciting to see the new younger leaders of the bi-identified world, such as Amanda Morgan, our ally at GLAAD, Angel Fabian, Faith Cheltenham, and Matt Goodman, our fantastic Dallas host to the Bi Community and who is not only a local activist, but on the Creating Change host committee and the BiNet USATreasurer.
The groups separated into special interests: college campus, resources, people of color, and “the Big Three” (BiNet USA, Bi Resource Center and the American Institute of Bisexuality, which had representatives of each of the long-standing bi-oriented organizations).
Gary North points out that there were other special interests that came up that day such as veterans, elders, health care, economics and more, but this was a start. North says, “The idea is that these set (or re-set) in motion the bi/pan/fluid/queer/allied/people-who-like-other-people movement for the coming year — we’ll be keeping in touch to check on each other’s progress, and you can, too: as an activist or supporter.”
What was personally fascinating to me is that when the groups came up to present their work, four very specific themes came up:
- Education and Outreach (Reaffirmation)
- Intersections of Equality
- Bi Infrastructure (Community Building)
- Mentoring New Leaders
When Denise Penn and I got up to do our Media Training talk, I pointed out that those four major ideas were things that came up in the first national BiNet meeting I attended in San Francisco nearly two decades before! That simply means, that work continues to be needed.
This will be marked as a day in Bi history that will rank among those in the 1990s that I was lucky enough to witness, when we joined together for many years with a common voice, a common cause and a unified message.