A Bisexual Soldier Memory on Memorial Day: First Bi Congressional Testimony

On this Memorial Day weekend, noted bisexual soldier Cliff Arnesen shares with Bisexual.org some memories of his testimony before the U.S. Congress, which was 25 years ago, on May 16, 1990.

Now based in Boston, Arnesen spoke for the HIV/AIDS Panel giving congressional testimony on behalf of gay and bisexual U.S. veterans in Washington, D.C.

“We need each other to fight the real enemies: the Religious Right; perverted organized religions and cults; fundamentalists; conservatives; and so many others who hate GLBT people CLIFF-OFFICAL-ARMY-PHOTO-2and use the Holy Bible as a means and tool to try and justify their sick hatred of us-collectively,” says Arnesen. “We must ALL band together to fight the injustice of the aforementioned dark forces of evil. Otherwise, we defeat the very purpose of trying to secure human and civil rights for each other, which is the ultimate injustice.”

Arnesen is perhaps the most open and out bisexual military person there has ever been. He has been a longtime activist for veteran causes of all kinds, and was certainly out and honest about himself long before it was safe to do so in the armed services.

In both 1989 and 1990 he was the first open bisexual veteran in U.S. history to testify on behalf of gay, lesbian and bisexual veterans before the U.S. House Committee on Veterans Affairs: Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, on issues relating to AIDS, PTSD, homelessness, gays in the military, and upgrading of less-than-honorable discharges based on homosexuality and bisexuality. To date, the U.S. Army veteran is the first and only openly bisexual veteran in U.S. history to testify before Congress.

Soon after, he helped co-found the National Gay, Lesbian &  Bisexual  Veterans of America (now named the American Veterans for Equal Rights (AVER).

1990CONG.TESTIMONY-5In the photo he is sharing with Bisexual.org, there’s the Congressional Testimony of Gay & Bisexual Veterans before the U.S. House Committee on Veterans Affairs: Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, on health care issues relating to ALL veterans suffering from AIDS/HIV, PTSD and homelessness; gays in the military, and the upgrading of less-than-honorable discharges based on homosexuality and bisexuality.

On the HIV/AIDS PANEL are (L-R): Gay Navy Veteran Chuck Schoen, Veterans C.A.R.E. Redwood Empire/Alexander Hamilton Post 448 American Legion ; Gay Veteran, Ken Huntington, President Texas Gay Veterans; Bisexual Army Veteran Cliff Arnesen, President, New England Gay & Lesbian Veterans, Inc., Boston, MA; and Ilonka Thomas, Heterosexual HIV/AIDS Coordinator, Department of Veterans Affairs, Boston VA Medical Center.5_16_90_CLIFF_FIRST_Bi_VET_TESTIFY_CONGRESS

In the second photo: HIV/AIDS PANEL: (L-R): Gay Navy Veteran Chuck Schoen, Veterans C.A.R.E. Redwood Empire/Alexander Hamilton Post 448 American Legion ; Gay Veteran Ken Huntington, President Texas Gay Veterans;  Bisexual Army Veteran Cliff Arnesen, President, New England Gay & Lesbian Veterans, Inc., Boston, MA. Not shown is Ilonka Thomas, Heterosexual HIV/AIDS Coordinator, Department of Veterans Affairs, Boston VA Medical Center.

Arnesen says, “As for myself, I have learned in my painful journey through life, that  love is where one finds it.”

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.” Write him at [email protected]