How Do We Build a Bi Community?

7/23/2017

The author as a teenager

Many of us spend a good chunk of our youth looking for ways to describe ourselves. We frequently know what we aren’t, we are great at rejecting the mainstream, our parents’ values, jocks, etc. While it may be easy to describe what we stand in opposition to, it’s much harder to realize what you stand for.

When I was first beginning to understand my sexuality, I briefly thought I might be gay. But then I would look at how gay men were portrayed in the media. They were energetic, loud, and sassy – an attitude that I found both annoying and intriguing. Either way, I did not feel like those men represented me or my sexuality.

Thanks to a girlfriend, I eventually realized that I am not gay. I realized I am bi, and that brought up a whole new set of questions. When I thought I was gay, I knew how I was expected to behave, I knew the stereotypes. Now what? Should I behave more masculine or feminine? Should I be sassy or stoic? How should a bi man behave?

David Bowie, Photo by Jean-Luc Ourlin

I tried to find a reference point in the media, a bi icon that could show me the way. I found a few, mostly Iggy Pop and David Bowie. But as a 17-year-old Latin man, in Mexico City, in the year 2012, these amazing men didn’t really speak to me. Mexican gay culture wasn’t for me, imported visions of gay culture weren’t for me, straight culture clearly wasn’t for me. I was looking for a place to slot myself in, for an “aha” moment that told me who I am and how I should behave.

I finally realized that I was asking the wrong questions. I didn’t need to find a place to slot myself in, I needed to define myself – for myself. And there it was, a blank slate for me to be whoever I wanted to be. In a way, my (am)bisexuality allowed me to see how ambiguous these roles really are. Finding that there were no molds for me to fit into, let alone break, I realized that the whole idea of molds was useless.

It was scary. I was afraid of never finding a community. Just because we are all individuals who want to express our individuality doesn’t mean we don’t want connection, understanding, and community. I don’t want to be a unique, isolated island, nor can I pretend to be someone I’m not.

Searching for that community eventually brought me to a bi social club, amBi. It is a community that showed me how diverse, eclectic, and different people within the bi community can be. AmBi showed me that even with that diversity, we can still have community and connection. Being bi does not mean being alone.

Realizing that community and belonging don’t necessarily require conformity made me appreciate our differences even more. I found myself marveling and the diversity of humanity. This made me even more determined to forge my own path, to be myself, to not try and fit into other people’s narrow visions of who I should be.

Today I identify as bi and queer. I use these labels to identify as part of a wonderful community, to make it visible, to tell the world that we exist and that we matter.

Community is the only way for us to be accepted and understood. We need to work harder to create that community in the real world. We need to be meeting each other, supporting each other, lifting each other up. You will be surprised how transformative it can be once you find that perfect community, the one where you never have to say “actually, I’m bi.”

Defining this community is complicated, but this also gives us an opportunity. Rather than saying bi people dress well, are great dancers, and make the best interior decorators, let’s embrace our diversity.

Let’s not build a community that tries to build a new narrow definition of what bi culture “should” be, a definition that could never truly embrace the richness of our community. Let’s instead build a community that embraces each and every one of our unique aspects while still acknowledging that we are all bi.

Damian Emba
Damian Emba is a Mexican/American artist, activist, translator, and writer. A contributor for Bi.org, Damian also coordinates Spanish Language & Youth Outreach for amBi, the world’s largest bi social community. You can follow him on Instagram @dmntial.