With My Bi Community, Every Day is Pride

6/12/2017

Happy pride month! The LGBT community has seen so many advances in recent history. It wasn’t that long ago that our sexualities were criminalized around the world. Now it’s much better for a lot of us, although there are still many places where our sexuality is criminalized. Every year we gather for pride to celebrate these victories and to demand more rights, more acceptance, and more equality. The problem is this can’t just be a once a year project, we need to be celebrating and fighting all year.

For a lot of bi folks this is hard. We start to realize our sexuality, we go to the local gay bar, center, or campus group and are often shunned or rejected. We are told that bisexuality is just a phase, that we are experimenting, that we will go back to straight after graduation. Our sexuality is not taken seriously and when we are at our most vulnerable, we are often denied support by the very community that should be supporting us.

That’s when many of us give up on any hope of real community. Many go back in the closet or simply stop talking about their bisexuality in real life. Some of the lucky ones go to the internet and find a wonderful supportive group of people there. They find others who are willing to listen, who understand, who are facing the same difficulties. And that is wonderful.

The problem is that no matter how wonderful online community is – there’s no substitute for a real-life, in-person community. We need to be cultivating our own local bi communities that support us and build us up. For me this started when my wife and I moved to LA. She was in school, and was making all kinds of friends. I was working from home. This was my first time facing the anonymity of a big city, and it was hard. I ended up on meetup.com looking at various LA groups. I perused hiking, classical music enthusiasts, wine drinkers, and a bi social community called amBi. “Huh,” I thought. I’d never considered the need for a bi social club. Even though I’d been out as bi for a few years, most of my friends identified as gay or straight. I’d never thought to intentionally seek out bi friends. It seemed like it might be fun to meet some bi folks, so I joined.

The first event I attended was a talent show featuring bi artists, followed by a cocktail hour where the audience and artists could mingle. It was magical. It literally changed the entire course of my life. For the first time, I was in a room full of openly bi people. I’d been in rooms full of “gay” people before (and some of them probably were bi, but none were admitting it), but at this event my bisexuality was assumed. For one beautiful night, I was in the majority and I was hooked.

As bi folks, we all know that to be out means constantly correcting people and telling them, “actually I’m bi.” When you are dating someone of the opposite sex the world assumes you’re straight, when you’re dating someone of the same sex everyone assumes you’re gay. If you want people to know you’re bi, you have to pitch a giant fit (and that rarely makes you friends). At this event, no fit was required. People were just seeing me for who I am without me needing to explain anything. How liberating!

My wife and I dove into this magical community. We attended hundreds of amBi events, became organizers, and hosted quite a few events of our own. When we moved to Southern Oregon, we started an amBi chapter there. When I go visit my mom in La Jolla, we always hang out with the San Diego chapter. Everywhere I go, I am now surrounded by a vibrant bi community. Today I can honestly say that the majority of my friends are bi. Eight years ago that would have been unthinkable. It would not have even occurred to me to imagine such a thing.

Talking to other amBi members has made me realize that my experience is not unique. So many people have told me they didn’t even realize how tense they were, until they weren’t. Suddenly surrounded by a loving and understanding community, they were able to realize how exhausting being bi without such a community had been. When they found that community of like-minded individuals, they were able to let go and enjoy the comfortable state of mind many monosexual (non-bi) people take for granted.

My wife and me at amBi’s Pride booth

Yesterday, I joined thousands of people marching in LA Pride and the resist march. My lovely amBi community marched with the rest of the LGBTQ+ community for our common cause, and it was amazing. Afterwards, at the Pride festival, I saw a line of people leading up to our amBi booth. We were so present, so visible, we were counted this year and I was a part of that. Every time that I go out drinking, dancing, to a museum, or on a hike with my wonderful bi community, I am building a better life for myself. Pride reminded me that every time I go out with my amBi friends, I am also helping to build a visible, vibrant, proud bi community. We’re helping to make sure that the B in LGBT is being seen, being heard, being counted. Collectively, all this visibility adds up to greater social acceptance, a better understanding of bisexuality, and positive social change. This is something that I can do every day of the year, not just once a year for pride. I truly believe that social change has to begin with wonderful communities like ours, so please go find your community. Do it for your own well-being and do it for a better world.

If you happen to live in San Diego, LA, Sacramento, Southern Oregon, or Portland, check out your local amBi chapter. If you don’t, try looking around for other bi groups, or building yourself a circle of bi friends. If you want to start your own amazing amBi chapter, we can help you do that. We’re growing globally, because we believe that everyone deserves to have such a loving, rich community. Wherever you live, I encourage you to find a group of people who just accept you for you. Find a community where you never have to say, “actually, I’m bi.” Together, we can build a future where nobody has to justify their bisexuality ever again.

Rio Veradonir
Contributing Editor
Rio Veradonir is a contributing editor for Bi.org. He studied creative writing at Southern Oregon University and is a Lead Organizer for amBi - the world's largest bi social club (visit amBi.org for more information). You can follow Rio on Twitter @RioVeradonir.