Friday, April 18, 2014

Fordham Study on Relationships & Bi Women



Study Recruitment Announcement

Are you a woman who has engaged in a romantic relationship with a man? Are you a woman who has engaged in a romantic relationship with a woman? If so, you are invited to participate in a study exploring the experiences of women whose romantic history has involved individuals of the same and opposite sex.

• Kali Rowe, MSEd, is a doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology program at Fordham University, and she is conducting a study on relationship negotiation and experiences of acceptance of women who have engaged in same and/or opposite sex romantic relationships. If you feel that you meet these criteria, please consider participating in this study. Results will give voice to the unique experiences of these women and expand research knowledge in this area.

• Those interested should go to the following link to complete the screening questionnaire. If chosen to participate, you will be notified via email by the principal investigator.

Los Angeles Bisexual/Pansexual/Fluid Community Needs Assessment

The Los Angeles Bi Task Force (LABTF) is super excited to release our Los Angeles Bisexual/Pansexual/Fluid Community Needs Assessment! We're aiming to gather data on the community's current social, cultural, psychological, medical, and political needs in order to provide information to local bisexual, LGBT, and mainstream groups and agencies on how to better serve our community. The results will be published in a report later this year.


The survey is completely confidential, takes 15-20 minute to complete, and participants will be eligible to enter a drawing for a $25 gift card to Amazon.com. Since we're targeting the Greater LA Area, we encourage individuals from LA as well as our neighbors in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernadino, and Ventura Counties to complete the survey.
Please help spread the word and distribute the following flyer (and attached pdf) to your contacts who may be interested.

Onward and upward,
Mimi Hoang, Ph.D., Co-Founder
Los Angeles Bi Task Force (LABTF)
Educate. Cultivate. Elevate.
www.labtf.org / www.facebook.com/labitaskforce

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

BWA Bisexual Book Awards announces finalists

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: 4/16/2014
Contact: Sheela Lambert
Director, Bi Writers Association
fuscialadybug@netzero.com  
212-928-3558

Bisexual Book Awards announces finalists

New York NY: The Bi Writers Association (BWA) announces the finalists for our Bisexual Book Awards today in six book categories and two additional categories: Publisher of the Year and Bi Writer of the Year. The awards are for books published in 2013.

Sixty books were nominated to our second Bisexual Book Awards. "We are thrilled that an unprecedented number of bisexual books were nominated this year. No book awards has ever seen 60 bisexual book submissions," says Sheela Lambert, Director of the Bi Writers Association. The previous record was held by the Lammy Awards, who received 33 nominations to their bisexual book categories in 2011.

Although this is only the second year of the Bisexual Book Awards, BWA has been working towards these same goals since our formation in 2006. "It’s our goal to increase awareness of bisexual books, to inspire authors to write more novels with bisexual characters, more non-fiction on bisexual topics, more bisexual memoirs, and to encourage more publishers to publish them. It’s working!" says Lambert.

Books were allowed to cross-nominate to multiple categories, if appropriate. But the general fiction category got so huge this year, any books also nominated to a genre fiction category, had to be removed. According to Lambert, "judges were complaining they had too many books to read. We were just not expecting this many books!"

A team of judges for each category has been working away for months to read and assess all the books and these are the finalists they have chosen. Winners will be announced at the Bisexual Book Awards Ceremony on May 31st, following Bi Lines VII, a reading and multi-arts celebration of bisexual writing, to be held in New York City at Westbeth, in the West Village at 55 Bethune St., corner Washington 6:30-10pm, followed by an afterparty, location TBA. Check the Bi Writers Association blog for program details and updates.

Finalists for the Bisexual Book Awards:
(listed alphabetically by title)

Bisexual Fiction
  • The City of Devi by Manil Suri, W. W. Norton & Company
  • Corona by Bushra Rehman, Sibling Rivalry Press
  • Hild by Nicola Griffith, Farrar, Straus and Giroux 
  • The Last Place She’d Look by Arlene Schindler, ExtravaGonzo
  • My Education by Susan Choi, Viking Adult
  • The Spirit of Detroit by Frank Anthony Polito, Woodward Avenue Books
  • The Two Hotel Francforts by David Leavitt, Bloomsbury  

Bisexual Non-fiction
  • Anything That Loves: Comics Beyond Gay and Straight edited by Charles “Zan” Christensen, Northwest Press
  • Barriers to Love: Embracing a Bisexual Identity by Marina Peralta with Penelope James, Barriers Press
  • The B Word: Bisexuality in Contemporary Film and Television, Maria San Filippo, Indiana University Press
  • Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution, Shiri Eisner, Seal Press
  • Kissing Oscar Wilde: A Love Story In The City Of Light by Jade Sylvan, Write Bloody Publishing

Bisexual Speculative Fiction [Sci-fi/Fantasy/Horror]
  • Coda by Emma Trevayne, Running Press Kids
  • The Elementals by Saundra Mitchell, Harcourt Children’s Books
  • Inheritance by Malinda Lo, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Love in The Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block, Henry Holt and Co.
  • Pantomime by Laura Lam, Strange Chemistry 
  • The Stars Change by Mary Anne Mohanraj, Circlet Press
  • The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson, Arthur A. Levine Books

Bisexual Teen/Young Adult Fiction
  • Bi-Normal by M.G. Higgins (Gravel Road Series), Saddleback Educational Publishing
  • Inheritance by Malinda Lo, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Love in The Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block, Henry Holt and Co.
  • Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg, Arthur A. Levine Books
  • Pantomime by Laura Lam, Strange Chemistry 
  • The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson, Arthur A. Levine Books

Bisexual Biography/Memoir
  • Anything That Loves: Comics Beyond Gay and Straight edited by Charles “Zan” Christensen, Northwest Press
  • Barriers to Love: Embracing a Bisexual Identity by Marina Peralta with Penelope James, Barriers Press
  • The Blind Masseuse: A Traveler’s Memoir from Costa Rica to Cambodia, Alden Jones, Terrace Books/The University of Wisconsin Press

Bisexual Erotic Fiction/Erotica
  • The Flight of the Black Swan: A Bawdy Novella by Jean Roberta, Lethe Press
  • House of Sable Locks by Elizabeth Schechter, Circlet Press
  • Memoirs of a Gigolo Omnibus, by Livia Ellis, Vol. 1-4, Riverdale Avenue Books/Desire
  • The Reunion by Adriana Kraft: B&B Publishing
  • Twice the Pleasure: Bisexual Women’s Erotica edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel, Cleis Press

Bisexual Book Publisher of the Year
  • Circlet Press
  • Riverdale Avenue Books

Bi Writer of the Year
  • Barriers to Love: Embracing a Bisexual Identity by Marina Peralta with Penelope James, Barriers Press
  • Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution, Shiri Eisner, Seal Press
  • The Flight of the Black Swan: A Bawdy Novella by Jean Roberta, Lethe Press
  • Memoirs of a Gigolo Omnibus, by Livia Ellis, Vol. 1-4, Riverdale Avenue Books/Desire
  • The Soundtrack of My Life by Clive Davis with Anthony DeCurtis, Simon & Schuster
  • Twice the Pleasure: Bisexual Women’s Erotica edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel, Cleis Press
  • A Wind of Knives by Ed Kurtz, Snubnose Press

Monday, April 14, 2014

Insurance Discrimination: a Bi-fold Problem by A.J. Walkley

Over the course of the past year, I have been met with two different walls erected by insurance companies – one based on the topics I write about for the public eye, and the other based on my history of anxiety and depression stemming from coming to terms with my sexuality back in high school.

Late in 2013, I called up the company I use for renter’s insurance to extend my policy. I wanted an umbrella policy and was told it was a simple process. Among the questions the agent asked for my application was whether I used my apartment for anything work-related. Being forthcoming, I mentioned that I was a writer, an author, and that my apartment was the primary location I wrote from. This led to questions regarding the content I wrote about. Again, I obliged without a second thought, detailing my books and blogging related to the LGBT and specifically bisexual communities, as well as my YA novel about abortion. All of these gave the agent pause and she hesitantly told me to wait on the line while she checked on something. When she came back on, she regretfully said that I was “too much of a risk” and that I would not be approved for the policy.

“What do you mean too much of a risk?” I asked her.

“Well, um, you see the topics you write about? They could attract, um, negative attention that could, well, lead to greater insurance risks…”

This gave me pause. Other than some trolls online, negative comments on my Huffington Post blogs and maybe a bad review here and there based on my content instead of my writing abilities, I had never been threatened, never had anyone throw a brick through my window or anything of the sort.

“Listen, it’s not like I’m J.K. Rowling or Stephen King over here. I barely make a profit on my books, not many people know me,” I tried to reason with her. “I’m not even traditionally published. I don’t really see how I could be a risk at this point.”

The agent apologized and that was that – nothing more for me to do.

This situation has been weighing on me, but considering other things that have taken more of my attention in the ensuing months, I kind of let it fall by the wayside. Until just this past weekend when the second insurance issue came in the mail.

The insurance company I use through my day-time employer sent me a letter declining short term disability coverage based on my “history of anxiety/depression.”  I have been treated for both since the 9th grade when I was just starting to realize my bisexuality. I didn’t even know the anxiety and depression was stemming from this until years later, but the point is that I have been dealing with both of these issues for the majority of my life. Through talk therapy and medication, I have managed both fairly well and can honestly say that neither has ever impacted my working life. I have never missed a day of work because of these conditions and, to be sure, they are not the reason I applied for short term disability insurance whatsoever.

As a matter of fact, the sole reason I applied was in anticipation of the possibility that in the next year or two I might need to take maternity leave and this insurance is the only way I can take such and make at least a little bit of money during my time off.  In Arizona, where I currently live and work, there is no state short term disability insurance – you must purchase privately to qualify for such benefits.  There is no separate policy formaternity leave, either; if I want to be paid something should I need to take a maternity leave in the future, the only way is through short term disability.

I never for once thought my mental health issues could impact this. Maybe that was naïve of me, but when I opened up that letter last weekend, I was thrown for a loop. Since I can’t afford to take unpaid time off, this letter essentially told me I could not have a baby.

Now, I’m in an impossible situation. If I appeal my decision and I tell the company the reason I applied in the first place, I’m worried they will still deny me because they won’t want to pay for maternity leave if they know about it ahead of time. All I can possibly do is assure them I have never nor do I anticipate ever needing to take time off for my anxiety or depression. Who thinks they’ll believe me?

I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place on both counts with seemingly no action to take that might end in a positive conclusion.


I’m curious to hear from others on such issues – has anyone else ever dealt with seeming discrimination from insurance companies, either due to your views on certain issues or a prior mental health concern? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Guest Blog: Kickstarter Campaign launches for FLUID Exhibition

Kickstarter Campaign launches for FLUID Exhibition
@ Project Gallery, Toronto, Canada
by Catherine Jones and Stephen Harvey
photo by Amanda Robertson-Hebert
Join us in creating an international photography exhibition featuring the work of bisexual artists, for WorldPride 2014 in Toronto, Canada. Our Kickstarter fundraising campaign launched April 8th and we only have until May 7th at midnight to make it happen. You can check it out at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/331432601/fluid.  FLUID will be held from June 5th to July 2nd, 2014 as part of Toronto's WorldPride celebrations -- an international gathering that celebrates the activism, education, history and culture of global LGBTQ communities. 
Bisexual artists continue to be underrepresented in the cultural landscape, so we booked a gallery space and put out a call for artists. We're building something amazing, an event that will be the first of its kind, and we want you to be a part of it! And as ridiculous as it sounds, some people still question the existence of bisexuality, both within the gay and lesbian community and in society at large. Visibility has never been more important.
But this is more than an art exhibition. The gallery will be a supportive, creative, energetic hub that will be used for workshops, poetry readings, artist talks and more. For one month Toronto will have a "home away from home" for bisexuals.
We are trying to raise $4,000 to make this project a reality. Kickstarter is all or nothing, and if we don't raise the full amount we get nothing. 
We very much appreciate your support and have some great incentives at every donation level -- from limited edition photography, bellydance lessons, and portrait sessions to one-of-a-kind FLUID buttons and stickers.
Please help spread the word about our campaign, share with your friends and social networks, and if you can, donate. No amount is too small.
You can contact Catherine at fluidtoronto@gmail.com with any questions.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Guest Blog: Wendy Bostwick on the unique microaggressions bi people face




Photo: Windy City Times "Bi in the Life" profile, Wendy Bostwick
If someone asked you the question “How does being bisexual affect your life, day to day?” how would you answer?

This was the question we asked 2 groups of bisexual-identified women as part of a larger study about women’s sexual orientation, their connection to community, and experiences of support and inclusion. What we found was that for these women, being bisexual often meant that they had to contend with hostility toward bisexuality in general, their bisexuality being dismissed, or confusion from others over whether the women could “really” be bisexual. What is more, those who made the comments were often unaware that their statements were hurtful or upsetting to the women. These commonplace, and often unintentional, slights or insults related to a facet of one’s identity are known as “microaggressions”.

In a recent paper, my colleague and I discuss 7 bisexual-specific microaggressions that emerged from our focus groups. Including those mentioned above, which we termed hostility, denial/dismissal, and unintelligibility, we also identified microaggressions related to hypersexuality, dating exclusion, pressure to change, and LGBT legitimacy. Probably the most common microaggression had to do with the women’s place within the larger “LGBT” community. A number of women talked about how they felt a requirement to prove they were “gay enough” to legitimately be a member of a community that, at least in name, included them. Others told of how even at events that were labeled as LGBT, there were unwelcoming, or even hostile comments about bisexuality.  Said Chris “I feel like I am you and I am
kicked out of you”.

But doesn’t everybody have to contend with rude or insulting comments, in one way or another, you ask? Absolutely. What is unique about microaggressions, and very much related to what the women in our study had to say, is the way in which they are connected to a fundamental aspect of someone’s identity. In fact, what we noticed about many of these bisexual microaggressions was the way in which a number of them challenged the women as knowers of their own experiences or even of themselves.

When someone denies or dismisses a bisexual woman’s identity, by choosing to refer to her as “straight” or “lesbian”, even in the face of the woman’s own deliberate and clear self-identification as bisexual, that is not just insulting. It also implies that the woman does not truly know herself, or that she cannot be who she says she is. When one is continually met with confusion from others about what bisexuality means, or if it even exists, they may feel compelled to provide definitions, explanations, and “proof” in order to truly be seen, heard, and understood.  Returning to the question at hand, for a number of our participants, at the end of the day, being bisexual meant working to make their identity intelligible, and by extension, themselves intelligible.


The findings from this work point to a potential reason why we see such high rates of depression and anxiety among bisexual women. As my previous work shows, bisexual women have some of the highest rates of mood and anxiety disorders in the country, exceeding rates found among heterosexual and lesbian women. We don’t know exactly why this is the case, but perhaps it is related to the unique stressors, like the microaggressions mentioned above, that bisexual women face. Messages questioning the credibility and/or very existence of bisexuality, often prompt work to prove the validity of one’s identity claims. We hypothesize that microaggressions that render bisexual women’s identity claims faulty or, worse, false and inauthentic, burden bisexual women with additional “identity work”. This burden, or stressor, is both cognitively and emotionally taxing, and in turn, likely has negative consequences for mental health and well-being.

Our work is just a start, and there are many more people we need to talk to—bisexual men, racially and ethnically diverse bisexuals, youth, and/or those who are not “out” about their bisexuality. But we hope our recent paper sheds light on the unique and specific experiences of bisexuals, and how such experiences may be connected to mental health and well-being. In turn, we ultimately want to foster a larger culture that is accepting of bisexuals, and that allows us to be who we say we are. Here’s to a bisexual community that is happy, healthy, and flourishing!

Wendy Bostwick

Bostwick, W., & Hequembourg, A. (2014). ‘Just a little hint’: bisexual-specific microaggressions and their connection to epistemic injustices. Culture, health & sexuality, (ahead-of-print), 1-16.
 Or please contact me directly for a copy of the paper.