Friday, August 05, 2011

A Guide to Bisexual/Pansexual/Fluid Etiquette

 Creating Change 2012 is coming up!  If you're interested in attending visit the Facebook page to meet other bi/pan/fluid folk excited to make change!  

The guide to bi/pan/fluid etiquette developed for last year's Creating Change conference was a major hit so check it out below and share with a friend!

A Guide to Bisexual/Pansexual/Fluid Etiquette

The bisexual identity speaks more to the existence of attraction to people of any gender, rather than merely a statement of past or current relationships and/or sexual activities. Bisexual, pansexual, fluid and folks who choose to remain “unlabeled” are part of the LGBT community and need you as an ally just as much as they remain your strong partner in the fight for equality. To that end, we offer a few notes on bisexual/pansexual/fluid communities.

Common misconceptions about bisexual/pansexual/fluid communities include: There’s no such thing as bisexuality; bisexuality is just a phase; bisexual people have multiple partners and/or can’t have monogamous relationships; bisexuality itself reinforces the gender binary; bisexual people spread sexually transmitted diseases; and bisexual people face less discrimination than gay, lesbian and transgender people. 

We have all had moments in our lives where we have been misperceived and misunderstood, we hope everyone will draw from their own experiences to create a space in which we can all be our full selves during the conference.

Each individual may have a different definition of bisexuality.  Contrary to common misconceptions, bisexuality is not exclusively a transitional phase between heterosexuality and homosexuality. No single pattern exists among bisexuals. Many people declare their bisexuality to claim their personal history. They don’t want to erase previous loves or parts of themselves to buy acceptance.  Because one’s definition does not fit another does not make it any less valid. Please respect each person’s power and ability to define themselves. 

A few other ways to embrace the bisexual/pansexual/fluid communities:
·         Use inclusive language, instead of “gay rights” or “gay marriage” try “equal rights” and “marriage equality”.
·         Question the negativity associated with bisexual stereotypes.
·         Check in with someone about what term(s) they prefer – Remember that no one person represents a community; no two people are the same and definitions may vary.
·         Recognize that bisexuality is often invisibilized/ delegitimized, so bi/pan/fluid people usually have to come out over and over.
·         Respect people’s privacy and boundaries. Take a moment before asking questions and look into the assumptions behind them.
·         Recognize that bisexual people often face similar discrimination and obstacles as gays and lesbians with regard to job security, healthcare, marriage, custody, visitation and adoption of children.
·         Recognize the way that specific relationships function is entirely independent of sexual orientation. Be positive about all relationships –monogamous, polyamorous, or anything else.
·         Accept you might never fully understand someone else’s sexuality, and that it’s okay not to.

Thank you for respecting all the ways we can love each other!  Enjoy the conference!

Compiled by 2011 Creating Change Bisexual/Pansexual/Fluid Organizing Institute Co-coordinators, Becky Saltzman and Faith Cheltenham.   

- The National Conference on LGBT Equality, Creating Change 2011 Conference Program