(FEBRUARY 4TH, 2013) — For the first time, leaders from local, regional, and national bi organizations met at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Creating Change conference in Atlanta, Georgia, January 23-27 to discuss issues important to the bisexual rights movement and set plans to raise the visibility of the bisexual community within the LGBTQ movement.
“It is a thrill and honor that the first-ever Bisexual Leadership Roundtable took place at the 25th National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change. We are inspired and energized by the leaders from local, regional and national bi organizations who came to Atlanta to connect, strategize and mobilize. We join in the excitement over the BLR’s founding and its future work to raise bi visibility and to create change,” says Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
BiNet USA president, Faith Cheltenham, and Bisexual Resource Center president, Ellyn Ruthstrom, planned and facilitated the first national Bisexual Leadership Roundtable (BLR) to establish deeper connections among the diverse attendees who came from California, Minnesota, Michigan, Massachusetts, Florida, New York, Texas, and Washington, DC.
BRC’s president, Ellyn Ruthstrom, comments, “This meeting has been much anticipated by the bi leaders who gathered in Atlanta. We are excited to have set out a game plan for more communication, sharing of resources, and setting some new strategies for the bi movement. This is only the first meeting, and we are fired up about the future work of the BLR.”
BiNet USA’s Faith Cheltenham adds, “BiNet USA salutes each and every member organization of the BLR for the thought leadership they've provided in the spirit of collaboration and community. While we may have different mission statements each organization has brought to the table a true commitment to work together on the urgent needs of our deeply underserved community.”
ABilly Jones-Hennin, from Washington, DC, was the most tenured participant on the roundtable and enthusiastically endorsed the leadership gathering. “Given the ongoing exclusion and invisibility of bisexuals, as well as the ignorance and denial about bisexuality, I welcome the coming together of bi organizations to give us a stronger voice for true equality. The BLR is long overdue, a breath of fresh air, and a reflection of our diversity.”
BLR attendees set out plans for quarterly conference calls and an annual face-to-face meeting at which representatives from national, regional, and local organizations can convene to continue the work. Working groups were established in fundraising strategies, political outreach, people of color and trans community networking, social media skill-building, media and public education, BLR governance, and a national needs assessment project.
Along with the full-day roundtable, members of the BLR also met with the White House liaison to the LGBTQ community, representatives from LGBTQ fundraising organizations, and The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s executive director, Rea Carey, to brief them on concerns of the bi community and to forge stronger relationships to expand the work being done.
If you want more information about this topic or to schedule an interview with BiNet USA’s president Faith Cheltenham or Bisexual Resource Center’s Ellyn Ruthstrom, please contact them at their respective numbers listed below.
Ellyn Ruthstrom, Bisexual Resource Center, firstname.lastname@example.org, 617-417-3725 (EST)
Organizations and Individuals Represented on the Bisexual Leadership Roundtable
The American Institute Of Bisexuality (AIB) is a 501(c)(3) public charity that supports and sponsors projects likely to promote understanding and visibility about bisexuality through education, research, training and media outreach. The American Institute Of Bisexuality raises awareness about the diversity of sexual orientation. BLR attendee: Denise Penn
The Bi Advisory Committee was established to support the vision of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates to achieve workplace equality for all, inclusive of sexual orientations, gender identities, expressions, and characteristics, by driving awareness of the unique needs and strengths of bisexual, pansexual, and fluid people in the workplace. BLR attendee: Heidi Bruins Green
As America’s advocacy organization for bisexual, pansexual, fluid, queer-identified and unlabeled people, BiNet USA facilitates the development of a cohesive network of independent bisexual and bi-friendly communities; promotes bisexual, pansexual, and bi-inclusive visibility; and collects and distributes educational information regarding sexual orientation and gender identity with an emphasis on the bisexual, pansexual, and allied communities. Visit www.binetusa.org. BLR attendees: Faith Cheltenham, Chiquita Violette, Luigi Ferrer
BiRequest is a discussion group in New York City that has been continuously offering safe space since 1992. The BiRequest meetings are topic-centered discussions that now meet at NYC's LGBT Community Center. BLR attendee: Paul Nocera
Bisexual Organizing Project (BOP) is a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to advocate for equal acknowledgement and recognition of bisexual identities and communities. BOP envisions a world where all organizations serving LGBTQ communities intentionally include bisexuality in their programs and initiatives. BOP hosts monthly community building and educational events in the Upper Midwest, and sponsors the only national conference on bisexuality in the United States, BECAUSE. Visit www.bisexualorganizingproject.org. BLR attendees: Lauren Beach, Saby Labor
The Bisexual Resource Center (BRC) is the oldest national bi organization in the U.S. that advocates for bisexual visibility and raises awareness about bisexuality throughout the LGBTQ and straight communities. The BRC envisions a world where love is celebrated, regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression. The BRC provides support groups in the Boston area, creates print and web resources, and sponsors Bilicious, an annual multimedia event celebrating bi culture. Visit www.biresource.net. BLR attendee: Ellyn Ruthstrom
The Boston Bisexual Women’s Network (BBWN) is a feminist, not-for-profit collective organization that brings women together for support and validation. It is a safe environment in which women of all sexual self-identities, class backgrounds, racial, ethnic and religious groups, ages, abilities and disabilities are welcome. BBWN publishes Bi Women, a quarterly newsletter with an international readership. Visit www.biwomenboston.org. BLR attendee: Robyn Ochs
BLR attendee: Emily Dievendorf is a bisexual activist and the policy director for Equality Michigan's (c)(3) and (c)(4) organizations, as well as the political director for the Equality Michigan Pride PAC. She works to cultivate full inclusion of the bisexual community in Michigan's LGBT rights movement and beyond. Equality Michigan is Michigan's only statewide LGBT advocacy organization. It works to achieve full equality and respect for all people in Michigan regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Visit www.equalitymi.org.