To whom it may concern at the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center,
I know that I am not alone in saying that you have the total support of the bisexual community in the face of this attack.
I am heartened to see that Heidi Cranford Williams mentioned bisexuals, as part of the LGBTQ community, in her press response to the hate crime vandalism.
However, mentioning bisexuals in fine print on your website or as an afterthought to a significant campaign for visibility does not really include us.
When I look at the MGLCC billboard campaign, I feel a strong sense of bisexual erasure. May I ask, why were bisexuals left off the billboards? Why was there no inclusion of the word "bisexual"?
When your campaign says that ministers accept lesbian, gay, and transgender people, but makes no mention of bisexuals, you make it seem as though no ministers in your area accept bisexual men and women at their churches. When your billboards say that lesbian, gay, and transgender people have straight supporters, your omission of bisexuals makes it seem as though bisexuals have no supporters at all--not straights, gays, lesbians, or transgender people.
Inclusion matters. Bisexual people look and listen for the "B" word. It helps us to know that we have allies in gay, lesbian, transgender, and straight communities. As a matter of fact, this summer the Bi Writers Association, headed by Sheela Lambert, held a conference entitled "Putting the 'B' in the LGBT."
Furthermore, at least according to your website,
it seems as though you have no bisexual-specific programming at your organization. It may be of interest to know that at the Bisexual Health Summit, held on the first day of the LGBTI Health Summit in August here in Chicago, the research consistently showed that bisexuals were at the greatest health risks of lesbians, gay men, and straight people across most of the major health indicators; that health and social service organizations need to develop bi-specific programming to address our underserved health needs.
Just on the issue of suicide alone, lesbians and gay men were found to consider suicide 4 times higher than straight women/men; bisexual men were found to consider suicide 7 times higher than straight men and bisexual women 6 times higher than straight women.
For some bisexuals, the visible and vocal inclusion of us in your programming and publicity campaigns may be the difference between life and death.
We are part of the larger LGBTQ community; we are your lovers, your friends, your fellow activists, your neighbors, and your natural allies. We have been there from the beginning of the struggle for liberation.
We too, have served our country. As a matter of fact, one of the biggest moments in American bisexual history was when, in 1989, openly bisexual veteran Cliff Arnesen testified before Congress about lesbian, gay, and bisexual veteran's issues. At that time, transgender people who have served our country were not very visible. Also, the lesbian and gay veterans with Cliff tried to pressure him into identifying as gay, instead of bisexual, because they thought his identification would hurt their cause. Cliff Arnesen refused and became the first non-heterosexual veteran to testify on Capital Hill about LGB veterans' issues and veterans' issues in general. Cliff Arnesen had been dishonorably discharged because of his bisexual orientation.
I wish none of my message to be misconstrued as some sign of a lack of support for lesbians, gay men, or transgender people or an attack on the Memphis LGBTQ community in particular. Across the nation, the LGBTQ community has our unqualified support. We are all in this together. But we also need to know that we are supported; that we can be ourselves, just the way we are, among you. One of the clearest ways that our allies can show their support for us is to say our name. Bi all means, say our name.
Max the Communist