Advocacy organisation Bisexual Alliance Victoria (BAV) is getting ready to get together for Celebrate Bisexuality Day on September 23 with their annual dinner, an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the community and look ahead to what’s next.
BAV founding member and president Rebecca Dominguez spoke to the Star Observer about the challenges facing the bisexual community, and about the current state of bisexual activism in Victoria.
“We’re supporting marriage equality, we’re working with organisations like Transgender Victoria and Organisation Intersex International on making sure that LGBTI organisations remember the rest of acronym,” said Dominguez, citing public discussions around “gay marriage” as a place where bisexuality is often ignored.
Bi Chat is a long-running activity of the organisation, a discussion and support group for the bisexual community that recently expanded to include a Geelong incarnation. Dominguez explained a common theme in the groups was the need to counter negative stereotypes of bisexual people.
“We come across people who’ve had straight, gay or lesbian people say, ‘Oh, if you’re bi you’ll give me diseases, or you’re going to be unfaithful, or you’ll never be satisfied with me because you’ll always be craving whatever gender I’m not,’” she said.
“There are people who won’t even enter into a relationship with a bisexual person…that’s sadly quite common.”
Dominguez said these challenges have come from within the LGBTI community as well as the broader community, recounting being booed by bystanders on multiple occasions marching with BAV in Melbourne’s pride march.
“From 2006 until 2011 all the pride marches I went to we were heckled, booed at, told to choose a side, get off the fence. It wasn’t every person there, but it was enough that you would definitely notice it,” she said.
The organisation raised the issue with the pride march committee and with the LGBTI press, and saw a huge improvement.
“It’s a day to celebrate who we are, not to be harassed walking down the street,” said Dominguez.
“Pride supported us, the queer press was very supportive, and the message was very clear: this behaviour is wrong and not to be tolerated.”
But she acknowledges there is a long way to go—bisexual invisibility is a huge problem:
“When you’re bisexual and if you’re not in a long term relationship or if you’ve ended a relationship and you’re about to start another one, people often also say, ‘So you’re not straight any more.’ It’s really tiring.”
To book a spot for the BAV dinner at the Lord Newry Hotel in Fitzroy North, RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org by September 21.