I’m here with DFW Bi Net steering committee member Andi Reis to talk about Celebrate Bisexuality Day, coming up on Thursday, September 23.
R: What is DFW Bi Net? It sounds like a computer networking scheme. Binary network of whatever something.
It is. We’re like a virus, but way cuter! In reality, we’re a community/group/org of bisexuals, bi-friendly, bi-curious, non-label-identifying, queer folks anywhere in the gender spectrum that look for education, support and social awesomeness in the North Texas area. We’re a diverse lot. We fawn over each other’s hair, march in parades, protest at rallies, cry on each other’s shoulders, exchange ideas with other LGBT groups, take photos, paint pictures, share snacks, and try to find a way to make money so we can keep doing all that and reach out to the rest of the community too.
R: What’s your role in DFW Bi Net?
For a while I was helping out the former president, but he’s transitioned as treasurer of the national org Bi Net USA. After he left, we restructured to utilize a steering committee but that was a bit like herding cats and without empowered roles, only the support groups really thrived. We are changing again so that we are coaxing someone new to the group with a lot of leadership experience, maturity and desire to take the lead as our spokesperson/director/czar. Oh, right, MY role currently: Madame Bi Advocate and Event Wrangler. Like it? I just made it up.
R: Hm. Very creative. What can you tell me about Celebrate Bisexuality Day?
A: I think Sue Hyde, Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force said it best back in 2008:
“Similar to the annual National Coming Out Day (celebrated each October), … bisexuals may choose to come out to others. The day was created in 1999 by Gigi Raven Wilbur and other bisexual activists, and since then, September 23rd has been set aside as a day each year to celebrate bisexual visibility.
“We mark this important day with an understanding and appreciation for all that our bisexual brothers and sisters bring to our… (LGBT) community… Bisexual people challenge and question the fundamental assumptions about sexuality, gender and relationships. Our bisexual leaders, thinkers and lovers shake it up and in so doing, help us all break free to live and love as our hearts desire.”
R: Will DFW Bi Net have an entry in the Tarrant County Pride Parade?
Probably not. Like I said, we are going through some organizational changes and trying to become more structured, encourage bi/queer/questioning/curious/allies in North Texas to become more involved, and find coherence so we can generate more funds. We can’t even afford a set of T-Shirts at the moment. Eventually, we’ll get bylaws, grants (we hope), 501c3 status, and ownership by our membership in general of the forward movement and inclusion of bi visibility throughout the community. Until we get people, money and coherence in place, we are relying quite a bit on the generosity of our most active members and retail locations that have offered help on many occasions, like Urban Dog Coffee, The Bronx, Starbucks, Candlewood Suites in Dallas, FunCitySocialMedia.com, UNT, Resource Center Dallas, Equality March Texas and others. Would love to be in the parade, and you just might see us out there, but if we’re not IN the parade, I can guarantee a bunch of us will be watching and at the block party.
R: How many of its members are from Fort Worth or the Tarrant area?
A: I live in Bedford (Tarrant Co.) and travel to Dallas every day for work. Off the top of my head, I can think of FW folks who may not come consistently to meetings but would consider themselves members. Without having complete address info for our members, I’d have to say that around 1/3 are probably from the FW area, and surrounding Tarrant County.
R: Do you ever have membership functions, events or meetings on the west side of the Metroplex?
A: Not very often but we hope to change that. We need to hear from those FW voices who want to be a part of those activities, so we know who’s interested. We do like to say that we’ve “adopted” Q’sDay – it’s a weekly potluck at The Corporate Image off Brentwood Stair in FW. We try to keep our members informed about this get-together that was initiated several years ago now by a gay men’s group who wanted less of the bar scene and more food. (laughs)
Last year, DFW Bi Net and Equality March Texas joined forces to march in the Tarrant Pride Parade. I consider myself a member of Fairness Fort Worth, as probably several of our membership would as well – but it’s a long drive across town for meetings on a weeknight so we don’t make a lot of personal appearances. After the Rainbow Lounge Raid, a lot of Dallasites in the queer community reached out to make connections across the “membrane.”
R: What are some of DFW Bi Net’s accomplishments?
In its history, I’d say the long-standing accomplishments are support groups. These are meant to be safe spaces for our members and allies to meet and discuss life, coming out as bi, coming out from bi to something else, gender challenges, relationships, prejudice and events/stresses in our community, among myriad other topics. We currently hold two per month – first Saturdays 11a-1p and third Wednesdays 630p-830p, held at the Resource Center Dallas. They are moderated but we do not currently have a counselor in attendance. Confidentiality is important, of course.
Our biggest accomplishment was co-hosting the fabulous writer, speaker and activist Robyn Ochs of Bi Net USA. She’s a remarkable person, with a lot of knowledge to share, and knows how to shed light on the B in LGBT in a very inclusive way. We sponsored a book signing, dinner and lecture; the UNT student group By the Bi also brought her on their campus for a couple different speaking sessions. She was very busy while she was here. Robyn lives in the Boston area, but boy, do I wish she lived around here – we’d have such a rich bi/queer community. She also wrote a book called Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World. Want to borrow it? (laughs)
R: No, thanks, I’m gay. But I like bi people. They’re cool.
Gay people are some of my best friends! Well, one or two. Seriously, I hear that a lot – the “not interested in bi” thing. You might learn something that never occurred to you about the bi struggle, though. The thought processes, prejudices. You wouldn’t believe how often I hear, “I thought about asking him/her out but then it turns out he/she was bi.” Makes me crazy! I highly suggest you grab a copy very soon.
Also, DFW Bi Net also helped sponsor the Bi Hospitality Suite for the Creating Change 2010 activism conference. I like to call that experience Queer Camp. That was a blast. We should try and get a Texas bi/ally contingent to go to the next Creating Change. You in?
R: Minnesota in February!? Girl, please. So anyway, what kind of events does your group have planned in the near future?
Well, SINCE YOU ASKED, this coming Thursday, Sep 23 we are holding a mixer at The Bronx from 6p-9p. It’s open to everyone at any point in the gender spectrum, who would like to get to know our group better, or just hang out and have a few munchies. $5 suggested donation at the door, but it’s not mandatory. Our babe Friday may cry at your feet, but it’s all good. Some people pay for that, ya know. (laughs) It’s after Dallas Pride, and it’s around the same time as when Dallas Black Pride’s The Movement starts up, so I’m not sure what kind of turnout we’ll have, but I believe we should see a good group of people that want to just have a bit of fun. I do hope more Tarrant folks get involved, but I REALLY do understand that FW needs its own bi voice too.
By the way, DFW Bi Net appeared in the Pride issue [Sep. 18] of Dallas Voice (shout out to David Taffet, LaTisha McDaniel and Morgan O’Donnell). We’re on page 30. On the right side, toward the bottom. I love press coverage!
R: Yeah? You’re welcome.
To learn more about DFW Bi Net support groups, planning meetings or if you have ideas to share, look them up on:
Facebook: DFW Bi Net
Email: [email protected]