2012 was a significant year for bisexual visibility. The bisexual movement reached a new level of maturity with many bisexual organizations celebrating around a quarter century of existence. The German Bisexual Network and the Australian Bisexual Network celebrated their 20th anniversaries. The annual BECAUSE (Bisexual Empowerment Conference) celebrated its 20th year. The Bay Area Bisexual Network celebrated 25 years of existence. BiCon, the UK's bisexual conference, celebrated 30 years of annual events. With the bisexual rights movement reaching the age of an adult, there were many signs of it becoming more established and successful.
1) Bisexuals gained visibility and respect as elected officials.
For the first time in history, an out bisexual was elected to serve in the U.S. Congress. Kyrsten Sinema is now the member-elect of the United States House of Representatives from Arizona's 9th congressional district.
Four out bisexual state officials were reelected: South Dakota State Sen. Angie Buhl, Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown, New York State Rep. Micah Kellner, and Wisconsin State Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa. Zamarripa came out of the closet as bisexual in 2012.
One out bisexual was elected to become a state representative for the first time. Joanna Cole has served as the Justice of the Peace in Vermont for multiple terms, and this year she was elected to the General Assembly. I spoke with her on the phone, and she told me that she began running for office in 2005 and has been out as a bisexual for her entire political career.
In addition to elected officials, there was more political inclusion of bisexuals in other areas of politics. For example, there was a record number of bisexual activists at the 2012 Annual White House Pride Month Reception.
2) Bisexual activists pushed back on attacks on the word "bisexual."
The word "bisexual" got a lot of criticism in 2012 for supposedly "reinforcing the gender binary." The war on the word "bisexual" reached a new level of mainstream attention this year when a non-monosexual Texas state representative rejected the word "bisexual" and instead chose to call herself "pansexual." She is quoted as saying, "I didn't feel as if the term bisexual was encompassing of a gender spectrum that I was dating and attracted to."
In 2012 several prominent activists and bisexual organizations pushed back on the idea that "bisexual" isn't inclusive of the gender spectrum. Voices advocating for the importance of embracing and celebrating the word "bisexual" included bisexual author A.J. Walkley, bisexual trans activist Julia Serano and the oldest nationally focused bisexual organization in the United States, the Bisexual Resource Center.
Also, BiNet USA and activists worldwide took on Google's ban on the word "bisexual" and won!
3) Bisexual Pride Day (Sept. 23) gained greater official recognition.
In the United States the city of Berkley became the first American city to formally recognize Bisexual Pride Day. In a letter to fellow city council members, Kriss Worthington, the sponsor of the bill, said the day would be a call for "bisexual people, their friends and supporters to recognize and celebrate bisexual history, bisexual community and culture, and the bisexual people in their lives."
4) The international bisexual movement expanded.
There was the publication of a report on bisexual inclusion in LGBT equality and diversity in the UK.
Marja van Bijsterveldt became the first Minister of Education and LGBT Equality in the Netherlands to address bisexuals as a group that needs and deserves special attention within LGBT policy. She requested that the Social and Cultural Planning Bureau and the National Bisexual Network (LNBi) compile a report on bisexual visibility in the Netherlands.
There was the first conference on bisexuality in Spain. The first bisexual conference in Tel Aviv, Israel, took place. There was the first proposal for a Bisexual Secretariat for the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA).
For Celebrate Bisexuality Day (Sept. 23) the French LGBTI movement, activists from every category -- L, G, B, T and I -- joined hands. Individual members walked down city centers, shopping malls, etc., and asked people on the streets what they think about bisexuals and bisexuality. The results will be presented at the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO-T) on May 17, 2013.
5) High-profile bisexual people came out of the closet or reaffirmed their bisexuality when questioned.
Actress Anna Paquin publicly and proudly reconfirmed her bisexuality when it was questioned. So did actress Evan Rachel Wood. Rapper and singer Azealia Banks came out as bisexual. As I mentioned earlier, Wisconsin State Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa came out of the closet as bisexual this year. Athlete Jessica Aguilar came out as bisexual.
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Even with all the good news of 2012, we still have a lot of work to do. As many have pointed out, the bisexual community is still being ignored when it comes to funding. Bisexuals (like Cynthia Nixon) are still rejecting the word "bisexual" because of the way bisexual people are treated. Bisexual people (like Danielle Morantez) are still getting fired for their sexual identity. Bisexuals (like Ivo Widlak) as still being threatened with deportation.
That's where you come in, dear reader. If you are bisexual, get out and get active. If you are a bi ally, get out and get active. Help to build the bisexual community. Help to shine a light on bi issues. If you have resources, please consider donating to one of the resource-starved bisexual organizations. 2013 is going to be an amazing year for bisexual visibility and understanding. You can be a part of it!
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