Do you like to label your sexuality? Does it fall very nicely into a popular category: perhaps “straight” or “gay”? Sometimes labels can come up short, be confusing or disheartening, and may miss the point entirely. This issue, among others, has urged some distinctly motivated Temple SFLAG (student friends of lesbians and gays) members to organize “Bisexuality Education Month.”
You’ve surely seen the signs on campus that proclaim “Bisexuality Has Arrived.” The opportunity to explore it certainly has: this focus on bisexuality features a spread of events from mid-February to early March.
The program, which includes lectures, concerts, food and more, has a clearly defined mission: to give needed clarity to the concept of bisexuality, with an intention to relieve misgivings about bisexuality in both the heterosexual and GBLT (gay, bi, lesbian and transgender) communities.
As stated on the official SFLAG Web site, “Misconceptions and uncertainties on the issue of bisexuality can lead to anything from social ostracism to physical violence.”
On Feb. 22, SFLAG held a workshop titled “Myths and Realities of Bisexuality.” The speaker/activities leader of the workshop was Robyn Ochs, who is known as a “professional bisexual.” This uncommon title means that she devotes a great portion of her professional career to giving lectures around the country and writing books in order to promote bisexual awareness.
The workshop, held in Mitten Hall, involved a small-but-intimate group of students discussing their preconceptions of what it means to be bisexual.
“One part of my agenda is to create a safe place for people to identify as bisexuals,” Ochs said. “But I also want to create a place for people to identify as any identity they choose.”
She tries to draw connections between homophobia, racism and sexism.
“They’re all different, but they all operate in similar ways, and they all cause similar types of damage,” said Ochs.
Ochs lent an interesting perspective to the matter: the concept of monogamous relationships creates the idea that all people are attracted to one sex because in public, you only see people involved with a member of one sex.
As part of the workshop, she incorporated the “Kinsey Scale” into an activity: one that introduced the complexities of sexuality, and the difficulty that lies in pigeonholing yourself into one label. Created by Dr. Alfred Kinsey, the scale includes categories (0-6) that identify different variations of sexual orientation. A person falling under the “zero” category would be considered “entirely heterosexual,” and a person within the “six” category is considered “entirely homosexual.” Kinsey discovered in his research ,which was conducted in the late 1940s and early 1950s, that a great number of people identify themselves somewhere between zero and six. In fact, he found that 30 percent of all men surveyed had experienced some type of homosexual relationship between the ages of 20-24.
Charlie Mumford, president of the SFLAG organization, commented on some motivations behind the project. “There seems to be a lot of misconceptions [about bisexuality]. Being gay, I’d heard a lot of things about bisexuals … from people who didn’t really believe in it. There’s so much that homosexuals go through with being victims of discrimination, and I just think that [discriminating against bisexuals] is a double standard.”
SFLAG has been working on “Bisexual Education Month” since October, under the leadership of students Charlie Mumford, Tifani Purple Katof, and Regina Wilson. The total budgeted cost was approximately $6,500, and the group obtained a Kaleidoscope Grant to afford it.
“Bisexuality Education Month” will conclude with a Soiree on Saturday, March 2, from 10:30 p.m. – 9:30 a.m. For more information you can visit the program’s Web site at www.geocities.com/temple_in_limbo/. SFLAG’s Web site is www.temple.edu/sflag/.