By Kim theBWordPoet
When I first came out in 1999, I identified as lesbian. I became the President of my Gay Straight Alliance during my freshman year at Youngstown State University. I didn’t know what it meant back then to be an activist. I was doing what I loved, which was helping others find solidarity. It wasn’t until a few years later that I started to see myself as someone who could make a difference.
In 2001, I re-came out as bisexual. After a year at Youngstown State, I came home to find that there had been a long-standing LGBT community in my hometown. So I started going to meetings. Every group was always packed, but the bisexual group intrigued me more and more. It wasn’t until I was there that I felt like, “Yes. YES. This is ME!” I fell back into organizing by managing the Yahoo Group, building a website, and writing a newsletter.
Eventually, all the groups I was attending started losing their leaders, so to keep the support going for myself and others, I took over. I overextended myself leading two BIG groups, still attending other groups, and trying to start a new group. I was marching and volunteering at Prides. I knew so many leaders of groups and organizations. I was such a regular at the LGBT Center that I started to joke that I lived there. I really thought I was an activist.
As the severe burnout took over, however, I started to see that perhaps I wasn’t an activist after all. The groups I was running fell apart. People weren’t coming to meetings, they weren’t engaging, they weren’t giving input, they weren’t volunteering with me. Even when I would do my best to provide the activities they expressed interest in going to, no one came. I wasn’t helping anyone anymore. Or maybe I had, but I still needed help. I still needed the LGBT community. I particularly needed the bi+ community.
I learned more about the pioneers of the general LGBT movement, as well as the bi+ movement, to compare myself and my efforts to what they sacrificed to give us the privileges we have today. I’ve never lobbied, or walked on Washington, or written to my Congressperson. I’ve never participated in a protest or a riot. I don’t work for an LGBT Center or Human Rights Campaign. I’ve never even been on a Board of Directors for anything LGBT. I just attend meetings, organize meetings and events when group leaders step down, attend rallies, run booths and volunteer at Pride, and sporadically post clips in Gay People’s Chronicle and this publication. So maybe I’m not an activist, but I can say I’m an organizer.
Community organizing not only lets me help others, but it helps calm my inner thoughts. A lot of times I am filled with anxiety and dread and self-defeating thoughts. I dwell on things like my personal shortcomings, the fact that I am Black, and the fact that I am on the asexual spectrum. However, when I am doing for others, none of that matters (unless the people I’m helping MAKE it matter—which unfortunately happens quite a bit too). What I’m doing has nothing to do with me, but everything to do with them, yet it helps me keep my mind preoccupied.
I consider myself to be a bi+ community organizer since most, if not all, of my organizing efforts are for bi+ specific causes. I still maintain the bi+ website for Ohio, I still go to the local bi+ meeting regularly, I joined the first bi+ sorority in August 2019, and I still publish in Bi Women Quarterly.
Outside of publishing a bisexual poetry book, I hope to do more in the bi+ community organizing arena one day; exactly what, I don’t know. I am trying to figure out ways to be a face in the asexual spectrum organizing community as well, but I feel like I want a firmer grasp of myself and role in the bi+ movement before I add on intersections. Those are my hopes for the future of my organizing.
Kim theBWordPoet is a 39-year-old biromantic demisexual cis-female from Cleveland, Ohio. She runs Bi+ Initiative Ohio, and is a Soror of Alpha Zeta Gamma Sorority, Incorporated, the first sorority with a specific focus on bisexual women.