By Kimberly Jorgensen, MA
The annual convention of the American Psychological Association (APA) was held August 14-17 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. During this year’s convention the Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Issues (Division 44) hosted several formal programming sessions as well as informal opportunities for discussion and networking. In addition to several interesting LGBT-related programs, there was one symposium dedicated solely to current research on bisexuality as well as an informal bi discussion hour in the Division’s hospitality suite.
As a bi woman and a doctoral counselor-in-training at the University of North Dakota, I am always eager to hear about new research and meet with the researchers and clinicians working with LGBT people. I am personally invested in their findings, and I also aim to serve LGBTIQ people in my counseling practice. I am working on a dissertation about minority stress and the experiences of people with sexual identities beyond heterosexual or homosexual. At the convention I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with many noted psychologists and professionals who have produced pivotal work that has informed my own research. It’s always exciting to meet the author of a book or an impressive research article I’ve read.
My favorite experience of the conference was attending the Bi Discussion Hour hosted by Division 44. After seeing the symposium on bisexuality research earlier in the day, I was able to talk informally with Ron Fox, Emily Page, Bobbi Keppel, Robyn Ochs, Alan Hamilton and others as a junior colleague and community member. For a psychologist-in-training, this is the equivalent of meeting Hollywood celebrities. I not only met celebrities, but I was welcomed and supported by them.
At one point during the discussion hour, the focus shifted to experiences of bi professionals in rural areas where affirming organizations and services are scarce, giving two of us the chance to express our frustrations about serving and living in sexual minority communities in North Dakota. This opportunity to share about my life and work and get feedback from successful people in the bi community was exciting and refreshing. Being in a room full of bisexual-identified people and supportive others was a privilege I am rarely able to experience. I returned to the Midwest re-energized in my activism and outreach efforts. I made new professional and personal contacts and am excited to take part in next year’s bi programming at APA in Toronto!
Kimberly is a doctoral student in Counseling Psychology at the University of North Dakota, serves part-time as the GLBTA Programs Coordinator at the University of Minnesota – Crookston and is active in several local and regional advocacy efforts. She is a co-chair of the Bisexual Empowerment Conference (BECAUSE) to be held in Minneapolis, MN, April 17-19, 2009. For more information: www.becauseconference.org.