By Laura-Marie River Victor Peace
I feel in between, in many ways, enjoying liminal spaces and being marginally comprehensible much of the time. I’m a cis woman partnered with a nonbinary person who’s usually read as a man. I hesitated to claim my bi identity for years because I was afraid of asserting it, when most people see me as straight. I didn’t feel strong enough to take the judgments of others who might not think I belonged under the queer umbrella.
I feel better now about saying I’m bi because I see there are many ways to be bi. Through activism, I want to make more room in the world for true diversity, all the ways of being queer that aren’t dependent on physical sex acts in regular life, hairstyle, or any outside markers.
These days, I’m an activist who helps run a radical mental health collective and an interfaith peace organization. I live in community and serve the hungry here in Las Vegas. I do fat activism and bi and queer activism also. I make zines, which is one of the main ways I reach out.
Inner life and inner worlds are at least as important as what we do in our everyday outer lives. My life is my thoughts and feelings, as well as my physical actions. I could have sex with any person of any gender in my dreams at night. I like how life is rich with possibilities, and things are changing all the time.
Imagination is an important part of my creativity as I am a writer. I have fantasies of all kinds, and they help me sort out what I really want and who I really am, which is funny because fantasy is often considered frivolous. Fantasy is important to me in understanding myself, creating meaning, and making decisions.
There’s a bi/pan group here in Las Vegas at the Center. I enjoy attending because I like bi/pan spaces and I like different kinds of bi/pan people gathering to talk about how we’re the same, how we’re different, challenges we face being misread, misunderstood, discredited, and discriminated against.
I like hearing about situations we find ourselves in with partners who are or are not bi/pan also. Family, identity, different ways we identify to ourselves and others. I like our conversations about language, definitions, gender, and pronouns, as a diversity of people of various backgrounds and ages come together to share space and learn from one another while getting support.
I feel grateful to this group for being a place where I can listen to people who are like me or not like me. As I learn that there are millions of ways to be bi/pan, I realize I’m not alone, and I feel very lucky.
I do bi activism by speaking up. I write a zine about gender and sexuality called sexuality as hidden that talks about bisexuality and pansexuality. I show up as much as I can to that bi/pan group at the Center, in hopes it will keep going. I cherish bi/pan people and see how we have needs particular to us that bring us together, even when many people would like us to be absorbed into other categories or otherwise disappear.
Bisexuality and pansexuality make many people uncomfortable, being and/both/all in a world that favors either/or. By being who I am and talking about it, I bring a face to what a lot of people consider too confusing or strange. I’m not confusing or strange, as an actual person, if someone talks to me and gets to know me and my life.
Bisexuality makes a ton of sense, and my version of that is loving anyone, at any time, in any way, which feels extremely comfortable, and is not strange at all. Some people who want clear delineations and either/or might not like that, or people who like pigeonholing or who like everyone to stay the same. The way I could be with any person of any gender can be seen as too changeable and less stable, but I’m actually consistent with myself.
Being an activist in the different ways I do activism is about helping to create a world where all people are safe and cared for, free to live without violence, respected with any gender or sexuality, respected at any size and with any disability.
When I was little, I wanted to be a head. I was very troubled by my body and its needs, considering the contradictory messages I received about how to be a good girl and woman, which meant both repressing my sexuality into nothing and being a pleasing, attractive sex object. I was supposed to be happy, yet spurn the pleasures of life as sinful. I was supposed to be a pure, saintly virgin, but a sexy vixen at the same time.
I couldn’t understand it, and I thought it would be easier not to have a body at all, especially when men and boys wanted to prey upon me. I tried to ignore my body for a long time.
Part of growing up, an ongoing process, is learning how I have this body for a reason, how to love it and inhabit it, to experience pleasure and connect with people. I had to shed a lot of what culture told me about what I’m supposed to be, in order to become who I truly am.
Activism is about helping make a world where all people can be who we are, in a safe, happy way, with support and good examples of truly diverse well-being.
Laura-Marie River Victor Peace is a zinester activist in Las Vegas, Nevada, and enjoys rest, transformation, and finding new kinds of pleasure. dangerouscompassions.blogspot.com.