By Rev. Francesca Bongiorno Fortunato
I’ve been calling myself bisexual since I was eleven years old and have never (as far as my orientation was concerned) even considered using another label as my primary (though I do feel that “queer,” as an umbrella term, includes me).
I call myself bisexual because it includes attraction to all genders (same as mine; different from mine). I call myself bisexual because it’s a label with a long, honorable history. Bisexual people have been at the forefront of LGBTQ liberation movements from their earliest days. I don’t want to negate that history or dishonor my foremothers and forefathers by claiming some new, trendy label for myself. I also call myself bisexual because it’s a distinction with a difference. I am not “fluid.” My orientation doesn’t fluctuate. I was born bisexual and will die bisexual, regardless of relationship status at any point along with way.
I call myself bisexual because, by doing so, I combat biphobia and bi erasure. Only by speaking my truest truth to the powers that be, can I be part of the solution. I won’t call myself something less definitive (or claim “no labels”) to make bigots more comfortable remaining bigoted. I will continue to challenge the stereotypes and the haters by claiming the label that is most genuine for me.
I call myself bisexual so that those in search of community will know that I am one of them, and one of our community’s leaders.
I call myself bisexual so that the next generation will know where to find themselves, and me. I am aware that the “foremother” label will also be mine before too long. I want the bisexual young people, stepping into future leadership, to see me as an inspiration, and be proud that I am part of the history they share.
I call myself bisexual because I am bisexual, and I hope, work and pray for the time when that will be a thoroughly matter-of-fact and unremarkable thing to say.
Rev. Francesca Bongiorno Fortunato lives in New York City with her wife, Lynn, and their cats, Alice and Gracie. She currently works as a youth minister and part time dance teacher, in addition to being the volunteer facilitator for Bi Perspectives, a support group at the Manhattan LGBT Community Center.