Marching Isn’t the Only Way to Be Visible

Jun 17, 2021 | 2020 Spring - Being an Activist

By Kamille Washington

I’m terrible at protests. Terrible. I have no patience for sign-making, I’m not a natural yeller, and big crowds send me into genuine panic. If the revolution calls for a march, I’m afraid I won’t be much help. Thankfully, revolutions are made of much more than just marches. They require sustained effort from all kinds of people—students and teachers, unions and executives, voters and politicians. If we’re going to achieve all the change the world needs, the tent has to be big enough for all of us.

I believe that, for bisexual women, increasing our visibility is a major contribution that we can make in our everyday lives. So, I’ve done everything I can think of to make myself visible. In addition to shouting about it to anyone who will listen, I have a water bottle with a sticker that reads “Hello! I’m bi, not confused.” The sticker is huge, glittery, and unmistakable. It accompanies me to every class and every meeting. That sticker has led to so many wonderful conversations—with other bi+ women as well as folks just interested in understanding me a little better.

Earlier this year, I received a WhatsApp message from a classmate who “had a question” for me. It turned out that, for the first time in her life, she was interested in dating women in addition to men. Moreover, she came from a country with a long history of opposition to same-sex relationships and worried about what the implications might be for her life back home. She sought me out because, with my shouting and my stickers, I had become visible to her. Rarely have I felt more honored.

It was a reminder that little things can have a big impact. Of course, it’s still important for us to do the bigger things: to work to reduce sexual violence (which we know affects bisexual women at higher rates than the general population) and to speak up for bisexual people more generally, especially within the LGBTQ+ community. But visibility really matters too. It creates the space and trust necessary to building community.

Kamille Washington is one half of the Unfriendly Black Hotties, a podcast about the intersection of race, gender, and sexuality in pop culture and politics. She lives in Cambridge, MA with her partner, Paige, and their French bulldog, Gunther.

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