By Emily Metcalfe
When people ask me who my bi+ role models are, my mind automatically goes to out celebrities: Alan Cumming, Janelle Monáe, Drew Barrymore. But although I passionately believe bi+ representation is important and my heart does a happy little skip every time a celeb comes out, I don’t really look to these people for inspiration. A lot of celebrities, even those who are bi+, don’t have a good understanding of the issues faced by a large portion of our community or don’t use language recognizing gender diversity.
Then I consider historical figures and activists. Brenda Howard, the Mother of Pride. She’s such an important person in LGBTQ+ history, but I don’t feel a deep personal connection with her. She did amazing things that must not be forgotten, but I know so little about her or her views and beliefs.
When I think of my true bi+ role models, I think of those who have inspired me to learn more, to do more for the community around me, and to become an activist and—hopefully—a role model, myself. Jen Yockney, who has been running a bi group in Manchester (UK) for over 20 years, was one of the first of these. Around seven years ago I read one of her articles in Bi Community News and realised I had the power to stop complaining about there being no visible bi+ community around me, and do something about it.
I love seeing Marcus Morgan’s passion for activism at a BiCon workshop, in their online resource The Bisexual Index, and in their amazing drag persona, Prospero Acronym. Reading Robyn Ochs’s definition of bisexuality again and again in different resources shows me how one person’s use of inclusive language can spread like wildfire.
We have so many amazing bi+ activists alive today, still fighting for our community. These are my true role models: those who inspire me to stand up and fight with them, to raise awareness and visibility and to work to make inclusive spaces for other bi+ people.
Emily Metcalfe is a bi+ activist from Leeds, UK. For over six years she has served as chair of Leeds Bi Group, and more recently founded and runs Leeds LGBT+ Literature Festival.