Thoughts on Northampton Pride

Aug 1, 2011 | 2011 Summer - Faith and Spirit, Articles

By Johanna Bates

In June, I’ll have been out as bisexual for 21 years. I came out at 15, and it’s always felt like a best-fit descriptor for me. Not perfect, but to me, language is never perfect.

When I was in college at Brown University in the 1990s, I began seeking support for my identity as bi person. I came across Robyn Ochs, who at the time was teaching a class on bisexual identity at Tufts. I asked her to come speak on campus, and that helped start a campus group called BITE (BIs Talk and Eat) that continues to this day. Having her come speak was validating and powerful for me then, as it was for many others at my school who were exploring a bi identity.

I’ve lived in western Massachusetts for ten years now. I’m married to a man and we have a four-year-old son. Mostly, my sexuality is invisible, unless I talk about it. But I feel it as part of who I am every day of my life.

We moved out here, in part, because we wanted to live somewhere rural with a progressive, queer-friendly community. I went to Northampton Pride at first, but I wouldn’t see more than a handful of bisexuals there. There are certainly plenty of bi people, but not many who seem to feel like being visible is important to them. I stopped going for a while.

Some of the women (and one child) who attended the Bi Fabulous Brunch at Sarah’s before the march

We started going to Pride again after our son was born. But it wasn’t until this year that I finally connected with other bi people. My son was scared to march, but after he got over some initial anxiety, he walked the whole way next to me, while I helped hold Robyn’s grand marshal banner with her wife, Peg. It was an incredible day for me:  I felt visible, supported, with my child at my side, walking with Robyn who has fought for the inclusion of bi people for so many years. All of this, and I was home, too. I felt I had finally come full circle. Many thanks to Robyn and the BRC for coming out to the valley for Pride this year. I hope we’ll be marching visibly next year, too.

Johanna is a nonprofit technology consultant who lives in the wilds of western Massachusetts with her husband and their four-year-old son.

Photos for this article: Ellyn Ruthstrom

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