What this desk could use is a bit more bisexuality

Jun 19, 2021 | 2020 Fall - Out at Work

By Helen Parshall

The first thing I added to the desk at my new job this year, before COVID-19 closed our physical office space, was a bi pride flag.

It was held up with tape and rubber bands, but it was a visible sign to anyone walking down the hall as a sign that a bisexual sits here.

After working at a large LGBTQ non-profit when coming out, it has become incredibly important to me to interrupt preconceived notions of who I am in progressive spaces. Sometimes it looks like a small lapel pin, while other times it involves a bit more of an in-your-face vibe.

I was forced to learn to be aggressive in how I claimed my bisexual identity. By coming into my professional career in such a monosexual space like the Human Rights Campaign, I learned very quickly that bisexual activists often have to fight and claw for our seat at the larger LGBTQ movement table.

And then once we’ve made it to the table, we’re acutely aware that folks will pull that seat out from under us at any time.

Little tools like lapel pins or flags are visual reminders when people make harmful jokes in the workplace—or worse, they just forget to mention my community at all. It’s something I can point to when calling folks in to remind them that I am here and still very much part of the conversation of what it means to be queer.

That first day of my new job, in January, one of the first things that a co-worker said when they walked over to introduce themselves to me was they liked my bi flag, and that they had thought about bringing their pan flag to the office but it was too big to fit on the wall.

I breathed a sigh of relief I didn’t know I was holding.

Now, as I settle into working from home, my pride backdrop looks a little bit different without the tape, but it’s incredibly important for me to be out to my co-workers. They might not know it yet, but we’re absolutely going to be celebrating Bi Visibility Day for the first time in our organization’s Twitter-history, come September.

A self-described “professional bisexual,” Helen Parshall is an avid writer and passionate social justice advocate, who uses digital media to bring visibility to marginalized communities. When not joining her housemates at a rally in D.C., Helen can be found reading a book or watching Doctor Who curled up with one of the dogs in her life.

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