Why Still Bi?

Jun 1, 2024 | 2024 Summer - More than One Letter

By Sheri, Sheri—a.k.a. Virtual Zoom Brunch Goddess

A couple of years ago, my oldest godchild (a high schooler at the time) came out to me about a crush of theirs. I asked, “Oh—are you bi like Tia Sheri?” “Oh, no,” they said (was that an eye roll I saw?), “I’m PANsexual.” Their mom (who had marched in Pride parades as a straight ally for the Seattle Bisexual Women’s Network for years) later asked me, “What is the difference between bisexual and pansexual?” I could give an accurate definition for each. However, the why of my holding tight to the B while my godchild clearly felt that was “old-fashioned” eluded me. Was I just 20 years behind the times?

Fast forward to October of 2023 and I wrote a message to the group of bi+ individuals from our monthly virtual brunches. What follows is that letter, edited and tweaked for publication.

Greetings, all,

I was thinking about our bi/pan discussion and generational influences on the struggle for bi+ visibility and bi+ identity. As the universe would have it, soon after that meeting there was a Radio Lab podcast on KUOW on this very topic. I am clearly a product of the movement for bi inclusion in the 1990’s during the height of the ‘born this way’ movement. I encourage all to listen to it: radiolab.org/podcast/born-way.

Why my queer self still holds tight to the B in my LGBTQ2SIAP+ family tree

During the summer of 1992, I had my first experience with a woman while backpacking overseas. I promptly panicked. I spent the next year trying to cope with the conflict between this and my fundamentalist religious upbringing. I even briefly tried to solve it by getting engaged. (Luckily, that fell through.) 

Living in Charlottesville, Virginia, I became friends with the first open lesbians I had ever met. In the spring of 1993, they took me to the March on Washington, DC. My future girlfriend even bought me a “straight, but not narrow” button I still have. In fact, it was on a trip to San Francisco that summer where I found the anthologies, Bi Any Other Name and Closer to Home. Those books saved my life. There were more letters! There were other people like me! B was more than one letter in a very short string, a temporary aberration! To me, it meant being seen and heard and part of a larger community—I felt I could at long last be folded into the chorus that sang “We Are Family”!

But there wasn’t any B in anything really, though Charlottesville did have several quite famous lesbians, including author Rita Mae Brown. A librarian and I had to start the first bi group in town ourselves. At the same moment in time, on the national level, the hunt was on for the “gay gene”—folks were pushing to change the frame from “lifestyle” to a way you were born. At the same time, the gay marriage movement was really hitting its stride in the courts. I faced a lot of challenges holding on to being bisexual.

I came out as bi to my mother. And she (weeping) said, “I believe now that god made some people (born this way) who just are not attracted to the opposite sex—but you like boys, so why are you not choosing boys?”

The Unitarian church (happily hosting the gay/lesbian Metropolitan Community Church which my girlfriend and I attended) kicked the bi group I had started out of renting their space. The minister felt compelled to read me the complaint letter that led to the church voting to boot us. The letter compared us to pedophiles and Nazis and said we promoted bestiality and were all promiscuous. This was clearly a bad choice we were making because we were not “born this way.”

My lesbian “friends” in Charlottesville said I was sleeping with the enemy and questioned my welcome on women’s land for that reason, because I wasn’t “born this way” and “had a choice.”

In 1995, I came to Seattle for my doctorate and was a teaching assistant in graduate school for Human Sexuality and Gender Studies. I kept challenging the current academic understanding. Advocating that while this “born this way” approach was helpful in making headway against the evangelical church view of homosexuality as a sin, it really kept bi women in the Basic Instinct insane violent stalker box.

I marched in a Pride parade for the first time in 1996 with the Seattle Bisexual Women’s Network. Dan Savage, popular sex advice columnist, was emcee for the parade. At the time, he did not believe bi men existed at all, and announced our group this way: “Here comes the Seattle Bisexual Women’s Network—they will sleep with anybody!” I guess we didn’t count as really queer?

I didn’t participate actively in the gay marriage campaign, because I was in a triad wherein no one was considering marriage ever because it would make our relationship bigamy and prosecutable.

For over 15 years, I was partnered with a man (not married) and paid thousands of dollars for health insurance so I could attempt to not “pass” and not access heterosexual privilege.

In the summer of 2022, I was attacked in a work meeting for identifying as bi/queer. And I faced pushback from folks who were fine with lesbians at work.

So why, three decades later, am I still coming out as bi as well as queer?

Why have I been managing the Zoom hosting for the monthly virtual brunches for three years and counting?

Why do I still hold tight to the BI? 

Because the BI is the Basket that holds my Identity and my herstory.


Sheri—a.k.a. Virtual Zoom Brunch Goddess

Sheri—a.k.a. Virtual Zoom Brunch Goddess, is a cisgender bisexual/queer woman in her mid-late fifties living in Seattle with her partner. She loves gardening, supporting pollinators, being out in nature, reading sci-fi and fantasy, going to farmers markets, and crocheting. She participates regularly in a queer stitching group both virtually and in person.

About this photo: Prompted by the “Crochet is Inspiring” article in BWQ’s Fall 2023 issue, Sheri decided to make a shawl with more pastel bi flag colors. In this photo she is “reading” that article, while her pink yarn is being wound. (The blue and purple yarn is already wound and on the table.) She made the shirt with the womxn of the Charlottesville Bisexual Women’s Support Network to wear to the local Women’s Music Festival. She still feels there are no simple answers.

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