The population of people who identify as bisexual + is growing rapidly, especially among young people, and is the largest subset of the LGBTQIA + community.
“Yet there is still so much misinformation and stereotypes about bi + people,” said Robyn Ochs.
Ochs, educator, speaker, grassroots activist and editor of “Bi Women Quarterly” was a speaker earlier this month at an event hosted by Jackie Thornton for Scituate PRIDE and held at the First Trinitarian Congregational Church of Scituate.
“It’s my passion,” said Ochs, who has spoken in 49 US states and 17 other countries. “I believe the educational work I do makes a difference. “
Additionally, Ochs has taught as an adjunct instructor at the university level and served for 12 years on the board of directors of MassEquity, a statewide LGBTQIA + organization. She also served for three years on the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQIA + Youth.
Her program, “Getting Bi: Bisexuality 101” focused on the experiences of people who identify as bi + – bisexual, pansexual, queer, etc.,
“We look at some data, we explore its stereotypes and origins, which includes our tendency to oversimplify complex reality by thinking in binary – black / white, Democrat / Republican, left / right, our cultural ambivalence about sexuality. , our lack of access to good information, etc. She said.
A native of New York who has lived her entire adult life in the Boston area, Ochs became bisexual in 1976, at a time she called “BG” – before Google.
“Little information was available and the silence was suffocating,” she said. “It took me several years to achieve a place of comfort with my identity, but once I did, I worked with others to create resources and change the conversation.”
It was an exciting and challenging time, she said, and the Boston area has long been a hub for this type of activism.
“I co-founded in 1983 the Boston Bisexual Women’s Network and the Bi Women Quarterly, as well as the Bisexual Resource Center, founded in 1985. All of these organizations are based in Boston.
It’s important to clarify what it means to identify as bisexual, Ochs said.
“I call myself bisexual because I recognize in myself the potential to be attracted – romantically or sexually – to people of more than one gender, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree. In my case, my wife and I are in season 24 of our rom-com. And I’m still bisexual. For me, identifying as bi is a way of owning all that I am and not being defined by a specific relationship or a specific period of time.
While Ochs doesn’t think everyone is bisexual, she does think a lot more people are bisexual than most people realize.
“More and more people identify as bi + and choose to be visible,” she said.
Still, bisexuals are significantly less likely to date than lesbians or gays, Ochs said.
“If we have a different-sex partner, others will assume we are heterosexual. And if we have a same sex partner, we are assumed by others to be lesbian or gay. The misconception that our identities are determined by our current relationship, and the stereotype that bisexuality is a phase of transition, is a challenge for people with bi +. Contrary to the experience of homosexuals or straight people, to be “out” as a bisexual, you have to tell people. And then tell them again, and again, and again.
Ochs points out that there is research that shows the general public is more comfortable with lesbians and gays than with bisexuals.
“I think people like it to be simple and it’s easier for straight guys to imagine lesbians and gays as ‘just like us but with same sex partners’. The idea of bisexuality is seen as unsettling.
Still, bi + people can absolutely have healthy, happy relationships, Ochs said.
” I am living proof. And I have a lot of bi-identified friends who are in happy, healthy relationships.
It’s up to everyone to decide if and when to go out, Ochs added.
“That said, those of us who are ready to tell our stories and be visible can serve as educators, beacons and role models for others. In addition, the silence can be suffocating. My hope is that people leave my program with good information and that the bi + people who participated in it feel validated and empowered.
Ochs expressed his gratitude to Thornton for his organizational work with Scituate PRIDE, to the First Trinitarian Congregational Church for hosting the event and to the people who attended.
“We had an incredible age gap which made for a great conversation,” she said. “It was my first in-person speaking in 15 months, and what moved me the most – and it moved me a lot – was the sound of a room full of people laughing together. I hadn’t heard this sound for so long.
For more information visit robynochs.com or on Twitter @robynochs
Follow Ruth Thompson on Twitter @sciuateruth