its called bisexual, not “and everything inbetween”

*UPDATED – see below for the continuing conversation

I have signed on (yes, some call it slack-tivism) with the organization All Out and the work they are doing to stop what is happening in Uganda. If you don’t know about the “kill the gays” bill, please come out from under your rock and do some googling. I don’t know much about All Out, other than their viral marketing seems to be going well, and I appreciate their video and message. As a matter of fact, you would have gotten this message from me through facebook or email, except for one thing.

Now dear reader, you may know about me or remember perhaps: I think language matters. Words, matter. So when I read what they suggested I say to you to get you to sign on, I had to stop and write them a note, hopefully received in the spirit of kindness it is offered. Here’s what they suggested I send you:

Dear Friend,
All Out is bringing together people of every identity – lesbian, gay, straight, transgender and all that’s between and beyond [emphasis mine]- to build a world in which everyone can live freely and be embraced for who they are.

I believe that equality is inevitable.  But we all need to do our part to make that shift happen in 5 years, not 25. All Out just made an important video that tells the story – check it out and join the movement:
http://www.AllOut.org

and my response:

Dear All Out,

I am an openly bisexual woman, who just learned about your organization through social media and the call to stop what is happening in Uganda. I am more than inclined to sign up / be a part of this movement; I loved the youtube. However, your email suggestion to pass along to friends is so disappointing. You suggest:

“Dear Friend,
All Out is bringing together people of every identity – lesbian, gay, straight, transgender and all that’s   between and beyond – to build a world in which everyone can live freely and be embraced for who they are.”

I am not “all that’s inbetween.” I am the B in LGBTQ. My voice is worth mentioning.

Will you please consider changing this?

Gratefully,

Rachel Swan

What do you think?

*UPDATED
Grateful for the dialog, here is what I have heard back from All Out. And, again, my response.

Thanks so much for reaching out with your feedback, it’s really appreciated.
Just to give you a little behind the scenes, I think we chose this language because we wanted to be extremely inclusive of all identities (such as queer, travesti, third gender, bi, etc) thus the “between and beyond”. Especially because we are a global organization working with people around the world and there is a very broad and diverse nomenclature around how people describe their sexual diversity, and many of those descriptions aren’t in much use in the US or the western world, but they are also equally as valid and legitimate as some of the words we’ve developed in the English language.

As a queer woman myself, I definitely understand your concerns so I will bring this up with the team, thanks again for reaching out!

and my response:

Thank you for your note. I really appreciate it.

All Out says “All Out is a new campaign organization mobilizing online and on the ground, accelerating the move toward full equality for LGBT people around the world.”
and
“All Out is bringing together people of every identity – lesbian, gay, straight, transgender and all that’s between and beyond [emphasis mine]- to build a world in which everyone can live freely and be embraced for who they are.”
My question is about specifically not including–like you did with gay, lesbian, transgender–bisexual in your suggested email follow up.

I am not sure how taking out the word bisexual makes your position statement extremely inclusive; actually I see it being rather exclusive–specifically excluding who is otherwise normally visible, spelled out, in LGBT. Part of the persecution of the bisexual identity is that it is categorized as “in between” and is not its own identity. What bisexuals face in discrimination, is exactly what the message does.

I do so appreciate your sharing with your team, and your consideration of the request to give name and voice back to the B in LGBT.

Thank you for the conversation.

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4 thoughts on “its called bisexual, not “and everything inbetween”

  1. I know that myself and other “G’s” and sometimes the “L’s” and “T’s” forget the “B’s,” whether that be unintentional or not. That inclusivity is one of my growing edges. A friend who is bi recently sent me a report called “Bisexual Invisibility” from the San Francisco Human Rights Commission’s LGBT Advisory committee, which is really good and available at their website: http://sf-hrc.org. You might forward it on to the folks at All Out if it would be helpful to your conversation with them.

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