Amy Andre

Brunch Is So Bi: Activism Over Easy

Filed By Amy Andre | January 09, 2012 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, The Movement
Tags: bisexual foodies, brunch, community building, economic policy, straight allies

brunch2.jpgIf you think about it, brunch is a very bi meal. It's not breakfast or lunch, but it combines some of the best elements of both - without making you choose a side! Pancakes? Omelet? At brunch, you can have both.

Lately, I've been getting questions from people interested in doing bi activism. Folks want to know where to begin. My suggestion is: why not start with a meal? Specifically, a bi brunch!

Over the years I've been a bi activist, I've had many people - too many people - tell me that I'm the first other bisexual they've ever met. What? These are adults talking, adults who are active in their LG(b)T community organizations. But, because many of us don't wear our bisexuality on our sleeves, and because bisexuality is considered invisible in so many ways, we just don't see each other.

I've written about bi invisibility and mono-normativity before, so I won't go into it again. But, let's start from the premise that we bisexuals are often invisible to one another. Put out a call for folks to gather for a bi brunch, and you can single-handedly change things.

Gathering like-minded others together for a weekly or monthly meal is a great way to build community, which is the cornerstone of activism. In the bi population in particular, where people can feel especially isolated and therefore vulnerable, creating bi community can be a game-changer and even a life-saver. Yes, a life-saver. Given that isolation can correlate with depression and even suicide ideation, both of which are all too common among bisexual people, you should never underestimate the healing power of a shared meal.

Bi brunches already exist in places like San Francisco and Toronto, to name a few. San Francisco's bi brunch is hosted by the Bay Area Bisexual Network (BABN), and the Toronto Bisexual Network has been coordinating brunches since the late '90s, as I learned yesterday when I attended one! A quick Google search of your area will let you know if there is one near you. If there is, go to it. If not, organize one. Here's how:

Pick a venue that is LGBT-friendly, because you might need to put a sign on your table and/or tell your waitperson to direct bisexual traffic to the area. If you think that attendees might prefer anonymity or some degree of closeted-ness, at least at first, it's a good idea to give the brunch an innocuous name, like Brunch Intensive (or BI, for short).

Also, be sure to pick a restaurant that is as affordable as possible, and don't forget to request separate checks. Research suggests that bisexuals make less than monosexuals (gays, lesbians, and straights), and, in this economy, everyone's wallet is thin. Separate checks enable people to just pay for what they got, rather than having to fund any portion of someone else's meal. And a low-cost restaurant means that more people can attend.

If you live in a particularly economically-challenged area, consider having a potluck at a park instead. Suggest that everyone bring a brunch-y dish to share, and put yourself in charge of bringing plates, napkins, cutlery, and cups - because those are the four things that people always forget to bring to potlucks!

Advertise the event through your local LGBT community center. But keep in mind that, unless that community center is known as particularly bi-inclusive, bi folks in your area might not visit the center or its website. Try to figure out where the bisexuals are, and go to them to draw them in.

Don't know where the bisexuals are? Well, where are you? There may be others in the very same spot, such as: working in LGBT nonprofit organizations, volunteering at Pride, supporting students in their school by starting a GSA, etc. Look around, be out, and talk about what you're trying to create. Word will get around.

Bi brunch can also be a very "if you build it, they will come" affair. Don't get discouraged if attendance is low for the first month or even the first year. Eventually, enough people will hear about it, and stop by to check it out.

Bi brunch shouldn't just be for bisexuals, but also for our very lovely, and much appreciated, allies. One of the first bi brunches I ever attended was over a decade ago in San Francisco. A female couple at the brunch talked at length about their experiences as activists for the bi community. It wasn't until the end of the brunch that I found out that only one of the women was bi; her partner was a lesbian. "And a big ally," the bi woman added. It was touching to see an example of someone who wasn't bi doing so much for our community.

Happy brunching, everyone! Please post a comment sharing your bi brunch experience.

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