The Hirschman sisters - a sororal trio that form an epicenter for the bi community in San Francisco - are the beauty and the brains behind SF's annual Bi-BQ. The Bi-BQ takes place in the city's famous Dolores Park, which is the same location as the Dyke March's annual pre-march gathering, but the Bi-BQ is not on the same day. These three sisters, all of whom are coincidentally out bisexuals, have created a new tradition for San Fran's bi folks and our allies. This June event is the bi meet-and-greet of the season. I caught up with two of the Hirschmans, Allegra and April, to learn more about how sisters are doing it for themselves.
First, here's a little info about each of them. Allegra Hirschman is a Bay Area born and raised filmmaker, researcher, and dancer, among other things. She is currently fighting gender stereotyping by designing and screen-printing baby clothes for queer and progressive parents. She has written and directed many shorts films including Shafted (2009 co-directed by April Hirschman) and T4-2 (2010 co-directed by Shellie Citron), and is currently completing a play titled, "Shame: A Musical about Pride" which will be produced next summer.
April Faith Hirschman has been a life coach for the past 14 years using a transformational method of coaching she created called Symbolic Design, which focuses on taking positive action towards goals, self-defining success, and total self acceptance. She has written and directed numerous short films, all of which have bisexual themes and use humor to promote acceptance. Her first project, BLOOD AND MONKEY, which was about Frida Kahlo, won the Best Short Film category at San Francisco's Videofest. Her next films, Shady Bi (2008), Shafted (2009), and Reverse Cowgirl (2011) have all screened in LGBT film festivals around the world.
Interview after the break.
Amy: When and how did the Bi-BQ tradition start? How did you think of the idea?
Allegra: Like so many great ideas, Bi-BQ actually began as a joke or maybe even a little bit of threat/dare. Our friend group was planning our annual pride festivities, something that starts in the winter months, and I brought up the fact that in all of the days (Trans March, Dyke March, etc) there is nothing focused on the B - no bisexual pride. As one can imagine, the group erupted with playful but still offensive remarks about whether or not bisexuals have pride, [whether bisexuals] exist, etc. At that moment, I declared that I would start a bisexual pride event and show them all that this was not only possible, but in demand. I immediately got to planning with my bi partner-in-crime and sister. She suggested we contact you [Amy Andre], notorious bisexual mover and shaker [author note: completely unsolicited description of me]. We decided to make the event the same day as Bi Request, the Frameline bisexual short film program that was curated by Amy until she passed the torch to us Hirschman Sisters in 2010.
Amy: What is a Bi-BQ?
Allegra: [It's] an informal gathering of Bisexuals, Queers, and Allies enjoying delicious food and jell-o shots, and meeting new people. Bi-BQ is now an annual event in its fifth year, taking place the humpday before SF Pride. Also, BBQs are the most bisexual kind of a picnic because nobody wants to choose between hot dogs and hamburgers - or not-dogs and gardenburgers - and they don't have to. Bi-BQs in the past have had line dance classes, bi trivia contests, ice-breakers, live music, and an amazing hot dog cart!
Amy: How have the San Francisco Bi-BQs changed over time?
Allegra: From being basically an extension of a friend group, Bi-BQ has grown every year. Last year we were honored to actually get sponsorship from Carol Queen at the Center for Sex and Culture. This meant better food, awesome prizes for our bi trivia contest, and a wonderful speech from everyone's favorite sexologist. I was particularly proud of last year's theme, "Bi-winning," - a play on Charlie Sheen's bi-polar rants - that managed to capture both the humor and the mission of Bi-BQ: to promote visibility and show that bisexuals can be proud, active members of the LGBTQ community without having to "pass."
Amy: How can folks start a Bi-BQ in their city?
Allegra: The amazing thing about a Bi-BQ is that you can start one tomorrow in your backyard. But I recommend doing one around your local pride events. You can build on the momentum and create a lasting tradition.
Amy: What does the future hold for the Bi-BQ movement?
Allegra: I like thinking of it as a movement. I hope it will keep growing and expanding. The future's so Bi - we gotta wear shades!