Amy Andre

Bi Cities in the Twin Cities: Bisexuals on TV

Filed By Amy Andre | May 29, 2012 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Media, The Movement
Tags: bi activism, bisexual, bisexuality, mental health, News, suicide, television, transgender activism, visibility

Marge_and_Anita.JPGDid you know that there is a TV news show about bisexuality that has been on the air for 10 years? If you live outside of the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, you might not be aware of it, but thanks to the interweb, you can check it out and get involved!

It's called Bi Cities (because it features bisexuals in the Twin Cities, get it?), and this fall will mark the decade anniversary of the program.

I recently got a chance to speak with one of the hosts, Dr. Margaret Charmoli, about Bi Cities. Dr. Charmoli is a psychologist who has taught at Macalester College and the University of Minnesota. In addition, Dr. Charmoli has been a consultant to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on substance abuse treatment for LGBT communities. She is a former board of directors' member of NALGAP: The Association for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Addiction Professionals. (She's the one in the photo with dark hair.)

Her co-host is Anita L. Kozan, PhD, CCC, a speech and language pathologist whose doctoral work focused on care of the voice. She is a specialist in the development of the voice for persons who are transgender. Dr. Kozan's chapter on the singing voice in Voice and Communication Therapy for the Transgender/ Transsexual Client: A Comprehensive Clinical Guide has been recognized as the first of its kind. (She's the one in the photo with light hair.)

Amy: Tell me how you got involved with Bi Cities.

Margaret: Bill Burleson founded Bi Cities in the fall of 2002. He called me one night and said that he wanted to start a cable television show on bisexuality. He asked me if I wanted to host it. I said yes, and we filmed our first show in September 2002.

At the time, Anita Kozan and I were life partners. We talked about doing [the show] together and proposed that to Bill. He agreed.

Anita came up with the name Bi Cities as a take-off on Twin Cities. She and I co-hosted the show together until early 2005 at which point we alternated hosting it: she would host it one month and I did the next month.

In October 2007, Bill had contacted me and said that he felt a need to move on to other endeavors. I called Anita and we agreed that we would like to continue doing the show.

In the spring of 2010, we began airing on the internet via bicities.blip.tv.

Amy: What has been the most memorable broadcast and why?

Margaret: There have been many. For example, a young transgender person approached our floor manager Tom at a [mall] a few years ago. He asked if Tom was associated with Bi Cities. When Tom said "yes", the man said that our show had saved his life. He said that one night he had a gun to his head, ready to commit suicide. He happened to be watching television and our show came on. It featured a trans activist. He said when he heard that person's story, he knew he wasn't alone, and opted not to kill himself.

Another story occurred a couple of years ago. One of the first shows that went up on the internet was when we interviewed the organizers of BECAUSE, in order to showcase the conference. Our floor manager Tom [then] went to BECAUSE. He met a young woman from India. She said that she had traveled 3 days to come to BECAUSE. She had never met a bi person before and having seen Bi Cities, she opted to come to St. Paul. It is noteworthy that some people are put to death in India for being GLBT, so hers was a very compelling story as well.

Amy: Where do you see Bi Cities in another ten years?

Margaret: I hope that we are airing on more television stations and develop an even stronger presence on the web. Currently we are an all-volunteer crew. We are hoping to get some grants to help us promote the show. It would be fun to fly in guests to have a broader appeal to a larger audience. It would be fun to air nationally.

Amy: Have bi activists in other cities approached you with questions about how to replicate it?

Margaret: No, bi activists in other cities haven't approached us about how to replicate the show. We did have a workshop at BECAUSE a few years ago to let people know how they could do it. If someone approached me, I would probably tell them to learn what they can about their local cable access television stations, become members, take their classes, and start interviewing. They could watch our show if they wanted to get some ideas of how we work together. I would also encourage them to get a web presence because many cities are losing their cable television stations.

Amy: How have you seen Bi Cities - and the bi community - change over the time you've been involved with the show?

Margaret: We have been very lucky at Bi Cities. We have a loyal and dedicated crew who loves what they are doing and shares our mission of educating people about bisexuality and issues of relevance to the bi community. Also, more people are approaching us about being on the show now. That is really fun. In days gone by, Anita and I had to do a lot more work to get people on the show.

In regards to the bi community, it continues to grow. I think there are more social groups that people can get involved in and meet other bi folk. I think that more people are willing to claim a bi identity or whatever name they opt to call themselves when they are attracted to more than one gender. The larger GLBT community has also been more accepting and inclusive of us, although we still have a ways to go.


photo credit: Sophia Hantzes


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