By Sharon Gonsalves
Then, for me, was 1985. I was 25 years old, living in Albany, NY, an angry lesbian separatist. While engineering for our local womyn’s music radio program I found myself attracted to the chief engineer at the station – a MAN! What’s a radical dyke to do?! I knew that if I followed my heart my social life would be in shambles.
Enter the Boston Bisexual Women’s Network. Somehow I got hold of their newsletter – maybe from one of the few ostracized bisexual women in Albany, maybe while passing through Boston on my way to a weekend in Provincetown. Regardless, the rest is history!
I attended a bi weekend retreat that summer and felt like I had found “My People.” I could be bisexual and still be a feminist and an activist. I moved to Boston in September 1985 and instantly had 700 (the size of the BBWN mailing list in those days) new friends, all totally accepting and many very vocal about our right to exist and be seen and heard.
I started going to newsletter mailing parties, bi brunches, organizing meetings and conferences. I joined a support group of former lesbians and we called ourselves “The Hasbians.” I even started writing articles about the bi experience and having them published in anthologies.
Those were exciting times and also difficult times. We were building a national and even international community around political and social issues surrounding bisexuality. We were elbowing our way into the gay and lesbian political arena and speaking out about the many models of relating that suited our individual needs: open relationships, polyamory, serial monogamy and even celibacy.
The AIDS crisis hit and bisexual men were seen as pariahs and blasted by the straight and gay media. We came together as outspoken advocates and practitioners of “safer sex” and, yes, we lost some friends.
We also made many more. Eventually LGBT became the norm and inclusivity was in. Today many high school and college campuses have Gay/Straight Alliances and more people have a place and people to go when issues of sexual and bisexual identity arise.
Kudos to Robyn Ochs and others for creating and sustaining a vibrant and long-lasting organization. May the Boston Bisexual Women’s Network go on and on and on until the need for support and community no longer exists. It sustained me for the 11 years that I lived in the Boston area and has helped me remain grounded in a bisexual identity while living someplace where no bi community exists. Thanks to all who participated THEN AND NOW!
Sharon lived in the Boston area from 1985-1996 and was very active in BBWN. She helped organize many events, and spoke and wrote about bisexual issues during that time. After living on Kauai, Hawaii for the past 16 years, she’s back in the area helping her aging parents.