By Helen Parshall
The first thing I added to the desk at my new job this year,
before COVID-19 closed our physical office space, was a
bi pride flag.
It was held up with tape and rubber bands, but it was a
visible sign to anyone walking down the hall as a sign that
a bisexual sits here.
After working at a large LGBTQ non-profit when coming
out, it has become incredibly important to me to interrupt
preconceived notions of who I am in progressive spaces.
Sometimes it looks like a small lapel pin, while other times
it involves a bit more of an in-your-face vibe.
I was forced to learn to be aggressive in how I claimed my
bisexual identity. By coming into my professional career in
such a monosexual space like the Human Rights Campaign,
I learned very quickly that bisexual activists often have to
fight and claw for our seat at the larger LGBTQ movement
And then once we’ve made it to the table, we’re acutely aware
that folks will pull that seat out from under us at any time.
Little tools like lapel pins or flags are visual reminders when
people make harmful jokes in the workplace—or worse, they
just forget to mention my community at all. It’s something
I can point to when calling folks in to remind them that I
am here and still very much part of the conversation of what
it means to be queer.
That first day of my new job, in January, one of the first
things that a co-worker said when they walked over to
introduce themselves to me was they liked my bi flag, and
that they had thought about bringing their pan flag to the
office but it was too big to fit on the wall.
I breathed a sigh of relief I didn’t know I was holding.
Now, as I settle into working from home, my pride backdrop
looks a little bit different without the tape, but it’s incredibly
important for me to be out to my co-workers. They might
not know it yet, but we’re absolutely going to be celebrating Bi Visibility Day for the first time in our organization’s
Twitter-history, come September.
A self-described “professional bisexual,” Helen Parshall is an avid
writer and passionate social justice advocate, who uses digital
media to bring visibility to marginalized communities. When not
joining her housemates at a rally in D.C., Helen can be found
reading a book or watching Doctor Who curled up with one of
the dogs in her life.