Guest Post: performing bisexuality for others

This month’s guest post was written by Julia Cowderoy.

When I was 19 I posted a status on Facebook that said “when people ask me about my sexuality, I’m just going to start saying my thirst knows no bounds’. While that’s obviously hilarious I understand now that I was using humour as a faux shield against any kind of scrutiny (real or imagined). During this time I felt I had to “prove” my bisexuality in order for it to be valid. The irony of writing an essay to prove that I don’t have to prove anything is not lost on me, but just bear with me. 

I’ve realized that not feeling “queer enough” is a common theme within the bisexual community. Why is that? I’ve noticed that bisexual men are assumed to be gay, whereas bisexual women are painted with a broad brush as straight girls who drunkenly make-out with their friends for the enjoyment of their googly-eyed yokel boyfriends. In both instances, the attraction of men is the underlying motivation for expressions of sexuality.  

While I can’t wholly speak to the experiences of bisexual men, I will say that I’ve had straight men view my sexuality as a performance for their pleasure. (“Performance” is a useful word because it implies we are actors and bisexuality needs to look a certain way in order for it to be valid.) While trying to come to terms with my own sexuality I was influenced more by external sources than I understood at the time. 

I’ve had people in my life question my sexuality because I’ve never dated a woman, and recently my best friend even told me I was “90% into men”. She didn’t mean this maliciously; I’ve only dated men, so the judgement was based more on how I’ve presented than how I feel. The reality is that my attraction to people is more fluid rather than a rigid percentage. This interaction sent me into an anxiety spiral wondering if I was just cosplaying as a bisexual person this entire time.

When I volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters as a peer mentor, I encouraged conversations about gender and sexuality. I marvelled at how accepting much of this younger generation is of sexuality and how they realize it isn’t static and doesn’t need to appear a certain way to be real. When I was that age I thought sexuality was something predetermined and permanent, and as such I had a lot of confusion surrounding my attraction to women since I considered myself straight. 

I’ve come a long way in understanding my sexuality, but there is still work to be done. I hope as a society we can come to a place of understanding that sexuality and gender are more complex than scientific definitions. And, like any sexuality, bisexuality isn’t some hypothesis that needs to be tested, experimented, cross-examined and held to rigorous scientific standards — it simply exists.

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11th Anniversary of the Grand River Rainbow Historical Project

Monday, March 14 is the 11th Anniversary of the founding of the Grand River Rainbow Historical Project.  Here is some background about this online resource.

Since 1971, Jim Parrott (a professional librarian) has been collecting documents like newsletters, posters, event programmes, etc. that were produced by local rainbow organizations or community members for the rainbow communities in Waterloo-Wellington.   After repeated requests from community leaders to create a public online archive of these documents, Jim set up the Grand River Rainbow Historical Project on March 14, 2011.  Because there were many gaps in his personal collection of documents, Jim obtained copyright permissions to digitize and publicize the collections of several Waterloo-Wellington organizations, including GLOW, Guelph Queer Equality, Rainbow Chorus of Waterloo-Wellington, tri-Pride Community Association, Rainbow Reels Film Festival – and similarly for some publications produced by individuals; examples include Pink Triangle Community Calendar (PTCC) [1989-1996], Outlook Magazine [1995-1998], and The Voice [1998-2003] (not yet digitized).

The central feature is the digital Library which you can find here.  The Project includes other useful resources as well, like the Chronology of Events near the bottom of the top page of the Project.  

Jim had to put most work on the Historical Project on hold after he took on the role of SPECTRUM’s Executive Director in 2014.  Now that he has stepped back from that position for a full year, he is keen to see further work proceed in documenting the history of our community.  We expect 2022 to be a year of significant development.  Part of that work will be done in conjunction with a student who is joining SPECTRUM for a placement of a couple of months,  We are also working to find additional support for this work over the summer.  Look for announcements about further developments.

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SPECTRUM News, Volunteers

Thank You, Dianne!

Dianne Roedding, a founding member of SPECTRUM’s Aging With Pride committee, recently stepped down from the committee after nine years of service. A retired public health nurse who lives in Kitchener, Dianne was integral in Aging With Pride’s success in helping to educate facilities who treat and house seniors on issues particular to our community. 

Aging With Pride was established in 2013 to address the needs of aging members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community. In 2017, Aging With Pride received a $25,000 New Horizons for Seniors grant from the government of Canada which enabled the committee to create and implement various programs with facilities in Waterloo Region. As part of this, Dianne visited and met with many senior centres and retirement communities and helped to deliver many of these programs. Some of these programs included educational presentations, hosting dinners, and even helping to host drag shows performed at local retirement homes.

Recently, Dianne represented SPECTRUM as a member of the RNAO Best Practice Guidelines Expert Panel to develop the RNAO Best Practice Guidelines for Promoting 2SLGBTQI+ Helath Equity. You can read that report here.

SPECTRUM would like to thank Dianne for her tireless service to her community. Not only as a member of SPECTRUM and Aging With Pride, but also in her career in public health nursing.

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