Downtown celebrates for Bisexuality Day


Melissa Puryear

Emily Fisher poses for a picture after bisexuality seminar.

Melissa Puryear, Reporter

Sept. 23, 2017 marked the eighteenth anniversary of a global celebration known as Bisexuality Day. It coincides with Robyn Ochs birthday, who Emily Fisher, President of The Gay and Lesbian Center of Bakersfield, said is a major bisexual and bivisibility advocate . It is on this day that those who are bisexual can celebrate who they are, feel acknowledged, and stop erasure through education and celebration.

To celebrate this day, and to educate the community, The Gay and Lesbian Center of Bakersfield sponsored a workshop which covered topics that ranged from bisexuality, the differences between labels that are encountered in the LGBTQ community, the concept of erasure of the majority of the bisexual community, how to be a good ally, and how isolation affects those who are alone or who have not found a community they can belong to or identify with.

Not being recognized as being bisexual can lead to feelings of depression that can lead to mental health issues. Erasing this feeling and helping bisexual people begins with education at workshops like this, according to Fisher.

“It is very important to recognize bisexuality because it represents, as the best we can tell, about half of the LGBTQ community, but is often the least represented, the least recognized … there’s negative connotations for people who are bi, which prevents them from coming out,” Fisher said.

In fact, statistics seem to indicate this. “77 percent of gay men are out, 71 percent of lesbians, only 23 percent of bisexual people … that’s why celebrating bisexuality, raising awareness, getting the whole community to recognize bisexuality as a special day is important.”

Workshops like this serve as a means of informing and educating straight and gay people who want to understand the bisexual community and are interested in becoming an ally. Allies help to educate others so that it increases acceptance and decreases stigmas and judgments towards those who have a sexual orientation that differs from their own.

Fisher said, “There’s a lot of conversation around what is bisexuality and pansexuality, and there’s other labels like fluid, omnisexual, queer … there’s a lot of terms out there, and even within our own community we’ll argue about the difference between bisexuality and pansexuality …” It’s the reason that the center schedules workshops like these in order to help educate.

For those who are struggling with coming to terms with bisexuality, Fisher said, “You are not alone. The center is working really hard to provide that space to make it easier and it’s very common for bi people to either assume everyone’s lesbian like them or feel isolation or lost when they find out that that’s not necessarily really true. Isolation is terrible and leads to a lot of the issues the bi-community is facing. I would encourage anyone who is bi to seek out and find that community because it really helps to know that you are not alone and helps you to figure out who you are with other people who are similar.”

Jose Granados, 50, a man who identifies as being gay, and is volunteer for the center, agreed. He said, “The center helps a person to accept themselves and come to see that there’s nothing wrong with them … you come to that realization by talking to people who have gone through that journey, because it is a journey … the journey is individual and unique to you. That’s the key we need to all understand.”

Granados said that his friends who are gay don’t understand what it means to be bisexual so attending a workshop like this helps him understand the sexuality.

He also said, “We shouldn’t feel we need to judge others through our own experience. We create our lives by taking our own personal journey and making it the best journey possible.”

Recently the center was awarded over a million dollars in grant money from the state of California.

With this grant, the center hired staff and added a secondary location, The Annex on Mohawk Street, will begin sponsoring workshops, like Bi+ workshops, Trans workshops, and counseling services beginning in November.

Anyone who would like more information about the Center or The Annex, or would like to learn more about becoming a volunteer, counseling, and attending workshops can contact (661)843-7995 or stop by 90218th St, Bakersfield, CA 93301during business hours. Hours and information can also be found atthe center’s website