The "B" and the "T" in GLBT, the acronym for "gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered", are recent additions in the history of gay activism in the US.
Bisexuals, male and female, have struggled nationally and locally for acceptance not just in society at large but in the society of gays and lesbians. Though bisexual contingents appeared in the 1987 March on Washington, they were not recognized as a group. The 1980s were an important time for first attempts at organizing among bisexuals locally and nationally. Here in Washington, DC a core group of leaders organized a succession of groups focusing on a variety of expressions of bisexuality and a range of political and social foci. During the 1990s, groups formed, divided, and reformed. The 90s also saw the first organized expression of besexuality among persons of color.
As bisexuals pressed nationally for named inclusion in the gay and lesbian community so did local groups press for named inclusion in local Gay Pride celebrations. At the national level, the 1993 March on Washington was the first to include "bi" in its name (The word "bisexual" was considered too controversial. Locally, it was not until 1997 that Washington DC's Pride festival added "bisexual" to its name.
The timeline which follows is an initial attempt to define the parameters and significant events of local bi history. As a starting point, it is open to discussion, correction, expansion, and deletion.
|1978||Gay Married Men's Association organized January 10, 1978 with a meeting of 35 men in Bethesda. The group grew out of the ashes of the Cinema Follies fire (October 24, 1977) which claimed the lives of a number of married men. The group was the first outreach to bisexual men, married men with gay interests. GAMMA met for six years at St Alban's Episcopal Library. GAMMA organized support and established a network to assist gay married men in coming to terms with their sexual orientation in relation to their roles as husbands and fathers.|
|1985||Bi-Ways, a monthly support group for bisexual men and women organized in the early 80s. The group was led by Robin Margolis from September 1988. In March 1989 the group split.|
|1987||Gatherings of bisexuals before the 1987 March on Washington led to national and international bisexual organizing efforts.|
|1989||Some members of Bi-Ways formed the BiWomen’s and BiMen’s Network on March 25, 1989, with Robin Margolis as leader.. The group soon renamed itself the BiNetwork. BiNetwork functioned as a monthly support and social group for bisexual men and women, Jewish bisexuals, married bisexuals, and creative (writers, artists, etc) bisexuals. The group often met at the West End Library. Robin Margolis led BiNetwork until 1991.|
Ka'ahumanu and DC's Loraine Hutchins published a groundbreaking book on
Bi Any Other Name, providing philosophical underpinnings
for bisexual identity and activism.
Michael Beer and Bob Spiegel helped co-found a regular Tuesday Bi-friendly gathering. The gathering continued for a decade.
BiNetwork was renamed BiNetwork of DC under leadership of Debra Kolodny. The renaming and change of leadership followed disputes over national outreach.
Bisexual Centrist Alliance formed on November 6, 1991 under leadership of Robin Margolis and others working to network nationally with other bisexuals. BCA was one of the groups working to ensure inclusion of bisexuals and transgendered persons in the name and events of the annual DC Pride celebrations.
AMBi, the Alliance of Multi-Cultural Bisexuals and AMBUSH (the Alliance of Multi-cultural Bisexuals United to Stop Homophobia, Homelessness, Heterosexism, Helms, HIV and anything else We don’t Like Beginning with H) formed. Founders were Michael Beer, Andrea and Kelly Cookson, Carey Costello, Loraine Hutchins, Ibrahim Farajaje Jones, Karen Orlando, Katherin Golitzen, Debra Kolodny, Zawadi Lazarus, Pekka, Barry Said, Shannon Snead and Kristen Stunkel.
|1992||The Bi Jewish Women’s Group
organized as Beth Shekinah, the Jewish FeministWomen’s Spirituality
Study Group on February 27, 1992, and later became a havurah of the Jewish
Renewal movement. It was disbanded in 2006.
AMBi organized a regional bisexual conference at St. Thomas Church, “Embracing Diversity”, involving LGBT activists and allies from 10 states. Ibrahim Farajaje' Jones, a professor at Howard University Divinity School who also helped revive Howard's LGBT student group, was one of the keynote speakers.
|1993||AMBi organized DC’s
first Bi Visibility Day on February 14th. AMBi, The Bisexual
Resource Center of Boston and BiNet USA organized the National Conference
Celebrating Bisexuality at American University's Mary Graydon Center.
The conference drew 600 people in town for the 1993 National March on Washington.
Loraine Hutchins of Washington, DC was a keynote speaker at the national
George Washington University's
Marvin Center hosted a Bi Dance before the March on Washington.
The national march was the first to include bisexuals in its title and
to include a bisexual speaker, Lani Ka’ahumanu. AMBi closed down
in 1994. Out bisexual leader Lani Ka'ahumani was the first speaker
to address a national March on Washington.
|mid-90s (date uncertain)||By All Means Bi/BAMBI formed as a short lived political activist group starting in the early 90s. The group led pro-feminist protests at Hooters. One of the proposed slogans was "in your face, on your back, and between your toes". BAMBI moved to Baltimore and later disbanded.|
|1995||The Bisexual Centrist Alliance joined a coalition, the Holy War Committee, led by Jeffrey Pendleton to boycott the annual official Pride festiveal and to organize a separate Pride festival for bisexuals and transgendered persons in protest against the ‘invisibility’ of those groups in the annual DC Pride festival. The alternate Pride festival was held in Rock Creek Park.|
|1997||A March 4, 1997 meeting
with Whitman Walker Clinic’s Pride organizers led to renaming the festival
as “Capital Pride Festival: a Celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,
Transgendered Community and Friends".
Loraine Hutchins was named the first openly bisexual DC Pride Marshall.
|1998||May 13, 1998 the Bisexual Centrist Alliance reformed as the Bisexual Women’s Cultural Alliance. It ceased activities in 2000 (date uncertain).|
|1999||Bi Insurgence formed as a political action protest and education group led by Psyche Coderre and Jennifer Lindsay. Bi Insurgence began as a contingent protesting some of the Millennium March policies. Bi Insurgents organized a Celebrate Bisexuality Day on September 23, 2001. The group closed down in 2001.|
|late-90s (date uncertain)||Ibrahim Farajaje' Jones founded DC's first bi group for men of color, Moving Violations. The group focused on direct action around the AIDS crisis and was described as pro-feminist, mujerista, and womanist.|
|2000||Robin Margolis was named as an openly bisexual DC Pride parade marshall.|
|2002||DC Bi Women formed as a weekly social and support group led by Stefani Olsen who used publicity/ advertising methods to promote and grow the group. The group has an active mailing list of 500 and a website: www.dcbiwomen.org|
|2004||DC Bi Men’s Network formed as a monthly social and support group alternating meetings between VA and MD. Leaders are Tom Weaver and Matt LeGrant.|