Student Roundtable Celebrates Bisexuality

Photo by Carlie Viemann

Celebrate Bisexuality Day is observed on Sept. 23 by members of the bisexual community and their supporters. It is a day to recognize and celebrate all facets of bisexuality: its history, community and culture. In honor of the day, the Women's Center hosted a roundtable discussion about issues facing the bisexual community.

The roundtable discussion was initially supposed to be held in the Women’s Center, but due to an exceptionally large turnout, it had to be moved to a larger room in the H-wing to accommodate everyone in attendance. The discussion was moderated by Yovanna Garcia, Queer Peer Services coordinator, who led the group through a series of topics and issues that are important to everyone in the LGBT community, and specifically the bisexual community. Some of the topics included personal definitions of what it means to be bisexual, personal experiences of being discriminated against due to one’s sexuality and the lack of representation of bisexuality in American media.

When asked why we should observe Celebrate Bisexuality Day, Garcia, the viewpoints editor for the Ramapo News, stated that it is “important to celebrate it because there is still so much negative representation and stigma about bisexuals within and outside of the LGBTQ+ community.”

While 2015 has been an exceptional year for the LGBT community in the United States, with the highlight, of course, being the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which ruled that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples, challenges persist. Garcia noted that gays and bisexuals still suffer from workplace discrimination, and that no federal law currently exists that protects the rights of LGBT workers. In 29 of 50 states there is no protection for sexual orientation, meaning that it is entirely legal for employers to fire an employee just because of their sexual orientation.

Openly gay congressman David Cicilline of Rhode Island perfectly summed up the current state of LGBT rights in the workplace by saying, “Today in most states, an LGBT person can get married on Saturday, post photos of their wedding on Sunday and get fired from their job on Monday.”

A large portion of the event also focused on the lack of bisexual visibility in American television. Many of the student attendees were upset that bisexuality is not portrayed very often in many TV shows, and even when a bisexual character is present, it is not expressly stated that the character is bisexual.

Garcia believes this is due to a wrongful stigma that continues to be attached to bisexuals, while others in the discussion hypothesized that it is because the executives and directors, who fund and create the show, are in large part straight and only televise behavior they are accustomed to.

Overall, many people in attendance believed the event was a success.

When asked afterward what he thought about the discussion, Kyle Ferlita said, “It was a great time for bisexuals to be themselves without judgment from outside their community.”