International LGBT activist and JP resident Robyn Ochs has co-edited an anthology documenting the experience of men who are bisexual or identify with the “middle sexualities” between gay and straight.
“Both bi erasure and anti-queer sentiment continue to take a toll on folks who identify in the middle sexualities,” Ochs, who identifies as bi, told the Gazette last week.
“Erasure” is the term used when a bisexual, pansexual or fluid person is not recognized as such, but is instead assumed to be gay or straight, depending on circumstances.
“There are few resources available and bi voices—particularly the voices of bisexual men—are largely unheard,” Ochs said.
“Recognize: The Voices of Bisexual Men: An Anthology” is a collection of short fiction, poetry, nonfiction, personal and critical essays, along with visual art. It features the voices and stories of 61 cisgender and transgender bisexual, pansexual, polysexual and fluid men from the United States, Canada, Chile, India, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Co-edited with Brooklyn resident H. Sharif Williams, Ochs said the book covers a “beautiful range of experience and diversities.”
According to Ochs, recent research shows that people with non-binary sexual orientations—people who do not identify as gay or straight— are “a population under stress,” she said, “and this is especially true for non-monosexual men of color who live at the intersection of multiple oppressions.”
“My co-editor and I have met too many bisexual men who feel isolated and unsupported and this book is an attempt to address an urgent need,” she said. “This book allows bi men to speak for themselves.”
Talking about how even other non-heterosexuals can oppress people of non-binary sexualities—well-known advice columnist Dan Savage, a gay man, has previously said that being bi is a phase on the way to coming out as gay—Ochs said, “I personally believe that any identity can be a phase.”
“As we go through life we learn more about ourselves and about who we are, and if someone comes to a place in their journey where they decide that a different label is a better fit, we should respect that,” she said. “Some people identify as bi before identifying as gay or lesbian. Some people identify as gay or lesbian before identifying as bi. I personally went through a straight phase before I came to a bisexual identity where, almost 40 years later, I remain.”
Ochs is a prominent speaker and author on bisexuality and other gender and orientation themes. She has edited several other books, including the 2009 anthology “Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World.”
Ochs said she hopes JP neighbors will realize that Boston is a center for bi organizing in the United States. Several events aimed at bisexuals and other people on the LGBT spectrum are held frequently in JP and Roslindale. More information is available at biresource.net and biwomenboston.org.
“Recognize” can be purchased from the Bisexual Resource Center online at biresource.net and from Papercuts JP at 5 Green St.