The Bisexual Organizing Project had a fabulous Twin Cities Pride weekend this year, if we do say so ourselves.
The Margaret Cho Effect
It started off with a bang on Thursday, June 26 with an official Pride performance by Margaret Cho at Orchestra Hall. It was exciting enough that the official Twin Cities Pride organization selected an out bisexual, queer, sex-positive, and brilliant woman as the official kickoff for the weekend.
Then, much to the astonishment of those of us who were fortunate enough to be there, Cho came on stage flourishing a big, bisexual flag! Then, she talked specifically about the Bisexual Organizing Project, not just at the beginning, but repeatedly throughout the entire show!
It was all the doing of BOP Co-Chair Lou Hoffman, who describes it thus:
"I put together a gift bag and left it at the stage door for Margaret Cho. She came on stage CARRYING THE BI FLAG! She must have referred to the Bisexual Organizing Project-BOP AT LEAST 20 TIMES!.OMG OMG OMG!"
As you can tell, it was incredibly exciting to hear the name "Bisexual Organizing Project" said so many times at such a high profile event. Cho also talked openly about her experiences as a bisexual woman within lesbian and gay communities in very thoughtful (and hilariously funny) ways. What a great night!
Pride Festival in the Park
On Saturday morning, we set up the BOP booth at the Twin Cities Pride Festival in Loring Park. Despite the massive thunderstorms that caused us to close up shop mid-afternoon on Saturday, during our two days at the booth BOP board members and volunteers talked to many hundreds of people. We gave away over 400 copies of our brand new BOP brochure, passed out many hundreds of Bi Pride, Bi Ally, and other stickers, talked up the social events coming up in July, and sold Bi Pride merchandise. So many folks thanked us for being there, for providing a visible presence for bisexual, pan, fluid, queer, and non-monosexual people. And lots of people mentioned hearing about us at the Margaret Cho show!
#BiStoriesMatter: The Bi+ Story Project
The Bisexual Organizing Project launched the Bi+ Story Project full force at Pride. Around 133 people completed surveys, and most of those people shared their stories in the new Bi+Story booth (pictured above). Again, many people we talked to expressed gratitude for the opportunities to share their stories as bisexual, pan, fluid, non-monosexual, or queer people. Bi+ Story Project leader Mary Hoelscher reports:
"The most common response folks had after leaving the booth was, "it's hot in there!" The second must common response was, "I am so glad you are doing this!" And, "that was so cool!"
The Bi+ Story Project is building a trove of stories and experiences to improve bi+ visibility and contribute to greater understanding of the resiliency and needs of bi+ identified people. Look for the Bi+ Story Project booth this summer at Pride festivals throughout Minnesota and the Upper Midwest so that you can share your Bi+ story.
The Ashley Rukes Pride Parade
Following the torrential rains on Saturday, Sunday morning was just gorgeous for the parade. Friends old and new helped us carry the 45-foot-long bisexual flag. [ETA: The big bi flag was loaned to us by the American Institute of Bisexuality. Thanks, AIB!] We gave out 90 BOP t-shirts and many folks joined us en route. BOP Chair Camille Holthaus says,
"Here's my strongest memory of TC Pride 2014: A number of times during the parade we came to a section of spectators who would cheer and yell for us so much that it was like walking in a tunnel of sound. It was an amazing experience."
Another BOP member, Liz Byron, shares this story:
"I loved ALL of Pride, but my very favourite moment was helping carry the bi pride flag, and having my mother (who, by the way, has severe arthritis. AND came to visit from Manitoba to celebrate Pride with me and my spouse) run out of the watching crowd to come walk with me and help carry the flag, as the crowds cheered at us. I cried behind my big sunglasses!"
And another story from Tanya Bylington:
"There were many great things for me at pride this year. I was able to march with my wife and kids as a family for the first time this year. I was able to talk to one of my students about his experience going to a school without a GSA. I was able to tell him that I supported him and told him to tell his friends that are still at the school that I support them too. Unfortunately, I was told by the school counselor that the children must ask for a GSA and the parents would never approve of one. I will work on this until there is a GSA at the school I work at. It was fantastic to see friends that I haven't seen for years. Pride was AWESOME!"
Wants more pictures from Pride? Thanks to all the awesome folks who shared their photos with us, we have them! Check out our album on Facebook.
Look for the Bisexual Organizing Project at Pride festivals throughout Minnesota this summer.
What's Your Twin Cities Pride 2014 Story?
Tell us in the comments!
BECAUSE 2020 Cancelled
The BECAUSE leadership team and the BOP board have been reviewing forecasts for what this Fall will look like including continued COVID hotspots, limitations on travel, and how people are going to be feeling about being large groups. We feel the most responsible action at this time is to cancel BECAUSE 2020. We have explored moving the conference on line as many conferences and gatherings have done and find it is not the best option for BECAUSE.
The BOP board is developing virtual community building that we hope will help bridge this time for our community. Please check out BOP's Facebook Page, Facebook Group, Meetup Group, and Twitter to stay informed of upcoming events.
We are currently in discussion with our location, Wellstone Center, and our planned speakers and special guests to make BECAUSE 2021 one of the best ever. We hope you will join us in October 2021.
Build, serve and advocate for an empowered bisexual, pansexual, fluid, queer, and unlabeled (bi+) community to promote social justice.
Within the next five years grow Bisexual Organizing Project (BOP) into a successfully-run Upper Midwest nonprofit organization with annual funding of $100,000 that provides community building, education, and advocacy for the bisexual, pansexual, fluid, queer, and unlabeled (bi+) community and our allies.