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Penn Points

By Denise Penn

June 2004

Why Bisexual Conferences are Important 

     "Conferences" -- what image does this word conger up? Some of us who
have to attend professional conferences groan at the thought of long
speeches and rubber chicken lunches while we "network" with others in our
field. But bisexual conferences are so much more than that.

    Some bisexuals live in areas with well-established social,
political and support networks such as Boston, San Francisco, San Diego and
Los Angeles. But for those of us who live in areas where there are no
groups, a bi conference may be the only place to actually meet other
bisexuals. They are a wonderful opportunity for artistic and academic
collaboration, networking, and sharing ideas and resources.

     For example, in the early nineties I was at The Bi-West
Conference, a bi conference held in San Diego. At lunch I was surprised to
discover that there were several people there from Orange County. Each of
us had experienced feelings of isolation and come to the conference to
meet others, but never imagined that we would find people who lived
close to us. We shared ideas, and decided to start a support network in
our own community. Part of the reason this is so important for bisexuals
is because of the issue of visibility; even bisexuals who are active in
LGBT groups are defined by the gender of their partner or person they
are currently dating.

      Another important aspect of bisexual conferences is that the
events, workshops and sessions go beyond education and networking: a
bisexual conference is a place where bi culture is defined and celebrated. Bi
Net Los Angeles the first ever "anti-conference" -- BAFFLED (Bisexual
Arts, Film Festival, Literature, Entertainment and Drama) in the late
nineties. The anti-conference avoided the typical mundane activities. A
special commemoration for Andy Dick and author/adult entertainer Rev.
Geoffrey Karen Dior was included, as well as a performance from bisexual
comedian Michael Dane.

       Since 1991, International conferences on Bisexuality have been
held in all parts of the world, giving this conference an international
flavor. The First International Conference On Bisexuality was held in
1991 in Amsterdam. Dr. Fritz Klein was living there at the time and
envisioned more than a small local conference. The attendance was 250,
which was incredible for a first-time event.  The second international
conference took place the following year in London, and since then there
has been an international conference every other year.  In 1994 New York
was the host, followed by Berlin in 1996. In 1998, Boston held the most
successful to date, with over 900 people attending Held at Harvard
University, it featured more than a hundred workshops. In 2000 the
conference took place in Manchester and in 2002 it moved to Sydney, Australia
where it was held during their famous annual Gay and Lesbian Marti Gras
celebration coinciding with the Gay Games.

     The upcoming 8th International Conference on Bisexuality will be
held in the Twin Cities this August. Activist and author Makoto Hibino
will present a keynote address. Makoto has been a bi activist since 1995
and is now living as an MtX transgender. In 1999 Makoto published "To
Be and/or Not to Be Bisexual," which is a groundbreaking book in Japan.
Makoto is now a staff member of the small mix group (projectQ) in Kyoto
that advocates against the binary gender system.

        Also speaking: Luigi Ferrer, Case Manager Supervisor at Union
Positiva, Miami's Latino AIDS service organization in Little Havana. He
is a nationally recognized AIDS activist and health care consultant,
and is a former Board Member of the National Association of People With
AIDS and the AIDS Action Council in Washington, DC. He is currently
vice-president of BiNet USA.

       Psychologist Dr.Margaret Charmoli will be speaking to the
conference. She has appeared on radio and currently co-hosts Bi Cities, a
Twin Cities cable television program about bisexuality, with her life
partner, Dr. Anita Kozan She serves as a consultant to the U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services on substance abuse treatment for the gay,
lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities. She is a past president
of the Minnesota Psychological Association and has worked with Division
44 of the APA educating and advocating for lesbian, gay, and bisexual
issues in APA and within psychology and developing programming on
bisexual issues as well as resources on bisexual issues in psychology.

     The Bisexual Organizing Project based in Minneapolis-St. Paul and
the Bisexual Foundation are proud to sponsor this event hosted by GLBT
Programs Office at the University of Minnesota. The Bi Men Network will
offer up to 10 full scholarships for bisexual men to attend this
conference. With the Bi Men Network at as a partner, more
bisexuals will have access to this opportunity. The conference takes place
August 5-8, 2004 

For Registration information:







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