Activist and actress Sara Ramirez was refunded a donation she made to New York’s LGBT Community Center 18 months ago that was intended to help create assessments and training for staff around the bi-plus community that never panned out, she tweeted earlier this week. Instead, the money will go to BiNet USA, which will use it to train staff and volunteers at True Colors United, Cyndi Lauper’s organization dedicated to stemming LGBTQ youth homelessness.
Just got a full refund from the NY LGBT Center because after a year & a half of promising my donation would create #bi+ assessments & training 4 their staff, it never happened. Good news is it’s going 2 @BiNetUSA 2 train @TrueColorsUnite (who’s ED scheduled within a few months)
— Sara Ramirez (@SaraRamirez) March 11, 2019
Ramirez, a Tony winner and a star of Grey’s Anatomy, where she played the landmark bisexual character Callie Torres, came out as bisexual in 2016. She has since become an ardent supporter and activist for bi-plus people.
In 2017, the New York center honored Ramirez with its Trailblazer Award at the 20th Annual Women’s Event. At the time, the actress, who currently plays bisexual character Kat Sandoval on Madam Secretary, spoke passionately about activism around issues affecting bi-plus people.
During her speech, Ramirez remarked that she originally thought to ask others in the room who were bi-plus to stand with her so that they could “see and celebrate one another,” but she changed her mind, she said.
“The anticipation of almost no one standing up with me because so many of us don’t feel safe was too painful for me to risk. I have felt so vulnerable so often,” Ramirez said. “And no matter where I turn, there are so few resources specifically for bisexual-plus people generally, and especially bisexual-plus people of color. We are suffering because we don’t have community. We are fractured. We are isolated.”
Her speech then delved into a dearth of support for bi-plus people within LGBTQ organizations.
“Over 50 percent of the LGBTQ-plus community identifies as bisexual, fluid, nonmonosexual, and yet we are often neglected and erased. There is rarely programming specific to our needs, rarely speakers, trainers, and staff who are bi-plus and who can lead bi-plus-specific work,” Ramirez said.
Finally, Ramirez offered a cheat sheet of sorts to LGBTQ organizations on how to better serve the bi-plus community.
“It is time for that to change, for us to see bi-plus staff at large LGBTQ institutions, to see brown and black bisexual-plus people in top leadership positions, to have bi-plus specific programming, to have clear, easy access to culturally competent bi-plus resources when going to LGBTQ orgs’ websites, to see signs up in your lobby that explicitly celebrate bi-plus people, to direct funding to the bisexual-plus community’s needs, to have leaders (whether they identify as bisexual-plus or not), naming our identities and sharing our stories.”
The Advocate reached out to the center for comment regarding refunding Ramirez's donation.
"We strive to meet donors' expectations but unfortunately were not able to do so in this instance. Given that, the most responsible course of action was to return the donor's gift," the center's director of communications, Mary Steyer, wrote in an email.
BiNet USA, where Ramirez has now made a donation, is a nonprofit that helps facilitate “the development of a cohesive network of bisexual communities, promote bisexual visibility, and collect and distribute educational information regarding bisexuality.”
On Twitter, the organization thanked Ramirez for her donation that will help train people at True Colors United, an organization Ramirez has long supported.
— BiNet USA (@BiNetUSA) March 12, 2019
This past December, Ramirez performed the song “True Colors” with Lauper at the organization’s Home for the Holidays concert.