Visibility is important, especially in a world that doesn’t believe you exist.
I identify as a bi+ woman, although I use bi+ and queer interchangably. In fact I’ve got all my queer merit badges; I’m a full queer troupe leader now! But I remember how lonely I used to be marooned on hetero island, and how alienated I felt from the LGBTQ+ spaces I could find.
Even in Los Angeles, bi+ visibility is in short supply; so I wanted to make the kind of party that both my baby queer self would have longed to go to, with the kind of community that I could then only dream of, as well as the party the full-fledged bi+/queer version of me today would be excited about. Of course we need to march in the streets, lobby for policy changes, and educate people, but building joyful and visible community is a vital political act too, and it’s what Unicorn pARTy is all about.
I’ve been asked a lot recently why I feel so passionately about bi+ activism, because isn’t it easier to be bi+? Isn’t it just a phase liberal college girls go through before settling down with a guy, or guys go through before they’re ready to come out as gay? And why identify as bi+; doesn’t bisexuality only refer to men and women, excluding other genders and trans people? I usually smile and say that those questions are exactly why the work matters. First the definition of bisexual varies slightly depending on the individual, but is trans, gender queer and nonbinary inclusive: attraction romatically and/or sexually to my own gender and genders different from my own. Not necessarily at the same time or to the same degree. Not attraction to men and women exclusively as is commonly believed. And in fact according to The Bisexuality Report:
“...of all the larger sexual identity groups, bisexual people have the worst mental health problems, including high rates of depression, anxiety, self harm and suicidality... Bisexuals experience high rates of being ignored, discriminated against, demonized, or rendered invisible by both the heterosexual world and the lesbian and gay communities...This erasure has serious consequences on bisexuals’ health, economic well-being, and funding for bi organizations and programs.”
Look, it’s 20-BI-teen and I’ve arrived at a point, for good or for bad (I’m going to say for good), that anytime someone has a problem with my bisexuality, I’m able to say, “You’re welcome. I just gave you an opportunity to join us in the 21st century. I have a magical chosen family of queerdos and allies and if you’re too limited to take my invitation to join us and come swim in a beautiful queer future, that’s your issue and not mine.”
But I didn’t always feel this way, and I’m not naive enough to think that everyone has the privilege to feel this way too. The statistics tell us that many bi+ people don’t or can’t, and it has serious consequences on their health, safety, and economic well-being.
In honor of Bi Pride Week and Month, (yes, I know historically we have bi+ awareness week and bi+ visibility day but again, it’s 20-BI-teen and I say we get a whole month), I used my skills as an artist and producer to celebrate my bi+ community with radical joy; to tell our stories, and to make room for bi+ artists to have a platform. This weekend's Unicorn pARTy included the premiere of a new dance theatre work I created in collaboration with other performers called inVISIBLE, featuring real bi+ stories from real bi+ people. The night also featured some fabulous L.A. based bands like alt-rockers VATTICA, with bi+ frontman (and my partner) Alexander Millar, the stunning voice of the lovely country/pop bi+ artist Cindy Jollotta, and more. The whole night was hosted by my dear friend-love Miss Barbie Q and included a queer craft market curated by one of my closest framily members (friend family) Kristy Kennedy and her business Queerdo by Kiki.
Will one pARTy change the world? Of course not. But for just one night I created the world I want to live in. One where we celebrate who we are with fellow bi+ folx and allies alike, one where we can share community resources; like how to connect with the work of our event sponsors, The American Institute of Bisexuality, and their social community AmBi that has been my home for many years now, first as a member and now as an organizer. And #stillbisexual, who taught me the power personal storytelling can have on increasing the visibility of a community to its struggling members and society at large.
So no, Unicorn pARTy won’t change the world. But it’s a small, sparkly, rainbow start.
NOTE: bi+ is of course imperfect, but is used here to refer to all non-monosexual identities.
Kai Hazelwood is the founder of Good Trouble Makers and producer of the first annual Unicorn PARTy in honor of bi awareness month.