Bisexual Awareness Week

Happy Bisexual Awareness Week, everyone!

While we passively acknowledge the bi+ community every time we say LGBTQ+, the B in this conversation is given little recognition. So this week, the bi+ community comes together with our allies to remind everyone that bisexuality is a valid identity and there is still plenty of work to be done to end bi erasure. We’ve all heard the ridiculous misconceptions; there continue to be predominantly negative and inaccurate representations of the bi+ community in the media, as well as discussed in queer spaces. Contrary to what some people believe, bisexuality has a very nuanced history, and the work that has been done over the years still continues today.

In honor of this work and the celebration of Bisexual Awareness Week, GLAAD hosted the first ever panel about bi+ representation in current media, which you can watch on their Facebook page. This panel featured intersecting perspectives from within the bi+ community, including advocates Alex Berg, Eliel Cruz, Bryan J. Ellicott, Ashley Ford, Denarii Monroe, and Mathew Rodriguez. All of the panelists have experience in a number of mediums that give the bi+ community a more prominent voice and tell the stories of community members across the spectrum. One thought that I couldn’t help but return to throughout the night was the fact that I had never been in a space that was so focused and dedicated to the bi+ community. Thanks to GLAAD’s Senior Strategist Alexandra Bolles, we were finally given that opportunity. It was an incredible party to witness.

The panelists discussed many issues facing the bi+ community, such as the lack of representation in the media despite statistically being the majority of the LGBTQ+ community, the negative connotations people tend to associate with bi+ people, like being indecisive, confused, or overly promiscuous. and the work that has to continue to be done in order to give the bi+ community a more positive portrayal in the media. These panelists spoke from places of personal experience, which added an incredible sense of authenticity to the panel. Their intersecting perspectives were a genuine treat for the audience to experience, as we were all there to celebrate bisexuality and discuss the ways we can all contribute to bettering visibility and offering more accurate representations of our community in the media.

Panel moderator and Mic writer Mathew Rodriguez asked the panelists to share their first memory of seeing a bi+ person in the media, and I realized how difficult that question was to answer. Panelists shared answers like Dr. Frank-N-Furter from Rocky Horror Picture Show and Callie Torres from Grey’s Anatomy, but I started to consider my own experiences and realized how upsetting it was to come to the conclusion I could probably count the amount of bi+ characters I’ve seen in the media on one hand. From a statistical perspective, Eliel Cruz, Executive Director of Faith in America, shared the correlation between visibility and funding. Using the trans community as an example, Cruz brought attention to the fact that there is a direct correlation between the representation minority groups have in the media to the amount of money and work being put into bettering their communities. We still have a lot of work to do.

On the topic of bi+ erasure, the panelists offered a number of experiences that contribute to one of the most prominent problems facing the community. Alex Berg, a producer at HuffPost Video, spoke about an instance in which a celebrity’s publicist forbade the word bisexual to be used – even though the celebrity has since come out about their sexuality and was in the process of writing a memoir in which the topic was featured. Denarii Monroe also spoke about a similar issue, sharing times when her work was not accepted because it was not the “typical” bi experience…whatever that means. In the words of Ashley Ford, “People are obsessed with certainty, which doesn’t exist.” As was proven by the different experiences of all of our panelists, everyone has their own personal relationship with what it means to be bisexual. There are different definitions depending on who you ask, there is no one “type” of bisexual person, and most importantly, our identity is not something for you to make assumptions about. Which is why we need our voices to be heard. Which is why we need to have better representation. Which is why Bi Week is so important.

I love being part of this community. After getting through the hard times of listening to people claiming that bisexuality didn’t exist and forcing people choose one side and claiming fluidity was just a way to get attention, I was able to grow and understand that my identity was valid. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by positivity within both my personal and queer spaces, but I know this is not the case for everybody. And this is why we have to keep working toward progress within the bi+ community. I want younger generations to be able to see their identities truly representation in the TV shows they watch. I want people to talk about bisexuality with the same validity they talk about gay and lesbian identities. Because of events like Bi Week and the recognition of the work that is continuing to be done within the community, I’d like to think that’s a place we can get to someday.

Thanks to everyone at GLAAD for hosting this event, and a special thanks to Alexandra for being such a rockstar.

Bi Week might just be until Friday, but for so many of us, it’s always Bi Week. 🙂

Check out my Twitter for some livetweeting from the event!

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My experience at MNDFL Meditation

For about a year now, I’ve been exploring a lot of new ways to practice self-care. Last summer, I got really into yoga and went to classes twice a week. When I moved back to the city in the fall, I took advantage of the new neighborhood I was living in and starting running outside along the East River. And finally, last winter, I was introduced to MNDFL Meditation. Before going to MNDFL for the first time, I didn’t even know there were facilities exclusively for meditating. As I’m sure goes for most people, all I knew about meditation was the cliched image of someone sitting alone in a room with incense burning and long periods of complete silence. And as somebody like myself with the absolute worst attention span, I never considered being able to participate in such an activity. But thankfully, MNDFL was quick to prove me wrong.

From the warm and welcoming staff to the open and inviting decor of the space, I always feel comfortable the moment I step in the door at MNDFL, located on 8th St. in the village. I don’t know about you, but anywhere that requires you NOT to wear shoes and gives out free tea is somewhere you can definitely find me spending my free time. Additionally, one of my favorite features of MNDFL is the staff, who are just as dedicated to their visitors whether it’s your first or fiftieth class. In the middle of the space, there is a sitting area where all of the visitors are welcome to hang out before or after class, which most people choose to do. The simple gesture of providing this space really adds to the fact that MNDFL genuinely feels like a community. I’ve never felt any awkward pressure to make time-filling conversation with others, but after attending classes for a while, almost all of the people there are familiar faces and chatting began happening more naturally. Sometimes people take this time before class to read a magazine, or even close their eyes to start winding down before we even step into the room to begin practice. As for me, I’m usually burning my tongue on jasmine green tea and feeling too satisfied when I turn off my phone.

MNDFL

Classes at MNDFL range from 30 to 45 minutes and are guided by an instructor. There are a number of different instructors at the space, all with different styles and preferences for how to conduct their classes. While you can sign up for classes based on their time, day of the week, or difficulty, you can also choose the theme you will experience at your specific class. Some of the themes for classes at MNDFL include breath, emotions, heart, sleep, and many others. It is definitely worth trying out a bunch of different classes and instructors to see which you like best, and the great thing about MNDFL is that there are so many options that you are likely to find a few that work best for you. And what’s even more inviting is that no two classes are the same. Even if you take the same class with the same instructor more than once, they are always new experiences. This happens, I think, because of the community at MNDFL. People are encouraged to actively participate in the class however they feel most comfortable, the instructors leave time at the end of the class for questions and discussions, and one of the most important messages they send is that there is no wrong way to experience meditation. Of course there are tips for achieving certain goals and better understanding mindfulness, but the instructors are always the first ones to assure you that however you are doing it is the right way.

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MNDFL is exactly what it claims to be: a space to breathe. I don’t think there is a single person who doesn’t experience too much stress on a weekly basis, and MNDFL is the perfect place to let that go. After treating myself to their monthly pass (the first month is only $50 for as many classes as you want!), I knew that I needed to make meditation a priority, especially at this space. Even as I’m now living in Jersey City, working a 9-5 job, and trying to get used to my new busy schedule, I know I can always manage to find half an hour out of my day to visit MNDFL. It’s an incredibly rewarding experience and the perfect way for you to invest in yourself.

PS. Let me know if you try out a class!!! I want to know all about it 🙂