Bisexuals do exist, even in politics. 3 politicians share why visibility is vital.

Oregon's Kate Brown is the nation's first (and only) openly LGBTQ person to be elected governor.

After being involuntarily outed by the local newspaper in a story about LGBTQ legislators in the early 1990s, Brown came out as bisexual to her family (who told her it would be easier if she were a lesbian); her gay and straight friends (who called her "half-queer" and "indecisive" respectfully); and her colleagues in the state legislature (one of whom took the news as an opportunity to hit on her).

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.


The responses Brown received after coming out are disappointing but sadly unsurprising considering that bisexuality is often a source of jokes, confusion, needless ridicule, and — worst — complete erasure.

Bisexuality deserves a place in the conversation when it comes to the greater needs, challenges, and resources of the LGBTQ community. Bisexual+ Awareness Week — the plus includes people who identify as queer, pansexual, fluid, or without labels at all — aims to do just that with articles, events, hashtags (#biweek), and conversations that celebrate and center bisexual+ people.

Brown joined Texas Rep. Mary Gonzalez and Wisconsin Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa for a conversation on Twitter about legislating while bisexual+.

Hosted by GLAAD and the Victory Institute, the hourlong event featured questions on topics ranging from role models to policy. It's clear these three leaders work hard for their state and districts while pushing back against bisexual erasure and discrimination.

Here are seven of their many thoughtful responses and advice for bisexual people (or frankly anyone in an underrepresented group) thinking about running for office:

1. When it comes to building community, it starts with representation.

Recent studies show that people who identify as bisexual may make up as much as half the LGBTQ community, but less than 30% are out to those closest to them. To dismantle stereotypes and to help others feel safe enough to live openly, increased visibility of those who are out is vital.

2. Having the support of the LGBTQ community and allies remains important, particularly with President Donald Trump's threatening policy decisions.

Bisexual people can be black, white, disabled, cis, trans, or nonbinary too. Recognizing and honoring that intersectionality is vital.

3. More bisexual people should consider running for public office.

"No more 'bi-erasure.' We are here. We are proud," Zamarripa tweeted with an additional message:

"It is important for bi people to run for office, so we can advocate for policies that will help bisexual people survive and thrive. We also need to run for office so we are visible. No more bi-erasure. We are here. We exist. We are proud. And, in doing so, we lift up other bisexual folks, especially youth, so they know they can not only survive but thrive."

If the rights and liberties of the LGBTQ community are at risk, then LGBTQ people and our allies must be in the conversation to speak up and preserve them.

4. While making the decision to be a leader — political or otherwise — can be scary, there are plenty of organizations and political leaders available to help get you started.

Consider reaching out to the Victory Institute, Emily's List, or She Should Run for resources in your community.

5. Need a little encouragement? Gonzalez recommended some books to get folks started.

Gonzalez looks to queer women of color for inspiration. Here are five more to keep your nightstand crowded.

6. Gonzalez also had a few words of inspiration.

7. But get out there and leave your mark. Because the world needs your voice now more than ever.

You never know who's admiring your work or looking up to you. In a series of tweets after the chat, Brown wrote (emphasis added):

"After I got sworn in as the nation's first openly LGBTQ governor, I got a letter from a young bisexual person. They felt like my coming out gave them a reason to live, like they weren't alone. That stuck with me. If I can be a role model for one young person, and make a difference in their life, it's all worth it."

Brown, then an Oregon senator, hugs former state Rep. George Eighmey after Gov. Ted Kulongoski signed two bills protecting gay rights into law. Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer/Getty Images.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less