‘Tis the year deemed twenty-bi-teen, the year of the queer, the year that bisexuality comes to the forefront of LGB, and gains recognition outside of another letter in an ever-growing sexuality acronym. And after years of invisibility, it is about time. For many pre-millennial existences, the vernacular around being bi felt fairly conclusive – it was a term used to explain an experimental or curious (but essentially hetero) woman, or a man not ready to admit their full homosexuality. As a bisexual human, the expanse of representation growing up was minimal at best. Karen Walker from Will and Grace was suggestively bisexual? So was the protagonist’s familiar, Salem from Sabrina the Teenage Witch. That was about it.
Even now, so many folks find the term ‘bisexual’ hard to swallow, and even harder to proudly share with the world. And so much of this shame comes from the inability to see ourselves or see our community, and to fully comprehend what being bi or bi-plus can be and look like. And it is here that we would like you to meet our heroes of this bisexual tale: Bree Mountain and Diego Garcia Luna, founders of the advocacy platform Bi Plus Visibility and Biconic Events.
Starting mere months ago in September 2018, Bree and Diego disappointed by the lack of support and attention the bi community received on what should be our day of days – September 23rd, Bi Visibility Day – endeavoured to make a change for the bisexual community and identity. With no real event experience, they threw their first party to huge success, raising enough money to get them into Sydney’s 2019 Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Since then their community and growth have been exponential, seeing them invited to host and support Two In The Bush a Love Story at the Sydney Mardi Gras Film Festival, and a regular party slot at the Imperial Hotel Sydney.
Max Black is incredibly proud to be supporters of Biconic Events and Bi Plus Visibility, and we had Bree and Diego come in to chat with us about, well, everything bi and sexy.
Content Warning: mentions of self-harm.
Lucy: Thanks for coming in this evening! Let’s go straight in and get personal. What is an interesting characteristic or trait of both of you?
Diego: A genuine curiosity has always been something that I would like to define myself by. I think a lot of people can fall into focusing and surrounding themselves by the same ideas and they don’t stay curious enough to just go and investigate. And yeah, it’s a little embarrassing to ask silly questions, but it lets you see different things about people, the world and cultures, and it’s important to always challenge what you see. I think a lot of the issues we see in society are because people have not remained curious enough, it allows you to build walls around yourself.
Bree: One of the traits I was thinking about in myself links to how Biconic and Bi Plus Visibility all got started. I’m one of those people who gets a tendency to get really frustrated by certain things, certain parts of society and experiences. I’ll focus on them so much that I come up with some crazy idea of how we can change it, some of these ideas are so far-fetched that we wouldn’t be able to do them, but every now and then I’ll get an idea that’s crazy but just might work. I think this was one of them.
A good example of this in the past was during the Yes campaign in my hometown, I was living up in Springwood in the Mountains. And there was this man who was up there every single day with his chalkboards writing vote no and saying insulting things to everyone and I was getting really frustrated by this. My family and I decided to go and put little love hearts with vote yes and some nice slogans on a tree as a way to challenge this man. The community jumped on board and they dubbed it the tree of love and they started popping up all over the place in the mountains. It was this little community initiative that started from us just saying ‘ok I don’t like this, what’s something small I can do about it?’ And as I was saying, that’s how Biconic started, from one small annoyance that stemmed into something much bigger.
That might lead us into how Biconic and Bi+ Visibility came to be? What was this annoyance?
B: So how it started – I was looking for something to do on Bi Visibility Day last year, and nothing was going on in Sydney. I was just like, I feel completely invisible, which is ironic on a day like this. So I complained to Diego a lot as I do about things, and then my next train of thought was ‘ok, well if I can’t do anything for Bi Visibility day, I’ll go on a bi float for mardi gras.’ And that’s when I learnt that there hasn’t been one for a number of years. So there’s nothing happening on the day, there’s no float for the bisexual community, this is quite a bit bigger than I realised.
So Diego and I got talking about what to do, and I was on social media commenting on posts asking if anyone was doing a bi-float? And then people, of course, started saying that we should, and we were like ‘um maybe we will?’ And so we started talking about the float and Diego working in social media marketing started talking about getting a campaign going to increase awareness. I also was talking to someone called Amber from Sydney Bi Network and we were like, ok what’s at the core of all of this is a lack of visibility and recognition of the bi community in Sydney, and you know, further around the world. And so the very first thing that started was the #BSeen campaign.
And tell us a bit more about the #BSeen Campaign?
D: We started inviting people to come forward and express themselves on signs and through photographs. Either getting allies to support the community or people who Identify with the bi community holding signs saying things like ‘I want to be seen’. And a couple of months later, after we started this in a bar on our phone, we were getting pictures sent to us from around the world, literally. And people messaging us saying ‘thank you so much for starting this’. It made us realise the amount the community needed this because a lot of people did feel more fragmented and that invisibility means you do feel more alone. Once we started reaching out though, the feedback was incredible.
For those playing at home, what is the difference between Biconic and Bi+ Visibility?
D: They’re two separate entities, so Bi+ Visibility came about because Bree was really frustrated by Bi Visibility Day and not having anything to do, so she sent me a message and we jokingly said we should do some kind of party. And then we started talking about it and we started a small goal that we thought we wouldn’t even start until next year . Anyway, Bi+ Visibility was started as a more political, not-for-profit group that is trying to advocate for the bi community, and Biconic was our first party which now seems to be multiple parties!
L: More about the parties. Aside from being heaps of fun tell readers what is so special about them? The elevator pitch.
D: They are an opportunity to be able to create a different way the community can be recognised and given the chance to celebrate. I think Biconic is much more about allowing people to really express themselves and celebrate the fact that they’re there and happy to identify as themselves in the community and not necessarily go to events that are specifically for gay guys or lesbians but they can have their own events and it can be anyone from the community. We haven’t had any intent to pigeon hole ourselves in terms of sexual identity. This is about anyone who feels comfortable in the community to come. You should come, and be there, and be celebrated and we want you to be happy.
L: Let’s talk money – how’d ya get it and what was it for?
D: Initially we needed to organise the float and turns out floats are quite expensive, and so at first our original event was to raise the funds for the entry fee and then we’d figure out other ways to get more money for everything.
B: So we got the float, we did the campaign, got accepted to the parade, we got really excited but then we were like – ok there is the entry fee which is $330, and we were so pumped and were like ok we can do this. In the meantime the Imperial reached out to us because I had been floating around with my B-Seen signs, probably a little bit drunk and getting all the drag queens to have photos with these signs, and the Imperial said ‘Hey look, we’ve got a free Saturday in two weeks, do you guys want to do a party for the Bi Community?’ And we went ‘we know nothing about events, we have two weeks, but sure!’
D: We had to do it though. And it was lovely because so many people from the community were reaching out and asking if there was anything we needed. The drag queens from the Imperial offered to work for free, volunteers came and helped out on the night and on the door selling – everything was volunteers. We ended up having $1395 just from donations, people were walking in with 50 dollar bills.
B: And just recently we got a Google Grant for the float. A really good thing about that is considering the history of bi representation in Mardi Gras. In ’96 the membership for Mardi Gras stated that you can automatically become a member if you are lesbian or gay, but not if you were bisexual. So what we’re looking at is not just what we’re feeling as a community, not just little personal experiences, but historically having one of the most iconic queer spaces in Sydney and in Australia actively saying ‘No, we’re not accepting of bisexuals’. And so now to have them so absolutely excited to have us there and to have a grant – it has been incredible.
L: Tell us why the bi community is so unique?
D: I think there has been a rainbow tsunami in the past few years where people have started being really vocal on particular sexualities and particular stereotypes. It’s just very nice to see a community come out and express themselves, but also how understanding and how resilient the bi community has been and how much I have learnt from it in the sense that they are so relentlessly supportive of each other and I don’t know, maybe because I wasn’t directly involved when it was happening in the gay and lesbian communities, but in social media and monitoring all the comments and just people will support each other and just give each other advice for small things, big things, and always willing to listen and never be judgemental which is such a rare quality these days.
B: One of my favourite jokes about the bi community is we bring everyone in. The Bi women bring in the straight men and the lesbians, and the bi men bring in the gay men and straight women, and everyone has opportunities at a bi-party! But it is a really inclusive space, and with this last party we threw on Saturday night, two separate people told me this was the safest they’ve felt in a queer space. And that to me is huge. Especially because they said in a queer space, and I think that comes down to the point that often bisexual people don’t feel comfortable in a queer space and I know a lot of bisexual people, and myself included, have had personal experiences where we’re not welcome. For someone to say ‘this is the safest I’ve felt’ and to have two separate people say that is like ok, we’re doing something right here.
L: And why does the community need our support so much right now?
B: The first day we started our campaign, we got a lot of pictures ready and were posting them, and that night I got a message from a person who said to us ‘If I hadn’t seen this, I would have ended my life.’ And we just went ‘Ok. Shit. This is big.’ We’ve stayed in contact with this person, and they’re one of our biggest supporters now, they’re always commenting and being really active online in the community, and they’re going to be marching with us!
D: I think it was one of the nicest things from the campaign. The bisexual community are like, great energetic lively people but obviously for so long society has marginalised, and they just feel so down and invisible and they’re just no longer happy. You give them like a tiny hint of recognition and they just bloom.
B: So this person is from another state, and is now coming to march with us at Mardi Gras. And we are so excited! Diego is way too modest and would never say this but this person missed out on a ticket and Diego often marches with the Convicts and decided to give his Biconic ticket to this person. Which is so lovely and everyone would love you Diego, but you’d never say it yourself!
L: What are you hoping for the bi community and the future?
B: I think it’s all quite new at the moment, but just having the community in a party space together bringing up this sense of excitement and awe and everyone is like, this is so great, we’re so excited to have this happening. I’m excited to see as the community progresses what that starts to look like. And I know we’re obviously talking about the party side of things, but there are all these organisations around Australia that are starting to try and organise parties in every state and it’s all kind of happening around the same time. I think we’re about to start seeing a lot more connection between bi people and bi plus people around the country, and it’s just the start of it and there is a lot of excitement I’m really excited to see where it goes. I think having a community that has felt invisible and a lot of people talk about not feeling worthy of a coming out not feeling included in a queer space. Having a level of shame about that side of themselves, and maybe when you’ve gone to explore it people haven’t been necessarily receptive to you and about your sexuality. And what I’m looking forward to is that just by having a regular bi-party in Sydney means it normalises it a bit. And the more you get people talking the more you have conversations around it and the more you normalise it.
I think a lot of people want to be a part of it, just like Max Black, I mean you guys reached out to us, and a lot of the performers have reached out to us, it’s absolutely amazing and we’re so grateful. Especially for a community that has so long been excluded, to be included in such a big way and so quickly. When I step back I can get a bit emotional and go ‘Woah ok’ compared to September 23rd 2018 which was Bi Visibility day and I couldn’t find anything to do or any community, only a matter of months ago when I was sitting in my room thinking how completely invisible I was, to have suddenly a whole bunch of my community around, to have photos going around the world of proud bisexuals, and to have all these different companies just jumping in saying we see this, we want to support this. It’s so incredible.
Come play with the whole Biconic fam at their next event this Valentine’s Day – Feb 14th – at the Imperial Hotel Sydney. Bisexual speed dating at its finest, and of course, Max Black will be there too. Party Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/364844547428907/