Portland, Oregon: Bisexual capital of the world

Or so I’ve heard it said. And, based on my own experience and empirical research, I’m inclined to agree. Hell, even the Portland Mercury – the pinnacle of scientific research and scholarly thought – backs me up on this.

 The 2007 Portland Mercury Sex Survey drew 2,300 responses. Women made up 52% of the group and men 46%. (Yes, I know that doesn’t add up to 100%. The Mercury says it’s because “some of you didn’t fill out every single question on the survey”).  Of the women who responded, 34% said they’re straight. 37% of the men said they are straight.

 Now we get to the juicy part: 9% of the 2,300 respondents said they’re gay or lesbian while 17% said they’re bisexual! That means there were 207 homosexual respondents and 391 bisexuals. I’m not saying that this can be extrapolated across the entire population of the City of Roses because we know that only the cool people read the Mercury. But even if we take into consideration the fact that the entire pool of 2,300 survey respondents are more open minded and less boring than the population at large, there are still almost twice as many bisexuals as there are homosexuals in this study group. That’s a lot of folks who have chosen to not go through life with one hand tied behind their backs! (as James Dean put it, referring to his own bisexuality).

 So where are all the bisexuals? Are we so ubiquitous that we don’t need any special venues, events and so forth? Or is it simply that we’re still being completely marginalized, ignored and/or villified by the two monosexual communities (homo/hetero)? Perhaps a combination of both? Or are we all just taking advantage of “hetero privilege” and living under the radar, getting our same-sex nookie on the sly without all the hassle of coming out and sharing the challenges and rewards of queer pride with the LGTQ’s?

 Check out the “entire site” of the Portland Bisexual Alliance. It’s a whopping… one page. And that one page was last updated on May 31, 2002! A Google search turns up a second page that isn’t linked to from the top page – and for good reason. It’s the calendar page and it was “updated 5-29-01!

 I’m determined to get to the bottom of this (if only because I love bottoms so much!), so watch here for more!

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7 Responses to “Portland, Oregon: Bisexual capital of the world”

  1. Sven Says:

    The Portland Bisexual Alliance ran from 1995-2002, and I was on the board for six of those years.

    We did just about everything that a bi organization *can* do…

    * Every month: a bi themed panel or workshop, a bi community orientation night, and bringing in a guest speaker from an outside organization.

    * Bi 101 education workshops.

    * An annual “Bi Day” rally, with ~15 bi speakers, bi musicians, even bi ASL providers.

    * At Pride we had a “famous bisexuals” exhibit and gave out thousands of free bi pins.

    * We ran two statewide bi conferences.

    * We published a monthly newsletter and a calendar of events for the seven Oregon bi organizations that we were in contact with.

    * We had representation at countless queer community political meetings… We even played a small part in putting Multnomah County’s sexual orientation non-discrimination policy in place.

    …And so, ultimately, those of us who were running the organization burnt out. It was a phenomenal time commitment, with once-a-week board meetings — and sometimes three meetings a week when we were hosting an event, or political events were afoot.

    A cursory google search suggests that Portland Bisexual Women is still around… They’ve been going for 16+ years now. If you want to connect with what the state of things is now, they’d be the first folks I’d talk to.

    File this under “where are they now?”, I suppose.

  2. Collin Says:

    OK, but where is the follow through. I’m disappointed in the bi-Portland community. The LG’s are organized… but, what about the B’s? A blog post here, a blog post there… Where are the clubs? Where are the advocacy groups? Where do I meet someone?

    • Jilliian Says:

      There is a new bi/pan discussion group at the Q Center every last Tuesday, from 7-8:30 pm, through July ’12.
      It would be incredible to have someone who was involved with the PBA at the group!
      Pass it along ❤

      • Cheryl Says:

        I am frustrated myself with the lack of a bi group for support and friendship. We just aren’t organized. I am interested in that. I mean–I don’t want a hook-up place? However, friendship is a start. I will come back. Maybe if we start a Facebook group, then we can organize an actual group, and gain solidarity. I am willing to set up the group. I know Facebook is annoying a lot, but if we limited the group to respectful membership and learned to trust each other, it could work. I have been looking for three years now. Wow! Looks like I missed the meeting at the Q Center. 😦

  3. Adam Says:

    Collin,

    I helped co-found PBA in 1995 out of the very frustration you’re expressing here.

    In the mid-1990s, BiNet Oregon was hosting occasional events and support groups, but they didn’t do much in the way of activism or community development. Once a key BiNet Oregon organizer left town in 1994, the meetings became infrequent and the support groups dwindled. The independent women’s group always had a dedicated following, but bi guys didn’t have anywhere to turn.

    Sven, Paulette, myself and others tracked down enough people who wanted a more community-oriented bi organization. We held an meeting at the Barley Mill Pub that attracted about 20 people. We hashed out things like the name, the focus, the organizational structure, blah, blah, blah.

    I served as its first leader, but stepped down a year later because I had to focus my time and attention on completing my undergrad.

    We intended for PBA to be passed on to different leaders — to be fluid and evolve over time. Sven did an AMAZING job with PBA, taking the organization in impressive directions. But he is right — you do burn out.

    It’s a thankless job that pays nothing and eats into your personal/professional life. People have an opinion of how you should be doing your job and they take you for granted, but few want to step up and take on a leadership role themselves.

    What would change this dynamic? Money.

    If I had to do it all over again, knowing what I know now, I would have sought out bi lawyers, doctors, CEOs, etc. to help bankroll our vision. I would have mapped out a business plan and launched only after we reached a target budget (say: $300,000-$500,000), which would have funded paid positions (executive director, development director, event director) and paid the rent for an office. It would have made it easier to kick bi community organizing up to the next level and make the organization self-sustaining.

    This is not to take away from any of Sven’s accomplishments, which were numerous and impressive. He did so much with few resources, which is a credit to his brilliance and determination.

    It is a shame that PBA didn’t last. But it’s certainly possible to revive it or to start something different to fill the void. And, if you’re crazy enough to do it, you could very well be the person you’re looking for to help further organizing of the Portland bi community.

  4. Fallon Says:

    Being a bisexual woman, i never felt the need to “come out” however having a place to meet others would be amazing considering the stigma and lack of support that comes from lbgtq community.

  5. bocapital Says:

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