The newly formed Chicago Bisexual Health Task Force ( CBHTF ) held a World Café style community forum sponsored by the AIDS Foundation of Chicago Nov. 12 at University Center on State Street.
The task force is made up of community members, healthcare professionals and researchers focused on improving the lives and health of bisexual people in Chicago. CBHTF has already received a proclamation by Mayor Rahm Emanuel recognizing this past Sept. 23 as "International Day of Bisexual Visibility" in Chicago.
Speakers included Northwestern University Evaluation, Data Integration and Technical Assistance Program Associate Director Lauren Beach; Step Up For Mental Health President and Executive Director Adrienne McCue; Bisexual Queer Alliance Chicago Founder Brother Mike Oboza; Northwestern University Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing Research Assistant Professor Brian Feinstein; Northwestern University School of Communications Media, Technology and Society Ph.D. candidate Ashley Walker; and AIDS Foundation of Chicago ( AFC ) Prevention Advocacy Senior Director Jim Pickett, all of whom are founding members of the CBHTF.
Beach explained that this was CBHTF's inaugural forum and McCue spoke about the blog she created 10 years ago, Bi Social Network, and how that led to her involvement with CHBTF while Oboza gave highlights of the bisexual movement since the '70s.
Feinstein spoke about the origins of CBHTF, which trace back to the bisexual health "We See You" symposium that AFC and Northwestern sponsored in November 2017. He said that since April 2018 the task force has held bi-monthly meetings.
The mission of CBHTF, Feinstein said, "is to improve the lives of bisexual+ individuals in the Chicagoland area by mobilizing communities, engaging in research, advocacy, and education, and supporting the development and implementation of policies and programs and the vision of the CBHTF is a thriving diverse bisexual+ community in the Chicagoland area that is visible, vibrant and healthy."
The World Café discussion, led by Walker, featured questions surrounding crucial opportunities and challenges bisexual people face, where bi/pan/queer/fluid people feel supported, and what professional organizations are already doing to support bisexual people, among many other topics.
Pickett ended the session with a call for attendees to make a least one new connection with another attendee during the post-event reception.
Speaking about her experience after the event, Center on Halsted State of Illinois HIV and STD Hotline Manager and AFC Associate Board Member Nicole Holmes, who identifies as bisexual, said, "The conversation was incredibly fruitful and I am glad networking time was worked into it, so people could connect on a social level. Being social was the recurring theme throughout, even though we were focusing on health issues. When we think of health, it often concerns housing insecurity, HIV and smoking cessation, but social health is a very important piece as one gets further into the intersectionalities of the LGBTQ community."
For more information about the "We See You" symposium, visit www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/AFC-conference-focuses-on-bisexual-health/60995.html .