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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Citywide Pride event focuses on bisexual perspectives
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Melissa Wasserman
2017-10-17

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BP Pride and Out and Equal Chicagoland hosted Bisexual Queer Alliance's ( BQAC )'s "Bi Visibility: Not a Silent Partner for Equality" at BP's downtown office on Oct. 10.

"The bi community is often unserved and sometimes ill served by myths, misinformation and bias," said Jim Huberty, Chair of Out & Equal Chicagoland. "Our constituents [LGBTQ and HR/Diversity & Inclusion professionals], must understand the unique needs and challenges of every segment of their community to properly represent them within the company and out in the community. I've heard for far too long that the 'B' is silent. I aim to break the silence through learning that removes blinders about the bi community and creates a safe space for them to live openly and authentically."

Huberty added the mission behind "Bi Visibility: Not a Silent Partner for Equality" was to raise awareness about the bi community, end some of the silence and to put a face to the community, as well as clear up some of the myths and to set the stage for future learning.

BQAC has a mission to educate, empower, and provide resources for bisexual and queer people. They aim to achieve this by "directly educating the bisexual and queer communities along with the general public, creating awareness of bisexual and queer issues, amassing and disseminating resources and information, and through charitable acts to the bisexual and queer community."

The Citywide Pride event celebrated National Coming Out Day with a presentation and discussion. BQAC brought together voices from the bi community to present on myths and misconceptions around bisexuality, challenges of being bi in everyday life and how individuals and companies can work to advance equality and inclusion of bi individuals in the workplace and in the community. The presentation, along with facts about the community, also sited "Invisible Majority: The Disparities Facing Bisexual People and How to Remedy Them" as a resource for people wanting to know more about the bi community.

The evening's panelists included: Jared M. Reynolds, an associate attorney at Levin & Perconti and a board member and chair for the LAGBAC ( Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago ); Adrienne J. McCue, founder and executive director of Step Up For Mental Health; and Blaize Stewart, director of product and a social media strategist for FAAM, an influencer marketing agency in downtown Chicago and an adjunct instructor at Robert Morris University, as well as a part-time communications specialist for Zoom Vacations ( an LGBTQ+ friendly travel company ) and a writer for bisexual.org .

Ray Banks, a senior originator with BP's integrated supply and trading team, had a hand in setting up the event, explaining that members of the BP business resource group ( BRG ) have been involved with Out and Equal Citywide Pride Events and the company tries to host at least one LGBTQ event each year.

"[The bisexual demographic] does tend to be an invisible part of our community and, certainly, within our own BRG in the company and so I said this would be a great opportunity for us to create some awareness," said Banks of the event and the collaboration. "Awareness leads to more inclusive behavior when you get to know people and understand maybe their challenges. BP does this because we want our workplace to be inclusive, non-discriminatory, because we want to attract the best talent. So, to that end, I just thought this was a great opportunity for us to be a little bit more forward leaning."

About 50 people were in attendance and the evening mainly centered around an open question-and-answer session among the attendees. The panelists opened up about their own experiences, including topics from coming out, to questions others ask them, to their feelings on bi invisibility and the need to educate people.

"It barely scraped the surface," said Huberty of the event. "The stories put faces to the community, the slides helped deliver some basic information and the Q&A opened a dialogue. That is a win for me. The next steps in a future Citywide Pride event, for me, is to deepen the discussion of bi community challenges."

For more information about BQAC, visit: bqachicago.org . To learn more about Out and Equal Chicagoland, visit: outandequal.org/regional-affiliates/chicagoland/.


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