sarah brooke


This video is unlisted on YouTube so please exercise discretion when sharing and don’t mention it to the lawyers for any opera houses that rhyme with Hind-horn, OK?

I stumbled across an interesting story about the years-long struggle over the name of Northampton’s Pride march the other day. 

In 1988, members of the Valley Bisexual Network approached the Northampton Lesbian and Gay Pride March Committee, requesting that the name be changed to the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Pride March. 

They didn’t have time to change the name on anything that spring, but in the fall, the committee agreed unanimously to change the name for the 1989 march. 

The local lesbian community was divided between people who were totally in favor of this, and people who saw it, essentially, as a dangerous invasion of basically-straight potential rapists into a space that they’d prefer didn’t even have gay men in it.

Drama ensued. 

Members of the anti-bi segment of the lesbian community came to the very first Pride committee meeting the next year to try to get the name changed back. When that didn’t work, they wrote letters to local and even national lesbian publications, rallying people against bisexual inclusion. 

“Bisexual” was removed from the name of the 1991 march, in a complete hot mess of terrible Discourse.

 Bisexuals were accused of stealing gay and lesbian resources because the speakers, that year that they were explicitly included, were a white bi man and a white straight woman. (The fact that both were white was, evidently, completely irrelevant and not a big deal; the problem was that neither of them was a lesbian.) They were told that bisexual inclusion clearly meant lesbian exclusion, even though every other performer and emcee that year was gay or lesbian.  

 Bisexuals were labeled as “allies” to the gay/lesbian community, and told they should march as such.

Bisexuals were told they were “parasites attaching themselves to the Lesbian community,” which was “doing all the work.” 

Bisexuals were told that they were rapists, or brought rape with them; that as long as the March was not specifically Lesbian Space it would not be any safer from “heterosexual violence” than the recent Take Back the Night March in which someone was raped afterward was. 

I don’t even know when “Bisexual” was restored to the name. It’s now the LGBT Pride Parade, which is something; and in 2011, longtime bisexual activist @robynochs was one of the Grand Marshals; they had one for each of the four letters in their acronym that year. But if you are interested in the play-by-play of the hideous early-90s drama, I’ve transcribed the description from Clare Hemmings’s Bisexual Spaces: A Geography of Sexuality and Gender below.

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