The "B" in LGBT is often unseen, but Tiffany Sostar has been determined to change that.
"Possibilities has been meeting for two years: we’ve had discussion nights where we talk about issues relating to bisexuality and pansexuality in being attracted to multiple genders. We also talk about other issues if anyone in the group is interested in them, but tend to focus on ones specific to those orientations," says Tiffany, who founded and facilitates the Possibilities’ discussion groups and social nights.
The Possibilities BI-B-Que will be the first Calgary Pride event presented by a bisexual demographic. As their literature gushes, "This is an exciting addition to Calgary’s Pride events, and an opportunity to increase the visibility of an easily-overlooked part of the queer community."
Tiffany mentions that this is really Possibilities’ first major public event, as it has been largely word-of-mouth, with some internal promotion coming from their Calgary Sexual Health Centre hosts.
"I started (Possibilities) because there wasn’t really a bisexual community or support group available in Calgary. It (grew slowly at first) because the Facebook group is secret: not everyone in the group is ‘out’." Now, however, they’re on MeetUp, and she’s clearly happy that Possibilities is ‘Google-able’. "There’s about 80 people in the Facebook group, and up to 20 people regularly going to Possibilities events.
"The Sexual Health Centre has been awesome, and we’ve also collaborated with Calgary Outlink (Centre for Gender and Sexuality Diversity). We did a Queer Flirting Skills workshop there in May."
The theme for Calgary’s Pride Week this year is "Find Your Pride", and Tiffany considers that a perfect goal to address the relative ignominy of bi- and pansexuals in the larger spectrum of sexual orientations.
"For Possibilities, this meant claiming some space for bisexual/pan-sexual visibility among the city’s other Pride events. It can be difficult for bisexual or pan-sexual individuals to find community, especially because of the stereotypes that exist within both gay and straight communities regarding bisexual or pan-sexual individuals.
"There are stereotypes about us as promiscuous and heartbreakers, and all kinds of negative things that are believed about bisexuals. So the thing that I’m really excited about is that Calgary’s queer community is growing and coming together right now. I feel that Possibilities can be an organization that creates queer-inclusive events that are welcoming of every orientation and every gender, but still increases the visibility of the bisexual community and does good work. We have the potential to do it differently than it has been done anywhere else.
"You can’t marginalize a community that is at the centre of organizing events and doing positive work for the greater community."
Hence, the Bi-B-Q.
"I’m in a bunch of bi-activist networks and groups, and I kept seeing people posting about their own bi-b-que’s, so I pitched it to the group, and I had quite a few people who were interested in helping out with it... One of our members, who was quite excited about it, talked to some people that she knew who were involved with Pride Calgary, and they were interested in having us involved with the official celebrations. (There are) some amazing, motivated people who attend Possibilities, which is why I think we’re starting to do so many different things.
"This is the first official (Calgary) Pride event that is presented by a bisexual group. It’ll be held after the Dyke March," The Possibilities Bi-B-Que will happen on September 1, 2012 from 5 to 9 pm at James Short Park, and will feature live music, a kids crafting table, food, and opportunities to connect with Calgary’s bisexual community. There will also be information available on the topics of bisexuality and pan-sexuality, and other queer or minority sexualities. As the information package says, "This is a queer-inclusive event, meaning that everyone is welcome, whether they identify as bisexual, pan-sexual, or anything else under the umbrella."
And there’s one thing left that Tiffany wants for Christmas (or Chinese New Year, or Ramadan, or whatever special time of year that you choose to think of):
"We don’t have a lot of ethnic diversity in our group, and I think that that’s something I’d like to fix, but I don’t know how to reach out to bisexual or pansexual individuals in those other ethnic groups. I think that there’s probably a need, but I’m just not sure how to navigate that. We already have a wide range of ages, and a huge range of gender preferences (but) I know from the writings of other activists online that this can be a problem in various queer communities."
Sat, Sept 1st, 5-9pm
James Short Park