Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a proclamation Sept. 23 recognizing the International Day of Bisexuality Visibility in Chicago.
In the proclamation, Lightfoot acknowledged community partners who worked “in support of public policy changes that advance the visibility and civil rights of bisexual, pansexual, queer and fluid people in an effort to better LGBT health outcomes, and urge all residents to support and educate themselves on the topic.”
The proclamation was officially released the morning of Sept. 23 in a press conference at City Hall. Among those who delivered remarks were Robert Fotjik, senior aide to Lightfoot; Elizabeth Harrison of the Chicago Bisexual Health Task Force; and Chicago Department of Public Health LGBTQ Health & Outreach Liaison Antonio King.
In her remarks, Harrison said, “The signing of this proclamation is a major step for bisexual visibility and celebrating bisexual-plus people and communities in Chicago.”
She further noted that “bisexual erasure is harmful to the mental and physical health of bisexual people. … Bisexual visibility is a key portion of bisexual health and I profoundly believe that increasing bisexual representation, bisexual-specific services, and inclusion of diverse bisexual people will improve our community’s health and even save lives.”
Harrison later told Windy City Times that it’s important for the LGBT community to remember that bisexual folks have been active in their movement since the beginning.”
She added, “When you think about Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, they were both bi. … There has been a lot of erasure in the mainstream LGBT organizations. They are not always inclusive of bi people and their specific needs. To me, the proclamation was a really big deal, because a lot of mainstream organizations came together and said, ‘We recognize this is really importantbi visibility is really important to us.'”
Jim Pickett, director of prevention advocacy and gay men’s health for AIDS Foundation of Chicago called the proclamation, which was first presented locally in 2018, “an important opportunity” to call attention to disparities and stigmas experienced by bisexual people, who frequently endure discrimination not just from straight individuals, but certain elements within the gay and lesbian communities as well.
“If you can’t be whoever you are wherever you are, you’re not free,” Pickett said.