Jayne B Shea

Bisexual, Poly, and LGBT Friendly Apparel, Products, and Stories

Bisexual Visibility Requires Bravery

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I have a confession to make. Sometimes I'm not brave enough to wear my own bisexual pride t-shirts. As I've mentioned before, I'm not out to everyone in my life. I firmly believe in bisexual visiblity and representation, but for me coming out is not something that happens just once and then it's done. It's a decision I make day-by-day, interaction-by-interaction.

Those moments I decide to be out with new people are incredibly inspiring. I find people are more free to be themselves when I model that behavior. I develop deeper connections with people and I love it. Even something as simple as wearing a bi pride t-shirt can spark a conversation and a connection that would not have existed otherwise. 

But some days, or in some contexts, I choose not to make my sexuality visible. And as frustrating as that may be to some champions of our cause, myself included, I am here to tell you and to remind myself: THAT IS OKAY!

Because here's the thing: selective visibility is self-care. The moments where I give myself permission to not be out make it more likely that I will do so when I'm feeling more comfortable. And I know from my experiences over the past few years that when I do let my bisexual pride shine, it is a beacon of hope and comfort for others in this community. And that is the best feeling of all.
 

Preparing for Hibernation: Not Being Out to Family for the Holidays

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It might seem odd that a bisexual advocate would not be 100% out to family and friends, but that's my truth. As I've said before, being out is a choice and a process you make every day, not a one-time, bam-you're-done, kind of thing. So for me, going "home for the holidays" means mentally preparing to be around people to whom I'm not out as bisexual and polyamorous.

Now, I've had people try to tell me that if I'm not 100% out, I shouldn't be living a queer lifestyle. Everyone from a straight ally to a fierce bisexual champion has held that hard line. Fuck that. Here's the thing: family is important. Community is important. Because I value my relationships with my family and my husband's family, and because my bisexuality and our polyamory are not a necessary part of those relationships, I am not out to most of them. And I'm okay with that. Sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner and saying what I'm grateful for doesn't need to include the amazing threesome I had last week. Yes, things would be different if we were in a serious long-term relationship with a third partner and wanted to bring her home for Christmas, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, not being out to most family members works for me, and for us.

That's my own story, and my point for you is this; being out is a personal decision. Don't let anyone (including me!) make it for you. If you're not out to your family, be comforted by the knowledge that there is an amazing community out there (whether it's in a support group, or on social media) who does know and love you for your queer identity. You may need to come out to them if not being out to your family is negatively impacting you or others, (as it has for me in the past - one of the reasons I fully came out to my parents.) Whether you're out to them or not, cherish your family and your relationships with them. Because in the end, that's what the holiday season is all about.

What is it like to go to a Pride Festival or Pride Parade as a bisexual person?

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After the Pulse tragedy and then election last year, there was a wave of coming out stories from bisexual people and the wider LGBTQ community. In the face of tragedy and upheaval, people were inspired to be their true selves and to seek comfort, solace and fellowship with the community as a whole. So this year, many bisexual people are attending Pride for the first time. Combine that with increasing availability of bi swag (thank you Target!) and there has been a striking increase in bisexual visibility at the festivals I have attended so far this month. This is fantastic! If you’re bi and heading to a Pride parade or festival, here’s what you can expect: the good, the bad, and the ugly. These insights are based on my own personal experience, and the experiences of others I’ve interacted with online and in person. If you’d like to share your experience as a bisexual Pride attendee, I’d love to hear it in the comments below!

The Good

  • Community: Finding, celebrating, and being visible with other members of the queer community, and especially the bisexual community, is a wonderful feeling.
  • Fun: From parades to festivals, Pride is a fun atmosphere, with floats, vendors, community booths and info, food trucks, and activities. Most Pride festivals are family friendly, or have family areas, if you’d like to bring your kids. Take it all in!

The Bad

  • Overwhelm: the representation, celebration, and activism can be emotionally overwhelming. Take space for yourself if you need to, check in with yourself emotionally, and go with others who can support you emotionally.
  • Party Culture: there is a lot of drinking, partying in the sun, and sometimes drug use. Be safe and know your limits.

The Ugly

  • Loneliness/Lack of Representation: if you are one of the only bi people at pride, or the only one, it can make you feel sad and isolated. See if you can find some bi groups participating and meet up with them, or find other groups you might be affiliated with or interested in.
  • Erasure/Harassment: being made to feel unwelcome because you are bisexual, or told you don’t belong at Pride either because you are bisexual or because you read as straight. I have only experienced this in my personal life, never at a Pride parade or festival, but I know it has happened to others. If possible, inform the person/people that you have every right to be at Pride, or find a buddy who can back you up. Pride is a place of celebration, so try to deescalate the situation if possible. If not, find a graceful exit and move on: erasure and harassment suck, but try not to let them ruin your overall experience.

With all of that said, let’s go back to The Good for a moment. The very best thing about being visible as a bisexual person at a Pride parade or festival is that you are helping fight erasure and lack of representation and visibility simply by showing up. When you show who you are with a banner, sign, button, t-shirt, makeup or other bi-flag inspired attire and accessories, you make someone out there in the crowd feel less alone. You also show the wider LGTQ+ community that WE DO EXIST. Thank you. Happy Pride.
 

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My Upcoming Pride Festival Schedule

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June is Pride month and that means I'm getting ready for Pride festivals! So far this year, I've signed up for three in June. Here's a little bit about each of the festivals and what you can expect.

Burien Pride - Saturday, June 3: While I'm still waiting for the official word that my application has been processed, one of the organizers was sweet enough to reach out and invite me personally to have a booth at this brand new festival. It means a lot that I'm visible enough in the community that a festival reached out to me, and I'm excited to help the City of Burien celebrate its very first Pride. The festival is being held at Burien Town Square Park. It's free, but any and all proceeds are being donated to Burien C.A.R.E.S., a local nonprofit animal shelter, and Camp Ten Trees, a nonprofit summer camp LGBTQ youth and youth of LGBTQ families. Hours: 10am-10pm.

Pride Northwest - Portland - Saturday & Sunday June 17-18: I'm looking forward to my third appearance at Portland Oregon's Pride festival. This Festival is in the beautiful, grassy, tree-lined McCall Waterfront Park. It's well attended by families and young folks as well as adults, and there is plenty to see and do for everyone. A large stage with performances dominates the center of the park, while just outside it on Saturday, attendees can stop by the regular farmer's market. The Portland Pride Parade ends at the Festival on Sunday, after stepping off from W. Burnside & NW Park Ave at 11am. Cost: $7, Hours: Saturday 12-8pm, Sunday 11:30am-6pm.

Seattle PrideFest - Saturday & Sunday June 24-25: Once again this year, I will have booths at both PrideFest Captiol Hill on Saturday and the main Seattle PrideFest at Seattle Center on Sunday. I have not received my booth locations just yet and will keep you posted when I do. The Saturday event has two components - a youth and family pride event at the park, and a more adult street fair and festival on the street and in the parking lot next to the light rail station. It's a fun, community festival occasion that is less crowded and more accessible for folks who want to avoid the rush and busyness of the Sunday event. The main Seattle PrideFest event on Sunday occurs both during and after the Seattle Pride Parade. The Parade begins on 4th & Union at 11am and dead ends into the Seattle Center area, so if you're marching you can stop by, or if you're spectating you can catch some of the parade action near the Center before heading into the Festival. In recent years they have done a better job of crowd control and keeping traffic flowing between the various stages and areas of the Festival, but still be prepared for large crowds and congestion. Be sure to hydrate and eat and make space for yourself if you need to! Bring a swimsuit if you feel like playing in the fun International Fountain water spray. Don't forget your sunscreen! Both events are free admission. Hours: TBD

BONUS: On June 11, cities around the country will be marching in solidarity with the Equality March for Unity & Pride in DC. If you're in the Seattle area, there are two options for participating, one that will stay on Capitol Hill and the other, (organized by Seattle PrideFest) which will start on the Hill and march to Seattle Center. I will be participating in the latter and most likely have a limited supply of flags and shirts with me for those who are interested.

Acceptance through Visibility: the Vital Importance of Identifying as Bisexual

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One of the most popular bisexual t-shirts I’ve seen (not one of mine) features the words “Nobody knows I’m bisexual.” The design, and its popularity, speak to a crucial issue for the bisexual community: lack of visibility. I’ve written about it before, and with Pride 2017 coming up I wanted to draw attention to it again. When people are able to identity as bisexual, both to themselves and to others, it has a significant impact on their own emotional health and on the community as a whole.

When we distance ourselves from our sexual identity, we’re hiding a valuable piece of ourselves and that takes a toll on us. In one of the most powerful TED talks I’ve seen, Ash Beckham likens it to holding a grenade. Self-erasure is a disease in the bi community, metaphorically, and I am 100% confident that it contributes to the real physical and mental health issues that are sadly so common to people of our sexuality. Add in the bisexual erasure we face from people of other sexualities, and the results are catastrophic. So what can you do to help fix this?

The first step is owning your own sexuality. Yes, bisexuality is “normal.” No, you don’t have to pick a side. No, it’s not just a phase. (Although for some people it might be, as sexuality can be fluid over time.) No, you don’t have to have had sexual experiences with any gender to know you’re bisexual! It helps to learn about bisexuality and do some self-exploration to determine how you identify. Are you bisexual/heteroromantic? Or biromantic/heterosexual? Or maybe biromantic/asexual? The more you know, the better communication you can have with your sexual and romantic partners. (Some of this will come over time as you have more sexual and romantic partners.) Overall, the more you understand accept your own identity, the more others can understand it and join you in celebrating it.

The next hurdle is being open about your bisexual identity with others. The tricky thing with bisexuality is that it can be easy for others to automatically, incorrectly identify you as gay or straight. I personally fight this by finding ways to reveal my identity. Sometimes I come straight out and tell people I’m bisexual (yes, sometimes it just comes up in conversation.) Other times I find ways to mention an ex and use female pronouns when talking about her. And of course I can always wear one of my shirts – they are always conversation starters and some are more subtle than others.

I choose my battles. I don’t reveal my identity to people who I know might have issues with it. Maybe someday I will, but not yet. But here’s the cool thing: when people figure out or find out that I’m bisexual, an amazing thing often happens. They reveal their own sexual identity to me, or share some experiences they have had. Straight people often ask the best questions about my bisexuality and polyamory and how my relationships work. When I learn that friends and acquaintances are bisexual, I always come out to them in return. It helps to know that you are not alone, and that you have a community to rely on for support.

Some people aren’t able to be out as bisexual, and that’s ok. Others don’t like the label bisexual. That’s fine too. What I’m asking is this: if you’re able, embrace your bisexual identity.

Don’t do it for LGTQA folks. Don’t do it for straight folks. Do it for the young bi kid who has never known a bisexual person. Do it to benefit the bisexual community as a whole. And most importantly, do it for yourself and embrace your bisexual identity.

#BiTwitter is making me so happy!

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First #BlackBiBeauty happened on Saturday, and then out of nowhere #BiTwitter started trending today. As Twitter put it, "#BiTwitter is encouraging bisexuals to claim online space." I grabbed a screenshot of the moment it topped my trending topics and #BiTwitter even got its own featured Twitter moment. Bi folks are tweeting messages of support and pride, and primarily posting selfies. Some of them are using the trending topic to come out publicly for the first time. Scrolling through all of these message of visibility and pride is so encouraging, even despite the few messages of hate, erasure and misunderstanding sprinkled in here and there. Seeing bisexual people around the world own and celebrate their sexuality, especially given the current political climate, gives me a lot of hope for the future.

How can I celebrate Bisexual Health Awareness Month?

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The powers that be (mainly the Bisexual Resource Center) have decided that March is when we celebrate Bisexual Health Awareness Month, in addition to St. Patrick's Day (my third favorite holiday.) Let's dig in to some of the facts on bisexual health:

The list goes on and on...

Given these staggering, often tragic statistics, why is bisexual health awareness cause for celebration? And how exactly can we go about celebrating it? The answer lies in some of the more positive, encouraging facts, including that bisexual people make up more than half of the LGBT population, that the percentage of people who identify as bisexual is increasing, and that studies are proving the benefits of coming out as bisexual.

When we as a community are aware of the unique mental and physical health challenges that bisexual people face, we can work together to address them. As individuals, bisexual health awareness can help us get and stay healthy.

Bisexual Health Awareness Month is ending soon, so here are six practical ways you can celebrate it this week, or any time throughout the year:

  1. Get the facts: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Knowledge is power. You can start by scrolling #BHAM2017 on Twitter.
  2. Help educate others about bisexual health, including both straight and queer people.
  3. Help your healthcare provider learn how to be a good bisexual health ally. (Or find one who's open to doing so.) Here's a great visual summary of how they can do that, taken from BiNet's excellent Bisexual Community Issues Presentation.
  4. Come out to your doctor and get tested for the full spectrum of STDs. Personally, I have found, and my partners have as well, that telling doctors that I have multiple partners of multiple genders makes them more willing to provide full STD screenings.
  5. If it is safe for you to do so, come out in general, especially to those who are closest to you. (In case it doesn't go so well, here's a great resource from the BRC.)
  6. Connect with the bisexual community. Given the lack of visibility and acceptance of bisexuality, being bisexual is often a lonely and isolating experience. Connecting with fellow bisexual people can help! BiNet has put together a great map of bi groups and even something as simple as connecting with bi advocates and activists like me on Twitter can help as well.

If you have questions about bisexuality or bisexual health, or if you just need to talk, please reach out to me. Be safe, be happy and be well.

Love & Pride,

Jayne

A Message of Bisexual and LGBT Love for Valentine's Day

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Valentine's Day is a tough one for queer people and single people alike. For those who can't be open about who they love, it hurts to have to stay silent. Those who are alone may be hurting as well. I posted this message on my social media channels and I wanted to share it here too:

You are beautiful. You are loved. You are enough.

- Jayne

PS - I published a new erotica short story ebook. I put a lot of work into making the bisexual/polyamorous relationship in it realistic, so I hope you'll take a look and give me feedback if you have any. Thanks!

Writing Erotica When You Don't Feel Erotic

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Lately it has been a struggle to sit down and finish one of the several bisexual and polyamory themed erotica novelettes and novellas I have sketched out or started, let alone start a new one. I'm about to get pretty personal here as I contemplate why, and what I can do about it.

Reason 1 - The Pill: I was on a low-dose birth control pill for 11 years. The good: it prevented pregnancy, decreased my period and PMS symptoms and helped with acne. The bad: it absolutely murdered my libido. It's a wonder I even started writing erotica at all, given my actual desire for sex. Being able to express the full spectrum of my sexuality with my stable male partner and our female partners helped, but after 11 years I decided enough was enough and talked to my doctor about an alternative last fall.

Reason 2 - The IUD: Last October I decided to get an IUD (before everyone started talking about getting them because of the election results.) I was absolutely terrified, as I've had a few friends who had issues with them. I knew other women who had no problems at all, so I went ahead with it. My nervousness now seems like a premonition, as I've had a rough go. A pelvic inflammatory infection made me think the thing had perforated me, and while the pain has subsided since then, it still feels like I have cramps every single day. I'm probably getting the darn thing out next week. My worry and the pain have kept me away from any kind of penetration and made me feel decidedly unsexy.

Here are some of the questions that run through my head as I think about how all of this has affected my motivation and ability to write my erotica. I've answered them for myself as well, and if you have any thoughts in response, I'd love to hear them!

  • Do I need to be having sex to write about it? Probably not - after all, some of the scenarios I write are based off of real-life events, but others are not.
  • Do I need to feel sexy to write erotica? This is trickier. Clearly not feeling sexually motivated has been keeping me from writing, so in theory the answer is yes.
  • How can I motivate myself to write? a) Put myself in situations and places that make me feel sexy, even if I'm not going to have sex. A night of clubbing has always been a boost to my sexuality! b) Write non-sexual content when I'm not feeling sexy. This could definitely benefit the length of my pieces! c) Make writing a habit. Schedule a regular time to write, once a day or once a week, so that even if I'm not feeling it, I sit down and do it anyway. d) Give myself incentives. If I'm binge-watching a show, make myself write 500 words before starting the next episode. Go out for frozen yogurt after I hit a goal word count. e) Read my own work! Unless I'm working with my editor, I tend not to re-read my content. Reading through it more often may give me a fresh spark of inspiration.

At the moment, I have two novel-length pieces about half finished, and four short stories in various stages of progress. I'm going to commit to you, my amazing fans, right now that no matter how sexy or unsexy I fee, I will have one of those erotica short stories finished by the end of the month and published on Amazon! Wish me luck...

Congratulations to Oregon Governor Kate Brown

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Kate Brown, a bisexual woman, is officially the first LGBT person to be elected governor of a U.S. state. I am so excited and proud that my neighbor state has elected someone who I and many other bisexual people can relate to. Like me, Governor Brown is married to a man but has had relationships with women. She can "pass" as straight, but was outed in the '90s by a news publication.

Learn more about Governor Kate Brown in this NPR story about her election, and this story about her frank discussion of her sexuality during a graduation speech earlier this year. The closing lines of that story particularly stuck with me:

Shortly after being sworn in, Brown received a letter from a young bisexual person in Indiana. It stuck with her.

"They felt like my coming out gave them a reason to live, like there's other people out there like me," she said. "That's what I was able to say to my mom: This makes a huge difference to people."

A Bisexual Woman's Perspective on "Locker Room Talk"

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The current explanation (because it sure as hell isn't an apology) for the misogynist ramblings of Donald Trump and Billy Bush is that it was "locker room talk." Trump said as much in his official response statement and then used it again five times during the debate tonight, in response to questions about the leaked audio recording. It was very clear that his team had coached him to focus on that phrase. As I read and watched more on this issue, I got to thinking about my unique perspective on male "locker room talk" as a bisexual female. Guys who know that I am bi tend to be freer with their language, especially when they realize that they can check out women with me. We discuss women's bodies, yes, including how much we'd like to sleep with them, and I enjoy that camaraderie. But here's the thing: I have never heard such despicable things from my male friends. Our "locker room talk" does not include incitements to sexual assault.

Maybe the kind of guys who accept that I'm bi, are friends with me, and check out girls with me aren't the type that would ever engage in that kind of "locker room talk." Maybe it's because I'm female, which overrides the fact that I am as attracted to women as they are. But in my world, incitements to non-consensual kissing, or worse, are not normal.

Calling references to sexual assault "locker room talk" does not make them normal or permissible. The most troubling thing about these men's "locker room talk" is how it affected their interaction with actress Arianne Zucker once they got off that bus. Bush goaded her into hugging Trump and himself, and the three walked off arm in arm - all completely unnecessary physical contact that I doubt would have happened without the "locker room banter" that happened on the bus. It's no wonder that Bush was just suspended from the Today show.

What has been encouraging has been seeing so many men in my life speak out against the "locker room talk" explanation, and emphasize that this type of "banter" is not normal or acceptable. Yes I realize that there are guys out there who engage in this type of talk and behavior. But the most troubling thing, to me, is the women who aren't concerned by it - who buy into the "locker room talk" explanation and follow it up with "boys will be boys." We don't need boys running this country. We need men who hold themselves to higher standards, and women who are empowered to be their equals.

Whether you're straight or queer, and no matter your political affiliation, I would love to hear your thoughts on this issue. Have you experienced "locker room talk" like this? How do you think we should address it?

Happy BiWeek 2016 & Celebrate Bisexuality Day!

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Happy BiWeek and BiDay to all of my amazing friends, fans and allies! This morning I celebrating by dropping my friend Dee Dee off at the airport. She was chosen to represent the Seattle bisexual community at the White House's BiWeek events. (She's one of the leaders of the Seattle Bisexual Women's Network!) Our community came together to provide her a plane ticket and so far we have raised $750 via a GoFundMe campaign to support her lodging, meal and transportation costs while she's there. This is such an amazing opportunity and I'm so proud and happy for her!

I've seen several out bi friends post messages of support and awareness on social media today and it's so encouraging. For those of who who can, I encourage you to make your friends aware of this day and this week. For those who can't, take time to reflect on your sexuality and your relationships, and connect with your community if possible. However you are celebrating BiWeek 2016 or Celebrate Bisexuality Day, I wish you peace, joy and pride!

New LGBT Pride Rainbow Unicorn Shirt!

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Check out what came in the mail today! We've had a few requests at Pride festivals for our signature unicorn design on a full rainbow flag, so here it is. I'm so excited to share the unicorn love with everyone on the LGBT spectrum, our allied friends, and those who just love rainbows and unicorns.

This shirt is available on Amazon in both a fitted and a relaxed fit style.

Increase Bisexual Visibility with #BiStories

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I am so excited to see bisexual visibility project #BiStories happening, after hearing about its launch at Comic-Con. BiNet USA is collecting stories as part of a program to raise awareness of the discrimination bi+ people face, as well as the journeys of the people who love and support them. It is so important for those of us who are able to in the community to make our voices heard and tell our stories. Do it for the bisexual men and women, boys and girls who haven't come out yet, or may never come out for fear of bisexual erasure or worse. Do it to call attention to the community as a whole. Do it for your younger bisexual self. Together we can raise up our community, save lives, and make sure that the B in LGBT is not silent!

Meaningful Moments from Pride 2016 - Bisexual Representation

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First of all, thank you to everyone who stopped by my booths at Pride Northwest in Portland and Pridefest Seattle. A special thank you goes to those of you who made my day throughout both weekends by thanking me for being there to represent the bisexual community. I was so proud and honored once again this year to be the only bisexual themed booth at both events. While there were touching moments throughout, I wanted to highlight two special interactions that happened this year.

Down in Portland, one young woman moved me nearly to tears. In all the casual and fun attire of the waterfront festival, her carefully chosen and slightly more formal outfit stood out. She browsed the shirts and accessories at the booth and then spoke up and told us how much it meant to her that we were there representing the bisexual community. She had just come out to her family a few weeks before and this was her first Pride. My heart burst with pride for her and gratitude that she shared her story with me. I will always regret that I didn't give her a giant hug. Throughout the rest of the day, we saw her pass by the booth several times and I made sure to give her a big smile and a wave.

In Seattle, two stories stood out, both on Sunday at Seattle Center. This was my first year having a booth at the main festival, and I am certainly glad we were there. First, there was a woman who was taking her time trying to decide which shirt to get, if any. I asked if she would like any help, or if she'd like to see a particular size, and she ended up explaining that she was having some trouble coming out. She left, but came back later and ended up getting a shirt. When I took her card and ID, I realized she was in the military and wondered if that had anything to do with her issues coming out. Before she left, she thanked me for being there and supporting the community.

Finally, a young man who bought a shirt earlier in the day explained that he was just coming out and that it was hard to find bisexual representation at Pridefest and in Seattle in general. He stopped by as we were starting to pack up and thanked us again for everything we were doing.

These people are why I do what I do. Because I was once like them: searching for a community and for representation. I am so glad that I can help provide that for them.

Pride 2016: Scared, but Showing Up Anyway

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Queer communities around the world are having an interesting and important discussion right now: what's next? How do we move forward in the face of so much hate and celebrate Pride when we're also in mourning? How do we manage the fear and anxiety that the events in Orlando have brought up for us again? I say again because the fear of being attacked and killed because of who we love is something that queer people face every day. Orlando was a brutal reminder of that ongoing threat. The question is this: given the current environment, should we still attend upcoming Pride festivals, despite this fear and anxiety?

Several communities have held Pride celebrations in the wake of the shooting so far. For me as well, the answer is yes. I've already booked my booths at Pride Northwest in Portland, PrideFest Capitol Hill, and PrideFest 2016 at Seattle Center, so I can't not go, but I also can't help but feel anxious. I've cried and worried and discussed it with my partner. My parents have expressed their concern for my safety as well. I take some comfort in the fact that if something happened, he and I would both be "the helpers" Fred Rogers was talking about - we both have first aid and leadership training and would not hesitate to get people to safety and provide aid. But beyond that, we have also discussed our duty to represent the bi community at these events, to show everyone that we do exist and we won't be silenced by acts of hate. Last year we were the only bi booth at both festivals. We have the honor and the responsibility of being a strong, supportive source of bisexual pride. If you're nervous about attending Pride Northwest Portland and Seattle PrideFest, as I will be, please know that you'll find a kindred spirit and a safe place at my booth. Come by for a chat or a hug and know that you are among friends and that our bisexual pride can not be silenced.

The Best Bisexual Allies: Caring Partners

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Today I shipped off a bisexual pride unicorn shirt and a bisexual pride flag to a woman who bought them for her husband. Now I'm not sure if she is bi, or just him, but it reminded me of when my heterosexual male partner bought me my first bisexual themed shirt to wear to Seattle Pride, and of the fact that often the best allies bisexual people can have are our partners.

When we are faced with erasure from others, these allies recognize and honor our bisexual identities. They know that just because we are dating them, someone of the opposite gender, does not suddenly make us straight. For bisexual poly folks like me, their understanding extends even further to respect and support same-sex  or opposite-sex relationships for us, whether or not they are involved.

So to all of you awesome allied partners of bisexual people out there: THANK YOU for your love and support.

(Note: this article was originally written with a focus on heterosexual partners, and it has been updated to reflect that both same-sex and opposite-sex partners of bisexual people can be and are fantastic allies.)

The Importance of "Choosing a Side" & Showing Your Bisexual Pride

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"Choose a side" is a common bisexual erasure phrase. We're told to decide whether we're gay or straight, and then people assume we've "chosen" when we have a partner of the same or opposite gender. I don't mean it like that. My mission with my clothing line is to encourage bisexual people to name and own their identity as bisexual. When I say "choose a side" I am encouraging fellow bisexual people to express their bisexual identity.

When bisexual people define and own our sexuality, we create a safe space for others to do the same. It's as simple as that. The refusal of many post-Millennials to define their sexuality promotes an ambiguous environment where individuals own their identities (as well they should) but are not part of a supportive community.  It's hard to stand up and fight for a cause when you don't name it!

The impact of having your sexuality represented by a larger community is so meaningful, especially when you have been repressing it or judged by others because of it. My booth was the only bisexual-specific booth at Portland and Seattle Pride last year, and the gratitude of the bisexual people who visited it was almost overwhelming. When we own our bisexual identities as a community, we can create social change together.

Getting Excited for Seattle PrideFest & Pride Northwest 2016!

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 My booth at Pride Northwest 2015 in Portland, OR

My booth at Pride Northwest 2015 in Portland, OR

It's time for another year of bisexual pride and polyamory pride in the Pacific Northwest! I've been going through my inventory and planning what to bring to this year's Pride festivals in Seattle, WA and Portland, OR. So far we'll have:

  • Our signature Bisexual Pride Unicorn Flag t-shirts
  • Our hilarious Multitasking Polyamory Pride t-shirts
  • Rainbow and Bisexual Flag Lollipops
  • Rainbow Flower Leis
  • Rainbow Pride Flags
  • Bisexual Pride Flags

If you have any ideas or suggestions for what else I should bring, please let me know! Last year, we were honored to be the only bisexual and polyamory pride booth at Pride Northwest and the Saturday PrideFest Capitol Hill in Seattle, and we've decided to book a booth at the big PrideFest event on Sunday at Ceattle Center as well. If you're planning on attending any of the events, please stop by and see us!

5 Ways Parents Can Be Good Allies for their Bisexual Children

Jayne SheaComment

I am very blessed to have fantastic LGBTQ allies for parents. Although I wasn't sure if they remembered that I came out to them in 8th grade, of course they did, and they found ways to support my developing identity from that point on, while still allowing me to explore it myself. My mother has always been especially thoughtful and caring, especially now that I am fully out to her and my dad as both bi and poly. Besides my partner, they are the biggest fans and supporters of the Jayne B Shea brand! The other day, my mom was showing me some food ideas she had collected on Pinterest, including the awesome rainbow kebab tray above, which she had saved because she knew I'd love it as a representation of the Pride Flag. It's little touches like that moment that let me know she and my dad support me in my bisexual and polyamorous identity, and always will.

In honor of my parents, and to provide support for families in similar situations, here are some ways that parents can show their support for their bisexual (or LGBTQ in general) children:

  1. Learn: Study as much as your can about sexual identity, gender identity, queer rights issues and other topics that might be relevant to your child. Be a resource if your child has questions about these subjects (without trying to teach them - allow them to explore the issues on their own.)
  2. Watch Your Pronouns/Gender Assumptions: It's easy to fall into heteronormative habits when checking in with your child about love interests. Stick with the gender-neutral "they" to show that you know and accept that your child may be interested in either same-gender or opposite-gender partners.
  3. Take them to Pride Festivals: Last summer, I was so proud, pleased and excited to see so many parents with their kids at Seattle and Portland Pride. Attending these events with your kids is a major demonstration of your support for their identity. It can also make them feel more comfortable in their new community and help them make smart choices as they celebrate Pride.
  4. Be a Good Wingwoman/Wingman: This is a bit tricky, since for some kids it might be weird to have mom or dad as a wingwoman or wingman, but I can't tell you how much it meant to me over the years to hear my mom comment on women I thought were cute. You don't necessarily have to help them find dates, but showing your support in this area is a thoughtful touch.
  5. Give them Space & Love: Sexual and gender identity is a tricky issue that your child needs to navigate for themselves. Allow your child the freedom to explore and define their own identity over time. Show them you love them who they are, including (not despite) their sexual identity.