Monday, March 12, 2007

Talking about our lives

I've mentioned before that I am one of the facilitators of the Bi Women's Group at the Pacific Center. I have sort of named myself Facilitator of the Facilitators, mostly because it's how I know that things will get done. What I mean is, it keeps me comfortable. I'm into structure, ya know, with four planets in Virgo. I haven't gotten the sense that anyone else wants to do it, or resents my coup.

The BWG has been in the doldrums since sometime last fall. The meetings were small and it didn't often feel like anything was really going on. We had moved to a larger room in the summer to accommodate the 15-18 women who were coming, and then for months there were five or six people coming (or fewer!), including the facilitator. With five people, even if there is only one person who is uncertain about speaking or how the group works, the dynamics of the whole meeting are affected: There would be low energy, scattered topics, silence, and discomfort with silence.

Two weeks ago there were eight people at the meeting, six of us "oldtimers," and last week there were thirteen, with four "oldtimers." Both weeks the topics were interesting and meaty, flirting and identity, respectively. I'm hoping and hopeful that we've moved out of the doldrums and will be picking up in people and in conversation. A friend suggested that with the start of Daylight Savings and the change in the weather perhaps people will start showing up: The two-hour meeting starts at 8pm and that feels a lot later when it's dark and chilly outside.

I really believe that our group provides an important service. Sometimes I've felt it more keenly than at other times, like when a woman says that she thinks maybe she should break up with her boyfriend because she is realizing she likes women also, or when someone asks how can she legitimately call herself bi before she's kissed a woman, or when someone's girlfriend tells her she has to make up her mind.

I started going to this group because at the time I had a lot of male energy in my life. I had been dating men, my friends at work were largely men, and I hung out at AsiaSF with the bartenders, who at the time were all men. I wasn't looking to date women, I was just looking for women. I've met some really great women and made wonderful friends through the group, talking over relationships, families, politics, sexism, heterosexism, identity, every subject you can imagine. Someone I really respect says that because we are bi, everything in our lives is bi-related. We talk about our lives.

Now I see my role as a sort of "elder stateswoman." I have been out as bi for a very long time, and I've been a member of the group for six years, and at Camp Odyssey I was the "Bi Speaker." I feel like I want to be a resource for others, the way I wish I had had a resource when I came out. A little story from those days: My girlfriend and I thought we may had met someone who would be a resource for us, and then she said she wasn't a feminist. Not that being queer means you have to be a feminist, but at the time we couldn't see any other way. I still remember the shock I felt when she said that.

I feel privileged to be one of the group's facilitators, all women whom I find it a pleasure to know and work with (or goof off with, or go out with, or march with). Our group serves women with all kinds of experiences, backgrounds, and lifestyles, ones who talk a lot and ones who come back week after week and say little or nothing. We don't know how we're serving them, but clearly we are. We facilitators are just like the women who attend the meetings. We are bi and we are anyone.

1 comment:

pj said...

I went to the meeting last week. I finally found my bi voice. It wasn't about being bi or not, or polyamory. It ended up being about gender.

Anyway - there were 8 of us. The facilitator was new. I felt like I talked too much to try and keep the conversation going.

I was happy to be there. Everything the world has to offer was there, pain, suffering, love, laughter, creativity, and joy.

If I can help, let me know.