Bi, Bi Love, Bi, Bi Politics -- Oh, it's so complex! Coming out bisexual gives Marcy Rein a lot to mull over. Nine of us crammed into a small cluttered room for a meeting on a rare steamy summer night in San Francisco. L. was wearing shorts and sat with long strong legs stretched out, tanned to toasty perfection, hairs burnished gold. My attention wandered far from the business at hand, down those legs and up again to where they met, and I started feeling all warm and liquid inside. But as the meaning of the feeling sank in, the warm wet congealed in a cold puddle of dread. L. was a man, you see, and for years I'd identified as lesbian; many of my friends were lesbians; I wrote and worked in the intersection of lesbian/gay and left politics. Being true to those warm feelings meant coming out to myself and my world as bisexual -- a process tangled with more shame and fear than my seamless slip into the lesbian/feminist community fifteen years before. For years there was little public space for bisexuals, and the cost of coming out was high, in gay circles as well as straight. There are legions of reasons why lesbians and gay men mistrust bisexuals. Some come from the difficulty of clearing new queer space, only to see trespassers crashing back and forth across the borders, in and out of heterosexual privilege at will. Some grow from painful private history -- and yes, it is a different insult being left for a man than for another woman. Stereotypes and myths abound. We are fickle fence- sitters, in the closet, in a phase, incapable of commitment, we fuck anything that moves, bisexual men spread AIDS in the "general population" and bisexual women spread it to lesbians. But one of the signal events in the queer movement in the last half-dozen years has been the blossoming of bisexual organizing. Local bisexual groups started coming together in the mid '70s -- New York's BiForum in 1975, San Francisco's Bisexual Center in '76, Chicago's BiWays in 1978. Bisexual women's networks like those in Boston and Seattle sprang up in the early '80s. At the 1987 March on Washington, in a hotel room, the national bisexual movement was born. Two Boston activists made a banner, rented the room, and sent flyers to organizers who had worked locally and regionally for years. About 80 people responded. "Instead of voices on the phone, it was real people you could squeeze," said Lani Kaahumanu, one of the first out bisexual activists and co-editor of the anthology Bi Any Other Name. The networking in D.C. spurred a national bisexual conference in San Francisco in 1990; this created a "snowball effect," said Bay Area writer and activist Naomi Tucker. New people began taking leadership locally and meeting regionally, in support groups and political action groups and shared-interest groups, close to 500 by 1993. Bisexual books and magazines began to appear; bisexuals were reflected in the names of university groups and a few lesbian/gay organizations. After a bitter struggle, bisexuals and transgendered people persuaded the organizing committee for the 1993 March on Washington to add "bi" to its name also, although the committee couldn't manage the "sexual" part and choked on transgender; the event became the "March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay & Bi Equal Rights and Liberation." (This year's Stonewall 25 celebration does not include bisexuals in its name, because it is a product of the international movement, but that's another story.) Nearly 500 people attended a National Conference Celebrating Bisexuality the day before the march; the day of the event they thronged in a block-long contingent behind a huge "Bi Pride" banner with overlapping pink + blue = lavender triangles. During the march, the common ground bisexuals share with gay men and lesbians was clear: the struggle for society to embrace queer relations alongside straight ones, and to subdue a common enemy. The military ban and Colorado's Amendment 2 -- the two expressions of homophobia most loudly denounced on the march -- both cover bisexuals as well as lesbians and gays. "The religious wrong sees we're all interconnected," said Dr. Elias Farajaje-Jones, bisexual activist and professor of divinity at Howard University. "They go from abortions to queers to people of color to English-only." NO TWO SIDES For all they share, many bi- and homo- sexuals operate on different understandings of sexuality, which have profound implications for their organizing. Straight society enshrines the dichotomy straight sex/gay sex, good sex/bad sex (though even the good kind is a little sleazy unless you're married or selling something). In response the lesbian/gay movement has said no: both sides are good. And bisexuals say there are no two sides, but a kaleidoscopically shifting, endlessly diverse middle. Bisexuals form relationships in myriad ways, from long- term or serial monogamy to stable triangles to polyfidelitous webs. Year by year or month by month or minute by minute, we experience our attractions as fluid and changeable. "To be bi and honest is to recognize our orientation sometimes seems to shift with the amount of pollen in the air, the phases of the moon, or propinquity to whoever we are around," said feminist peace activist Starhawk. "Our struggle is not only for our own sexuality but for pleasure, variety, diversity, fluidity as values worth fighting for," she said. There's a new social-science tool that models this, called the Klein Sexual Orientation Grid. The best-known measure of orientation has been the Kinsey scale, which runs a simple continuum from zero (exclusively heterosexual) to six (exclusively homosexual) based on experiences and psychological reactions. But the Klein Grid maps orientation by looking at past, present and ideal behavior, attraction, identification, fantasy, lifestyle and social and emotional presence, giving a multi-layered picture more descriptive of bisexual experience. "Bisexual pride ...challenges both the heterosexual and the homosexual assumption," Kaahumanu told a sweat-soaked crowd in her speech at the end of the '93 march. "Like multiculturalism, mixed heritage and bi-racial relationships, both the bisexual and transgender movements expose and politicize the middle ground. Each show that there is no separation, that each of us is part of a fluid social, sexual and gender dynamic." "Making the middle ground visible," she explained later, "brings in everything else," laying the basis for multi-issue organizing. By contrast, much lesbian/gay organizing works from the either/or, hetero or homo concept. "The established leadership buys into being 'the other,' a reflection of the heterosexual world," said Kaahumanu. The result is a politics based on identity, on being part of a group that loves and has sex with members of the same sex, period. Bisexuality subverts this -- when an identity is so flexible, how can it alone ground your politics? It shifts the emphasis from what you are to what you believe, act on, and act out. It moves from politics based on identity to politics that include affirmation of "our increasing global complexity on the basis of the heart and on the basis of an honest human body," as June Jordan wrote in the Progressive. "Bisexuality means I am free and I am as likely to want and to love a woman as I am likely to want and to love a man, and what about that? Isn't that what freedom implies?" she continued. "If you are free, you are not predictable and you are not controllable. To my mind, that is the keenly positive, politicizing significance of bisexual affirmation... to insist upon the equal validity of all of the components of social/sexual complexity," she said.