Fenway Health hosting series of community events on bisexuality

May 9, 2014 02:45 PM

Ashley Jamie Delma
Ellyn Ruthstrom, executive director of the Bisexual Resource Center, is working with Fenway Health on a series of events to increase awareness about bisexuality and fight biphobia.

By Ashley Jamie Delma, Globe Correspondent

Fenway Health’s Boundless Series is teaming up with organizations such as the Bisexual Research Center to bring awareness throughout the year about bisexuality and fighting biphobia.

“The lack of knowledge can be very painful for us because people are constantly throwing misconceptions at us,” said Ellyn Ruthstrom, president of Bisexual Research Center. “That’s an important part of biphobia we need to address.”

The Boundless Series, which caters to lesbians, bisexuals, queers, asexuals and pansexuals, is presenting a series of six events a year at Fenway Health, located at 1340 Boylston St. in the Fenway.

The next event in the series takes place on June 5. Fenway Health is collaborating with the Lesbians of Color Symposium on a project inviting members of the community who identify as queer women of color “to come tell their stories around topics such as coming out, intersection of identities, and self-care,” said Catherine Basham, the Women’s Health Outreach Coordinator.

A video collection of those stories will premiere June 5 at Fenway Health.

On Monday, April 28, Fenway Health held an event called “Fighting Biphobia: Celebrating Bisexual Identity.”

The panel included Ellyn Ruthstrom, Executive Director of the Bisexual Resource Center; Charlie Strauss, LICSW, facilitator of Fenway’s Bisexual and Bi-Curious Men’s Group and therapist; Dr. Denise Garrow-Pruitt, a college professor and facilitator of bi womens’ support groups; and slam poet Michael Monroe.

“The experience that many bisexual people have of being told we don't exist or have our sexual orientation denigrated is extremely hard on our sense of self,” said Ruthstrom. Many bisexuals have a hard time coming out because they are not easily recognized.

“When I came out as bi I got numerous responses of ‘So what are you telling me?’” said Laura Michealson who attended the event, “No one really saw it as coming out.”

Many people within the Boston Community who identify or support the bisexual community came out to speak about their concerns, experiences, and thoughts on how bisexuality is not respected in society. “

“I recognize the invisibility of them (bisexuals) in the LGBT movement so I just came to offer support,” said Dominique Wilkins, 27, of Roslindale.

Ashley Davis, 23, who attended the panel discussion, said, “I’ve been exploring my own sexuality lately and I think that these are conversations I want to be more involved in. I haven’t really had the opportunity in life to engage in these conversations about being bisexual.”

In March, the Bisexual Research Center launched its first Bisexual Health Awareness Month social media campaign, which focused on the link between biphobia and mental health, according to Ruthstrom.

“There’s a sense of internalized biphobia,” said Strauss. In his drop-in groups every second Tuesday night at Fenway Health, men come in saying that they are emotionally close to women but prefer sex with men, said Strauss, asking the question, “Is there something wrong with me?”

People within the bi community are more likely to get cancer, smoke, attempt suicide and have mental disorders, according to a Bisexual Research Center study.

Ruthstrom and other people with the community hope to continue to the discussion of biphobia and share experiences and ideas about how to deal with people who don’t understand.

This article is being published under an arrangement between the Boston Globe and Emerson College.

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