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Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World
Book review by Cheryl Dobinson

Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World is primarily (194 of 270 pages) an anthology of approximately 180 very short pieces of personal writing by bisexual people from over 30 countries. Organized into 9 themed chapters, these personal accounts of bisexual life, relationships, community and politics make up the bulk of the accessibly-written collection, which concludes with a section of brief articles and resource lists, including a selection of quotes, fiction and non-fiction booklists, and organizations and on-line resources.

The personal narratives span an impressive range of bisexual experience, including 15 pieces translated into English, primarily from Spanish and Mandarin (two of the languages which the call for submissions was translated into) and considerable diversity in writers’ geographic location, age, gender identity, race, ethnocultural identity, ability, relationship status, and views on bisexuality and bisexual identity. Although there are more contributions from the United States than any other country, the Boston-based editors have nonetheless been remarkably effective in making the anthology as international in scope as it is.

The articles in the final section of the book are succinct and largely practical in their focus. Tom Limoncelli’s “How to Spell Bisexual,” is an excellent piece tackling, among other errors, the issue of the hyphenated spelling of “bi-sexual” which is an enormous pet peeve among many bisexual activists. The most scholarly piece in the collection, “Biphobia” by Robyn Ochs, is an excellent summary of what biphobia is, the relationship between homophobia and biphobia, and the dynamics of internalized biphobia. For the activist, the articles “Bisexual Politics for Lesbians and Gay Men” and “Bisexual Etiquette: 10 Helpful Hints for Bisexuals Working with Lesbians and Gay Men” serve as valuable resources in guiding bisexuals, lesbians and gay men in working effectively and respectfully with each other. Cianna Stewart contributes a very sex-positive article with useful information on safer sex, safer injecting and coming out to your doctor.

Getting Bi is a good introductory bisexual book which I would recommend to anyone who is just coming out as bisexual or who thinks they might be bisexual, as well as the reader who wants to know more about the subject from a personal experience point of view. I find that the articles and resource lists are the sections I refer back to most often in my own use of the book. However, when I have the book in hand I almost always take a peek into the personal stories as well. Their brevity makes it easy to open the book to any page and read for a few minutes from the perspectives offered there. As a bisexual activist and researcher these stories help keep me grounded in the actual lived experiences of bisexual people, which is both necessary and valuable to the work I do and the way I want to be doing it.

Book details: Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World. Robyn Ochs, Editor and Sarah E. Rowley, Co-Editor. Boston : Bisexual Resource Centre, 2005; photographs and illustrations; x + 270 pages; ISBN 0-9653881-4-X; $14.95 US.