Berkeley, Calif. on Tuesday became the first city in the nation to officially proclaim a bisexual pride day, a move proponents say is a step forward for a group that often gets dismissed even within the LGBT community.
The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously to declare Sept. 23 Bisexual Pride and Bi Visibility Day, the Associated Press reported. Bisexual pride events are already held on that day in Los Angeles, Boston and other cities across the country, but Berkeley appears to be the only city to officially recognize the day, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
"Bisexuals can experience prejudice from both directions," Councilman Kriss Worthington, who introduced the resolution, told the Chronicle. "Increasing bisexual visibility is a way of saying, yes, they do exist, and they deserve our support and acceptance."
As the AP noted, the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles estimates that more than 4 million Americans identify as bisexual -- more than the total number of Americans who identify as gay, lesbian or transgender combined. Still, bisexuals say they don't feel welcomed by their fellows under the LGBT umbrella.
"They think we have 'straight privilege,' and we hide in that," Martin Rawlings-Fein, a director of the Bay Area Bisexual Network, told the Chronicle. "We get pushed to the side in the LGBT community and told we don't exist, that we're actually gay or lesbian and just not totally 'out.' "
The resolution approved Tuesday resolution states, "While many advancements have been made with respect to equitable acceptance of bisexual people in our nation, the bisexual community remains a distinct one from the gay community and seeks acceptance as such, making it important for the City of Berkeley to demonstrate support for the community individually."
Nancy Carleton, a former Berkeley zoning board chair and a bisexual, called the city's move symbolic but still significant.
"Certain parts of the LGBT community get lots and lots of attention, and certain parts just get lumped in," she told the Chronicle. "We're just a tag-on on the longer list."
"The more we can learn about each other, the more tolerance grows," she added. "This gives the LGBT community a little spark."