“For about three decades, I was saying these things and doing this work, and I felt no one was listening, that nothing was changing. I don’t feel that way anymore. Things are changing. I feel we are moving forward, [and] I feel that there’s more oxygen in the air for people with nonbinary sexualities, and this brings me joy. This makes me feel that the work we’ve been doing all these years has actually made some sort of a difference.”Robyn Ochs, bi.org
“It wasn’t until I finally began coming out to others that I realized how much I had been suffocating in my own silence.”Robyn Ochs, LGBTQ Policy Journal
Ochs said she added the word “queer” to her identity alongside bisexual in the 1990s, and recently added “pansexual,” too. “I see those three different words almost as describing: Is something blue, or is it turquoise or is it azure? I think that they are all overlapping terms; they can co-exist comfortably.”Robyn Ochs, NBC News
“People often mistake someone coming out as bisexual as a sexual invitation,” says Ochs.
“When someone is simply sharing their identity, people think that they’re inviting them into the bedroom.
“I had one girlfriend leave me because she was afraid I was going to leave her [because of my orientation],” says Ochs.
“I wasn’t confused about being bisexual. I was confused about not being trusted.”Robyn Ochs, Teen Vogue
“Rather than arguing over which word is better, I believe that bi- and pan-identified folks would be wise to pool our energy and resources to fight, instead, for the right to hold non-binary sexualities,” Ochs says. “There are so many people out there who want to erase and hurt us, I don’t think we need to hurt each other.”Robyn Ochs, Refinery29
“Bisexual people have a much harder time finding community and safe space,” Ochs explained, “…even when there’s an established LGBTQ community, it’s often not fully inclusive of bisexual-identified people.”Robyn Ochs, NBC News
At the end of last year, Harvard Kennedy student Elizabeth Zwart interviewed Robyn for her “living queer history” assignment; the result was recently published in Harvard Kennedy’s LGBTQ Policy Journal. In the interview, they discussed the creation and evolution of the Boston Bisexual Women’s Network, the relationships between different facets of the LGBTQ community, and the importance of community and identity spaces.
How has the conversation around inclusion progressed over the years?
As non-binary identities have come to the fore, we’ve had to discuss how to adapt language to be inclusive. For example, when I used to describe who Bi Women Quarterly is for, I would say it was a publication for bi women. But now I say it’s for women and also non-binary people comfortable under that umbrella who identify as bi or with any other non-binary sexuality. It’s a lot of words, but they’re inclusive words. We very intentionally and explicitly don’t police who belongs.
Read the entire interview here.
All of my events through May were cancelled due to COVID-19, so it looks like I’ll be spending this April at home instead of on the road.
But, I am available virtually to give online talks or webinars!
My Etsy shop BiProducts is also still up and shipping orders. Proceeds from sales go to supporting Bi Women Quarterly, a FREE publication featuring the voices of bisexual, pansexual, & queer women. Subscribe or read us online at biwomenboston.org
“You may not recognize Robyn’s name at first glance, but I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts that you’ve recited her words without even knowing it. Her definition of bisexuality— referred to as the Ochs standard— is often the most recognized and cited on the internet, both inside and out the academic halls. On the forefront of bi studies for nearly forty years, Ochs is perhaps the most prominent scholar on bi studies and activism in the United States. An educator, speaker, grassroots activist, and editor of Bi Women Quarterly and two anthologies, this trailblazer was named by Teen Vogue as one of “9 Bisexual Women Who are Making History.”
Recently I had the privilege to sit down with Robyn and talk over the phone about all things bi— from her headline-making marriage (one of first same-sex ones in the nation) to how growing tomatoes is essential to her decades of groundbreaking work.”Jennie Roberson, “Robyn Ochs – Being Out is Activism”
Back in January, Robyn sat down with bi.org to discuss coming out as bisexual, doing activism sustainably, and how the experience of being bisexual has changed over the years. Read the entire interview here.