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In 1988, John Drake, a young African American man, born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, was hired by the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD), beginning his police service in the Patrol Division. Thirty-two years later, on November 30, 2020, he was appointed Chief of Police.
During the intervening years, Drake has served his community and MNPD in many capacities. Besides Patrol, he also served roles as diverse as the Narcotics Unit, where he investigated serious drug crimes, to the Police Athletic League, where he began a children’s basketball program that quickly expanded from 100 to 1,300+ participants.
As a leader in MNPD, Drake has policed the police from the Office of Professional Accountability, led the Investigations Unit in the Hermitage Precinct, and served as the first male captain of the Domestic Violence Division, where he implemented processes and procedures that still find wide application. He has served as commander of the Central Precinct and as Deputy Chief over the Support Services Bureau, with oversight of units ranging from SWAT to Fleet Operations. And from August 2020 until his formal hiring in November, Drake has served as Interim Chief of MNPD.
I spoke with Chief Drake this week about his appointment, and how he hopes to reshape the MNPD and its role and reputation in the Greater Nashville community.
Grady: What were some of the priorities that city leaders expressed when looking for a new chief, and how did you, as an applicant, fit those priorities?
Drake: What they expressed was that [they wanted] someone that could be a relationship builder, with the community, someone that was a good listener and also a good communicator.
Then they wanted to see about someone that could reimagine how we police. And I had some ideas that we're implementing. The biggest one is community engagement, moving away from the proactive style of policing and saturating neighborhoods, but actually trying to identify problem people and prevent those issues through arrest or intervention.
We know we can't arrest our way out of it, but we want to use our stakeholders, different groups. Some of this is drug addiction, mental illness, and other issues. So maybe we can get people the help they need and keep them from going down the path.
Then, there's the pandemic... I've been able to try to gain compliance not only in the downtown core, but throughout the city. We've got officers pretty much around the clock trying to help mitigate this virus.
Grady: When you talk about involving more social services, what does that look like from your perspective? I know that many people who describe their community proposal as defunding the police would describe their goals similarly.
Drake: Well, when I look at defunding, when you look at a police budget, about 90% of it is personnel, so any money that we take away from it is means a reduction of officers. We're 100 officers short: we're allocated for 1511. We have 1411. Even if we were fully staffed, we would still be about 300 officers short of what we think we need to keep Nashville safe the way we wanted.
But I do think that we should be involving more social services. But I feel we should be involved with that, so we're looking at crisis intervention. When someone's in crisis, sometimes when officers respond in uniform, it escalates the situation. And so my vision is that we have plainclothes officer teaming with mental health experts that can co-respond to these calls to help people that are in crisis.
From there, we can team with places like Sheriff Hall's Behavioral Care Center, to get people in for services, because a lot of this has to do with underlying factors. It's not just people wanting to commit criminal acts. They're addicted or have unaddressed mental health issues and all those other factors.
I see our school resource officers doing more and teaming more with maybe social workers in schools, and not playing the bully role of arresting kids. They're not there for security, they're there to build relationships. And then, if they do have to make an arrest of someone that's violated a law—gun in school or something like that—then do so, but actually be there to help teach, to help mentor, and work with people from social services.
Grady: The staffing issue seems like it's a perennial issue. But it also is an opportunity. I hear from a lot of people that they wish we had a police force that better reflected our community—more racial diversity, more LGBT officers, etc. What is your vision for recruiting to fill those positions and building the police force?
Drake: That’s hugely important. One of the first things I did was ... we started a recruitment unit with full-time officers. When I first applied for the police department, which was a LONG time ago, I had to go to the Stallman Building and physically fill out the paperwork. It was so much you took it with you brought it back and went through the process. When technology evolved, you went to a nashville.gov website and clicked on all these links.
So now we will also go out and proactively recruit people like we would do athletes: we want you on the police department. So we have a recruitment unit that includes LGBTQ officers, female officers, African American officers, Hispanic officers... And they can actually go out and recruit.
The way I look at it, we only have 24 female African American officers. We only have 156 women, and 211 minorities, and that's unacceptable for an agency that's in such a diverse city? When we look at the ranks, we have to build diversity, to recruit diversity. If we build a diverse body of officers, men and women, then we will be able to promote more diverse leaders to Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain, and so forth.
We just made promotions that better reflect the diversity of Nashville. But it's important to know that they're very knowledgeable. Everyone that makes the Captain and Command level is more than knowledgeable enough to be in a leadership position. Our executive team now has three African American men, including myself, two female officers, one LGBTQ... So it's well balanced, and very diverse. And I think it just builds a great work atmosphere, and people learn to work together understand each other, and it makes a positive environment.
Grady: What do you think are some of the benefits of having a diverse police force and diverse leadership?
Drake: People fear what they don't know, and so until we get to know each other, then it's going to always be that division. If we can get out into our communities, and whether it's African American community, or Hispanic or LGBTQ, and start communicating, collaborating, and then I think it's going to lead to great inroads in the future. And I just think that's just a positive way for us to do it...
Grady: You mentioned earlier that when officers show up in uniform, it can sometimes escalate situations. How do you how do you overcome that psychological barrier? And how do officers maintain their calm when things get heated?
Drake: Well, the main thing is to engage the community to learn each other people. People fear what they don't know. So as we get out in these communities and engage, then that's going to help.
So we build those relationships, and when things happen, we have to learn to de-escalate, whether someone's yelling at you, or whatever is going on—and learn to show restraint. And then people respect you more later, so I think it's important to retain your composure in those types of situations.
Grady: Do you have a vision for developing your officers, and providing them additional training, going forward?
Drake: Oh absolutely it is a huge priority, even for leadership to continue developing. I've gone through all kinds of leadership programs around the country and have mentors that helped me along the way. I went through a program called the Police Executive Leadership Institute in Washington, D.C., and so I'm assigned a mentor, Michael Harrison, who's the commissioner in Baltimore. And so we talk all the time. Whenever I need to talk about anything, whether it's police related, being a chief, or just talking about life, I can do that.
So I feel continuing ed is very important. One, if you have your degree, you can move up into the leadership ranks, so you really need to get that. Two, whatever division you're in, build upon that. If you're in homicide, you can go to those schools to learn to be the best detective you can be. Or if you're on a bike, you can go to a bike school to be the best... It really enhances what you're trying to achieve and what you're doing for the community.
We do that quite well—we send a lot of people all over the country, and then we do a lot of train the trainer programs, so they can come back and train officers, as well. And so I think it's a win for everyone you.
Grady: Where do you see opportunities for the police to grow in their role in Nashville in positive ways?
Drake: I think the most positive way is just engage in community. Having a diverse workforce that can go out and mix and mingle with the community. People talk to people they can relate to. If you're African American, I go places ... I can go to the Citizens Police Academy, and there'll be someone that's African American or Hispanic will want to take a picture or want to talk about something. Or if someone knows you're LGBTQ, they may want to talk to you more. So I believe building a very diverse workforce is one of the major things we can do to help build those relationships.
Grady: Do you feel like the liaison positions have shown the effectiveness of that? Or have helped in some of these situations?
Drake: I think so. And we're actually expanding upon that even more. So we're combining that with Office of Community Engagement and Partnerships. And so, not only with the LGBTQ community, but all the communities.
For instance, the Kurdish and Muslim communities expressed that they haven't had a relationship with the police department... So we're going back to that, having meetings with them, and they're going to do a town hall the first part of January.
Another example, we have a Laotian officer that can connect us with that community and build those inroads. it's a very big and diverse community, that we need to be able to service more and relate to and have those communications.
Grady: So you, personally ... what are your goals and priorities as you're just getting you're getting your feet wet as the as the permanent chief. What do you want to do most?
Drake: What I want to do most is just reimagine how we connect with communities. And so we're doing that. Second is to build the diversity within a department to more reflect the community. But then also we need to have a new approach to violent crime.
Violent crime is up around the country, and it's up here too. We have homicides up over 34%, aggravated assaults up over 18%, thefts from vehicles ... we have over 2000 guns stolen from vehicles. All that is connected. Something that's troubling to me ... in one week alone, we had a 12- and 14-year-old that were stopped in a stolen vehicle that had a gun. They were trying to ditch the gun, and it went off as officers approached, but thankfully no one was hurt. That same week, we had another situation on the interstate where we have a 12- and 14-year-old killed, and a 16- and 14-year-old that were injured, by gunfire and a stolen vehicle at 3am.
So we are trying to figure out a way to connect with families, to send a message out to families and say, "Hey, if you're experiencing problems, reach out to us, let us try to connect you with advocates or other services to help you with your kid in need." Because some people feel like they're traveling this road alone, or they may be embarrassed, and I know how that can feel. But if we can show where were wanting to do more to help the families, I think it's going to go a long way.
Grady: Is there anything that you would like to say directly to the LGBT community about, about the relationship there? I know that you've been part of fostering the relationship with our community.
Absolutely, we appreciate the partnerships we have, and we want to expand on that. We want to do more, so if there's anything that anybody wants us to do more of, or feels that we're not doing enough of, let us know. We want to continue building those connections to become more of a community where everyone feels safe and accepted. We want to connect and be a servant to you.
This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.
When I was 14 years old, I surreptitiously made my way through the stacks in the local library until I came to the Psychology section. One after one, I took down the books whose titles I thought would provide an answer, went to the table of contents and, if there were any, I flipped to the pictures.
Eventually, I landed on one with a word I had never seen or heard: Transvestite. And on the next page there was a black and white photo of a man wearing a dress, looking like he had just crawled out from under a rock. I can still see the expression of guilt on his face.
Not long after that, the newspapers and TV broke the story of Christine Jorgensen, a former member of the U.S. Army who had gone to Denmark to have Sexual Reassignment Surgery (SRS). Of course, the majority of the reports were always accompanied by some sort of joke, such as “Christine Jorgensen went abroad and came back a broad!”
America's First Trans Celebrity: Christine Jorgensen youtu.be
But those two events rescued me. I learned that I was not the only person in the world with this “affliction,” this sense that something wasn’t right. And I got a word I could apply to it and maybe even hope for a cure. But it was too early. I knew that to say out loud, even maybe, that I should have been born a girl, would mean being ostracized, becoming part of the joke, so I chose the path followed by most transgender people of my generation. I put all of my energy into making sure that no one knew.
And that wasn’t easy. For no matter what I did, I couldn’t match the image of the all-American boy, so I became the class clown. If I wasn’t the John Wayne male, at least I could be Lenny Bruce. It was my way of deflecting the mismatch, and, to some extent, it worked.
Others like me took varying escape routes, becoming athletes, businessmen, or whatever role they could slip into and hide behind. Most married, had kids, and did whatever was necessary to survive, with varying results, but never with happy endings.
Segue to the present. The scenario I described above is, to a great extent, still being played out, but now there are exceptions. Transgender kids today can find some consolation on the Internet. They can learn early on that they aren’t “afflicted.” They can make contact with others like themselves. And they can read about transgender people who are proud of themselves and what they have accomplished as well as hearing about transgender children whose parents accept them and allow them to be who they are.
But the information highway is not all smooth driving. And naïve youth can get lost on detours and take wrong turns, winding up as prey to the trolls, predators, and religious zealots—as well as various other kinds of bullies—who inhabit the virtual world.
So is it any better today for our transgender youth? Most still have parents who reject them and peers who bully them. Nearly half of transgender teens have seriously thought about taking their lives, and one quarter report having attempted suicide  compared to a rate of 1.6 percent for the general population.
It’s far from a perfect world. But I believe it is definitely better than the one I grew up in, because it’s a world where the President of the United States has condemned “the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender”; it’s a world where the parents of transgender children have publicly supported their sons or daughters and stood up to schools that would try to discriminate against them; it’s a world where the medical and psychiatric professions have come to recognize that being transgender isn’t a disease. All these things were inconceivable possibilities on the day I sneaked into the library.
Nina Simone To Be Young Gifted And Black youtu.be
When I was a teenager, Nina Simone had a hit record titled “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black” that has since been covered by artists as diverse as Elton John, Rah Digga, and Faith Evans. A portion of the lyrics say, “We must begin to tell our young / There’s a world waiting for you / This is a quest that’s just begun.” That same message applies today.
To be transgender is not a curse; it’s a gift. As Derrick Moeller, a graduate student in Education at Iowa State University and a transman explains, “Having to contemplate what your gender identity and gender expression looks like is a privilege that most folks don’t have to go through” . Rather than being rejected they will know that they have been blessed, so that their plea “Why was I made like this?” will be replaced by a prayer of gratitude: “Thank you for making me like this.”
 Grossman, A.H. & D’Augelli, A.R. (2007). Transgender Youth and Life-Threatening Behaviors. *Suicide and Life-Threatening Behaviors* 37 (5), 527-37.
 Tiffany Herring, January 28 2015 Iowa State Daily [goo.gl/YSL3SC].
Many of us have made resolutions and pledged ourselves to transforming some aspect, or aspects, of our lives. For some, these resolutions will involve career, budget, home ownership, etc., but for a LOT of us, they will involve various health, exercise and fitness goals.
Often, these resolutions are vague, like “lose weight” or “exercise more”, and way too often they begin with a gym contract and end with Netflix and a bag of takeout. Getting specific can help in holding yourself accountable for these commitments, though. So we thought it might be interesting to talk with a local gay trainer, James Mai, about his fitness journey, his work as a trainer and how he keeps himself motivated, and get some of his suggestions for carrying through on this year’s fitness resolutions!
Mai said he hasn’t always been athletic, though he was thin. “I have not always been athletic. I danced a bit in college but never lifted a weight. I was what you call ‘skinny fat’ and I didn't know any different. I only started truly working out three years ago, when I started in the entertainment industry.”
The motivation to get into better shape was work. “Fitness was a byproduct of having to keep up my looks for castings,” he explained. “I found a love for training because everyone is on a different path, but I knew that I enjoyed being on that journey to help others get to be their more confident selves.”
Training, of course, keeps Mai in the gym, and helping others reach their goals keeps him motivated. He trains at Barry’s Bootcamp in Nashville, and he’s clearly passionate about his workplace.
“Barry's Bootcamp has been my family for the past 3 years!” Mai said. “There is a community of people that come together and actually encompasses what a fit family truly is.”
Barry’s describes its gym as “the room where everything becomes possible. Where you push through the ‘I can’t’s’ and ‘If Only’s.’ Where you run faster, lift more, lean out, quiet down. This is what transformation looks like. Where you become the best version of yourself.”
“The workout itself is designed for efficiency. The intervals and strength training combinations are proven to lean and tone your body. This isn’t a fitness trend. It’s just science. And it works,” the company says. “Then there’s the ‘thing’ that happens when the doors close, lights dim, and music turns up. There’s a palpable energy in the room that pushes you one step further. It’s the soul, body, brain revolution that’s uniquely Barry’s.”
Mai’s commitment to health continues outside the gym, though. “Outside the gym, I love dancing, and you can see me taking classes at DancEast to brush up on my technique or out and about just jamming to music. Dance is a great way to move your body and a cardio workout, if you are really get into it.”
It’s not all about what you do with your body: what you put into it matters as well. “Diet is a huge part of getting results that you want, in addition to time at the gym,” Mai explained. “I meal prep every week, so that I know what goes into my body and I can monitor the macros that I am consuming each day. There are plenty recipes and information about meal prep options to help you reach yours goals. Check it out, test it out, and choose what you like and don't like.”
Mai also doesn’t do something that might be a hard habit to break for some of us: “I also don't drink, so that helps keep off those unwanted calories that I don't need!”
Asked for some strategies he’d suggest for people looking to get healthier and keep those New Years resolutions, especially those of us out of practice or new to trying to get in shape, Mai offered the following:
Try to exercise every day.Be active, whether it's a simple walk or run, bike ride, dance class, yoga, or swim. Daily exercise builds adrenaline, endorphins, pheromones, and testosterone—which are ingredients for the perfect healthy addiction. Once exercise becomes a daily habit, you will miss it if something gets in the way.
Get a workout buddy.Friends don't let friends down. With a friend, you can hold each other accountable and keep that motivation intact. Try a new studio together, take a class together, and laugh and share the joy of your journey together.
Vary your diet.Most people will eat the same thing every time, given the option. Think about how what you eat powers you through your activities. There are many types of diets out there. From keto or whole 30, paleo to low carb, research and try out what works for you. Even gradually incorporating aspects of these diets can help you towards your goals.
Get more sleep.Take naps, go to bed earlier, and give yourself more time to rest. Sleep volume is directly correlated to physical and mental health.
Focus on yourself and your feelings.Often, people strive to lose weight or make muscle gains and focus on the scale to see their progress. Making change takes time and is not immediate. Instead of focusing on the numbers right away, focus on how you feel after a workout: strong after a lifting exercise, energized after cardio, or relaxed and connected after a yoga session. By focusing on how you feel rather than the scale, you are more inclined to stay motivated on your fitness journey.
Mai also had some suggestions for incorporating health goals into daily life. “Being healthy is comprised of many parts: Mentally, physically, and emotionally. Filling these capacities takes time and needs attention and care. At the end of the day, you are working on living your best life, and, by living a healthy life, you impact not only how you feel but also how others feel around you.
“Mentally,” he explained, means “Keep learning. Feed your mind and continue to grow. Workout your mind and allow it to keep you informed and motivated. Eat well. Drink sensibly. Take a break from social media, because the perceptions versus the realities of posts on social media can mess with your emotions and how you think. Allow yourself to connect mind, body and soul.”
“Physically, working out and exercising allows you to get to your best self. Like Elle Woods says in Legally Blonde, ‘Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands, they just don't.”
“And emotionally, how you feel about yourself feeds into how you perform. If you look in the mirror and you don't like how you look, you are less likely to want to go out and have a good time,” he added. “By emotionally feeding yourself positivity, you are creating a more well-rounded version of yourself. Every time you look in the mirror, tell yourself ‘I'm beautiful and worthy.’ These words of affirmation to yourself may seem silly, but are crucial to your health. Start believing that you are beautiful and worthy and that positivity will take strives in your life.”
For more information on Mai’s gym, visit barrysbootcamp.com.
Rarely are the words, “I’m bi,” heard. Whether on TV, film or even from friends and family, it’s almost nonexistent. Coming out as gay is thought to be brave; a pivotal moment in someone’s life. Coming out as bi, however, is often met with rolled eyes, being viewed as a sexual object, and even with the chant, “Bi now, gay later.” Being bisexual isn’t heralded as brave: it is often treated as if it isn’t even a real thing!
Many well-known blogs have used the purple analogy to explain bisexuality. Purple is known as its own color and not half red, half blue. There are even several shades of purple, some with more red or some with more blue. The same exists in bisexuality, where attraction can be fluid. Some can be hetero- or homo-romantic (meaning that when it comes to establishing romantic relationships they are primarily attracted to members of the opposite sex, or same-sex, respectively) but do enjoy physical, sexual contact with someone of different sex than their partner. Some can be polyamorous and even cohabitate with both sexes. And others decide on their romantic and sexual partners freely, a person to person decision based on what about the individual might tickles their fancy.
Understanding bisexualityPhoto by Isi Parente on Unsplash
While bisexuality, on the surface, should be welcomed as yet another beautiful way of living—loving hearts and not parts, if you will—bisexuality is often viewed in a not so great light or simply swept under the rug by both the straight and broader lesbian and gay communities.
I asked men and women who identify as bisexual to help us take a look at what it means to be a shade of purple in the big world of pink and blue. It should be noted, and of some concern, that most did not want to be identified by full name, or to use a photograph, in order to avoid judgment from one community, the other, or both, or even because of the risk of losing their jobs and family.
Sorting through the responses to our questions on bisexuality, early feelings of attraction for both sexes was a common theme. Most relate it to the same feelings as straight or gay people face. “I’ve known I was bisexual since I was very little,” Emma Frye stated. “I realized I was not attracted solely to one sex as early as I understood attraction. Most people know they’re straight or gay early in life; I was the same with bisexuality”
Some state that they did not recognize their feelings as bisexual, or perhaps did not know there was a name for it, like Lish Rodriquez: “I didn’t know about bisexuality—I just knew that I liked those people. As I grew older and the media picked up more stories about homosexuality and the AIDS/HIV epidemic, it gave me the word ‘bisexual’ to identify with.”
What comes up also, is the difference in fluidity. The majority of respondents were in an opposite-sex marriage and thus present outwardly to the wider world as heterosexual. Out of those people, many refer to themselves as “swingers.” This is a way for them to explore their bisexuality, with or without their spouses’ involvement, while keeping their marriage and families intact.
Taking the “B” out of “LGBT”
Despite its banner of open acceptance, there is a great deal of questioning in the wider lesbian and gay community about the status of the “B,” and just as some have called for the expulsion of the transgender community from LGBT, others are calling for the removal of the “B”.
One Tumblr blog, “Unpopular Opinions,” states, “I think we should take the B out of LGBT. Bisexuals have it way better than most of us in the queer community. They have straight privilege and ride on the coattails of the gay community.”
Turns out, that just as in the transgender community some agree for very different reasons, some bisexuals likewise argue that this just might be a good idea. Recently a YouTuber known as BisexualRealTalk called for the “B” to be taken out of “LGBT.” He concluded that a bisexual looking for support in the LGBT community was ultimately going to have more questions, be left with a greater sense of uncertainty, and come away with a deeper sense of being alone. “Expectation kills,” he says. “The LGBT community is not our friend”
In fact, a major Canadian study published by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission in 2010 called “Bisexual Invisibility: Impacts and Recommendations,” found bisexual men are 6.3 times more likely, and bisexual women 5.9 times more likely, to report having been suicidal than heterosexual people. Bisexuals are also 3-5 times more likely to feel suicidal than gay men and lesbians.
The majority of those we surveyed also felt discrimination from the LGBT community. Rae Schomburg-Hall states, “I receive scorn from most lesbians as they feel I should ‘pick a side’ and I must just need to ‘make up my mind.’” She feels she is seen as “a confused individual. An oversexed person, just looking for fulfillment. Not to be trusted. An interloper. This, coming from a community that heralds inclusion and acceptance is just…just…wrong.”
Views and Perceptions About Bisexuals
Reading through blogs and articles mentioning bisexuality, it doesn’t take long to find the words "greedy," “whore,” or “slut” being heaped upon bisexuals individually or as a group. The belief that bisexuals, regardless of the evidence, aren’t actually, or can’t be, monogamous is another common attitude.
“There are definitely people who think being bisexual means the exact opposite of monogamous, which is kind of hilarious” answers one of our participants. “I think people's sexuality is so personal, and it varies from person to person. Not all of us sleep with everyone, just because we can, although I have had close friends say that I was a whore or a slut because I dated both ‘sides’ from my pool of friends as a young adult.”
R.J. Aquiar, YouTube’s “NotAdam,” has a series he calls “Ask a Bi Guy,” where he addresses many of the perceptions and attempts to use his personal experience to change the attitudes on bisexuality. In response to our questions, he wrote, “There are still so many people out there who can't accept our identity as valid. They're so adamant about sticking to their existing world view, so they'll look for any reason to dismiss us rather than accept this new information that might require them to change their world view. That doesn't necessarily make them bad people, since it's human nature to do that. And it's even more understandable when you look at how much society enforces that gay/straight binary. Most people would, for instance, refer to a male/male or female/female couple as a ‘gay couple’ rather than a ‘same-sex couple’ while a male/female couple is most often referred to as a ‘straight couple’. If you know what to look for, there's bi-erasure all over the place. This can make it really difficult for a bi person to consider coming out since it means having to face all of that adversity head on.”
Men vs Women
Attitudes men versus women concerning bisexuality certainly differ. It is often said that women have it “easier” being bi. The acceptance of a bisexual woman actually involves oversexualizing her. When a woman says she is bi, many men would jump at what they think is a sure-fire way into a threesome. Very rarely is she viewed as a potential monogamous partner.
And if she comes out to a potential same-sex partner? She is often not taken seriously. There is a fear she will want to return to a heterosexual fantasy of husbands, children, and white picket fences in the suburbs. After all, bisexuals are always viewed as having the potential for passing in straight society as an option. One lesbian told us “I’m scared I’ll be hurt by bisexual women, so I won’t mess with them at all”.
Bisexual men do face a different demon, and because of it, very few men will ever come out as bi. Cooper S Beckett—author of “My Life on the Swingset” and “A Life Less Monogamous”—offers personal insight on this. There is “the immediate assumption that I was gay and kidding myself. I've been told it was a phase as well. Straight men don't like bi men, because they're afraid of another man coming along and treating them the way they've traditionally treated women, as someone you could cajole into doing something. They're worried about being cajoled into ‘gay sex.’ I've been told to my face by a gay man that I'm not bi, I'm just on the road to gay town. It's shocking and sad. But I think acceptance is growing.”
Finding a Tribe
There are plenty of online communities to join. Binetusa.org and shybi.com are places to discuss the unique challenges and obstacles bisexuals face. Bisexual.org has a fantastic library of articles, and discussions, and even lists famous people you might not have known were bi. In your local community, look at meetup.org to find bisexual or bisexual friendly meet-ups.
It is much easier to research within the bisexual community than to look in the LGBT community. It is most important to fight for your rights and support others who are questioning or longing for understanding.
“A lot of LGBT experts call bi people ‘the silent majority', since there are likely a lot more bi people out there who would rather hide than come out and deal with all the stigma,” Aguair writes. “Unfortunately, the only way we can change that is for more bi people to live their lives openly, and demonstrate firsthand how much it doesn't have to be that big a deal. It also illustrates how important it is for bi, pan, and other sexually fluid people to come together and form a community to support one another”
Pam Simmons, who has struggled with her bisexual identity for many years, wrote, "The best advice I could give is to find someone you trust and share what you are feeling, how it is affecting you, your fears & doubts. The journey to identifying as bisexual may be a lifelong process. But that’s ok. You define you…. Nobody else. Be true to yourself. And most of all, love yourself.”