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A Letter to those who are Opposing the Supreme Court Ruling on Marriage Equality

Dear Religious Conservatives:

I want to thank you. I see you running around, so very desperate to eliminate marriage everywhere. I see you claiming that the Supreme Court has no say in laws. I see you passing bills to lower your flags to mourn the loss of “traditional” marriage. I see you railing against progressive agendas.

See, I thank you because in showing your fear of Queer Equality, what you are doing is telling us how terrified you are for your children and grandchildren. You are terrified that they are going to grow up in a world where people will judge them, where they will be beaten, ostracized, bullied, denied housing, denied loans, denied adoption. You are terrified that their children will be taunted. You are so scared for your children that you are willing to change everything you believe in just to make sure that “traditional” world is upheld.

But, and hear me out, okay. Because I think you need to take a breath. In through the nose and out through the mouth. Count to four. Do it again. One more time. You with me? No? Okay. Once more.

We good? Okay.

So, I get it. You’re scared. You are so scared for your children and your grandchildren that you are in panic mode. Things are different and different is scary! Different is so scary! Trust me. I’m a creature of habit and just having to go to a meeting on a night when I usually don’t have one can cause meltdowns.

But, we need to talk. Because here’s the truth: it doesn’t matter how many flags you lower, it doesn’t matter how many marriages you refuse, it doesn’t matter how you rail against the Supreme Court – we are here. We’ve been here since the dawn of time and we aren’t going away.

Hey, hey. Breathe. Okay. Stay with me.

Let’s channel your fear though. Instead of lowering flags and mourning the loss of morals, instead let’s make sure that your grandkids won’t be kicked out of their house and end up homeless. Let’s make sure that schools understand safety needs and that adoptions are available for every loving parent. Let’s stand together when children are bullied. Let’s put our feet down and link our arms and stand in front of the cops who are killing trans women of color. I know you’re scared. I know you’re scared because like the Queer community, you remember the AIDS crisis. You remember people dying. You remember that for a time, to be “gay” meant to die. You remember how riots and Pride parades upset your comfortable weekends and people who were different than you were suddenly marching in the streets. I get that we live in a scary time in general – technology changes every time you blink, we’re always at war with someone, the government’s always out of money, and you could really care less about those Queers down the street because you just want to make sure your kids don’t have to move back in with you.

I get it. It’s fucking scary.

Hey, sorry. I know. Words like that. Sorry. Stay with me.

I get you want to be with your kids in whatever afterlife you believe in. I get that you were raised in a world where strict moral standards were dictated by a man in a suit (or a collar) from the pulpit and that man said that certain things were wrong and that stuff made sense at the time.

But do me a favor. Take a breath and look at your kids. Look at your grandkids. Statistically, you’ve got someone “like that” in your family. So slow it down. Put the flag back. Let them get married. Because we have real issues to tackle together. I know you don’t like seeing kids committing suicide any more than I do. I know your heart is breaking and I know you have no idea how to handle it.

So, take my hand. Let’s do this together. I know you care deeply about the people you are terrified for.

So seriously, let’s have a conversation.

All my love.

In peace with the Gods.


I’m happier than I’m coming across. I promise.

I should be crying. I should be celebrating. I should be shouting from the rooftops. I’m not.

Okay, I am. The more I wake up, the more it sinks in. As of today, I could go grab my girlfriend, go to the courthouse, get married, move to New Mexico, and our marriage would still be recognized. As someone who doesn’t believe in the institution of marriage (despite how often I write about it in my stories), I’d never do it. But believe me when I say that I’m celebrating for those who now choose to participate. I am applauding and crying and laughing – all internally. I am so happy that the Supreme Court finally ruled the way civil rights attorneys have been talking for decades – that the 14th Amendment covers the Queers too.

But when I checked facebook this morning, my feed way gayer than it had ever been. Rainbows EVERYWHERE. A plethora of rainbows. Rainbows rainbows rainbows. And it should have been. It should be. It should be full of what it is, quotes from the ruling, and people singing that love has won out, and now we don’t have to use stupid terms like “opposite sex marriage” because marriage is fucking marriage and it doesn’t matter who you are.

I just wish it wasn’t the end all, be all for the queer community. I wish that we were rallying behind our Trans* sisters who are languishing in detention centers, our family who is being murdered, our children who are being bullied, our communities that are being erased. While we’ve been fighting for MARRIAGE OH MY GOD MARRIAGE around the country, Planned Parenthood Centers are closing and abortion rights are being rolled back and despite the ACA it’s harder than ever for some women to get birth control. There is still a wage gap. Churches are burning. Police are killing young black men and women. Indigenous women are disappearing and no one is talking about it. Today a pastor is laid to rest because a young racist man decided to open fire in a church. Queer People of Color are still not safe to come out in many communities. STD rates are rising. Children as young as 12 are committing suicide. Trans* and Sexually Fluid people are still being erased from even the President’s Comments about today’s historic ruling.

When you think about it, the fight just to level the playing field seems so overwhelming. So of course we want to celebrate every fucking victory. Without these victories, nothing seems to matter. Nothing. Without these victories, it’s hopeless. So you bet I’m so thrilled. I really am. I’m also just so fucking exhausted. Because in his victory tweet, even the President singled out gays and lesbians. Hey guy, we’re over here too.

Today I say FUCK YES to the Judges who ruled in favor of, you know, legality. I say HAPPY MARRIAGE or HAPPY ENGAGEMENT to the people who are racing off to FINALLY make those unions legal. I say SCREW YOU to the assholes who want to hold us back (light myself on fire guy? where are you now?) And I say okay, we got this done …

What’s next, Queer America? Cause we sure as HELL ain’t done.

Pride Is …

I have the honor to speak at the first unified unified Dyke, Trans*, Sexually Fluid, and Poly Rally in Utah. These are my remarks.

Thank you.

My name is Shauna Brock, I am the co-founder of Utah’s 1 to 5 Club. I am a writer, I’d like to think I’m an activist. I am also bisexual and poly.

This is an honor I never expected to be a part of. To be standing here, during Pride, speaking about something that is, literally, a matter of life and death. I’m talking about recognition. I’m talking about representation.

We’ve all heard it. And I’m sure some of you have said it. Or laughed at it.

Bi Now! Gay Later!

You’re just confused.

It’s just a phase, honey. It’s just a phase.

Those words, words that the gay and lesbian community rally against – “It’s just a phase” are thrown at sexually fluid kids candy at a parade. Don’t worry, honey. You’ll be one of us someday.

See, when I was a kid, I knew something was different about me. But I knew that something wasn’t that I was a lesbian. So when I was sitting in history class and the students marched out in support of the Gay/Straight Alliances, it wasn’t just my fear of being grounded if I got suspended that kept me from joining them. I wasn’t gay. I wasn’t straight. So clearly, I didn’t belong with them.

It took years for me to realize that I did belong, that I wasn’t alone, that there were people who felt like I did. And once I did come out, I quickly realized how much I wasn’t wanted by a larger community because I didn’t fit their quick and easy media message.

In the last ten years the national conversation about sexual fluidity has started to change, but this is still not a safe world for so many. This past week, bisexual 16 year old Adam Kizer committed suicide after years of bullying. He is only one of so many and so many of their names are not spoken to anyone.

Across this country, the sexually fluid members of this queer community face higher rates of rape, partner violence, mental health issues, and a lack of medical care from doctors than their gay and lesbian counterparts. Isolated from straight and gay communities alike, the closets that our sexually fluid brothers and sisters live in are dark and terrifying. Report after report shows that sexually fluid people are less likely to be out at work, out in groups of friends, and out to medical and mental health professionals. Little wonder, when reports show that some psychotherapists still blame the sexuality of bisexual victims of rape. Claiming that they are confused about what they really want.

I wish I could speak of happiness and rainbows. I wish for me that Pride was a celebration. Not a reminder of national figures like Dan Savage who last week said that bisexual women were nothing more than sexual objects for straight allies. I wish it wasn’t a reminder that Orange is the New Black not only erases Piper’s sexuality, but mocks it. I wish it did not  remind me of each and every time my ex partner told me she could not trust me because of my sexuality or how she told me she would not tell her friends and co workers I was bi, because it didn’t matter. She was with me and everyone thought I was a lesbian. I wish it didn’t throw me back to how I have had to change my own writing because publishers would not accept bisexual characters unless they ended up as gay by the end of the story. I wish I could stand up here and celebrate marriage equality in Utah without the reminder of the time a leader in this community told me that there was no such thing as bisexual marriage, only gay or straight marriage.  Yes. A leader in this community telling me that I did not deserve the very rights that I was helping to fight for.

I will stand up here and speak of progress. Every day, more celebrities across the spectrum come out as bisexual, asexual, and pansexual – even though their relationships and sexualities are often outright ignored by the media. Every day the studies conducted about the sexually fluid community bring more and more light to the struggles we face. Every day, we are able to regain that which has been erased. Every day, more allies join with us.

I will speak of Utah’s progress. Of moments like this intersectional march. We have a thriving community that is based on support! We are based on the idea that each and every identity is valid, because we are fluid creatures, moving throught this spectrum. And the only way we do not drown is to support each other.  After all, to me, THAT is what Pride really is all about.

If you happen to be curious: THIS for the record, is PRIDE

If you haven’t had a chance to adopt your new Queer Queen, this is your chance. Lzzy Hale of Halestorm, who penned what, in my not so humble opinion, SHOULD be the anthem that all Pride Festivals are singing. I’ve been trying for weeks to pen a commentary of the song that offers her the respect she is due, but after attending the show tonight, after seeing Halestorm perform it, I realized that as in all things, Mz Hale speaks only for herself.

So, in honor of Pride, of the bullshit and the crazy, I give you what it really boils down to:


“New Modern Love”
I’ve got a forbidden love

I’m not giving it up
Not giving it up
I’ve got a new modern love
I’m not giving it up
Not giving it up

I won’t pretend that I don’t feel
The way I feel
I can’t forget the taste of something hat’s real
Step into my closet and maybe you’ll find
Something that’ll scare you
Something that you like
Your old familiar logic is poison on your lips
It’s nothing in the water
That’s just the way it is

I’ve got a forbidden love
I’m not giving it up
Not giving it up
I’ve got an uncommon love
I’m not giving it up
Not giving it up
I don’t care if you don’t want it
‘Cause I, I got it
I don’t care if you don’t get it
‘Cause I, I still want it
I’ve got a new modern love
I’m not giving it up
Not giving it up, no

You can’t rewire these circuits any other way
Yeah, you can twist the signal
The message is the same
Step out of your bubble and
Maybe you will find
Something that’ll save you
Something that you like
Your old familiar logic is poison on your lips
There’s nothing in the water
That’s just the way it is


Step into my closet and maybe you will find
Something that’ll scare you
Something that you like
There’s something that you like
There’s something that you like

I don’t care if you don’t want it
‘Cause I, I got it
I don’t care if you don’t get it
‘Cause I, I still want it
I’ve got a new modern love
I’m not giving it up
Not giving it up, no

Not giving it up
Not giving it up, no
I’m not giving it up
Not giving it up, no

Thank you, Lzzy. Thank you.
New Modern Love can be found on Halestorm’s most recent release, Into the Wildlife.


I used to dance.

I was never very good. Not really. I mean, I can shake my hips and count to four, but dancing really wasn’t my strong suit. But I love it. I love falling into the music, moving this way and that, spinning and leaping, while being caught by invisible hands of rhythm and blues. I’d dance to everything, from Disney musical numbers to the hardest rocking metal songs. The world was my stage, my arena, my stripper pole. Despite my short legs and skill in tripping over the balls of my feet, I danced. I danced and danced and I didn’t care who saw or who laughed because I danced.

When I was five, I had a bunch of those skater skirts that twirled up around my waist when I spun around and my mother was always begging me to wear white underwear with my white tights because the world could see the cartoon drawings and polka dots when I started to spin. I didn’t care. In my scuffed Mary Janes and my second-hand dresses, I climbed trees and raced my bike and swirled in circles until I fell, dizzy, and the sky spun counterclockwise above me.

I was Jennifer Beals in Flashdance and Paula Abdul in Cold Hearted. I was Roxie Hart, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Debbie Gibson, Janet Jackson, and every girl in every Warrant and Motley Crue video. In my basement, I won Gold Medals in dancing and practiced my kicks and ballet positions. I made freshman dance team and pep club in the 10th grade and it was then I noticed just how different I was from all the other girls. With my thick thighs, rounder hips, hour-glass figure with the boobs to match. When I tried on my first D-cup bra, I wept in the dressing room. I already knew I was different in ways beyond the shape that promised, more than my lack of talent, that I’d never be a professional dancer. Already I was being defined not by who I was or my talents but the boobs I carried around.

Worse, I knew I was different and I didn’t know how to voice it, I didn’t know what to say and somehow that fucking bra set it all off.

See. I knew gay. Gay was okay. I knew because my best friend from childhood had come out to me and my parents had spent most of my childhood making sure I understood that it was okay to be who I was, no matter what. It was okay if two boys loved each other or two girls loved each other as long as no one was hurt in the process. I knew gay.

But see.

That was the problem.

Just like my big thighs didn’t fit the cheerleader look and my big boobs didn’t make for a dancing career, I didn’t fit into the gay thing either.

I remember sitting in history my junior year of high school, listening to the gay students stage their walk out as they protested the shutdown of even the idea of the Gay/Straight alliances. And I sat still, ashamed to join them. I, a daughter born into the activism of the Americans with Disabilities Act, was ashamed to join them. Because I wasn’t gay. I wasn’t like them so I didn’t have a right to join in their fight. Who I was, it wasn’t included in their dance.

So I sat and supported in silence.

Two years later, walking across the campus in Austin, days before my first class would start, my eyes landed on a bright pink flier and a two-letter word that saved my life.


Consciously, I know it wasn’t the first time I’d heard it but it was the first time I remember seeing it in a positive context. The first time it had ever settled in my mind as something real. Something … me.

My first support group meeting, I danced with the building, trying to find the open door. I found the bathroom, ducked inside, met the eyes of someone who looked as petrified as me. We didn’t speak. She was sitting at the table when I scurried inside. She smiled when I took a seat. These weren’t just college students. I was in a room with people my age and people older than me and people who became the ones I turned to as I came to realize that there wasn’t anything wrong with me.

There was the dance when I came out to my parents. When my mother – who thought I was lesbian – came out to me as bi and I remember wondering why she couldn’t have just said the word to me when I was growing up. Why she couldn’t have just said that whatever I was feeling, it was okay, and given me my word. There was my father dancing with traffic on I-15 on the way into town and how glad he was when I told him I was bi because he was so fucking worried I’d come home from college to ask for money.

In Austin, I found family. We went to coffee shops and listened to local bands and went to clubs and sat out in parked cars, talking until the sun came up again. Everyone was welcome. Swingers and doms and subs and transmen and transwomen and gender queer and cis and nonbinary and we held hands and fought against Governor Bush together and we held hands while waiting on results from Lawrence V Texas and no one was turned away.

No one.

All that mattered was that you didn’t have a problem with people who were bi. That you didn’t talk over us. That you let us have our safe space.

Arms open. Everyone danced together. And sometimes it was only the women and sometimes it was only the men but we were there. For each other. And I knew that outside of my circle, outside the world, there was judgment. I was warned by my elders to watch for catch phrases and words that would make me question myself.

Bi now! Gay later!



You don’t belong here.


Maybe we just shouldn’t be grouped together under this umbrella.

Is it nice to pass?


You’re a disgrace to us. Why can’t you just look normal?

I was taught to listen for what they would say. I was warned because it had happened over and over again. Our history had been erased, folded over into something else, forgotten. And those with more experience voiced their worries because they knew that I would be more likely to commit suicide or to be harmed by my partners and to be ignored by police and counseling agencies because even those devoted to the Gay cause would shut the door to me. Because outside of my world, there was one that didn’t invite girls like me to the dance.

I believed them. Right up until I met her. They just didn’t understand. Times had totally changed.


She was so funny. And we could talk about everything. Up all night talking about writing and Star Trek and annoying exes. We talked about the burgeoning marriage conversation. And even though she hated to dance, she thought it was cute that I did. She sent me roses. Despite my bi family in Austin, I was lonely and the first girl I’d fallen for hadn’t fallen for me and I needed to escape and despite everything in the world telling me not to leave, I got on a plane.

This time, when I started spinning, it was in reverse.

Because it started as slowly as it did quickly. I didn’t believe what they’d warned me about could come true. That it was there in front of me.

I don’t like that you’re bi, she said.

Are you sure you aren’t a lesbian? You’ve never been with a man, she said.

I can’t trust you, she said. Because the ones before, they all left me for men.

I can’t trust you, she said.

Faker, she said.

Why can’t you just be normal, she said.

While more and more I became isolated, solitary. More and more, I defended her.

And I don’t know why I didn’t leave except you see I did know because despite my bi family in Austin I’d been single and here was someone who loved me, right? So even though I didn’t fit into her boxes, I stooped and squirmed and folded and bent myself in her shapes and if she sat on the lid, we could tape it shut. I learned not to dance, because it attracted attention to the fact that I was different. I stopped correcting people who assumed I was like her. I retreated inside myself. The men I found handsome were my secrets alone. She could point out women but when I did, I was reminded that because of who I was, I’d leave her.
I told myself that as we settled into what had once been her grandmother’s house, that we shared her tiny room and bed because she wasn’t ready to expand the landscape of her world to include mine. I discovered every excuse imaginable as I kept my clothes in a different space, that as we never went to Austin to get my things, that it wasn’t that she didn’t trust me to be in her life, it was just who she was. We liked the same things, after all. Her world and mine could be shared without any part of me, right?


The day I quit acting was a dance audition.

The audition before, she’d sat in the hallway outside and told me she didn’t like that I was going for things because it made her feel like she couldn’t do things even though I could. She didn’t like the people I met. The men I met.

Then came the dance. And I walked out halfway through, in tears, and she hugged me and told me I’d made the right decision. It wasn’t like I’d been practicing anyway. I sat in the car and remembered the call from the casting director in Austin and wondered what would have happened if I’d gone to that movie callback in Houston. The one that came for me while I was packing my bedroom to move.

The day we cleaned out what had been her grandmother’s bedroom, I expected us to move our lives into the space. It was full of light and white walls. A new space. We boxed things for her family and closed the door but she allowed me skirts that had been her grandmother’s and I donned them, twirling like I had when I was five. The fabric didn’t fly up to my waist, and with each wearing, each spin, I found holes to mend and the need to patch unpatchable fabric. Small stiches of the finest thread still created runs. Seams weakened by dust and age split and split and split again.

Still. When I left, I packed them. After the fights, the bruises, the lock over my heart and the seventy pounds that stopped what little dancing skill I carried, I packed them, hauling them back across country, taking space away from the stuff I finally picked up in Austin.

They hung in my closet.

Gathering dust.

Weakening at the seams.

One by one, they were turned into rags and cat blankets. Some were given away.

To friends, to family who didn’t mind the rips or the runs.

I trust less. I listen more. I warn those coming after me that while times are changing, there are still words to look for and I talk to them about the history of our movement that has been erased. I warn them, but tell them to love. And I cry when over and over and over again they tell me that they were so sure something was wrong with them because no one believed them. No one. I tell them to be proud and never let anyone tell them differently.

Because, you know what, I still have my dancing shoes.



So Pride 2014 totally happened. 🙂 I have a lot to say about it and the community here in SLC but for today, I’m letting it ride. Tomorrow is for deep political thoughts on erasure and more.

Pride is Approaching

I attended a Poetry Slam on Memorial Day and was approached by one of the poets in the area who also happens to be one of the primary volunteers for Utah Pride. She came up, all smiling and hugs, and asked about my girlfriend’s open mic, When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution and if we wanted to have a place on the poetry stage.

Logic said to be gracious. I instead stumbled over my words, finding all of my reasons that I can’t stand the Pride Center, and I turned what could have been a fantastic moment into an awkward, anxious exchange where all I could think was …

You know what … it’s really hard to give a damn about Pride this year.

You would think with all of the positive steps being made in the gay community that I couldn’t wait to get out there and march with the family that is the Queer community. But I find the closer I get to Pride and the more expectations I have on being Prideful, the less I want to participate.

I’ll acknowledge it for what it is: burnout.

I’ve been an activist and an advocate on and off for 17 years and while I have never felt more love and acceptance regarding sexuality and gender identity, I’ve also never felt more isolated from my so-called community. I’m sure a lot of that feeling of there being a wall between me and my fellow Queers is completely in my head. But I’m also … I dunno.

And maybe the truth is that I’m still angry at Gay Inc for willfully steaming on ahead and ignoring the bi community. Maybe I’m just tired of having to stand up every single time people talk about “Gay Marriage” and remind people that there is a spectrum of sexuality. Maybe I’m tired of the media applauding the coming out of amazing people like Ellen Page while still flat out ignoring or mislabeling Out Bisexuals.

It’s funny, in a heartbreaking way. My first novel is full of gay and bisexual men but I toned down the bisexuality almost to the point of non-existence because I was sure no one would want it. In doing so, I’ve realized how much of the heart isn’t there. But sitting here, only a couple of weeks out from Pride I find myself wondering … if I put the story back together and make it what I initially intended …

Will it still be mislabeled?

So I’ll just go over here, waving my Pink, Purple, and Blue for me and my characters and hope that somewhere along the parade route, someone notices.

Yeah, maybe this is why I shouldn’t write blog posts when I’m depressed. 😉

And for the record, Tami … I would LOVE to stand there on that stage on Saturday.

On “Diversity.” And other rambling thoughts.

First off, let me start with a thank you to everyone who took the time to read, follow, and comment after the last post. The response was a little more than overwhelming and I am so grateful to each and every one of you as readers. No comes the hard part – keeping you around. 😉

I took the week off from my day job. Not just because I needed a bit of a break and time to myself, but also because I wanted to play “real writer.” I have some deadlines coming up at the end of April and May and figured that if I took a week off now to write and edit, I wouldn’t be scrambling as much toward the end of next month. So far it’s working. I’ve managed to tackle a few things, write a few thousand words, and make some decisions about what to submit for the “diverse writers” workshop that I’m applying for this year.

I have this fantasy, you see. I do dream of writing for television. I don’t know if it’s because I didn’t really watch TV as a kid so I’m not obsessed with the idea of visual storytelling that’s done in a chapter format, or if it’s because I’m just obsessed with the idea of my stories getting out to as wide a range of people as possible. Could be both. Could be more than that, could be something totally different. I’m sure if I was pumped up on caffeine I’d have a different answer but I’m out of coffee, broke, and all I have his this really tasty cinnamon-apple tea. Hmmmm. Okay, where was I? Oh yes, TV.

Anyone who has ever turned on a TV and paid attention for more than five minutes knows that the format has a diversity problem. Especially the networks. The primary cast of characters across the board are white, male, twenty and thirty something, heteronormative, and ablebodied. When women are brought into the mix they are primarily blonde and thin. If you’re looking for a perfect example of the problem with broadcast media, look no further than CBS’s new comedy which is replacing the long running How I Met Your Mother. CBS’ Friends with Better Lives has a nearly identical cast doing typical, stupid things. At least, that’s what the trailers give me. And the problem is not limited to sitcoms. NBC’s Hannibal recently killed off one of it’s female (and Asian) characters, the long running procedural CSI was once populated with female techs and people of color and now features an all white main cast with only Alimi Ballard to show the diversity of Nevada. Props do go to ABC’s Once Upon a Time for having a female heavy cast and for casting Alexandra Metz as Rapunzel and Sinqua Walls as Lancelot. But these are not long term storylines. Law and Order SVU is yes, headed by the talented Mariska Hargitay, but for a precinct in New York, it’s an awfully white one. Other shows such as Sleepy Hollow and Brooklyn 99 are definitely upping the ante for the rest of the networks, but there’s a long way to go before even cable catches up. And all of that before we even get to queer characters or characters with disabilities. For more information, check out GLAAD’s annual report on minorities in media. They look at queer characters, people of color, people with disabilities, and then put it all into an easy to read report that all network VP’s should have stapled to their foreheads.

Which brings me to my point. For the second year in a row, I am applying for one of the network’s “diverse writers” positions. For the record, all of the major networks have some kind of diversity application process and as a queer woman, I definitely fall into their guidelines. There’s a part of me that really appreciates that the networks know they have a long way to go, that they have woken up to realize that they aren’t hiring enough diverse voices for their writing rooms and director pools. They even seem to be noticing that they aren’t hiring enough people of color or actors with disabilities to populate the stories that they are telling. So wrapped in the privilege they are afforded, it’s hard for them to take a step back and realize just how much they do not represent the country in which their stories are taking place. And even now, seeing these programs, knowing they exist, I am stunned by the lack of representation for all populations and it looks like things aren’t going to be any better this year. I get that the goal of the networks is to make money and so they fall back on tried and true formulas that have worked in the past. But I wonder, have the networks realized that maybe if they’d change their processes, maybe if they’d consider everyone when writing a role or casting for a character, maybe if they’d actually bring everyone to the table rather than have to create “diversity programs” that we’d all be making a hell of a lot more money? But then again, without these initiatives, without bringing those “different voices” to the table, they won’t know what else is out there. It’s a nasty Catch 22, but guess what, it’s a completely fixable one.

This is of course not limited to the TV world. Three years ago, I was honored to be awarded an Honorable Mention from the Utah Arts Council for my first book, Shadows in the Spotlight. Since then, I have had only one agent interested in my crew of gay, straight, and bisexual rock stars who are battling AIDS and drug addiction, and even that ended in a rejection. And while yes, I’m sure that I could do something to make the story punch even harder and there are always things that we writers can do better, I’m finding myself swimming in a world of confusion this year as John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars comes to the big screen. Note that I haven’t read the book and what I’ve seen of Mr. Green’s youtube channel is informative and funny all at the same time. I even appreciate his posts on tumblr. But this is a white man writing first person from the perspective of a (straight, I believe) dying teenage girl. To me, that is a glass ceiling if I ever came up against one.

The frustrations that I as a bi writer who writes bi characters come across continue into my own publishing niche. Publishing companies are doing calls for more diversity, seeking out that which is different in our community – stories, for example, of bi characters. While I’m doing cartwheels at the chance to tighten up my first novel and send it in and hopefully finish the second one in their time frame, I can only sit back and wonder why it’s taken them to now to realize how much of society they’ve been blocking out.

So the never ending cycle of questions continues. After all, yes, I’m going to jump at the chance to apply for these programs or submit to these open calls. Of course I am! But why do I have to wait for their programs or open calls to happen? Shouldn’t they be wanting to change things, to bring everyone to the table? After all, the more people who are interested in your product, the more money we can all make.

And let’s not even talk about how impossible it feels to get a foot in the door with the TV world when you don’t live in LA. (Beyond the whole “that’s where it’s based” thing. That’s a given.)

No Longer at the Kids Table: Bisexuality A Useful Fiction, a Response

It’s been a while since I posted and, as I’ve mentioned before it’s hard for me to blog and write a novel at the same time. That however is changing this month, starting with this post.

I was searching for something to write about. Should I tackle life as an author with a day job? Nope. Covered that. Should I ramble about the dog? No, that’s what instagram is for. And then, a friend pointed me to an open letter written by the Bisexual Books blog on Tumblr. This blog, which covers the importance of bisexual themed literature, something which is near and dear to my heart, responded to a piece in Slate Magazine regarding Bisexual Culture. I read the letter. Then I read the piece. Then I came over here to voice my … shall we say … concerns … for this Dan Savage-esque boot to the throat about bisexual culture.

This post isn’t a rant about the existence of bisexuality. I know I exist. I know how I feel about both of the women I am currently dating and how I feel about that guy I saw last week who was so hot he made my head spin in unnatural directions. I know what I like with women, what I like in men, and how I react to different genders as a partner. I know which of my health professionals it is safe to be out to and I thank the universe every day that I work at a place where it is safe for me to be out, despite the laws in my city that would allow for me to be fired or evicted if an employer or landlord saw fit. (Although, South Salt Lake is making inroads.)

This post is about the lack of honest representation for bisexuality and then, when we look to bring our honest representation to the table, being turned away. Or worse, being told to go sit at the kids table.

In the recent Slate article which made me, and a bunch of other bisexual activists sit up and spill our coffee all over our keyboards, it was yet again explained to the bi community that because we have to keep defending our existence, we do not have a culture. We do not and cannot have books, have literature, have fiction, have stories. We are too busy trying to prove we exist so we cannot possibly have time to create our own worldview. It was explained to us. It was hypothesized for us. No, no Mr. Stern, we are not in fact seeking a culture. We have one and it is vibrant and beautiful. Our consistent need to prove ourselves comes from a lack of understanding from Gay and Straight Inc over our very existence. (I keep using this word.) It comes from TV shows and movies treating us like kinky sluts (though there is nothing wrong with being one), it comes from the media not allowing for positive bi/pan characters in their storytelling. It comes from the erasure of our heroes, from Virginia Woolf to Tom Daley. It comes from a recent post in Utah’s 1 to 5 Club Facebook Group. The post was for a social site for queer women. The poster warned community members that if you are married to a man, it wasn’t for you, you wouldn’t be welcomed. It comes from Google still considering the search term “bisexual” to be porn. Gay and Lesbian have automatic fill options. Bisexual does not.

The problem I have found is that people outside the bi community struggle with the idea that our identity can be as fluid as the individuals within it. We are butch and femme all at once. We are dykes, we are queer, we enjoy being as serially monogamous as stereotypical teenage girls and we are comfortable and happy within poly identities. We are whole in who we are. We have families and lives and we are more than “passing” into one culture or another. We have our own shorthand, our own conversations, and our own controversies. As language changes so must we and so we seek to always define and redefine life and love within a world that is moving ever faster toward acceptance of normalcy.

Mr. Stern asks us if there is indeed a bisexual identity. I ask him then what is the gay identity? The straight one? Is there a uniform, goose-stepping, white-bred, picket fence identity that Gay Inc can claim? Is it Jack? Or is it Will? Is it the outrageous floats at Pride? Or the constant tormenting of youth by youth. “Bi now! Gay later!” Is it doctors being willing to treat gay patients but not bi ones? Is it marriage? Adoption? HIV/AIDS? Is it ignoring the skyrocketing rates of poverty, health concerns, and suicide within the bi community? Is it the hands I’ve held in support groups when men come in and say that they were shunned from family and friends not because they were gay – oh no, that was the easy part – but when they came out for a second time as bisexual?

You see, Mr. Stern, I saw the backhanded compliments in your piece. I saw the important questions you were asking. But your key point, the idea that there is more to the gay identity than sex but that bisexuals could not get past the topic of sex when interviewed, means that you have forgotten Gay Inc’s history. You have forgotten the decades of struggle when all that defined gay men was the sex they were having, and that sex, sadly, was used by a paranoid culture to erase generations of young men. The bisexual community is facing the same series of questions. We are being portrayed as something mysterious, something that lurks in the shadows. So we are starting, as the gay community did, with the basics: sex. But in that, we are also talking about some very important things. Bi-romanticism, asexuality, gender identity, and more. See, for us, the conversation is about more than sex. We just wish others would come around to our viewpoint.

I end with this: Recently, I had the chance to sit down with board members and staff of the Utah Pride Center. Over the course of our conversation, we talked about the lack of support the bisexual community had from the Pride Center and what it would take to bring us back to them, for us to consider Gay, Inc. an ally again. I thought long and hard and then said, “The mainstream Gay Movement has succeeded because of allies. Because of the lesbian community, because of the straight community coming over and saying that they stand with you. The bisexual community can organize, we can have our culture all we want. But our issues, our concerns, our voices will not be heard without the support of allies in our own so-called community.”

So, Slate. Dan Savage. The New York Times. All of you who are sitting back, telling the bi community that we need to organize, that we need to get over ourselves and our anger and stop trying to convince people we exist, let me tell you something. We have a culture. We have literature and media and a world where we know we are supported. What we do not yet have is the support of our allies. We have moved past the identity of sex, the identity of normalcy. We have embraced who we are. I urge you to do the same, I urge you to not run from the words “bisexual” and “pansexual” and instead sit down at the table with us and listen to our stories. We are here, and we are real, and we understand that we need to do to succeed. We know our history, we know Gay Inc’s history. We know that we have mountains to climb with health professionals, with politicians, and of course with mainstream media. We get it and we’re inviting you to the table.

Community Letter from Utah’s 1 to 5 Club regarding Utah Pride Center Leadership

In addition to writing and being an overall crazy fangirl, I am also an activist. This week, I’ve donned that hat again. This is the outcome, as of this afternoon.

This letter was written and signed in response to the failed leadership of the Utah Pride Center in regard to community programs. This information is being delivered to the Pride Center tonight by community representatives. This letter is specific to Utah’s Bi Community and we do not speak for other groups in this letter.

November 13, 2013

To Whom It May Concern:

Over the past few years, the bi community has felt increasingly disenfranchised by the overall leadership of the Utah Pride Center. Specifically, by the culture surrounding the Center and the lack of concerted effort to connect to and assist bi community organizers with their processes.

While there are a lot of anecdotal frustrations that can be vented, the following points stick out:

1)      Since the departure of Jennifer Nuttall, there has been a great deal of turnover with staff assigned to assist with coordination for the 1 to 5 Club. During this time, some staff were assigned to assist with the group but the group was also not a part of their grant. As a result, we were made a low priority and often flat out ignored in lieu of funded priorities. This is not to detract from the efforts made by current staff to reach out to the bi community and make sure that the community is connected. Danielle has kept in contact with the group and makes sure that referrals are directed. While the bi group itself has weathered some leadership issues over the last couple of years, part of those issues directly stem from a lack of connectedness to the Pride Center. Without engaged and passionate staff wanting to help bring light to a community that is as underserved as ours, there is only so much we can do.

2)      When I first began working with the Utah Pride Center in regards to creating a bisexual presence at the Pride Festival, the 1 to 5 Club was offered extensive table space for meeting materials and information. We were also active volunteers with the festival, disseminating information on the Center along with our own group. This was a wonderful opportunity for us as our group is not able to afford a booth at Pride. During this time, the 1 to 5 Club was often the only Pride Center Group running the Pride Center Booth and yet over the years, the space allowed for Center activities has shrunk to the point where organizers have heard that the festival does not know where to put our information. Funded groups again received priority while media attention of the issues within the bi community is rising at an ever faster rate. Our lack of being able to afford a booth at Pride only led to less information being handed out and this proved to be a slap in the face for the group who proudly marched and stood with other community groups.

3)      The Utah Pride Center was one of the first community centers in the country to devote a whole month of Bi Activities to the community. This was a wonderful chance to speak up and bring a sense of unity to an often invisible community. The month gave us a chance to wave our flag, both literally and figuratively, yet despite the Pride Center owning a Bi Pride Flag and promising to fly it during Bi Awareness Month, that promise never came to fruition. Worse, when that flag was found in the Pride Center offices, it was turned over to current 1 to 5 leadership, stating that “they didn’t know what to do with it.”  As priorities at the center turned more to funded groups and away from the community groups, support for Bi Awareness Month dwindled. Again, leadership would like to thank Danielle for her work to support the 1 to 5 Club during this time, but her resources and availability are limited.

4)      Over the course of the eight years the 1 to 5 Club has existed, it has been impossible to nail down regular meeting times and days. This is not due to Club leadership but instead to the Pride Center consistently moving our room availability around for more popular or time sensitive groups. We were bumped from Thursdays to Wednesdays to Tuesdays before choosing to settle on Mondays, where we were roped into a tight schedule that often did not allow for extended conversation and did not work with many people’s schedules.  As a result of this, attendance at the meetings dwindled to group leadership only as it was impossible for people and media to keep up with the changing schedules. Currently, the group does not meet at the center although we would like to see the support structure in place to resume a regular set of meetings. 

5)      In 2011, The San Francisco Human Rights Commission released a survey detailing the problems of the bisexual community at large. This survey discussed, among other things, higher depression and suicidal ideation rates among the bisexual community compared to the gay community. This survey was not only a list of statistics but a call to action among GLBT leadership to change the way we are treating our bisexual family. While I know the survey was disseminated among current staff at the center at the time and Executive Director Valerie Larabee stated there would be action taken for further education and work with the bi community. There was, however, no action taken despite pleas from the bi community to meet with the board and staff regarding the survey so that we could further encourage the Center’s partnership in making our community safe and healthy for everyone. (Note, the survey is available here:

The list of anecdotal references is endless. I’ve had fellow leaders in the community tell me stories of being shunned at Pride events because they brought their differently-gendered partner. I’ve had times when I’ve sent countless emails to staff only to have none returned. I’ve listened to leadership for the Pride Festival erase the bisexual community from their language when discussing the festival. Also, the group was told by staff that staff was not allowed to attend community meetings. While there is no evidence to back that up regarding policy, I felt it was worth mentioning as it was one of the factors in the widening distance between the 1 to 5 Club and the Pride Center. But most of all, I have felt unwelcome in my own center. I’ve felt a growing distance that unless there is a financial motive to keep the bi community healthy and active, there is no need for the Pride Center to make us a priority.

No movement succeeds without allies. The bi community is in desperate need of support from the Pride Center.

Shauna Brock

Co-founder, Utah’s 1 to 5 Club


Erica Head, Current Leadership

Stephanie Novak, Current Leadership

Desi Clark, Former Leadership

Rachel Langshall, Former Leadership

Alexander Langshall, Former Leadership

Joni Weiss, Current Group Member; Former Leadership

Please note: there is more to this story and the 1 to 5 Club is hardly the only community group that has expressed displeasure over the situation at the Utah Pride Center. Visit to read the reports of other community groups and their issues with Pride Center Leadership. Executive Director Valarie Larabee did tender her resignation this afternoon.

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