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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.

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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