For so many people, it was the only book on the shelf that had anything about someone like themselves was “Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out.” It’s the Bible of Bisexuality, and it was the way for people to share stories about their own attractions to many genders, and a way of sharing acceptance, discrimination, coming out and identity.
When Loraine Hutchins and Lani Ka’ahumanu compiled the stories, they had no idea of the effect they would have on the culture of GLBT identity. They inspired many to come out themselves, and they inspired books, music, films, festivals and other forms of creativity in the process.
Now, it’s a quarter century later. Lani tells me, “I can’t believe that so much has happened, and time flies by so quickly. We never imagined the impact.”
If you haven’t picked up the book and read it in a long time, it’s as timely as ever. Read it again. If you’ve never read it, pick it up. They’ve added a new introduction, and a few inspired new thoughts. Here are more reasons why you should rediscover this book, no matter what your persuasion.
1. It’s now available to the world.
You can find the book online, it’s in the Library of Congress, and it’s been translated and published in Chinese. There are more than 40,000 copies around, and it’s on reading lists in multiple GLBT and social studies courses in colleges and universities throughout the world.
2. It remains timeless to the world.
Loraine Hutchins, pictured here, is the co-editor and has become a national spokesman about bisexuality.
“It’s still amazing how I hear from people about how the book affected them, and how it helped them in their coming out process,” says Lani Ka’ahumanu, who co-edited the book with Loraine. “I still can’t believe it.”* To quote Wendy Curry, longtime bisexual rights activist and former president of the American national bisexual civil rights group BiNet USA:
3. The book inspired other authors.
This book inspired at least 10 other books about bisexuality, perhaps more. The book inspired my co-author Nicole Kristal and I to create our own book, W “The Bisexual’s Guide to the Universe.” That became the first winner of a bisexual category in the National Lambda Literary Awards.
4. The book inspired the world to understand bisexuality.
This past year, even the White House took note. Hutchins and author Carol Queen and many others were in Washington, D.C. for a summit with White House staff. Also included was Arlene Krantz, who interviewed by Marcy Sheiner in the book. “It means so much for me to be in this book and be a part of bisexual history so much,” Arlene said to me with tears in her eyes.
5. The book inspired many others.
Others who were in the original book include these people who were inspirations now to others, too. The Queer in Me, by Carol Queen; Beyond Bisexual, by Annie Sprinkle; Sacred Rituals, by Karla Rossi; From the Closet to the Stage, by Robyn Ochs; Love, Friendship, and Sex, by Wayne Bryant; and What’s in a Name?, by Naomi Tucker. All of them went on to write more about the bisexual experience and became must-read bisexual authors of their own rights.
The first openly bisexual military man to speak before Congress, Cliff Arnesen, wrote about his experience “Coming Out to Congress.” Great bi journalist Liz Highleyman co-wrote “The Fine Art of Labeling: The Convergence of Anarchism, Feminism, and Bisexuality” with Lucy Friedland. Well-known Amanda Udis-Kessler wrote “Present Tense: Biphobia as a Crisis of Meaning.”