A bisexual t-shirt collection spanning 25 years was recently donated to the LGBT Community Center National History Archive, by bi and LGBT activist Sheela Lambert.
This article covers the bisexual t-shirts in the collection that were produced commercially. The commercial part of the bisexual-specific collection was obtained from two sources: Don’t Panic! and Cafe Press. (See slideshow.)
Don’t Panic! produced their own line of gay-themed t-shirts, but the occasional bisexual or inclusive design could be found, if you strolled through the store often. In the ’90s, their storefront was a Christopher St. institution that attracted tourists and locals alike. Queer people enjoyed shopping in a store that catered to them. The Don’t Panic! logo was a panicky looking cartoon man whose hair stuck straight up, surrounded by the words Don’t Panic! with the international symbol for don’t: a diagonal line slashing through the design, for emphasis. A sign bearing this logo hung outside the store. Two designs in this article’s slideshow are from Don’t Panic! “Been There Done Both” is done in black letters on a white t-shirt, but the Os were turned into gender symbols and printed in red. “I Finally Made Up My Mind…I’m Bisexual!” is in white letters on a black t-shirt. Don’t Panic is now long gone, but some of their t-shirts can still be seen in slideshows on my next few articles.
Cafe Press is an online store that allows people to set up mini-stores on their site that print their own designs on the Cafe Press line of products. Bisexual designs are searchable on there, although there can be lots of pages to sort through if you want to find everything bi. Several shirts from Cafe Press are in the slideshow for this article (as well as others in the series.) The “Bi Paradise” design shows a tropical beach, complete with palm tree, at sunset with gorgeous colors; including some from the bisexual color palette. Bi Paradise is shown on a white t-shirt as well as a pink and white, long sleeve, baseball t-shirt with bright pink sleeves and a white body. The “Switch Hitter” design has a vintage look and is shown here with black lettering on a pale pink t-shirt. The third Cafe Press shirt on this slideshow states “I like” then displays both a male and a female shaped symbol below, with a box next to each that has been checked indicating, “I like guys and gals.” Check and check!
The next two articles in this series will show inclusive designs in the collection that are very bi-appropriate.
The five-part series of articles on bisexual t-shirt designs from the Sheela Lambert collection includes:
- Bisexual Organization Designs
- Bisexual Commercial Designs
- Inclusive Designs
- Inclusive Designs Part 2
- History of LGBT Organizations’ Bi-Inclusive Designs
Thanks to Bureau of General Services: Queer Division (BGSQD) for letting us use their LGBT bookstore space for our photoshoot.