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The Center launches bisexual support group

Posted: August 2nd, 2011 | News | No Comments

(l to r) Jennifer Restle facilitator of the Bi Any Name support group with co-facilitator Gabriel Mason in front of the San Diego LGBT Community Center (Manny Cruz/GSD)

By Manny Cruz | GSD Reporter

The San Diego LGBT Community Center has launched a new discussion and support group for people who identify themselves as bisexual—persons and who, because of their sexual orientation, are “invisible” to others and deprived of many of the services enjoyed by other segments of the LGBT community.

“In a world that sees sexual orientation as either heterosexual or homosexual, bi people aren’t noticed,” said Jennifer Restle, a peer counselor who started the Bi Any Name support group that The Center agreed to sponsor. “When we are with members of the same gender, we are thought to be homosexual. When we are with members of the ‘opposite’ gender, we are thought to be heterosexual. Nobody considers the possibility that a person in either of these situations is bisexual.”

The support group meets the third Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the LGBT Community Center at 3909 Centre St.

“The group is open to anyone who is emotionally and/or physically attracted to members of more than one gender,” said Restle, who acts as the facilitator. “It doesn’t matter how people label themselves or if they avoid labels altogether. We are also open to anyone who is questioning if such an identity might fit them.”

Restle said that a bisexual’s invisibility can have psychological and health implications for the individual. “Bisexual people are under more mental ‘distress’ than other segments of the LGBT community—also leading to health consequences,” she said, drawing findings from a study conducted by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission on the subject. “Think about it like this: If we don’t exist, then nobody
tries to meet our health care needs. If we don’t exist, doctors are less sensitive to our concerns. If we don’t exist, we deal with the constant stress of having to prove we do exist.”

The San Francisco study reported that bisexuals are the largest segment of the LGBT community but often the least served by services aimed at the LGBT community.

“It is alienating, frustrating, annoying and makes irrelevant an entire vibrant community,” said Restle.

The Bi Any Name group will be run like most of the other more than 20 groups currently operating at the LGBT Center. “People will bring up topics, both personal and intellectual, that they wish to discuss and anyone wanting to speak will be given the opportunity,” said Restle.

According to Restle, a number of people had approached her about forming the support group and the center has received a few letters requesting its creation. “The center’s group facilitators not only supported the idea, but also said they had group members who were looking for just such a group,” Restle said.

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