While gay men and lesbians are increasingly accepted in the mainstream, Paula Brewer's partner in founding the eBIcenter is still concerned enough to ask that only her first name, Carla, be used in the media.
"This is the first organization I have been involved with specifically for bisexuals, though I have been involved in the LGBT community for several years," Carla says. Not only is there prejudice in society against her sexual identity, she adds, but there is "bi-erasure and bi-denial."
"Bi-erasure occurs when someone who is bisexual is listed as either heterosexual or homosexual, usually based on the gender of their current partner, but it can happen in other situations as well. Bi-denial is the talk of bisexuality being just a phase or not being real." She hopes eBIcenter will "become a resource in the greater Pittsburgh community for bisexuals and a community organization where everyone feels welcome. I think it is important to create a space and events where discussion, education and acceptance can happen."
Ellyn Ruthstrom, president of the national Bisexual Resource Center in Boston, says curing "bi-invisibility" is crucial. "It's really important for bisexual people to find support groups and to find a sense of community. A lot of time people feel isolated in their own experiences."
"I thought I was straight until I was about 20," she says. "That's not that uncommon. Sexuality really is something that is not as cut and dry as most people like to think."
It is a spectrum, she adds, and can be fluid: "The feelings you have when you're 13 might not be the feelings you have when you're 30, 40, 50. The people you meet might affect how you feel."
In 2013, she was one of the organizers of the first White House roundtable on bisexual issues. Organizing a local group, such as Pittsburgh's eBIcenter, should involve the entire GLCC, she advises, and eBIcenter members should in turn be involved in running broader LGBT activities.
"Don't just let the bi community take care of itself," she says.