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When Three Brodsky realized she was bisexual, she wasn’t sure what to do. She and her husband, who’d at the time been her only partner for nine years, had just decided to explore non-monogamy. “It allowed me to date again, to get back out in the world, and I realized, ‘oh, girls are kind of cute,’” Brodsky says.
Brodsky is 43 and grew up in Idaho, where “there were maybe two gay people,” she jokes. The lack of queer representation in her life kept bisexuality—being attracted to more than one gender—from even seeming like an option. She knew she didn’t want to hide her identity, but she also wasn’t sure how to explain her sexuality to others, much less herself.
So Brodsky was baffled when her therapist told her bisexuality was a lot more common than she thought. “She explained that most people are somewhere on the spectrum of being attracted to multiple genders,” Brodsky says. “The problem is, we live in a society that just doesn’t have any room for that.”
While most people in the U.S. still identify as heterosexual (86.7 percent), according to a Gallup survey released earlier this year, the number of LGBT-identifying people is steadily rising. In 2012, 3.5 percent self-identified as LGBT—that percentage jumped up to 5.6 last year. (The Gallup survey only let respondents choose between straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender, though it did allow people to select multiple options.) And it’s worth noting that more young people say they aren’t straight—one in six adults in Generation Z are part of the LGBT community.
The majority of LGBT respondents (56.4 percent) say they are bisexual, according to the Gallup Survey. That statistic echoes what Brodsky’s therapist explained to her: That there are plenty of bisexual people out there, but their existence can be obscured by societal assumptions of heteronormativity. After all, a couple that appears to be heterosexual—with one male-presenting and one female-presenting partner—could actually be a mixed-orientation couple, in which one partner is straight and the other is queer. According to the Straight Spouse Network, about two million straight people in the U.S. are married to a member of the LGBTQ community, though the group acknowledges that number could be higher.
Baffled yet buoyed by the revelation that there were more people like her in the world, Brodsky left that therapy session eager to meet those folks. The problem? She couldn’t seem to find a bisexual group. Brodsky says she knew there were bisexual people in the swing scene—a community in which romantic couples swap partners or engage in group sex—but that it wasn’t quite what she was looking for. “There’s nothing wrong the with swing scene, but it’s still treated as very taboo,” she says. “Plus, I have kids. I want to be home at a reasonable time!”
Brodsky describes herself as a very social person, and says she started to feel lonely and isolated around that time. So, rather than wait for someone else to start a bisexual group that focused on community instead of dating, she got on Meetup and started one herself. “I just wanted to start rounding up all these other mysterious bisexual people I kept hearing about,” she says.
The first meeting was held in 2016 at a local brewery. Just a few people showed up, but Brodsky says the conversation was engaging. “All of us had the shared idea of, we want to be out, we want to normalize being bisexual,” she says. The end of the night drove home how important that normalizing process would be—when Brodsky asked a brewery employee about hosting regular meetings for her new bisexuality club, she was told she would have to talk to a manager, because the brewery didn’t want “any sketchy vibes.”
Despite the uncharitable comment, Brodsky continued to organize meet-ups. The name has changed a few times—at one point, it was called the Denver Metro Bisexual Social Club—but the goal has always been to create a robust bisexual culture that allowed folks to navigate the various intricacies of queer life (the group also welcomes trans, non-binary, and pansexual folks; members can also bring along romantic partners who want to learn more). Today, the group is called Bconnected Colorado.
Brodsky and other members of BConnected plan events throughout the month, such as hikes, trivia, board game nights, and climbing meet-ups. Certain gatherings have a more educational angle, like talks on coming out or workshops on healthy relationship building from the Intimacy Institute for Sex and Relationship Therapy, a counseling practice in Boulder. One of the most popular fêtes is Queers and Quiche, a monthly brunch Brodsky hosted at her home pre-pandemic. Between 25 and 50 members typically attended, though 1,801 people are currently part of the Meetup group.
The unifying themes of the various get-togethers, though, is the feeling of community and acceptance—and for some, BConnected has become the perfect venue for simply figuring themselves out.
That was the case for Brai Schwandt, who realized they were trans while skiing in the Swiss Alps during a break from getting their master’s degree. They formed an accepting community in Germany, where they finished their studies, but when they moved to Denver in 2017, they were still exploring their gender identity.
Finding BConnected that year, Schwandt says, was a blessing. “I was really nervous and shy because that first event was my first time really expressing myself as a trans queer person in any sort of group,” they say. “But I realized that everybody there was exploring their identity or exploring their expression.” Being amongst a group of people who weren’t going to be scandalized by, say, a decision to try wearing a skirt made Schwandt feel safe experimenting. “One of the most intimate aspects of myself is my trans feminine energy,” they say. “Just being with people in that group and having so much love and acceptance really helped me go from essentially a state of fear of expressing that part of myself to a sense of excitement and pride about expressing it.”
The group also helped Schwandt embrace their attraction to people who present as more masculine. “When I was younger, I would shut down any attraction to masculinity,” Schwandt says. “Looking back, it was like I was losing part of myself.” Schwandt has since begun dating a trans masculine partner, a relationship that may not have formed had they not learned to accept the many types of people they’re attracted to.
Another member of the bisexual group, Rue (who prefers to use only her first name to avoid harassment for being trans), says the group exposed her to something she didn’t see much growing up in rural Minnesota: happy queer people. “Just being able to see other bisexual and trans people living fulfilling lives is really empowering,” she says.
Knowing BConnected get-togethers won’t involve the usual stigmas around bisexuals—that they’re hypersexual, unfaithful partners, or just making a pit stop on the way to being fully gay—is also a draw for Rue. “It’s incredibly valuable to connect with people in situations where you won’t be scrutinized,” she says.
Of course, the goal of BConnected was never just to create a home for bisexuals and other queer-identifying folks. Brodsky wants the bisexual group to turn outward and help shift cultural narratives that are still trapped in a binary. Before the COVID-19 vaccine rolled out, she created a blog where BConnected members can share their experiences, like the stress of being a non-binary person who menstruates or enlisting in the military during the era of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
Brodsky is hopeful that the community she’s created will help more people gain a better understanding of their sexuality. “I’m hoping that we go towards a world of no labels where everyone is free to express themselves as they wish,” she says.