BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com
Luigi Ferrer, program & grants development director for Pridelines Youth Services in Miami Shores, on Monday will attend a first-time White House roundtable discussion about issues facing the bisexual community.
"I am the Florida representative," said Ferrer, a longtime bisexual activist who joins about two-dozen others at the roundtable, which coincides with international Bisexual Visibility Day on Sept. 23.
"They decided to celebrate bisexuality day by inviting the national bisexual leadership roundtable to the White House for a policy meeting," said Ferrer, who received an email invitation about a month ago from the Barack Obama administration.
“It’s a testament to this administration that they are focusing on all elements of the LGBT community and they should be applauded for hosting an event focused on some of the specific issues impacting bisexual people," said Michael Cole-Schwartz, spokesman for HRC, Human Rights Campaign in Washington.
Ferrer, 55, said that despite recent strides by the gay movement, "bisexuality remains poorly understood."
"There is still a lot of prejudice around bisexuality," Ferrer said. "Mental health professionals aren’t immune to that, although they try to educate themselves."
Also, he said, "there really hasn’t been a strong national organization speaking out for bisexuals."
"What that leads to is being left out of important policy conversations," he said. "Now we are finally having some of those."
Ferrer named several front-burner issues for the bisexual community:
"There’s a whole host of healthcare disparities that have been documented," he said. "There are disparities in domestic violence, mental health, physical health."
Ferrer said South Florida used to have "a thriving bisexual support group that really acted as a coming-out group for everybody."
"It’s hard to build community nowadays with bisexuality being included in the LGBT umbrella, and [young people] using queer as their identifier, their label. 'So you’re bisexual, OK, we don’t care.' With the youth there seems to be less stigma around it, but also there is less support, less community."