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Loraine Hutchins was born in the early 1940s in Washington, DC. She graduated with a degree in English and American Literature in 1970 from Shimer College in Mt. Carroll, IL. Some 30 years later, Lorraine earned her Ph.D. in Cultural Studies from Union Institute and University in Cincinnati, with a dissertation, Erotic Rites, that explored the relationship between sexuality and spirituality.

Growing up during the 1960s and eventually getting involved in both the gay rights and women’s movements, she realized she herself was bisexual – and as such, was profoundly unwelcome in both movements that she had become passionate about. She set out to create the first-ever safe space in both movements for bisexual folks. She co-founded Bi-Net USA to spread bisexual awareness, share resources, and build community, served on BiNet’s board of directors, and spearheaded the foundation of a direct-action group called the Alliance of Multi-Cultural Bisexuals (AMBi). In 1993, she led BiNet’s media campaign for the March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Equal Rights, and in 1998, she became the first bisexual grand marshall for the Washington DC Pride Parade, literally leading the charge for equality and bi-visibility. 

In 1991 Loraine co-edited (with OUTWORDS interviewee Lani Ka’ahumanu) Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out. She has since published many articles and book chapters. In 2011, she co-edited her second anthology: Sexuality, Religion and the Sacred: Bisexual, Pansexual and Polysexual Perspectives. In September, 2013, the Obama Administration invited Loraine and 32 other bisexual activists to a White House roundtable to discuss pressing issues, such as domestic violence, within the bisexual community. 

A fourth-generation Washingtonian, Loraine has spent her life fighting for erotic, economic, and environmental justice. Her efforts has been recognized by the Bilerico Project, the National LGBTQ Task Force, and the Rainbow History Project of Washington DC. 

One of Loraine’s most iconic photos shows her arriving at the 1986 Washington DC Pride Parade on her ‘bi-cycle’, dressed as Wonder Woman, with a very visible dildo in her white tights. More than 30 years later, Loraine makes no bones about the fact that she often feels tired and frustrated by the uphill battle for bisexual visibility and inclusion. But she also shows no signs of quitting.
Mason Funk: [00:00:00] Let's just do the formalities first, which is just let me have you tell us your first and last names and spell it for us please.
Loraine Hutchins: My name is Loraine Adele Hutchins, and that's Loraine with one R, L-O-R-A-I-N-E. Adele, which was my mother's name, and Hutchins is H-U-T-C-H-I-N-S.
Mason Funk: Okay. For the purposes of identifying you in this archive, would you prefer to be identified as just Loraine Hutchins, or do you prefer to use your middle name?
Loraine Hutchins: Just Loraine Hutchins.
Mason Funk: [00:00:30] Okay, Loraine Hutchins. Could you just say that? "I go by Loraine Hutchins."
Loraine Hutchins: I go by Loraine Hutchins.
Mason Funk: Okay, fantastic. Do me a favor and just start off by telling me a little bit about where and when you were born, and who was in your family, and what your family was like.
Loraine Hutchins: I was born in Washington DC in May 1948, and I was born to a mom who was considered a Yankee because she was from DC, and my dad, who was from Georgia.
Loraine Hutchins: [00:01:00] I was also born very close to my maternal grandparents, who I grew up very close to in this area.
Mason Funk: Tell me a little bit about your maternal grandparents.
Loraine Hutchins: They were Lucille and Lester-
Mason Funk: Just for the recording, say, "My maternal grandparents were."
Loraine Hutchins: Ok. My maternal grandparents were Lucille and Lester Reese. Again, a mixed marriage of a Yankee woman and a southern man. Both of the women being more educated than their husbands, who were more blue collar-ish.
Loraine Hutchins: [00:01:30] They were very important in my early life. My grandmother was a piano teacher, and my grandfather was a clerk for the Veterans Administration downtown in the federal government.
Mason Funk: How were they important to you, your maternal grandparents?
Loraine Hutchins: They were backup-
Mason Funk: Sorry, "My maternal grandparents."
Loraine Hutchins: My maternal grandparents were backup parents. They were extended family. They lived a few miles away. We went back and forth.
Loraine Hutchins: [00:02:00] We belonged to the same church, and we always had Sunday dinners together, those kind of things.
Mason Funk: What did they mean to you when you were growing up? Like in terms of beyond the practicalities, like what did you get from these relationships?
Loraine Hutchins: My grandfather was kind of a shadow. He was kind of gentle, and wimpy, and in the background, and just sweet, and nice, and supportive.
Loraine Hutchins: [00:02:30] My grandmother was much more fierce. She was born in 1897, and as a teenager in DC in high school, her high school teacher took her and the whole class dressed up as famous women marching outside the White House for rights of women to vote.
Mason Funk: Okay. Would you say that had a significant influence on you?
Loraine Hutchins: I have always watched demonstrations come to DC, and sometimes been a part of them,
Loraine Hutchins: [00:03:00] and sometimes helped organize them. My mother demonstrated with Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and Women's Strike for Peace, and against strontium-90 in breast milk that was happening from the above ground nuclear missile tests in the 50s. Just always focused on trying to have the people's voices heard.
Mason Funk: It's a real tradition not only within your family but among the women in your family.
Loraine Hutchins: [00:03:30] Definitely the women. I come from activist women who sometimes are ambivalent about identifying as feminists or not and always were social justice Methodists.
Mason Funk: Good for them. Got to love the social justice Methodists. Tell me, since this is our first DC interview, it's really kind of like it just clicked. We're in DC.
Loraine Hutchins: Home rule for DC. We still don't have it yet.
Mason Funk: Right. Still fighting that battle.
Mason Funk: [00:04:00] Tell me about growing up in the nation's capital, at the epicenter you could say of so many changes we've seen over the past 50, 60 years.
Loraine Hutchins: Fascinating, fascinating, very empowering and very discouraging both.
Mason Funk: Tell me about what you're talking about, "To grow up in DC."
Loraine Hutchins: To grow up in DC.
Mason Funk: Sorry.
Loraine Hutchins: It's all right.
Mason Funk: Just one second.
Loraine Hutchins: Yeah.
Mason Funk: If I talk, then you have to wait for me to finish and then start clean. Okay, so when you're ready, talk about growing up in DC.
Loraine Hutchins: [00:04:30] Growing up in DC was fascinating and disillusioning both. I definitely learned a lot about how the federal government and the governing and electoral processes work, as well as how neighborhood organizing works. I was a tenant rights organizer back in the 80s in the beginning of the current wave or the last current wave of gentrification in DC. I'm also really jaded, really cynical.
Loraine Hutchins: [00:05:00] I've watched so many occupying armies come and go every election cycle, and I've watched so much claims of change disintegrate into stupidity that I have few illusions I think. I have a lot of hope still, because young people give me hope. Older people who keep trying and don't give up give me hope.
Loraine Hutchins: [00:05:30] Growing up in DC, I watched the whole city go from white to black and then now back to white again, but more mixed in terms of also being Latino and Asian, many cultures, much more multi cultural than it used to be when I was growing up. It was very formative for me to end up being the only white kid in my Sunday school class
Loraine Hutchins: [00:06:00] when I was around nine years old. The reason for that is because all the white people in my church except for my parents and my grandparents were a part of white flight and left the city for the suburbs during the late 50s, early 60s, civil rights time.
Mason Funk: Wow.
Loraine Hutchins: My parents had moved us out to Takoma Park, Maryland by then, and I was in a mostly white school, and my Sunday school on the weekends was mostly black young people.
Mason Funk: [00:06:30] Your parents moved you to the suburbs, but you would still go to church downtown?
Loraine Hutchins: Yeah, of course. My parents were very adamant about the church being the center of the people who lived in the neighborhood. When the neighborhood started changing, my parents and my grandparents went around knocking on doors asking the new people who were moving in to come to church as the white people were leaving our church.
Loraine Hutchins: [00:07:00] The new people coming were a lot of North Carolinians who were black and southerners, Georgians, South Carolinians, Virginians who were coming into DC because federal jobs were more accessible to black people than other jobs.
Mason Funk: Wow, fascinating. This again is like late 50s, early 60s.
Loraine Hutchins: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Mason Funk: You could feel ... Again, you were born in 48, right?
Mason Funk: By the early 60s I'm sure you were a very aware young person.
Mason Funk: [00:07:30] I'm sure you at 10 were crazy open. You could feel these changes happening I would imagine, the 60s. A lot of pent up violence, a lot of pent up hope among the black population. Can you talk about that?
Loraine Hutchins: In 1963, when I was 15, my mother took me with her to the march on Washington for Jobs and Freedom where Martin Luther King spoke his I Have a Dream speech. I have my teenage diary where I wrote in it. I pasted in letters to the editor
Loraine Hutchins: [00:08:00] from the newspaper where white people had written, "Don't go downtown that day. The Negros are going to be smashing windows." The Negros were in their Sunday go to meeting clothes full of love, and singing, and reaching out to everybody who was not black. It was a transformative experience for me just marching into line, coming into the line of march behind an AFL-CIO group with my mom and just watching and listening.
Mason Funk: [00:08:30] Amazing. You might be the first person I've ever heard talk about that particular march from a first person point of view.
Loraine Hutchins: Billy was there too, with his dad.
Mason Funk: Wow. I want to go circle back to something you said a minute ago. You talked about occupying armies. Can you talk more about that and define what you mean by occupying armies?
Loraine Hutchins: What I mean ... I'm sorry.
Mason Funk: You've got to let me finish. Okay, go.
Loraine Hutchins: What I mean by occupying armies is that every time there's an electoral shift,
Loraine Hutchins: [00:09:00] a new president, a new party coming into power in DC, there's a lot of houses being sold and bought, there's a lot of job changes. My most vivid memory of it was when Reagan was elected in 1980, and I was living near one of the hotels where there was inaugural balls happening. I just saw all these limos disgorging furs.
Loraine Hutchins: [00:09:30] It seriously felt like we had been invaded, but that's just because I identified as Democrat and they were Republicans. The same thing happens whichever party comes in or goes out. But it is seriously important, because it's about changes of who controls the money and the policy making.
Mason Funk: [00:10:00] What were you doing? You mentioned that memory from 1963, so you're a 15 year old and you're on fire I would imagine. What were you doing in practical terms? Like you were going to school. You were thinking about going to college probably. What were your aims and interests when you were say a, teenager coming into adulthood?
Loraine Hutchins: I wanted to be a journalist when I was a teenager coming into adulthood, and I was the editor of my school newspaper at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland. I got the paper locked
Loraine Hutchins: [00:10:30] up in the principal's safe because we mentioned the word homosexual in the paper. Now, we did it in what I thought was a benign and kind of humorous way, which is we had a review of Batman and Robin, the revival of the Batman and Robin version of that time in the 60s. All the villains were Japanese because they were World War II based time period.
Loraine Hutchins: [00:11:00] My friend who wrote the review who later became my lover, she said the Batman and Robin film and its Japanese villains were so outrageous they were camp, and camp is a word from the homosexual subculture. Then she defined it in a little phrase. All she said was the homosexual subculture. She used homosexual as an adjective.
Loraine Hutchins: [00:11:30] That's all she said. She didn't say Batman and Robin might have been lovers. You might read that, infer that, but she didn't say any of that.For that, we got the paper locked up. The principal said, "You shouldn't be using that word in high school." I had a dialogue with him, and really we had saved and held back a lot of copies of the paper that we were distributing in the hallways, and he didn't know that. It became kind of a moot point.
Loraine Hutchins: [00:12:00] I wanted to be a journalist, but I also wanted to leave DC. The journalism school closest was the University of Maryland, and everybody that looked like they were being a journalist were white male, smoking and drinking. I went away to a very alternative school in Illinois in the Midwest, and so much happened while I was out there, including the young faculty practically taking over the school
Loraine Hutchins: [00:12:30] and a lot of them getting fired over some academic freedom issues.By the time I got out of school, Lyndon Johnson had resigned, wasn't running for president anymore, and there was all this political upheaval after 1968 in France, and Germany, and England, and the United States, all the killing of Robert Kennedy and King.
Loraine Hutchins: [00:13:00] I came back to DC with my undergraduate diploma convinced that I needed to be an activist more than a professional or an academic. Especially as a woman, I wasn't feeling supported to go onto higher learning at that point. I got involved in social work and working with young people on the streets of DC who were homeless, who'd run away from home, and got involved with Youth Advocacy.
Mason Funk: [00:13:30] Wow. Okay, okay. That's good. That helps me to understand kind of how some of the dots connect. It's interesting, again, taking us back to say the late 60s when you graduated college and there's still very ... When you were going to college, the professional world was still very much reserved for the men it sounds like.
Loraine Hutchins: Yeah, yeah.
Mason Funk: Can you just talk a bit more about what it was like growing up in that atmosphere, in that era?
Loraine Hutchins: [00:14:00] We were told to go to school, to go to college to find a husband. I was engaged to be married, and I broke it off because I got scared of what marriage might bring. I had some erotic dreams about my roommate. I had no sense that I had the option of being bi, or being queer, or loving women.
Loraine Hutchins: [00:14:30] I just knew that there were some disturbing dreams that I didn't know what to do with. I had been conditioned heterosexual. But our civil rights activism as young people in the DC suburbs had always been about supporting homosexual rights as part of civil rights. I kind of knew about James Baldwin and people like that.
Mason Funk: [00:15:00] Do you remember when you first, like even if it wasn't related, even if it wasn't you personally as a possible bisexual or queer person, but do you remember the first inklings you heard of say a James Baldwin or people called homosexuals, and who they were, and what they were presented to society, kind of mainstream society?
Loraine Hutchins: Actually, I wasn't aware of Frank Kameny, who was so famous in DC, or white men
Loraine Hutchins: [00:15:30] who were the beginning high profile recorded leaders of the LGBT movement. I was more aware of the women's movement. I became aware of how to love women through being in a consciousness raising group of feminists and going around the room and sharing our feelings, and our fantasies, and our theories about gender,
Loraine Hutchins: [00:16:00] and conditioning, and realizing I can love women. I can even love women and not leave men behind if I choose to do that, although there was a lot of pressure to come out as lesbian.I mean the Radical Furies were here in DC, and they were separatist lesbians. Rita Mae Brown, one of them,
Loraine Hutchins: [00:16:30] I was at a women's conference here where she stood up and starting screaming at everybody, "Abandon your boy children. Leave your husbands. Give all your energy to women." Actually, I agreed, or I was fascinated. I was compelled to consider a lot of that in its theory. In its practice, it can destroy a lot of really good relationships too,
Loraine Hutchins: [00:17:00] and I think it needs to be tempered with one's own instinct about what feels right in terms of love and intimacy.Still, I was brought up by separatist lesbians in some ways as a young adult, and I learned a lot about the power and the primacy of women loving women from them. I want to always give respect to that, even though I also feel like
Loraine Hutchins: [00:17:30] an abuse survivor because they were not okay to bi women.
Mason Funk: Okay, a lot there. Such good stuff. Before I forget, just tell me about ... You almost defined for me who the Radical Furies were, but since we're here, just tell me who were the Radical Furies?
Loraine Hutchins: The radical lesbians, the Furies, were about a dozen women. They mostly lived collectively
Loraine Hutchins: [00:18:00] in a house or several houses connected. They ran a non gendered daycare center for the free community as we called it in Washington DC, and they published a lot of really important writings about class, race, gender, although we didn't call it gender. We called it sex more back then. They raised a lot of really difficult and important questions about women loving women and how it
Loraine Hutchins: [00:18:30] fits into the larger culture. Some of them are my friends still today.
Mason Funk: When you use the phrase women loving women, what did that mean fleshed out? Did that mean, was that more of like, kind of an overall supportive environment where you're kind of like, "This is all about women loving women"? Was it a sexual term, or was it more-
Loraine Hutchins: It's both.
Mason Funk: Yeah. Explain that for me.
Loraine Hutchins: Women loving women, I mean actually there's a great article about women loving women that you can find in feminist literature,
Loraine Hutchins: [00:19:00] but women loving women means, it definitely means honoring and holding up the primacy of sexual and loving relationships between women. It also means women not defined by men's ideas about women, what women are. It also involves, at least at that time historically, things about being a political lesbian, meaning that heterosexually identified women
Loraine Hutchins: [00:19:30] and bi identified women were urged to call themselves lesbian whether they felt desire for women or not, because it was considered a political move to declare your allegiance to women. That was a way of disrupting, disturbing, dismantling, turning around patriarchal male supremacy rule.
Mason Funk: [00:20:00] Great. Now, how did these Radical Furies for example as a subset, I guess you could say, of the women's movement, how did they relate to what you could call the more mainstream? Yeah.
Loraine Hutchins: Well, Betty Friedan hated them. She called them the Lavender Menace.
Mason Funk: Start by saying, "Betty Friedan hated the Furies, the Radical Furies."
Loraine Hutchins: Betty Friedan, who did The Feminine Mystique and was one of the leaders of the National Organization for Women, is well known historically for hating them. She called them the Lavender Menace. She made it clear
Loraine Hutchins: [00:20:30] that she felt that lesbians would ruin the women's movement. What's happened is that lesbians have sustained the women's movement.
Mason Funk: Expand.
Loraine Hutchins: Well, I don't think we would have a women's movement today if it hadn't been for women who put women first, however you do that. I include myself in a broad definition of lesbians, and I've called myself lesbian at various times.
Loraine Hutchins: [00:21:00] It's more accurate to call myself bi, because I love men. I'm attracted to men. I don't have a relationship with a man right now and don't really care if I do ever again. My desire for men and my appreciation for men is a part of my being that wasn't able to be talked about back then hardly, and still it's hard to talk about.
Loraine Hutchins: [00:21:30] Answering your question about women loving women is that.
Mason Funk: Yeah, that's great. I don't want to ... In this era, like late 60s, early 70s, when the Radical Furies were making all kinds of noise, do you remember any stories or anecdotes, crazy events? I mean you must.
Loraine Hutchins: Do you mean the day the lesbians stole the press, that little story?
Loraine Hutchins: [00:22:00] Which I sometimes read to my students in LGBT 101, the class I teach. I was asleep and I heard the phone ringing in-
Mason Funk: Set this up for me a little bit.
Loraine Hutchins: Okay. Okay.
Mason Funk: Like give me a little bit of a preface like, "One of the most amazing or incredible stories, or maybe a story that typifies." Just give me a little bit of a preface like that.
Loraine Hutchins: One of the classic stories that illustrates how I felt in the middle between heterosexual
Loraine Hutchins: [00:22:30] social activists, social justice activists, and the more radical separatist women is that I was working with the Runaway House and Special Approaches in Juvenile Assistance, the Youth Advocacy group that was based in Dupont Circle area of DC. I was living communally in a house with 12 adults and three children, and I was sleeping in my basement furnace room
Loraine Hutchins: [00:23:00] next to my friend Sharon, who was in the next room. The phone starts ringing, and somebody on the phone says, "Come downtown. Come down the hill. The radical lesbians are stealing the press." We got on my little Kawasaki 90, me and Sharon on the back, and we zoomed down the hill, 19th Street, from Mount Pleasant down to Dupont Circle. The lesbians had left. The man who was the director
Loraine Hutchins: [00:23:30] of our organization was standing there looking down the street. I realized that what had happened is the women had hired moving men. Back in those days, presses were huge metal affairs that were very heavy. They had wrangled it down two flights of stairs and taken it out of the building. He considered it his press, and they took it because they had negotiated with a community group of people who had been called to
Loraine Hutchins: [00:24:00] talk about the use of the press. The community group of lots of organizations and coalitions had decided that the women needed the press the most because there's lots of other ways that men could get training in printing. They had voted let's give the press to the Radical Furies, because they have this great publishing plan for the year. But Bill tried to block that because he didn't want them to have the press.
Loraine Hutchins: [00:24:30] It's a little history story about power in Washington, and a lefty think tank that got the press used, named the Institute for Policy Studies, and how one of the Furies, two of the Furies, were fellows at the Institute for Policy Studies, and how it all got negotiated. The point is I called up one of them after it happened because I didn't understand and I was interviewing to work at this organization at that time.
Loraine Hutchins: [00:25:00] I needed the job, and I felt like I was in the middle, and I was trying to mediate like bisexuals do. I said, "Why did you take the press?" She explained it to me. She said, "You really should stop giving your energy to men. It's really an energy suck. It's a drain." I said, "You know, you may be right, but I think I'm going to be in the middle and be a bridge." We just kind of left it that way.
Mason Funk: [00:25:30] You know, one of the interesting things that Lani talked about ... Obviously for me all of this is an education, and that's part of what I enjoy about it, but I had never realized that at the height of these strong feelings about women loving women that even a woman's own sons were suspect in a way.
Loraine Hutchins: Especially.
Mason Funk: Talk about that.
Loraine Hutchins: Well, I don't have kids, but I watched a lot of my friends with kids. It's hard to raise a feminist son. I think
Loraine Hutchins: [00:26:00] a lot of the separatism represented in places like the Michigan Women's Music Festival where they had child care for girls and boys but the boys' child care was not always as accessible after the boys reached a certain age. They were more kept at a distance to the land. It has to do with an essentialist view of gender
Loraine Hutchins: [00:26:30] and sex that says that femaleness is polluted by maleness, or threatened, or compromised, and that therefore it's better to raise daughters.You know, it's kind of back to that Amazon stuff. I had a house that I named Amazon Nation, one of the group houses I lived in. It's kind of back to that Amazon stuff
Loraine Hutchins: [00:27:00] of separating off from men and feeling like maybe the men should raise the sons, which I don't know how that works. That's not logical, because that could exacerbate the polarization. I think it comes from limited energy and resources, and feeling like you have to save it for the women.
Mason Funk: Okay, so something just clicked for me. The idea is image a woman who's had a son and daughter,
Mason Funk: [00:27:30] but she's meantime becoming very politicized around lesbianism or about being a feminist. I just need you to kind of explain what I think I understand, that she would basically, the women around her would encourage her to send the boy away to be raised by his father, you raise the girls. If that's what was going on, just explain that for me more fully, because that just kind of dawned on me or clicked for me.
Loraine Hutchins: Well, I don't know. I think you might get that better explained by women
Loraine Hutchins: [00:28:00] who it actually happened to. My experience was I didn't really ... Well, okay. Let me be honest. I think I've internalized it to a certain extent in the sense that I didn't want to be involved with it at all. I didn't want to be a single parent. I didn't trust any man to parent with me. I didn't find any women to parent with me. I just decided it's hard enough taking care of myself and bringing myself up,
Loraine Hutchins: [00:28:30] and I certainly don't want any sons or daughters that I would also have to be responsible for.
Mason Funk: Now, you just mentioned something that's more personal. You were concerned with bringing yourself up. In what ways did you feel like you, even though you had these feminine role models, your mom and your grandmother, but how did you have to bring yourself up?
Loraine Hutchins: Well, my mom and my grandmother sacrificed a lot for their kids and their husbands,
Loraine Hutchins: [00:29:00] and they were my role models in the sense of teaching me inadvertently not to do that. My grandmother's father abandoned their family and married his secretary, and I was taught you need to have your own skills, because you can't depend on a man to support you. It's feminist in a way, and it's also
Loraine Hutchins: [00:29:30] kind of like men can't be trusted to partner with. It's not saying that women can be trusted to partner with. It's just saying it's a rough life. No guarantees.
Mason Funk: Right, right. Great. Great stuff. When did you first begin to
Mason Funk: [00:30:00] kind of conceive of or when did you even maybe ... Can you remember the first time you heard the term bisexual or that it entered your consciousness?
Loraine Hutchins: I don't remember the first time I heard the word bisexual. I know that I was in the women's movement and I became attracted to women that I was working with and organizing with. I know that some of the women I was attracted to were lesbian,
Loraine Hutchins: [00:30:30] and some of them were heterosexual and bi. The first time I made love with a woman, we were competing over a man and seeing which of us could get him in bed first, and we kind of decided to take him to bed together so we wouldn't have to fight that out. I realized that I not only enjoyed being in bed with her with him,
Loraine Hutchins: [00:31:00] but that I would also enjoy being in bed with her if he wasn't around. That makes me bi I think.
Mason Funk: It sounds like ... I don't know. I don't know if that's a definition or not, but it occurs to me that you could have decided, "Oh, this is what I really enjoy. I can let go of the guy without any great sense of loss."
Loraine Hutchins: [00:31:30] I love penises. I love cocks. I love men's energy. I couldn't let go of it easily. It's just that they're a lot of struggle to deal with relationally.
Mason Funk: For you personally, and I definitely don't want you to have to kind of make up categories that don't exist, but does that mean on some level that men, you're attracted to them sexually but relationally it's more problematic?
Loraine Hutchins: No.
Mason Funk: [00:32:00] Okay.
Loraine Hutchins: Actually I hear that a lot and I've listened-
Mason Funk: Tell me what you've heard a lot.
Loraine Hutchins: I've heard a lot that people, whether they identify as bi or some other label, that they have one gender that they're more romantically, emotionally bonded with potentially and actually and another gender that they're more hot for sexually. They explain it as either/or, or
Loraine Hutchins: [00:32:30] one's more dominant than the other. That's not been my experience. My experience has definitely been that sometimes I'm more attracted to men physically, sometimes I'm more attracted to women physically. My mind does different things with that emotionally and politically about what kind of decisions I make, about what kinds of relationships I pursue, and what kind of sex I am willing or not willing to have.
Loraine Hutchins: [00:33:00] It's complex. In terms of the valance, the pulse, the energy, I don't feel that ... I really do feel bi in the sense that I feel attracted ... Well, I mean we talk about in our book, Bi Any Other Name, we talk about how gender is not necessarily the determinant, that sometimes people are more attracted to people of a certain
Loraine Hutchins: [00:33:30] personality or a certain vibe, and that's how I feel. I mean I'm attracted to somebody first.Okay. I mean an example is I remember making out with this person who I thought was female and then finding out later when we got more intimate that the person had a penis,
Loraine Hutchins: [00:34:00] and I was still attracted. If I was worried about, "Oh, I'd better not be attracted because I found their genitals are different than I assumed," well then that's my mind. That's not my body. If I'm synchronizing my mind and body or wanting my mind and body to feel together, I just need to reckon with what my mind and body are telling me, which is that I'm attracted to people.
Loraine Hutchins: [00:34:30] Sometimes they be one gender and sometimes they be another.
Mason Funk: Right, right. One of the things I've learned is that of course one of the boxes, one of the ways that society as a whole wants to deal with bi people is when you're with a person, you're with an X, therefore you're an X, you're an X. You're a heterosexual based on who you're with.
Mason Funk: [00:35:00] I don't want to go down that path, but I am curious to ask you if there have been some like what I think of as significant, major relationships that just in the process of your navigating your own bisexuality that have been the most important to you, whether it was with women or men, that helped you to kind of find yourself in those relationships?
Loraine Hutchins: You know what? You asking me about what relationships have been
Loraine Hutchins: [00:35:30] most important to me and formative to me is not going to be an easy question for me to answer, because I think my relationship with myself has been my primary relationship. I've had long term relationships with women, and with men, and in triads, several different triads with another man and a woman. Still, I would say that
Loraine Hutchins: [00:36:00] I could name somebody who I thought was my best lover, but that wasn't the most significant relationship in my life. Different people have taught me different things.
Mason Funk: I love that. That's a direction that I didn't expect you to go, so I want to go further down that direction.
Mason Funk: Tell me more. Tell me more. Just expand on that for me. Like no one's ever said to me before ... Because we're so relationship oriented, aren't we as a society?
Mason Funk: [00:36:30] It's all about, "Who are you with? Oh, my God. You're with two people? Crazy," but no one ever says, "The most important relationship in my life was with myself."
Loraine Hutchins: Well, that's just true for me, that my most important relationship was with myself. I mean that may have to do with early childhood stuff that made me or cause me to not want to have the kind of marriage that I saw my grandparents or my parents having.
Loraine Hutchins: [00:37:00] I definitely have explored polyamory, and singleness, and a lot of variations in between. I've been monogamous for various periods of my life, and there's nobody that's been as important to me to make peace with and to learn to love than me. Yet, I feel a lot of discrimination and stigmatization because of that.
Loraine Hutchins: [00:37:30] I mean I'm considered less mature. I'm considered lonely and pathetic. Lots of judgments are made about me because I have not been married and don't have children. I had abortions. It's hard for me to even talk about that because of the judgments that people have about a woman's right to control her own body and what grows in it. I don't regret. I mean I have grief, I have loss,
Loraine Hutchins: [00:38:00] and I don't regret the choices I've made to take care of myself. I feel like it's a full time job, and I'm not doing it as well as I would like, and I am still working on it. I don't know if that answers.
Mason Funk: No, that's great. That's great. That's a great, great explanation, very refreshing. Because only when you mention something like that do I kind of like wake up and go, "Oh, my God. These things we all take for granted, this very
Mason Funk: [00:38:30] maybe hyperintense focus on people's relationships with others as defining who they are."
Loraine Hutchins: I've tried to be a couple many times. It's just that I feel suffocated and it doesn't work, or I'd rather do stuff that my partner doesn't want to do, and I end up making choices that involve de-partnering.
Mason Funk: One thing, just start by saying, "I've already talked about blank, blank, blank, blank, and blank."
Loraine Hutchins: [00:39:00] I've talked about my early adulthood, and before I became a famous bi activist and author, and before I got my PhD and started teaching.
Mason Funk: I thought you were going to say, "I've already said cock, penis."
Loraine Hutchins: I've introduce the listener to a little bit of my sex radicalism,
Loraine Hutchins: [00:39:30] as does my piece in Bi Any Other Name, which is called Love That Kink, where I examine the definitions of the word kink and kinky in the English language, but really I've only scratched the surface in terms of talking about what drives me to do this work.
Mason Funk: Tell me. Either go down the path of like just introducing us to the history, if you will, of the modern bisexual movement or go down the path of what drives you to do this work.
Loraine Hutchins: [00:40:00] It's all connected.
Loraine Hutchins: Of course.
Mason Funk: Go for it.
Loraine Hutchins: Being bi. Actually, when I met Lani Ka'ahumanu in San Francisco during Pride Week 1985 I think it was, I didn't really know much about bi activism. I've been to some conferences. I've been to some support groups,
Loraine Hutchins: [00:40:30] but the bi people in San Francisco were organized at a whole other level and they were mobilizing a bi contingent for the Pride Parade, and they convinced me to dress up as Janis Joplin and hold a sign saying, "Don't compromise yourself. It's all you've got." When I came back to DC, I created a bi contingent of one on my bicycle and merged into the DC Pride Parade, which had no bi signs
Loraine Hutchins: [00:41:00] or bi groups participating. In fact, I dressed up as Wonder Woman with a hard-on.I didn't want to talk about that when I started teaching years later, because I was afraid I'd be fired. There's stories about my sex radicalism that are hard to talk about in this more conservative time
Loraine Hutchins: [00:41:30] because of hate crimes and vengeance against us that does frighten even fierce me. I'm walking a tight rope as I'm answering you. I'm just making that clear.I don't have any trouble being out as a bisexual activist, and I've certainly helped put the B in LGBT and helped create
Loraine Hutchins: [00:42:00] the LGBT movement politically as well as the bi part of it for years, without much recognition or respect I would say for bi people in general, not particularly me personally. I don't take it that personally. There's a lot about how bisexuals are over-sexualized and stigmatized as being more sexual than we are, though
Loraine Hutchins: [00:42:30] thats because we're attracted to more than one gender that that means we have no sense of discrimination. I'm sick of it. I am tired like 30 years later to be fighting the same fights. It breaks my heart to see young people having to fight those fights that I thought we had fought and won, and we haven't won. It'll take many generations.
Mason Funk: Why do you think those fights are so hard to win?
Loraine Hutchins: I think they're so hard to win-
Mason Funk: [00:43:00] The fights.
Loraine Hutchins: The fights are so hard to win because heterosexuals and gay people alike are both invested in denying the middle grounds, because heterosexual people mostly want to think that they're completely heterosexual, and gay people a lot of time, not all of them, would like it to be a simple world of we're just opposite you rather than see
Loraine Hutchins: [00:43:30] that the spectrum of human sexuality is amazingly diverse. As long as we have an unequal power imbalanced world where there's still male supremacy, white supremacy, rich people having a lot more power of poor people's very lives, I don't think we're going to make it safe for people to be bi or any kind of sexual minority or diversity,
Loraine Hutchins: [00:44:00] because there's just too many power imbalances that benefit from pitting people against each other and from denying the complexity.
Mason Funk: I can speak, from personal experience as just one gay man, it seemed to me like it was so difficult to finally carve out a place where I could be gay that the last thing that
Mason Funk: [00:44:30] I wanted to contemplate was the possibility that, "Oh, sorry. I might not be gay. I might be bi." It never even occurred to me.
Mason Funk: But like every once in a while, like in conversations with my therapist when it would come up, like something would come up about maybe a woman or women that I would meet who I would have a lot of energy with. Somehow even I would go down the path like, "Oh, my God. I'm not attracted to her. I can't be attracted to her, because I'm gay dammit."
Loraine Hutchins: [00:45:00] Bisexuals are the secret confessors of lesbians, and gay, and straight people who come to us and say exactly that kind of thing that you've just said, that somebody who we call sometimes monosexual, although there's problems with that word, but monosexual meaning attracted to only one gender, people who masquerade as monosexual come up to us bis and confess to us that their sexuality is actually more complex.
Loraine Hutchins: [00:45:30] The world we live in keeps sorting it into the either/or gay/straight paradigm, and I'm sick of it. Sick, sick, sick, sick, sick of it, and sick of bisexuals being over-sexualized in the middle of it. I'm tired of it.That's why I became a bisexual activist, and it's why I worked to help found BiNet USA nationally, to co-edit Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out in 1991
Loraine Hutchins: [00:46:00] that just got re-released as a 25th anniversary re-release last year. It's why I started with other people AMBi, the Alliance of Multicultural Bisexuals in DC. It's why I've worked for years with the national gay groups to make sure that they really are LGBT. I mean there's lots of stories, stories I could tell you, and they relate
Loraine Hutchins: [00:46:30] to my personal struggles and my personal journey too about making peace between my sexuality, and my spiritual path, and my politics, and trying to make it all work.
Mason Funk: What are some of the stories? I mean I know, like you said, there's so many, but is there one that comes to mind that for you is significant in the context of you
Mason Funk: [00:47:00] maybe just on the sort of political front fighting for inclusion of the B in LGBT or of bis? I know there have been marches on Washington where you had to fight to have the B, have it be the march for LGB. Was it called lesbian, gender, bisexual rights?
Loraine Hutchins: There's only one march out of the five that had bi in the title, and that was the 1993 march. That was accomplished
Loraine Hutchins: [00:47:30] partly because the bi and trans people together were trying to get B and T added. Trans people were pushed out, and their name was not added to the march. The compromise was that we couldn't say bisexual because it was too sexual. We had to say bi.
Mason Funk: Okay. Wait a minute. Let me just back you up. Just start the story kind of fresh.
Mason Funk: Basically like, "In 1993."
Loraine Hutchins: [00:48:00] In 1993, it was the third march on Washington for gay rights that was being organized in DC. It was the third one I'd gone to. Our book had already come out two years ago, and I was becoming visible nationally and on TV, on college campuses as a spokesperson for bi people. Yet, we were doing a national organizing process where the title of the march was in dispute.
Loraine Hutchins: [00:48:30] Though there were bi people organizing for the march in every big city around the country, it wasn't clear that the B or the T were going to be allowed to be in the title of the march. There was a long late night meeting in LA that I wasn't at, except by phone, listening in where it was debated, and the compromise ended up being that they wouldn't allow
Loraine Hutchins: [00:49:00] trans people to have trans in the title and they wouldn't allow bisexual people to have bisexual in the title because bisexual was too sexual. If we compromise and said B-I, which we did, it ended up being called the National March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation.I do want to say that out of the five marches, that was the most egalitarian, amazing participatory
Loraine Hutchins: [00:49:30] process of all the ways each one of them was organized. We had a thing called 50/50 gender racial parity at a regional level, which meant that there were regional meetings where the platform demands were voted on and you couldn't vote for your demands to be considered by the national group unless 50% of the people in your group were women and of color.
Mason Funk: [00:50:00] What did that feel like just on a personal level to be fighting so hard against the powers that be on that particular situation for the inclusion of bisexual people and then to have to make this compromise because sexual was too sexual? From a personal point of view, what was that whole experience like?
Loraine Hutchins: It's exhausting.
Mason Funk: Let me know what you're talking about.
Loraine Hutchins: For me, fighting for bi recognition within the larger LGBT rights movement is exhausting, and humiliating,
Loraine Hutchins: [00:50:30] and insulting. I'm tired of it. Things like I get invited to keynote, invited to keynote, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Creating Change Conference in the early 2000s in Oakland, and yet the other keynoters have press related to their keynotes, and me and the other bi guy don't have the same press. What's that about?
Loraine Hutchins: [00:51:00] There's all this like shame, and weirdness, and ambivalence that I'm just tired of. Just tired. It's like we're not gay enough.
Mason Funk: Well, I get that you're tired of it, but I want to kind of stick, just for the purposes of creating stories people can relate to and learn from, I want to just go back to that particular incident and have you kind of talk it through.
Loraine Hutchins: [00:51:30] Which?
Mason Funk: The 1993 march.
Loraine Hutchins: Okay, okay.
Mason Funk: The compromise around bi versus bisexual. I just kind of want to get a little bit more of the nitty gritty of what that felt like, what the actual struggle was like, the arguments, the conversations, who said this, who said that, what you were experiencing as you went through that.
Loraine Hutchins: During the organizing for the 93 march, I was mobilizing a bi resource center here, a bi media center in DC,
Loraine Hutchins: [00:52:00] and we had a lot of people come in the week ahead of time to do bi press. We had been fighting to get a bi speaker on the main stage, which there hadn't been in 87 or 79. We nominated Lani Ka'ahumanu and got her approved, and she was the last speaker of the day while the National Park Service was pulling the plug and practically taking her off stage. They were pressuring her
Loraine Hutchins: [00:52:30] to cut her remarks in half where other people hadn't been pressured. All those kinds of indignities is what I mean when I say I'm tired.
Mason Funk: Yeah. I get it. It just inevitably raises the questions for me, how do you get up in the morning, so to speak.
Loraine Hutchins: I have a sense of humor. I do feel support from people who get it.
Loraine Hutchins: [00:53:00] I do feel that ... Well, I mean a lot of my students who are undergraduates, they don't care about all this stuff. Their identity labels are so beyond, and they don't fight. I mean they have other fights. Young people give me hope. I mean I don't know if you know, but there's a new study. There are research studies now showing
Loraine Hutchins: [00:53:30] that the majority of teenagers and young adults in the United Kingdom and the United States no longer identify as heterosexual. There's a shift that's happened. They may identify as mostly heterosexual and they no longer identify as totally exclusively heterosexual. That's huge. That's historic. Will that sustain under a more right wing dictatorship or political system
Loraine Hutchins: [00:54:00] that may or may not be our future? I don't know, but I know the reality is underneath.
Mason Funk: A minute ago when we were taking a break, you mentioned maybe spending some time talking about the birth of, for example BiNet ,and the birth of a more visible ... Certainly you've come a long way. There is more attention paid to the visibility of bi people I would think,
Mason Funk: [00:54:30] but when did that in your experience begin? When did you guys go from say invisible to beginning to kind of like little shoots of grass coming up above the soil?
Loraine Hutchins: Actually, in a way what catalyzed it is the tragedy of AIDS.
Mason Funk: Okay. Tell me what. When you say catalyzed it, I need to know what you're talking about.
Loraine Hutchins: Bisexual organizing politically in an outward way became imperative because bi men, and
Loraine Hutchins: [00:55:00] to a lesser extent bi women, and people we loved who weren't bi were dying so fast in the 80s and the early 90s, and bisexuals were being blamed for spreading AIDS from the gay community to the straight community. It became imperative that we educate the public at large about the ridiculousness of that
Loraine Hutchins: [00:55:30] accusation and the importance of safer sex. Bisexuals were some of the very first safer sex educators to work with public health departments about safer sex protocols for all people, because we made love with more than one gender and we understood.
Mason Funk: Tell me about that period. Like really kind of take me back and immerse me in say that period from your point of view. I know it's hard going back there, really, really super hard,
Mason Funk: [00:56:00] but we're in the 80s, early 80s, mid 80s, and now AIDS is really just out of control.
Loraine Hutchins: You know, if I had had a marriage, it's probably one of those people that died. There were so many beautiful, beautiful people that died that I might have partnered with. We lost so many people. That's probably part of why
Loraine Hutchins: [00:56:30] I'm not willing to love that deeply. I don't know. Who knows? It's just one of those things where you feel like when you're in a war that you have to fight back. I was on the first board of directors of BiNet USA when we formed.
Loraine Hutchins: [00:57:00] I did a lot of regional organizing and local organizing. I no longer do much of that. I'm really tired of it, but I'm also called upon as an authority and as an elder, and I still participate.How was it? What was it like? It was exciting. It was just doing a lot of networking in a personal storytelling, sharing way with people in various cities,
Loraine Hutchins: [00:57:30] and towns, and campus groups about why they needed support and how to get them support for being out, and being bi, and living their lives. I mean we used to have debates about support groups and social groups versus political activism and education, and that's still a theme today.We did it all volunteer, and we did it in the spaces of other groups. I mean one of the things
Loraine Hutchins: [00:58:00] that we get criticized for is, "Well, you don't have a bi national organization and office in DC." Well, no. I mean why? Why would we create another level of bureaucracy when bi people are everywhere in every group? A lot of the out bi-ness I've seen has come out in other social justice movements integrated with things about sexual liberation, and rights of women, and rights of people of color, and health
Loraine Hutchins: [00:58:30] and healing things. I don't want to create a separatist bi movement. Never have.
Mason Funk: If you wouldn't mind, if we could go back. There's one thing I want to pick up on talking about the AIDS epidemic. I know that it's commonplace knowledge that bisexuals got blamed a lot for allegedly bringing the disease from the gay community. Can you just tell me that story as if you're talking to someone who doesn't know that story?
Mason Funk: [00:59:00] About the things that were said, about incidents you remember, specifically around this kind of stigmatization of bisexual people as the AIDS epidemic took off.
Loraine Hutchins: We're the whores. We're dirty. Everybody else is clean. Everybody else is moral.
Mason Funk: Can you preface this by saying, "Some of the things that were said"?
Loraine Hutchins: Some of the things that were said is that we're the whores, that we were the dirty ones, that everybody else was moral and monogamous, that it was our behaviors that were causing
Loraine Hutchins: [00:59:30] the disease to spread. When you hear that, the same way the Haitians heard it who were stigmatized, the same way any group of people rather than the behavior itself which is unsafe bodily fluids being shared, when you heard that over and over and over again, it's hard not to internalize it as your own self judgment.
Mason Funk: [01:00:00] Can you hold for a second? Okay, carry on.
Loraine Hutchins: After hearing over and over again that I was a whore, although-
Mason Funk: Who would be saying these things?
Loraine Hutchins: People at doctor's office, people at political conventions, people in my church, people in my family, everybody.
Loraine Hutchins: [01:00:30] After hearing over and over again that I'm a whore, number one, it made me interested in interviewing and studying prostitutes and prostitution and learning from them and from porn performers what porn was about. Number two, I started actually, when I went back to grad school studying the sacred prostitute as an archetypal image and studying the contradictions and the connections between erotic and spiritual,
Loraine Hutchins: [01:01:00] I think partly motivated by having all that crap dumped on me and us as the people who are everybody else's demons when we're just being ourselves and loving.
Mason Funk: Right. Let me look at some notes I took about specific topics.
Loraine Hutchins: [01:01:30] Sure.
Mason Funk: Then we'll go from there.
Mason Funk: There's a phrase that both you and ABilly use in some of your writings, which is queers in intersection.
Loraine Hutchins: I can tell you about that. You want me to tell you?
Mason Funk: Well, I'm curious because I literally don't know what it means.
Loraine Hutchins: I sent you a little poem about it by email.
Mason Funk: That might have been why. That might have been what triggered the thought. It's one thing to have a poem. It's another thing for you to talk about.
Loraine Hutchins: [01:02:00] It's not ABilly and it's not me. You want me to talk about queers in-
Loraine Hutchins: There's a man who I loved deeply who died this past February named Ibrahim Farajaje' who was a bi theologian and Sufi and world religions teacher at Starr King School for the Ministry, the Unitarian
Loraine Hutchins: [01:02:30] school in Berkeley. Years ago when we were organizing the Alliance of Multicultural Bisexuals in DC in the early 90s, he wrote a piece that later got titled Queers in Intersection. I've used it in my teaching. He used it in his public speaking a lot. It got rewritten and rewritten.
Loraine Hutchins: [01:03:00] I mean look at the two words queer and intersection. Queer is often the word that people use to mean different than normal. Intersection is those borderlines, those places of crossing, those bridges, those places where one thing meets another. Academically, there's a school of thought that talked about intersectionalities
Loraine Hutchins: [01:03:30] that was developed by black feminist women, Kimberle Crenshaw and other people, and I teach it now in women's studies 101. Intersectionality is a way of thinking about how all our identities are in play and how we're not only a man, or we're not only a woman, or we're not only gay, we're not only white, we're not only of color, we're not only abled or differently abled.
Loraine Hutchins: [01:04:00] We have many, many identities that all come into play, and the intersections of those identities is where a lot of our oppression or privilege and our interesting understanding of ourselves gets expressed.Actually, Ibrahim, who used to be called Elias when he was a professor at Howard University here in DC, put that Queers in Intersection poem on his answering machine when we had answering machines.
Loraine Hutchins: [01:04:30] Some religious leaders in the church called up his phone and didn't realize they were giggling and talking and being recorded, because they thought they'd hung up. There was just a whole story about us exposing them gently about their fear of a queer theologian who was bi who loved a woman, loved a man being someone who was becoming influential
Loraine Hutchins: [01:05:00] in the church and in interfaith organizing as an out bi man. Intersectionality is just one of those academic and important political things that we need to talk more about as queers and as straight people.
Mason Funk: Whoops. Yeah. When you start to kind of pull back the veil, which is I feel like in some ways
Mason Funk: [01:05:30] what you do both individually and as the bi community, you start to question such fundamental assumptions to the point where the people who are making the assumptions don't even realize how much they're assumptions because they're so fundamental. It sounds like that is part and parcel of your community's identity but that I could imagine does get very tiring after a while. I remember somebody referencing the fact that after correcting people and mostly in saying, "Well, I may be with a woman, but that doesn't mean I'm an X," or, "I may be with a man," that you get tired and some people just cave.
Loraine Hutchins: [01:06:00] Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I choose where I come out. I mean coming out is not an event. It's a process over and over and over again. I don't come out every day, every moment of the day, or else I would never get anything else done. But I also am not in the closet and my students Google me even if I don't make a point, because it's not necessarily appropriate or necessary for me to start up and say,
Loraine Hutchins: [01:06:30] "Hi, I'm your bisexual professor." But a lot of times, my history in helping organize the bi movement and the larger LGBT movement is important in exactly the content of what I'm teaching, because I was there in the history of the movement that I'm teaching about.
Mason Funk: Right. Let me see what else. Here's a question. Well, here's a provocative question.
Mason Funk: [01:07:00] You've described yourself as a sexual radical, and I have to feel like on some level that in the wrong hands and in the wrong minds, that perpetuates the notion of bisexuals as people who are just crazy promiscuous and who just have sex with anything that moves. How do you reconcile those two things? I'm not saying you have to.
Loraine Hutchins: It's a constant struggle. We had-
Mason Funk: Tell me what the constant struggle is.
Loraine Hutchins: [01:07:30] Well-
Mason Funk: I know it's hard.
Loraine Hutchins: We had a magazine for many years called Anything That Moves, and we did it purposely as a conversation opener to raise the ... to interrogate the do bisexuals be attracted to everything, anything that moves. Well, no, and what's wrong with it if they were or we are? How do I reconcile?
Loraine Hutchins: [01:08:00] I often say if I had as much sex as you think I have, I would not be able to get anything done. It's your fantasies that you project on me. I say that a lot. I don't know that that reconciles it. I mean I have had a lot of good sex, and I hope to have some more some time.Also, I don't think that the kind of sex or the amount of sex I have
Loraine Hutchins: [01:08:30] says anything about my worth as a person. I mean I tell my students in sex ed, you can have a lot of sex and know nothing about it. You can not have sex, and be a virgin, and be very wise about sexuality. I guess holding the contradictions in dynamic play is how I reconcile it.
Mason Funk: That's good. That's good. It's fascinating, really.
Mason Funk: That was prompted by this other thing that I'd written down, which was the term bisexual, of course it's based on this prefix, bi, which is part of the problem so to speak.
Loraine Hutchins: Yes, it is.
Mason Funk: Can you talk about just the quandary of using a term bisexual in a way to represent something much bigger?
Loraine Hutchins: [01:09:30] It is a limit in the English language that we wrestle with all the time.
Mason Funk: Sorry. You have to tell me what is.
Loraine Hutchins: What is the limit? The word bi, which is often read as binary, is a limit in the English language that we wrestle with all the time. One way that we and that bi movement have resolved it or been working with it is to say that to us,
Loraine Hutchins: [01:10:00] we're kind of like turning around binary and opening it up linguistically by saying, "No, it doesn't necessarily mean either/or. It can be both/and. No, it doesn't necessarily mean only women and men as the only genders." We can understand bi as meaning I'm attracted to people like me and people different than me.
Loraine Hutchins: [01:10:30] People can be different than me in more than one way just as I myself am not necessarily definable as one valence.
Mason Funk: What are some of the other ways that people can be different from you or me?
Loraine Hutchins: People have orgasms in different ways. People romantically organize their lives and their fantasies in different ways than I do.
Loraine Hutchins: [01:11:00] Some people are attracted to only fat people, or only skinny people, or only people with a certain kind of hair, or only smart people, sapiosexuals. Some people are not attracted sexually at all and they're beautiful, amazing people in and of themselves. All those are different ways of being human, and I just don't see the binary working
Loraine Hutchins: [01:11:30] in any sense, gender, orientation, race. We're both/and and more.
Mason Funk: Both/and and more. I like that. Yeah. Let's see. Here's one that was mentioned I think in passing in one of the things you sent me, but I wanted to drill into it a little bit, which is, and you mentioned it also today, I had never really realized that in the AIDS epidemic,
Mason Funk: [01:12:00] and this one you had in the book, there was a certain tension between the so called activists and the people who were the so called people who were providing services. It's service organizations versus like activism. I don't know how important it is, but historically just can you talk about how during the epidemic there was certain people who felt we needed to do more of this? Just talk about that.
Loraine Hutchins: I actually see the tension between social service versus more advocacy,
Loraine Hutchins: [01:12:30] direct confrontational activism, as threading through many social movements before and after AIDS. I mean growing up in DC, when I was working with the runaway young people and the homeless young people as a counselor in a group home setting, we were having debates over the dinner table about we're just being Band-aids
Loraine Hutchins: [01:13:00] taking care of these messed up families that can't get it together to take care of their kids. We're just being used by the social system, that the child protective services and the juvenile justice system that's not working. We should be out there in the streets mobilizing youth to fight back and rebel about them not having good preparation for being adults,
Loraine Hutchins: [01:13:30] education wise, job wise. Why should we be serving the schools of social work, and psychology, and the institutions of juvenile justice systems that just want to further criminalize or institutionalize kids who are different?It's the same thing that Black Lives Matter is raising today
Loraine Hutchins: [01:14:00] to me in terms of looking at our policing, and looking at our prisons, and looking at our lack of healthcare, and education, and jobs for young people of color. Yes, there's a tension, and it relates to AIDS and all kinds of social justice movements, but it's a both/and to me, because
Loraine Hutchins: [01:14:30] I've always worked with feds inside the federal government as well as people who are more direct action oriented. I think we work best when we can find the common ground, because we can't do one or the other.It's complex. To hold all that and say, "You're not the enemy. You're not the enemy. Where do our interests overlap
Loraine Hutchins: [01:15:00] and how can we find specific issues to work on even if we disagree about some of the causes, and effects, and root foundational stuff," it's a constant dance. Yeah, I mean there are people that stand up and scream, and block traffic, and I've been part of them, and there is people
Loraine Hutchins: [01:15:30] that are in the halls of government writing policy recommendations, and I've been part of them. I think we have to figure out how to help each other.
Mason Funk: Wise words. I think we're getting close to being ... Yeah. In fact, I want to take a pause. Kate?
Mason Funk: Do you have any questions that are burning?
Loraine Hutchins: What's up, Kate?
Mason Funk: [01:16:00] What's up, Kate? Anything that you've been wanting to ask or thoughts?
Kate Kunath: Well, I wonder since you are a professor and you are interfacing with these younger generations all the time, if you feel more like the bisexual tribe is growing, even though they may identify-
Loraine Hutchins: The bisexual tribe? Did you say tribe?
Kate Kunath: Yeah, because-
Loraine Hutchins: Biatribe was one of my title headlines. If I feel that the bisexual tribe is growing?
Kate Kunath: [01:16:30] Well, they may not identify as bisexual.
Loraine Hutchins: Yes, they're growing. That's the thing about nobody identifying as heterosexual.
Mason Funk: Talk to me. Even though you're answering her, you need to talk to me.
Loraine Hutchins: Okay. Do I feel like the bisexual tribe is growing? Okay. I've been teaching for 10 years. I only started teaching after I was in my late 50s, and I'm 68, and it's 2016. When I started teaching 10 years ago,
Loraine Hutchins: [01:17:00] I definitely felt more resistance and more hostility in the classroom, in the undergraduate classroom, to gay issues in general. A lot of people at my campus didn't even know that LGBT meant as an acronym. Now, my campus is a very international campus with a lot of immigrants, so that's kind of understandable, because they're still figuring out other English words, much less acronyms. Not saying that there aren't same sex, same gender loving people in every culture.
Loraine Hutchins: [01:17:30] Just saying that LGBT might not be recognizable. About two, three, fives years ago at the most, I noticed a relaxation and a shift in my classrooms with people being less homophobic, not everybody, people being more generous and open. I'm talking about people from all over the world in my classrooms. I'm not talking about only suburban Maryland people
Loraine Hutchins: [01:18:00] who grew up here, because that's not representative. My classroom is people from Ethiopia, and Senegal, and Malaysia, and Ecuador all in the same classroom.I'm not saying that there's not a lot of resistance, and fear, and misunderstanding, and homophobia, and fear of women's power all there. There certainly is,
Loraine Hutchins: [01:18:30] and I feel it's changing. I do feel, whether we would call it the bi tribe or whatever we would call it, I do feel that people's understanding and generous spirit about sexual diversity is growing, and that gives me hope.If I didn't go to class and teach, I would be somewhere hiding under the blankets wailing depressed and just not feeling good. My students, the 18 year olds especially, give me hope.
Kate Kunath: [01:19:00] What do you attribute that shift to you said a few years ago?
Loraine Hutchins: I'm not sure, but I know that-
Mason Funk: Do me a favor. Say, "I'm not sure what I attribute."
Loraine Hutchins: Okay. I'm not sure what I attribute this shift to that I say I notice in my classrooms over the past few years, but I do know that the same sex marriage, how that shifted at the Supreme Court
Loraine Hutchins: [01:19:30] and the state level, was surprising even to me. I mean I had a student who graduated who is an aide to a state delegate in Maryland, and one of his specialties for her, she's an out lesbian state delegate, and one of his specialties for her was tracking the same sex marriage movement over the past 15, 20 years. He used to come back to my class
Loraine Hutchins: [01:20:00] every semester and present on it, and he would go, "Well, now there's eight states. Now there's 15 states. Now there's 20 states." Every semester, he'd have to revise his statistics and show us the maps. At some point, we were like, "Whoa." We didn't expect this to shift.I'm not sure except that the Millennials and the grandchildren of the Baby Boomers maybe are just relaxing more into
Loraine Hutchins: [01:20:30] watching their parents and their grandparents work out multiple kinds of relationship definitions in their lives. But I don't think it's that simple, and I don't think it's set in stone, and I don't think it's safe. I think that there's huge social shifts that are continuing to rumble. We're filming this right before the election.
Loraine Hutchins: [01:21:00] I don't know depending on the election, and I don't mean just the presidential. I mean what they call the down ballot. Depending on how things go, there's huge division and there's huge fear in our country right now about difference, and about the bathrooms, and who pees where, and how does that relate to sexual assault. I have to say, I know that's usually a conservative,
Loraine Hutchins: [01:21:30] right wing thing to bring up in terms of bathrooms. As a professor who's deeply involved with stuff about sexual assault on my campus, I have to say that as long as we have sexual assault at the level we have it in this culture, I'm not sure that we're going to have more tolerance of sexual diversity. It's all connected. It's about women's freedom,
Loraine Hutchins: [01:22:00] and sexual minorities, and racial minorities all together, and we've got a lot of work to do.
Mason Funk: Wow, great.
Kate Kunath: I have another question.
Mason Funk: Yes?
Mason Funk: Well, just let me ask you this real quick in terms of time.
Mason Funk: Where are we at for time on this card?
Kate Kunath: The card, 43 minutes left.
Mason Funk: Perfect, okay. One more. Yeah, go for it.
Loraine Hutchins: What's the question?
Kate Kunath: [01:22:30] The question is do you think it's important to preserve a bisexual culture?
Loraine Hutchins: That's a great question. What is a bisexual? Do I think it's important to preserve a bisexual culture? I'm not sure that there is any bisexual culture. We talk about this a lot among us, among ourselves. Lani and I talk a lot about what is bisexual behavior. There's no bisexual behavior.
Loraine Hutchins: [01:23:00] I mean there's behavior that can be clinically, scientifically, psychologically identified as same sex behavior or different sex behavior maybe. We can talk about male/female and female/female and male/male, but then again what are we defining as female and male, and is it by genitals or chromosomes, blah, blah, blah?
Loraine Hutchins: [01:23:30] Bi culture. To me, what I want to preserve is people's ability to have the freedom to express themselves however they want, and I think it's that intersection between being able to be freely sexually expressive relating to a larger sexual liberation movement in our country, in our culture, in any country, in any culture that's more important to me than anything specifically bi,
Loraine Hutchins: [01:24:00] because I don't think there is a specific bi. I think it's more about people having options, and men being allowed to wear dresses and kilts, and that being hot and masculine just as well as it being considered feminine or whatever, women having a range of butch, and fem, and neither expressions that don't say anything about who they're attracted to or who's attracted to them.
Loraine Hutchins: [01:24:30] There's not any one way to be bi, so there's no one bi culture. There are probably a lot of markers and ways that in the culture people get coded or read. I mean I'm not a woman ... I was going to say Prince sung, "I'm not a woman. I'm not a man. I'm something that you'll never understand." Now, that could be totally about gender and not about orientation,
Loraine Hutchins: [01:25:00] but there are songs, and there are poems, and film characters that we can read as bi. We can also read them as just sexually expressive of people who are living out their lives. I mean I know a woman who was a sex educator here in DC, and she said, "I'm heterosexual. I've been heterosexual all my life,
Loraine Hutchins: [01:25:30] but that's how other people label me, I wouldn't call myself heterosexual, because I haven't finished living yet and I don't know."
Mason Funk: Great, great. Anything else, Kate?
Kate Kunath: I do have one more question of you.
Loraine Hutchins: Do. Do it.
Kate Kunath: Where are the places that the culture is created,
Kate Kunath: [01:26:00] and are those places ... Can we maintain those places without there being like protests en mass?
Loraine Hutchins: That's an easy question, Kate.
Kate Kunath: From marches to bars.
Loraine Hutchins: I think the places where culture is created is everywhere bubbling up, and not always being allowed expression but keeps bubbling. Definitely music, art,
Loraine Hutchins: [01:26:30] literature is where a lot of us get our fantasies and our hope. For instance, I read science fiction where there's never a word like bisexual in the science fiction, and in the descriptive narrative you exactly see that people are having sex with more than one gender. Science fiction. My students watch a lot of cartoons and
Loraine Hutchins: [01:27:00] that crazy anime. I don't know, but the second part of your question is about what? When you see the stuff that is bi created in culture-
Mason Funk: The question? Okay.
Loraine Hutchins: How does it happen? How does it get preserved? Is that the question?
Kate Kunath: Yeah. Like can we associate the culture with any particular space?
Loraine Hutchins: [01:27:30] You know, again I think art. Art, because people come out and expose themselves sometimes artistically when they're afraid to say it politically, or spiritually, or emotionally. They will come out with these just dance movements or paintings that are deep, and that's why we need art.
Mason Funk: [01:28:00] Anything else?
Kate Kunath: That's it.
Mason Funk: Okay. I have three standard questions I ask everybody. One of them is ... Oh, my gosh. What's the first one? I know what the second one is.
Mason Funk: [01:28:30] Oh, my gosh. I've forgotten one of my three questions.
Loraine Hutchins: Oh, my gosh.
Mason Funk: Okay. Well, the second one is what is your hope for the future? You've alluded to this, but as kind of a standalone question I'd like to ask you what is your hope for the future?
Loraine Hutchins: What is my hope for the future? My hope for the future is that we keep going on, that we don't give up, that we don't get scared. There's this incredible Audre Lorde quote I can't quite remember, but it's something about
Loraine Hutchins: [01:29:00] not giving into your fear, and when you act and move through it, you find that you're more powerful than you thought you were, and to trust ourselves and our instincts, that we can make a better world possible. My hope for the future is that we find a way to love each other just as we are, just as everybody is, that we stop being ashamed of who we are, all of us,
Loraine Hutchins: [01:29:30] and find a way to make the world safe enough that we can all thrive.
Mason Funk: Second question, what to you is the value of a project like OUTWORDS?
Loraine Hutchins: Telling the stories.
Mason Funk: Sorry. You need to answer my question there.
Loraine Hutchins: The value of a project like OUTWORDS is that we have to tell the stories. I teach women's studies 101,
Loraine Hutchins: [01:30:00] and the final project that my students are working on right now is interviewing an older woman about her life. If we don't get the stories down, if we don't keep the archives, if we don't keep librarians working, if we don't record and document and chronicle, we won't have our history, and we need our history to know who we can be and how we can keep being more and more who we are.
Mason Funk: [01:30:30] Great. Literally, I can't believe it. I've asked these three questions so many times already. The first one, it's always the first one.
Loraine Hutchins: The first one. The first one. Well, there must be some reason you can't think of it.
Mason Funk: Maybe you already answered it.
Loraine Hutchins: Maybe I already answered it. I don't know.
Mason Funk: It was always what is your hope for the future, the OUTWORDS question, and-
Kate Kunath: Something you wanted to say?
Loraine Hutchins: Anything you didn't? Anything I asked you that-
Loraine Hutchins: It's not that.
Mason Funk: [01:31:00] It was kind of a specific question. It was sort of like what is your hope for the future. I remember like what is your hope for the future to me always felt like the sort of forward looking, optimistic question. The other question was a bit more-
Loraine Hutchins: What do you regret? No, it's not that.
Mason Funk: No, it wasn't that dark. It was something a little bit more backward looking.
Loraine Hutchins: What have you learned?
Mason Funk: Yes.
Loraine Hutchins: What would you do differently?
Kate Kunath: What would you change?
Mason Funk: You got to it, what you said. It was to someone, like one of your students, who is just about to step out of the proverbial closet
Mason Funk: [01:31:30] in any way, shape, or form, what piece of advice or insight would you share with that person?
Loraine Hutchins: Wow. I think I already answered it. I mean I used to tell them-
Mason Funk: Who?
Loraine Hutchins: My students. I used to tell my students who were about ready to come out of the closet, "Don't come out if your parents are against it and they're going to take away your tuition." I mean because it's just realistic. I mean come out in small ways,
Loraine Hutchins: [01:32:00] but think about what you're jeopardizing, because this world is too financially unstable to put your life on the line like that while you're still dependent upon them financially.But now, more of my students are paying their own tuition and dropping out. I mean the completion rates are horrible. What would I tell them? I mean I've already said all the stuff about trusting yourself,
Loraine Hutchins: [01:32:30] looking for support. It really comes down to having no shame for your own desire, and trusting that your desire is healthy and whole, and that you can find a way to express it and to connect intimately with other people, and that you deserve it. You deserve nothing less.
Mason Funk: Great. That's wonderful. I think that's a wrap.
Loraine Hutchins: [01:33:00] It's a wrap.
Kate Kunath: Great.
Mason Funk: Let's record room tone.
Loraine Hutchins: What's a room tone?
Mason Funk: That's the sound of this room for about 30 seconds where we're just listening to the room. You want to call it?
Kate Kunath: Sure. Room tone.
Loraine Hutchins: [01:33:30] I never expected to teach. I'm going to tell you this. I know you're stopping. I never expected to teach, because I thought I was too radical, because my PhD was about queer feminist sacred sexuality.
Mason Funk: [01:34:00] That's maybe a sign of hope right there, is it?
Loraine Hutchins: No, because I think a lot of the people that hired me and work with me don't realize that's what my PhD is in. Although, to a certain extent, yeah, I have found allies who are straight and who are liberal-ish enough to entertain the idea that that was a legitimate field of study.

Interviewed by: Mason Funk
Camera: Kate Kunath
Date: August 05, 2016
Location: Home of ABilly Jones-Hennin, Washington, D.C.