After growing up in small-town central Wisconsin, Sarah Wallisch came to Milwaukee to attend UWM. As a young adult, Sarah felt pretty disconnected from the local LGBT community, but also felt hungry for something -- something that wasn't really being served anywhere.
"I didn't realize that people weren't attracted to multiple genders until I was in middle or high school," said Sarah. "I was really fortunate to have parents who didn't enforce gender or sexuality stereotypes. They were always so supportive. When I was 11, my father showed me the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Seeing bisexual representation, right around the time I was starting to understand there was stigma for not being straight, cut through some of that stigma for me. My mother was asking if I was bringing my boyfriend -or girlfriend – to holidays long before I ever came out to her."
"Still, I felt this social pressure to 'pick a side.'"
"I joined groups that leaned heavily lesbian, but they often saw me as an ally," said Sarah. "I even had a girlfriend who told me not to call myself bisexual in front of lesbians. I still consider myself bisexual, but I often use queer, because it's a useful shorthand to encompass sexuality and gender."
"So, I took to the internet to find bisexual and pansexual groups. At the time, there was 521 in Madison – where I first heard the term 'non-monosexual' – but nothing based in Milwaukee."
Bi Definition formed in 1995 when two Counseling Center of Milwaukee groups merged to create a "social, support an activist organization." Attendance and funding dwindled over the next decade, and by 2004, Bi Definition was out of business. For the next ten years, there was no bisexual support organization in Milwaukee.
It was an opportunity to be the change needed in the world. In 2014, Sarah created the Bi+ Pride Milwaukee Facebook page so that bi+ people searching for connection could find their community.
"It was an online-only space for a few years, with a few 'what if' coffee conversations here and there," said Sarah. "But nothing really went anywhere until Amy found us. That was really the start of Bi+ Pride Milwaukee as we exist today."
Together, Sarah and a friend Amy Luettgen joined other passionate local activists in 2018 to form a dedicated steering committee for a new Bisexual-awareness group, around the Facebook page. The group hosted a series of regular monthly events that brought people together from across the region. Within two years, their online community grew from 100 to 700 followers. Although the pandemic stalled their social schedule, and planning virtual events proved more difficult than expected, Bi+ Pride MKE is committed to their community.
In 2021, Sarah was interviewed by LGBT historian and Curator of the Wis LGBTQ History Project, Michail Takach. Together with fellow Bi-activist Amy Luettgen, the three discussed the current Bisexual community in Wisconsin, and their co-founding role in the Bi+ Pride MKE group. Takach wrote a full article of the intervew.
Credits: Sarah Wallisch biography and interview by Michail Takach.
Web site concept, contents, design and arrangement by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: October-2021.
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