My wife Talia and I first started hosting events for amBi in Los Angeles (back when the group only had one chapter). When she finished her Masters at USC Film school, we moved back to Ashland. Having fallen in love with the amazing amBi community in LA, I knew I wanted to open a chapter in Southern Oregon. I had some doubts about whether or not a much smaller population could sustain a fun bi club, but I did it anyway.
One of our speakers was Halie, a student at SOU. Her personal story of dealing with biphobia in both the gay and straight world really resonated with people. When it was my turn to speak, I introduced the audience to amBi - to the revolutionary idea that by simply coming out and having fun with other bi folks we can destroy biphobia. It's harder to hold negative stereotypes about a group of people when that group is out and visible. We signed up 20 - 40 new members right there.
Immediately after the talk, Brenda, the owner of a local erotic boutique called Love Revolution, approached me to ask if amBi would like to enter into some kind of partnership with her store. I told her that I was actually planning to contact them about the same thing! She laughed. Brenda and I decided that amBi should co-host a public party at her store. The plan was to promote the party during Southern Oregon Pride.
In the parade, our amBi contingent wore festive outfits inspired by the colors of the bi flag (blue, pink, and purple). My best friend Sophia drove her blue mini cooper (to which we attached amBi's gorgeous 40 ft bi flag). We passed out flyers promoting the party at Love Revolution, which we had dubbed "Bi Revolution." After the parade, amBi ran a booth at the festival, where we gave away cool swag, like hats and sunglasses. We signed up yet more new members, and we invited more people to our party.
A writer for the Ashland Daily Tidings approached the booth and asked for my phone number. I happily gave it to him. A couple days later, he called me for an interview. I asked if he would write an article in the paper in time to promote our party. He graciously agreed.
My best friend Sophia was volunteering at the booth with me. When I told her, I wanted amBi to reach 100 members in time for the party, she laughed and said I was crazy. The entire population of Ashland is just 20,000 after all.
The night of the party, though, we had well over 100 people in attendance (packing the chic little store). It was an amazing night, with bottomless champagne, a burlesque show, passed hors d'oevres, a drag queen DJ, and a live electric guitarist. Frankly, I am still in shock that a brand new club in a small town could pull it off. People still talk about the party nearly a year later, including folks who weren't even there but just heard about what a blast it was. The bis are conquering Ashland!
I won't lie - it was a challenge. But with the help of the greater amBi community, our first small town chapter has exploded. If you're considering starting a chapter in a small town, don't doubt yourself. If I can do it, anybody can. amBi really makes building a bi community ANYWHERE easier than it would be otherwise. It is beyond rewarding.
So, don't wait. Do it now. SPREAD THE BI!