Bisexual & Bystander

In this fifth edition of LGBT FAQ, we are on the letter “B.” Here’s another flag to represent those who identify at Bisexual (You guessed it — the B in LGBT!) Here is a link to the 6 facts about the Bisexual Flag (I didn’t know all of these either. Fascinating!). Sometimes in my travels and presentations, the comment I hear or question I get asked is, “why can’t ‘they‘ choose a side?” I do not have an answer to that question other than to say, “Why are you attracted to whomever you’re attracted to?” It’s not a choice.

As a middle school counselor, this was the number one term used (usually by females) to describe thier identity if they had a very close female friend but didn’t want to be called a lesbian. Perhaps in a young adolescent mind it left the door open to other opportunities? All I can tell you is that I would support the student through their journey and felt honored to be a safe person in whom they trusted.
So, what is the definition of Bisexual? Thanks for asking. Here’s the answer according to noun

a person who is sexually attracted not exclusively to people of one particular gender.
For more information, please check out the Bisexual Resource Center. Here you’ll find resources for youth and adults, a history of the organization and contact information.
My tip for those allies out there, check out this website for more information.

Bystander is the level before becoming an ally. A bystander watches someone being bullied or attacked or hurt and yet does nothing. A bystander is the one who might not laugh at anti- LGBT+ jokes, but who remains silent. By not stopping the joke or remark, you are not an ally, merely a bystander standing on the sidelines. It’s a first step in becoming brave enough to fight against bullying, however it’s just a single step. In some spaces, it may feel like you would be the next in line for being attacked by standing up. And yet without your voice, the unitented consequence is that those who are doing the bullying feel like they have carte blanche to continue their attacks. Because, after all, everyone thinks this is funny! By merely saying, “That’s not funny,” you shift the conversation and put others on alert that it’s not o.k. to attack another person. Eleanor Roosevelt is quoted as saying, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” I challenge you to make your one thing speaking up.

One phrase that has benefited from bystanders becoming allies is the phrase, “That’s so gay.” It wasn’t long ago that you’d hear that phrase tossed around constantly. Thanks to a ton of hard work led by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) & the National Education Association (NEA) teaching allies what to say when they hear “That’s So Gay”, coupled with the even harder work done by schools across the country, it’s rare to hear that particular phrase. It’s a true testament to the power of shifting from bystander to ally. We will explore more of the HRC’s Welcoming Schools Campaign when we reach the letter “W.” Until then, I encourage you to be brave! Be an ally rather than just a bystander, please and thank you!

Ally or ally?

Welcome to the fourth submission of my LGBT FAQ. The first three submissions were focused on Pride month. My goal with this blog is to give you a quick, A to Z reference to #spreadpridetosavelives. Yep! Twenty-six entries each focused on a different letter of the alphabet. Nowwwww, let’s jump into the A-Z resources starting with the letter “A!”

I was a middle school counselor for many years and taught classroom lessons (LOVED it!). One lesson that made me stop in my tracks had to do with introducing the term “Ally” to a group of 7th graders. As I was getting my groove on to engage these adolescents, a small hand shot up to ask a question. I called on the student and loved her comment as I wrote the term ally on the board (yep, old school)…

Student named Ally: “Ms. Koenecke, that’s my name”

Me: “Why yes it is”

Student named Ally: ” So does that make me an automatic ally?

Me: “What do you think?”

Student named Ally: “Absolutely, and now wherever I go, people will know that I’m an ally just by looking at my name Ally.”

Me: “Ally, thanks for being an excellent ally, and students, that is also called a homonym.”

After this lesson, I reflected upon this homonym and how in later lessons we would discuss that homo means same in Greek. So, if we are all the same in theory, why is there so much hate?

So, what is an ally? Great question! If you’re reading this, YOU are an ally! Congrats and THANK YOU! An ally is a friend, a pal. In any marginalized community, an ally is a supporter that will stand up to discriminatory practices, using their position of strength as a member of the community not being marginalized. An ally acts when they hear or see anything offensive against a marginalized community. When they hear a homophobic, transphobic, or any slanderous joke, an ally stops the joke and stands up for any inequities.

In my recent podcast with Holly Duckworth of Everyday Mindfulness, Holly asked my advice on being an ally. My advice to her — and to you, dear reader — is to display a rainbow in your space. This could be a rainbow ribbon, a rainbow sticker, or even a rainbow flag to denote you are an ally. As in my first submission, the rainbow is a symbol of unity for our LGBTQIA community. Thank you for saving a life!

~Lisa “Lady Rainbow” Koenecke

Freedom & Independence

The 4th of July 2019 is recently behind us, with both pomp & circumstance and heated political debates from sea to shining sea. Have you considered your definition of “freedom” lately? In the United States, we tout the holiday as our Independence Day. These are the two words for your consideration in this edition. (Brief U.S. history lesson included free of charge. You’re welcome.)

Many different populations, cultures, and religions have fought for their freedom and independence throughout our country’s history. How is it in the year 2019 in the USA that some are not given the “inalienable right” to be treated equally? July 4, 1776 was the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which included the words “Where all men are created equal.” Are we all men? Are we all created equally? NOPE!

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  (Link to the actual Declaration of Independence — cool, huh?)

There are some really basic tenets of freedom that most people take for granted. For example, I’m seriously afraid for those LGBT+ friends who can be fired from a job because of who they love or how they identify…yep, that can still happen in 26 of our 50 states. (For my Sconie friends, here’s Wisconsin’s Equality Profile.) This might change in October, especially for Americans who identify as transgender, if the US Supreme Court sways to the conservative side of the aisle. (Yikes)

My wife, Angela, and I wanted to wait to get married until it was legal in all 50 states. So, on January 11, 2017, we did get married. (Yay us! Hope we didn’t cause a ripple in the marriages of all of the straight people!) Yet we still worry about our freedoms and our independence according to the law.

For example, can I make medical decisions for her in the hospital without a physical copy of our marriage certificate? We’ve been told it would be best to have a copy on file at the hospital. Or at least with our lawyer since Angela travels so much for work and she could be anywhere in the country and in need of proof of marriage. Which of course means we both a) have to have a lawyer; and b) Have to have that number programmed as a priority in our phones should the unthinkable happen. Evidently the rings on our fingers don’t mean the same as they do for a straight couple.

I recently tried to make her an appointment with our doctor. I was asked for her birth date and had to wait for the clearance to be able to speak on her behalf. I get HIPPA laws, yet I still wondered how long I would have waited if I was part of a “traditional” married couple? The first amendment allows me the freedom of speech, but is my speech equal to that of the haters? The term wife means something different if we are of the same sex.

Next week we will delve into the LGBTQIA resources A-Z that are most frequently asked. Thanks for reading this and for being an ally. #SpreadPrideSaveLives. Please pay attention to the freedoms you currently have. If you see an injustice in the workplace or in your community, please say something. Your voice will help those with no voice. Please feel free to add a comment on how you are changing your corner of the world!


~Lisa (Lady Rainbow)

Why the Rainbow Flag?

1978 was the year, Gilbert Baker was the man, San Francisco, California was the location and there were 8 original colors Click here for a 1:39 video on this history. After the Stonewall Riots in 1969,the gay liberation movements, and more work on gay civil rights, we needed a symbol. When I give my presentations I speak about how having a rainbow flag sticker, or any type of rainbow emblem lets our community know you are a safe person. The rainbow symbol will even tell our community that a business is “open” to serving us. Many religious institutions will also invite us in with a rainbow flag. NEVER underestimate the power of the rainbow. In fact, I give out little bags of Skittles(imagine there is a trademark there) in addition to rainbow stickers to my audiences so they can show their support as allies!

If you have met me in person, you might know that I am also known as “Lady Rainbow” and that my wife and I LOVE collecting anything rainbow. As a middle and high school counselor in Wisconsin, I always made sure to wear a rainbow lanyard as a symbol to my students, staff and families that I was a safe person. In graduate school, I asked my mentor how many “out” school counselors there were in Wisconsin. She didn’t have the answer and decided to base her doctoral thesis on this subject. The one thing she continues to have in her private counseling office is a rainbow bookmark that I gave her as a thank you gift.

Wisconsin’s current Governor Tony Evers stood with our community as the rainbow flag flew over our state capital building in Madison for Pride Month! Here is the one minute read on this historic event!

Sometimes, people might think that the legalization of gay marriage in all 50 states has eradicated our struggles for equality. I am a 50 year old woman of white privilege and I still have my moments of caution; which is why the simple act of making a rainbow visible can make ALL the difference. We will get into the other LGBTQIA symbols/colors/flags in another blog post.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and please let me know if Lady Rainbow can answer any of your LGBTQIA Frequently Asked Questions!

Welcome to My New Frequently Asked Questions Blog

YOU are Never Alone!

Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud

— Maya Angelou

This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates. The focus will be answering Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on LBGTQIA+ issues & advocacy. Not sure what all of those letters represent? Stay tuned here and subscribe!

~Peace & Hugs,

Lisa from Wisconsin

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus you own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.