Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing (ISGMH) faculty member Lauren Beach, Ph.D., J.D., was featured prominently on a Times Square billboard promoting bisexual and pansexual health during February and March 2020.
“To make bisexual and pansexual people visible in downtown New York City, in Times Square, is to center our relevance,” said Beach. “Invisibility greatly impacts the bisexual and pansexual communities. People see us every day, but they don’t recognize who we are, and this can lead to feeling alone and to social isolation. Now, thousands of people are going to see this billboard—and that visibility matters.”
The digital billboard in the heart of one of New York City’s most visited spaces featured photos of several bisexual and pansexual activists, researchers, and community leaders in front of the bisexual and pansexual flags. Along with these images were two messages celebrating the communities and encouraging self-care:
“Diversity matters. Celebrate it. A message from bi+ communities and our allies.”
“Love yourself, stay healthy, see friends, get routine cancer screenings, be tobacco-free.”
“The billboard is primarily a positive health promotion campaign. Its messages to reduce social isolation, to see a healthcare provider, and to get a cancer screening are all displayed with the faces of community members and our pride flags. Connecting the visibility of bisexual and pansexual people with positive health promotion in a way that speaks to the real issues of isolation, stigma, and health disparities that affect these populations is incredibly powerful,” said Beach.
The National LGBT Cancer Network commissioned the billboard in collaboration with BiNet USA, where Beach is a board member. It was displayed over the course of the week spanning February 25 to March 2 at 1500 Broadway and West 43rd Street in New York, NY.
“We train health agencies around the country about how they need to create tailored messaging for us,” said Scout, Deputy Director of the National LGBT Cancer Network. “With bi+ people having some of the largest health disparities of the LGBTQ population, it was especially important to get this message out. And now our question is, if we can do a bi+ health billboard in Times Square, why can’t everyone tailor health messaging to us?”
“For decades, BiNet USA has worked to provide information about bisexuality while connecting more bi, pan, fluid, and bi+ queer people to each other for visible change,” added BiNet USA President thefaith, or Faith Cheltenham. “Now, with the creation of the BiNet Collective, we also connect the dots between partners—straight and gay—doing work on bi+ issues that greatly benefits all beings. It was a great joy to feature Dr. Beach alongside other members of the BiNet Collective on a billboard hosted by the LGBT Cancer Network.”
In addition to the billboard’s prime location and its positive health promotion message, the campaign also spoke to the diversity within the bisexual and pansexual communities, according to Beach.
“It’s important for people to see a variety of faces on this billboard. People of different genders, different racial backgrounds, different ages, and different gender expressions are all present on this billboard. That variety is an important aspect of this message. This is for all the members of our community,” she said.
Brian Dodge, Ph.D., professor at Indiana University Bloomington and frequent ISGMH collaborator, was also featured on the billboard.
ISGMH is sharing stories and research about the bisexual and pansexual communities throughout March 2020 as part of Bi Health Month.