Lithuanian Bictivism (Like Activism, but by Bisexuals): What’s New?

On the very last day of February, 2018 a Bi-questionnaire was launched. Two bisexual activists Aliona Nova and Kotryna Avsiukevičiūtė created it by thinking that although two brains are better than one, dozens of brains should work even better in letting everyone know what should bisexual activist focus on. “In other words, we are trying to build a bi-community here, so… are you out there, bisexuals? How do we reach you? Do you want to take part in our activities? What might those activities be, in your opinion? What would motivate you to show up? What services should we advocate for on your behalf?” – explains Aliona, a bisexual activist and a board member of the National LGBT+ Rights Organization LGL.

It is no secret that for the last half a year, every month in one place in Lithuania or another, bisexual events are taking place. It was an outcome of a very successful Bisexual Visibility Day celebration, hosted by Aliona last September in LGBT+ Community Center. “As soon as I returned to Lithuania nearly a year ago, I decided to really increase my participation in all kinds of LGBT+ activism, join a community, be a part of something and make new friends. It came as a surprise to me that my own identity as a bisexual was not well represented nationally and the bisexual community as such was pretty much non existent,” – says Kotryna, who teamed up with Aliona Nova in her efforts right after Bi-visibility Day event.

Bisexual Brainstorming Session at LGL's Office

Bisexual Brainstorming Session at LGL’s Office

Dozens of people joined a Facebook group – Lietuvos Bi (LIBI) created to unite bisexual and pansexual people in Lithuania, then bisexual meetings, bi-brunches, road trips and other events followed. But it wasn’t enough for the group of bi-ctivists so they launched a small questionnaire, expecting to receive at least 40-50 responses to help them understand which of the activities they envisioned are the most desirable and what ideas they should save for themselves.

It came as a surprise, that instead of the 40 participants that the initiators were hoping for, the questionnaire was filled by almost one hundred bisexual, pansexual and queer people on the first 24 hours of hanging in various LGBT+ facebook groups and pages. The total number of participants reached 177 by the end of March. “I was honestly surprised by the number of respondents and the variety of places they came from, especially that quite a few people stated that they didn’t live in Lithuania, which was fascinating to an expat like myself,” – says Karolina.

To the unknowing eye this number might not look big,” – says Aliona, – “but it is enough to compare it to the amount of bisexual people who took part in the biggest LGBT people survey in Europe – in 2012 there has been 165 bisexual people from Lithuania that filled in the questionnaire of the Fundamental Rights Agency. Of course, our little poll is not representative, even taking into account how hard it would be to achieve this goal surveying such a closeted and non-homogeneous group of people as non-monosexual individuals. I was happy to see such a number, it exceeded my expectation by far.”

Bi Questionnaire asked a few basic demographic questions. Since it was distributed only via Facebook, the age of participants varied within a few age groups: 13 to 18 years (18 %), 18 to 24 (52 %) and 25 to 39 (29 %) and 40 up (1 %). Even though it was rather unconventional, it was decided to leave the questions on gender identity completely open and let people come up with the identification that fits them the best. 79 % of participants identified as women or cis women, 8 % as men or cis men and 13% of other identified themselves mostly as genderqueer (1 %), non-binary (7 %) or trans (4 %).

The question on sexual orientation asked to pick an option from a list of 5: bisexual (64 %), pansexual (19 %), queer (7 %), bi/pan-romantic (5 %), hetero/homo-flexible (3 %) or put in a whole new option (other – 2 %). It is important to note, that at the very beginning of the form, participants were notified, that they are taking part in a survey targeting bisexual people, defining them as “someone who is capable of romantic and/or sexual attraction to the people of more than one gender, not necessarily at the same time or to the same extent”. “We used bisexuality as an umbrella term, and numbers still amazed me – 64 % bisexual, 19 % pansexual and 17% others – I think it is pretty diverse!” – says Aliona.

More than half of the participants were located in Vilnius (58 %), 19 % were from Kaunas, 10 % were not residing in Lithuania or named it as one of the countries they live in, 8 % were from smaller towns and districts, and 5 % from a bigger Lithuanian cities (e. g. Klaipėda, Panevėžys).

Another delightful finding in the survey was the interest shown to the participation in Bisexual events.” – explains Kotryna. “A vast majority of the respondents answered that they would like to come along and engage in the community events. However I was slightly disappointed by how that translated to the real-life, since so far the turnouts for these events were not up to their full potential, and it would always be lovely to increase both the outreach to and the responses from the Lithuanian Bisexual Community.”

Respondents were asked whether they’ve participated in an event targeted at bisexual persons, 69 % said that they haven’t participated in such events, but they would like to. “I suppose you can’t build anything in a brief period of time, much less an entire community. It is so rewarding for me to see how people come to our events and even though they have never met before, they connect over silly puns with letters “bi” in it, or feel like they are in the safe space, a space of their peers” – says Aliona.

Further the questionnaire asked to evaluate the necessity of various types of events using their own discretion and listed such activities: non-formal bi-meetings to get to know each other, parties for bi people, bi-speed dating, bigger annual events, culture, sports and art events, themed self-help group sessions, non-formal meetings outside Vilnius, educational events about bisexuality for the general public, advocacy work, help filling out the discrimination complaints to the Equality Ombudsperson office, increasing of bisexual visibility via dissemination of bi-positive information, bi-community organizing during the Pride events, children friendly events and events involving people from other marginalized communities. Majority of participants found that the most important for them would be: aforementioned educational events (86 % said it is very important or important), help with the discrimination complaints (83 %), advocacy (82 %), increasing bi-visibility (82 %) and organizing the community during Pride events (76 %). It is interesting to note, that the educational events received the least ambivalent responses and Bi-speed dating was “voted” to be the least important.

In addition to that, there were a few points that peeked the interest of the survey authors. Firstly, even though many respondents didn’t have an opinion about children friendly events (for example meetings of Bi-parents with kids) (30 % didn’t have an opinion), surprising amount of people found such activity important or very important – 64 %, and only 6 % found it not important. Secondly, non-formal meetings in or outside Vilnius for bisexual people were not claimed to be as necessary as other activities, even thought it is something that bisexual community is beginning and will continue to build itself onto in Lithuania.

When asked what influences their motivation and decision to participation in the bisexual events, besides listing the expected reasons like time (55 %) and safety (42 %) of the event, many said that it would influence them to participate if they knew at least one other participant (50 %) (another good reason for the non-formal bisexual meetings – networking!). Also, the topic of the event was listed by 47 % of respondents. 39 % said that it matters whether their non-bisexual friend can come with them. Interesting to note, that 17 % claimed to be influenced by whether the event is children friendly or not. “It is not like it is news that bisexual people have kids, but it is still surprising, – says Aliona, who is herself a mother of a toddler. “I foresee bisexual parent events soon.”

56 % of respondents said that existing Lithuanian LGBT+ organizations represent their interests, even though they do not take part in their activity, 17 % believed their interests to not be adequately represented by those organizations. 12 % claimed to contribute to such organization, even though half of those people felt represented and another half – the opposite.

Another question asking to evaluate the necessity of certain services focused on various advocacy goals that activists and/or organizations can strive to achieve on behalf of the bisexual community in Lithuania. Respondents were evaluating such options: psychological counseling (91 % said that it is necessary or very necessary), social advertisements about bisexuality (targeted at general public) (87 %), gender neutral partnership (98 %), gender neutral marriage (93 %), gender neutral couples adoption laws (93 %), gender reassignment laws and other medical and legal services necessary for transgender people (93 %), sex-ed for kids and teens (96 %), active LGBT+ bullying prevention in schools (97 %). “I haven’t expected such numbers, honestly. I feel like I want to hug and kiss everyone for being so conscious about all these very important issues even if they not always affect them directly. It also tells me that it would be nice to create a more detailed survey targeting all LGBT+ people in Lithuania, to coin a more representative advocacy strategy,” – explains Aliona.

The last question asked participants to leave a suggestion, a comment or a review of the questionnaire and many people actually did that. Even though the authors held a small pilot survey prior to launching it publicly, somehow a very important issue left unnoticed and only came out in this section of the survey. Many people left a comment naming bisexual discrimination within LGBT+ community, they also expressed their feelings of being unaccepted in public places catering to LGBT+ people.

“Overall, the experience of creating this survey was wonderful, to know what the community wants is such a great starting point to rally and organize more relevant activities,” – summarized Kotryna. “I am really thankful to Aliona for this great opportunity and really look forward to strengthening, increasing and engaging the Bisexual community in the near future.”

It is amazing how little effort this survey took and how rewarding the results are to me,” – says Aliona. Both activists invite everyone who is interested in bisexual community events to join the aforementioned Facebook group and their future activities.

>>> Facebook group for bisexual people in Lithuania can be found HERE <<<


LGL is carrying out the 10-month project “Disappearing Borders: Empowering LGBT Community and Allies In Lithuania” under the Erasmus+ program EVS (European Voluntary Service).