The S.O.D.A League Draft
Tuesday, April 25, 2023 - Friday, May 26, 2023
In regards to recent events, such as an influx of people now identifying delightfully amongst the bi sector of the LGBT community, in tandem with learning that there still is a lack of understanding as to what exactly a bi person is, as stated earlier this year by many gay and lesbian leaders nationally, it has become clear that it is imperative that the bi, pan, ply (polysexual), omni, open, fluid, sexually fluid, hflex (homoflexible and heteroflexible), flexual, nonmonosexual queer, ambo, MGA, mspec, and curious/questioning communities and individuals work together to heighten awareness to our unique sexual orientations and the issues we deal with.
A major rebranding needs to take place, we have yet to find our identity (we think we’ve found it, albeit we’ve found a lot of it) and it has come time to stand in the spotlight alongside gays and lesbians who have stood in it for the greater part of five or more decades, and this starts with unification and a creation of alliances within our cultural realm.
This starts with a reflection on gay history, or we should say, homophile history. Gay wasn’t the first word used to refer to homosexual men, and neither was homosexual. Terms for gays have come and gone over the decades but some of the most common ones over the past one hundred years were: uranian, invert, queer, sodomite, homophile, and worse. For lesbians there was: urningin, tribade, sapphist, fricatrice, and a slew of slurs. There wasn’t a consensus on what to call gays and lesbians, both within and without the community itself. Then in the 50s and 60s, the homophile movement started, with the Homophile Action League being created in 1968, followed by other homophile organizations after that. HAL, for short, was the predecessor to the Gay Liberation Front.
The Daughters of Bilitis came before that, in 1955. It was an early lesbian organization, if not the first American one. The Mattachine Society, another gay rights organization, before that term existed, started even earlier in 1950.
Homosexual was the favored term these orgs used in their spheres and within that timeframe others began using homophile as a less clinical term. As time went on, it was becoming more common to use the word gay to refer to oneself or others as homosexual from the midcentury on and into the ‘60s, so much so that by the ‘70s it was preferred, and finally part of society’s lexicon by the ’80s. But someone had to start it. And it seems most likely that the folks in the orgs had a hand in that.
Sharing this history is essential to where we are as bi men, pan women, omnisexual nonbinary people, and all the other assortment of folk and the sexual orientation labels we use in our medleyed community. We argue about these terms, these labels, and we need to keep them all. They’re sacred to us. They are us.
A wise woman once said “It’s a very bi thing to have so many labels”. It’s what we’re now known for, so let’s build on that. In a smart, productive way. There’s a simple step we can take to better unite us and in that same step remove from us the stigma of being the Jan Brady of the LGBT community; maybe even remove ALL the stigmas and stereotypes we’re all well aware of.
To better serve the needs of our unique community, S.O.D.A. League, the Sapphine Oblique Dilly Action (& Activity) League proposes that individuals within these communities begin to refer to themselves as a sapphine, if you are a woman (including trans, cis, and intersex women); as an oblique, if you are a person with a nonbinary gender; and as a dilly, if you are a man (including trans, cis, and intersex men).
Having unique terms for ourselves which connect each of our sexual orientations with our genders helps us latch on to a healthy identity and strengthens our sense of self, just as it does for gays and lesbians. It further solidifies our confidence in our innate sexuality, which is far different from those who are straight, those who are gay or lesbian, and those who are ace. As well as secures that we are taken seriously as people with this enigmatic sexual orientation in which people have such a hard time wrapping their heads around.
These terms were not chosen at random. They have been created by community members from around the US and research has been conducted ensuring their connection to the LGBT community and we hope they will become a welcome addition to it.
Sapphine has its roots in both the classic Greek poet Sappho, a bisexual woman who lived and loved on the Mediterranean island of Lesbos, and Josephine Baker, a well-known 20th century actress, dancer, and philanthropist who was also bisexual. Originally, sapphine was spelled bisaphine and was a portmanteau of bisexual and Josephine. This changed to bisapphine when the connection was made that Sappho should also be included. A further adjustment was made to be more accepting towards others with sexual orientations akin to and aligned with bisexual, and the bi- prefix was removed. Thus, sapphine was born. It should be noted that the bi- prefix was an essential progenitor to this moniker. This descriptive word does not replace bi or pan or mspec or any sexual orientation that a sapphine has, and it is encouraged for one to still identify as such, especially politically, as many bi activists spent countless hours and years working towards getting the b included in the organizational titles of gay and lesbian organizations, as well as placed within the LGBT acronym we know today. Sapphines have a shared history with lesbians but are often erased, so identifying as sapphine helps ensure visibility well into the future.
Oblique is another word for queer. It’s really that simple. And as many queer people are nonbinary (but don’t always fall under the bi umbrella), oblique seems appropriate. Oblique also means "neither parallel nor at a right angle to a specified or implied line; slanting". So often, people with nonbinary genders find themselves diagonal to the rest of the world, which makes being called oblique even more apropos. Also, to differentiate between current, more familiar words and definitions for oblique, we put the stress at the beginning of the word, instead of the end to mean an oblique in this fashion.
Dilly means someone who is remarkable or unusual. This complements not only the term queer, which also has origins with weirdness, but also the widely known term for homosexual men today: gay. Gay was once (and really, still is) a word that means happy or delighted. When used to describe oneself as gay there is a feeling of joy and happiness in oneself, one knows their self-worth, and one recognizes the ability to truly be one’s self in accepting their sexual orientation.
Bisexual men have never had a word for themselves that evokes such strong pleasant emotions within their hearts. In some respects, bisexual men are sadly known to be closeted, stuck, depressed, less successful in their occupations, and in some cases self-destructive. A mind pleasing word for a bi man is a necessity and will greatly improve the lives of bi men. Bi men are remarkable. They are also known to be creative thinkers and artists, delicate and passionate lovers, and phenomenal dads. Dilly not only suggests one is impressive and worth noting, but it also is short for 'delightfully'.
As we start using these words for ourselves, we also need to create groups for ourselves within already existing organizations, as well as individual organizations. As we meet, we can also organize to create products with these terms for profit to keep our organizations afloat. It is a well-known secret that bi/pan/ply/fluid/mspec organizations are mostly volunteer and have little to no income nationally and worldwide. They have trouble getting grants and donations. Funders often ask "What is the difference between gay and bi and why don’t these organizations include gays and lesbians?", so they consider us as hurtful towards the greater LGBT+ community, despite the history of LGBT organizations participating in rampant biphobia and the lack of assistance towards bi people and their needs. They don’t really know what to do with us. And for awhile there, they probably didn’t care. Connecting ourselves to them with these three words can pave the way to a road of understanding, inclusion, and self-reliance.
This is not a be-all/end-all for all our problems. Much more needs to be done. Much more will be done. Much is currently being done and has been done and we acknowledge the hard work of bi activists over the past 50+ years. These specific words do not even need to be used. They are suggestions. In fact, new words should pop up regionally, as that’s how culture works. Some have in the past and are still being used today. Just as long as they continue to be used and our community thrives, then as humanity as a whole finally understands just what a bi person is, we will have done our job.
Join us in our endeavor.
-The S.O.D.A. League
In addition, we’d like to suggest that we celebrate September 2nd as Sapphine Pride Day, September 9th as Oblique Pride Day, and September 16th as Dilly Pride Day during Bisexual Visibility Month in September.
S.O.D.A. League's August event is an 18+ online Google Meet event on August 11, 2023 from 7pm - 7:45pm.
Join the meeting at this link: https://meet.google.com/adz-oicx-pji
This meeting is for all sapphines, obliques, and dillies! Gays, lesbians, queer folk, and straight allies are also invited! Tell all your friends!
We currently meet once a month just outside the east entrance of the Parsons Center for Health & Wellness in downtown Phoenix at 7pm. From there we move through the First Friday art festival and just chat and buy things to support local artists & artisans. The group event ends at 9pm, but we'll go to the LGBT-friendly Pemberton afterwards for more discussion, food, and drinks.