Hello, friends. I think it’s past time I introduce myself! I’m Bren, the founder & curator at the Bi Pan Library. I’d like to talk a bit about how and why I started the library.
The Bi Pan Library started as a personal project back in 2015. Queer spaces are largely inaccessible to me because of my disabilities, and I longed for a sense of connection. After a disappointing visit to a queer library with only 5 books about bisexuality in the whole building, I slowly began to build my own private library. My shelves were a curated corner of queer culture I could inhabit without the barriers of a flight of stairs, or an allergen-filled event, or a bar full of drunk strangers who wouldn’t be careful who they bumped into.
The more books I collected, the more comfort & sense of belonging these pieces of bi history brought me, the more necessary it felt to make my collection available to public. I am not the only disabled person who feels cut off from queer culture, or the only bi/pan person who was once unsure how to connect with their history and community. I personally enjoy all the research that goes into curating the library, but the average person shouldn’t need to put in that much work to find reflections of themselves in the world. The need for access was clear. But building a website, opening up something so personal to the public… it was daunting. I put it off for years out of fear & imposter syndrome. My spreadsheets grew and my bookshelves filled, privately.
Then 2020 happened.
I became very sick last July, & survived an excruciating week where it seemed possible I might die. That week I felt a deep, horrifying regret that I had never made my research public. I remember scribbling my partner incomprehensible lists of spreadsheet passwords & email addresses for queer friends who might be willing to keep my work going if the worst happened. But in the end, I lived through it. As soon as I could sit upright & form full sentences again, a few friends donated funds for me to secure the URL plus a WordPress business account, and I started working on the website in earnest. The Bi Pan Library made its public debut in October 2020.
Every day the library brings me more joy. Each comment of “wow, I want to read that!”, each email asking for help with sources for an essay, each new book or magazine clipping I turn up, it all makes me so proud of the community I belong to and the history we have made. Even in the face of a pandemic, we can still find each other and care for each other and learn more about ourselves. We are so beautiful.
I put my whole heart into the work, and I hope the Bi Pan Library will continue to bring a sense of belonging to other bi/pan people. Thank you for all your support.
In love and solidarity,