Created By: Center for LGBT Education, Outreach & Services, Ithaca College
One of the first recorded meetings on bisexuality in history took place at a gathering of Quakers (Friends) right here in Ithaca during the summer of 1972.
The 1972 General Conference for Friends, held June 24 through July 1, 1972, brought 1400 members and friends of Quakerism to Ithaca College for their annual convention. The week typically includes a wide range of programs, from small workshops to public plenaries, from worship services to large convenings.The conference theme that year was "Where Should Friends Be Pioneering Now?"
Robert A. Martin Jr. and several others decided to organize an impromptu workshop on bisexuality at the gathering. They placed an announcement of the time and place in the conference daily bulletin. To their surprise, more than 130 people showed up, so many that they overflowed into several other meeting rooms. The group met for two days and then wrote and adopted a statement by consensus.
Their statement became known as The Ithaca Statement on Bisexuality. It is believed to be the first statement made about bisexuality by any United States religious or political group in history. It may have also been the first public declaration of the bisexual movement - of bisexual people organizing themselves - and was named after the city in which it was written and adopted, Ithaca NY.
The Statement was later published concurrently in Friends Journal: Quaker Thought and Life Today and in LGBT magazine The Advocate in 1972.
Martin had initially used the pseudonym Stephen Donaldson during his early gay rights organizing, and later the pseudonym Donny the Punk when writing extensively about punk rock and various social groups and subcultures. He also founded the first gay student group in the country at Columbia University.
The Ithaca statement has a preamble and puts forward four questions:
Feeling that the concerns raised should be further explored by our Monthly and Yearly Meetings, this group agreed to present these queries to Friends everywhere:
This point of interest is part of the tour: Ithaca LGBTQ History Walking Tour