The Ithaca Statement on Bisexuality, 1972, General Conference for Friends, Ithaca College

Ithaca LGBTQ History Walking Tour

The Ithaca Statement on Bisexuality, 1972, General Conference for Friends, Ithaca College

Ithaca, New York 14850, United States

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:

  1. Are Friends open to examining in our Meetings facets of sexuality, including bisexuality, with openness and loving understanding?
  2. Are Friends aware that Friends are suffering in our Meetings because they are not exclusively heterosexual? That Friends have felt oppressed and excluded, often without conscious intent; have felt inhibited from speaking Truth as they experience it? That Quaker instituions have threatened their employees with loss of jobs should their orientation become known?
  3. Are Friends, with their long tradition of concern for social justice, aware of the massive and inescapable bigorty in this area directed and perpetuated by virtually all United States institutions, to wit: all branches of government; churches; schools; employers; landlords; medicar, bar and other professional associations; insurance companies; news media; and countless others?
  4. ​Are Friends aware of their own tendency to falsely assume that any interest in the same sex necessarily indicates an exclusively homosexual orientation; and to further falsely assume that interest in the opposite sex necesarily indicated an exclusively heterosexual orientation?

This point of interest is part of the tour: Ithaca LGBTQ History Walking Tour


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