PAVES, a local nonprofit focusing on bisexual people, arose from a frustration in the status quo. The mission? Ensure that bi and polysexual individuals know they are not forgotten and are never alone.
We chatted with President Codi Coday about the non-profit and why it’s necessary. Check it out.
Let’s start with the basics. What is the inspiration behind PAVES?
Basically, the first Pride I went to was three years ago in Denver, and it had no bisexual representation, which was really discouraging. So the next year, I got a group together, made a float, and marched in the parade. It kinda evolved from there.
We created a board of directors and got our nonprofit started. We have quite a few different things going on. If you break down our name, which stands for Polysexual Alliance for Visibility Education and Support, you’ll get an idea of what we want.
For visibility, we try to make bisexuals more visible at Pride and around Denver in general. We’re hosting a number of fundraisers that will also bring awareness and visibility to the organization and to bi people.
As far as education, we have Bi-101, which is teaching people that bisexuality is very real and trying rid our community of harmful misconceptions. In March, Bisexual Health Awareness Month, we’re trying to do two different programs: one for health professionals to talk about issues that are specific to bisexuals.
The second is we’re trying to work with a domestic abuse organization to create a presentation and support group for bi people who face abuse.
Lastly, we are forming and promoting a social network so people know they’re not alone. We’re also hoping to create a mentoring program for young bisexuals or people who are questioning. Just partner them with someone who is openly bisexual and has been through problems that arise related to that.
What are some of the problems that arise for bisexual people?
Overall, there’s a really big problem with people being able to come out without problems. There’s a problem with an increase in domestic violence for both women and men who are bisexual, and also an increased risk of rape. There’s actually a bisexual wage gap.
Bisexual women make sevent to twenty-eight percent less than straight women, and bisexual men make eleven to nineteen percent less than straight men, according to the American Sociological Association.
Are you seeing any type of social issues arise within the queer community?
According to the Williams Institute, in 2011, bisexuals made fifty-two percent of the LGBT community. But twenty to thirty percent of us don’t go to those events because we don’t feel welcomed. That’s what PAVES is trying to change. We’re creating a bisexual community independent from the LGBT community but also trying to change the LGBT community so that bisexuals feel more welcome and that it’s also their community.
You talked about educating people on misconceptions. Can you elaborate more on those programs?
Right now we’re planning a Bi-101. We’ll basically rent out a space and give a presentation on our community and the statistics I’ve talked about. We’re hoping that bisexual, straight, and LGBT community will come to that. I’ve already talked at a gay-straight alliance conference and taught the youth about those misconceptions.
You mentioned a support and buddy system. How are you going to implement that?
Our plan is to have an event first for the mentors and talk to them about what to do with the mentees, like what conversations are appropriate and different resources that they can give to their mentees. We’re going to partner them up, meet at a coffee shop and show those bisexual youth that they have someone to talk to. Not necessarily that they have to talk all the time, just if they’re having a crisis they have resources who have at least been through something similar.
When you came out as bisexual, what resources did you find in Denver?
Absolutely nothing. It’s a problem. We’re trying to talk to The Center, but really right now they don’t have much at all on bisexuals. When you search bisexual on The Center’s website, it comes up with no results. And for the majority of the community it’s kind of strange and sort of messed up.
Why do you think that is?
A big part of it is that LGBT community is kind of stand-offish to bisexuals. They feel like we don’t fit it and they don’t really make many efforts to have us fit in. I think that’s mostly to do with the misconceptions people have about the sexuality.
What inspired you to start PAVES?
I had a really bad time realizing I was bisexual and coming out. I lost friends, was broken up with, and lost the majority of my close family members and we still don’t talk anymore. I actually lost housing too for a while. I’ve also been through the domestic abuse and the sexual violence that I was speaking about earlier. So it was something I was really passionate about because I don’t want other people to go through the same thing. If we could make things a little bit better for them, that would be fantastic.
How can the queer community contribute to PAVES?
Come to events, learn about bisexuality, try to work towards the more inclusive community. We have a Get Involved tab on our website that is a great place to start.
For more information visit PavesNonprofit.com.