Film & TV producer, writer, director, actor and bi-identified LGBT Rights Activist Kyle Schickner knew he was bisexual as a teen, but despite this awareness, he had a pretty typical high school experience. "I had no religious baggage, I was a jock and I had plenty of girlfriends," he said of his New Jersey upbringing.
His parents found out he was bisexual from a television news program after he opted to be interviewed for a mid-morning broadcast. The experience did nothing to affect his popularity with his guy friends or the gals, and his parents remained incredibly supportive. "In the parent lottery, I really lucked out," he said.
C is for college but B is for Biphobia
While a full-time student at Rutgers, he sought out the campus LGBT group, a group that clearly had a B (for bisexual) in its name; but for the very first time, he was rejected for being who he was. They basically said if he identified as bisexual, they would not accept him into the group.
This made him angry. "We're in this place together, and the fact that I wasn't gay enough was very disconcerting," he said.
Feeling rejected, frustrated and angry … Schickner decided to get political. A few months later, he started "Bisexuals Achieving Solidarity" (BIAS), the first college bisexual group in the country. It would be the start of a life dedicated to bisexual activism.
The LGBT mirror with two faces
While it is true that great strides have been made in the years since and many things have moved forward for the gay and lesbian community, bisexuals are often still left behind. Case in point: Although Schickner thinks the "It Gets Better Project" is very important for struggling teens and he fully supports it, he is less supportive of its founder, Dan Savage.
"[Savage] is openly anti-bisexual," Schickner said. "He has several YouTube videos maligning bisexuals and yet he is hailed as this wonderful human rights person. Sure, it gets better, but not if you are a bisexual. You don't exist."
Savage's "biphobia" is further explained in this After Elton article ["Dan Savage is Biphobic"], one in which Schickner can be seen personally addressing Savage in his own It Gets Better type of video.
Schickner shares his concern for the struggling bisexual teens of the world who may seek out the "It Gets Better" videos, and, finally feeling validated and wanting to learn more, stumble across Savage's biphobic videos, only to become confused and devastated, once again.
"When we are all fighting to get equal rights for everyone, it is very short-sighted to shut out those who want to fight alongside you," he said. Unfortunately, even the gay softball league Schickner plays in considers him straight.
"My job is to explain it," he said. "I'm not really into labels, but it's not a perfect world and I don't want to be considered straight. I want to make [bisexuality] less of a mystery, so I have to come out every day."
Bisexuals, Shakespeare & Romantic Comedy on Web TV
Schickner's current project is FenceSitter Films online web series 'Rose By Any Other Name' about the normal ups and downs of relationships with the additional challenge of differing sexual orientations. Stephanie Reibel as Rose, a very out and comfortable gal who unexpectedly captures the attention - and heart - of Anthony (played by Schickner), a nice, unassuming straight guy.
Set in Los Angeles, the story follows Rose and Anthony's serendipitous meeting and the after-effects caused when they begin having feelings for one another, much to the confusion -- and in some cases the chagrin -- of their friends.
The trailer and other promos have fun with the idea. "It's about a lesbian. It's about a man. It's about to get confusing!"
Rose launched its second season this last week. In the first episode of season two, we learn that the two romantic leads have apparently ditched their controversial relationship; or have they?
A very busy man
FenceSitter Films, Schickner's film production and television production company is currently adding the finishing touches to "Hurricane Sandy," a documentary about Sandy Sach's and Girl Bar's 20th Anniversary of their Dinah Shore scene. Up next, he is working on another feature film, called "Text." Text will have a lesbian storyline and is about women who carry on communication without ever seeing each other. He expects this to be ready by early 2012, in time for Sundance. He is also working on a documentary, called, "A White Man Walks into a Barber Shop," also due out in 2012.
The Revolution Will Be Televised
"Music, film, television and pop culture is what moves the country forward," he said. "Nothing bigger happened for the LGBT movement than Ellen. Having Ellen and now Chaz in their living rooms, changes people. If my work changes the opinions of 1,000 gays and lesbians, they will pay it forward without even realizing it," he continued.
"It's why I make films."
(Source: Lifelong bisexual activist Kyle Schickner releases season two of web series "A Rose By Any Other Name", Rose By Any Other Name...)