Dr. Loraine Hutchins

Dr. Loraine Hutchins Pioneers Portrait

Dr. Loraine Hutchins is a native Washingtonian. 
Photo © Patsy Lynch

“Bisexuality is the capacity to love more than one gender, whether or not one ever acts on it.  That embraces a whole range – from people who behave, or might want to behave, bisexually and may not ever take that label, all the way to people who proudly do wear the label.”
“Looking up the word ‘bisexual’ in the dictionary is like blinking into the distorted mirror of Western society’s ambivalence over sexuality.”
“Each of us has to be true to her own self and to work, in community with others, to figure out the politics of how we can live together.”

Loraine Hutchins is a ‘trip,’ as they used to say in an earlier century.  She is also ‘for real.’ She is indomitable and courageous and makes you think twice, or three times, about who you are and what you mean, and definitely makes sure you don’t slip into bi-phobia.  Loraine is one of the few people who has explained, defended and championed bisexuality and made sure the “B” got into the LGBT acronym.  Sensitivity to bisexual issues, civil rights, and social justice issues is Loraine’s life work.

Growing up as a fourth generation Washingtonian, particularly in Takoma Park, Loraine learned to move between differing social, racial and economic worlds, bridging them all.  Her love of politics was forged through her local Methodist church during the civil rights era. Her mother, Adele, took her, as a teenager, to the 1963 March on Washington and her grandmother marched in front of the White House for women’s suffrage as a high school student in 1914.  Loraine has always stood up for minorities and misunderstood social groups.  In 1966, as editor of Montgomery Blair High School’s newspaper in Silver Spring, she fought the administration’s censorship of the paper after the students wrote about homosexual issues in a Batman and Robin article. 

As she would later write in Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out, the groundbreaking anthology on bisexuality she co-edited with Lani Ka’ahumanu, “Call me kinky, I don’t mind. I AM kinky – if you mean different from the lie we’re sold as the norm … I’m celebrating a quarter century of making love with many different people, many different ways.”  Today she is known local and nationally as a sexuality educator “who inspires people to integrate the spiritual and the erotic in their everyday lives.”

From her early days living at the Embassy of Atlantis commune on 24th St. and in the Amazon Nation collective on Belmont Road, she has explored same-sex relationships and creating loving family constellations – both in her own life and in those of others around her.

Much of her early career was spent working with youth, particularly runaways.  At the beginning of the 1970s she worked with SAJA, the community-based youth agency that ran the DC Runaway House and other youth programs in the Dupont Circle area. Her story, “The Day The Lesbians Stole The Press,” memoralizes her dealings with the Furies, the DC lesbian separatists who urged her to sever her relationships with men. At that time she discovered and asserted her role as mediator between forces, which, as she says, she continued to do, “for years and years.” 

In 1985, long before DC’s Pride Parade was bi-inclusive, she marched as a bisexual contingent of one, dressed as Wonder Woman With a Hard On. She developed that persona into a performance art piece that continued to raise difficult issues of gender, orientation and inclusion with humor and persistence at various DC and national college-speaking-gig venues. 

In the early 90s Loraine helped found DC’s first bisexual political action group, AMBi – the Alliance of Multicultural Bisexuals and its direct action arm, AMBUSH. She also co-founded BiNet USA: the National Bisexual Network and served on its first board in the 90s.  She keynoted the National Conference Celebrating Bisexuality held April 1993 during the weekend of the March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation – the first time bis were included in the title of a national LGBT march and was chosen as DC Pride’s first ever bisexual grand marshall in 1997.

In 2001 she completed her Ph.D. in Cultural Studies and now teaches courses in inter-disciplinary sexuality issues; including her popular Intro to LGBT Studies course at Towson University. She is currently co-editing a special double issue of the Journal of Bisexuality on spirituality.