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  1. #1
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    A Tribute To Our Friend, Dr. Fritz Klein

    By Jon Pressick

    Very few people can lay claim to being a true icon. To achieve that status, your actions, your words, your abilities must transcend those of others and time. You must be someone who has made a difference. In this hard time since his passing on May 24, we mourn the man but celebrate the influence and impact of a visionary, a compassionate soul and a true icon of the international bisexual community, Fritz Klein.

    All too often we reserve our praise for someone until he or she has passed away, and this could be another of those cases. However, despite my not knowing the man personally, my guess is that he knew just how important his work was, just how much he has helped and positively influenced so many bisexual people. Through his writing, his advocacy and his research, Fritz was someone who was constantly in contact with those his work would help. And by being in such contact, he would have seen the good his work had done.

    So now, it is certainly time to mourn—to feel those tears and sadness when someone important to you dies. But at the same time, we should also ensure that we don’t backtrack, that we continue his work. So, as the condolences and best wishes continue, I’d like to take the time to remind those who knew of Dr. Klein and to teach those who may just be learning of him what he did, and why all bisexual people should raise a glass to this fine man.

    ***

    Fritz Klein is widely considered the founder of the bisexual movement. While there were certainly many others involved, he may just be the most important figure this community has seen or may ever experience. Fritz was a noted psychiatrist who spent over 30 years studying and working for bisexual people and the bisexual community. I would not do his record of activism and achievement justice if I tried to do anything else but list it:

    Founder, Bisexual Forum, New York, 1974
    Founder, Bisexual Forum, San Diego, 1983
    Co-organizer, 1st International Bisexual Conference, Amsterdam, 1991
    Bisexual Advisory Board of CICA
    Director, American Institute of Bisexuality (AIB)
    President, The Bisexual Foundation Board

    Fritz was born in Vienna and came to New York with his family when he was six years old. It was in New York that one of his significant achievements began. In 1974, he began the Bisexual Forum, a discussion cum support group for bisexuals. He began the group after a visit to a public library, a visit that resulted in a fruitless search for information on bisexuality. After that, he put an ad in the Village Voice and soon 15-20 people were meeting at his house to discuss their thoughts on bisexuality—their own as well as the idea at large. The Bisexual Forum continued in New York until 1982. Fritz established a new version of the Bisexual Forum in San Diego in 1982 after his move there. This organization laid the groundwork for many other and many current bisexual support groups.

    While he was doing such grassroots work speaking with bisexuals, hearing their stories and experiences, he was also doing important research. He was learning all about bisexuality, something few others had ever devoted any time, let alone hard research and creation of literature to. But Fritz was always researching, discovering and writing about the struggles, triumphs and lives of bisexual people. He published many books, including Life, Sex, and the Pursuit of Happiness (2005), Bisexual and Gay Husbands: Their Stories, Their Words (2001), and Bisexualities, Theory and Research (1986). He was also the founding editor of Journal of Bisexuality. But it is one book, one seminal tome that not only established Klein as a forefather of the community, but also as its foremost expert.

    The Bisexual Option, published in 1978 is one of those works that people remember the rest of their lives. So many read this book, many who had feelings but could not at all name them. Many others who did know that they were bisexual but had no way of understand or expressing it. And many other who were out and proudly bisexual, but who needed a documented history as a rallying cry to encourage themselves and others. It is considered to be the book that changes the way you think about sexuality.

    By now I think it should be pretty clear just how important Fritz Klein’s activism and research were. Both of these not only helped many when they were happening, but the Bisexual Forum and The Bisexual Option both established precedent and inspiration to many bisexuals to follow—and may still to come. While all of this was so influential, I don’t think you become a true icon until you do something so fundamental as to change actual definitions and categorizations. Fritz Klein not only change how people thought about bisexuality, but he changed how you can define not only bisexuality but sexuality as a whole.

    One of the groundbreaking parts of The Bisexual Option was the introduction of a multidimensional grid that meant to ‘calculate’ the vast complexity and mutability of sexuality.

    The far-more-famous “scale” upon which a person’s sexuality can be determined is of course the Kinsey Scale. Indeed, Alfred Kinsey got a movie made of him! Maybe we’ll need to start considering a film of Fritz Klein’s life as well because he expanded on and further developed the model begun by Kinsey in the much more comprehensive Klein Sexual Orientation Grid (ref 1).

    Because most people had been (and arguably still are) first exposed to sexuality with the binary of heterosexual or homosexual, Kinsey set his scale of sexual orientation with seven intervals, beginning at 0 with ‘Exclusively Heterosexual’ and concluding at 6 with ‘Exclusively Homosexual’. As you travel the scale, you could be determined to be ‘Predominantly heterosexual, more than incidentally homosexual’ at interval 2, ‘Predominantly homosexual, only incidentally heterosexual’ at interval 5 and anywhere in between. At the centre, Interval 3 is Equally Heterosexual and Homosexual. Klein refined the scale and somewhat simplified it. It remains with 7 intervals, but instead they are:

    1. Other sex only
    2. Other sex mostly
    3. Other sex somewhat more
    4. Both sexes equally
    5. Same sex somewhat more
    6. Same sex mostly
    7. Same sex only

    What limits the Kinsey Scale is that it focuses on the person’s sexual experiences and fantasies up to that time. So to develop and hope for a better understanding of an individual’s sexuality throughout their lives, the Klein scale investigates sexual experience and fantasies in three times: the present (the most recent 12 months), the past (up to 12 months ago) and the ideal (which is as close as one can get to intention and prediction of future behaviour). Basically, Klein allowed the concept that people’s sexuality can change through their lives.

    But these aren’t the only innovations Klein made. Even more important than considering that sexuality is fluid was Klein’s introduction of many different factors that can influence identity. These are:
    Sexual Attraction: To whom are you sexually attracted?
    Sexual Behaviour: With whom have you actually had sex?
    Sexual Fantasies: Whom are your sexual fantasies about? (They may occur during masturbation, daydreaming, as part of real life, or purely in your imagination.)
    Emotional Preference: Emotions influence, if not define, the actual physical act of love. Do you love and like only members of the same sex, only members of the other sex, or members of both sexes?
    Social Preference: Social Preference is closely allied with, but often different from emotional preference. With members of which sex do you socialize?

    By considering all of these other life factors, Klein’s categorical scale offers much more in terms of understanding that sexual activities do not necessarily denote sexual orientation, and just because two people have the same sexual identity does not mean that they have the same sexual practices.

    What more could there be to say about this man? Fritz Klein was the everyman of the bisexual community. And there really is so much more we could learn about him. He lived the life, he researched the life, he helped many, many understand the bisexual life. In a recent interview, Sheela Lambert asked Fritz what his legacy to the bi community would be. He replied: “I don’t think along those lines. Leave it to the historians to figure that out. I live in almost always ‘the now.’”

    Kind sir, we don’t need to leave it to the historians. We know what your legacy is: you are our forefather, our inspiration, our guiding light. Thank you.

    References:
    1. Information on The Klein Sexual Orientation Grid comes from http://www.biresource.org/pamphlets/scales.html


    (c) Copryight 2006 Jon Pressick

    Jon Pressick is the feature article editor for Bisexual.com. He is also the publisher of TRADE: Queer Things and a past contributor to Xtra!, Gaiety, Broken Pencil, Women’s Post and Quill and Quire.

    ***

    More about the life and work of Dr. Fritz Klein can be found at the official Bisexual Foundation website, www.bisexual.org.

  2. #2
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    A Tribute To Our Friend, Dr. Fritz Klein

    Thank you for enlightening those of us who did not know of all his accomplishments! The sad passing of a true pioneer.
    http://c4.ac-images.myspacecdn.com/i...7a7ac275b3.gif
    Hugs,
    Arana


    Life is a strange thing...
    Just when you think you've learned how to use it, it's gone.....

  3. #3
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    Re: A Tribute To Our Friend, Dr. Fritz Klein

    Thankyou for sharing all of this with us.


    Cassie

  4. #4
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    Re: A Tribute To Our Friend, Dr. Fritz Klein

    He was an amazing man. I remember when was I first introduced to the idea of sexuality being continuous and graduated rather than polarised it made me feel very much happier about my own position.

    Most grateful regards to you, Dr. Klein.

  5. #5

    I'M A NEWBY,WHAT DID THIS FELLA DO?

    DOES THIS GUY HAVE ANY BOOKS OUT,WHAT EXACTLY DID HE DO.AS I SAY I'M UNAWARE OF THE NAME.ANYONE ENLIGHTEN ME FEEL FREE KARDAVEL1113@AOL.COM

  6. #6

    Re: I'M A NEWBY,WHAT DID THIS FELLA DO?

    Give the article a re-read. He did have a number of books, and they are listed. I couldn't possibly do him justice with just this article, but you should be able to find some good info to start from.
    Good luck!

    Quote Originally Posted by three2du
    DOES THIS GUY HAVE ANY BOOKS OUT,WHAT EXACTLY DID HE DO.AS I SAY I'M UNAWARE OF THE NAME.ANYONE ENLIGHTEN ME FEEL FREE KARDAVEL1113@AOL.COM

  7. #7
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    Re: A Tribute To Our Friend, Dr. Fritz Klein

    Interesting stuff. This is one of the things i like the most about this site, it has good information for those of us new to "the cause." (whatever the heck that means. )

  8. #8
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    Lightbulb Re: I'M A NEWBY,WHAT DID THIS FELLA DO?

    Quote Originally Posted by three2du
    DOES THIS GUY HAVE ANY BOOKS OUT,WHAT EXACTLY DID HE DO.AS I SAY I'M UNAWARE OF THE NAME.ANYONE ENLIGHTEN ME FEEL FREE KARDAVEL1113@AOL.COM
    He basically, "accidentally" helped invent the entire modern bisexual movement.

    You may also wish to read Sheela Lambert's (also a 'name' Bi Activist type person) interview with him entitled: Who's your Daddy!. Speaking about what would turn out to be his final interview Lambert noted, "Our conversations took place over dinner and email in March and April and the article itself was published on 11 May 2006."

    Also since as you say you are basically a "newbie" and want to learn a bit more about your 'Ab Fab' community, may we suggest you take a look at some of the articles and people here on Wikipedia in the Bisexual community Category, especially in some of the Subcategories like Bisexual culture, Bisexual organizations, Bisexual rights activists, etc.

 

 

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