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Karol Steinhouse

 

On March 29, 2000, Karol Steinhouse, one of two founders of Bisexual Women of Toronto, died suddenly in a car accident.

 

This brought shock and sadness to our group.

This web site is therefore dedicated to her memory.

Karol wrote this for BiNetCanada to explain her politics around bisexuality and describe her research.

 

"Hi Bi/Queer people out there. Its been satisfying reading people's thoughts on Bisexual identity and community. For those that don't know me I am currently at the proposal writing stage for my doctorate in sociology and equity studies at OISE/UofT. My thesis is on Bi women and community. My working title at this point is HYBRIDITY AND COMMUNITY BUILDING: HOW AND WHY BI/QUEER WOMEN FORM COMMUNITES. As one of the founding members of Bisexual women of Toronto, receiving and giving affirmation for both Bi and Polyamorous identities has helped to strengthen me in ways I had previously only dreamed of.

 

One of the aspects of community that I hope to understand more fully is how our social location, gender, race, class etc. impact what we want and what we get from community. I'm also interested in how lesbian/gay/heterosexual discourses impact who we think we are and who we want to be. I'm studying women only because I feel Bi men and women have unique, distinct experiences of being queer because of power and gender dynamics that prevail in society. I also believe that there is no such thing as Bi community (singular) because we really are forming different but connected communities and subsets of affiliation within what seems to be on the surface a singular community. (I think this is a good thing because we can't all fit into one box.)

 

I hope whatever comes out of my research will not only document all the efforts and successes and struggles over the last number of years in building Bi communities in Toronto but will also give us ideas on what our future vision is and how to get there. I think about how we can claim our identity as Bi but not get stuck in it and not force our versions of sexuality on others."

This memorial article was published in Toronto's XTRA! Magazine

 

Written by Krista M. Taves

 

Five and a half years ago, I went to my first Bisexual Women of Toronto meeting. I had come out recently and was looking to meet others like me. I was so nervous. A petite cute woman, curly dark hair, in her early 40s, sat next to me. I kept glancing at her. She had nice eyes. She looked like she knew what was going on. I looked at her shyly and smiled. Her eyes brightened and she said, oh so sweetly, "I do hope you'll come back." I had just met Karol Steinhouse.

 

I did come back and within two months started facilitating meetings. Little did I know I was launching into a long-standing professional and personal relationship with Karol Steinhouse. As a co-founder of Bisexual Women of Toronto, she was my mentor and role model. She also became one of my best friends. I say was, because on March 28, 2000, Karol was killed in a car accident. She was 47 years old. She is survived by a her partner Ken, daughter Danielle, son Jesse, and many who loved her dearly.

 

Karol moved through her world in so many ways. She taught at the School of Social Work at Ryerson Polytechnic University for ten years. She was coordinator of their Interdisciplinary Studies program. She was also enrolled in the Ph.D. program at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. She had just started a thesis entitled, "Hybridity and Community Building: How and Why Bi/Queer Women Form Communities". Bisexual Women of Toronto was to form the main source of her research. Many women will know her through "Bi Lines," her regular column in Siren Magazine. Karol was committed to social action and social justice. She was a feminist, a bisexual political activist and dedicated to anti-racism and grass-roots activism. She enacted her politics in a way that maintained her integrity while accepting others' differences. If there was ever someone who could communicate through difference, it was Karol.

 

Karol was one of the strongest women I knew. She was also warm, loveable, vulnerable and often made mistakes, something I discovered as our mutual commitment to bi political activism matured into a deep and loving friendship. I came to know her family. She met mine. As we planned support group meetings, Pride Day celebrations, safer sex workshops, volunteer training, social events, and public relations strategies, Karol shared the joys and struggles of living as a bisexual polyamorous Jewish woman, partner, mother, lover, daughter, friend, teacher and student. Karol lived fiercely. I was amazed at the depth of engagement she sustained and demanded from her loved ones. To be in her life meant being real. She accepted nothing less from others or from herself.

 

She will be missed by many. On behalf of my bi sisters and brothers, I extend to her family our deepest condolences. And Karol, can we thank you enough? You were a powerful advocate and you infused this community with drive and vision. We will not forget you.

This poem was written and spoken as part of a memorial service for Karol Steinhouse.

 

K.K.

 

by Susan Anderson

 

EYES flash bolts across the room

Hurricane strong,

Deep azure currents long to know

Connecting gaze motions for

eternity to be still

All rise, adjourn

Until next we meet - that's kewl

 

HANDS draw lines

On big chief tablet minds

Siren thoughts bind

Words not yet spoken

Graceful facilitator

others talk while zee listens

Writing hir truth, hir life, hir family

Righting Social wrongs

Until next we meet - so kewl

 

BODY PJ-clad

By what right

Wir dare tell truths

Secrets shared

Zee hands out candy bracelets

Treasuring kids stuff

Bouncing-bed gleeful

Until next we meet - sweet kewl

 

FEET dancing to bad buddies

Diversity rounds

Zee moves swift zebra skin bound

sexy pure, fun-tastic

With purpose even here

Wir laugh together for a moment

And then that precious time

Is memory locked

Until next we meet - ah kewl

 

SMILE paints proud pictures

Hir face

Echos through our space

Laughing out

Feels right

Zee passes the baton

Helping still - pain

Divine meeting called to order

Karol kewl, presiding

© 2016 BiWoT