Sunday, February 28, 2010

Harry Potter is on Our Side!!!

We have known for some time that Dumbledore was gay but in very recent good news, Daniel Radcliffe, the star of the "Harry Potter" series, has recently come out in support of gay, lesbian, transgender, and BISEXUAL people!!!

Read all about it here or here, http://cowtown-bisexual.blogspot.com/2010/02/daniel-radcliffe-is-passionate-about.html


Sunday, February 21, 2010

NY Assemblymember Kellner Given Brenda Howard Award

Out bisexual New York State Assembly Member Micah Z. Kellner was honored at the 17th Annual PFLAG-Queens awards luncheon today by being given the 2009 Brenda Howard Memorial Award.

Assemblyman Micah Kellner at work in NY


He was introduced by Estraven, Secretary of BiNET USA, with these words:

"Ladies, Gentlemen, or however you identify yourselves,

We are gathered here today to give the The Brenda Howard Award to New York State Assembly Member Micah Z. Kellner. It is given yearly, and recognizes an individual or organization whose work on behalf of the LGBT Community best exemplifies the vision, principals and community service of the late bisexual rights activist Brenda Howard, and who serves as a positive and visible role model for the Bisexual Community.

I first met Micah last year, and over the time I have known him I have become more and more impressed with him. It is easy to be impressed with what he has done in the Assembly for LGBT New Yorkers. He was first elected to represent New York’s 65th Assembly District in 2007. In that short time, he has been a strong champion of marriage equality for same-gender couples, co-sponsoring the Assembly bill and voting for it three times. He also co-sponsors and has voted for GENDA, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act.

Micah is the author of two bills that will be helpful to the LGBT community. The first requires the State Office of the Aging to do an annual report to assess the needs of and delivery of services to LGBT seniors and to provide technical assistance to organizations that provide services to LGBT senior populations. The second would require judges in criminal court to instruct juries to disregard appeals to bias and prejudice through courtroom tactics, such as when a perpetrator of a crime employs a “panic defense” strategy. He has also been working to secure the right of same-gender couples to file their taxes jointly in New York State. He has worked closely with the Governor's office on this and is hoping for a victory this year.

However, as I have gotten to know Micah better, and have learned more about him, I have become even more impressed with him as a person. As an infant, Micah was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and underwent numerous operations and years of physical therapy.  His disability is not visable, but instead of hiding it, while earning his Bachelor’s degree at New York University, he became politically active on behalf of the disabilities community, and has since become a powerful voice for the rights of persons with disabilities in the Empire State.

Again, during his first campaign, he was advised by people who cared about him to hide the fact that he is bisexual, since that is also not obvious, and to say that he is straight, or to say that he is gay, anything but bisexual. But hiding and sneaking is not Micah’s way. Instead, he is one of only four out and proud elected bisexual officials in the United States of America. Every out LGBT elected official does immeasurable good for all the LGBT people in this country. Research shows that prejudice is most readily dispelled by people seeing someone who does not act like the negative stereotype. Having an out and proud bisexual politician like Micah, who lives a quiet life, works extremely hard for his constituents, and actually continues, month in and month out, to EXIST (disproving the biphobic myth that no one else in the LGT spectrum has to struggle with, that we B’s don’t even exist) does more for bisexuals than any other single person possibly could, and takes more courage than we can possibly know.

Finally, not only does Micah give a voice to the least often heard segments of the population, bisexuals and the disabled, but he gives a voice to those literally without a voice; animals. He is an animal rights activist, and introduced Oreo’s Law to protect animals from being needlessly euthanized in shelters.

Gandhi once said 'A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.' Micah’s greatness is measured by his compassion for those with no voice, and by his courage. The election of the first biracial President has made me wonder if we will ever have a bisexual President; Micah’s intelligence, command of the issues, and concern for all of his constituents certainly makes him worthy of the job."

___________________________________________

Previous winners of the Brenda Howard Memorial Award:

2005 - Lawrence Nelson
2006 - Tom Limoncelli
2007 - Wendy Moscow
2008 - Wendy Curry

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Community Unites

It all started so innocently. Bisexual and Lesbian related stuff was being promoted via Twitter; some nice Gay Pride and Bi Pride bracelets, a Web series about a woman who has always thought she was Lesbian who finds herself falling for a man, and how she herself and her friends react to it, etc. So the words "Lesbian" and "bisexual" were linked in the same tweet, which was merely promoting Valentine's Day stuff of interest to the community. Suddenly this huge flame war started against the person who does BiNET twittering, who never ONCE said that Lesbians are bisexual, saying that she had said that, by a group called The Lesbian Mafia.

The bi community was completely confused by this, as it came of of nowhere in reaction to nothing. This tempest in a teapot grew over Saturday the 13th into Sunday, mostly via Twitter, and grew to scary proportions, with violent personal threats against people who stood up against their biphobia (up to and including lynching), very racist comments against members of the bi community who happen to be POC (people of color), even a podcast mocking the fact that bisexuals were upset, etc.

But even in the face of personal, obscene, physical threats, we did not back down. The community stood up in support of one another, on Twitter, with blogs, on Facebook and in emails. Most touchingly of all, many Lesbians stood up with us against the biphobia of the Lesbian Mafia, saying things like "EXACTLY, I'm a homo who's reppin' for ALL the communities!" "I refuse to be part of a group where they only stick to their own kind & want to be narrow-minded, ignorant & give other LGBTQ communites a bad name...I don't want to be part of that."

Indeed, the result of all this is that, on Valentine's Day, we are left with a warm feeling of being supported and cared for, and the community is stronger than ever. We are deeply grateful to both those in our own community and to our allies for standing up.

Happy Valentine's Day -- Hug These Action Items!*

*... and an Activist!

Here's a wrap-up of what we accomplished at the first officially recognized Bisexual, Fluid, Pansexual and Queer-identified Organizing Institute* at Creating Change in Dallas TX on February 4th 2010.

But first: Did you know that Bi Visi-BI-lity Day was originally on Valentine's Day before it was moved to Sept. 23? It's true! But EVERY DAY is Bi Visibility Day if you make it so.

BiNet USa President Gary North addresses the Bisexual, Fluid, Pansexual and Queer-identified Institute at Creating Change in Dallas TX in Feb 2010That's why nearly 70 activists gathered the Bisexual, Fluid, Pansexual and Queer-identified Organizing Institute, and over the course of the day, we discussed what the next steps should be in the movement. After much discussion to identify goals, we broke into four groups to pinpoint action items: Campus, Resources, People Of Color (POC), and "the big 3" -- BiNet USA, the Bisexual Resource Center (BRC) and the American Institute on Bisexuality (AIB). Of course there are many other affinity groupings (Veterans, Elders, Health-care, Economics, etc.), but this was a start.

The idea is that these set (or re-set) in motion the bi/pan/fluid/queer/allied/people-who-like-other-people movement* for the coming year -- we'll be keeping in touch to check on each other's progress, and you can, too: as an activist or supporter. If you're not already on them some good places to start are the BiNet USA Yahoo Group/Email List, BiNet USA on Twitter as well as the BiNet USA Facebook Group.

A special thank you to our facilitators and speakers, especially Robyn Ochs (whose introduction to the group I so totally botched "from memory" without using my notes that I'm still mortified!); Amanda Morgan, Angel Fabian, Denise Penn, Ellyn Ruthstrom, Estraven, Faith Cheltenham, Luigi Ferrer, Matt Goodman and Mike Szymanski.

And an extra-special thanks to Matt and DFW BiNet for terrific hosting, and especially NGLTF leader Rea Carey, Creating Change leader Sue Hyde and all the others who made Creating Change so successful (be sure to take a look at the photos of our incredible Hospitality Suite, the Bisexual, Fluid, Pansexual and Queer-identified Organizing Institute and our Dinner Out on our Facebook page!)

Sincerely,
Gary North
President, BiNet USA

* I semi-facetiously suggested that since "bi" is too binary and other folks prefer to rally around other monikers and/or don't like to have the word "sexual" in there, we call ourselves "PAFKABs": People Also Known As Bisexuals ... but I don't think it'll catch on ...

Bisexual, Fluid, Pansexual and Queer-identified Organizing Institute at Creating Change 2010 in Dallas Texas
The Bisexual, Fluid, Pansexual and Queer-identified Organizing Institute
at Creating Change in Dallas Texas USA
Thursday, February 4th 2010


Brainstorming Session Results:
What We’re Going to Organize Around Starting This Year With follow-up coordinating discussions June 2010 / September 2010 / December 2010 / March 2011

Overview
After Robyn Ochs gave same opening remarks to inspire and challenge the gathering, leaders of BiNet USA and the Bisexual Resource Center (BRC)put the movement into historical perspective and gave their own thoughts about where we are “at” and where they want it to go, as did and a non-bi-group-affiliated individual (the American Institute of Bisexuality (AIB) reps spoke later in the day).

This led into introductions of all attendees, followed by four breakout discussion groups (determined by simple count-off) to discuss what issues people wanted to organize around starting this year – which is the 20th anniversary year of BiNet USA and the 25th anniversary year of BRC. Once the groups reconvened as a meeting of the whole to present their findings, four themes emerged:

A. Education and Outreach (Reaffirmation)
B. Intersections of Equality
C. Bisexual, Fluid, Pansexual and Queer-identified Infrastructure (Community Building)
D. Mentoring New Leaders

Then the gathering broke into four affinity groups to identify ways we will jointly, collectively and coordinately implement these goals. The four self-identifying groups were:

1.) Campus
2.) Resources
3.) People of Color (POC)
4.) The "Big 3": National Groups representing the interests of the Bisexual, Fluid, Pansexual and Queer-identified Communities

Here are summaries of what each group subsequently pinpointed as goals/action items to work on throughout the next two years:

1.) CAMPUS/STUDENT/YOUTH (Youth Are Leaders)
  1. Education and Outreach – Reaffirmation
    1. Introducing bi programming early on in year
    2. colleges partnering
    3. discussions with ground rules
    4. “safe zone”/ally training that include bi
    5. discussions with other cultural/etc groups
  2. Intersections of Equality
    1. use of administration and other connections
    2. making an effort to support other groups, attend their events
    3. intra-/extra-/inter-campus community
    4. discussion with other cultural/etc groups
    5. invite bi individuals from outside campus
  3. Bi Infrastructure
    1. addressing bisexuals at the beginning of events/semesters
    2. if possible, umbrella organizations
    3. specifically design Big 3’s websites for youth/students
  4. Mentoring New Leaders – collaborative programming
    1. advertise in community at large and specifically high school students
    2. mentor existing leaders on bi/trans issues
    3. mentor bi activists on how to include students
    4. using our power as paying students to demand change and access to resources

2.) RESOURCES
  1. Education and Outreach – Reaffirmation
    1. viral video campaign for empowerment
    2. resource kit (DVD, pamphlets, 20-item checklist
    3. posting your story as a bisexual, fluid, pansexual or queer-identified person on a site
  2. Intersections of Equality
    1. providing a space for all bisexual, fluid, pansexual and queer-identified people in general as well as spaces for POC, student, etc. who identify as bisexual, fluid, pansexual and queer-identified
    2. providing resources for all parts of the community (POC, elders, students . . . )
  3. Bisexual, Fluid, Pansexual and Queer-identified Infrastructure
    1. start locally, let yourself be a resource
    2. reach back to rural areas to help them get to where more progressive cities are
    3. DFWI pamphlets to get ideas for starting organizations for bisexual, fluid, pansexual and queer-identified people
  4. Mentoring New Leaders
    1. committing to offering yourself as a mentor
    2. maintain your own resource list (friendly/inclusive people/business), and provide it to the overall community
3.) PEOPLE OF COLOR (POC)
  1. Education and Outreach – Reaffirmation
    1. Within communities of color ------ \
      1. intersections
    2. Within LGBT communities -----------/
  2. bisexual, fluid, pansexual and queer-identified community about poc issues
    1. Inclusive identity
    2. Diversity of expression
    3. Checking assumptions
    4. Deconstruct notion of masculine & feminine
    5. Innate within community
    6. Ask how I express it and/both
    7. Interactive web reaching GL comm[unity] from place of strength
    8. No translatable word/phrase and be OK with that
    9. Churches – communities of faith
    10. TV/radio personalities
    11. Racial/ethnic/low income community – gatekeepers
    12. Personal visibility
    13. Early in life – all, high school, growth groups, other schools
    14. Social justice orgs
    15. Create spaces
  3. Intersections of Equality
    1. Both/and – racial equality and ___
    2. Inseparable ID
    3. Unrelenting on non-separation
    4. Being an ally:
      1. allowing people to speak for selves
      2. one on one
      3. checking in
    5. Diaspora/globalization
    6. Not ignoring parts of ID
    7. Intersections of oppression
    8. Celebrating ID
    9. Power analysis
    10. Lifting people up
    11. Recognizing privilege and being accountable
  4. Bisexual, fluid, pansexual and queer-identified Infrastructure (community building)
    1. Bring Prides Together (Latino, African American, etc.)
    2. How can we ally each other
    3. Exposure & promotion
  5. Support groups
      1. Discreetness, location, wording
      2. Separate form the L&G
      3. Explore shame & stigma imposted by culture
    1. Showing up for one another
    2. Positive, pleasurable bi health/sex ed – free available contraceptive for all
  6. Mentoring New Leaders
    1. Peer to peer
    2. Embrace new ideas
    3. ID previous leaders needing to pass torch
    4. Visibility in numbers
    5. Anyone can be a mentor
    6. Mentorship program well-rounded
    7. Leaders – outreach and change; inclusiveness of opinions
    8. Further development of diversity curriculum (being specific and deliberate)
    9. Exchange programs
    10. Campus – face-to-face
    11. Community centers, high schools, etc.
    12. Accountable for each other to teach
4.) The "Big 3": National Groups representing the interests of the Bisexual, Fluid, Pansexual and Queer-identified Communities Continue to offer and grow/enhance their services to the above three groups:
  1. Research: the American Institute of Bisexuality (AIB)
  2. Organizing/Coordinating: BiNet USA
  3. Resources: the Bisexual Resources Center (BRC)

Monday, February 08, 2010

Creating Change 2010

Hello Everyone,

Creating Change 2010 is over, and the Bi's have left the Sheraton Dallas. Now, I need to talk and express my thoughts about the last five days. This was a historical Creating Change for the Bi Community. Never before have we seen a Bi/Pan/Omni/Fluid Institute at Creating Change or a Bi Hospitality Suite. Two events I was heavily involved in...

The first ever bi suite is empty... The Bi Pride Flags are down... and I'm not there watching our home anymore. For five days, Dallas was home to the National Bi Community. We had a place to call our own, to bond, connect and build a community. It was simply incredible to be in a safe space that was open to everyone. The space that became our home will always be a warm place in my heart. I was fortunate to see the magic it had. We educated people... became friends... then we became a family. I would personally like to thank Sue Hyde and Rea Carey with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. In my views, they are our biggest allies. I look forward to seeing them stop by next year in the Bi Hospitality Suite at the next Creating Change.

The BI/Pan/Omni/Fluid Institute was monumental (first ever paid by Creating Change, although we think there was one at Creating Change Oakland paid by BiPol). People from all walks of life were there discussing where they think the Bi/Pan/Omni/Fluid Movement should, no MUST go from here. In that room on the 37th floor, overlooking my hometown on a foggy day, I think the people assembled charged the Bi Community with the following mission: to increase Bi Visibility and rid the world of Bi Erasure.

I hope that those who attended and found a home with us in Dallas continue being inspired and work to build a better world for all. I for one am an Agent of Change.


With much love,

Matt Goodman
Treasurer
BiNet USA

President
Bisexual Community of North Texas