Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Black Lives Matter: Bisexual Community Demands Change After Ferguson & New York

Media Advisory

Date: 9 December 2014
Contact: 1-800-585-9368

Black Lives Matter: graffiti Kalamazoo MI
The Board of BiNet USA and a number of other prominent American Bisexual Groups including: The BiCast, the Bisexual Organizing Project (BOP), the Bisexual Leadership Roundtable (BLR), and the Bisexual Resource Center (BRC) have joined forces with over forty other lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organizations from across the USA in stating their solidarity with Civil Rights Groups and Activists in demanding change after the recent deaths of a number of black people at the hands of American law enforcement.

An Open Letter: From Ferguson to True Freedom
Words cannot begin to describe the depth of feeling we all share about the unfolding tragedies in Ferguson and New York City. Words cannot relieve the suffering of Michael Brown and Eric Garner’s loved ones nor can words alone salve the pain nor quell the anger of millions. It’s action we need and we need it now.

As LGBTQ national organizations, we proudly stand in solidarity with the civil rights organizations and local activists — including the actions of an amazing, fierce, brilliant cadre of youth leaders, many of whom are queer identified — in demanding fundamental systemic change that tackles the root causes of racial and economic injustices once and for all. From political accountability for the deaths of Michael and Eric to the immediate passage of federal legislation that completely bans racial profiling across this land to ensuring that local police departments are representative and fair arbiters of safety and protection for everyone and who — through their actions — are continually working to earn the trust, confidence and respect of the entire community.

We too must speak louder than words and take more action — to change more hearts and minds and fight even harder for the policies and practices that make statements such as this one obsolete.

We urge you to:

  • Join the March Against Police Violence in Washington, called by the National Action Network, on Saturday December 13th, 10:30am;
  • Organize and participate in peaceful protests in cities across the nation;
  • Attend public meetings in your city or town to show your support or share your experience with elected officials; and
  • Create your own actions for change in person and online — at home, at school, at work, in the corridors of power, and in places of worship.
  • Everyone, everywhere in our nation can do more to end racism and racial injustice. Everyone, from the Department of Justice that must do more to deliver justice for the Brown and Garner families to the high school principal who could do more to engage and educate students about racism and the need for justice

    Even those of us who have devoted our lives to this cause need to redouble our efforts to reach out to more people — including those people who are on the wrong side of this issue.

    If we as a nation are to end racism and racial injustice once and for all, everyone must be part of an ongoing and sustainable process of change — a process that builds on all the progress we’ve made, a process that aims to recruit everyone, and a process with the specific mission of delivering lived equality, justice, and freedom for all.

    American Civil Liberties Union
    Believe Out Loud
    Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBT
    The BiCast
    BiNet USA
    Bisexual Organizing Project
    Bisexual Leadership Roundtable
    Bisexual Resource Center
    Campus Pride
    CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
    Center For Black Equity
    Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals
    Equality Federation
    Family Equality Council
    The Fellowship Global (Pastor Joseph Tolton)
    The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries (Bishop Yvette Flunder)
    Freedom to Marry
    Gay Men’s Health Crisis
    Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders
    GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality
    Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network
    Harvey Milk Foundation
    Higher Education T* Circle Advisory Board
    Human Rights Campaign
    International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
    Lambda Legal
    Marriage Equality USA
    More Light Presbyterians
    National Black Justice Coalition
    National Center for Lesbian Rights
    National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs
    National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
    National LGBTQ Task Force
    National Minority AIDS Council
    The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)
    Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
    PFLAG National
    Pride at Work, AFL-CIO
    The Pride Network
    Reconciling Ministries Network
    SAGE (Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders)
    Trans People of Color Coalition
    The Trevor Project

    Founded in 1990, BiNet USA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit advocating for Bisexual Communities in the USA.  For more information, please visit us on the Web at:
    and for press inquiries, please email or phone 1-800-585-9368

    Tags: Civil Rights, Black Lives Matter, BiNet USA, Bisexuality, Bisexuals, Bisexual, Ferguson, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, March Against Police Violence, National Action Network, Black, African American, People of Color

    # # #

    Thursday, November 20, 2014

    Transgender Day of Remembrance (#TDOR) 2014

    In honor of the too many lost, The BiCast roundtable spoke with Debi Jackson about Transgender Awareness Week and Transgender Day of Remembrance (#TDOR).

    Click to listen

    What is the Transgender Day of Remembrance?

    The Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) was started by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. The vigil commemorated all the transgender people lost to violence that year and began an important memorial that has become the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.
    "The Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence. I am no stranger to the need to fight for our rights, and the right to simply exist is first and foremost. With so many seeking to erase transgender people -- sometimes in the most brutal ways possible -- it is vitally important that those we lose are remembered, and that we continue to fight for justice."
    - Transgender Day of Remembrance founder Gwendolyn Ann Smith

     Visit GLAAD for more #TDOR resources

    Please visit to find a #TDOR vigil or event in your area.

    Sunday, October 26, 2014

    From The BiNet USA Mailbag: Answers for a teen girl looking to be less confused

    Recently we received a wonderfully, touching and amazing note from C. who was struggling to understand her bisexuality and what it all meant. I wrote this response to her but I'm eager to hear from others in our community on what they would have said! 

    Hi C. Thanks for writing us at BiNet USA. First off please know that you're not alone, there are many of us who have felt the same way. In fact the Human Rights Campaign just released a report on the experiences of bisexual youth that you can find here:

    You can join us in conversation and ask this same question to our members on Facebook here:

    You can also join our more private yahoogroup by visiting here:

    Either of these spaces is full of folks who are interested in supporting each other so please feel free to copy and paste your entire question into a message for either group.

    My personal advice is below:​

    On Bisexual Identity and Experience
    Congrats on coming out to yourself first of all, that's the first step for many bi people, just recognizing their bisexuality. The modern definition of bisexual that is most commonly used in our community is: “I call myself bisexual because I acknowledge that I have in myself the potential to be attracted – romantically and/or sexually – to people of more than one sex and/or gender, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree.” - Robyn Ochs

    So it's normal that you'll have questions about how bisexuality works and there's not a ton of answers out there but what we do know?
    • ​You don't have to be attracted to men, women and/or other genders all the time at the same time (if you are, that can be totally normal too and is often called polamory).
    • ​People along the bisexual spectrum (could include pansexual, fluid, queer, non-monosexual, polysexual, multisexual, omnisexual) represent anywhere from 40-51% of the entire LGBT community so there are a lot of us and a lot of different ways to be us!​
    • However most bisexual people report lower levels of affiliation with the LGBT community. This is possibly related to the level of "biphobia" or fear of bisexuals which can exist in both straight and gay spaces, and in fact most bi people report feeling unwelcome at times in the LGBT community. This is not always the case but generally we like to tell you about it so you're prepared for it. ​
    • ​ Recent reports show bi people being more likely than gay or lesbians to have kids and be parents. So you could totally end up like bisexual icon Angelina Jolie who's got tons of kids and has created her own type of family with partner Brad Pitt.​
    We also know that bi people report high levels of disparities, or crappy things that happen through no fault of their own. Young bi women in particular are more vulnerable to sexual assault, bullying, harassment, drug/alcohol abuse, self-injury like cutting, depression, and eating disorders. 

    BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE! Bisexuals also report high levels of resiliency and survival, in fact all throughout history bi people have made major impacts and have been creative forces who've driven past and through their troubles to help others. I hope that may be the case for you, as it was the case for me once too.

    On Coming Out
    There is a lot of pressure to have everything figured out, but it's perfectly normal to not have a handle on everything related to your own sexuality! One ten year study of bi women found them changing labels from bi to lesbian to straight to lesbian to bi in some cases. In part this is because if you're dating a guy people might think you're straight, and if you're dating a girl people might think you're gay. But you were born a bit more complicated than that, perhaps. And that's actually kind of cool. So take time in figuring out what it means to you and if anyone says to you CHOOSE, you can just tell them you know that you don't have to. Its ok to keep it to yourself and also allow it to belong to you. Meaning if someone wants you to exercise your bisexuality by making out with someone, you should totally feel like you DON'T have to do that just for them. Unless you wish to of course. It's so important to understand that being bi is something we get born with, so how we decide to share our true selves is UP TO US!

    On Community
    It is so very important for you to have folks you can talk to regularly about this, so please do consider joining us on Facebook. We share pics of bi flag colored kittens, Etsy crafts like bracelets and talk about movies and tv too. It helps sometimes to have a place where everyone might not know your name, but they get you and they understand what you're going through a bit better than a lot of people could...because they went through it too.

    On Parents
    Please feel free to share my response with your parents if you want to. You can also send them a link to the HRC Bi Youth report or this other report by The Movement Advancement Project, "Understanding Issues Facing Bisexual Americans":

    Getting your parents more information might be a good idea. It may be that with more information your parents might better understand you and what you're trying to understand about yourself.

    ​For more resources please also visit the Youth page on the Bisexual Resource Center website:

    Do you have some advice to share with C.? Please leave it in the comments!  ​

    My bad! I forgot to mention the awesome bisexual advice column "Ask Tiggy" to C. so I sent her email with that info. Please check out "Ask Tiggy" for more great advice:

    Thursday, October 16, 2014

    BiNet USA Celebrates #SpiritDay

    Happy #spiritday! BiNet USA is proud to support and participate this year! We're thankful that GLAAD sponsors a day dedicated to standing together in support of LGBTQ youth!
    BiNet USA President Faith Cheltenham with her stepdaughter Cadence as they do homework this #spritday
    We know from the recent Human Rights Campaign report on bi youth that circumstances for bi youth are heartbreaking whether it be the high number of youth who report being bullied, the lack of support their parents provide or the lack of social and community support available to B in LGBT teens.

    Bi youth reporting what they hear from parents, friends and family too often. Credit: Human Rights Campaign

    We know that no matter what label you use, it can be hard to be accepted as a teen. BiNet USA recommends joining us on Facebook for community support today and every day!

    And if you're looking for information on how to support bisexual youth definitely check out HRC's report for valuable insights and tips!

    Tuesday, September 23, 2014

    My #bisexuality looks like writing for bisexual youth by AJ Walkley

    First and foremost -- HAPPY BISEXUALITY DAY! I'm honored to be writing this blog on one of the best days of the year; a day of celebration and visibility for the bisexual community. One of the ways I've tried to become more visible as a proud bisexual in recent years is through my writing, for online sites like Huffington Post and through my own novels.

    The very first book I ever wrote was Queer Greer, which I penned specifically for bisexual and questioning youth. When I was grappling with my sexuality in high school and college, I turned to books to try and find a character I could relate to, whom I might even learn from. Sadly at that time, there were no bisexual protagonists to be found. I wanted to help change that with my own book. Queer Greer would've helped me as a teen learning who I was and I wrote it in the hopes that it might help others coming out after me.

    My novel tells the tale of high school junior Greer MacManus, who enters a new school with the hopes of reinventing herself from a wallflower with one friend, to become more of a social butterfly. She soon finds herself among the company of athletes, a swimmer herself. While she tries to get comfortable in her clique under the admiring eye of Cameron Keeting, the most attractive male jock in school, Greer becomes increasingly interested in someone else.
    Rebecca Wilder, the beautiful swim team captain and infamous lesbian in town, befriends Greer, taking her under her wing. A love triangle soon overtakes Greer’s world as she comes to grips with her sexuality.
    Shocked by the reactions of her best friend and boyfriend, and finding herself more alone than ever before, Greer tries to cope when things start to fall apart. Without anyone to turn to, Greer must find an inner strength and the courage to be herself in a society that doesn’t always understand.
    Check out the book trailer below:

    Moving forward, I plan to incorporate more bisexual and overall LGBT+ characters in my books, showing readers that we come in all shapes and sizes, all colors and creeds; we are everywhere and our literature should definitely reflect that!
    Happy Bisexuality Day!

    Sunday, September 21, 2014

    #biweek 2014 starts with #bihistory #biweek

    In celebration of the 15th anniversary of Celebrate Bisexuality Day, held every September 23rd, GLAAD, BiNet USA and other bisexual organizations are launching Bisexual Awareness Week (website).

    Bisexual Awareness Week (#biweek) exists to help draw attention to the public policy concerns of bisexual people while also celebrating the great resiliency of bisexual culture and community.

    Bisexual Awareness Week will utilize a social media campaign that provides daily themes to keep changing hearts and minds about bisexual people, and bi lives. Themes will focus on the history, culture, community and current policy priorities of bisexual communities.

    Sunday 9/21 #BiHistory – Post, status update and tweet about important moments in bisexual movement history and/or the names and images of famous bi* people throughout history


    To help kick-off #BiHistory here are some bisexual history links to read and share!

    From BiNet USA Presentation

    • Read about black LGBT icon and bi pioneer ABilly S. Jones-Hennin and his work with people of color and LGBT community organizing at Metro Weekly.
    • Learn about the GLBT History Museum's Biconic Flashpoints: 40 years of Bay Area Bisexual Politics" exhibit in San Francisco, CA
    • Learn about how Dr. David Lourea and other San Francisco bisexuals helped create and shape AIDS education and prevention outreach via this post about the Dr. David Lourea Papers Archive.
    From BiNet USA Presentation

    Visit for all the latest #biweek events in your area, downloadable memes and resources!

    Meme of the Day

    For a TON MORE MEMES visit


    Tuesday, September 09, 2014

    @empathizethis features black bisexual woman's experience at Pride #Applause

    Many thanks to for publishing this important piece featuring the voice of a brave black bisexual woman in the UK.

    Check out the full comic at!

    "I often ask myself why I keep going to these events. But then I’ll see a black face in the crowd, looking at me with astonished wonder. I’ve been told a few times by black people that seeing someone like them at a Pride event was an encouraging thing for them." - Prejudice at Pride,

    Thursday, September 04, 2014

    BiNet USA In The White House Photo Blast #whatbilookslike

    After receiving special permission from The White House, I'm pleased to share with you some exclusive photos from my trip to the White House for the Executive Order signing in July 2014. You can read more about my trip over at The Bilerico Project.

    On July 21st, 2014, I was the first president of a bisexual non-profit organization to have a meeting with a President and stand on stage to witness a Executive Order signing.
    Click here to visit The White House website to watch the whole video of the signing.

    That's me standing next to black transgender icon Kylar Broadus!
    Speaking with President Obama I identified myself as the first president of a bisexual non-profit to meet with him and stand beside him on stage as he signed an Executive Order.

    This photograph is provided by THE WHITE HOUSE as a courtesy and may be printed by the subject(s) in the photograph for personal use only. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not otherwise be reproduced, disseminated or broadcast, without the written permission of the White House Photo Office. This photograph may not be used in any commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House. 

    Some other photos from my visit:
    Screenshot of me hugging President Obama after he finished signing. Screenshot courtesy of Gary North.

    With Kylar Broadus as we waited for President Obama in the Blue Room of The White House. Photo: Faith Cheltenham

    Selfie in the bathroom. Sadly the necklace began to break right after this photo and only lasted through the ceremony *WHEW* Photo: Faith Cheltenham
    Selfie with HRC President Chad Griffin as we waited for President Obama in the Blue Room of The White House. Photo: Faith Cheltenham
    15 years ago I handed Gov. Terry McAuliffe (VA) an HRC sweatshirt as an HRC intern! Photo: Faith Cheltenham
    Selfie with senior Senior Advisor to President Obama, Valerie Jarrett. Photo: Faith Cheltenham
    Selfie with Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop! Photo: Faith Cheltenham
    Bo and Sunny just finished getting walked. I felt the need to take a picture of them. Photo: Faith Cheltenham
    Selfie with Stacey R. Long, Esq. National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs. Photo: Faith Cheltenham
    After The White House I got to visit with bisexual icon Loraine Hutchins. Thanks for the awesome iced coffee! Photo: Faith Cheltenham

    Photo: So honored to have spent this evening with the Executive Director of BiNet USA, who earlier today stood by President Obama as he signed an historic order on LGBT employment non-discrimination. The moment was also historic being the first time a representative of a bisexual organization was invited on stage for such a signing. #bivisibility #quistory
    After hanging with Loraine I headed to Quist co-founder and Google Block Breaker Sarah Prager's home with her wife Liz. Awesome pizza was had, though I may have gotten bit by some chiggers on my way out! Photo: Faith Cheltenham
    Many thanks to Gautam Raghavan, White House Office of Public Engagement for the invitation.

    Additional thanks to the Board of BiNet USA, The Bisexual Resource Center, The Bisexual Organizing Project, and The NY Area Bisexual Network for sharing the photos widely and cheering me on virtually.

    Much love,
    Faith Cheltenham, BiNet USA President

    I was *really nervous* standing up there on stage! I just kept saying to myself "Don't start a freaking international incident by accidentally putting up bunny ears on the President" and "For the love of Goddess don't do anything that will become a meme!" Well I did end up in a meme after all. Just the first second thankfully. 

    Sunday, August 31, 2014

    Dear Biphobe Blog Launches #Bisexual Q&A Blog

    A new blog for those seeking to understand why they've been accused of biphobia has launched (just in time for management it seems). In its introduction writes:
    I’m starting “Dear Biphobe” as a place to write letters to people who have been accused of biphobia, and try to explain to them why bisexuals find their attitudes offensive.  This is not to attack those people, it’s to explain to them how they can become better friends and allies to the bisexual community.
    If you, or someone you know, has been accused of being a biphobe send me a message ( describing the incident and I’ll try to help.  I probably will be doing many open letters to public figures that have been called biphobes so if there’s anyone you’d like to see me talk about a link to the offensive material would be helpful as well. - "Introduction",
    In a great second piece, DearBiphobe writes an open letter to biphobes saying:
    So you said something, you didn’t think it was offensive, but suddenly you find bisexuals getting angry with you.  You try to explain and it just seems to make it worse, it seems they just want to be offended.  Telling them you aren’t biphobic just makes them more insistent that you are a biphobe.  I’m not going to argue if they should be offended, but I will try to give you suggestions on what to do now that they are offended. - "An open letter to biphobes",
     The DearBiphobe blog is now accepting questions! 
    If you, or someone you know, has been accused of being a biphobe send me a message ( describing the incident and I’ll try to help.  I probably will be doing many open letters to public figures that have been called biphobes so if there’s anyone you’d like to see me talk about a link to the offensive material would be helpful as well.- "Introduction",

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

    TransJustice and The Audre Lorde Project Publish Powerful Anti-Violence Statement

    ‘We Were Never Meant to Survive’: 
    A Statement on Police Violence, Hate Violence, and 
    Anti-Black Racism

    By TransJustice and the Safe OUTside the System Collective
    of The Audre Lorde Project

    August 19th, 2014 
    “and when we speak we are afraid 
    our words will not be heard 
    nor welcomed 
    but when we are silent 
    we are still afraid 
    So it is better to speak 
    we were never meant to survive” 

    - Audre Lorde 

    In the past two months, we have been outraged and deeply saddened by the murders and brutalization of Trans women of color Tiffany Edwards, Zoraida Reyes, Mia Henderson, Kandy Hall, and Yaz’Min Shancez; the violence targeting cisgender (non-trans) women of color Renisha McBride, Ersula Ore, Stephanie Maldonado, Kathryn Johnston, and Marlene Pinnock; and the violent murders of cisgender Black men and men of color including Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and Trayvon Martin, to name only a few in a long list of hateful deaths that continues to grow. We are also deeply upset by the recent attack, and subsequent viral YouTube video, of a Black Trans Woman at the Franklin Avenue subway platform while countless people, including an MTA employee, refused to intervene and stop the violence.

    What makes this even more infuriating is the fact that we know that we cannot even begin to name or know all of the people who have been victims to police, hate, racist and anti-black violence.
    We send our love and support to all of the communities who are surviving and healing through these racist, transphobic and sexist attacks, and we are with you in spirit as we continue the struggle for justice. 

    In light of all of these recent occurrences we especially want to acknowledge and commemorate the one year anniversary of the death of Islan Nettles, who was brutally beaten by community members across the street from a police precinct in Harlem, on August 17, 2013. We recognize that in the wake of all this violence it is a critical moment to move beyond political/racial/gender borders and consider how to build collective safety for all of our communities.  As the Audre Lorde Project, an organizing center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, Trans and Gender Non-Conforming (LGBTSTGNC) People of Color (POC) we believe all bodies are valuable and that no one is expendable.  We believe that in order to build safety we must transform the root causes and conditions that contribute to and justify the senseless police violence, hate violence, racist, anti-immigrant and anti-black violence that persists against our communities. 

    We are outraged that the accountability and justice that our communities deserve for these, and countless other instances of hate and police violence, have been consistently and without fail denied to our communities. We also want to name that the majority of the people who experience this hate and police violence are predominantly Black and Latin@ which is directly connected to heightened anti-Black and anti-Immigrant violence targeting our communities.  Hate violence and police violence are deeply rooted in a historical legacy of systemic racism, population control, homophobia, xenophobia (fear of all people of color and indigenous communities, particularly immigrants), and transphobia.  We believe police violence and hate violence are an extension of all systems of exploitation and slavery that have been used to criminalize our communities and police our right to gender/self determination, agency, and survival.   

    As an organizing center for LGBTSTGNC POC in New York City, and in our greater movements for racial and economic freedom, we feel it is our responsibility and duty to make the connections between the murders of Black and Latin@ Trans women, the arrests and violations against LGBTQ youth of color, and the violent sexual and physical attacks against Trans men and women of color are an extension of the same conditions and systemic oppression.

    These violent attacks lead to the brutalizing violence of (Non-Trans) men and women of color, and the detentions and deportations of immigrants of color. These systems were created and built under the false pretense of ‘protect and serve’ but instead are used to control and target our livelihood based on our race, physical ability, ethnicity, sexuality, gender identity, economic status and citizenship.    

    The solutions to these acts of violence cannot be found within the very systems that are brutalizing and murdering our people. As Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, Trans, and Gender Non Conforming People of color, we are very aware that these systems were built to tear us down.  We are committed to and continue to heal, lift up, and organize against all forms of hate, communal and police violence, and genocide.  We know that we have the power, the resilience, and the strength to transform this culture of violence which regards our communities expendable, invisible, and dangerous.   

    In the words of Audre Lorde, ‘We were never meant to survive.’  Our survival, our continued resilience, our continued efforts for social justice are direct threats and challenges to systemic oppressions. We must, at all costs, do whatever we can to lift up and protect one another in our interconnected struggles for liberation. 

    Please Join us on Saturday, August 23rd from 11:00am until 3:00pm in the LGBTQ Contingent for the 'We Will Not go Back March and Rally', which is being organized by the National Action Network and Eric Garner's family. For more information, please check out the facebook page and the website below or contact Lee at FIERCE

    Also, join us for the 4th Annual Bed-Stuy Pride!

    On September 7th, 2014 the Safe OUTside the System collective of the Audre Lorde Project will hold the 4th Annual Bed-Stuy Pride to honor the history and resilience of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, Trans, and Gender Non-Conforming (LGBTSTGNC) people of color communities in Central Brooklyn. We call on all LGBTSTGNC people of color and allies in Central Brooklyn to join us in visioning a safe Bed-Stuy rooted in community accountability

    Saturday, August 09, 2014

    September 23rd, 2014 is Bi Visibility Day, but we will be celebrating all week long! We're working on ways the whole community can be visible with us. 

    We're looking for some good memes, photos, and images that we can use during the week of celebration. 

    Please post your favorites in the comments of this blog post or email them to Here are some of our favorites:

    Sunday, July 27, 2014

    Collie McNeil’s Speech – Dyke and Trans March 2014

    At the beginning of the summer, a friend of mine had witnessed a flood of tweets from people expressing anger, frustration, and contempt at those who they assumed to be faking bisexuality to garner attention. Aside from the fact that this sentiment expresses a grave misunderstanding of what it is like to be bisexual by assuming that the attention that we receive is such that heterosexuals would give up their straight status to receive it, it also worked up a handful of emotions that we wanted to share stemming from years and years of being invalidated. We took over the hashtag Bi For Attention and began to discuss a variety of ways that this line of thinking harms bisexuals, specifically bisexual women, who nearly all of the tweets were about.

    In the most basic sense, the policing of bisexual identity and the gatekeeping that faces us within our own community is most definitely a cause for concern. The harm that is caused to bisexual people when they are treated like watered down homosexuals, devious heterosexuals, or a combination of the two is long-lasting, and it gets deeply internalized. There is a strong feeling of isolation that comes with not being accepted into straight communities for being queer, while also being denied access to queer communities on the grounds of being half-straight. There seems to be a lack of understanding that bisexuality is a separate, valid identity.

    I am bisexual. This does not change depending on who I may or may not be sleeping with. I am bisexual when I wake up in the morning, I am bisexual when I eat breakfast, I am bisexual when I am doing homework, when I am watching television, when I am taking a nap – my bisexuality is part of me, of my identity, and it doesn’t disappear suddenly based on how valid other people may or may not think that it is at any given moment.

    This idea that bisexual women are only identifying as bisexual as a ploy to receive attention from straight men is very much rooted in heteronormativity, in such that any woman who is known to experience attraction to men will be automatically stripped of her agency and presumed heterosexual, even when engaging in romantic or sexual activity with another woman, which is immediately invalidated or repackaged for male consumption. Heteronormativity and misogyny being so pervasive in our society makes it almost impossible to be viewed as an Authentic Bisexual Woman regardless of thoughts, feelings, or behaviours.

    More so than that, the idea that bisexual women are only identifying as bisexual as a ploy to receive attention from straight men also plays into a much uglier and violent side of the bisexual experience. It ignores the fact that much of the attention that we do receive from straight men is unsolicited and inappropriate. There is an implication within the BiForAttention sentiment that we are constantly desperate or wanting for the attention of men as bisexual women, and therefore we must always be inherently consenting to the attention that we are receiving, even when that attention exists in the form of harassment, invalidation, misogyny, stalking, abuse, rape, or objectification, as it so often does.

    This attention is also packaged in the form of medical discrimination that is a grave concern to me as a disabled bisexual woman, who has to navigate a trifecta of ableism, misogyny, and biphobia on a daily basis. Some of the most memorable incidents that I can recall from this year are the discovery of a book being published about borderline personality disorder listing bisexuality as a symptom of mental illness for being attention seeking or considered risky behaviour, and someone recounting their experience discussing sexuality with a gay male psychiatrist who blatantly admitted that he would accept a patient identifying as homosexual, but would immediately begin to treat bisexuality as part of the mental illness of a patient.

    When looking at the impact that these ideas have on bisexual people, it is extremely important to note that the bisexual community is predominatly women and people of colour, that we are facing higher rates of mental illness, poor health, and poverty, that a large portion of the trans community identifies as bisexual, and that the intersection of these things strongly impacts the ways in which we are treated and the access that we have to the resources that we need.

    It is also worth noting that, despite bisexuals comprising 40% of the LGBT community, in 2010 when LGBT organizations received almost 100 million dollars, not a penny was put into bisexual specific research, resources, or organizations. This was the second year in a row that excluded bisexuals from receiving any funding.

    Instead there have been articles published in The New York Times titled The Scientific Quest to Prove Bisexuality Exists, rape apologism, misogyny, gatekeeping, exclusion, erasure, and people like Dan Savage, who are viewed as powerful voices in our community, who claim to tell people who identify as bisexual to come back to him in 10 years.

    In fact, the most common answer that I received when discussing the opportunity to speak today with fellow bisexuals and asking what they feel needs to be conveyed was simply, “can you please explain that biphobia is real”, and other variations of validating bisexuality.

    The fact that we still need to explain bisexual erasure, that we still need to explain bisexuality in general, is preventing a lot of necessary discussion from happening. There have been many, many important discussions happening amongst bisexuals, but those are being drowned out and ignored.
    Social Media has given bisexuals a platform to use their voices, to gather and discuss amongst each other, and to find community. It is my hope that if we keep doing this and if we keep pushing campaigns and discussions like Bi For Attention on twitter, that we can bring attention to the dire situation facing our community and attempt to kickstart some kind of a change.
    I thought it would be relevant to close with a short piece that I wrote earlier this year in response to having to defend my existance as a bisexual woman:

    They say that we are either bisexual until proven gay,
    or that we must be bisexual until proven straight.
    But, why are we on trial for this?
    We are forever placing our hands on a book of rules that digs into our skin.
    We must take the stand to defend every kiss, every fuck, every potential feeling of love.
    We must plead our case, only to always be found guilty.

    Our mouths have gone dry from constantly licking our wounds.
    We refuse to be interrogated by an assembly of those trying to disprove us,
    By our own community trying to disprove us.
    We will no longer take to a jury of our peers to be dissected like frogs.
    We do not have to bleed for you to confirm our humanity.
    Our humanity is not debatable.

    We will no longer be pretending to tip our scales in an attempt to feel validation.
    We will no longer crawl back into stuffy closets waiting for you to let us breathe.
    We will no longer answer the invasive questions that you ask in your attempts to erase us.
    We will no longer let you silence us.

    We have voices like battle cries, echoing from the stains of war,
    and we will use them to tell you:
    “We exist,
    but we do not exist for you.”


    Friday, July 25, 2014

    Guest Blog: The Invisible Stereotypes of Bisexual Men by Alon Zivony & Thalma Lobel

    Alon Zivony
    Bisexuals face two broad social problems: public invisibility and discrimination. Invisibility refers to the lack of representation of bisexuals and knowledge about bisexuals in society. In either the media, the sciences, and even in the LGT community – people are nearly unaware of the existence of bisexuals and the issues that affect their lives. Discrimination refers to prejudice and stereotypical attitudes towards bisexuals. For example, the notion that bisexuals are closeted gay\lesbian, untrustworthy, confused, and hypersexual. 

    At first glance, these two phenomena (invisibility and discrimination) seem paradoxical. How can invisibility and discrimination coincide? In other words, how can someone discriminate against a group they are not familiar with? The answer may be surprisingly simple.

    In our study we evaluated social stereotypes of bisexual men in light of bisexual invisibility. Participants were presented with two characters on a first date and asked them to evaluate one of the characters (based on answers to various questions). Whenever the evaluated character was described as bisexual, he was evaluated as being confused, untrustworthy, and unable to stay in a relationship. In other words, he was evaluated based on negative stereotypes associated with bisexuals.

    Thalma Lobel
    In another experiment we asked participants to indicate what are the stereotypes associated with bisexual men. In light of bisexual invisibility, it is not surprising that participants had little knowledge of these stereotypes. For example, only 20% of participants knew that bisexual men are often considered as closeted gay. Only 7% of participants knew that bisexual men are often considered as confused. 

    But we found something surprising as well. The results showed that prejudiced individuals knew even less about these stereotypes that non-prejudiced individuals.  In other words, prejudice not only coincided with lack of knowledge, but was correlated with it. The meaning of this finding was spelled out for us by one participant. He wrote: “I'm not familiar with any specific stereotypes of bisexual males. I do sometimes feel that they are actually homosexuals, but are afraid to identify as such due to social stigma.”

    In other words, this participant holds stereotypical beliefs about bisexual men, but doesn’t know these beliefs are considered stereotypical. On the other hand, people who are familiar with bisexuality, bisexuals and the stereotypes associated with bisexuals, were also less prone to hold prejudices against bisexuals.

    If prejudice against bisexual doesn’t come from knowledge about bisexuals, where does it come from? We think that bisexual stereotypes are the result of misconceptions regarding sexuality and gender in general. For example, as men and women are considered as completely separate and “opposite” genders, people automatically imagine bisexuality as two dual attractions that work in opposite directions. The implication of that image is a constant conflict and turmoil. This is how bisexual stereotypes can be both common and unknown.

    This unique situation is quite problematic for bisexuals: people don’t try to suppress their prejudicial beliefs and behaviors unless they know they are prejudicial. Also, you can’t fight stereotypes unless people know they are stereotypes. The solution for this problem surely lies in education. Both bisexual invisibility as well as discrimination against bisexuals can be addressed by increasing society’s exposure to bisexuality.

    "The Invisible Stereotypes of Bisexual Men" is available for purchase from the Archives of Sexual Behavior here.