Thursday, February 27, 2014

BiNet USA Joins Top LGBT Bloggers for #LGBTMedia14

This weekend Faith Cheltenham, BiNet USA President will be in attendance at the 2014 LGBT Media Convening hosted by the National Gay & Lesbian Journalists Association, with sponsorship from the Haas Jr. Fund. MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell is the keynote speaker for the Friday night reception, and on Saturday we'll visit the White House really early in the morning before we have our full day of panels.  Bi Icon and Bi Women's Magazine editor Robyn Ochs will be a panelist on Saturday too!  As usual there's a "fan meetup" on Saturday evening, this time at the Green Lantern at  at 9:30pm.

BiNet USA extends a cordial invitation to the Bi DC community, Faith would love to see you! If you plan on attending please email president@binetusa.org so Faith knows to expect you! You can also signup on the meetup Facebook page. Use #LGBTMedia14 on Twitter for live-tweeting too!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Rumpus Interview with Dr. Mimi Hoang, amBI and LA Bi Task Force co-founder

The Rumpus Interview with Dr. Mimi Hoang

Dr. Mimi Hoang at LA Pride
I met Dr. Mimi Hoang—psychologist, author, co-founder of the Los Angeles Bi Task Force and the bisexual social group amBi, and self-proclaimed “professional bisexual”—at the Islands Restaurant in Manhattan Beach about a month ago. She’d recently returned from the Bisexual Roundtable at the White House, a meeting with bi leaders from throughout the country. The White House event was the first-ever meeting of its kind, and the proceedings were, for the most part, confidential. Despite the White House’s official silence, bi leaders were ecstatic just to have the audience and the spot on the official schedule.
This lack of a bi voice in the national conversation, up until now, is both confounding and infuriating. Bisexuals make up more than half of the roughly 8 million American LGBT people, but we are out at staggeringly lower rates than gays and lesbians. Bi men and women are four times as likely to have considered suicide than their gay and lesbian counterparts. In one particularly depressing 2003 UC-Davis study, people were asked to rate bi people in comparison to other ethnic, religious, and social groups. Bisexual men and bisexual women ranked only behind IV drug users. More recent studies have shown that these attitudes have not improved much.
I’m bi, I’ve written about it, and I was thrilled to hear what Dr. Hoang had to say. But I still tend not to discuss bi issues loudly in public spaces. I get tired of the questions from strangers, get tired of being told I don’t exist by straight and gay people alike, even eavesdroppers in restaurants. So I chose a table in the corner, away from the bar, ordered some nachos (which I learned is the worst food you can possibly order during an interview), and Dr. Hoang and I talked.

Read the rest over at The Rumpus!

Guest Blog from RI Bi Network's Katrina Chaves

The RI Bi Resource Network was formed in 2013 by Katrina Chaves, with the intent to be a safe space for creating change. Through connecting, sustainable giving, and building resources for our Rhode Island bi (& bi ally) community, we hope to raise awareness & nurture a more bi-friendly world.  Visit the RI Bi Network at http://www.ribinetwork.org

Through Bi Eyes
By Katrina Chaves

  "Where's the bi section?" I asked.
  "You're holding it," the store owner replied dismissively, before turning to his next customer.

   In my hand was a copy of Bisexual Erotica. One single solitary anthology comprised their entire section of bi literature. I could not hide the irritated expression on my face. Was this a New Hampshire suburb? Was I standing in Barnes & Noble?
  No.
  I was in an independent bookstore in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
  (If ever there was a blatant example of bi invisibility, this was it!)

   For many years, my sister, Rawley, and I have enjoyed trips to Commercial Street in P-town. However, on this occasion, we had come for both pleasure and work: filming part of our documentary "The Other B Word." Our hope (and expectation) had been to find open-minded folks speaking freely - but what we found was clearly the opposite. Nobody, it seemed, was comfortable discussing bisexuality or biphobia on camera. It was the beginning of Carnival week, and yet, instead of witnessing Pride, we were confronting our own Puritan roots once more.
   We were told to visit the sex toy stores, or come back during "Tall Ship Week" by one cashier, as she glanced apprehensively out the window. She spoke of "straight couples" frequently interested in threesomes, when the "straight men dress up as women.” I wish I was exaggerating or stretching the truth here, but this was, incredibly, the only detailed response we received from locals. Nobody wanted to talk.
   When folks do want to talk, what I hear is often hateful. It may be 2013, but my community continues to endure myriad "biphobic blunders," as I like to call them.   It is this absurd prejudice that inspired our film project, for discrimination of any kind is intolerable.  It is an assault on the senses- a denial of universal truth- and only serves to inhibit our quality of life.
   To provide a snapshot of what we experience regularly, I'd like to share a few recent incidents that left me rather... bi-furious:
* In reference to my partner (also a bi woman), I've been awkwardly asked, "You're both bi? So how does that work?" It "works" out just fine, as shocking as that may sound. This is not an appropriate way to make small talk, so it would be nice if people remembered their manners.
* While "confused" is an adjective that can be accurately applied to many people/situations, it is not a word that describes my bisexual identity. Recently, some coworkers and I found ourselves goofing around on lunch break. We were writing funny nametags for each other, and one especially sarcastic individual wrote "Confused" on mine: as in, "Hi, my name is Confused." When he saw the look on my face, he regretted the offensive "joke," so I attempted to engage in brief-but-productive dialogue. I'm sure the conversation did little to change his opinion, but I think it taught him to keep certain opinions to himself.
* "Bisexuals don't exist." Yes, this grenade was tossed at a recent holiday party and absolutely infuriated me, although I didn't show it. I could not tell if the slinger-of-stupidity was baiting me, so I saved my debating skills for a more sober time. However, I wanted to say: "We do exist; we are as real as the drunk state you find yourself in, but not nearly as problematic."
* "He thought you were one of those faux bisexuals." I must say: This phrase makes no sense whatsoever. Faux bisexuals? Sometimes people have pretended to pass as straight or gay for various reasons - but who pretends to be bisexual? Hint: NOBODY. And if someone does pretend he/she is bi, they are not representative of our community. One person's lie does not define an entire group. We are who we say we are. And my sexual orientation is not yours to scrutinize and analyze.
* "You never miss being with a *fill in the blank here*?" No. I do not want to discuss that part of my life with you. Many bisexuals practice monogamy, and for you to assume that we are incapable of doing so, or assume that we find it unfulfilling- well, how about we just STOP with the assumptions?

  It is important to consider how far bisexuals have come, politically and culturally; Yet, because of recent events, I find myself reflecting upon the amount of work we still have before us. From our very first afternoon spent filming The Other B Word, my sister and I received fantastic support from LGBT’s in all walks of life. At the same time, we've been shocked by the number of bi men who agree to be interviewed “only if” we blur their faces or alter their voices. Moreover, given the stigma attached to bisexuality in communities of color, we've struggled to find a single man of color willing to speak on camera. Regardless of the “progress” currently celebrated by groups like the HRC, the fact still remains: Too many of us are literally living in the shadows.

      In an ideal world, dualities would peacefully co-exist with room in between for shades of gray. But the sad truth is: our current sociopolitical system is one of coercion. Many people are forced to reside at opposite ends of the spectrum, regardless of where they feel comfortable. This pressure takes many forms, both subtle and intrusive. For prejudices to change over time, to successfully eliminate this pressure, we must focus on education. More specifically: the education of monosexuals regarding their own privilege.
   If monosexuals don't engage in these conversations, and become aware of their responsibility, we cannot expect to see real, tangible changes in our lives. Each and every one of us must examine our place in different hierarchies; we must do a better job of loving our neighbors ....and educating them, too.
       My biggest goal in directing The Other B Word, when this project began, was to provide an additional educational resource along these lines. While I don't believe my goals have shifted, I now feel an even stronger passion for empowering bi men and women. Life is too precious and fleeting to be lived in shadows.  Which leads me to think, perhaps our catchphrase should not be "It Gets Better," but instead: "We Deserve Better."
Because we do.  
We really, truly do.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Guest Blogger Harrie Farrow with Helpful Tips For Biphobics

Helpful Tips for Biphobics

Being biphobic is currently a popular sport for many, and does appear at first glance to be a simple task. However, it's not as easy as it may seem, so I've compiled this list to help you be aware of the many pitfalls you might encounter.
First, it’s important to understand that as much as the intent of your biphobia may be to hurt bisexuals, you may be inadvertently helping them.
If you are still determined to proceed with your biphobia, it'll be useful to consider the following before opening your mouth:
  
If you say that bisexuality is a choice that immoral people make, then you are saying that people can choose to be gay, straight or bisexual. If you think that, then you must think that you are capable of making these choices. And if you think you are capable of making the choice to be bisexual, then you must be aware of both same sex and opposite sex desires within you, one of which you push down because you have “chosen” to be straight (or gay). Therefore, you are likely a repressed, closeted bisexual.
If you are going to try to delegitimize someone who says they are bisexual by saying bisexuality doesn't exist, you probably should consider first that it just might be possible that you don’t know more about another person’s sexuality then they do. It might be useful to question for a moment whether you are in-fact the All-knowing King of the Universe.
If you still intend to say that there is no such thing as a bisexual, it would be a good idea to first read this, and this, and watch this.
If you are planning to state that it is your opinion that all bisexuals cannot be trusted or are greedy, be aware that these kind of statements – which prejudge people who you have never met – are bigotry and prejudice not “opinion.”
 
If you still insist that you have a right to your “opinion” of bisexuals, keep in mind that a person can have “opinions” that the sky is red and that cats are birds and cars can talk, but that you sound like a crazy person when you have “opinions” that deny funny little things called, “facts.”
 
If you are going to say anyway that you have every right to have an “opinion” that bisexuals will always cheat or are all confused, then don’t forget that the idea that “This is a free country and I have a right to free speech,” also means that bisexuals and their allies have every right to respond to your “opinion” with their own rights to free speech, and you shouldn't be surprised when they get all-in-you-face with their opinions about ignorant bigots.
If your biphobic assumptions about all bisexuals are based on the bisexuals you personally have heard of, keep in mind that the bisexuals you don’t know about are the ones behaving in ways that don’t bring attention to themselves - the ones who are in monogamous relationships, for example, and whom you are probably presuming are nice straight or gay people.
 
Keep in mind that with-in every group of people there are those who behave badly, and those who behave admirably. 
 
Keep in mind that you have known plenty of mono-sexual people who you do not have a high opinion of, and yet you somehow managed to not blame their behavior on the fact that they are not bisexual.
 
Keep in mind that everyone is an individual and deserves to be judged on their own merit.
 
Keep in mind that when a group of people with a certain orientation are told repeatedly that they don’t exist, are mixed up, are sinners, are greedy, are incapable of commitment, etc. that they are perhaps more likely to struggle with coming to terms with their sexuality, and are therefore perhaps more likely to, at times, “act-out” in some way or another.
 
Keep in mind that when a young person sees within themselves - as they reach puberty, or early adulthood and first sexual experiences - attractions that they have always been told are not good or healthy, that they may – in an effort to prove they cannot really be someone with this “non-existent” sexual identity - attempt to be straight or gay, and thus show some signs of confusion.
 
Keep in mind that if you don’t like people behaving confused or acting-out that perhaps you should stop being part of the problem with your biphobic comments, and start being part of the solution by treating bisexuals in a dignified manner.
If you tell a person that they cannot know they are bisexual until they have had sex with both males and females, keep in mind that this is like saying all virgins are asexual, or that gay and straight people cannot know they are not bisexual if they have not had sex with both genders. 
Also keep in mind that with this kind of comment you are encouraging promiscuity in bisexuals, which is also likely something you accuse bisexuals of.
Before you say bisexuals are really just gay and are just trying to “make it easier” on themselves by saying they’re bisexual, consider the fact that if they were “just gay” they would not have to be listening to your biphobic rant, so how’s that “easier.” 
 
How is it easier to be rejected and dismissed by both the straight and gay communities?
If you think that the fact that you are gay or “Don’t have anything against homosexuals” means your ignorant comments cannot possibly be biphobic; guess again.
Before you say that being bisexual is just a phase in the process of coming out as gay, keep in mind that just because some gay people, when coming out to themselves, have held on to the hope that they might be bisexual - with the misguided notion that this would make them half “normal,” – this doesn't mean that there aren't people who really are bisexual. 
 
Keep in mind that having a negative attitude about bisexuals because you once identified as bisexual, when really you were gay, is punishing others - who in fact are only being who they are - for your own inability once to accept who you are.
 
Also, before saying that bisexuality is just a phase, keep in mind that many older bisexuals have identified as bi for their entire adulthood - amounting to several decades.
Before you say that bisexuals are greedy, or will always cheat, because they always want both a male and female lover, consider that many bisexuals want and/or have committed monogamous relationships, and may hetero and homosexuals cheat or "play the field."
If you say that bisexuals are trans/queergender/intersexed-phobic because they are caught up in the binary of “men” and “women” because “bi” means two, be aware that you are being biphobic by presuming to define other's sexuality. The fact is many bisexuals do not consider their attraction to be only binary-oriented.
 
Ask yourself if all people who identify as “gay” are necessarily happy (because isn't that what gay means?); and ask yourself if every Lesbian is a native of the isle of Lesbos (because this is what the word "Lesbian" literally means). 
 
Also, be aware that you are being trans-phobic by implying that trans people do not fit into the binary of men and women. 
 
Keep in mind that you are also implying that hetero and homo-sexuals are also trans/queer-gender/intersexed-phobic because their identity too implies that they are not attracted to every possible type of gender orientation that exists.
Before you say that bisexuals are essentially homosexuals since bisexuals and homosexuals are both attracted to people of their own gender, then be aware that you are saying that someone who likes two different things is the same as someone who likes only one thing. This is like saying someone who enjoys both steak and vegetables is the same as a vegetarian.
 
And if you are saying that bisexuality is equivalent to homosexuality, be aware that you are, in the course of your faulty logic, also implying that homosexuality is equivalent to bisexuality, which amounts to saying that homosexuals can also be attracted to the opposite sex.
 
Further, if you’re going to say that the fact that bisexuality involves liking the same sex means that bisexuality is equivalent to homosexuality, then realize with this logic it would also follow that bisexuality is equivalent to heterosexuality, because heterosexuality means being attracted to the opposite sex, and bisexuality also involves being attracted to the opposite sex.
 
And if bisexuality is the same has heterosexuality, then it can only follow that heterosexuality is the same as bisexuality, which means that you are in effect saying that heterosexuals are capable of being attracted to the same sex.
 
And if you think my reasoning is getting ridiculous, remind yourself that I’m just diagramming the logical conclusions of YOUR argument, and yes it certainly does sound ridiculous.
If you say that bisexuals will go to hell because the bible says homosexual acts are wrong, then you also have to say that people who eat shrimp or wear cloth of mixed fabrics will go to hell because the bible also strictly forbids - to the same degree - these (and other silly) things.
 
If you say that bisexuals are sinners because this is what the bible, which "teaches morality" says, then you need to say that it was good and moral for Lott (God’s chosen one) to offer his daughters to the mobs who wanted to rape the angels, and that it was good and moral for Lott to later have sex with his daughters.
 
If you say that the New Testament says that those who engage in homosexual acts will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven, keep in mind that the bible has been interpreted from another language from another, long ago, culture, and interpreting it in modern times to a language very foreign from the original is very possibly far from accurate.
 
If you still insist on using the excuse that you are following the teachings of the bible by preaching that bisexuality is a sin, remind yourself also of these biblical teachings: Do not judge. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Love your brother. And don’t forget what the bible says about the proud, the arrogant, and the ruthless.
Remember, Romans 13:8-10 “for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law… Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
 
If you threaten to kick your child out of your home because you think his or her bisexuality goes against the bible, remember Timothy 5:8, “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”  
If you think making biphobic comments will somehow “save” or “change for the better” someone you love, think again.
If you’re going to give bisexuals a bad time based on any “reason," keep in mind that your words call kill.
Before you open your mouth with hateful, hurtful, biphobic comments keep in mind that among the bisexuals who may be hearing your cruel words may be, your sister, cousin, neighbor, friend, nephew, co-worker or child. Keep in mind the damaging ways your biphobic comments and attitudes may be effecting them, and their relationship with you.

BiNet Prez Visits Bakersfield PFLAG Thurs Feb 6th 2014 7pm

@BiNetUSA President Faith Cheltenham (@thefayth) joins PFLAG Bakersfield for a discussion on bisexuality this Thursday Feb 6th, 2014 at 7pm.

https://www.facebook.com/events/293316070816485/ has more details and a place to RSVP!

Can't make it? Email president@binetusa.org for opportunities to set up a visit from Faith to your town, organization, club, community center or meeting!

Faith talks growing up and falling in love as a bisexual with I'm From Driftwood


Faith discusses the importance of ENDA for the Center for American Progress

Special thanks to Helen Acosta for the introduction!

Tennessee Bi Survey

Tennessee Bi Survey

TEP has a short survey for Bi people in TN! If you live in Tennessee please take the survey and let them why it's so important to service the bisexual community: http://tinyurl.com/TEPBi2014

Don't forget to share the reality of our lives. If you need some #BisexualFacts referencing the enormous amount of disparities bi folks experience please click here