Wednesday, March 14, 2018

BiNet USA Welcomes It’s Newest Board Member Miles Joyner

BiNet USA Welcomes it’s newest board member Miles Joyner

Miles works extensively at The Harriet Hancock Center at USC, on the 2017 Executive Board of IRIS at USC (Individuals Respecting Identities and Sexualities at the University of South Carolina), as a GLAAD Ambassador, and created the on line presence Miles The Bisexual!

Photo: Miles Joyner

“I am passionate about creating truly intersectional environments that are also accessible. I hope to be able to extend the bisexual community down into the south-eastern United States, a region that can often be ignored during dialogues.’

Welcome to the team Miles!

Friday, March 02, 2018

Brownblaze + BiNetUSA = bomb Black bi+ power

When Faith Cheltenham first spoke to me about working with BiNetUSA, several questions popped into my head immediately. Anyone that knows me will share that’s not unusual: much of how I process and interpret the world is through questioning and deep analysis. Deep inside (ok maybe not that deep) me is a cliche like child, walking through the world, palms outstretched, asking “why?” every 10 seconds. But what did surprise me was the first question I remember having: “How is Faith so sure that I’m Bi?” 

“No, really, how does she know?” 

It’s a question that still surprises me a bit today. It also feels embarrassing to share. I’m by no means private about my romanceships or sexuality. I’m also an Aries, which is my excuse (or reason, depending on how you see it) for being an extremely competitive flirt. Basically, I’m not shy about who I like or who know it. Yet, something shocked me about Faith knowing. We’d met a few years prior at a conference and become acquainted with each others thoughts and ideas through social media the way we do nowadays. We hadn’t yet spent much time together but we’d clearly been in online community long enough for her to see my thirst trap posts, admiring Andre 3000 and Rutina Welsey equally. 

So why was I surprised?

As I sat with the “why” of my confusion that made little sense given my outward self expression and self-identified queerness for both political and personal reasons, I realized that was it. In the time since I’d met Faith, I felt like I’d only identified as queer. And although I never saw that decision as erasing my Bi identity, what was evident to me in my shock was that I was no longer accustomed to being understood or seeing as Bi. 

And that kind of pissed me off. 

And then I got excited. 

Because here was someone offering me a space to be exactly who I am: Black, Bi, woman and revolutionary. All at the same time. 

Here was someone illuminating for me, personally, that although much of my work centers on making sure others are seen more fully, somewhere I’d lost the space to do that for myself. And saying, “Hey, you can come be that with us.”

So here I am. Because I want to be all that with you all. 

Some of you may know of me or my work already. For those that don’t, and those that want to get to know me a little bit better (that’s everyone, right? :)  be on the lookout for another blog post where I’ll try to do a really cute in-depth  introduction of myself and explain a bit more of my background. What you should know now is I’m an organizer, a strategist, a curator, a writer and an enemy to all things anti-Black or oppressive. And that BiNetUSA offered me the space to be all those things here. (eek!!) 

Here in the blog, I’ll be sharing my thoughts and personal experiences on navigated Black liberation work and the world at large as a Black Bi woman. I’ll also curating content across BiNetUSA’s channels through my personal political lens and looking to build community with those of you who may find camaraderie in my words and have been looking for a space where you can be your fullest self too. Let’s develop those spaces and build power together. That’s why I’m here.

Internally, I’ll be working with BiNetUSA to develop a strong  praxis and replicable organizational and communication models to combat anti-Blackness, both in and outside of LGBTQ communities. We’ll also be working on creating more spaces where Bi+ people can be supported as our full selves. 

Basically, I’ll be working with BiNetUSA to do exactly what Faith did for me: let people like me know that there is a space for you. Be Black. Be Bi. Be Bold. Be recognized and know you are worthy of a completely developed picture of who you are. I'm no longer questioning why someone sees me for exactly who I am and I'm accepting the invitation to make space for others to have that same experience. 

I'm glad to be here. <3 

- Ashley Yates
   twitter/ig: @brownblaze 

Faith Cheltenham +  Me, wearing the Assata Taught Me tees I designed.
Do ya'll SEE the Beyonce wind action Faith has going? I'm just saying....

Monday, February 26, 2018

Remembering Dr. Ibrahim Farajajé

Dr. Ibrahim Farajajé was a scholar, organizer, advocate, leader, teacher, theorist, and, perhaps, above all, beloved to many. Dr. Farajajé grew up in Berkeley, California in a neighborhood he described as religiously, ethnically, economically and racially diverse. It was this upbringing that helped Farajaje establish an early curiosity for life beyond binaries. A Black bisexual icon, he paved a way for many of us to understand exactly who we are outside of theories steeped in colonization. Never shy about explaining why his agency in choosing how to self identify (or not!) was was so important, Dr. Farajajé broke binaries, boundaries and defied expectations and norms throughout his life.

“That has been a recurrent theme in my life, that things that appear to be in opposition often are not in radical opposition to each other, he stated to in 2012.

His leading activism and theories around decolonization, queer identity, bisexuality and spirituality all display how Dr. Farajajé cut a forward thinking path through stagnant social theory that failed to deconstruct harmful paradigms into new philosophies that influenced an entire generation. His trailblazing work belongs within the family of other cherished Black bisexuals that includes Audre Lorde and June Jordan.

Two years ago Dr Farajajé transitioned from this life. A member of many communities, the impact of his death was immediate and immense. A constant teacher, he left a treasured body of work and cherished relationships through which his work, life and legacy carry on through today. Throughout his life, Dr Farajajé was always clear about where he stood and sharing his gifted perceptions in ways that made us all understand where we stood a little bit better. His influence on both our minds and heart is immeasurable and ongoing. As we take time today to remember him always we gives thanks for a life filled with wonder, learning, teaching and love.

Rest in Power, Dr. Ibrahim Baba. We love you.

Dr Ibrahim Farajajé

"We are taught we have to be one thing. 
Now people are finding 
they don't have to choose."' 

Dr. Ibrahim Farajajé 

Flowers at Farajajé's final resting place

Flowers from friends for our dear Ibrahim Farajajé