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
|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....