Monday, May 21, 2018

Bi or Pan, We're All Dirty Computers








LGBTQIA community, can we talk? We need to talk.

Can you remember the first time you heard a term that helped you place yourself more firmly in the world of belonging? The first time you found a word that helped you understand yourself and your experiences a little better? Or maybe you are one of the lucky few people on the planet that never experienced internal confusion (raise your hands and tell us your secret!) but still needed language that helped communicate your experiences to the world, as most of us do. Think back to when you first found that comfort that affirmed via language there were other people like you in the world. Was it a personal quest that lead you there? Or did community members help you navigate towards finding words that fit? No matter how you got there, at some point in time all of us found words that helped us find comfort in our identities - words that deepened our sense of interconnectedness and helped us form and find community.

For me, that is the strength, beauty and if I’m being entirely honest, the entire purpose of self-identification with “labels”. Self identification should ease the effort required to move through a world that’s not quite built for you. The labels we adopt should feel empowering and to me, that means building community. Unlike various lenses imposed on us that usually serve to “other” us, the language we use for ourselves usually serves as an complement to our existences, a tie that binds us to others, shows that we’re more alike than dissimilar, that we have more to gain being in community than outside of it.

But recently I haven’t exactly felt that way.

When Janelle Monae recently broke the internet with her beautiful emotion picture “Dirty Computer”, I was absolutely thrilled. I’ve been a fan of Janelle’s since at least 2006, before her first major EP, even before black and white suits became her “camo”. And certainly before she started sliding allusions to her queerness into her music, whether via the character Cindi Mayweather or other subtle measures, like naming a song after famous lesbian astronaut Sally Ride. Listening to the Dirty Computer album felt like a beautiful uncovering of the person that had been peeking out for years, a full on stare into Janelle’s journey of discovery, self-identification and the ultimate decision to share parts of herself with the masses. Coupled with the emotion picture, a beautiful visually ode to queerness party, the release of Janelle’s newest album felt not only personally exciting for me as a longtime fan, but culturally important in this moment in time.

And while the response to Janelle Monae’s proclamation felt mostly celebratory for the community at large, within the queer community there was another conversation happening, one that felt markedly less fun. As mainstream media outlets clamored over each other to define pansexuality for the masses (often through an unfair contrasting with bisexuality rooted in a misinformed understanding) our community held our own competition.

The teams: pansexual vs bisexual.

What should have felt like an awesome inclusive homecoming celebration, instead felt like a tense beginning to a pick-up game, each team lined up, preened and ready to show the world why they were the most befitting squad for Janelle to “join”. Instead of celebrating how monumental it is to have a Black talented woman at the top of her game embrace visibility, that seemed to take a backseat to identity politic Olympics. I watched as people who claim either bisexual or pansexual tossed half definitions around and distorted each other’s identities. I watched as the voices that that reminded people of the overlap between our communities were quieted by the sea of people rushing to claim expertise that said otherwise. For several days straight writers were somehow offered more space to define our experiences than people actually within the LGBT community, causing the gap between understanding and lived reality to widen.

As a facilitator, shared agreements are an extremely important tool to me. Without basic understandings of how we wish to relate to each other, I know we often tend to highlight the places we feel unseen or unheard before anything else. While it’s important to raise our voices when left out, sometimes we get so used to having to assert ourselves to be accounted, we forget to grant others that same space. One agreement I ask of every room I facilitate that helps smooth this dynamic is to “look for places of connection before places of disconnection”. In other words, I ask everyone to find the ways we are similar or where we agree before spending time on the places where we are dissimilar or disagree. I feel like that’s where we’ve been remiss in this most recent public discussion of Bisexuality vs. Pansexual. In our determination to be seen, we’ve forgotten to look for each other. If we had, the conversation sparked by Janelle Monae’s self identification might display the beautiful power we all experienced the first time we found words that helped us see ourselves and each other more clearly. If we start looking for those places that made us feel connected first maybe we’ll start to see ourselves even more - in each other. Isn’t that the point?



Thursday, May 10, 2018

Bisexual Awareness Week Sept 23rd - 30th 2018


SAVE THE BI DATE!
Sept 23rd - 30th 2018 is Bisexual Awareness Week, or #biweek.

This September 23rd, 2018 also marks the 19th annual Celebrate Bisexuality Day,
first created by BiNet USA organizers Wendy Curry, Gigi Raven Wilbur and Michael Page.

Learn more about #biweek at glaad.org/biweek

Check out some #biweek memes and/or drop your favs in the comments!



BiNet USA's Blog: #biweek memes, from past to present



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 jweekly.com 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







Tuesday, November 28, 2017

We Are The Bisexuals You've Been Looking For This #GivingTuesday







Supporting BiNet USA means supporting bisexual resistance to the erasure of bi+ people everywhere, while working to bridge divides across every intersection that bisexuals live, work, or love at. 


Recently BiNet USA organizers were honored to be mentioned in a stunning speech by Latinx actor/advocate Sara Ramirez, currently starring on CBS's  Madam Secretary (Sundays 10/9c).


Watch Sara's speech at the #Womens20 event with the NYC LGBT Center.


And don't miss this video of BiNet USA co-founder and Bi Women Quarterly editor Robyn Ochs introducing Sara!



BiNet USA VP Faith Cheltenham and BiNet USA co-founder Robyn Ochs with Latinx bi, pan, and queer actor/advocate Sara Ramirez




Thanks for sharing bisexual #givingtuesday images, memes, emails, tweets and posts far and wide this year in support of bi advocacy! 

Here's a few more to share featuring some of BiNet USA's best bi moments, and some of our historical figures, most outspoken advocates and closest accomplices.










This year's original BiNet USA artwork for #GivingTuesday is courtesy of Nerdscarf (they/them). #hireBTPOC

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

PRESS​ ​RELEASE No Homo No Hetero




https://sacredsexualities.org/                                                                                                                                                   




PRESS RELEASE
November 14, 2017
CONTACT:
H. Sharif “Herukhuti” Williams Co-Executive Producer nohomonohetero@gmail.com 917.403.0536

NEW YORK, NY/United States

$24,000 in four days of crowdfunding! Fresh off of a screening at the BECAUSE Conference in St. Paul, Minnesota, where they launched the crowdfunding campaign, the team of H. Sharif “Herukhuti” Williams and David J. Cork have raised $24,000 in four days for their documentary film project, No Homo | No Hetero: Sexual Fluidity and Manhood in Black America.
BiUs Entertainment (BiUS) and the Center for Culture, Sexuality, and Spirituality (CCSS) are producing the historic documentary on Black bisexual men. The film is being co-directed by Cork, co-founder and chief creative officer of BiUS, and founder and Dr. Herukhuti, chief erotics officer of CCSS.
The directorial team started filming this fall and have produced a work in progress trailer that is being screened at festivals and conferences. BiNet USA, Faith Cheltenham (yesblackpeople.com), National Black Justice Coalition, and Human Rights Campaign
Foundation helped finance the production of the trailer, which was a fellowship project Dr. Herukhuti completed at Third World Newsreel’s production workshop.
On Saturday, November 11th, they launched a crowdfunding campaign at https://igg.me/at/NoHomoNoHetero (Indiegogo) to finance the next phase of production, which will include filming bisexual men, their partners, and bisexual experts in Los Angeles, Atlanta, and New York City. The following organizations have already pledged support: BiNet USA,
Bisexual Organizing Project, and National​​ LGBTQ Task Force.
No Homo | No Hetero will explore the complexities, challenges, and beauty of being Black, bisexual and male in the United States. Through interviews, performance art, and archival footage, the feature-length, experimental docu-poem invites the audience to explore the politics of living and loving authentically at the contentious intersection of racism, biphobia, and toxic masculinity.
H. Sharif “Herukhuti” Williams, PhD, MEd, a longtime activist, educator, scholar, and artist, was one of the co-organizers of the 2015 White House Bisexual Community Policy Briefings. His anthology, Recognize: The Voices of Bisexual Men was a five-time, Bisexual Book Awards winner and Lambda Literary Awards Finalist. David J. Cork, actor, director, and writer, is the co-founder and chief creative officer of BiUS Entertainment, a production company dedicated to providing content that showcases underrepresented minorities. His work on the hit web series,
Bi: The Webseries has been featured on Now This and in The Huffington Post and NBC OUT.