Column: Reflections from a Black Bi Queer Woman Organizer at Netroots Nation

(Facebook)

Oh, yes. The sense of isolation I felt as a Black woman at #NN15 was amplified by biphobia, both external and internal. When I introduced Jennicet Eva Gutiérrez at the #QPOCNN15 caucus I co-organized, I mentioned that multiple people had asked me whether I would go to the White House and be disruptive, to which I told them, "what makes you think I haven't?"

My friends are dying, we are recovering from brutal rapes (5 time winner there myself), and when we battle suicide there's nearly a 50 percent chance we won't win. Imagine knowing 50 percent of the largest part of the LGBT community might not #MakeItToTomorrow. Then imagine no one giving a shit.

Instead they increase my chances of being raped by promoting the appropriation of bisexual bodies and the rape of bisexual women in media. Instead they tell me bisexual is binary and I should be uplifting transgender voices instead of speaking about bisexual people. How dare they remove transgender bisexuals from the picture and erase decades of our work together?

I would not be a bisexual organizer without transgender support, mentorship, advice, friendship and radical solidarity. I want to honor and acknowledge just a few of the trans folks who taught me what I know and allied with me. Those whose oppression was bound up with mine, so we shook chains together!

Shirley O Bushnell, Kylar Broadus, Diego Miguel Sanchez Apr, Monica Roberts, Tara Madison Avery, Bamby Salcedo, Jake Finney, Mara Keisling, Theresa Sparks, JoAnne Keatley, Masen Davis, Kale Likover, Hayden L Mora, Scout, Raja Gopal Bhattar, Jay Brown, Ashley Love, Loree Cook-Daniels, Allyson Robinson, Pauline Park, Aud Traher and to so many others, thank you for being everything to me and "the B in LGBT," which many of you, but not all, also call home.

The 2013 Bisexual Community Issues Roundtable at the White House would never have occurred if transgender meetings at the White House hadn't happened first. Folks might tell you the B fought to be added to LG and now its time for T but the truth is we've ALL always been there since the beginning. Surviving with nothing but ourselves and each other.

Our communities historically have always shown up together, not always working together but *in alignment.* Add in bi/trans organizers working both sides in NY, SF, DC, and LA from the 70's onward? Once we started fighting for 4 letters, we are the ones who made the LGBT movement move.

So how dare we accept the state of affairs and bleak future for elders like Yosenio Lewis who in 1996 co-organized the first ever meeting of Bi and Trans leaders with White House officials or coordinated and facilitated the first national Latino/a Trans Summit?

Help Yosenio: http://www.youcaring.com/yose-io-v-lewis-394825

How dare the LGBTQ community allow the B to exist only in name? To allow our elders to die off with their valuable archives trashed, and their memories and means for success discarded.

This ageism intersects bisexuality as our youth are reeducated against their own cultural heritage and our elders are denied their due. For without providing spaces for intergenerational dialogue, our gains are lost. We lose people from movement work. We lose institutional knowledge, organization development, and the desire and commitment for diversity. And we lose bisexuals, like 5 young people dead by suicide in just the last 3 months.

In letting bisexuals down, we impede progress. For at every intersection work is being done on the backs of bisexual organizers who do not find their bisexuality critical and central to their work. This internalized biphobia dramatically increases their minority stress and amplifies the more intersections that apply.

The first step for relief from this "psychic murder" as Dr. Heru Khuti perfectly put it? Say the word bisexual.

Put it in the conversation, say it in the hallway, next to kids, in passing, or on the elevator. Part of how I know that bisexuals are everywhere is because I openly identify myself as such.

For instance, every time I got on an elevator at Netroots Nation, I came off with an extra bisexual. Bi plus organizers were present in labor, immigration, reproductive justice, feminism, racial justice, disability, and dozens of movements.

Here was a bi, there was a bi, everywhere there's a bi.

A few of them couldn't use the word to describe themselves but I'm proud to say there were dozens that would use bi, pan, fluid, omni, or no labels. And they would tell me their stories of invalidation, diminishment and rejection, usually just from the last hour! At every intersection inside of intersectional work, bisexuality is ignored. It feels fairly global and monolithic. Borg-like, the geeky me would say.

But we are bigger.

All of us? Is a whole hell of a lot. Target people with *any* capacity to be attracted to more than one gender and you're potentially looking at over 14 percent of the general population and over 80 percent of the LGBT community. With bi plus individuals in every community, you're able to creatively problem solve and scale up, basing metrics off the demands our intersections constantly generate.

If two of the Black queer women who co-founded #BlackLivesMatter are behaviorally bisexual and identify as bisexual or pansexual, why aren’t we seeing that intersection of their life celebrated and affirmed by media, whether it’s LGBT or mainstream? By discussing, amplifying and intersecting bisexuality, we save many lives. It is also critical to keeping our collective boundary crossers alive, safe, and healthy. So we don't lose them like we lost Sylvia Rivera, Brenda Howard, June Jordan, Iris De La Cruz, Freddie Mercury, Bessie Smith or Billie Holiday.

That LGBTQ people will sleep with bisexuals and straight people will rape and beat us is not an acceptable outcome for any group of people. My movement will include bisexuals or it will not move.


Like us on Facebook

  • Latest Comments

BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS