Friday, June 26, 2015

Standing Bi Jennicet GutiƩrrez

This year saw the fewest bisexual advocates in attendance at the White House LGBT Pride Reception since 2010. Only two invites were provided to bi community advocates who work on behalf of bisexual communities. In fact, more bisexuals have died by suicide in the last 3 months, than the number of bisexuals invited to represent us at the White House LGBT Pride Reception this year.

Photo Credit/Caption: Banner with name of bi+ teens who died recently of suicide (Blake, Taylor, Alyssa and Adam)

From what I can see from my personal Facebook feed, there WERE a huge amount of transgender advocates in attendance at the event, including members of SPARTA, a transgender military organization. So I don't think it's accurate to claim that the LGBT community was pushing back on trans people by booing Jennicet GutiƩrrez when she stood up to demand President Obama address the subject of transgender women detained alongside cisgender men.

Photo Credit/Caption: Familia Trans Queer Liberation Movement members in front of the White House after an undocumented LGBT advocate was denied access to the White House just last month.

Yet, questions still remain. Would Ms. GutiƩrrez have been booed if she were Black? If she were cisgender, instead of transgender? If she had a sign clearly listing her demand for #Not1More? Is it time to put down your protest sign if you've been invited to the White House for a social engagement?

Recently I was at a movie theater and I was asked to be wanded by security twice. I told security I had already been wanded but they did not believe me and my friend. Instead they let the white part of our group enter and took us folks of color aside for further security inspection. At a movie theater.

I'm not one to take such treatment in silence, so as I walked over to be wanded I called out, "It's fine! I'm gonna go over here and keep being Black OK?" Personally I thought I was being funny in light of the situation but a white woman came out of line and yelled at me in disagreement! She said "stop making it always about race" and "you need to stop bringing that up". Since I'd never met this white woman before I will assume she was referring to #blacklivesmatter and all demands for Black equality.

That's what it's often like for people of color when they speak up against basic injustices. I've been wanded, searched, and frisked while walking while Black. I have been pulled over countless times while driving while Black. I regularly experience racism and when I can, I SPEAK UP!

Photo Credit/Caption: Faith Cheltenham, BiNet USA President holding sign up for #NotToProudToFight 
Special thanks to Darnell Moore for starting the conversation.

If I will not stay silent in the face of my life being considered irrelevant, how can I possibly expect SILENCE from a transgender Latina woman currently subject to being detained with cisgender men who will assault her? If folks wanna enjoy the appetizers and drinks at White House receptions, they need to help end the dangerous circumstances for transgender women in immigration detention.

Photo Credit/Caption: Task Force Executive Director Urvashi Vaid interrupts President Bush's first and only AIDS policy speech in 1990. Her sign also reflects the history of bisexual erasure in the HIV/AIDS movement.

I've been witnessing the push back directed at trans people of color, many of them my friends, allies and fellow bi+ community members. They are fighting for their lives to be reflected in a transgender revolution that does not speak of their issues. Imagine what it must be like for LGBT people subject to detainment, to enter the White House alongside so many like myself who are not subject to that detainment.

The 6 white, cis, gay men above are the LGBT ambassadors for the US. Is that what your equality looks like?

As a member of the bisexual community, which has long been shit upon, I can well imagine the feelings of alienation, exclusion and loneliness that come with fighting from within your own community to be recognized. That feeling is far too familiar for LGBT people of color in their own movement. We are too often tokenized, utilized and USED UP by a white LGBT establishment that drowns out our grievances in favor of celebrating "wins".

So while you celebrate marriage equality today, keep in mind the fight still has a long way to go.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Fluid Pride Flag

In 2002, I co-founded UCLA's Fluid, a bi/pan/fluid/queer student group at UCLA. At the time I was unaware of the over 24 different labels that bisexual community members frequently use to describe themselves. I loved fluid for how it fit my particular sensibilities of not having any particular sensibilities when it came to my attractions. I loved fluid for how it described my capacity to be attracted to more than one gender. I love that our community has so many terms to describe itself and in discussion with trans and bi advocate Tara Avery during this year's LA Pride festival we mocked out what a fluid pride flag might look like.

Royal Blue and Lavender stripes acknowledge that fluid community members are proudly part of the bisexual community, the flag of which shares these same stripes. Turquoise is an acknowledgement of the pansexual pride flag as well as the many bisexual, pansexual, fluid and queer people who celebrate the power bisexuality has to set us free from binaries of gender and sexuality.

NEW FOR 2019 - larger size