Bisexual Naming at National Black Justice Coalition Out on the Hill Conference

One of the great things we discussed at length during last week’s Bisexual Awareness Week (#biweek) was the bisexual identity, the many labels bi people consider using to describe their experiences and why. Awhile back the Patheos.com “Camels with Hammers” blog published a great piece that detailed the vital function that both labels and the development of labels serve. I’ve bolded some of the more stunning statements here for the “tl;dr” crowd.

“Naming the gender types, the sexual orientation types, the sexual interest types even, in all their beautiful diversity helps us think better. It helps us acknowledge more realities and account for them with better social practices so that the people who don’t fit into one or two current everyday categories are now taken into account. Having words for these differing people at the tip of our tongue, reminds us they exist at all. Refusing the words for them. Refusing the conceptualizations of their experience they offer us is an attempt to erase their existence. It’s an attempt to make it harder for us to remember them or think about them. It will make it harder for us to take any interest in their thriving. The conditions of their thriving may be different than ours. Denying them labels to describe themselves or their experiences will make it harder for us to meet their needs.”- “Why Do We Need Labels Like “Gay”, “Bi”, “Trans”, and “Cis”?

With this in mind we should welcome new conceptualizations of sexuality, gender, race, culture and every aspect of our humanity. For black bisexual people this conversation has been an on-going cultural experience. As a child I remember my West-Indian grandfather bristling as popular culture began to exclusively use African-American to describe black experiences in America. For him and other members of my family, the term African-American did not fully describe their experiences, political history and culture of their Black America.

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Meeting former president Bill Clinton one night at dinner was a highlight for my grandparents (left)

Every so often it seems that words will change to reflect our better understanding of each others experiences. Nowhere is that truer than for bisexual folks who have re-claimed terms like bisexual, pansexual, fluid and queer to describe our lives as sexually fluid individuals. It’s also necessary for there to be some examples and role models for black and bisexual people, whether it be youth, elders or working professionals.

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From The Out on the Hill Black Bisexual Experience Presentation, click here to download it.

Being able to positively identify yourself within a group of people is also extremely important for bisexual people striving to find a safe haven from the micro aggressions bisexual people regularly report experiencing. For as a recent report on bisexual women and micro aggressions said:

“We hypothesize that microaggressions that render bisexual women’s identity claims faulty or, worse, false and inauthentic, burden bisexual women with additional ‘identity work’. This burden, or stressor, is both cognitively and emotionally taxing, and in turn, likely has negative consequences for mental health and well-being.” – Wendy Bostwick on bisexual specific micro aggressions

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Faith Cheltenham, ABilly S. Jones-Hennin, and Shervon Laurice at Senate Hart building #OOTH2014

One of the more important things we did at our Out on the Hill black bisexual panel was exist as our total selves and in doing so continue to cement the importance of affirming black people, bisexual people, LGBTQIA people and every person working towards a world where we’re all equally valid.

Can You Help Your State Incl LGBT in Their 5 Yr Tobacco Plan? 2 Webinars Thu.

Director of LGBT HealthLink
What’s our October focus? Glad you asked. All state departments of health are busy responding now to a once every five year chance for them to write a proposal for more federal tobacco money. And for the first time we’ve succeeded in making sure LGBT was mentioned as a population they needed to address in the funding announcement!
So for the next four weeks states are crafting their five year tobacco plans, and we are working with everyone who can help the states know what to plan regarding LGBT integration.
If you’re a community member who wants to help coach your state reps into doing a good job on this, please join our webinar 1 pm EST Thursday to learn who your state rep is, and what language you can suggest they include. Register here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/924812785628775426
And if you’re a state rep trying to do this well, join us an hour later, at 2 pm EST Thu for a star studded lineup of other state reps who’ve done successfully LGBT integration into different facets of their programs. Register here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6032220218508789250
Remember when states integrate LGBT focus into this work they:
  • collect data on us
  • fund local community based organizations
  • do cult comp training
  • conduct local needs assessments
  • include us in their advisory bodies
  • Did I mention fund local community based organizations?

Let’s do this!

The Black Bisexual Experience Presentation at Out on the Hill Conference

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Faith Cheltenham, President of BiNet USA

Blogging from the National Black Justice Coalition’s Out on the Hill Conference.

On the 2nd day of the NBJC Out on the Hill Conference I was honored to present one of the very first presentation/panel discussions on the black bisexual experience from inside Capitol Hill’s Hart Senate building.

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From The Out on the Hill Black Bisexual Experience Presentation, click here to download it.

Members of NBJC, BiNet USA, Alliance of Multicultural Bisexuals (AMBi) of Metro DC and Center for Culture, Spirituality and Sexuality all contributed thought leadership into the PowerPoint presentation I presented on The Black Bisexual Experience. Following my presentation we had a 30 minute panel discussion featuring Black LGBT and bisexual icon, ABilly S. Jones-Hennin and Shervon Laurice a D.C. based bisexual psychologist.

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From The Out on the Hill Black Bisexual Experience Presentation, click here to download it.

Charles Blow’s recent piece for the New York Times surrounding the launch of his book was also shared with attendees of our workshop thanks to the quick actions of Out on the Hill organizers.  Blow has written a stunning memoir of growing up black and bisexual, something I myself also aim to do. Having Blow’s piece shared with OOTH attendees helped emphasize the national conversation that is taking place surrounding bisexual community issues of disparities and resiliency.

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From The Out on the Hill Black Bisexual Experience Presentation, click here to download it.

For black bisexual people these conversations are especially important for sometimes it feels like the best way to be brave in the face of a disparity is to be knowledgeable about it. Many bisexual disparities are based in our own hearth and home, whether it be the staggering rates of sexual/physical violence or the higher rates of mental health issues including depression, suicidality, self-injury, and PTSD that bi people often report.

When looking closely at data provided by the CDC on the lifetime prevalence of sexual violence as experienced by certain minority groups we see something interesting. Both bisexual and multicultural (non-Hispanic) people report high rates of experiencing intimate partner violence. They also report higher rates of rape and sexual violence.

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From The Out on the Hill Black Bisexual Experience Presentation, click here to download it.

One question I posed during my Out on the Hill presentation considered whether bisexual and multiracial people have similar issues and vulnerabilities, not being fully in one world or another. It may indeed be the case that the higher levels of physical/sexual violence disparities reported by both are due to fewer multicultural or bisexual specific resources.

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From The Out on the Hill Black Bisexual Experience Presentation, click here to download it.

As conversations continue about the violence perpetuated upon black communities we must strive to consistently remember how that stress affects the health of black people. When people have more than one identity like black bisexual folks, the multiplier factor only increases meaning that if we wish to care about the health of black bisexual people we need to truly design interventions that target both communities.

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From The Out on the Hill Black Bisexual Experience Presentation, click here to download it.

References:

  1. Out For Health, Healthy People 2020 Bisexual Fact Sheet (link)
  2. Walters, M.L., Chen J., & Breiding, M.J. (2013). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Findings on Victimization by Sexual Orientation. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (link).

LGBT Wellness Roundup: September 26

As published on Huffington Post’s new LGBT Wellness blog, see original at: http://huff.to/1mGRTXs

Each week HuffPost Gay Voices, in a partnership with bloggers Liz Margolies and Scout, brings you a round up of some of the biggest LGBT wellness stories from the past seven days. For more LGBT Wellness, visit our page dedicated to the topic here. The weekly LGBT Wellness Roundup can also now be experienced as a video — check it out above.

Just A Little Prick

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The HPV vaccine, used to prevent HPV-related cancers, is not being utilized as much as public health professionals would like. LGBT health advocates in the UK are hoping to get the recommendations changed to include young gay and bisexual menin order to reduce rates of cancer.

Not So Minty Fresh

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Menthol flavoring, which can “mask the harshness” of cigarettes and has come under criticism for not being banned by the FDA like all other flavorings, is preferred by about ⅓ of smokers. In a first ever study, we find evidence that LGBT smokers also prefer menthol cigarettes more than others: LGBT smokers were found to smoke menthol flavored cigarettes a quarter more than others, while female LGBT smokers were found to smoke menthols 45% more than all current smokers.

What Did You Just Ask Me?

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The Williams Institute has released a report on the “Best Practices for Asking Questions to Identify Transgender and Other Gender Minority Respondents on Population-Based Surveys.” This report fills a critical gap so advocates have best questions to recommend for LGB and T inclusion in health surveys.

Come Out Come Out Wherever You Are. Please!

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Kaiser Family Foundation came out with a new report showing over half of gay and bisexual men had never been advised to take an HIV test by their doctors, this could be because 47% of the men never came out to their providers. It just shows us how critical coming out can be for your health.

Bisexual Awareness

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This week, Bisexual Visibility Day, sought to increase knowledge and reduce stigma against bisexuals, who suffer high rates of violence and discrimination from both inside and outside the LGBT communities. Huffington Post reporter does a great job at looking at how bisexual research has perpetuated stigma and Charles Blow writes a compelling piece about the issue in New York Times.

Tending To Teens for Healthier Young Adults?

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One new study that LGBT young adults have higher risk of physical and mental health disparities, at the same time another study reports doctors don’t know how to communicate with LGBT teens. How much would increasing doctors abilities to talk to LGBT youth reduce health disparities?

Queer Ethics

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In a special issue focused on LGBT health and bioethics, the Hastings Center Report contains essays on topics including reducing health disparities and improving research conduct with LGBT youth, “reparative” therapies, LGBT veterans and the VA, LGBT access to health care and LGBT elder health disparities, just to name a few!

Free PrEP?

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If all goes as one local politician hopes, San Francisco may become the first U.S. city to offer PrEP for free. In a city with high HIV transmission rates, this program seeks to remove the barrier of the high cost of PrEP which may prevent many from accessing the medication.

Oh, Daddy!

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A new article which reviews studies of gay men’s parenting issues, including surrogacy, adoption and a host of other topics, highlights both discrimination faced by gay fathers, as well as positive relationships of gay fathers and adopted children.

Advocating for a Brighter Future: Our Views, Our Issues & Our Lives

Felecia King

 

 

Felecia King, Project Specialist

LGBT HealthLink

 

 

Blogging from the National Black Justice Coalition’s Out on the Hill Conference.

So day 2 was not as invigorating as Day 1. However, I am noticing a common arising theme, African-American LGBT people, as a group, feel under-served, misrepresented and mistreated. It was “Issue Advocacy Day”, a Legislative Briefing. We heard from quite a few panelist that were amazing, in their own ways. They spoke about their experiences as being “OUT on the Hill”

First there was Robert Eskridge, who works as a legal counsel for the House Ethics Committee and is a Black gay man. He talks about some of the adversities that he has experienced in such a place as DC, and why it’s so important to know everything (Not really everything but, being well versed, especially in your field).

Michele Jawando, Vice President of Legal Progress for Center for American Progress. Michele tells everyone the importance of voting and knowing what it is you’re voting for, know who you are placing into office, know what laws your voting for or against.

Twaun Samuels the Chief of Staff for Congresswoman Maxine Waters was also a panelist and spoke about his experience as a Gay Black man on the Hill, and he believes it did not have any effect on his career. He’s not alone in his thinking, Brandy Hall, HouseCall IT, Systems Administrator, felt that it didn’t negatively affect her career, but sometimes she has to prove herself to the people she works for.

photo 2I am also noticing that no matter where these people live, where they were raised, they are experiencing or having the same feelings of inequality. From the panel discussion they took their issues and questions to the Hill, speaking with representatives from California, New York, and a few others. The issues were raised to the representatives in hopes that things would change.

There wasn’t much time for questions but the advice given was empowering and simple at the same time. Advice like; being an example in your community and teaching the others around you, having a voice, knowing your voice, and using your voice.

Many Faces One Dream!

Felecia King

Felecia King, LGBT HealthLink

So, I wake up at 6:30am, to the sound of angry motorist, rushing through DC’s narrow streets, off to make the doughnuts, or change the idea of the doughnut, who knows. I rush to the suitcase to put my #OOTD (Outfit Of The Day, for my Hashtag junkies) together, for the 2014 Many Faces One Dream Conference hosted by The US SBA (Small Business Administration) and the NBJC (National Black Justice Coalition). I manage to come up with khaki slacks, white button up, purple and white checkered tie, brown boots, and a denim jacket. After I suit up I hit the DC streets and talk to everyone I pass by (for directions, of course) in attempts to get to the train/subway/metro.

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I finally get to the NASA Headquarters, where the first event, of many more, is taking place. The conference opens with a video, which opens with a quote from President Obama:

“We’ve got a lot of hard work that we still have to do, but we can already point to extraordinary progress that we’ve made… on behalf of Americans who are gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgender.”

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Out comes Sharon Lettman-Hicks, CEO of the NBJC, as the video ends. She started with a quaint welcome alongside Eugene Cornelius Jr., Deputy Associate Administrator for Field Operations for the U.S. SBA. As I looked around the room it was filled with people who looked like me, but were from all over the country and had all different types of experiences in their LGBT communities.

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There were many representatives present Sam McClure, with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, Carolyn Brown, with Black Enterprise (the magazine), Curtis Lipscomb, with KICK, and others. The convention was themed around Equity for the Black LGBT Community. Strong statements were being thrown around all day, tempers flared, but passion filled and consumed the room.

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Cornelius Jr. said, “I’m not looking for cavalry to come and save my community, I am the cavalry and we are going to save OUR community”. Bankers came in to discuss the 5C’s of credit (Character, Collateral, Capacity,Credibility and Capital) , and a huge appearance made by Maria Contreras-Sweet, the 24th Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration and a member of President Obama’s Cabinet on April 7, 2014, who taught us the nothing is impossible.

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As the day came closer to the end and we heard from the SBA, Bankers, Business Executives, Lenders, it seemed like everyone had come to a consensus that the black LGBT needed to “own their own power”, by becoming financially stable and owning their own businesses. And, this is where the big questions start to arise… How do we get the black LGBT community involved in a world that may not even exist in their minds? Is mental health an issue that we need to deal with? How do other communities manage to become so successful?

We’ll have to stay tuned to find out.

OUR ONLINE CANCER PROGRAMS

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Michael G. Bare
Program Coordinator
National LGBT Cancer Network 

For the past few months, The National LGBT Cancer Network has been contacting community centers around the country to join us adapting and promoting our two new online cancer programs aimed at the LGBT communities. Both “Take Care of That Body” and our online Support Groups for cancer survivors are available to LGBT community centers free of charge. We provide the programs, text to announce the programs for social media, newsletters and websites, as well as promotional postcards (images below). So far the DC Center for the LGBT Community, Hudson Pride Connections Center, The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center of Greater Cleveland, Harmony Cafe – Fox Valley, the Roanake Diversity Center, Oklahomans for Equality, the Richmond Gay Community Foundation and the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester have all begun promoting our programs.

Take Care of That Body” (TCTB) is an online program that is designed to educate the LGBT communities about our increased cancer risk factors and the importance of screening and early detection. The program allows users to create personalized cancer screening reports, learn about US Prevention Services Task Force-recommended cancer screenings, and offers referrals to LGBT-friendly free/low cost facilities. The risk assessment portion uses demographic, medical and behavioral questions to inform individuals what screening they may want to seek out from their healthcare providers. TCTB also has a place to sign up to receive electronic reminders, sent via text or email, to remind you to ask your doctor for or about these screenings. TCTB also has a small, but growing list of LGBT friendly cancer screening facilities. The National LGBT Cancer Network has selected these resources because of their commitment to offering safe, affordable, welcoming care to all LGBT people. Each facility has a Personal Contact who will guide you in setting up your appointments and assure your comfort and safety when you arrive. If you know of any centers that are near you that may qualify and are not yet on the list, please contact us to let us know, and we will reach out to them!

 

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The Support Groups are free online support forums to LGBT cancer survivors (internet access required to participate). Many LGBT survivors do not feel welcome or understood in mainstream support groups and transgender survivors have been especially excluded. There are very few in-person LGBT cancer support groups being offered across the country and those who live further from major metropolitan areas are very unlikely to find one at all. So, we decided to do something about it ourselves. We offer separate forums for interested participants: one forum for lesbian- and bisexual- identified women, a separate forum for gay- and bisexual- identified men, and a forum for transgender-identified people with cancer. The groups will operate in 12-week cycles, close for a 2 week break, then begin again. Each forum is moderated by a licensed clinical social worker and will be available to participants 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.

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You can visit our programs on our website, and if you know anyone who you think would benefit please pass it on! As well, if you know of any organizations that may want to help us expand our programs around the country to local communities, feel free to make the introduction!