Cancer · Conferences · LGBT Policy · Presentations · Steering Committee · Summit · Tobacco Policy

HealthLink E-Summit: One Day Down, One to Go!

logoCorey Prachniak serves as Chair of LGBT HealthLink’s Steering Committee and is an attorney focused on health policy, as well as a current Zuckerman Fellow at Harvard University. Corey tweets @CPrachniak.


When the LGBT HealthLink Steering Committee decided to host an online “E-Summit” to bring together people interested in LGBT health, we didn’t know if it would work… Mostly because we made the idea up! But we wanted our committee and staff to be able to interact with the community we serve, and since we couldn’t fly everyone to HealthLink’s sunny home in Florida, we thought we’d give it a try.

Yesterday, we had over a hundred registrants for a full afternoon of sessions, featuring many members of our Steering Committee, HealthLink’s staff, and even special guest Jessica Hyde from the Texas Comprehensive Cancer Control Program. Over the course of the afternoon, we engaged in discussions on LGBT rights in healthcare, the disproportionate burden of cancer in LGBT communities, and the way that LGBT-based disparities interplay with disparities based on other aspects of people’s identities.

And it’s not over yet! Join us today (Friday) at 4:00pm Eastern for a fabulous presentation on LGBT tobacco disparities by no fewer than four members of our stellar Steering Committee and HealthLink’s Policy Manager, Juan Carlos Vega. This session, “We’re a Movement, Not a Market!,” is open to the public and is going to be an amazing way to cap off Day 2 of our events. HealthLink started as a tobacco control group, and even as we’ve grown and diversified to take on an array of LGBT health disparities, fighting tobacco remains at the heart of our mission. I’m sure the passion for positive change in our community will come across loud and clear this afternoon.

So, a big thank you to all who joined us yesterday and who will join us today. And a particularly big thank you to Jenna Wintemberg, a member of our Steering Committee and the co-chair of this event, for her many hours of hard work in putting this together. (You can even hear from Jenna at today’s tobacco session and thank her yourself!)

Oh – and if the work we’re doing is your kinda thing, you may be interested to know that we’re preparing to launch a brand-new membership program in the near future. You can sign up to learn more here.

Cancer · Conferences · LGBT Policy · Presentations · Steering Committee · Summit · Tobacco Policy

Join Us for our LGBT Health E-Summit, October 15th and 16th


Corey Prachniak serves as Chair of LGBT HealthLink’s Steering Committee and is an attorney focused on health policy, as well as a current Zuckerman Fellow at Harvard University. Corey tweets @CPrachniak.

For the past few months, I have been working with our fabulous steering committee and staff to put together a two day virtual conference, or “E-Summit,” on LGBT health issues. I’m excited to invite you to join us this Thursday and Friday, the 15th and 16th of October. Once you have registered for the event, you’ll be able to jump onto the webinar during any of the sessions that interest you.

On Thursday 10/15, we will kick things off at 3:00pm Eastern Time with a session on LGBT rights in healthcare, followed by a session on LGBT cancer issues at 4:00pm Eastern and finally a session on intersectionality of identities and health disparities at 5:15pm Eastern. On Friday 10/16, we will finish up with a terrific session on tobacco use in LGBT communities at 4:00pm Eastern.

You can get all the details on these presentations by downloading the program, and you can register to participate here. All of these events are open to all.

By the way – if you like the work that HealthLink is doing, and want to be involved in events like this in the future, I have good news! We are in the process of launching a free membership program that will allow individuals interested in LGBT health to partner with us in exciting ways. You can sign up to learn more here.

I hope to “see” you this Thursday and Friday!

Conferences · Tobacco Policy · Uncategorized

LGBT HealthLink Conference Commentary: Not So Straight

Jennablogphot (2)
LGBT tobacco researchers at SRNT

by Jenna Wintemberg, MPH

What: Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco Conference

Where: Philadelphia, February 25 to 28, 2015


The Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT) conference in Philadelphia is the one I look forward the most each year, where the leading researchers in tobacco control come together to share their research. Session topics range from basic and clinical science, to behavioral and social science, to marketing and policy. I was proud to be there representing the Out, Proud and Healthy in Missouri project and LGBT HealthLink. I was also happy to share that this year I attended the conference as a travel scholarship award recipient for increasing diversity in nicotine and tobacco research. Of the 10 travel award scholars, representing many tobacco health disparate populations, I was the only LGBTQ research scholar.

Some of the LGBTQ presentations (titles and lead authors) that took place:

  • Is There a Relationship Between the Concentration of Same-Sex Couples and Tobacco Retailer Density? (Joseph Lee)
  • Rates of Tobacco Use Among Young Adult LGB Subpopulations (Amanda Richardson)
  • Minority Stress, Smoking, and Cessation Attempts: Findings From a Community Sample of Transgender Women in the San Francisco Bay Area
  • Sexual and Gender Minority Community-Based Tobacco Cessation Program: Tailored Recruitment and Evidence-Based Intervention (Jenna Wintemberg)

I always start the SRNT conference by looking through the program booklet for all of the LGBTQ tobacco presentations, but this year someone beat me too it. Joseph Lee, a graduate student at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, emailed all of the LGBTQ researchers on the first day of the conference suggesting that we have lunch together and attend each other’s sessions. We were told to look for the rainbow flag tablecloth at lunch today to find each other. We may have been only 15 out of 1,200+ researchers at the conference, but the quality of LGBTQ tobacco research being done is outstanding and we can network in a very individual and personal way. For example, during our lunch meeting we workshopped the projects we are working on such as developing cessation interventions for LGBTQ couples who both smoke, enhancing cultural competency at state quitlines and marketing these services to our communities and addressing cancer disparities. I left with great new connections, new research avenues, and a renewed passion to tackle tobacco in LGBTQ communities.

Jenna Wintemberg

Jenna Wintemberg, MPH is a Health Education and Promotion doctoral candidate at the University of Missouri and works as a Graduate Research Assistant on the Out, Proud and Healthy Project. Her research interests are Tobacco-Related Health Disparities in Minority Populations, Tobacco Cessation, and Policy Change.



Conferences · National Black Justice Coalition

The Bisexual Community and HIV/AIDS

As part of last fall’s National Black Justice Coalition Conference, “Out on the Hill”, I attended a White House meeting on Gay and Bisexual Men and HIV/AIDS.  I came away from the meeting impressed by the level of concern that the White House and other partners in the fight to eradicate HIV/AID are consistently demonstrating.

At the White House meeting, 09/26/14 Photo Credit. S. Washington
At the White House meeting, 09/26/14 Photo Credit. S. Washington

We’re 30 years into the HIV/AIDS epidemic but according to a report released by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), infections among gay and bisexual men are on the rise in the U.S, especially for men of color.

kaiser hiv-aidsAs a bisexual community expert I think it’s essential to educate folks to the fact that bisexuals have always been at the forefront of the fight to prevent HIV infection. Even if many times history erased us. Since the very beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the bi community helped shape the messaging, support opportunities and intervention models pertaining to ending HIV/AIDS.

In honor of the 1990 National Bisexual Conference, the City of San Francisco proclaimed the first ever "Bi Pride Day" (check out the dot matrix copy of the proclamation above). As part of the acknowledgement, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors also proclaimed: …Whereas, The contributions of bisexuals in developing AIDS service projects, combating discrimination, and advocating for social justice have long been undervalued or discounted by most of society; and Whereas, The 1990 National Bisexual Conference offers the bisexual community an opportunity to showcase some of its extraordinary work and leadership in establishing model AIDS programs, and working to build a society free of discrimination and injustice; and Whereas, The 1990 National Bisexual Conference gives all people the occasion to finally end the silence about the numbers of bisexual persons who have died of AIDS, and to recognize the tremendous leadership contributions of bisexual activists in the fight against the killer disease...
In honor of the 1990 National Bisexual Conference, the City of San Francisco proclaimed the first ever “Bi Pride Day” (check out the dot matrix copy of the proclamation above). As part of the acknowledgement, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors also proclaimed:
…Whereas, The contributions of bisexuals in developing AIDS service projects, combating discrimination, and advocating for social justice have long been undervalued or discounted by most of society; and
Whereas, The 1990 National Bisexual Conference offers the bisexual community an opportunity to showcase some of its extraordinary work and leadership in establishing model AIDS programs, and working to build a society free of discrimination and injustice; and
Whereas, The 1990 National Bisexual Conference gives all people the occasion to finally end the silence about the numbers of bisexual persons who have died of AIDS, and to recognize the tremendous leadership contributions of bisexual activists in the fight against the killer disease…

Many times bi efforts were slighted, invalidated, forgotten or in some cases erased. And as Dr. Herukhuti, Black bisexual theorist, so eloquently once put it, “bisexual erasure is psychic murder”. Nowhere is this more dangerous than in the arena of public health, where bisexual populations are often erased in favor of a few more convenient fictions:

  1. There are few bisexuals (Not!)
  2. Most bisexuals experience privilege from their heterosexual presenting relationships and do not need (or deserve) care allocated from LGBT resources. (FALSE!)
  3. Even if support providers frequently use bisexual data (‘cause it’s the worst) to strengthen arguments for more support in reaching LGBT populations, there is no legal requirement for them to find and serve bisexual people (SADLY TRUE).
Jan 20th, 2015 tweet from Dr. Herukhuti

Dr. Herukhuti has also directly linked bisexual erasure to the disproportionate rates of HIV bisexual people of color report saying,

“Bisexuals become the disappeared of the movement. Nowhere is the impact of this dynamic felt more viscerally than in black and brown communities. Historically, HIV research and prevention has had a problematic relationship with bisexuality in black communities, fluctuating from demonizing black bisexual men as vectors of HIV transmission to treating us as if we are exactly like black gay men — lumping us into a single box of men who have sex with men along with them. It is, therefore, no wonder that HIV rates are disproportionately higher in black communities.”

It’s no wonder then that gay history runs parallel to the history of biphobia, and its legacy, bisexual erasure. If bisexual historical figures and bisexual figures aren’t “bisexually erased” into being gay men or lesbians, they are removed from the conversation, even if their data isn’t!

For example, in 1985 when Larry Kramer first published his seminal work on the HIV/AIDS epidemic “The Normal Heart”, the only mention of bisexuals is in the stage directions. In the play’s “About the Production” section, Kramer describes the walls of the set being whitewashed and painted in “black, simple lettering” with “facts and figures and names”. One of the items on set walls?

“The number of cases in gays and the number of cases in straights, calculated by subtracting the gay and bi-sexual number from the total CDC figure.”

If gay+bisexual=gay, where does the bisexual go? Contrary to popular belief, we do not disappear in a puff of logic. We just die, and sometimes we die without anyone to remember our name.

To me this feels like vexation without representation, and bisexuals get nothing for their troubles. And troubles they are, with bisexuals facing higher rates of nearly every societal ill such as alcohol, drug abuse, smoking, cancer, sexual violence (including rape, stalking and intimate partner violence), heart disease, suicide and PTSD.

Bisexual oriented AND bisexually behaviorally people simply report more disparities than their gay, lesbian and heterosexual peers. In comparison to some research on transgender individuals, bisexuals report less hate crimes yet nearly the same rates of suicide and sexual assault.

BiNet USA Bisexual Community Issues Presentation, Jan 2015
BiNet USA Bisexual Community Issues Presentation, Jan 2015

Winning the disparity race has left bisexuals with nothing but shame, often internalized and externalized about our identity. Whether it be damaging oppositional dialogue about bisexual community labels or consistent calls for “visibility” instead of straight up parity, bisexuals have paid the price.

An evolving world is waking up to recognize that binaries are too simple to define love, and that bisexuals need more than just to be named. We need to be served like our lives depend on it and our sanity requires it. Will the world wake in time?

To learn more about the bisexual community and HIV/AIDS, please check out The Bisexual History of HIV/AIDS, in photos.


Upcoming! Sixth Annual Genderevolution conference, Salt Lake City UT

Sixth Annual Genderevolution 2014 Conference: Love Your Queer Body

Saturday, November 15th, 2014


The purpose of the Genderevolution is to:

  • Foster community building among trans* folk and allies alike, to help create a strong and safe space to push gender boundaries in the Salt Lake City area.
  • Educate employees, cisgender/non-trans* folk, trans* folk, health and mental care providers, and allies about the myths and realities of gender.
  • Celebrate trans* identities in an inclusive, healthy and positive way.utah-pride-center

At the 6th Annual Gender Conference, over 400 attendees are expected, and aims are to deconstruct gender mythology, explore the implications of socially constructed gender norms, and integrate our many intersecting identities.

We are all members of various communities, how do these memberships affect each other? How does our experience with gender intersect with our experience of race? Of class or sexuality or relationship styles? How about religion, physical dis/ability, or political ideology? Maybe we won’t find clear answers to these questions, but in asking them perhaps we can come to understand ourselves—and each other—just a little better.

 LGBT HealthLink is the official sponsor of the 2014 Wellness track! The track will include sessions on:

Trans 101 in Spanish
Surgical Outcomes for Vagioplasty
Trust & Resonance in Relationships (by the LGBTQ Affirmative Therapists Guild of Utah)
WPATH (World Professional Association for Transgender Health): What you need to know
Fitness & Transition
Gynecology for Trans* Patients
Smoking out a Deadly Threat (by our very own steering committee member, Gabe Glissmeyer)


The keynote speaker is Pat Manuel, a trans/off-binary boxer and transmasculine fitness advocate.
Pat Manuel
Pat Manuel

Pat Manuel, also known as “Cacahuate(Peanut)” is a transmasculine QPOC who has shaped his masculine identity in boxing gyms around Los Angeles, CA. A 5x national amateur champion, Pat was a participant in the first ever Women’s Olympic Boxing Trials and was the only vocally out queer fighting in the history of USA Boxing’s Olympic Box-Offs. Medically disqualified after the first fight of the tournament, Pat struggled with ways other than visibility to aide his community. Since joining the Brown Boi Project in 2013, he has decided to use his knowledge as a trainer and athlete to empower other through physical fitness. Pat created, a website intending to fill the void of queer fitness interests. When he isn’t training, Pat is usually fond of enjoying cookies and dreaming of becoming a giant robot pilot.

Conferences · Uncategorized

“It’s Your Time To Shine!” 2014 LGBTQ Youth Regional Retreats Recap

Motivational-Inspirational-Life-Quotes-2243National Youth Pride Services recently hosted it’s 2014 “It’s Your Time To Shine” Regional Retreat series in Detroit, Michigan (Midwest), Columbia, South Carolina (South) and Washington D.C. (East) thanks to sponsors CenterLink, Lambda Legal, 3LW TV, South Carolina Black Pride, Palmetto AIDS Life Support Services and Al Sura. The retreat was designed to uplift, inspire and motivate the black LGBTQ youth communities in a way that had never been done before. Below, the retreat facilitator and participants recap the events of the three retreats.

In 2014 NYPS changed it mission and vision to be MORE uplifting, positive and empowering; to focus on the positive and less of the negative. We believe that people who are self-confident are more willing to help lift others. After All, winners help others win. Many people are looking for hope, and may just not know where to find it or how to get there. “One Shinning Moment” is our nationwide effort to uplift and inspire our target population. There is much to be said about all the negativity in our communities. This video, shown to all attendees, highlights some of the negative opinions about our community, but we feel this is our #OneShinningMoment to come up with solutions and move to the next level.

The goals of the retreats were to make sure each participant would leave the weekend knowing how to:

Live your life on purpose.

Not on “default.” Be Proactive. Make conscious and deliberate choices. When you don’t choose, circumstances choose for you and you are never leading: you are following or catching up—or worse, living in “default” mode.

Utilize your full potential.

Give what you’re doing your best and fullest attention. Be here now. Even if you’re not where you want to be, giving it half of your effort doesn’t move you forward. Master what you have at hand, for the sake of mastering it, and something will shift.

Live in the question.

There is nothing you cannot be, do, or have, so do not impose limitations on yourself. Instead of saying you can’t get there, ask “How can I get there?” Live in the affirmation of possibility rather than the declaration of negativity.

There is always a way, and it is being presented consistently, but you have to live in the question to be on the lookout for the answer.

Learn to say “No.”

To live your best possible life, you need to learn how to say no to the things that aren’t serving you. The best barometer to measure this by is: if it isn’t a “hell yeah” (Yippee, so fun, can’t wait!), then it is most probably a no. If you have to talk yourself into it, it’s a no.

Once you get comfortable saying no, everything becomes a matter of choice. Living a life of choice is a living a life of freedom.

Know your own value.

Others may be more educated, skilled, or talented in one or another area, but there is something magnificent and valuable about what you have to offer this world that, in comparison, is equal.

Do not allow yourself or anyone else to diminish it. You have a learning disability? So did Dr.King, and that’s what makes him the most powerful speakers. Joe Vitale came from homelessness. Look at him now. Stop idolizing anyone else’s gifts and dismissing your own.

The Midwest version (June), the largest of the three, was held in conjunction with FIERCE, a national program working towards LGBTQ youth of color liberation and located at the Allied Media Conference at Wayne State University. Andrew Rahme, attended the Midwest Regional and based on his experiences and interactions during the weekend, actually became a member of NYPS. Here are some of his thoughts on the Detroit even which had a greater focus on community building and activism:

10383485_10203476696491931_6806017940715506034_nCreation, connection, and transformation are the words that come to mind when thinking about the Midwest Regional at the Allied Media Conference (AMC). Being a queer or trans person of color, it is reality that you have to constantly create solutions for yourself in order to live happily, and successfully. We create walls, stories, identities, spaces, and sometimes we even create realities different from the ones that we are confined to. At the AMC networking gathering, we had a chance to come together as QTPOC and identify the current issues to implement change in our community. Through games, laughter, relationship building, and amazing food, we discovered things about ourselves and about each other that allowed us to grow in ways we didn’t expect.

A very large focus of the network gathering at AMC was surrounded around connection. Connection to each other, to the world around us, and to our personal selves. We mapped out where our interests of change are and brainstormed what steps we can take to implement that change. We connected in ways we didn’t expect through common interests, experiences and the sharing of our wants, needs, hopes, and realities. Many of us began combining different realities and solutions in order to produce ideas for the most effective change.

The end result was inspiring and truly transforming. We got to be first hand witnesses of the beauty that comes out of organizing with QTPOC youth. Ideas as well as lasting relationships were created and strengthened, and to see what change these new alliances will create is exciting to watch for.

The South version (August) was held in Loft’s at The Claussen’s Inn. On Friday night all participants watched the video on the State of The Black LGBTQ Community. Some in the room agreed with some of the statements made, but the majority felt that there were some things that could be done to change the perception of what it is like to be black and LGBTQ.

On Saturday, the first session focused on a common theme in the video: “Status Anxiety”. This is the constant comparing of yourself to others. We looked at how the people you surround yourself with can be stressful and a few ways to get rid of status anxiety. Other issues touched on were: “Later Never Comes” (procrastination), Self Respect, Self Esteem, How Not To Care What Others Think About You as well as our other Life Development Series for Black LGBTQ young adults: “Dollars and Good Sense” and “Born To Win”.

Brandon Berry, of Orlando, FL gives his thoughts on the south retreat:

Brandon Dykes served as a facilitator for the South Region Retreat, as did Brandon Berry.
Brandon Dykes served as a facilitator for the South Region Retreat, as did Brandon Berry.

It was the epitome of comfort, which was a pleasant surprise to me. Imagine walking into a beautiful inn, rich with its area’s history and augmented tall ceiling including a large glass window clearly displaying the beautiful sky. Imagine a two-story loft for a room with all of the space necessary for yourself as well as any of your guests and fellow attendees. One would think no real productive work would be done. Contrary to that thought, we spent a majority of our days with each other having deep, lengthy and intelligent conversations. One of the highlights of this weekend is that great work took place in the comfort of our own rooms. It was a great experience.

I not only met strong and intelligent Black men of distinction, but I got to get personal with them and discuss life and goals and our journeys to our respective unfolding greatness. We held discussions on how to be an effective leader, things to remember when inheriting a leadership position from someone else, and other miscellaneous subjects like the Quality of Education from HBCUs vs PWIs.

Overall the conference was great, and the experience was even greater.

The East version (September) was held at the Akwaaba, a luxury, African inspired house in LGBTQ friendly DuPont Circle. Like the south version, on Friday night, participant’s gathered to watch the video and discuss it. They were more aggressive in their defense of the black LGBTQ community and pointed out how no one in the video took any personal responsibility.

The East Region participants, not only went over all of the same Life Development series topics covered in the South Region, they were able to

Jabbar Lewis facilitated the "Selfies" series in DC.
Jabbar Lewis facilitated the “Selfies” series in DC.

preview parts of our new series: “Choices”: Whether you believe it or not, everything up to this point in your life that has or has not happened to you is because of the choices you have made. Every aspect or our life when examined a little closer can be traced back to a series of choices we have made.

In addition, each participant was given a section of each series to study and then present to the group.

The East Region allowed participants to live together for 3 full days in a fully furnished house, similar to a reality show. This dynamic might have made the East Region one of the best experiences out of the three, so much so, we are looking to hosts future retreats in a luxury house setting. The South and East Regions are also where we tested out having each participant follow each presentation on their tablet/laptop or mobile devices instead of the traditional power points and projectors. They now will be able to relive each session on their mobile device at any time.

Here is a  complete list of all Life Development topics, related videos and handouts from the retreats.

Conferences · National Black Justice Coalition · Uncategorized

The Black Bisexual Experience: Intersections Can Electrify To Save Lives

The National Black Justice Coalition, America’s leading Black LGBT civil rights organization focused on federal public policy, hosted the 5th annual OUT on the Hill Black LGBT Leadership Summit in Washington, DC, from September 24-27, 2014. As a black bisexual cisgender woman identified person attending Out on the Hill was an honor and a deep privilege, because often I enter into a space, event or organization being able to only honor one part of myself, instead all of me. From the very beginning of OUT on the Hill I was able to celebrate my blackness alongside my bisexuality to showcase what the black bisexual experience can really be.

junejordanquoteI was also honored to present at the OUT on the Hill conference, and joined legendary black LGBT icon ABilly S. Jones-Hennin and black bisexual psychologist Shervon Laurice, MS, LCPC, LPC, RYT on a panel at OUT on the Hill (OOTH). From the very beginning of our conversations with OOTH organizers ABilly and I realized the historic importance of our presentation and panel. There have been few resources developed and dedicated to the black bisexual experience even though black folks have been central to the development of bisexual culture and community. As well many of the health, physical/sexual violence and mental health disparities so often reported by bisexuals are also experienced in black communities.

In fact for me I’ve considered my blackness a superhero add-on to my work in bisexual communities and my bisexuality a major asset to my work supporting black and people of color communities. Personally my own diverse background as black person with West Indian roots and American Indian ancestry has impacted my approach to all culture. I call myself “alternablack” not because my experience is alternative to black folks but because of how I look or how I sound, people often assume that my experience is different from other black people when it is not. I experience racism on a daily basis and survive. I regularly am followed by security in the grocery store and every time I fly, I am selected for further security checks. Being black is an every day, every hour and every second experience that I celebrate because my blackness can be a strength and in fact, my blackness is badge of honor that taught me a great deal about how to survive in a world where many will struggle to accept me.

nbjc_faithMy history of being a black American has also shaped how I approach my health because my family history includes cancer, heart disease, auto-immune diseases, obesity, high cholesterol, mental illness, and high blood pressure. In fact, as a child I was often educated by my family and community about the health concerns I needed to be conscious of. Having that education has allowed me to recognize risk factors for what they are, opportunities to get better and save my life. I’m thankful that my blackness and my personal culture has functioned as a bridge for my bisexuality as well so the risk factors I face as a bi person are not always multiplied, sometimes and in some ways I can actually use my various intersections of identities to supercharge my approach to health. To give me strength and courage to keep going to the doctor, and to keep challenging myself to keep getting healthier.

Slide on Bisexual Health Disparities, BiNet USA Bisexual Community Presentation

I’m lucky to have had the information to educate myself and help educate the communities I live and thrive in. I’ll be writing more about some of the various things that affect the health of bisexual, pansexual, fluid, queer and/or non-monosexual people too so stay tuned!

Download “The Black Bisexual Experience” PowerPoint Presentation here.

Download “The Black Bisexual Experience” Handout here.

Conferences · National Black Justice Coalition

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 “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.

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.

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

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.

Conferences · National Black Justice Coalition · Uncategorized

The Black Bisexual Experience Presentation at Out on the Hill Conference

faith cheltenham

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.

faith bi icon

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.

faith bi platform

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.

faith intimate partner violence

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.

faith bi violence

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.

faith bi info

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.

faith infograph

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


  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).


Dr Herukhuti-Lambda 2014

Herukhuti, Ph.D., M.Ed.

Professor, Goddard College

Founder and CEO, Center for Culture, Sexuality and Spirituality

“Are you sure, sweetheart, that you want to be well? I like to caution folks, that’s all. No sense us wasting each other’s time, sweetheart. A lot of weight when you’re well. Now, you just hold that thought…. Just so’s you’re sure. sweetheart, and ready to be healed cause wholeness is no trifling matter. A lot of weight when you’re well.” – Minnie Ransom in Toni Cade Bambara’s The Salt Eaters

The health and wellbeing of Black people. Who will take the weight of the wholeness and wellness of people who Europeans brought to the Western hemisphere as chattel slaves, marked as sub-human in scientific journals, made to live in dehumanizing conditions up to and including the present moment? In 1977, the members of the Combahee River Collective, stated, “We realize that the only people who care enough about us to work consistently for our liberation are us. Our politics evolve from a healthy love for ourselves, our sisters and our community which allows us to continue our struggle and work.”

The articulation of self-determination in Black communities has not been unique to Black women. Essex Hemphill, in his poem For My Own Protection, answered the question thusly, “I want to start an organization to save my life…. the lives of Black men are priceless and can be saved. We should be able to save each other. I don’t want to wait for the Heritage Foundation to release a study saying Black people are almost extinct…. I don’t want to be the living dead pacified with drugs, sex and rock-n-roll…. If we have to take tomorrow with blood are we ready?… All I want to know for my own protection is are we capable of whatever whenever.”

As we discussed the IOM report recommendations for research training, it became obvious that there is currently no research training center dedicated to LGBT health research run by Black people or even with Black people in significant positions of power and authority in the United States. Zero. The Conference on Current Issues in LGBTI Health Research, which the organizers characterized as an international conference and had presenters and attendees from Asia, Latin America and the United States, had one Black presenter.

Recommendation Six of the IOM Report made the following assertions:

“To create a more robust cadre of researchers in LGBT health, NIH should expand its existing research training framework for both intramural and extramural training. Three audiences should be targeted: researchers who are working with or considering working with LGBT populations, other researchers who may not be aware of LGBT health issues, and NIH staff.” p.304

“In its intramural training program, NIH should develop postdoctoral training opportunities in the area of LGBT research (for example, research on youth and families). Similarly, NIH should expand the curriculum of its postbaccalaureate NIH Academy to include LGBT-specific issues in addition to the racial and ethnic disparities that are currently studied within the program. To implement these research training activities, NIH should increase its capacity to provide on-site experts as mentors for researchers examining LGBT health issues.” p.304

“Within its existing extramural program, NIH should increase the number of individual awards offered to researchers studying LGBT health issues, including postdoctoral, graduate student, and career awards. In addition, the current loan repayment program should be expanded to assist students who choose to study LGBT health issues. In particular, the development of researchers of color who will study LGBT health should be encouraged.“ p.305

If these recommendations are to be implemented in ways that lead to tangible, material improvements in the health, wholeness and wellbeing of Black people, they have to be implemented in a different context than has been attempted previously. The Eurocentric and white-dominated systems, structures and mechanisms can not be the vehicles for implementation because they have proven to be ineffective in addressing the tangible, material conditions of Black people–despite the good intentions of well-meaning white allies.

It is time (as it has always been the time) for us to liberate and save ourselves. We need a national convening of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, same-gender loving, and queer organizations, leadership and researchers to generate a health agenda that addresses our needs, realities, and aspirations. It will mean recognizing the areas of common experience as well as the uniquenesses that exists across Black folks who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, same-gender loving, and queer. It will entail our embrace of our indigenous knowledge of our communities (both grassroots knowledge and scientific knowledge) as well as considering the value of the work that has been conducted outside of our communities such as the IOM report. It will require the cultural confidence evidenced in the Combahee River Collective Statement and Essex Hemphill’s poem to believe that we can take the weight and the cultural sophistication to realize that we are the only ones who ever could.

Dr. Herukhuti is founder and Chief Erotics Officer (CEO) of the Center for Culture, Sexuality and Spirituality and editor-in-chief of He is also a member of the faculty at Goddard College. Follow him on Twitter and Tumblr and like his Facebook Fan page.