Steering Committee

Apply by June 5th to be on HealthLink’s Steering Committee


Corey Prachniak serves as Chair of LGBT HealthLink’s Steering Committee and is a healthcare and LGBT rights attorney.  Corey tweets @CPrachniak.


As Chair of LGBT HealthLink‘s Steering Committee, I am happy to announce that we are looking for two individuals to join our diverse and active group.  The Steering Committee supports HealthLink’s staff by advising on and promoting the organization’s initiatives, which include work in tobacco, cancer, and other fields of LGBT health.  The Committee is also consulted on major organizational decisions and meets regularly by phone and occasionally in person.  There are two spaces open on the Steering Committee:

  • We are seeking a youth representative between the ages of 18 and 24.  The youth representative will ideally be able to assist the rest of the Steering Committee and HealthLink’s staff on reaching other young adults, and on building connections with groups that serve this population.  The youth representative will be one of two such representatives on the Committee, and is a full member.
  • We are also seeking a Steering Committee member with experience in cancer issues.  Ideally, this person would be familiar with LGBT disparities in cancer as well as with the organizations doing work in this field.  As HealthLink expands more into cancer-based work, an ability and willingness to connect us into relevant networks and advise us on substantive issues is highly desirable.

Both individuals must be willing to make at least four out of six conference calls per year (usually occurring at 3:00 p.m. EST on a weekday); be willing to travel up to one time per year for an expenses-paid, in-person meeting; be willing to join at least one sub-committee with additional, infrequent conference calls; and be willing to publish at least one blog post per year on a topic of interest to you in the HealthLink blog.  Appointments to the Committee will run from July 2015 through June 2017, with the option of a two-year extension.

To apply, please fill out our application by Friday, June 5, 2015.  Applicants may be asked to participate in a phone or Skype interview, and final notifications will be sent by July 1, 2015.


Building A Culture of Health in the LGBT Communities

Funders for LGBTQ Issues infographic.
Funders for LGBTQ Issues infographic.

Head Shot Scout 2014 lo res

Director LGBT HealthLink

[The following is a transcript of a speech I gave at the LGBT Health Funding Summit on January 28, 2015. The transcript has been slightly edited for readability.]

My name is Scout, and as many of you know, I’ve been working with HealthLink for about 9 years and in LGBT health for dozens of years. It’s been really interesting recently because we’re seeing a real shift in how health work is done across the country now. My arena is public health. That means we spend a lot of time focusing outside a doctor’s office, intervening on the social determinants of health and making a difference as to whether or not we ever see a doctor’s face. With healthcare reform, we’re shifting our national focus on health away from the doctor’s office. Instead, we’re moving towards prevention strategies, towards wellness strategies, and the many different inputs that affect the health trajectory of our lives. For me, from a public health perspective, this is one of the most exciting times that I can remember being in this profession.

So what do I do? I’m Director of LGBT HealthLink. It’s a federally funded program that provides technical assistance to all the federal grantees that are doing work in wellness and chronic disease, particularly related to tobacco disparities and cancer prevention. One of the cool things about this is I get to approach state health departments all around the country. Of course, I spend most of my time working outside of places like New York or California. Instead, I am invited by Texas, Arkansas, Indiana, etc.― states that have almost no contact with the LGBT communities except in their HIV programs. I get to fly in and talk to them about this is how these departments of health need to build relationships with the LGBT communities.

First let’s look at the landscape. What is the single entity that does more health care funding in this country than any other? The federal government. Federal Medicaid and Medicare programs spend more on health than anybody else. Who spends the second highest amount on healthcare funding? It’s the state governments.

As we see the excellent work coming out of Out2Enroll and other organizations, we as a community have put a lot of energy into trying to persuade federal health representatives to be LGBT inclusive. However, the state governments are actually something that we haven’t put nearly as much energy into. They’ve almost been given a pass from us so far. So, I get to work with a lot of the state departments of health and do a lot of cultural competency training with them. I also work out of CenterLink, which is the community of LGBT centers. We represent over 160 LGBT community centers, large and small, around the country. These community centers are where a lot of these frontline LGBT services occur.

So the question for today’s talk is: How do we build a culture of health in our communities? One of the first things we do when we visit a state such as Arkansas or Wisconsin is try to connect them with local LGBT health resources. When I trained the Mississippi State Department of Health staff (who unexpectedly turned out in droves to learn how to include an LGBT focus in their health work), my first step is to say, I need you to build bridges with the local LGBT communities. Unfortunately, in too many states, there aren’t enough LGBT community groups who do health work. One of the things we need to do is build that capacity.

Every other year, HealthLink surveys our 160 LGBT community centers. These were some of the findings in our most recent survey: LGBT centers do a lot of health activities. Sixty percent were training healthcare providers in how to be culturally competent and sixty five percent were doing wellness programming, initiatives such as tobacco control, eating better, exercising more, etc.

One of the things I want to stress is that cultural competency trainings and wellness programming are actually two areas where it’s almost impossible to obtain foundation funding. Local organizations are usually drawing from general operating money in order to provide those services. For example, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is funding today’s health conference. I love that. Many years ago, we did a little campaign to persuade the Foundation to include more LGBT funding in its work. The president was nice enough to commit to more inclusion. As a result, I ended up getting a Robert Wood Johnson Tobacco Policy Change Award. This work was very successful. If you ask the people in Washington D.C. how their smoking ban was passed, they still credit the LGBT communities for playing a key role.

Now understand, I used to run teams of grant writers. Caitlin Ryan actually taught me how to do it. I’ve raised over $110 million through grant writing. I can do grant writing; I’ve got that down. But when Robert Wood Johnson asked me to raise a matching gift of only $50,000 to continue year two of this very successful tobacco-policy change work, I couldn’t get anywhere. The program folded. So as we think about the cultural competency trainings and wellness programs that happen, I need to point out how few foundation resources we have to support this key work.

Let’s examine this from another angle. HealthLink actively engages in needs assessments around the country. We’ve provided a stock needs assessment template and shepherded a few different states through this process. I want to share some of the findings from one particular state. I won’t even mention the state because the point is that I think it’s pretty representative of many states. Let’s just say it’s in the South and it’s a red state. So what are the people experiencing and what are they talking about in regard to their health priorities? In this state, 64% of the population reported that they feared coming out to their healthcare provider because they thought there was going to be negative reaction. Actually, you will find out that’s more than justified. I’m surprised it is not even higher, because one-half of the population has had a negative experience after coming out to a healthcare provider. 97% of the people in this survey wanted to incorporate more wellness strategies into their life. They want to eat better, exercise more, receive cancer screenings, and become tobacco-free. Yet, two-thirds of them had never seen any wellness program that had been tailored to the LGBT communities. And I am surprised it is not 100% of them, because I don’t think there has ever been a program tailored to us in this state.

Right now we have a wave of wellness activity around the country. Some of this is spurred by healthcare reform. If you are familiar with the federal statistics, you may know that almost $1 billion dollars hit the street in these grants called Communities Putting Prevention to Work and later Community Transformation Grants. This wellness funding was for cities, states and metropolitan areas around the country to build this wave of more farmers markets, bike paths, tobacco cessation programs, smoke-free housing, etc. Of the hundreds of millions of dollars that hit the streets the last five years, how many LGBT programs were funded? Two. That’s all I know about.

We have a culture shift right now towards wellness that is occurring across our country. If we talk about LGBT disparities, I’m sorry to say but I actually think that we are building a new LGBT disparity relating to wellness because we are not standing up and saying we need to be included in funding.

Let’s go back to our needs assessment, what do the people in this state say are their top health issues?

  1. Suicide
  2. Mental health
  3. Bullying
  4. HIV
  5. Access to healthcare

A couple notes about these findings: First, let’s talk about the single issue that has taken more years off of our lives than any other. According to the CDC, there is one health challenge that is currently predicted to kill a million of us. And there are only nine million of us in the country, right? A million of us will die early from this health issue and it’s not on this list. What is it? It’s smoking. Right now LGBT people in our communities spend $7.9 billion a year on cigarettes. The last time we checked that was 65 times more than the grant funding for all LGBT issues combined. Smoking is actually the ninth health issue; unfortunately, because most of the funders and policy makers rarely include us in their tobacco control funding, we don’t often see it as one of our priorities. Still, tobacco is by far the thing that is going to affect more of us than any other health challenge.

The health priority that was dead last was cancer. If you noticed in the recently released LGBT Vital Funding health report, there is $4 million given out annually for LGBT cancer. Who is funding most all of it? The Komen Foundation. So our cancer funding is exclusively for cancers related to women. Do you know that gay men have rates up to 34 times higher than other men for anal cancer? There is almost no funding for that at all right now. Do you know that if you are HIV-positive and you have your meds under control, the top two reasons you are going to die are smoking and cancer? Again I must emphasize, these are two major funding gaps.

Let’s look at what the LGBT community members did identify as their top health issues: suicide, mental health, bullying. What do I conclude from this information? That right now, we don’t yet have a culture of health in our communities. Right now, we have a culture of survival. We are very crisis driven.

Let me give you an example of how this plays out. We contacted LGBT community centers earlier this year. We asked, ”What would it take for you to pass a wellness policy? A policy of committing to offering healthy food, exercise options and generally promoting health within your organization?” Now understand, these are organizations that already do health work in most cases. It was really interesting because of one of the primary reactions we received was, “We can’t go there because we are too crisis-based right now. We have another suicidal youth coming to our door; another homeless adult; another person whose parents are being horrible to them.” It’s a day-to-day crisis. This really shows we don’t have enough capacity in the organizations that are doing the frontline work so that they can build programming that feeds larger community level goals.

Where does this culture of crisis come from? We know according to GLSEN school climate survey that 85% of our LGBT youth experience verbal harassment in the last year. We know that 56% experience discrimination. We’re raising community members that are experiencing stigma from the earliest point in their life. How much is really being done for youth to find a place where that stigma can be neutralized? Where they can be inoculated against it? 90% of the LGBT community centers right now are doing youth work. They are often the frontline places, along with the GSA networks, where the youth are congregating. Too often in this work right now, there is nothing coordinating these groups. My organization, which is the national association of the community centers, has a program called YouthLink to do just that. Arcus had funded that program, and that’s great. But right now there’s no one supporting that coordination. We are still trying to look for more resources to share lessons between these youth organizations. There also isn’t a big youth conference and the GSA networks don’t have a single convening body. Our youth work, if anything right now, is concentrated in national groups that do not do local programming and offer little coordination for the many local groups. These groups are valuable, but we should be able to access funding to build and sustain local work as well. We know these stressors experienced by our youth translate directly into health disparities for our adult population.

That’s my overview of where we stand with our health culture. Now I am going to suggest three opportunities that I believe will build us towards a culture of health as quickly as possible.

The third tier level of opportunity is to fund early.

As I said, social determinants of health demonstrate anything that happens earlier in life has a larger effect on the trajectory of your whole life. The more we do to stabilize those youth programs and those youth that are experiencing discrimination, the better off the whole population will be five, 10, and 15 years from now.

So what is the second tier level of opportunity? To fund technical assistance so we can move our organizations into bigger funding streams.

States are the number-two health funders, right? And just so you know, the second most likely topic for states to fund (beyond HIV) is youth services. But out of all the organizations we asked, 40% said that their states were not welcoming the LGBT issues. So I want to ask: are we okay with that? Do we feel comfortable with the fact that 40% of states are refusing to fund LGBT health? Hopefully not. Hopefully, that’s something we really will change. I love Kellan Baker’s message that we need to do more administrative health advocacy work. That’s exactly what it will take to change the state funding patterns. We need to hold the states to a higher level of accountability, as we’ve been holding the feds to a higher level of accountability. But accountability alone won’t fully solve this problem. Another barrier we have is that proposals to states and the federal agencies are much more complicated than the ones to foundations. 70% of the community centers say that they have problems applying for state and federal proposals because they have staffing issues, staffing limitations, and not enough expertise. For example, recently, there was a federal pot of funding for racial and ethnic minority wellness programming. It was called REACH. And let’s put it this way, it would have benefited them to fund an LGBT organization. So I called a racial and ethnic minority LGBT organization that we all know does excellent work― and asked them please try to put in a proposal for this money. It was a significant award. Bless them; they tried. About halfway through, they admitted we just don’t have the capacity to do the grant development. Therefore, the second thing I’d say is that it would be great to have more technical assistance for people to do state health advocacy and grant writing. Why not fund some national grant writers who are on call to help local organizations get into bigger funding streams? It’s a small investment that could create new funded local programs all over the country.

Now we’ve reached onto my first-tier opportunity to build a culture of health. This is the single strategy I think would be the most important to accomplish, and funders are in a particular position to do it. Better yet, it doesn’t involve one single grant.

When we saw how Community Transformation Grants essentially skipped our communities, we started to build a set of recommendations of how the next Request for Applications (RFA) could be LGBT welcoming. Not even just LGBT welcoming but LGBT encouraging.

We thought about how we train health providers to be culturally competent and realized, Why not ask funders to be culturally competent as well? So we created a set of LGBT cultural competency standards for funders. These standards weren’t complicated; they basically conveyed a single message: whenever you fund population-based work, make sure you ask for some LGBT tailored work in the proposal’s action plan. Usually you do this in the same way you’d ask for work to be tailored to overlapping disparity populations, like racial and ethnic minorities or low-income people, etc. But don’t just mention the words LGBT in the RFA. Specifically ask for steps in their action plan. Score applicants on inclusion. It’s that simple.

What if every LGBT funder here joins Grantmakers in Health, attends their meetings, and asks what each health funder is doing to ensure LGBT inclusion in their mainstream funding? In the health world LGBT funding is only a tiny sliver of the pie. But if you can step up and ensure the rest of the pie includes tailored work for us, that’s the real win. What if Funders for LGBTQ Issues put out a policy statement of what LGBT cultural competence is in health funding? The 2011 LGBT Institute of Medicine report has a great model on this. They recommended to NIH that all of their research proposals must either include LGBT people or justify exclusion to avoid getting a lower score. What if that model was adopted by all health funders around the country? That’s where we don’t just have the power of the people in the room, but now we’ve leveraged our voices to influence a much larger stream of funding.

So what’s my first tier opportunity? The single best way to achieve a culture of health in the LGBT communities is by creating a culture of LGBT in health funding.

Thank you.

State Work

For Immediate Release- LGBT HealthLink Grades States on LGBT Tobacco Integration

December 10,  2014

For Immediate Release
Dr. Scout
(954) 765-6024

LGBT HealthLink Grades States on LGBT Tobacco Integration

Ft. Lauderdale, FL – December 10, 2014 – LGBT HealthLink today announced the first ever grades for state tobacco programs’ LGBT inclusion practices. The grades, based on a survey of best practices originally conducted in 2013 and updated this fall, represent an assessment of the overall progress each state has made in addressing inclusion, including policies, training, data collection, and community engagement. Grades span from “A” to “F”, with the average across states a “C+”.

LGBT people smoke at rates that are over 50% higher than the general population and experience profound health disparities in both cancer and smoking-related disease. The survey was developed to bring transparency to how successful states are at integrating this disproportionately affected population into their overall tobacco control work.

According to Daniella Matthews-Trigg, Administrator of LGBT HealthLink, “The results of this survey not only illustrate the work that needs to be done, but highlights the impressive efforts by many states. Our hope is that creating a system for comparison will motivate states to adopt as many best practices as possible, thereby improving acceptance and wellness in LGBTQ communities around the country”. LGBT HealthLink is offering resources to each state to improve their grades.

For several years, LGBT HealthLink (formerly the Network for LGBT Health Equity) has been circulating “Identifying and Eliminating LGBT Tobacco Disparities”, a document outlining the best practices for state programs in LGBT tobacco control, and working closely with states to implement them. These report cards are intended to gauge adoption of those best practices at a state level and create a baseline for future work.

The release of the report cards comes just after the CDC’s Office of Smoking and Health recently accepted applications from states for their next five years of tobacco funding. Dr. Scout, Director of LGBT HealthLink, noted that “In order to eliminate the LGBT smoking disparity, we need to make sure the tobacco control community targets us just like the tobacco industry already does.”

Matthews-Trigg emphasized how closely HealthLink is working with states improve their grades, “We are the people providing technical assistance to these states to do this well, so this is really a report card of our work as much as theirs. We look forward to continuing our work with the many amazing state representatives to get these grades even higher.”

View the report cards:

For more about the methodology and scoring:

 # # #

 LGBT HealthLink, a program of CenterLink, spreads LGBT wellness best practices across state and federal health departments and community organizations. LGBT HealthLink is one of eight CDC-funded tobacco and cancer disparity networks.

CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers was founded in 1994 as a member-based coalition to support the development of strong, sustainable LGBT community centers. Serving over 200 LGBT community centers across the country in 46 states. Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, as well as centers in Canada, Mexico, China, Cameroon and Australia, the organization plays an important role in supporting the growth of LGBT centers and addressing the challenges they face by helping them to improve their organizational and service delivery capacity and increase access to public resources.

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.

Huffington Post LGBT Wellness

LGBT Wellness Roundup: October 5

As published on Huffington Post’s new LGBT Wellness blog, see original at:

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.


New Mexico Convenes a Large LGBTQ Health Summit

Director of LGBT HealthLink

This year’s Sexual and Gender Diversity Summit in New Mexico was all about health, tackling the topic: “New directions for LGBTQ health and wellbeing.” I had the pleasure of being invited to give a keynote and it was a packed house. Almost 200 people crowded into the University of New Mexico auditorium on a Saturday to spend dawn til dusk hearing about health concerns of subpopulations in the larger LGBTQ communities and to discuss what was working and what needed to be done about those things that weren’t working. I especially liked the gender diversity panel and to hear how their state equality group has really taken a leadership role on fighting for health equality. Best yet though was being reacquainted with the longstanding LGBT tobacco control project in that state, some may remember STOMP, it’s now be rebranded to Fierce Pride and I assure you their presence was exactly that, fierce and fun.

2014-09-20 15.23.31
Me happily posing with members of the local CenterLink affiliate: Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico.

2014-09-20 12.25.51

2014-09-20 15.51.43
Sample of promotional material from Fierce Pride NM. Love the Espanol!

2014-09-20 15.52.58 2014-09-20 15.58.58

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.


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:
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:
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!

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).
National Black Justice Coalition

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.