Monthly Archives: March 2011
Two of the most prevalent stereotypes associated with bisexuals are that they’re promiscuous and indecisive. Not only are these stereotypes distortions that fuel biphobia, but the San Francisco Human Rights Commission also approved an eye-opening report that confirms bisexual invisibility has serious consequences on bisexuals’ health and economic well-being.
Many people don’t realize that being bisexual doesn’t necessarily mean randomly “switching sides.“ Being bisexual can mean identifying primarily as gay for long periods of time or identifying primarily as straight for long periods of time. It can also mean favoring one sex more than the other. Being bisexual is not merely a “phase” of experimentation that is en route to a gay or lesbian orientation.
Bisexuality is the capacity for emotional, romantic, and/or physical attraction to more than one sex or gender. A bisexual orientation speaks to the potential for, but not requirement of, involvement with more than one sex/gender. (Source)
Although many lesbians have had relationships with men at some point in their lives, being bisexual continues to carry a stigma. There is the persistent fear that a bisexual woman could at any point dump her lesbian partner for a penis. As a result, bisexual women often feel ostracized from both heterosexual and lesbian communities, leaving them more at risk for suicide, poverty and more.
Our Family is a series that celebrates two-mommy families and delves into some of the challenges they face. The goal of the series is to depict same-sex parent families in a way that is authentic and dispels myths associated with same-sex childrearing. Desiree, a 33-year-old minister, gives us a glimpse of her family—her partner Vanessa, 34, and their daughters Shana and Grace, ages 11 and 6.*
ELIXHER: How do you define “family”?
DESIREE: A unit of people that love each other through thick and thin. A safe place.
ELIXHER: Tell us a bit about your family.
DESIREE: We are a family of four: my partner, our two girls and me. The 11-year-old is biologically my partner’s daughter from a previous marriage. The 6-year-old is mine biologically, also from a previous marriage. My partner Vanessa is beautiful, laid back, easy-going. She’s in the military. Me? Well, I’m the type A to the max type of person. I love to organize and get things done. I’ve been a minister for fifteen years and a Christian schoolteacher for ten. Our daughter Grace is very outgoing, free-spirited and sensitive. She loves to dance, sing, and be the center of attention. Shana loves to read and is very caring. She keeps her feelings to herself and can be moody at times. We live in Virginia.
ELIXHER: How long have you and your partner been together? And how did you know it was the “right” time to blend families?
DESIREE: We’ve been together for five years. Things didn’t quite start with the best timing for us at all. I was in the process of separating from my ex-husband and fell in love with Vanessa. She was and is my best friend. She had already been separated and then unfortunately became a widow before finalizing a divorce. If we were to do it again, we would definitely change the timing of everything but it is what it is and life goes on. Our love truly has been the glue and has helped us overcome obstacles that sometimes seem from hell.
For decades, Bedford-Stuyvesant (more commonly known as Bed-Stuy) has been a cultural hub for Brooklyn’s Black population. While White faces trickle into the neighborhood and quaint coffee shops and wine bars pop up along the brownstone-lined blocks, one thing that has always been here and will remain is its Black queer community.
“There’s a misconception in Bed-Stuy that queer folks are gentrifiers, which is completely untrue,” explains Chelsea Johnson-Long, coordinator for a program of the Audre Lorde Project called the Safe OUTside the System Collective (SOS). “There are plenty of queer people who grew up in Bed-Stuy,” she adds. This is one of the many myths SOS, an anti-violence program that operates and serves lesbian, gay, bisexual, two-spirit, trans and gender non-conforming (LGBTSTGNC) people of color in central-Brooklyn, seeks to dispel with Bed-Stuy Pride.
Bed-Stuy Pride, slated to launch early August, is also an effort to address the harassment that often occurs against LGBTSTGNC people in Bed-Stuy. “Our community members experience a particular kind of violence here,” Johnson-Long explains. “Not just violence because of their sexual identity but also because of their race.”
Often individuals don’t feel safe walking home at night or publicly holding hands with their partner out of the fear of being taunted or physically harmed. This violence is not only from community members, but also from police officers. Transwomen are sometimes stopped and frisked by cops because it is assumed that they’re sex workers. Johnson-Long believes that it is becoming normalized to these every day acts of violence that leads to more heinous hate crimes like murder. “To affect that kind of stuff, you really have to affect the culture of the space,” says the SOS coordinator.
InspiHERed By spotlights phenomenal women in the Black queer community—everyone from artists to activists. Each week ELIXHER features someone whose personal journey and individual craft inspire us to dream bigger, laugh harder, and love deeper. This week we catch up with Yvonne Fly Onakeme Etaghene, a dope 30-year-old Nigerian poet.
ELIXHER: So tell us a little about yourself.
YVONNE: [Clears throat.] Ok, let’s see. Yvonne Fly Onakeme Etaghene. That’s who I am. I’m from Nigeria. I was raised in Nigeria as well as upstate New York. What I do is always an interesting question because I feel like a lot of times what people do is known as who they are. But I am a poet. I’m a performance poet, playwright, visual artist, dancer, and essayist. I’m working on my first novel. I crochet and I cook. I like to make things.
ELIXHER: What drew you to your craft?
YVONNE: I feel like art chose me. I remember I started writing at nine. I was very lonely and I had just moved back from Nigeria. I had an accent. I didn’t feel like people “got” me. I just had a couple of friends, so I’d write stories. I used to write those five-teenagers-stuck-in-a-haunted-house kinds of stories.
If I look at all my art forms, painting is probably one of the newer ways of expressing myself, so I’m not as confident in it sometimes. I almost resist that desire in myself to paint because I’m like, “Oh, I can’t do it.” But then when I just let go of those things and I just paint, there are just all these things I can say and ways I can touch people through that medium.
So the art forms really choose me and I can choose whether or not I listen.