On Monday, February 16, activists Wade Davis, Darnell Moore, and Tiq Milan launched #ThisIsLuv, a “Black love” multimedia initiative that highlights affirming LGBT love in Black communities and families.
“Too many people within the Black LGBT community believe this myth [that the Black community is overwhelmingly more homophobic than other groups] and never allow themselves to be loved by their families,” said Wade Davis, an openly gay former NFL player. “Our goal is make it known that love for Black LGBT people exists in our community.”
With community partners GLAAD, the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRCF), Feministing.com, and Politini Media, the campaign aims to elevate stories of acceptance on Ebony.com and social media.
Community members publicly noted that no bisexual advocacy organizations or thought leaders were brought on to craft the campaign. Language in the press release also neglected to acknowledge bisexuals. Now bi activists are petitioning for folks to tell the creators that marginalizing Black bisexuals is not what love looks like. Organizers insist that the initiative includes all sexualities and identities, and have apologized for their “unintentional omission.” The outcry and boycott from the bi community and its supporters have amplified a conversation about erasure and intentional inclusion.
“It’s deception to claim you’re doing LGBT work when the ‘B’ is always silent, forgotten and erased,” said Faith Cheltenham, president of bi advocacy group BiNet USA. “And honestly, it’s just plain cruel to follow up your slights with comments like, ‘It’s not like bisexual activists are on every corner.'”
#ThisIsLuv co-organizer Darnell Moore shared the following on Twitter:
In an act of solidarity, TransGriot blogger Monica Roberts wrote: “Just like the trans community, the ‘B’ in the LGBT community has been marginalized and ignored as well by the LG end…. African-American bi community members exist. I’ve been in contact and friends with many of them for years…. I would hope that the #ThisIsLuv campaign organizers would expeditiously correct their error and immediately include African-descended bi community leaders. As much as I like the idea and it’s critically needed in the Black community, I can’t support it if it continues to erase the bi community in words and deeds. You can’t legitimately claim that this is an LGBT community campaign when the ‘B’ was not only ignored, but wasn’t sitting at the table to craft it.”
The sad reality is that bisexuals experience extreme health disparities compared to their heterosexual, lesbian and gay counterparts, including a higher rate of tobacco use and a higher rate of anxiety or mood disorder. Bisexual women are the most likely to have never had a cancer screening (mammogram or pap test) compared to heterosexuals or lesbians. They also have more risk factors for heart disease compared to heterosexuals or lesbians. Additionally, family acceptance for bi youth is lower than their gay and lesbian peers experience.
With stories like “Coming Out to My Sister, Being Wrapped in Love” by Politini’s Danielle Moodie-Mills, #ThisIsLuv helps disrupt the narrative that the Black community is monolithically homophobic. LGBT-affirming love and acceptance is abundant in our Black families — not an anomaly. The campaign also reminds us that there’s work to do around intentional bi inclusion.
“We hope that future Black queer campaigns include Black bisexual activists,” said Gwendolyn Henry, founder of Bisexual Women of Color (BIWOC), in a statement. “We would be happy to be active in healing and celebrating all of our sexual orientations.”