dr.-herukhuti

New Group Poised to Advance Bisexual Health Research

In June of 2014 bisexual and allied health researchers and activists from across the US met to form a new group, the Bisexual Research Collaborative on Health (BiRCH) at a meeting on bisexual health research chaired by the Fenway Institute in Boston MA USA to promote discussions of bisexual health research and combat bisexual erasure. The new organization’s plans include finding methods to raise public awareness of bisexual people’s health issues and planning a national conference on the topic.

I am a member of America’s contingent faculty—a scholar-activist committed to social justice and ecological wellbeing. Seven years ago, two years after obtaining my doctorate, I was sleeping on my mother’s couch. I have not had health insurance for the last nine years and am still awaiting approval from my state’s health exchange for ACA assistance.

I have had asthma since 2003. I earn too much to receive social service subsidies and too little to keep my head above the rising financial waters without the support of family and friends. I live among other poor and working class people of color, many of whom are living with mental and/or physical illnesses, substance addictions, and the results of the structural violence of social inequality. I am also a black bisexual man.

So when I received the invitation to Boston for a meeting at the large and impressive Fenway Institute—a research division of Fenway Health, an organization committed to “enhance the wellbeing of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and all people in our neighborhoods and beyond through access to the highest quality health care, education, research and advocacy” with total net assets for 2013 of nearly $44 million according to its latest annual report—to form a bisexual health research agenda, I considered it a big deal …

The one-day meeting, which was a who’s who of bisexual research, LGBT public health research, and LGBT practitioners, included a few bisexual activists and junior scholars. I lost count at the number of people with Ivy League affiliations, academic journal editorial board memberships, White House experience, or principal investigator experience on large research studies. And I wasn’t diligent about counting from among the approximately twenty-five (25) bisexual, gay/lesbian and heterosexual attendees the numbers of bisexual men or people of color but there were a few of both.

The need for community-driven bisexual health research is too high for imperialist, competitive politics … This has been painfully evident in LGBT movement politics. Many middle class and wealthy gays and lesbians of European descent have pursued LGBT issues directly related to their self-interest and in ways most advantageous for them—leaving to their own devices the queer others of the sex and gender justice movement e.g., poor and working class people, people of color, bisexuals, transgender people, sex workers, the incarcerated, etc. The mainstream pays lip service to people like me—my neighbors, friends, and family.

When asked about her experience of the meeting, Kerith Conron, ScD, MPH, Research Scientist, Center for Population Research in LGBT Health, The Fenway Institute declared, “Our meeting was a unique opportunity to integrate three key aspects of my life: social justice, community, and sound science.” How the group continues to integrate those three elements will tell us everything we need to know about who wins, loses, or runs a Boston.

Click HERE to read Dr. Herukhuti’s full article on Bisexual Research Collaborative on Health (BiRCH)


In addition to now being a founding member of BiRCH, Dr. Herukhuti is a clinical sociologist, cultural studies scholar, performance artist, and neotraditional African shaman who focuses on sexuality, gender, and spirituality themes within Africa and the Diaspora. an adjunct Professor at Goddard College, he recently organized the successful Bisexual Institute at the 2014 Creating Change Conference.

He is the author of Conjuring Black Funk: Notes on Culture, Sexuality, and Spirituality; co-editor of Sexuality, Religion and the Sacred: Bisexual, Panexual and Polysexual Perspectives with Dr Loraine Hutchins; and is co-editor of Recognize: The Voices of Bisexual Men with Robyn Ochs.

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Bi Erasure Is Psychic Murder: The Quest for Bi Culture

by guest blogger Dr. Herukhuti, founder of the Center for Culture, Sexuality, and Spirituality, is an educator, artist and activist who participated in the Bisexual Community Issues Roundtable at the White House in September 2013. He is a faculty member at Goddard College and co-editor of the forthcoming anthology RECOGNIZE: The Voices of Bisexual Men.

By selecting which loved ones and sexual partners in someone’s life are worthy of being recognized, bi erasure is a violent amputation of a person’s chosen family and community.

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[Washington DC USA]: HRC Panel Discussion: Supporting and Caring for Our Bisexual Youth

In conjunction with Celebrate Bisexuality Day on September 23rd, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation will hold a panel discussion on bisexual youth

The panel will feature bi community leaders as well as those who work with LGBT youth, discussing the unique issues and concerns facing youth who identify as bisexual. Panelists will also discuss the findings in the new HRC Foundation report Supporting and Caring for Our Bisexual Youth Produced with BiNet USA, the Bisexual Resource Center and Bisexual Organizing Project, the report will be released the day of the event.

The panel will take place at 6 p.m. in the Equality Forum at Human Rights Campaign Headquarters.

Panelists:
• Amy Andre - bi activist and consultant, co-author of Bi Youth Report
• Anika Warner - GSA Network Specialist, SMYAL
• Dr. Herukhuti - Founder, Center for Culture, Sexuality and Spirituality
• Katy Butler - youth anti-bullying activist
• Faith Cheltenham, BiNet USA
• Ellyn Ruthstrom, Bisexual Resource Center
• Ari Pomerantz, Treatment Adherence Advocate, HIPS

Ocean’s of Love Letter: Is one black man loving another man the revolutionary act of the 21st Century? by Dr. Herukhuti

“In 2012, some folks find it more provocative that a black man has loved another man than if he had done violence against one.” - Dr. Herukhuti

In To Be Young Gifted and Black, Lorraine Hansberry proclaimed, “For some time now—I think since I was a child—I have been possessed of the desire to put down the stuff of my life…. And, I am quite certain, there is only one internal quarrel: how much of the truth to tell? How much, how much, how much! It is brutal in sober uncompromising moments, to reflect on the comedy of concern we all enact when it comes to our precious images!” Telling the truth of one’s life can be a complicated and dangerous endeavor, especially when you are young, gifted, black and queer (in this context I use queer to mean having experienced something other than normative Eros). It may mean that you destroy the hopes, dreams and expectations constructed for you to fulfill—only to have new ones built in their place. This is why the concept of coming out is so limiting as a way to explain what happens when someone puts “down the stuff of [their]life.”

Social media booked, tumbled and tweeted itself into a frenzy last week in response to, R&B and sometime Hip Hop artist, Frank Ocean’s Tumblr posting. Who is Frank Ocean and why should you care? Ocean is set to release his debut studio album this month after seven years of hard work in the music industry including writing for Justin Bieber, John Legend, Brandy, Beyoncé; joining the deliberately provocative Hip Hop collective Odd Future; touring North America and Europe performing and promoting a successful mixtape album; and appearing on Jay Z andKanye’s most recent album as a writer and featured artist.

In the post of a December 27th 2011 journal entry, written while on a plane ride from his birthplace of NOLA to L.A., Ocean eloquently explores his experience of love toward/with/for an undisclosed man. Travel gives us time to reflect on the things we’ve done, should have done, and wanted to do. The solitude of certain forms of travel, like the anonymity of an airplane with its recycled air and pressurized environment, can bring us closer to the immediacy of our needs—needs like love, unconditional and reciprocated. Media sources have alleged that the self-disclosure was precipitated by a music reviewer noting instances in Ocean’s forthcoming debut studio album in which the singer/songwriter uses male pronouns in expressing love and Eros toward someone.

By the intensity of the widespread clamor, you would have thought that one of the major male figures in black music rumored to have experienced same-sex desire had posted this journal entry online. I will not name any of them but the rumors are out there and truths are waiting to be put down. In fact, unlike these other artists, Ocean is at the early stages of what seems to be a promising career in the music industry, an industry that in recent years has been transformed by changes in technology distribution and access—changes that have given artists and consumers more opportunities to own, control and share music. So what does it mean for Ocean to have both fluidly written homosexual and heterosexual desire into his album and shared with the social media world his experience of a love of a man—his first love and a love that was “malignant” and “hopeless” and yet he gratefully credited with changing his life?

In choosing to communicate through the simile, “I feel like a free man,” rather than saying he was a free man, Ocean provided us with a painful truth for black men in, what Ibrahim Farajajé (formerly Elias Farajajé-Jones) in his essayHoly Fuck called, a “dominating culture [that]expends incredible amounts of time, money, and energy controlling and policing our bodies and the ways we decide to use them.” By not definitively claiming and owning freedom in the journal entry, Ocean acknowledged the task at hand for him and other black queer men, as Farajaje described, “the physical/spiritual/psychological process of making our bodies and our desire our own.” It is a process—rather than a destination to which we arrive and reside—that will not allow for easy definitions of who we are or interpretations of our artistic or life choices.

Supporters and detractors of Ocean have made the themes of his album and his Tumblr post mean much more than Ocean himself may have intended. In 2012, some folks find it more provocative that a black man has loved another man than if he had done violence against one. Joseph Beam once wrote, “black men loving black men is the revolutionary act of the eighties.” Honoring our capacity to love other men and women in a society that makes it more easy to use and abuse others is the work of making our bodies and desires our own. Ocean clearly seeks to put the work into that project, at least for the time being. But one young, gifted black man does not a revolution make, particularly if he is still understanding his relationship to that revolution. Revolutions require many committed others working “in sober uncompromising moments, to reflect on the comedy of concern we all enact when it comes to our precious images!” Where’s your love letter? How much truth does it tell?


Dr. Herukhuti is founder of The Center for Culture, Sexuality, and Spirituality, author of the book Conjuring Black Funk: Notes on Culture, Sexuality, and Spirituality, co-editor ofSexuality, Religion and the Sacred: Bisexual, Panexual and Polysexual Perspectives, high priest of the Shrine of Sekhmet and Heruhet (Brooklyn, NY), and faculty member atGoddard College (Plainfield, VT) and Fielding Graduate University (Santa Barbara, CA).

Time to RECOGNIZE: Talking with the editors of a new anthology for bisexual men

Get to know Dr. Herukhuti (also known as H. Sharif Williams) and Robyn Ochs – two vibrant American bisexual activists with a groundbreaking new anthology for bisexual men.  

Sarah from Bisexual Books: There has never been a bisexual men’s anthology like Recognize before.   Where did the idea come from?

Dr. Herukhuti and Robyn Ochs: Robyn edits the Bi Women Quarterly, a free publication she promotes at her speaking engagements. Over time, numerous men approached her  to ask whether there an equivalent publication for men existed. Unfortunately, there wasn’t. So Robyn decided to do a one-time issue of Bi Women for men so that at least one resource would exist. She put out a call for submissions and that was the seed that eventually turned into this book.

BB: How did you two come to collaborate on this project?

Dr. Herukhuti and Robyn Ochs: Dr. Herukhuti saw the call for submissions and contacted Robyn. After a few conversations, we agreed to became co-editors. The anthology introduction shares the entire story of our experience together.

BB: Why do you think it’s important for bisexual men to tell their stories in anthologies like this?   

Dr. Herukhuti and Robyn Ochs: One of the contributors told us a story recently that speaks directly to your question. He had left his copy of the anthology in a local venue he had been frequenting for years. When he returned, one of the employees approached him and handed him the book. He knew it was his book because the contributor’s picture was on the cover. After some conversation, the employee told him that he not only recognized him on the cover but chose to browse through the book, found the contributor’s essay and read it. The employee told our contributor that the essay brought to the surface questions that he might be bi*, but being married

to a woman and having four children, he had never done more than fantasized about it. The anthology created the opportunity for these men to recognize each other, their shared experiences as well as the ways in which they were different. It opened up a space of the contributor to provide support for this man in his journey to live his truth.

That’s what makes it important for bisexual men to tell their stories.

BB: How did you come up with the title and cover pictures?

Dr. Herukhuti and Robyn Ochs:  We spent a long time trying to come up with a title. We searched through the manuscript for keywords and themes. We looked at the titles of other books. We looked at the chapter titles of other books. We talked and talked and talked–trying to come up with a title that we both liked and that would work for the marketing of the anthology. Finally, after much effort Recognize: The Voices of Bisexual Men emerged.

We asked the contributors to submit photographs of themselves that we could use for the manuscript. Our cover designer, Jewel Hampton, went through the album we had of all the contributors and chose the photographs that are on the cover. Early in the process, before we had worked with Jewel, we thought about having all the contributor photographs on the cover but to get them all on the cover would require them to be so small you couldn’t recognize anyone. Well, obviously not being able to recognize anyone in their photographs would not work for an anthology titled Recognize.

BB: Bisexual men is such a broad label, covering men of all different races, sizes, abilities, and gender identities.  Can you tell us a little bit about the diversity in this anthology?

Dr. Herukhuti and Robyn Ochs: It was important to both of us that the anthology include a diverse set of contributors. Diverse in all senses of the word. We did a lot to make that happen. We extended submission deadlines. We shared the call for submissions in spaces where we expected men from various backgrounds would see it. We leveraged the diversity of the editorial team to demonstrate a commitment to diversity. With all those efforts, we still would have liked to have had contributors from each continent.

BB: This anthology is being published with the proceeds going towards the Bisexual Resource Center (BRC).  How did that partnership come along?

Dr. Herukhuti and Robyn Ochs:  The Bisexual Resource Center published Robyn’s previous books (Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World and The Bisexual Resource Guide), and this new anthology was in close alignment with the organization’s educational mission.

BB: What else are you two working on?

Dr. Herukhuti and Robyn Ochs:  Dr. Herukhuti is working on his second book, a follow up to his first book Conjuring Black Funk: Notes on Culture, Sexuality and Spirituality, Volume 1. The second book will explore how non-monosexual culture can be created to build more socially just and ecologically healthy intentional communities. He is also developing a speaking tour to engage audiences in the critical examination of race, gender, class and sexuality.

In addition to continuing to edit the Bi Women Quarterly, Robyn is working on getting a Spanish translation of VisiBIlidad: Bisexuales Alrededor del Mundo, a Spanish translation of Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World, out in 2015.

What's Happening at CCSS - Winter 2016

What’s Happening at CCSS – Winter 2016

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2015 Recap Last year was an incredibly productive period for the Center for Culture, Sexuality and Spirituality (CCSS). The Association of Black Sexologist and Clinicians (ABSC) named Dr. Herukhuti a “2015 Thought Leader” in recognition of his contributions to the field. He wrote a series of articles ABSC throughout the year and presented his work at its inaugural conference. Dr. Herukhuti worked…

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Goddard Professor to Explore “Aesthetics of Funk” at National Endowment of Humanities Institute | Goddard College

H. Sharif Williams, a professor and chair of the Goddard College Faculty Council, has been accepted as a participant in the National Endowment of the Humanities three-week summer institute exploring “Black Aesthetics and African Centered Cultural Expressions” at Emory University in July.   Dr. Williams, who is also known as “Dr. Herukhuti” (based upon a name he was given when initiated into an African priesthood) is a New York-based cultural studies scholar, social justice activist, and sex researcher