By Ellyn Ruthstrom
It feels very sad that during a time of much suffering and sacrifice
from the COVID-19 lockdowns, the bi+ community also had
to deal with a very public and very painful situation that was
prompted by the president of BiNet USA, Faith Cheltenham. For
those who did not see this unfold on social media, I’ll provide a
On April 28th, Faith Cheltenham, using BiNet’s social media
account, started tweeting that they were the official owners of
the bisexual pride flag, and they threatened organizations such as
the Bisexual Resource Center (BRC), companies such as Target,
and individuals such as JayneBShea with cease and desist orders.
These entities were told to remove images of the flag and the sales
of such items from their websites, etc., under the threat of legal
action. The online bi+ community erupted as “BiNet” purported
that the organization owned the trademark of the flag and would
insist that others must pay them for the privilege of using it. A day
after the initial explosion, “BiNet” removed their Twitter account
and on May 1st released a public statement that distorted what
their original intention was and directed the attention onto the use
of a tri-colored confederate flag on cafepress.com. Not all of the
seven board members listed on BiNet’s website were actually still
on the Board. Of the five (this includes Faith) who were actually
on the board at that time, at least three had not been consulted
about the initial Twitter statements and resigned over the next few
days. If you want more details, you can do a quick online search
and find more information.
For me, as a long-time leader within the bi+ community, it is more
important to take this moment of upheaval and redirect the energy into positive community rebuilding and collaboration. Many individuals and organizations have stepped forward during this time to assure community members that our bi pride flag is safe and that there are many other sources of connection and support they can turn to. #bipride and #ourbiflag were hashtags that folks were sharing on Twitter to find each other and to bolster our spirits together. That experience of love and support will be what I take away from this moment.
If BiNet was the only organization you knew about on the national level, you’ll be pleased to know that the Bisexual Resource Center, the Bisexual Organizing Project (producers of the BECAUSE conference), the American Institute of Bisexuality, and #StillBisexual all do work that is nationally focused. And there are many other local and regional groups you can connect with as well, including the Los Angeles Bi Task Force (@LA_Bi_TaskForce), BQA Chicago (@BqaChicago), Bay Area Bisexual Network (BABN), Polysexual Alliance for Visibility, Education, & Support (@PAVESnonprofit) out of Denver, and – of course – several groups in and around Boston. If you experienced the online debacle, I hope you won’t get disheartened and step away from bi+ community. We need you, your ideas, your creativity and your energy to keep this beautiful tri-colored-flag-waving family moving forward.
Ellyn Ruthstrom was the president of the Bisexual Resource Center for ten years and co-organized the first White House Roundtable on Bisexual Issues in 2013. She was editor of Bi Women (previous title of this publication) for nine years.