Speech to the March on Washington

by Lani Ka’ahumanu
Washington, D.C.
April 25, 1993
Lani is co-founder of the Bay Area Bisexual Network

Aloha, my name is Lani Ka’ahumanu,
and it ain’t over til the bisexual speaks…

I am a token, and a symbol.
Today there is no difference.
I am the token out bisexual asked to speak, and
I am a symbol of how powerful the bisexual pride movement is
and how far we have come.

I came here in 1979
for the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights

I returned in 1987
for the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights

I stand here today
on the stage
of the 1993 March on Washington
for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual
Equal Rights and Liberation.

In 1987 I wrote an article on bisexuality
for the Civil Disobedience Handbook
titled, “Are we visible yet?”

Bisexual activists
organized on the local, regional and national levels
to make this March a reality.

Are bisexuals visible yet?
Are bisexuals organized yet?
Are bisexuals accountable yet?

You bet your sweet ass we are!

Bisexuals are here,
and we’re queer.

Bisexual pride
speaks to the truth
of behavior and identity.

No simple either/or divisions
fluid – ambiguous – subversive
bisexual pride challenges both
the heterosexual and the homosexual assumption.

Society is based
on the denial of diversity,
on the denial of complexity.

Like multiculturalism,
mixed heritage and bi-racial relationships,
both the bisexual and transgender movements
expose and politicize the middle ground.

Each show there is no separation,
that each and everyone of us
is part of a fluid social, sexual and gender dynamic.

Each signals a change, a fundamental change
in the way our society is organized.

Remember today.

Remember we are family,
and like a large extended family,
we don’t always agree, don’t always see eye to eye.

However, as a family under attack
we must recognize the importance of what
each and every one of us brings to our movement.

There is strength in our numbers and diversity.
We are every race, class, culture, age, ability,
religion, gender identity and sexual orientation.

Our visibility is a sign of revolt.

Recognition of bisexual orientation and transgender issues
presents a challenge to assumptions
not previously explored
within the politics
of gay liberation.

What will it take
for the gayristocracy to realize
that bisexual, lesbian, transgender, and gay people
are in this together,
and together
we can and will
move the agenda forward.

But this will not happen
until public recognition
of our common issues is made,
and a sincere effort to confront
biphobia and transphobia is made
by the established gay and lesbian leadership
in this country.

The broader movement for our civil rights and liberation
is being held back.

Who gains when we ostracize whole parts of our family?
Who gains from exclusionary politics?

Certainly not us…

Being treated as if I am less oppressed than thou
is not only insulting,
it feeds right in to the hands
of the right wing fundamentalists
who see all of us as queer.

What is the difficulty
in seeing how my struggle
as a mixed race bisexual woman of color
is intimately related to the bigger struggle
for lesbian and gay rights
the rights of people of color and
the rights of all women?

What is the problem?

This is not a competition.

I will not play by rules
that pit me against any oppressed group.

Has the gayristocracy
bought so far in to the either/or structure,
invested so much in being
the opposite of heterosexual
that they cannot remove themselves
that they can’t imagine being free
of the whole oppressive heterosexist system
that keeps us all down?

Bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender people
who are out of the closet,
who are not passing
for anything other than who and what we are
all have our necks and our lives on the line.

All our visibility is a sign of revolt.

Bisexuals are here to challenge the bigots
who have denied lesbian, gay and bisexual people
basic civil rights in Colorado.

Yes, Amendment 2 includes bisexual orientation.

Yes, the religious right recognizes bisexuals
as a threat to “so called” family values.

Bisexuals are here to protest
the military ban against lesbians, gays and bisexuals.

Yes, the Department of Defense defines bisexuals separately
as a reason to be dishonorably discharged.

And yes, out bisexuals are not allowed
to be foster or adoptive parents,

And yes, we lose our jobs, our children, get beaten and killed
for loving women and for loving men.

Bisexuals are queer, just as queer as queer can be.

Each of us here today
represents many people
who could not make the trip.

Our civil rights and liberation movement
has reached critical mass.

Remember today.

Remember that we are more powerful
than all the hate, ignorance and violence
directed at us.

Remember what a profound difference
our visibility makes
upon the world in which we live.

The momentum of this day
can carry us
well into the 21st century
if we come out where ever and when ever we can.

Remember assimilation is a lie.
It is spiritual erasure.

I want to challenge those lesbian and gay leaders
who have come out to me privately over the years
as bisexual to take the next step, come out now.

What is the sexual liberation movement about
if not about the freedom to love whom we choose?

I want to encourage bisexuals
in the lesbian, gay and heterosexual communities
to come out now.

Remember there is nothing wrong with love.
Defend the freedom to express it.

Our visibility is a sign of revolt.
We cannot be stopped. We are everywhere.
We are bisexual, lesbian, gay and transgender people.

We will not rest
until we are all free;

We will not rest
until our basic human rights
are protected under federal law;

We will not rest
until our relationships and families
are not just tolerated
but recognized, respected and valued;

We will not rest
until we have a national health care system;

We will not rest
until there are cures for AIDS and cancer.

We deserve nothing less.

Remember we have every right
to be in the world
exactly as we are.

Celebrate that simply and fiercely.

I love you.

Mahalo and aloha.

One thought on “Speech to the March on Washington”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s