Bi Any Means Podcast #120: PASTAHcon Recap

Today’s episode is another monologue episode. This time I’m sharing my experiences at PASTAHcon this past weekend. I brought my Zoom H4N portable recorder with me just in case I found someone to interview for the show, and while I met a lot of people that I would love to have on the show in the future, it was much easier for me to just listen to the talks and hang out with friends than try to chase someone down to talk to me for five minutes. Also, I was originally planning on inviting a guest for this week, but since I’m recording the Biskeptical Podcast this week with Morgan and I have a few other projects I need to do, I figure just turning on the mic and talking about this past weekend would be less of a hassle.

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Should I Stay Or Should I Go? When Your Activist Community Becomes Toxic — My Latest For Ravishly

I didn’t start out in activist communities, but everything changed in 2013. Up until then, I was — to the best of my knowledge — a straight cis moderately liberal Christian blogger who only had a handful of readers. By the time I was 29, though, I finally figured out I was bisexual (it took me another two years to figure out I was non-binary), and started a Tumblr blog to connect with other bisexuals. What I didn’t expect was following a trail of social justice blogs that taught me about the systemic racism and misogyny that are still operating in the early 21st century.

Around the same time, I was deconstructing my faith to the point that eventually God just disappeared in a puff of logic. I was quickly evolving from a straight cis moderately liberal Christian guy to a queer trans atheist/humanist with a passion for social justice, and so I obviously had opinions. I decided to start a new blog called Bi Any Means and a podcast with the same name, and that, in the words of Robert Frost, has made all the difference.

I hoped that my blog and podcast would connect me with other activists spreading the good news of humanism. I didn’t expect to find family, but that’s what happened. As I interviewed more activists in the movement for the podcast, word about me quickly spread, and before I knew it, prominent atheist activists were sending me friend requests on Facebook. For some reason, people liked what I had to say. Fellow podcasters started inviting me to be a guest on their shows. Friends shared my blog posts. People I admired walked up to me during last year’s Reason Rally to say hello. All my hard work was finally paying off.

As clichéd as it sounds, I felt welcomed into a community for the first time in my life.

The pinnacle of this sense of community was this year’s ReasonCon in Hickory, NC. Not only did I reconnect with everyone I met at Reason Rally, I also made new friends and met more fans of my show. The talks were great, but the highlight of the conference was the amazing sense of community. We were in an environment where we were welcome to take off our masks, to laugh about the good times, mourn the loss of loved ones together, and open ourselves to the possibility of creating a lasting community. I started crying uncontrollably when I got home. I saw so much beauty that weekend — from meeting new people to sharing meals together to even witnessing a wedding proposal — that I couldn’t process it. I finally found a home.

Lately, however, my happy safe place is getting more and more toxic. The atheist movement has always had problems (remember Elevatorgate?), but I was under the impression that we’ve since moved on. Boy, I was wrong! For starters, after finding out one of my friends in the movement had been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior, I wrote on my Facebook wall, “Are there any atheists that aren’t racist or sexist?” A prominent member of the movement, who I generally respect, chimed in to basically say, “Not all atheists.” That led to several friends asking him if he’s doing anything to address racism and sexism within the movement, but he just tip-toed around the issue to my disappointment.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #115: Reasonable Risks with Michael Schaffer

My guest for today is Michael Schaffer, host of the new Reasonable Risk Podcast. He also runs Reason Real Estate which uses skepticism and reason to help clients make better real estate choices. Today we’re going to talk about his backstory, his podcast, and why risk assessment is important.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #114: Activist Theology with Dr. Robyn Henderson-Espinoza

My guest for today is Dr. Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, a radical trans queer Latinx public theologian. Here’s what their bio says: “Knowing intimately that the borderlands are a place of learning and growth, Robyn draws on their identity and heritage as a Transqueer Latinx in everything that they do. From doubt to divine and everywhere in between, their call as an activist-theologian demands the vision to disrupt hegemony and colonialist structures of multi-layered oppressions. As an anti-oppression, anti-racist, non-binary Trans*gressive Latinx, Robyn takes seriously their call as an activist theologian and ethicist to bridge together theories and practices that result in communities responding to pressing social concerns. Robyn sees this work as a life-orienting vocation, deeply committed to translating theory to action, and embedded in re-imagining our moral horizon to one which privileges a politics of radical difference.” Which is why Robyn’s joining me today to talk about everything they do!

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The Biskeptical Podcast #32: WTF is Antifa?

Today on the show, we find out what this whole Antifa thing is all about. Is it all just a bunch of masked hooligans breaking windows and beating up Nazis? Are they really just as bad as Nazis? Plus, we talk about Hurricane Harvey, how it’s all the queers’ fault, why it took so damn long for Joel Osteen to open up his church as a shelter, and how people can help.

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Bi Any Means Podcast Bonus Episode: We’re All Complicit

Because I already booked this week’s guest before the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA, I took a page from Marissa McCool’s book and decided to do a special bonus episode, free of charge to the patrons, to talk about what happened.

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Don’t Just Look For The Helpers–Be A Helper!

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”–Fred Rogers

Whenever tragedy strikes, we remember Mr. Rogers’ words and spread his message all over social media. We take comforting knowing that there will always be people who care and will stand up when things are wrong. However, it’s no longer enough to just look for the helpers; in this day and age, we have to be helpers as well.

Just look at everything happening right now. Trump’s threatening North Korea on Twitter. Nazis are marching in Charlottesville, VA. Police officers who murder unarmed black people are getting off scot-free. Flint, MI still doesn’t have drinkable water. Malaysia is hunting down atheists.

What you are doing about it?

Seriously, what are you doing? Are you just sitting there watching everything unfold on your TV or computer? Are you saying, “That’s sad,” and going back to eating your dinner? Are you doing the John Mayer thing and just waiting on the world to change? Or are you saying, “Fuck this” and doing something?

Now look, I know what you’re thinking. You’re just one person, and these are global systems of oppression that have been operating since forever. You’re probably like me, also, in that you have limited resources. You either live in a rural area far away from a city, you don’t have a lot of money, you have some sort of disability (mental illness counts), or you have a hectic schedule. I totally sympathize with you. I live in the middle of nowhere, I’m trying to find a stable income, and I struggle with mental illness. I’m not blaming you for your situation. I’m just saying that there are things you can still do.

Join a local progressive group. Write to your local newspaper. Start a podcast. Donate your money or time to worthwhile causes. Pester your elected officials using either 5 Calls or Resistbot. Support local candidates that are fighting against the Trump regime. It may not be much, but at least it’s something.

The point is if enough of us get together and get our hands dirty, we can actually change things.

HASTEN THE REVOLUTION BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY!

Bi Any Means Podcast #109: Catching Up with Marissa Alexa McCool

Returning to the show today is Marissa Alexa McCool. She’s the host of the Inciting Incident podcast, and co-host of the Cis Are Getting Out Of Hand and Doubting Dogma. She’s also the author of several books, including her latest one “Voice in the Dark.” A lot has happened since Marissa was last on the show back in February, so today we’re going to find out what she’s been up to.

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Respectability Politics, Not Identity Politics, Are Hurting Secular Activism –Latest Splice Today Article

A couple of weeks ago I went to the 76th annual American Humanist Association conference to give a talk called “WTF is Genderqueer?” They loved it! I lost track of how many people came up afterwards and thanked me for explaining it in a way they could understand. The conference also gave me the chance to catch up with old friends Sincere Kirabo, Matthew Facciani, and Diane Burkholder; meet online friends for the first time like Ashton P. Woods, Conor Robinson, and Desiree Kane; and make new friends like Rajani Gudlavalleti and Greta Christina. It was a great weekend that recharged my activist batteries, and made me feel accepted in the broader secular humanist movement.

Unfortunately, not everyone there received the same amount of love.

Several talks and presentations focused on racial justice, and while I thought they were all terrific, not everyone agreed. Not only were there white tears during Q&A sessions (which are always expected), but apparently someone on the AHA board walked out of Woods’ talk because they “didn’t want to hear another angry black man.” Allegedly this same individual gave Gudlavalleti a lot of shit about her presentation on racial justice with Robinson (who didn’t receive any push back even though he said the same thing Gudlavalleti did). Also, Kane (who spent seven months at Standing Rock) told me someone said to her, “If you all at Standing Rock didn’t burn stuff and leave so much garbage behind, maybe the cops wouldn’t have shot rubber bullets at you.”

If you spend enough time on YouTube, you’d be convinced “identity politics” are ruining secular activism. I disagree: respectability politics are the real culprit.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #105: Race, Harm Reduction, and Humanism with Rajani Gudlavalleti

My guest for today is Rajani Gudlavalleti, racial equity trainer and board member of the Foundation Beyond Belief. Here’s what her bio says: “Rajani Gudlavalleti is a second-generation, South Indian-American queer humanist woman residing in Baltimore, MD. Rajani works at the intersections of social justice, public health, and the legal system, providing contract and consulting services as an organizer, evaluator, trainer and writer. Currently, she is a community organizer for the BRIDGES Coalition for safe drug consumption spaces in Baltimore City, and a facilitator with Baltimore Racial Justice Action. Rajani co-founded Baltimore Asian Resistance in Solidarity in February 2015, and explores her multiple intersecting identities on her website, charmingly-hyphenated.com.

In March 2016, Rajani joined the board of Foundation Beyond Belief (FBB) bringing with her over a decade of experience in social justice work. FBB provides humanists opportunities to engage in service work, such as volunteerism and giving, and advocates for compassionate secular action throughout the world.” So today we’re going to get to know Rajani and all the stuff she’s doing.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #105: Race, Harm Reduction, and Humanism with Rajani Gudlavalleti” on Spreaker.

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