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Leader of Bisexual Org. to Step Down as Flag Controversy Continues

Faith Cheltenham
Faith Cheltenham

Juba Kalamka will succeed Faith Cheltenham as president of the group, which recently drew criticism for asserting its right to the Bi Pride flag. 

BiNet USA has announced a change in leadership.

Faith Cheltenham will step down as president, to be succeeded by Juba Kalamka January 21 of next year. Cheltenham, also known as "thefayth," wrote in a blog post on Keeping the Fayth of asking Kalamka to assume the presidency, and he accepted.

Cheltenham was "the most active board member, volunteer and staff member of BiNet USA from 2004-2018," according to a separate post on BiNet's site.

The change comes as BiNet is involved in controversy over rights to the Bi Pride flag. Last week the group tweeted that for-profit enterprises selling the flag needed to enter into a licensing agreement with BiNet. It received much criticism for the move, with some people saying it was unfairly targeting small businesses.

In a blog post last Friday, the BiNet board shared a statement regarding its position. "The bisexual pride flag is intended for bisexual community use," the statement said in part. "The community has long been able to utilize it for the creation of gifts and goods to help benefit ourselves and each other. BiNet USA continues to support the independent bisexual seller and is working to bring more bisexual products into market. We are currently advocating for bisexual sellers to have direct licensing relationships with corporations selling bisexual pride merchandise. We want to be clear: we are a nonprofit organization. We frequently donate our time and energy and promote others' work without the aim to make any money personally." It also called for businesses to remove any items that use the bi flag alongside Confederate symbols.

The statement also said the board launched the flag in 1998 and that it was not created by just one person. It is collecting testimony via video from those involved in the creation and launch and will post those videos on its site.

Additionally, the board agreed to fast-track an accounting, initially approved last fall, of Cheltenham's contributions to the organization. This will include "externally prepared financial statements outlining each individual, city and/or 'bisexual' organization that directly benefited from donations, grant funding, and fundraising directed by Faith Cheltenham and BiNet USA," the board wrote. The statements will be forthcoming within three months, according to the post.

The board said this is not meant to counter charges that Cheltenham was "stealing" the Bi Pride flag, "but to better set the record bisexual as to the historic accomplishments of BiNet USA volunteers including thefayth's significant and sizable donations across bisexual communities with intersectional emphasis, alongside so many other individuals who contributed."

Cheltenham has also opened up about a new identity. "I, thefayth, recently became more public in my transition from assumed cis female to known intersex trans multi-gender being," Cheltenham wrote on Keeping the Fayth, going on to say that many LGBTQ organizations are not accepting of people from marginalized communities and perpetuate societal dynamics that work against these people.

"I reject the assertion that my presidency of BiNet USA or Juba's must mean that we represent all bisexuals, as opposed to the most vulnerable bisexuals (and bi+ members who use different labels for their fluid sexualities)," Cheltenham concluded. "If they have bread, if they have running water, or basic supplies in the time of the virus? That's the work BiNet USA and myself remain committed to."

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