OCTOBER 5: Lani Ka’ahumanu (1943-)


Happy 74th birthday to Lani Ka’ahumanu! The bisexual activist, editor of Bi Any
Other Name
, and the only bisexual speaker to speak at the 1993 March on
Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation
was born on this
day in 1943.

Lani photographed for The Out Words Archive (x). 

Lani was born on October 5, 1943 in
Edmonton, Canada to a white mother and a Japanese father. She grew up to marry her childhood sweetheart, a man with whom
she had two children. Lani describes herself in the 1960s as having been “a full-time
suburban housewife, Little League mom, and Another Mother for Peace.” That all
changed in 1974 when Lani and her husband divorced and she left the
suburbs for San Francisco, California. In those first few years in San Francisco,
she came out as a lesbian, became the first member of her family to graduate
from college, and became active in the social justice movements of the day. In
1980, her life changed once again when she realized she was bisexual and came
out for a second time.

Lani marching in San Francisco’s 1984 Lesbian and Gay Freedom Day Parade holding signs that read “Biphobia Shield” and “Bi and Large” (x).

During the 1980s, Lani started
creating a substantial bisexual community from the ground up with organizations
such as BiPOL, BiNet USA and the San Francisco Bay Area Bisexual Network
(BABN). In 1991, she co-edited the groundbreaking bisexual anthology Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out
along with Loraine Hutchins, and in 1993 she led a successful campaign to get
bisexual people included in the title of the March on Washington for Lesbian,
Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation, of which she was also the only bisexual
activist to speak. Lani was the very first bisexual person to be invited
to join  the National Gay and Lesbian
Task Force board of directors. She is currently a member of the editorial board
for The Journal of Bisexuality and is working on her next two books, My Grassroots Are Showing: Stories,
Speeches, and Special Affections
and Passing
For Other: Primal Creams and Forbidden Dreams – Poetry, Prose, and Performance