Name:
Lani Ka’ahumanu
Dates:
b. 1943
Primary Resource:
Hapa haole wahine (poem)

Poster Location:

Market/Grant




Lani Ka’ahumanu’s legacy as a bisexual woman is a classic LGBTQIA+ community tale of a fight for acceptance and recognition, even within our own sub-community. 

Ka’ahumanu was born in Edmonton, Canada on October 5th of 1943. Her mother was of Japanese and native Hawaiian ancestry, and her father was of Irish and Jewish descent.

She originally came out as a lesbian and moved to San Francisco in 1974, leaving her two children in the care of her ex-husband. She later came out a second time—this time as bisexual—after falling in love with a man who also identified as bisexual. 

In 1983 Ka’ahumanu cofounded BiPol, the first bisexual political action organization in the United States. In 1987, she co-founded the Bay Area Bisexual Network (BABN) and participated in the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.

She helped found the San Francisco State University Women Studies Department. She was part of the group Another Mother for Peace, an anti-war, anti-nuke activist organization. She collected food for the Black Panther breakfast program.

Ka'ahumanu is the co-editor with Loraine Hutchins of the anthology Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out. It is considered one of the seminal books in the history of the modern bisexual rights movement. It includes her poem, “Hapa haole wahine,” which means ‘half Hawaiian woman.’ It is a meditation on the evolution of her life and persisting in the face of oppression because of her variegated multicultural and bisexual existence. 

In it, she writes,
    I am brown
    I am yellow
    I am white
    I am a proud, visible, and vocal mixed-race multi-cultural woman.
    I claim it all and have no shame for it is the truth.
    ...
    Assimilation is a lie.
    It is spiritual erasure.


She was the sole bisexual speaker at the 1993 March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation.

She was reflects on her lifetime of activism in the below clip as part of the #StillBisexual social media campaign, created to continue the bisexual fight for acceptance and recognition in the LGBTQIA+ community and beyond:



Ka’ahumanu co-curated a show called “BiConic Flashpoints: Four Decades of Bay Area Bisexual Politics” at the GLBT History Museum in 2014; you can see Lani and her co-curators discussing their vision for the show below:




Images*


*Lani Ka’ahumanu on Facebook, unless otherwise indicated.


Additional Resources

1) Lani Ka’ahumanu: Bisexual Pioneer—Medium.com, 8 min. read. A thorough survey of Lani’s life and legacy.

2) “It Ain’t Over Till The Bisexual Speaks.”—25-minute interview with Lani on her awakening and journey as a bisexual activist.
3) 1993 March on Washington Speech—Lani’s full 7-minute speech on the importance of bisexual visibility within the queer rights movement. 



A project of the San Francisco Arts Sommission’s Art on Market Street kiosk poster series,
funded by the San Francisco Arts Commission and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

www.sfartscommission.org.