Thursday, 24 June 2010

Rhif Cant

I've a very low grade tabloid writer's grasp of cheesy headlines, so I want to title anything about BCN issue 100 along the lines of "100 not out", which of course is the wrong message at every step of the way. It is out, we are out, and this isn't actually the 100th edition. You just can't trust these bisexuals, eh?

Not the 100th?  Afraid so: there have been various others including the Manchester-only editions for Prides and suchlike, and the annual Summer Specials given away at BiCon. And because it has always been run by geeks we didn't have a title at first, our first edition was issue zero. But it wasn't called BCN yet which puts it in a fuzzy state as to whether it is an edition of BCN. So it's probably nearer the 110th edition of the magazine.

It is, however, the one with the number "100" on the front, so it is the best place to pause and claim to have reached a hundred issues. I joined up back around issue 32 and have been editor since some time around number 50.

Between number 50 and the mid 90s not much changed except moving to photo covers rather than wordy covers. However, if I do say so myself, the last year has seen a big step forward for the magazine.  We were laser-printing onto ordinary 80g paper, now we're properly printed on glossy paper, with colour covers and (perhaps only me caring about this bit) with full bleed. BCN now feels like a magazine, not like a society newsletter.

One of the things I care about with BCN, and which I've argued about with other bi activists, is that it continues to be a paper publication.  This works in three directions:

1 - having a print magazine, albeit on a lower circulation than our rivals, puts a potential bi voice at the table alongside Gay Times et al. When discussing how to reach out and be visibily inclusive of bis, "but there is no bi press for us to also advertise in" has a neat rebuttal.
2 - as a paper trail of debate and events, it provides a 'journal of record' for academics and historians. More letters on the letters page might make it an even more useful one cough
3 - and this is the biggy: it makes the community 'real' in a way that a website doesn't: there are enough of us and bisexuality is sufficiently not "just a phase" for this long-running magazine that you can hold in your hands to exist. When I was finding a sense of myself as bi in a very gay/straight culture, BCN's predecessor mag was something I looked forward to landing on the doormat.  And I had the benefit of living in a city with a strong bi scene, how much more it would have meant living in the sticks.

An online only magazine would be easier, would involve fewer nights of stuffing envelopes and less time staring at a screen willing the words to fit on the page. But it becomes so much easier to not produce new content over time that way: every two months, whereas the pages of BCN start out each issue all blank and demanding.

Volunteers to help fill them are always welcome, by the by.  Articles, photos, cartoons, what have you...

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