Tuesday, 31 December 2013

So much more than marriage: #bi 2013

It was the year Bi Community News – a survivor in an ever-shrinking field of LGBT print magazines – turned eighteen, and the year Brighton BothWays celebrated ten years of giving bisexuals a friendly and supportive space. What else might we remember 2013 for?


Bi-coloured UK map For England and Wales the first six months of the year were the story of the Same-Sex Marriage Bill. Unveiled in February after Westminster’s largest public consultation exercise ever, this seemed to go on forever at the time, and eventually passed by a huge majority in the summer. So great was its success, by later stages the anti-equality camp in the House of Lords – which over the last fifteen years has blocked or delayed so much legislation on bisexual and gay equalities – didn’t even press the decision to a vote. A number of issues remain with the Bill, or Act as it now is, including pensions issues and problems for intersex and genderqueer people, but it was a huge step forward – in a year where many other nations were taking the same step.

@bisexualhistory - Putting the B in LGBT History MonthFebruary is LGBT History Month and there were no bi-specific events this time around, but twitter saw the launch on January 31st of @bisexualhistory, giving a daily “on this day…” snippet of bi history. It’s now on Facebook too.

In May the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency published the findings of a large-scale research project across the EU, looking at how LGBT experiences compare from country to country.  Over 93,000 people took part so the scale of the research was much larger than most similar projects. Across the 28 member states, about four in every 10 respondents did not reveal their LGBT identity to anyone in their social environment bar a few friends. However, this rose to half of respondents among bisexual women and transgender people, and three quarters of respondents among bisexual men.

As the summer approached, Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski came out as bisexual – the first Conservative MP to do so and one of only two out bi MPs currently in Westminster. Sharp as ever the Daily Mail trumpeted Kawczynski as the “first bisexual MP”, forgetting Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes, as well as former MPs like onetime Secretary of State for Wales Ron Davies or Winchester byelection winner Mark Oaten. All three main parties have now had at least one out bi MP, and they have all had openly gay MPs too, which is surely a good thing for keeping legal equalities that have been won over recent years.

BCN magazine - issue 121

While we are on the subject of politics it was a year for bisexuals in the corridors of power with both Bi Community News and BiUK represented at the annual 10 Downing Street LGBT garden party with David Cameron in July - and a few weeks later at the counterpart Deputy Prime Ministerial event with Nick Clegg.  Two-party coalition government really means twice as many parties, it seems.  Meanwhile across the pond the White House joined in, assembling representatives from bisexual organisations and LGBT groups across the USA to talk about what the US government could be doing to tackle bisexual people’s issues.

It was a year for community-building as new bi social and support groups launched in Edinburgh, in Dublin, and for Bi Professionals and over 50s in London. Annual bi conference / festival BiCon returned to Scotland for the first time since 2006 and saw extensive engagement from LGBT and wider community groups.

Bi Visibility Day on September 23rd was bigger than ever. We saw bi flags flying from buildings around the country including universities, police stations and town halls, a plethora of local events, and support for Bi Visibility Day from both the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and Equalities Minister Jo Swinson, the first time it's had recognition at that level in the UK.

heygoogle280There were new battles to be fought online. In August, Apple backed down on their bi ban – but Google kept theirs in place. Later in the year internet censoring “child protection” filters set up by UK ISPs under pressure from 10 Downing Street turned out to block lots of LGBT info sites like Bi Community News, Bi.Org and more, even including services specifically targeted at vulnerable young people in need of help like Childline.

As the year came to a close Scotland picked up the same-sex marriage baton and the Holyrood Parliament had its first debate on the issue. This passed overwhelmingly with further legislative stages to come in 2014.

And then to round the year off we had Olympic medallist Tom Daley‘s non-specific coming out on YouTube, where he talked about having a male partner but didn’t use words like “bisexual” or “gay”, prompted lots of debate online about identity, relationships, labels and bisexual erasure.

2014So 2013 comes to a close and that naturally takes me to the New Year ahead… some things I'm looking forward to already in the bi calendar:
  • Two new bi groups launch early in 2014 – watch this space for details!
  • The return in July of BiReCon, the bisexuality research and theory conference, along with BiCon in Leeds at the start of August.
  • Big Bi Fun Day on May 17th and the BDSM Bisexuals weekend on March 22nd.
Have a great New Year’s Eve.


As you might have gathered I originally wrote this for BiMedia.

Monday, 18 November 2013

#s28pink

Remember when Labour decided 5 more years of kids growing up under section 28 was worth it for a slightly easier ride from the Daily Mail?

It's not the story Labour-leaning groups are giving us on the tenth anniversary of the abolition of Section 28, but the infamous clause has at its inception and abolition two of the moments that kept me from being a member of the Labour party even at the height of Labour popularity in the mid to late 90s.

Section 28 made homosexuality a thought crime, a terrible but brilliant move that it would be nice to think was only possible off the back of HIV hysteria. A splendidly vague law that could be argued to prevent anything homophobes in positions of power wanted to stop happening, it was used to block information for schoolkids and bar newspapers appearing in libraries.  In those pre-interweb days, it helped isolate a generation of queers just as homophobic myth and hate was at a crescendo.

In the late 80s when the Conservatives unveiled Section 28, Labour's instinct was to tack with the popular mood and support its introduction.  In those early days of the bill, only the Lib Dems opposed it - at a time when the party was in such a mess it couldn't even agree on its own name. Much credit to those people inside the Labour party who managed to turn that around over time, but the kneejerk response of the reds went the wrong way. Popularity or all people equal before the law? Labour jumped one way, the SocialLiberalDemocraticExpialidocious party the other.



Come 1997, the country was in the mood for change and deep down we all knew this time the Tories were on their way out. The Lib Dem manifesto included repeal of Clause 28 among other equality commitments. Remember, back then you could be fired from your job or turned down for employment for being bi or gay. We had a discriminatory age of consent to keep gay men in their place and tell bi men that their mixed-sex relationships were more legitimate. Adoption, fostering, partnership recognition, so many things that are 'normal' now were a world away.

Labour didn't include repeal of Section 28 in their manifesto.  In the great tension of "what is right to do" versus "what will upset the Sun and the Daily Mail", they decided that keeping the tabloids on side was more important than the impact on isolated queers, including lots of LGBT and cishetero children growing up in schools that wouldn't give them the support they needed when they had questions about their sexual orientation or were being bullied because they were perceived as gay.

So when Blair got his landslide, Section 28 wasn't in the Labour manifesto. That meant repeal had to wait until the 2001-2005 parliament because the House of Lords, packed with prejudiced peers angry at their imminent removal from the House under Lords reform, unsurprisingly blocked repeal.

As Labour shadow ministers trumpet the great repeal of the Tories' Section 28 today, remember: their party actively chose to keep it in place for another parliamentary term, chose to keep it damaging schoolkids for another four or five years, for the sake of a couple of cheap headlines.

My crudest Anglo-Saxon lacks adequate words.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Same-sex marriage 'only serves assimilationists' is piffle





We've had an enormous amount of discussion of marriage in LGBT+ activism circles over the last couple of years. One of the semi-legitimate complaints is that the focus on this has passed over other issues affecting LGBT people (why I'm not persuaded of that is a tangent for another post). Another I've run into many times is that this change only serves the 'assimilationist gays'.

I'm not persuaded, and here's why.  My quick and dirty chart above considers the division of marriage up until legislative reform.  On the left of the black line, people who if they are to marry one person pick someone the law considers to be of the opposite sex; on the right, those who choose someone deemed of the same sex. (The law, at least in the countries I have lived in, remains a stickler for this binary thing).

But not everyone wants to marry. For whatever individual reason, all the people below the red line don't want to marry.

But we live in a culture of homophobia, and so people in the bottom left are pressured into marrying or else coming on the receiving end of homophobia through guilt-by-association: still not married, at your age? There must be something wrong and we all know what people who don't marry have wrong with them. Cue a variety of social ostracisation and for some financial penalties too.  Some will be assumed to be gay, others will marry for social acceptance.

Meanwhile on the right of the black line, at the top there are people who want to marry but are denied it, and at the bottom, people who don't want to marry (and may come to imagine a correlation between their distaste for marriage and their sexual preferences).

Now we redefine marriage as for any couple who want to marry.

This means the dividing line in marriage is not by sexual orientation but by choice.  No longer the black line but the red.

Those in the top right box are given the freedom over their own lives to choose to marry if they (and their prospective spouse) so wish.

Those in the bottom left box have the "it must be because you are secretly gay" assumption lifted. You could marry if you wanted; if you're not marrying it is because you choose not to, or the right person said no, or suchlike.

So I don't see same-sex marriage laws as 'just' liberation politics, and I don't see it as just for LGBT. It allows both those who wish to marry and those who do not to do the thing that feels right for them, without giving either the bully power to force their personal choice onto others.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Getting Bi in sound and vision

Lovely at the Manchester bisexuals meetup last night to have another new member say they'd got a lot from playing the audio/video version of Getting Bi before coming along to the group. 

It does seem to have added a lot compared to the print booklet for some people :)

 

Thursday, 24 October 2013

lgBt and Europe

Another press release lands in my in-box from the European Parliament's LGBT Intergroup. This one's on tackling hate speech. It mentions homophobia and transphobia...


This is far from the only time they've left that yawning gap. The LGBT Intergroup defines itself as "LGBT" and yet so very often I find it only talks about homophobia and transphobia.

If the "B" is meant to be in there, why doesn't the Intergroup also talk about biphobia? Sometimes things are specific to homophobia or transphobia or both, specific to lesbians and gay men, specific to trans people.  I don't expect B to be in there on every occasion - though equally I do expect there to be times when an LGBT organisation will have things to say that are just about the B. Time and again the LGBT Intergroup publishes findings, calls to action, and suchlike that give the impression they think "LGBT" just has the B in there as a cheap substitute for an ampersand.



Try the results for these searches on their website:

http://www.lgbt-ep.eu/?s=biphobia&submit=Search
http://www.lgbt-ep.eu/?s=transphobia&submit=Search
http://www.lgbt-ep.eu/?s=homophobia&submit=Search


Two produce pages of results. One draws a blank.


And naturally, they had nothing to say about Bi Visibility Day last month.


I've dropped them a line and will report back on how that goes...

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Homo Hero Lesson 3: Revealing Antonyms

Antonyms. Remember them in school? Synonyms and antonyms. Opposite-words.

One of the lessons of spending an evening at the Homo Heroes Awards was that cis remains a word too far, for far too many LGBT activist brains. With award winners, presenters and hosts representing a wide range of notionally LGBT or LGBT-community-engaged organisations, talking about their varied work with LGBT and non-LGBT alike, I don't think it passed the lips of a single person given a platform at the awards.

It wasn't a fluke. So many people in notionally-LGBT activism and volunteering still think 'heterosexual' is the antonym to 'LGBT'.  But when we talk of something as being the opposite to LGBT, or want a collective term for people who are non-LGBT, the word we need has to be more than just non-gay.  It's non-trans. Straight isn't the antonym, because loads and loads of trans people are straight.  People who aren't trans are cis, and you need to say that qualifier out loud too.

Strictly, it's not just trans fail.  While straight or heterosexual may work well as the antonym to gay and lesbian, either term is only the antonym to LGB in the sense that we are socially deemed heterosexual until found to be bisexual or gay.  There's a fair case to be made that the antonym to LGB is SA, for straight and asexual, but therein lie a series of nuances about biromantic, homoromantic and heteroromantic asexuals, so I'm prepared to take the "straight is the opposite of LGB" on the chin as being where our collective discourse on sexuality has got to.

This lack of thinking through and understanding is a reflection not just of my experience of Manchester's notoriously LGbt culture but of the level of wider LGBT debate outside of bi and trans circles. It reflects how sadly stuck in the 80s so much of 'LGBT' is wherever the B&T have not been able to break through and rise up the queer power pyramid in significant numbers.

When you hear comments like "everyone - LGBT or straight" you have to wonder if you're listening to someone who has 'got' the LG part of the equation, and merely trained themselves to tack some extra letters on when they speak. It's a bit like saying that there are disabled people and normal people, gay people and normal people, immigrants and normal people. 'Normal' believes it doesn't need a word to define itself: but as Derek Jarman pointed out so sharply twentysome years ago, there's a subtle difference between normal and common.

Homo Hero Lesson 2: Do we need a "challenging biphobia" award?

I have a longer blog about a wider issue around this coming shortly but a quick, more focused blog question first.

One of the awards at the Homo Heroes, the Alan Turing Memorial Award, was introduced as being co-sponsored by Manchester City Council and the Lesbian & Gay Foundation, given to "an individual or organisation that has worked to challenge homophobia in our city".

Media coverage of the award this year and in 2012 confirms this was not just a slip of the tongue by the presenter. It's definitely about fighting homophobia.

If you are, to come up with a few implausible real-life examples of people who might be put forward for their work challenging homophobia*, a councillor who leads on LGBT issues for your council group, and who when asked about bi people's needs shrugs it off with a dismissive claim that no-one really knows about bisexuals - you could still be winner of the Alan Turing Memorial Award. If you opine that bisexuality is "the grey area of the rainbow flag", it won't count against you in this one. Go on the record that bisexuals are "not part of LGBT" because they don't experience any discrimination? Heck, welcome to the shortlist, and don't worry, we won't ask what you think the B in that acronym stands for.

As I'm one of the BiBloggers, you can perhaps guess where this is going.  Do the Homo Heroes - as at least notionally LGB awards - need a parallel award for challenging biphobia?  Maybe they do.

Probably best if it is not co-sponsored by Manchester City Council though, an organisation whose record on bisexuality has made it (literally) a textbook example of how councils have failed on the bisexual strand of LGB / LGBT.




* that I couldn't possibly have encountered from reasonably prominent politicians locally in the past year. Ahem.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

UK Government Minister backs Bi Visibility Day

It was all a bit too hectic here for me to blog about it at the time, but let's have a belated cheer for the Women & Equality Minister Jo Swinson MP (Lib Dem, East Dunbartonshire), who was the first government figure in the UK to give their support to Bi Visibility Day. 

In a statement last month on September 23rd she said,
“Absolutely no-one should face prejudice and discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“The UK is leading the way in LGB&T equality and we can be proud of the real progress that has been made in recent years. But we know there is more to do which is why this autumn we will launch a new Call for Evidence, to explore what the next steps need to be to improve the lives of LGB&T people.
“I welcome Bi Visibility Day which helps to raise awareness of the issues that bisexual people can face and provides an opportunity to celebrate diversity and focus on the B in LGB&T.”
We've been waiting a long time for that from a minister of any stripe.

On the same day, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport also gave a supporting tweet from its departmental account, linking to September23.bi.org.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Homo Hero Lesson 1: Don't Eat At The Radisson Blu!

There are a few things to be said about the 2013 Homo Hero Awards ceremony, so I'll be scribbing a couple more blog posts over the next howeverlong.  But let us start with the easy one: the catering was awful. It would seem to be a problem with the venue rather than the organisers.

This year the awards were hosted at the Manchester Radisson Blu, the former Free Trade Hall building that is now a well-polished hotel.  Partway through the presentation of awards there was an intermission for a buffet, so we got to find out what their catering is like.

Rule one of running a decent buffet: label your food. This is x, it has y in it. These sandwiches have been ruined by mayonnaise. The amount of cocoa solids in this cake may trigger headaches. Labelling food is such a basic access issue that it drives me to despair how often I see it fail to happen. The pinnacle of fail at last night's event was a selection of sandwiches marked "various". Really. Yes, we can see they have an assortment of different fillings: perhaps you could sort them as you make them and label them so people who feel queasy after eating beef or get ill from eating cheese know which ones to dodge without having a plateful of sandwiches they have nibbled and abandoned?  I'm no posh-nosher nor one of those tastebudless "foodies", but even I know that in polite company, peeling open sarnies at the buffet to see what abomination a misanthropic chef has planted between two triangles of bread tends to be frowned on.

Rule two of running a decent buffet is that whatever your labelled or unlabelled food might be, make it a pleasure to eat.  The last mystery buffet I dined on did at least pull off being tasty grub, but the Radisson failed on that too.  If it had just been me I'd put it down to personal taste but around me were a smattering of disappointed faces shuddering at what had been made from sometimes-promising ingredients. All told, grim food in a darkened room that made you happy to have your plate collected.

As you might guess, I'll not be dining at the Radisson again any time soon. They can't cater for toffee.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

"That same voter has never cast another vote..."

Tonight is the third annual Homo Hero Awards. Once something's been going three years it's definitely Annual.

To my genuine surprise and some delight I was shortlisted in the category Homo Hero: Role Model. The delight was all about what being shortlisted involved finding out people had said about me without being prompted; a lot of activist work you put out there into the world and never really see or hear what people made of it beyond the grumbles.

Role Model is a three cornered contest between - so far as I can gather from their online profiles - a cis gay guy, a cis lesbian, and me. So I'll be flying the flag for the second half of the acronym, and even without differential voting, it's odds-on that the hero will be a homo. Moreso given one of the other shortlistees is from sporting circles, which I think involves a big block-vote kind of momentum.

Last time I was on a Homo Hero shortlist - 2011 - there was a flurry of bis on shortlists, with Natalya Dell, Marcus Morgan and BCN magazine also in the running for other categories. We all came away empty-handed but it made for a fun evening and a good excuse to all be together in one place.  This time I'm the only bi shortlistee, but some lovely people I know will be along either as my guests or as representatives from other LGBT community groups, so I'm looking forward to a happy night out for the awards, probably followed by a slap-up meal in Chinatown. And perhaps a chorus of "Losing Deposits" on the way from one to the other...

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

12p an hour more

Today the national minimum wage for adults increases by 12p an hour to £6.31.

It's one of those little victories for the left side of the left/right coalition running the UK at the moment; in power on their own the Conservatives wanted to at best freeze the minimum wage for the duration of the parliament.  The huge recession has been a big squeeze on many businesses' ability to pay increased wages but on the other side of that equation, inflation at about 4% for several years has eaten into the worth of pay packets and pushing the minimum wage up a little each year helps to mitigate that a little.  It's still a world away from the £1.66 an hour of my first job back in the early 1990s - £3 in today's money - though recall I got a lovely tan from the four mile walk each way between home and work in that blazing summer!

In turn it reminds me of a job I had in the 90s which employed me for 10 hours a week. The way the benefits system worked, after the cost of travel to work I was 2p an hour better off. You have to have quite a work ethic to work for tuppence an hour: I worked out that every couple of months I could afford a whole jar of coffee as reward for being a worker.  Another 90s part-time job was harder to get to on public transport - three buses each way - and so cost me a fiver a week compared to staying on the dole, for the privilege of working in a tensely homophobic and transphobic environment.

We need a better tax and benefits system than that. Neither Labour nor the Tories will give it to us, though in principle the much-derided (by those with a vested interest in its failure) Universal Credit project that IDS is letting his political reputation burn in piloting should have been a step in the right direction. I really should write about UC some time, it seems to be hated for all the best things about it by people who would probably praise those same things if Labour were implementing them.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

A Decade On: Bi Life in Manchester

The conference where the "Bisexual Life in Manchester" report was launched was held on 29th September 2003.  Ten years ago today.

This was the first bit of 'proper' research on bi needs that I did with BiPhoria, as part of a broader LGB&T project for the local Local Strategic Partnership. This was qualitative focus group interview palaver, with an enormous amount of transcribing (I'd never done that before) and only a loosely formatted Word document and a set of Powerpoint slides in time for the launch rather than the prettified edition that's on the BiPhoria website.

It planted some of the seeds of The Bisexuality Report, by breaking its findings on bi life and bi needs down into policy areas - youth provision, mental health, employment, housing and so on. Something I'd forgotten over the years was that, like The Bisexuality Report, it included a section of positives about bisexual experience to give some respite from the 'list of problems' style that research findings on LGBT life can become. As I recall, this was reinvented afresh when the team devised The Bisexuality Report.

The report had little immediate impact, though, as in line with Manchester City Council policy in 2003, the overarching Local Strategic Partnership ruled bisexuality to not exist: we in the LGBT LSP kept sending in documents marked "LGBT" and they kept coming back marked "LG". Though it's shifted a little in recent years, Manchester City Council worked damn hard to earn a reputation for biphobia.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

More Bi-Visible Than Ever?

LGF asked me for a news writeup of Bi Visibility Day. Lots of what it promoted were events in the days before the 23rd, so it was frustrating that it only went live on the 23rd, but maybe that'll remind me to have all the things ready a month early next time! Here's what it ended up saying when it went live on their website here.


Monday 23rd September is the 15th Bi Visibility Day, with bisexuals and allies organising events around the world and awareness-raising online.  

"In the 90s when most lesbian and gay organisations moved from ‘LG’ to ‘LGBT’, there was an awareness that trans - being about gender rather than sexuality - was a new area of work.  Often there was less work to address bisexuality as distinct from homosexuality." says Jen Yockney, chair of BiPhoria – the UK’s longest-running bisexual social & support group. "But last year's Bisexuality Report helped crystallise how and why it is different for bis for campaigners and policy-makers"

Two key challenges for bis are biphobia and invisibility, and September 23rd gives an opportunity to challenge the one through breaking down the other.  Biphobia is a complex issue, says Jen: "It comes in many flavours - that which is analagous to homophobia and heterophobia, with added suggestion of deception and indecisiveness. But there is also biphobia from how organisations and society is structured, that silences and erases bi experience.  And the internalised biphobia that makes us not want to own the ‘b word’ as a label, due to the negative connotations ofbisexuality that we have absorbed from the culture around us."

Biphobia takes its toll: research shows bis are significantly less likely to feel they can be ‘out’ at work than lesbians and gay men, and facehigher incidence of mental health issues too, perhaps linked to the pressure to be ‘one thing or the other’.

Bi meetups and events like BiPhoria, BiCon and Birmingham’s upcoming BiFest give a rare breathing space from that pressure.

In Manchester there is a celebrate bisexuality event organised by BiPhoria at The LGF on Sunday 22nd from 2pm-5pm and a bi quiz downstairs at Taurus from 6pm.

On Monday 23rd the Co-Op have a grand reception in the evening at their national HQ, with speakers from Bi Community News magazine, the BiUK research group, and LGF.

Meanwhile LGF has a film screening on Wednesday 25th.

You can find all those events and find out more about Bi Visibility Day at september23.bi.org and about BiPhoria at www.biphoria.org.uk

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Radio


Part of my Bi Visibility Day frenzy of activity this year was doing radio spots. I found myself on radio in Shropshire and Norfolk and twice nationwide on Gaydio talking about the challenges facing bisexuals and the reasons to celebrate on September 23rd. By the third one I was probably fairly coherent!

Monday, 23 September 2013

Bi Visibility Day is here

BiCon is, we all know, Bisexual Christmas. We who celebrate it travel all over the country to go and see loads of people we never see the rest of the year, old friends, new members of the extended family, some of them drive us up the wall, one or two we hope to get smoochy with under the mistletoe*. Over the festival, we drink too much, forget our normal eating patterns and after several days return blinking and the worse for wear to normal life.

Therefore today - a bit later in the calendar and more of a one-day-binge without the big travel arrangements - is Bisexual Easter. And that makes having a creme egg for breakfast totally legit :)

Happy Bi Visibility Day lovelies! Praise the bisexual easter platypus!

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Give Bi Visibility Day a little plug?

In a little over five weeks' time it will be Bi Visibility Day.  

I made a little linky graphic for the BiMedia and Bi Community News websites to highlight Bi Visibility Day and act as a link image to take people to the hub webpage about what's happening that day: september23.bi.org

Feel free to borrow it to make your own links there. Right click, save to your desktop, upload with a link through the september23.bi.org...

(280 pixel wide version)

(shrunk-to-186 pixel wide version)

By way of boosting bi visibility in general, I'm trying to give the date what additional profile I can, but I know I can't do it all on my own :)

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Vote Bi in the Gay Awards!

Please help give bisexual visibility a boost from your armchair by voting for me in this year's Homo Hero awards!

The shortlists for the annual awards have been revealed, and I'm delighted to have been shortlisted for LGB Role Model of the Year. It was all a bit of a surprise really, I knew one person had put in a nomination for me but didn't think it would go anywhere.


Why me?  Well, y'know, I've done a thing or three for the bis.  Editing a print magazine for over ten years, running a regular local social-support group for over fifteen years, organising networking and visibility at LGBT and mainstream conferences and prides, championing Bi Visibility Day, doing silly and sensible outreach and visibility work from Getting Bi to the Bisexual Recruitment Army. Being an out & proud genderqueer bi person in so many lesbian and gay focused LGBT meetings, giving neat binaries a little wobble with judicious use of the word "and" when confronted with too much of the word "either".

The Homo Hero awards are run by the Lesbian & Gay Foundation, which is the UK's largest LGB health charity, yet which doesn't have a B in its name. I'm amused at the idea of bi-ing the gay agenda of a "homo" awards do, so please help me.  It'll take a few clicks and an email address.

You can go and vote here at the Homo Heroes webpage. Role model is the third category down, where you'll find a lovely picture of me with my hair all blue and blonde.

21 people or organisations are nominated across 7 categories - you can vote for some or all of the categories, so you can just vote for me or vote in other sections too.  Two years ago there were three bi community activist nominees shortlisted - me, Natalya and Marcus - and one bi project, BCN, but last year none made the list.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Thanks, Your Holiness..?

The Pope says he's cool with homosexuality. Not with anyone actually doing anything about being gay, all that icky holding hands and kissing and such, but with them having those thoughts, urges, and presumably loves. By implication, also a whole load of loves, thoughts, urges of bi people too: the pronouncements of most religous organisations on sexuality tend to be deludedly black-and-white.

It's not magnificent. Compared to where the Catholic Church was a week ago, it is a welcome improvement, but for compairson I think it only takes us to something like where the Anglicans were about two decades ago: love the sinner, hate the sin. Two decades down the line, that's still Condemn The Marriage.

Now, I'm not at all convinced that there is any sin involved, even if we were to take their movement's texts as some kind of authority, which I suppose as Pope or Archbishop you probably are expected to do. But hey, it's less sinful. If you fall in love with someone of the same sex for the first time today, congratulations: you just dodged an afterlife bullet.

It could be a good sign. The new Pope may be about to reveal progressive tendencies over a period of a few years, dragging Catholicism all the way forwards into the... I dunno, 1950s, 60s at a push. Like David Cameron trying to persuade the Conservatives of the benefits of living in the same century as the electorate, even a fiercely modernising Pope would be trying to turn around an oil tanker of conservatism and reactionary values. Maybe he's going to turn out to be a good religious leader for humanity: today he's at the "hug a huskie" stage where it is too soon to say.

Perhaps I'm seeing too much cause for optimism, as also it reminds me a little of how, about 20 years ago, a previous pontiff suddenly declared that masturbation was now OK by his god. It's progress and hope for the future, but it is a Pope merely playing catch-up with most of the faithful and not giving actual leadership.

But let's enjoy a rare moment of hope in the pontiff, even if we can't have faith.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Local Radio with a dash of purple

My local community radio station, ALL FM, had me in for an interview for half an hour or so earlier this month.  It's up as a podcasty thing to listen to, here's the ALL OUT webpage.

As well as chatting about local bi social & support group BiPhoria and assorted bi issues - from whether people who identify as bi and then go on to identify as gay or straight is a good thing to the history of "no bisexuals" door policies at Manchester gay venues - I got to pick some definitely-not-desert-island-discs favourite tunes to play. 

We ran out of time before getting them all in, which is probably good as it means I wasn't being so incoherent as to have the presenters put records on to shut me up!  It was a little bit exciting being the DJ introducing a couple of tunes though.

For what it's worth my playlist was:

Neneh Cherry: Buffalo Stance
Ani DiFranco: In Or Out
Pet Shop Boys: Being Boring
Throwing Muses: Not Too Soon
Beats International: Dub Be Good To Me

Monday, 1 July 2013

"But he's a TORY!"

There's been a little media splash in the UK as we gained our third bisexual MP (although one of the three has left Parliament) this weekend.  Daniel Kawczynski, MP for Shrewsbury, had  left his wife about two years ago and now decided to go public about his new male partner and not being a heterosexual.

The media have been relatively calm - he wasn't especially high profile like a government minister or what have you, which probably helped, and appears to have come out of his own volition rather than having been embarrassed out by some incident or other.  The Daily Mail misreported him as the first bi MP, and shoddy journalism repeated this unchallenged in a few other places*: a lie is still halfway round the world before the truth has its boots on.

I've picked up a few gruntles from the disgruntled about him being a Conservative MP. The Tories have - ahem - not in the past been terribly good on bi (and indeed LGBT) issues. Over the last few decades on gay and lesbian matters the Liberals led and Labour trotted along reasonably close behind while the Tories were starkly opposed; while on bi and trans matters Labour too have been very poor. How can one of us be one of them comes the cry?

But you know, I want there to be openly bi Tories. It's good for us all. The thing is, I want my sexuality to not be a party political plaything: I want to know that whoever wins the next election will broadly agree that I shouldn't be treated any the worse in employment, the media, healthcare or whatever merely by accident of my sexual orientation.  Yes, aware queer voters might look back at who had been their friend when it cost rather than won votes, but the question of who wins should not be loaded with the fear of a new Section 28 or what have you.

Sure they'll couch it in terms that suit their ideology: Tories that we should be free to be any sexuality the market can sustain, Labour that we should be able to be whatever sexuality our state records have us filed under, and the Liberals that we can call ourselves whatever we like as long as we keep the noise down because the neighbours are trying to sleep.  But getting to the point where being a bisexual MP of any stripe is no bar to progress in public life would be a grand thing.  We're still not there, it's still of note and debate that an MP has come out as bi to a degree that would probably no longer be the case if he were gay, but slowly and surely we are getting there.



* the BBC and the Mirror at least

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Bringing Volunteers & Organisers Together

Across the UK there are an assortment of local groups for bi people to get social support.

They vary in shape and size greatly - in Manchester and Brighton there are groups which meet up several times a month, and have pub, coffee and community centre type meetups to suit people who feel comfortable in different settings. In London and Birmingham there's a similar range but offered by different, separate groups each meeting less frequently. Glasgow at present only has the community centre meeting model. Cardiff and Swansea do a mix of community centre meets and pub socialising.  In other places, meetups are more ad-hoc with more of a focus on web and email communication between times.

Some do outreach stalls, offer speakers and training, produce resources, research and information.

Every group has things it does well and things it could do better. It seems foolish to each be inventing the wheel in parallel across the country without comparing notes on shapes that seem to be performing well or poorly.

A couple of the groups have really big regular attendance numbers. If other towns can learn from them, that would improve the reach of the support to  bi people, as well as helping increase visibility and strengthen challenges to biphobia. Other groups have delivered or collaborated on research to reflect bi needs: again, good to replicate or learn from elsewhere. Some are much better at engaging new volunteers than others.

So at BiCon last summer, I ran a workshop focused on bringing those groups together and comparing experience, ideas and what challenges we see in front of us. It went pretty well, and led to the Bi Local Groups Network for us to keep talking the rest of the year.  But no amount of email chatter can compare to being in the same physical space with people wrestling the same organiser challenges.

So now a year on we'll have another similar gathering. If you run a local bi group, or are thinking of getting one started, why not join us in Glasgow next month?

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Little Victories


When Meg, Marcus and I - as representatives of Bi Community News, BiUK and Bisexual Index - met with the civil service last year in the wake of the Bisexuality Report, one of the things we pressed was calling things "gay" when that's not what is really meant. Not in the playground way that gay is another word for bad, but like when you mean same-sex couples and talk about gay couples.

Now the same-sex marriage bill for England & Wales isn't perfect. I have a list running up my arm of how it could be better and half of that is in words only about three MPs actually understand. But in everything the government has published about it, it's been called same-sex marriage, not gay marriage. And that being in big letters there on the name of the bill has meant even the opponents of the bill, in the Houses of Parliament, have often used the more accurate terminology.

Sure the debate then descends into talk of "gay couples" (from the pro and anti camps and moreso in the non-bi press) and a whole heap of binary nonsense. We won a small battle not the whole war. But it's good to hear the voices arguing about laws affecting bi and gay people starting to talk about it in language that admits we exist.

Wired for BiCon?

One of the things people always want to know about BiCon these days is whether they will be able to get onto the internet. 

I think BiCon Treforest was the turning point - before that there was a large puddle of LiveJournal users waiting til they got home for their fix, but I think 2007 is the last time I remember us all seeming to muddle through with just a small room of internet-wired computers for people to dip into.

I haven't spotted any official comment either way from the organising team but I was noodling at the website for the venue and for all four accommodation blocks it lists among the features of the rooms,
"free cabled internet access"
Sounds like we will have the internet, folks. But remember to bring a little ethernet cable with your laptop.

I do hope so. I can hardly type accurately for texts on my little phone, never mind trying to post updates to BiMedia and suchlike!

Thursday, 30 May 2013

It's in the Lords already

Amid the celebratory coverage of the Same-sex marriage bill for England and Wales passing third reading a week or so ago, you might have missed that as soon as it was passed in the Commons it was introduced for first reading in the Lords that same evening.

First reading is the point at which they just go "oh look, a bill, shall we debate it?" and nod, but it means the more important stages are coming up fast, with the Independent reporting today that Monday's debate in the Lords has over 80 peers asking to speak and we can assume the debate will roll over to an extra day:
"the Government has agreed that if the debate over-runs, the Government and opposition wind-up speeches and the vote itself will be held over to Tuesday. A free vote is now expected to be held at around 4pm on Tuesday."

You've probably seen lots of people urging you to write to MPs at the earlier stages, and to Peers now, but have you done it? It honestly won't take you that long to do - I slyly drafted my letter during a meeting! If it makes it through the next readings you'll get to punch the air victoriously with much more oomph. And if you watch the debate on the Parliament Channel and who you wrote to stands up you get to shout at the TV even louder.

I've written to several members of the Lords already urging them to support the bill.  As I was doing so last week I went for the old-fashioned stamp-and-envelope approach, which I prefer but stamps do eat up your pennies quickly on a low income. Fellow BiBlogger EsmeT picked a Lord to write to and posted her emailed letter on her blog here which she sent in using WriteToThem - you can still do that now; it's cutting it fine to trust the Royal Mail to get there in time for Tuesday.

Which Lord? Any! One with the same surname as you. One you met at a fete. One you saw on Question Time and liked. One who used to be your MP. But Tory, Labour, Liberal, Crossbench, there are going to be pro and anti and undecided on every side of the chamber. Pick one and go for it...

...and I'll see you on twitter for the final stages on Tuesday!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Inspired by Too Many recent LGBT activist & organiser spaces...


Another new shiny

Oooh - new Pet Shop Boys album is almost here!


Electric is the 12th studio album. Gosh that's taken a long time! To think how it felt like ages from Behaviour to Very...

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Victoria Baths Zine Fair 2013

So yesterday I went to another zine fair, this time with Katie for company. Much closer to home this time - the Victoria Baths in Vicky Park is a bit over two miles walk from my home, so no exciting railway adventure to a strange city, just a toddle up the road, to the middle of a street that holds memories of a different ex at each end!

The last time I walked past Victoria Baths would be about 12 years ago, though, and I think it's been done up a lot in that time. It's a very different building from the one where the Sheffield zine fair was held, but just as fascinating and quirky: a former public bath house from when they were all the rage for keeping the Great Unwashed, well, washed. With a class hierarchy of the clean water going to the higher-paying men, their dirty water then being pumped to the general men's washing area, and then when they were done with it, it was piped to the women's bathing room.

Being somewhere A Bit Strange has definitely added to the flavour of my two zine-land outings.

As well as the main zine stall areas and tours of the building, there were two promising looking workshoppy sessions: an interesting talk by Karren Ablaze, and a film screening about HelpYourselfManchester. There was also acapella singing, which I'm sure was rewarding if you like that kind of thing but I kept well clear.

Those two workshoppy bits first:

Karren's talk was grand, a reading from her book The City is Ablaze!: The Story of a Post-Punk Popzine, 1984-1994. This was a rollercoaster ride of anecdotage going through how her zinestering developed from tiny nervous beginnings over ten years (in musical terms, that's from The Smiths to The Happy Mondays) into a 5000-copy-selling chunky music magazine, but the loop of raising money and hard sell of zines meaning it would almost inevitably end up imploding under its own weight. Though my area of zine & small-press writing and publishing is different, there were a lot of interesting overlaps, challenges and moral questions, and of course someone who was around the Manchester music scene a lot just before I came to the city is bound to have the right venue- and artist- namedrops to keep me listening.

One of the key memories I took away was a reminder of that way that in the 80s and 90s, when so few of us had email, contact was so much more precious. Both with others "like me" in whatever way, and with the creators of music or zines who today you might follow on twitter and swap blog comments with, but then you'd be writing to, wondering if they'd reply, watching the doormat when the postie came in the hope they might have written back to you. A great divide has been narrowed, but some magic has gone away in the process.

There were only half a dozen or so of us in the talk but I think we all got a lot out of it. And I was pleased I managed to ask a meaningful question for once!

The film about gigs listing site HelpYourselfManchester and the people who were a part of its bubble was also interestingly educational, though not only in the way its makers seemed to intend. Mostly this is made up of interviews with people who were putting on "house gigs" by largely punky bands, mostly around Levenshulme and in particular at the Klondyke Club and 69 Albert Road, something like 2002 - 2004. It's a scene I was never quite a part of, but I loitered nearby. There is a lot of interesting creative culture here, around cheaply assembled DIY culture, creating spaces, and the making of eyecatching and distinctive flyers for gigs, some of which are still on my office wall a decade later.

I love that this kind of very narrow, local social history can be recorded for posterity. I felt there were two critical elements missing however. There's no attempt to set the scene presented into a wider historical context - we're given the impression of a unique moment in Manchester history, yet I remember similar happenings before the loose network presented came into being, and continuing after the period the film covers. This was part of an ongoing subculture in the city rather than something new of itself, a subculture which I get the impression depends on the turnover of students in the city to keep renewing its verve and energy. And what we see reflects a kind of creative alternative cheap DIY culture that is underpinned by a lot of resources and privilege that goes unmentioned - something I have talked about before around alternative Prides.

The film also left unanswered how the residents of 71 Albert Road felt about a long stream of raucous gigs being put on just a Victorian terraced house wall away from their own front room!


Let's step back out of the fringe and into the main zine fair now though...

How to remind yourself you laptop keyboard isn't that noisy
The main hall had comics, zines and small-press art on two floors, with the upper floor a balcony running all around the lower floor giving a lovely bright airy space. I probably missed some gems but - as I'm less excited with art and craft and more with queer / bi / feminist expression and communication - I didn't pick up any zines for me (I did get some stuff for other people, but as they will be presents along the way I don't want to say more about those!). Among other things Katie picked up an issue of crafty zine "Sugar Paper: 20 things to make and do", which was good to peer at over her shoulder, and I nearly braved the stairs again to get one of the other issues but started counting how much money I had left by then and decided against.

Even moreso than in Sheffield there was a great spread of subjects and styles; a lot of artsy stalls and I think fewer of the ink-and-paper-and-passionate-outpourings that I think of as the core of zine culture. Just as Sheffield ZineFest had its fabulous wall displays of posters and the interactive story of 1913 running along one wall, there were things for the nervous newbie to do here with typewriters to experiment on, spirographs to make pretty patterns with and lino-cutting print.  And there was a small-children's play area with colouring in and dressing up things. I do love seeing how people work to make their events accessible to people in ways like that.

So... a lovely day out, a stimulating place to hold it, and the top tip that yes - zine fairs are more fun with someone else so you get to wander round them in company. But go anyway.


(if you like your writeups more picturey, there's a great photo roundup of the day here on the Shrieking Violet's blog)

Monday, 6 May 2013

Another bi-erasing "Academic"

An American professor has partly retracted bi-erasing and homophobic comments about the economist John Maynard Keynes.

Niall Ferguson, who at the time of writing remains linked to Harvard University in the USA, commented last week that Keynes' famed remark on economic issues that "in the long run we are all dead" reflected that Keynes' homosexuality and childlessness meant he had no interest or concern for society in the long term.

However, Keynes was not gay and his wife miscarried on at least one occasion, rendering Ferguson's remarks not only tasteless and factually lacking, but actively and deliberately erasing of bisexuality.

In a half-hearted apology on his blog he has now stepped back slightly from those comments - but in observing that "colleagues, students, and friends – straight and gay – have every right to be disappointed in me," he continues his determined bisexual erasure and rewriting of history.

Harvard University was founded in 1636 and was a respected academic institution for many years.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

New Terry Pratchett book out soon!

The Long War, sequel to The Long Earth - I think my "what I want for my birthday" list just started...

Monday, 29 April 2013

Bi Life... 10 years ago!

I just found an old email, and it turns out that the conference where the "Bisexual Life in Manchester" report was launched was held on 29th September 2003.  Just coming up on ten years ago.

Gosh.

This was the first bit of 'proper' research on bi needs that I did with BiPhoria, as part of a broader LGB&T project for the local Local Strategic Partnership. Qualitative focus group interview palaver, with an enormous amount of transcribing (I'd never done that before) and only a loosely formatted Word document in time for the launch rather than the prettified edition that's on the BiPhoria website.

It planted some of the seeds of The Bisexuality Report, by breaking its findings on bi life and bi needs down into policy areas - youth provision, mental health, employment, housing and so on. It had little immediate impact, though, as in line with Manchester Council policy, the LSP ruled bisexuality to not exist: we kept sending in documents marked LGBT and they kept coming back marked LG.

At about the same time there was the Three Wishes project, which was trying to be a lot more "harvest everyone's ideas" kind of research, rather than digging deep.  That got published in a BCN article or two, but I honestly can't remember any more whether it separated out the Manchester answers from the nationwide ones.

Monday, 22 April 2013

IPS not fit for purpose?

The Identity and Passport Service will not go ahead with the introduction of non-gendered passports, PinkNews reports. This was a proposal whereby people for whom passports tagged as 'male' or 'female' are not appropriate for one reason or another, to have another gender tag option: F, M or X.

It seems that to dodge taking any action, they've knocked up an easily-debunked security problem claim: but who would conduct intimate searches on people whose passports were marked neither M nor F?

Straight out of the Humphrey Appleby textbook.

Now, maybe the IPS honestly don't have anyone suitable on their staff roster. Though if everyone working for IPS is binary-gender identified, cis and non-intersex, then either staffing numbers are even lower than we'd been led to believe, or there is something institutionally wrong in their HR department that they seriously need to look at.

But if checking points already have at least members of the two most popular gender groupings in attendance to conduct such searches, surely we could get moving with giving anyone with an X passport rather than an F or M one the choice of either of the available search agents. Or the possibility of being detained while taken to a place where the staff roster includes someone more suitable for the, ahem, job in hand.

So this one hits the buffers. Simon Hughes MP is annoyed, and I'm disappointed that - as with the same-sex marriage bill - we are still struggling to drag our nation's bureaucracy into the 20th century when its people are living a decent chunk of the way through the 21st.

But... people from countries which do have non-binary-gender passports will continue to come and go through our borders, reflecting that the "but who will do the searches" problem is already there and something they already need to have a solution to, regardless of what options might be available to UKanian passport holders. So actually, there is no security procedure difference, and this is just an opportunity for our nanny state to treat its citizens like dirt.


If this really is what the IPS are going to report, and they intend to then just drop the whole idea and walk away, there are four magic words from the era of the last coalition government to sum it up.  Not. Fit. For. Purpose.

From Jen's Little Book Of Wisdom

Despite the over-used "twice the chance of a date on a Friday night" line*, bisexuals only get the same number of Friday nights as everyone else.




* & thank you so much Woody Allen for saving oodles of people the effort of having to think up their own witticism about the bis.

Monday, 8 April 2013

That Mrs Thatcher

As across the internet tubes we all burble about Margaret Thatcher's death, I tried coming up with the good things she did and there were three or four that immediately sprung to mind(1). Then you go on to the other column and eight or nine things rather than three or four. Mostly bad, but like everyone, and like every government, a bit of a blend.
A lot of what is being attributed to Mrs T today came in under Labour in the 70s - monetarist economics and a selfish short-termist "I'm alright jack" view of wider society. And when she left office we had a nationalised railway network and no such thing as university tuition fees: can you imagine!

But that's the trouble with what's largely social history tied up in the stories we tell ourselves: we all have some idea what Thatcherism was, whereas Callaghan...ism..? No one knows what that might have been. Eleven years of change for better and worse glows bright in the memory in the way that the previous decade of greyness, decline and stagnation - and indeed the next seven years of much the same again - cannot fire the imagination.
And so beware false tales in the mix this week: lots of people will recall that Margaret Thatcher believed that there is "no such thing as society"' - ironically this based on a deliberate malquote of her, where the full context of the phrase was a warning about extremes of selfishness and individualism. A warning that had it been borne in mind by Brown and Blair we might not be quite as deep in the financial doo-doo as we are.
 
(1) - good things like legalising sex between men in Scotland and in Northern Ireland. Bad things like legislating to make homosexuality a thought crime.  Good things like the trades union reforms in 1980, 82 and 84. Bad things like selling off the social housing stock at a knock-down price and preventing replacements being built. Good things like privatising the phone networks; bad things like privatising the water board.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Across the hills to Sheffield Zinefest

This weekend I dipped my toe in zinesterland for the first time. by going to the Sheffield Zinefest.

It's a bit weird, saying that, as I've been standing on the borders of the place for about 20 years! Whether mine or my flatmate's music zines, the trashy thing for people in my uni department that I sometimes wrote for, the amusing reputation I got in the 90s with the then writer-about-queer-zines for BCN, or a squillion bits and pieces I've written and sometimes drawn for BCN and other bi magazines... it's all been in places of, so to speak, intersectional zine culture. A place where we are all queer and here is a zine about being queer. A place where we are all feminist and here is a distro table of the fine work of grrrl zinesters. I'd never just gone to a place where people who get it about the seductive power of ink and paper congregate.

And there are two things I need to write: the day out, and trying to keep up the little fillip of ink and paper energy it's given me. There's going to be a section heading or two, you know there will... and maybe even a cut-tag. Here they come...

A splendid day out

Friday, 15 March 2013

BCN 117

Well, it's back from the print shop.... yet again they sent it to the wrong place and so it is a couple of weeks behind when it could have been going into the post. I am so not amused you can hardly imagine, but I think if it was raining today then as I walked down the street the raindrops would turn to steam as them met my head. It's almost less that they sent it to somewhere arbitrary instead of the delivery address stated, more how blase they were when challenged about it.

Four alternative print quotes sourced so far. If I can move it for anything like the same print bill, I'm moving. Most other print houses also have tracking on parcels so you can find out if things have been delivered to a randomly chosen stranger.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Future History

Too little was going on for LGBT HM, so I cracked and made a bisexual history thing. It's a twitter feed, and there'll be a page on BiMedia soon to go with it. @bisexualhistory - my aim with it is that one day I'll have a "bi thing from history" for every day of the year.

It may require me to organise the Smallest BiFest Ever one December 25th to complete the calendar...

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

400 to 175

The first hurdle for the same-sex marriage bill has been passed. I'm not entirely sure, but I think 400 votes in favour is the largest show of support there's been for any LGBT equality measure to date. Yes, 175 against...

I tried to juggle lots of things at once during the debate in the Commons including live-tweeting what was being said on @BiCommunityNews - some contributions good and bad will have been missed while I was on the phone to people, talking to people face-to-face, or moving from here to there, but I'll paste a little timeline below.

Watching the debate you'd've thought there was going to be a much tighter result. One after another MPs stood up to grump about the bill: the trouble for most of them being, they'd decided what they thought of it when they got to the idea "it's about the gays", but now had to concoct some bold excuse as to why they were going to vote no that sounded a bit more high principled than "gays have got cooties and if they can marry we might catch it off a registrar".

As ever, indeed from the moment I got the tip-off that this bill was going to be announced, I am a little bit like a rabbit in headlights: I grew up on 80s tabloid hatred and the coming together of Tories and Labour to foist Section 28 on us all. Somehow just two decades later I wound up living on a different planet from all that stuff, even if it is a world with a lot of confused aliens from 80s-world.

There's still a good long way to go before we can marry, though...

Friday, 18 January 2013

Bisexuals and LGBT History Month 2013

As fellow BiBloggers resident EsmeT reminds us in her recent post, it's about to be February and in the UK that's LGBT History Month.

Each year a host of events around the UK and in the media teach or remind us about our queer history, sometimes with overarching themes that have been deliberately chosen, sometimes with themes that just seem to emerge at a grassroots level. The second year of LGBT HM being marked, if I remember right, there was a groundswell of trans history events in response to the first year being rather L&G. Last year it was all about sport, on account of the Olympics, which is why this year's theme is a bit peculiar in being the 101st anniversary of Alan Turing's birth. 100 years is more usual, but apparently the Olympics just wouldn't take "next year" for an answer.

Some years LGBT HM events with a bi focus happen around the UK during the month: BiPhoria hosted a "3,000 Years Of Bisexuality" history talk about four years ago, I did a "25 Years of Bisexual Manchester" type talk in 2011, and London has had a couple of events of varying shapes.

Beyond those, though, the pickings to date are lean.

It depends on a few factors: either one or more bi folk deciding to make something happen, whether as a one-off or as a specially themed evening at an existing bi meetup group, or a more broadly focused organisation that makes contact with one of many bi projects around the UK which can help with guest speakers (Bi Community News, Bisexual Index, Bothways, BiPhoria, Bi Cymru and suchlike). 

Beside EsmeT's talk with her Church group, which I may be misreading but it sounds more like it's directed at the existing congregation rather than a 'public' audience, so far I haven't heard of any LGBT History Month events going on this year with a bi focus or substantial bi angle. 

So: is there a B in LGBT History Month this year? If so please tell me, as I'd love to know about it!