Sunday, 22 June 2014

September 23rd and hashtags

A debate has opened up amongst some bi activists and groups online about how best to hashtag September 23rd this year on the twitternets.

This may seem a bit navel-gazing a question, but how we hashtag it has an important impact on how the 'official' name branding is perceived. In turn, what happens on the date, and who engages with it and how will be affected. And a combined, shared hashtag will get more momentum and attention - it is "good for SEO" I'm told.

Some of the suggestions bouncing around are:


The last one - #internationalcelebratebisexualityday - is the historically accurate name. It sums up what we want to do well, for all that it was I believe originally meant to focus inwardly on celebrating the (organised) bi community and has changed over time to be more outward looking. 

Unfortunately, it's about a third of a tweet in itself - as well as being a bugger to type on a small phone and an unwieldy name for dropping into conversation. Go do a radio interview where you need to mention what the date is called ten times and you will soon learn to hate such a bold selection of multisyllabic words.

As a consequence, #celebratebisexualityday developed some traction as a name. The trouble is that online there is a strong tendency for things to slip into the idea that "America is the world", and just losing the "international" I worry sends a signal that it's OK to talk of a September 23 that goes just as far as the Canadian and Mexican borders and not a step further. 

This ties in to a conversation among some UK bi activists a few years ago about better, friendlier branding for the date.  I have to say I was in the "sticky" camp of continuing to try and get traction on our existing branding, but was persuaded otherwise.

There seem to be two main contenders for alternative directions to go in.

#BiPrideDay (and related, #BiPride) takes the existing common notion of gay / LGBT+ Pride, which is nice and clear. The downsides are first that for people who want to organise and bring bis together, it suggests quite a specific set of things to do - Pride being associated with a moderately narrow range of festival models these days. For me there is also an implication that we have abandoned LGBT Prides (the ones 'we' invented!) and so the LGBT prides that significantly fail on bisexual engagement or representation have a get-out clause. #BiPride feels good for bi visibility over general LGBT Pride season, but lacks a focus on September 23rd. It's a bit like tagging IDAHO(BIT) as #lgbtPride.

#BiVisibilityDay names one of our biggest challenges as people and as a community and its solution in the name. By not being 'Pride' it opens up more space around ways people - bi or ally - might mark the date and seek to advance bisexual visibility, of people or of community. Only bis can have bi pride, but allies of bis can help raise the bi profile. On the downside it lack the familiarity of a "Pride" branding - but then IDAHO(BIT) and TDOR have that same issue and have still achieved decent levels of momentum and 'brand recognition' over time.

The blurring between those two is #BiDay. That's a lot shorter than #BiVisibilityDay so you can fit more content into your tweets.

It's about bisexuals and it's on a specific day. In the spirit of Bisexual Index's work to define bisexuality in as few words as possible so that there aren't stray words in there excluding people, #BiDay probably does the job of summarising September 23rd best.

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