Sunday 30 December 2007

The most influential bis in British politics?

As gay news site unveils their list of the "50 most influential LGBT people in politics", I find myself writing on asking: where are the bisexuals?

Sure, there's Lib Dem Party President and London MP Simon Hughes, and Green MSP for Glasgow Patrick Harvie who never returns emails from the bi press. There are a few debatable names in there too: does Michael Portillo count for your definition of bisexuality? He reminds me of a late-night Channel 4 show in about 1990 where Jimmy Somerville did a piece to camera saying "a short message for Cliff Richard. Cliff, if the rumours are true, please, please, please, don't come out you would set the whole movement back years."

But the whole list reflects the relative strengths of the L, G, B and T strands of the queer community. Lots of gay men, quite a smattering of lesbians, not a lot else. A lot of people who we infer are gay men because there really isn't any further evidence and it's not in their interests socially or politically to be anything beyond gay or straight.

But it shouldn't be like this. Every half-decent bit of research out there says there are more bisexuals than lesbians and gay men put together, almost no matter how you happen to define "bi". Bisexual politicians should be making up more than half the list.

Well. Here's hoping 2008 is a year when a few more people in political life can put their heads above the parapet as openly and proudly bisexual politicians.

Thursday 13 December 2007

It seems obvious once you think of it

One of the problems with the Bisexual Recruitment Army website has been the lack of interactivity. It's pretty and silly and we've made a biiiiiig banner for waving on parades, but it's terminally "web1.0" as things stand.

But if we made a Facebook group to associate with it... well, it's still not a completely web2.0 project, but at least it has cranked up to web1.1!

Sunday 2 December 2007

Growing the bi profile

For what I think might be the first time, a bisexual event has made the top five LGBT events of the year in gay newspaper The Pink Paper’s reader’s poll of the year. In the category, “Best festival, Pride or event” the shortlist on which readers will vote in a second round of polling in the next few days is: Manchester Pride, Brighton Pride, BiCon, London Pride, Glastonbury.

That's fantastic as you'd expect me to say - even moreso if that list is in order of popularity rather than randomised, though that's probably overoptimistic! It also perhaps reflects that while more people go to some of the Pride events around the country than go to BiCon, people probably get more out of BiCon and it's a more motivated, politicised community than the cross-section of average Pride goers.

The awards voting page is at by the way - I do hope we get a good showing for BiCon even though to be honest, the competition is pretty tough there and fifth place will still be an amazing placing to pull off.

Friday 30 November 2007

Issue 88

Another BCN arrives off the presses. This one is more activist than usual; our feature article is the transcript from the session at BiCon 2007 at which we debated the future of the bi movement. While billed as a panel debate with representatives of BiCon, International BiCon 2010, BCN, BiFest London and the Bi Research Group, it very much an open session with probably more contributions from the floor than from the panel.

A lot of BiCons have had debates on similar themes. This one seemed to be a little more productive; I think it's a knock-on effect of having the Bi Activist gatherings. I know I'm forever saying that the bi scene glass is half full, but I think things really are moving in a way they haven't in quite some time.

Sunday 7 October 2007

Bi News Agency

A couple of years ago I bought the domain in order to have a non-BCN email address from which to send press releases about events like BiFest and the launch of West Yorkshire Bi Group. It seemed like a good idea to have a news source email address to differentiate things from the magazine and so forth, though I wasn't entirely sure what I would do with it after advertising the couple of things immediately before me at the time.

Two years on and I've just decided to renew the domain name. It's a blooming good URL - google bimedia and naturally it gets highly ranked. But also the project of a bi news source is starting to come good. The URL now takes you to a bi news Wordpress site, but that was still a bit too much of an isolated addition to the bi web.

I've been trying for some time to work out how that news feed could fairly-seamlessly and easily be integrated into people's web pages. That way instead of being a news site off on its own, BiMedia could keep lots of bi web pages looking fresh and up-to-date with the latest news about events and more. But the php coding was just way beyond my lapsed-programmer skills.

All that has now changed though - so here's to a three-year experiment in hosting a bi news site and encouraging people involved in the UK bi community to take up content editor accounts to get as much news from the bi movement on there as quickly as we can - and syndicated onto bi web pages automatically through the magic of RSS. Manchester Bis and BCN have already got the feed; I hope other bi sites will pick it up soon too.

Monday 24 September 2007

Bi Day

Happy Celebrate Bisexuality Day, dear reader. Last year I was running round frantically making a Manchester BiFest happen to mark the occasion. This year I'm not doing anything - just not enough hours in the month - but the Scottish lot have a special event on with Bi Flag coloured cocktails which I definitely want the recipe for to use in future!

One of the things I'd tried doing a lot in the past was getting the various Bi Day events around the globe to link up, at the simple level of having a shared poster or something that we could each print off in our own countries with messages of solidarity from other bis around the world and what they were going to be up to by way of marking the date. "Greetings from Manchester where we will be holding a day of workshops for bi, bicurious and bifriendly folks in the local LGBT community centre" and such. Sadly, though I floated it the last few years on international lists, it seems to be one of those "just me then" things.

Maybe I'll get all fired up again next year. Or more likely 2009.

Friday 21 September 2007

Student Outreach, again

Tonight was the annual "end of freshers week" LGBT society bash at the local university. This one was better organised than the previous couple I'd been to, though once again the PA system was bust.

The bi stall signed up a dozen or so prospective new recruits. The difficulty with student recruitment is twofold: first we're not a student group so don't meet in a nice familiar place on campus; second most bi stuff in the city is on Tuesdays, and so are the student LGBT meetings. We tried tackling that problem a few years ago, moving the night BiPhoria met on - from Thursdays to Tuesdays. Within a year the uni groups which had been meeting on Thursdays at the time moved to also being on a Tuesday.

Our other problem with recruits at the student event is that we wind up running a community group stall in the midst of a bunch of nightclubs offering free membership to new students; you can never be entirely sure whether someone is giving you their email address because they want to tackle bisexual invisibility or because they think they'll get a free keyring and allowed in to an imaginary club cheap on a Saturday night.

Wednesday 29 August 2007


Well, that was Manchester Pride, and this year we were bi-rates with many a shivered timber and wanton rolling of our arrs. There was a decent rate of traffic to the bi stall in the exhibition area too, though it's often a case there of giving people basic bi info at Pride and never seeing them again. Last year we gave out reams of paper and I don't think the local bi group saw a single new member out of it; but then again, a bit of paper telling you that it's ok and you're not the only one is all some people need.

Last year we were the BRA which suited those who wanted a strong image who were nervous about being out, while this year's Bi-rates were a bit more glam... I think we could have a lot of fun by playing on the "Pride is no longer political" and "Bisexuals are apolitical" themes. Who's for a year of waving placards on a Pride march with slogans like "bisexuals demand cake"?

Tuesday 10 July 2007


I was promising postcards for lobbying Stonewall.

Here they are - they went down well at London Pride and I'm sure there'll be a good take up of them at Manchester BiFest, where I think we might be formally launching them.

Sunday 8 July 2007

Bit of a wash-out

The 2007 Student Pride event wasn't all it might have been; one more cynical wag than I suggested there were as many people running stalls in the exhibition area as there were students attending the event, and certainly as stall holders we were press-ganged into going to the panel debates and presentations in order to pad out some quite empty rooms.

Perhaps it's part of the general student politics problem - however good a group, campaign or society is, three years on the competent original team have graduated and moved on. For those of us outside student politics this is a source of great frustration but also a great lesson in that when student groups screw things up, screw us over, or indeed do really good things - three years later we have to remember that this is a different bunch of people now when thinking about working or not working with them. You create a bad reputation for your group and it will live on after you.

Friday 15 June 2007

Inky Paws

Tomorrow is the Student Pride event in Manchester. I've been busy making inky things ready for it.

First, some flyers in a somewhat Kaffequeeria / zinester alternative scene style, advertising both BiFest Manchester, BiFest Sheffield, and BiCon. They are essentially a re-make of the 2004 BiCon "Choose Both" cards on the other side. This may be controversial, as at an NUS LGBT event a few years ago the design got heckled strongly by one participant because of the line "choose to steal lesbian energy and give it to men". This was declared to be horribly offensive (whereas all the other stereotypes and weird crap spoken about bisexuals included in the artwork was fine, then?) and meant that people would be put off going to the event. Perhaps for the complainant this was true, but nonetheless it proved to be the best attended BiCon outstripping even the 2000 International BiCon, and unlike any other bi event propaganda, she remembered it two years later. Which, in marketing terms, is I think a fair definition of success.

Eager print-monkey work also means tomorrow I get to unveil the first batch of the Lobby Stonewall To Be More Bi-Inclusive "tackling ........ invisibility" postcards.

Yes, rather than just bitch about it in this blog and in the pages of BCN and the Delga newsletter, the time has come to Do Something. So a clever (if I say so myself) postcard design has been quickly knocked up, and with the added twist that lobbying by postcard is exactly how Stonewall tell us lobbying for change is best done. It mayn't achieve anything, or then again it might just get a goodly few postcards mailed in and give Britain's biggest LGb lobbying and equality organisation a bit of a shot across the bows.

Here goes...

Thursday 31 May 2007

Making a journal of record...

The amazing thing about BCN is how much bloody stuff is in it.

I've caught a few moaning minnies in the past complaining that it's only 12 pages long most issues. But we notch up the best part of 1,000 words a page, perhap 8-9,000 an issue. The g3's and Diva's of this world would spread that out over many more pages, and fill a lot of the difference with advertising (cynics would say this then leaves them in hock to their advertisers so they can't always say what needs to be said about the gay scene).

Wednesday 30 May 2007

Stonewall are at it again

Stonewall's newly published "Living Together" report into British attitudes to lesbians and gay men is drawing lots of flak on one of the LGBT email lists I read, due to the lack of trans inclusion in their research.

Now, Stonewall are an LGB organisation not LGBT so to my mind it's quite right that covering trans in their reports, except incidentally, is not something any of us should expect. However, just as with their "Tuned Out" report last year, this is not an LGB document; it's a lesbian and gay one. The "b" word appears twice in one paragraph and that is all, which seems to me a missed opportunity given that (I suspect) perceptions of and attitudes towards bisexual people may well be different than those toward lesbians and gay men, and in particular may show marked gender differences.

Tuned Out at least noted in passing that Stonewall's media monitoring did not spot any representation of bisexuality at all. "Living Together" doesn't go that far, and just as with Tuned Out, in this report the recommendations are entirely in terms of lesbians and gay men.

Stonewall has developed a reputation in bi circles over many years as only including the "B" on the bit where they ask you for money. That's not entirely true: lobbying work from the bi community has got some bi content onto their website recently for example -- but they do seem to lapse back into LG terribly often.

Monday 28 May 2007

The Joy of Interviews

A while ago I was interviewed about bi activism for the British Psychological Society Lesbian & Gay Journal. It was a rollicking long thing, about seven pages of their magazine got filled with it.

Then today I got interviewed again, this time by a student journalist doing coursework which may yet get into print somewhere.

Those encounters reminded me somewhat of when I was first coming out. Back then I started - somewhat sarkily - to compile a mental checklist of replies to the usual questions. The idea being you could tell someone you were bi and hand them a crib sheet with the answers to the inevitable questions pre-prepared, possibly even in order.

No, I don't fancy you.
Yes, you are attractive, but no, I don't fancy you.
Since I was about eleven.
Slightly more into girls right now but that's not what it's about, and it kind of varies over time.
Cider, thanks.
He might be, but I hope he isn't.
I don't know.

The thing is, behind the sarky plan for a reply, something rather useful was going on. The first few people I told, I was actually telling myself as well as them. They would ask questions which I had edged around inside my own head but could always duck away from, but confronted with someone else asking, had to come to an answer. Even if later I worked out that answer had been wrong, it pushed me to stop faffing about and act like I had some kind of idea.

Interviews now are a bit like that. Why did you get involved, what motivated you, what keeps you doing it now. When you've been doing something long enough it's easy to get so close up to the cliff face that you forget to step back and remind yourself what it is all about.

Hopefully the act of stepping back and blogging about it will help to throw some of the "why" into relief. Heck, that might prove interesting for the reader, too.