Thursday 26 February 2009

The trouble is there's almost nothing out there

Hooray! ...ish.

NHS Barking and Dagenham have developed a website about LGBT health, and it has a bisexual section. This splits into five areas - four of which are links to broad LGB health advice on mental health, cancer, weight issues, and LGBT organisations in general (none of them are bi projects) - but one of them is a page specifically about bisexual health.

Which goes like this:

Some facts, figures and thoughts on bisexual health

Being bisexual is sometimes not easy, generally society can make you feel that you have to be either gay or straight but being bisexual is just as valid an identity as either of the other two and you should be comfortable being you, and if you identify with being bisexual then as your health is just as important an issue as for gays or straights!

There is very little research about bisexual health so I'm afraid this bit might be a bit short but you will find useful information on both the lesbian and gay pages for that side of your life.

It can be tough being bi but it can also be great fun and a perfectably normal and acceptable way to live so hang in there and try not to get dragged down by other peoples prejudice and pre-conceptions. It's always worth trying to find other bisexual people, even if only online to begin with. It often helps to bounce things around with people who have had similar expectations.

Here are a few useful websites on bisexuality: – This is kind of the grand-daddy of bi-resources and is a great place to start. – A server list for bisexuals, has a good FAQ section.

Now, hurrah that this content is out there, it shows that someone on the inside is trying and indeed succeeding. Brilliant. But how painfully it underlines the lack of bi health work; and gosh those links could be better couldn't they? Particularly the link to usenet isn't quite where the internet is at nowadays, and I say that as someone who still uses email software from circa 1991 rather than this rubbishy new-fangled Outlook/Thunderbird HTML mail nonsense.

Monday 23 February 2009

Manchester city council marginalising bis again?

Each year my local city council holds an LGBT consultation day.

They call it slightly different things from year to year, and it's only I think last year and this that is has finally moved from being "Lesbian and Gay" to LGBT. Overdue perhaps but still movement in the right direction. So if you're reading at the Town Hall - thanks folks, I know how hard it is for a council with such a right-wing administration and so many issues of entrenched power to move forwards on anything and so this is a welcome change.

Trouble is, Manchester City Council on LGBT issues is a bit like many other organisations that have made the LG to LGBT jump over the past decade, doing really well on consciously working on T without having moved much on the B beyond changing the stationery.

Ten years ago whether in equal opportunities, service user monitoring or what have you, it was a matter of city council policy here that bisexuality did not exist. Bi people were in some kind of queer Schrodinger state, they might be indefinably either gay or straight but as soon as you looked at one you would be able to collapse their waveform into the one or the other. The council even produced EO monitoring forms with three tickyboxes to cover all possibilities on sexual orientation - straight, gay or.... lesbian. Gosh, there was me thinking that might have been partly covered on the just-two tick boxes for gender on the previous line.

Even in the early part of this decade, as the council set up a Local Strategic Partnership structure for the voluntary sector, it was fascinating to see that soon after the lesbian and gay LSP declared itself to be LGBT in response to the member organisations values, the council set about slashing and then abolishing its budget, making it the only one of the 29 streams of LSP work they have abolished.

Then after years of insisting that all queers were either lesbian or gay, the jump to LGBT happened. It seems to have been by grassroots insurrection: the council started a staff group for their gay and lesbian staff, which declared itself to be LGBT and kept putting the four-letter acronym on things.

The momentum had built by last year and thus the Lesbian and Gay Day became LGBT; but was noteworthy for having a series of speakers and workshops on lesbian, gay and trans issues and representing organisations whose work focuses on the L, G and T communities. Afterwards I got in touch and suggested once again that some B inclusion was well overdue and offering a speaker or workshop slot; to the degree of offering taking a day of unpaid leave from my day job at a busy time of year to make sure it could happen.

This year's event has just been unveiled. It's got plans for sessions on lesbian, gay, trans, and... erm... nope, that's all folks.

There's a surprise.

I shall be making enquiries, but I'm not holding my breath.

Friday 13 February 2009


I'm hoping to get to talk to someone soon about their dissertation project on bisexuality and sport. It's one of those things, like the depths of academia, where I don't have the first clue: I managed the enviable feat of being banned from doing sport in school for almost the whole of my time in secondary education and even the whole vast and varied range of sport has never managed to entice me in since I got out of school.

It's nicely topical at the moment as there are growing stirrings on tackling homophobia (at least...) in football going on. But it's also good to have things I know next to nothing about in BCN: I want a magazine that reflects a good swathe of bi life, not just my own urban activist take.

What doesn't BCN talk about that you wish it did?

Tuesday 10 February 2009


Saturday I had an excellent meeting with someone who wants to bring a play about bisexuality to Manchester. This was an example of my favourite kind of activism - it involved someone buying me lunch and cider. We had a really good long rambling talk and booked a venue so I now know there will be something bi going on over Pride week this summer which I won't have to take responsibility for organising. Brilliant.

Hope to sort out an interview properly with them for BCN in a month or three.

Sunday I finished stuffing BCN issue 94 into envelopes for mailing. Subscription numbers are up again, which is brilliant but means more stuffing work!

Friday 6 February 2009

"As long as they were human..."

The attention-grabbing publicity release for the next issue of Diva has been picked up over on PinkNews, with a report that

(Molly from TV's "The L Word") Clementine Ford spoke exclusively to Diva about her sexuality. "The truth is that I’m not technically out yet," she said."There. Put that in your magazine. For me, there’s never been a distinction about anything to do with sexuality, so there was no declaration to be made. My siblings and I would bring home men and women, and as long as they were human it wasn’t a big thing.”

Now, is it just me who thinks there's a word starting with "B" for that one that perhaps just hasn't made it past the press release subedit stage? C'mon Clementine, get on out of the unlabelled closet and try this super-stretchy label for size.

Apparently the Proposition 8 ban on similarly-gendered people marrying helped prompt this declaration. Hmmm. Could it be as provocatively invigorating to queer campaigners over there as the Section 28 was over here?

Thursday 5 February 2009

Ninety four, ninety five

Another BCN hits the presses, remarkably soon after the previous one but we are sort of playing catch-up. It's issue 94; we started on issue zero so we've done 95 editions now. I say "we"; until issue 32 all I did was write the odd piece now and then.

I flatter myself that this is one of the better looking editions: I still feel every square inch of paper should have "content" and have to wrestle my fear of whitespace, but I am at least becoming a bit more playful with layout and headlines. The writer roster is particularly impressive, with many more contributors than in a lot of recent editions.

The website is to my mind looking a little stale, but then I have spent rather a lot of time looking at it compared to any well-adjusted bisexual. It doesn't have any content from the last year or so and it would be good to get that online. The easy way would be to generate PDFs and put those online, but people who are happy being on the cover of the printed magazine and appearing in miniature on the website may be a bit more touchy about having super-hi-res colour versions of themselves their family or work colleagues might download and print. Adding back BCN content as individual pages takes rather longer.

Once this print run are mailed out (we have no mailing volunteer at the moment: anyone in Personchester in a position to stuff envelopes and put stamps and sticky labels on, and get to a post office reliably on an ongoing basis should drop me a note) I'll be spending a few days thinking about left-wing activism rather than bi stuff; but in the meanwhile thoughts on what might be in the next edition very welcome.

Wednesday 4 February 2009

Better google ratings

Over on the pages have until now been described by rather anonymous numbers like A bit of learning and tweaking and we now have much simpler page addresses like - which some parts of the internets think will make for higher rankings on search engines like google.

Monday 2 February 2009

Helping things along

Avid readers might recall a little while ago a student interviewed me about being bi as one of a host of interviewees for a play about bisexuality they were writing. That seems to be coming along well and I've encouraged them to take it to BiCon and/or Manchester Pride this summer. A few eager phone calls and emails this week and they have a meeting lined up to visit a prospective venue for performing here; I now have a weekend lunch date to check out the venue with them and generally catch up on how the project is going.