Tuesday 28 April 2009


One BCN makeover at least partly complete, time to give BiMedia a spring-clean. I think it looks a bit smoother and newsier.

Monday 27 April 2009

Speedy Bis

One of the reasons I started this blog was to record how much time bi activism soaks up. It's a terrible cliche to start talking about herding cats but really, so often it does work just that way.

So it was a delight last Tuesday to gather some people from BiPhoria and related circles together to talk about Manchester Pride and within an hour have a decision as to the theme of the bi entry in the parade, someone tasked with booking our entry, and even a plausible plan on how we will get a banner sorted out in the shortest time imaginable.

Add in about 45 minutes more for travel time, and doing that bit of planning took under two hours. Fab!

Saturday 25 April 2009


The word on the street has it that NUS' LGBT conference has voted not to change its name from LGBT to LGBTQ (...queer). There have been moves afoot to expand the remit to LGBTQA (asexual) as well, and indeed one to drop all four letters in favour of Queer, which achieves a rare feat of managing to offend large chunks of all four LGBT communities.

This kind of thing is of no immediate consequence. Internal battles in NUS consistently fail to change the world, whether in halting the decline of student funding or delivering peace in the parts of the Middle East where lesser influences such as sending over Bill Clinton or bombing the locals into submission didn't work. From the distance of being outside youth & student politics NUS does all just look like a training camp for New Labour MPs and a space for the faux-left to soak up potential activist energy away from anything that might lead to actual social or political change.

But as people graduate from NUS and move on into other areas of activism and life they tend to take a lot of NUS values with them.

Often this is not such a good thing, such as taking NUS double-dealing, partisanship and hackery into mainstream political life, but it does seem to have had an important positive impact in LGBT circles: viz, that when I was a student including the "B" of LGB was still mostly confined to students unions, while now a few generations of NUS hacks later the B and T have percolated out into most formerly LG organisations.

The downside of course is NUS LGBT has tended not to deliver so strongly for B as its other strands, and that has been reflected where groups went LGB/T, but at least we have the foot in the door.

But in turn that means that if NUS LGBT became LGBTQ or LGBTQA, in ten years we might anticipate organisations like Delga, LGF or Stonewall coming under increasing pressure to widen their remit.

All of which said, I don't (yet) buy the LGBT to LGBTQ argument. It seems to boil down to that people own different labels for the same thing - for example, people who are attracted to several genders but are shy of fighting biphobia (or have bought heavily into it themselves) and so want the Q label instead of the B. But that would be terribly inconsistent, as LGBT already misses out for example those lesbians who prefer the label 'dyke'. Are there really sections of Q who are not actually L, G, B or T?

Friday 24 April 2009


The new edition of BCN is our biggest ever (by 4 pages) and we've switched to a new print house. This means the paper is better quality and it's now on slightly glossy rather than plain paper. I really like the new look and feel!

It involved a bit of a gamble, a print house I've never used for any previous work that if it had gone wrong would have meant throwing away an issue's worth of print costs. We'd've gone to press about a fortnight earlier if I hadn't been angsting about it all.

Tuesday 14 April 2009

If I knew you were bi-friendly I'd have mailed a tenner

Over in the USA, Lindasusan has a nice little idea about "non-donation" cheques to send in to the fundraising arms of LGb organisations when they do pieces of work that marginalise bi experience.

Now, at an instinctive level, I like this. So long as bis are an invisible and silent group, we will never be seen as an activist pool / funding opportunity that is being passed up. A little pile of "I'd've sent you a tenner, you know" speaks volumes.

But I think I'd like it more if there were followup "here is a donation following your better work" alternatives, or even "I have donated €.... to bi organisation ____, it would have gone to you guys if I didn't feel so left out by your work." The latter especially: for most of us it's a whole heap easier to say you would have donated to something than to actually do it, so actively donating to BiPhoria or BCN or what have you is a much bigger statement.

Wednesday 8 April 2009


One of the fine cliches of comparing life in Great Britain and the USA is that they are 'two nations divided by a common tongue'. I'm not going to get into a "how should Leicester be pronounced" thread here, but one of the differences between the two is that over there the common acronym for our communities is GLBT, whilst over here it's LGBT.

The American model kind of makes sense as a historic series of expansions. As the range of identities seen as core to our movement fragmented and acquired respect, Gay became Gay and Lesbian became GLB became GLBT.

The British one however has a peculiar hiccup. Gay became Lesbian and Gay, with the women put in front since within L&G spaces they tended to be marginalised and the minority, despite the hypothesis that there should be more lesbians than gay men in a country where the census records more women than men.

So you're putting the more marginalised group in the front of the acronym to avoid them getting dropped off, and people lapsing into talking about "gay" when meaning "lesbian and gay".

Then, just as across the pond, we add in the B and the T.

Only we add them at the end. The "you need to worry less about making sure you include these bits, people will just imply them" end. B got in there first so it's LGBT.

Which doesn't really make sense for two strands of the LGBT rainbow that have less visibility, credibility, accessible community, money, and so forth, than the lesbian strand. B and T folks clearly belong at the front.

Whether following the British logic it should be BTLG or TBLG could no doubt be a long and heated debate: I can see arguments in both directions though for me the fewer support groups and social spaces for B give it the edge.

By now we've been talking about LGBT for so long that the battle of which order the letters should flow in is long since over, but whenever people um and ah about going for the UK or USA ordering, I'd suggest you put the four letters in a Scrabble bag and pull them out one by one to decide.