Wednesday 30 September 2009


Manchester's bisexual social-support group BiPhoria is fifteen this month. We'll have a bash this weekend to celebrate and to help reach out to more new people.

That makes us the longest running bi group in the UK that is still going - I'm not sure whether to be proud or sad about that. The "original" UK bi groups were in London and Edinburgh, in the mid 1980s. London's LBG fell by the wayside about five years ago and EBG in Edinburgh nearly a decade ago, though there's a new EBG which was set up a few years later. BiPhoria itself came out of a move toward joint working by a men's bi group and a women's bi group, both of which closed down in the 1990s.

Overall the network of bi support and social organisations is flourishing in a way it has not done for some time: new groups springing up in Swansea and Cardiff; Sheffield blossoming and more. But there's still no-one employed to work in or with the bi community specifically at any level, so the momentum may fade as quickly as it grows. Local groups that are sustained over time seem to depend on core committed activists who get something worthwhile out of carrying on.

So Manchester's fifteenth birthday reflects that a decade and a half ago I decided to set down some roots in the city, and that I had a personal investment in wanting there to be a strong bi scene so people who didn't fit the binaries well had a space to find friends and acceptance.

That's not all you need though: in helping get things like the Cardiff LGB youth group going, I'd made mistakes and learned basic skills in doing publicity and running group space.

That leads me to one of the areas where I think we often fail in getting bi groups up, running and then sustained. Someone will pop up and say "I want to run a bi group in Bloggstown" and we will simply encourage them to do so, maybe help with some flyers and websites or advice on how to find a suitable venue. If you happen to have the right skills for group work that's great, but if not it might be best to first find a local LGBT organisation and volunteer there for a few months: building your personal contacts in the community along the way but also getting peer support and advice first-hand. Until we organise bi group runners away weekends, of course!

Monday 28 September 2009


I’m not sure where it has come from, but I love the way bits of the internet seem to be slyly rebranding 23/9 as Bi Visibility Day. "International Celebrate Bisexuality Day" is a hell of a mouthful as a name, and a little nebulous as a concept: what do you do for International Celebrate Bisexuality Day ? Are you being celebratory enough? International enough?

Whereas Bi Visibility Day, you could sensibly mark with a bi resources stall in a bar or student union foyer, with flyering local gay or straight venues, with a balloon launch outside your town hall, or whatever.

The only downside I can see is where ICBD sounded like a type of Russian nuclear weapon, BVD sounds more like something you need to go to the clinic to get treated. But the shorter name will in itself be less in need of having a shorthand form.

We’ve had ten years of 23/9 being ICBD. I love the subtle shift in the name, and I think ten years on is a great time to start using a new name for the date that can inspire new forms of visibility activism.

Saturday 26 September 2009

One step forward

As I wrote about few months ago, we for the first time had a bi segment at the local Town Hall's annual LGBT day.

The report has just come out, a six page glossy colour thing. Very shiny and pretty.

Half a page is on bi inclusion, drawn from the workshop :o) this can only be a good thing, putting about fifteen top tips in front of many people who work in and with the LGBT communities across Greater Manchester.

Otherwise the workshop reports are as bi marginalising as ever though - headings on "Lesbian and Bi Women" that lead to reports that talk exclusively about lesbians, and so forth.

But still: one step forward.