Saturday 18 December 2010


A little geeky update for you about some of the bi news intermawebs.

I've added to a bunch of share icons on each post so people can easily repost / link to news items on twitter, digg, facebook and suchlike. Almost as soon as I do that, I read that they're closing down del.ici.ous

*hacks a bit out of the code*

OK, that's back to looking shiny and with-it :)

The Sekrit Squirrel project of building a new BCN website is coming along nicely, and I now realise that having a similar easily-shared arrangement for material on there would be clever. Yay for content management systems, implementing it on the existing website would take ages!

If as you look around them you have any bright shiny ideas about the bi news sites, let me know: I won't think up everything on my own.

Sunday 12 December 2010

TV: tempting yet dangerous

Every so often we get emails seeking camera-friendly bis to the BCN Towers mailbox: so here comes another one...

OMG! Totally Peaches is a brand new take on a problem show, hosted by Peaches Geldof. With professional advice from experts we will aim to help find a resolution to your problems. The show will revolve around the confessions, compulsions, problems and obsessions of you, the ITV2 viewer.

Dare I pause for a cheap remark about that last sentence, given I only found out there was an ITV2 about three months ago? No... OK, on we go:

If you have a problem and you’d like some help and advice please fill in the attached application form and email it back to with a photo asap!

We look forward to hearing from you.

It's always a thorny dilemma. You want bi visibility - you perhaps don't want the kind of visibility this show is likely to generate as your preference (or even, in the land of AV, your second or third) - but while this might not represent you, it does represent a slice of bi life.

In the mid 90s the pages of BCN were filled for a couple of issues with the stories of some bi folk who had gone on a popular TV chat show - I could name names or I could just say that at the time the future's bright, the future's being an MEP for three parties in the space of five years. It was apparently sold to them as a chance to raise visibility, but after the event seen as more of a 'sting', with an audience weighted towards biphobia. Then the presenter got in a bit of a pickle and that episode of the show was never broadcast, so we're left guessing about how the balance in the final cut would have gone.

So... do you have a bisexual dilemma that you want to share with the nation, yet salacious enough to tickle an ITV programme maker's fancy - if possible coupled with a desire to meet Peaches*? Will it definitely not muck up your life or the lives of those around you? If so, go for it. See you on the digibox from the safety of my sofa; and ITV2, consider your show plugged.

* I searched the web for pictures and wouldn't blame you on that bit, she looks a bit soft and fruity.

Wednesday 8 December 2010

Makes yer proud

I see John Hemming MP says he is now going to vote for the fees proposals after a group of people campaigning against the proposals occupied his office, consciously premeditatedly and deliberately prevented his staff from being able to do their work -- and thus will have affected the vital stuff MPs offices do supporting all sorts of people.

Knowing the kinds of things that go through those offices it's a selfish, wilful, damaging thing to do - often MPs staff are helping people who have gone to them in a state of desparation or last resort. Hardline Thatcher's children that the protesters are, the idea that anyone else might matter is evidently beyond them - there is no such thing as society, only what I want, with the new codicil paid for by someone else, and whenever I want it. The spoilt, arrogant, BNP-think-alike tossers.

Hemming has now said he'll vote in the opposite way to what the demonstrators wanted to pressure him into doing. Genius - I'm not especially convinced either way on this fees vote, but in the circumstances you can't fault his actions - it's what the hashtag #standuptobullying was all about.

Wednesday 1 December 2010

The BiReCon Files 6: American Institute of Bisexuality Projects

Another transcript for turning into video subs.

John Sylla - American Institute of Bisexuality Projects

TBA is to be announced - cos we haven't, ah haven't have not considered, because we haven't - well, not considered the scholarliness.

Well, Eric Anderson announced the first one - different cohorts of bi men. We have one on polyamory and hormones in women and its relation to sexual orientation: how do people percieve themselves and what is their hormone level, does it fluctuate?

[audience: what's tba?]

To be announced, not published yet, but well along - funded. Approved by the - already studies underway.

We've got a longitudinal study with a scholar who is working with women over one to two years and they'll be checking in with them every month saying what is your sexual orientation, level, what is going on with you, what are your fantasies and please rub this, spit in this jar, and measure your hormone levels in your saliva. And then another one, a very interesting one, seeing during menstrual cycle, during the times when a woman is more fertile, is her sexual orientation or her fantasy somehow different. And maybe people have experience of this but it's never been academically rigorously studied.

We have another viewing patterns one - coming out of the gate that we approved at a meeting last night.

Here's an interesting one, does the timing of maturing, sexual maturity in puberty does that have some organisational effect, like if you have a late puberty do you have a different sexual orientation on average than if you have an early one or a normal one. Because some people think we have periods of plasticity during which you know maybe it can get reorganised so maybe bisexuals are somehow different that way and they don't grow into being monosexuals.

Body image issues, do bisexual men have different body image concerns than straight men do and gay men do?

And then, ah, Amanda's work the straight identified men who like to have sex with men. More on that in a second. Here I say "tba squared" because tt's not only to be announced, it's to be approved but these are sort of in the pre-pipeline.

Um, Studying the trajectory of development of sexual orientation.

One of the interesting results in this author's proposal is he says, he looks at the data and there's some old work out there that say you'd be happier if you could just be gay and accept the gay identity because men or women who accept the identity then get more mental health.

And his - he says no, that's not it, the problem is that they're not accepted as bi. There's no cultural affirmation, there's no community. And it's the non-acceptance, not the bi label itself that is causing the problem. So it's a society problem not an individual problem. Backed up with real data.

More on learning processes and sexual preferences; and here's one that just came in, it's pre-pipeline. Correlating attention, and that feeling of I can't take my eyes off them, of someone, and how does that correlate with bisexuality? Can you measure that attention [fades out]

Lumme. There is so much research going on out there. I wish they'd damn well write it up for the community press! 8)

It gets better, says Minister for LGBT

I missed it at the time but I see that Lynne Featherstone MP - the Minister for LGBT Equality in the Coalition Government - has made a short YouTube film as part of the It Gets Better... Today campaign. She talks about how remarkable the story of LGBT rights in the last 20 years is: "from legal stigma to legal recognition", "the swiftest and most profound social change that I have witnessed in my lifetime".

It's noticeable how well she keeps talking about LGB&T rather than lapsing into "lesbian and gay". For a moment she talks about homophobic and transphobic bullying, which reminds me the importance of teaching people B-related words as well as "bisexual" itself.

She may be slightly kidding herself that it has got better for everyone, but overwhelmingly she is surely right.

Monday 29 November 2010

the state of 'left' discourse....

I know Labour don't have a working majority, but given what's sauce for the goose... Labour have BETRAYED US ALL by not being in government any more, they LIED because Gordon is no longer prime minister, and worst of all they have already U-TURNED on their promises of increasing VAT, implementing the Browne report, holding a referendum on AV, slashing housing benefit... the FIBBING ROTTERS!

Tuesday 23 November 2010

The BiReCon Files 5: How Civil Partners Meet

Another BiReCon video transcript for you. Anna Einarsdottir - How Civil Partners meet

Thank you very much Meg.

So actually this project is entitled "Just like marriage: a young couple civil partnership".  And I work side by side with Dr Graham (??) who unfortunately isn't here and Professor Carol Smart.  Now, we've been doing this project for the last two years and so I'm really really grateful for the opportunity to come here, I really appreciate that.

So my focus for today will primarily be about how civil partners meet.  What kind of stories people tell about this exciting part of the relationship
and then their intentions, what are their intentions when they start to set out.  What I must say is that they're not necessarily looking for a long-term relationship, it's more like just go and see,
how it, you know, take it with the flow kind of thing.

[.fade out/fade back in.]

Slightly different circumstances.  While most men meet online, women meet through their existing social network - through work, through friends, through church.

What about the process from casual dating to a relationship? Well to begin with the importance of transparency and honesty were stressed by many. Which included not playing games or getting into merry-go-round situations such as "I'm not texting you because she isn't" or "I've rung him so he must ring me" or "I will leave it for two days" or "she doesn't think I'm too keen".  You know, and perhaps this can be interpreted as a sign of how few if any dating rules apply to same-sex relationships as opposed to opposite-sex relationships.  And finally what I would like to say is something about how people transition from a relationship to a committed relationship. 

Now the future of a relationship is often determined by critical moments, such as hospitalisation, death in the family, or one party moving away.  It's the reaction that matters and how partners handle the situations, these difficult situations, which win people over largely because they feel they are cared for - but also to think that they are able to handle the responsibility of the future,  They don't run away or panic: in other words, for our participants, they become CP material.
 I found this one a really interesting talk in the gendered divide it highlighted - it was about LGB people rather than just bi in its research, looking at same-gendered couples, and so there was a lot the chimed with my own non-academic observations about the human geography of queer space and life.

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Rose... actors speak out on how "It Gets Better"

It's great to see that there are now more "It Gets Better" videos being made aimed at supporting bisexual young people who are being bullied.  Actors Stephanie Riebel, Fay Wolf, and Kristen Howe from web mini-series "Rose by any other name" have got back together to film one - with the help of filmmaker Kyle Schickner and the American Institute of Bisexuality.  Here's what they have to say:

Monday 8 November 2010

Bi Telly day?

Yes, I do want to have my televisual cake and eat it
Coming to this a little late - back on August 1st, over in the USA the Logo channel ran a “bisexual marathon,” airing a series of bi related films and documentaries: Imagine Me and You, Bi the Way, Can’t Bi Me Love, Bisexual Girls, and Three of Hearts.

I wonder when we might see TV over here do that, and without adding a sensationalist "now let's look at one or two very specific bi experiences and pretend they're all bis are about" show or three to the roster.  Anyone got a friendly ear at Channel Four?

Though as I think about it - surely Channel Four would probably decide it should be the Top One Hundred Bisexual Characters On Television Night.  Good luck researching that...

Sunday 7 November 2010

The BiReCon Files 4: Why We Need To Get Bi

Another transcript from the BiReCon videos for you: here is Robyn Ochs -- part of her talk on why we need to 'Get Bi', which looked rather like this:

Robyn says:
Isn't this exciting?  Hehe!  I am so happy to be here.  Wow.  So quick audience survey - how many people are here from outside of the UK? 

Wow.  If you're from outside of the UK and you're in the first row where are you from? 

[audience: Germany, Netherlands, Puerto Rico, Netherlands, US, Israel... fade out]

We love binaries.  And when you think of how sexual orientation is constructed in most places by most people, it's constructed as having two boxes.  Gay, and its opposite, straight, right. 

And of course in this binary construction we have one box that is more valuable and more honoured than the other - culturally, right, the straight box is more valuable - not by us, by them.

The straight box is considered you know a much better box and a bigger box and the gay box is considered a subordinated box

And in betwen those two boxes.  It's like the boxes
they have walls.  They have solid steel walls, right, and lids to keep the people in.  And in this kind of social construction they are separated by this big void.  Like they are opposite sexualities.  We even use terms like opposite - like "straight is the opposite of gay" - and they are separated by the void, the void of nothingness

I think that is another challenge to understanding bisexuality, is that people don't - they have a hard time imagining any space between the two.

The only time people can imagine something between straight and gay is when it's a transitory thing, when someone might be sliding from one to the other.

But it's seen as a temporary place, as an unstable location that isn't real because it's in the void

And this is something that is a big challenge for us and one thing that helped me not be so frustrated by this is that we do this with a lot of different things.  We like to put everything into binaries. 

Saturday 6 November 2010

The BiReCon Files 3: Finnish Bisexuals in 1999 and 2009

Another transcribing of the YouTube shorts from BiReCon. Jenny Kangasvuo - "Comparing the Experiences of Finnish Bisexuals in 1999 and 2009".

What does this increased visibility of bisexuality mean for people who identify as bisexual? What kind of contradictions do bisexuals meet when tackling with everyday life? And what kind of meanings does the concept of bisexuality get in their lives?

I will illustrate these questions by telling some of the stories of my informants.

I have three stories to tell and the first of them Ella's story reflects the changes in Finnish legislation regarding sexual minorities.

I will skip the first slide and come back a bit later.

And the first story is an ordinary story.  Ten years ago I made a joint interview with Ella who was born in 1975 and Taro was born in 1978. A young female couple who both defined themselves as bisexual. They described themselves as a lesbian couple that consists of two bisexual women - the word lesbian in their use referred to the form of their monogamous relationship, a relationship with another woman.

Ella also says that they have a lesbian lifestyle - according to her, having a bisexual lifestyle would be possible only for singles or people who have multiple relationships, so lesbian lifestyle means means that well, two women and no extra persons in addition . Most of Ella's and Taro's close friends were lesbian and many of them even contested the term bisexual with which they defined their sexual identity.

And then, in 1999 Taro said, "but I could not be with a man only even if I loved him.  I would need to be involved with women too.  But when I am with a woman I can very well be without seeing any men at all."

So according to Ella they were leaning on lesbianism even if they described themselves as bisexual.

In December 2009 only Ella answers to my request to make a new interview. And her experiences reflect during the last ten years refect the changes in the legislation.

And Ella says that her story is an ordinary story among her reference group, and she herself uses the term reference group referring to lesbians with children so Ella's reference group is lesbians with children.

She says: first everybody married in a hurry when it became possible, and then everybody started having kids while it still was possible and the result is the wave of divorces that is happening now, it is totally terrible.

And now let's get back to those changes.  And there is a list of changes. [slide]

And Ella's life reflects these changes perfectly.  Ella and Taro registered their partnership right after that, right after it became possible, and then Taro gave birth to two children.

And the artificial insemination became judicially available for female couples in 2007 but Taro gave birth to her kids before that.   The lovers became mothers and Ella says sarcastically
that anything else all but being a good mother became superfluous

Ella and Taro were active members in the community of rainbow families - well I don't know if the term [audience murmurs] at least most of the people seem to recognise it - families with children, sexual minority families with children, something like that.

However after the second child Taro became depressed and started abusing prescribed drugs.  So it was quite startling to hear that bisexuals seem to have more mental health problems like Meg told during the first session - I was, my mouth ajar gave when I heard that because it I am not a health researcher but my interviews seemed to reflect the same thing.

Anyway, Ella tried to hold the family together but after a couple of years Taro took the children and left her because of another woman.

They divorced and Ella started to fight to attain the rights to be a judicial parent to her children.  Currently she is in a process to adopt her children since adoption became an option only in 2009.  And these changes had had a profound effect in Ella's and Taro's life.

Taro became pregnant twice within two years, through artificial insemination partly because Ella and Taro feared that the new legislation would deny the treatment from same-sex couples.  So the law passed and artificial insemination is possible for same sex couples or female couples but before that it was a real fear that only married heterosexual couples would get artificial insemination so Taro had to get pregnant as soon as possible for fear of not getting to have any children at all.

Friday 5 November 2010

BCN editing week

Being a busy / overworked queer activist means that there are weeks in my year marked out for putting together this or that publication. The rest of the time I may choose to pay less attention to that project so I can chug ahead with another plan - this past week for instance has mostly been about considering events to hold in early 2011 rather than about either of the queer magazines I work on or the project to renew BCN's website.

Next week is one of the weeks where I'm putting on the editrix hat to bring together a new edition of BCN. If you're thinking of submitting something, either for next week or another future issue, now's a good time to let me know!

Thursday 4 November 2010

The BiReCon Files 2: Deconstructing Biphobia

Miguel Obradors talk on "Deconstructing Biphobia" is the next video I've chosen to transcribe from the BiReCon talks. Again, this is only a small slice of the presentation, and again here is the video on YouTube before I get down to the words:

Why should we talk about biphobia at BiReCon?

Because here here, we have come here to empower ourselves, to get positive energy to come back to our own countries and to share the knowledge learned.  So this biphobia is always negative.  I think that it's important to talk about biphobia because biphobia is intense in bisexuality in the way we understand ourselves, in the way we relate to other people.
And the problem with bisexuality, with biphobia and so on - those terms have been defined, this discourse, by straight people according to the heteronorm.  So many bisexuals don't feel identified with bisexuality or don't understand what biphobia really entails because biphobia was biphobia was created by analogy from homophobia but they are very different concepts and very different discourses.

So what I'm talking about today is not biphobia in itself, it is the structural oppression that bisexual people experience
in our every day lives.  And this structural oppression
is biphobia, is homophobia and is heterophobia as well.

So about this system of structural oppression - when understanding biphobia, homophobia and heterophobia, you need to take into account that these forces have an effect on bisexual people in a conscious and unconscious way.  You can be aware that we are being oppressed maybe we are not of the fact that we are being oppressed.  This oppression can also be indirect, direct, or symbolic through different aspects.   Also it can be interpersonal as well.  So there are many different factors that overlap each other and can have an influence in this way.

Also as I define myself at the beginning, to say that most of the bisexual people I know they are also polyamourous, or kink, or transgender or genderqueer and so on.  When you don't want to be in a box, you don't want to be in other boxes either.  So I'm saying that because bisexual people experience oppression for being bisexual but also for other lifestyles they have, because of their sexual orientation, because of their subjectivity, and we need to analysse all of this in a holistic way.

Tuesday 2 November 2010

It gets better

Suburban Bi (who frustratingly isn't on the blog aggregator at the moment due to feed compatability issues) found a UKanian voice and one mentioning bisexuality in the videos for "It Gets Better".


I love all the personal stories in this project, even though some of them are heart-wrenching and some have had to be made by friends for people who they've lost. And it's wonderful how it's grown like topsy since it started: I know that the person who started it in the USA is better linked to the media and so forth than me, but if I'd started it and you'd told me it would end up with the President of the USA making a video for the series, I'd have pointed at you and laughed. In a non-judgemental, caring kind of way :D

Monday 1 November 2010

The BiReCon Files 1: What's Out There

I thought it might be useful to type up the words from the BiReCon videos. Maybe then if I or someone with better video skills than me has time, they can be turned into alternative versions of the videos, with subtitles on. Or someone with translation skills could produce versions with subtitles in other languages.

So starting at the start with Meg Barker's introduction to the day and the overview of some research work by BiUK.

This is going to be not so new to anyone I'm sure but bisexuality is pretty invisibile in the media. [audience laughter] People tend to be presented as going from straight to gay or gay to straight and bisexuality is very rarely considered. So our most recent one is this guy from Eastenders, which I don't watch but I believe he is called Syed Masood? If anyone does watch Eastenders - but was marrying his girlfriend and was also having a relationship with a guy, and he's apparently presented as "really gay" - you know, so he's really gay but he's marrying this woman. And we had similar representations on Coronation Street and The Bill and various other of our soap operas. So UK soap operas tend to be, you're either gay or you're straight.

Similarly in our - oops, my sash is falling off, this is my organiser's sash. When politicians are mentioned in the newspapers you get the similar story. If they are married politicians and it's found out they are having a relationship with a man with another man, a woman with another woman, it tends to be that they are gay now or they were really gay all along - you know, it's not considered.

We looked a bit in this paper at the difference between bi women's representations and bi men, and here is Rebecca Loos who had an affair with David Beckham or there were rumours that she had. So she is presented as this sexy bi-curious, but that whole kind of is she doing it just for titillation of men kind of thing. Um. Whereas for bi men we did get quite a lot of that kind of research you get in the New York Times piece about 'gay, straight or lying' - this, the idea that bi men don't really exist, that permeated as well into the UK media. So for bi men there's a more like, scepticism about whether they are really bisexual.

And I just looked, to kind of update you all, at the Stonewall reports. There's been two really useful Stonewall reports. Tuned Out about the BBC British Broadcasting Corporation, you know, how do they represent LGB people, and then Unseen On Screen was about youth TV, and they did focus groups and they looked at lots of TV programming. And again, bi invisibility within LGB invisibility, so there wasn't much representation of LGB people and what there was, wasn't good, and then within that representations of bis were one per cent I think in the Unseen On Screen and all of the one per cent of all LGB representation was B, and all of it was negative. And people in the focus groups said things like all of the bi people are cheating, and they're greedy.

I end on an optimistic note, we've got Captain Jack from the [audience cheers] from Doctor Who and Torchwood. Now, seen as quite a much more positive bi character. Doesn't use the word 'bisexual' in the show, but the actor has used the word about the character, and it's quite clear that he's attracted not just to more than one gender but to more than one species, so... [audience laughter] still a bit of the promiscuity kind of stereotype going on there.

Helen's going to talk in a moment about her other research but before she did that, she did some research about the bi activism and she looked at the books on bi activism in the UK and found a real shift from an identity politics agenda, you know, we're bisexuals and we want the same rights as LG people and heterosexuals, to a more queer activism, so there has been a gradual shift towards more, a more kind of a queer perspective rather than an identity politics perspective and she might say a bit more about that in a mo.

And Surya Monro who is also on our team and colleagues they did this report very recently 2010 which was looking at local authorities initiatives about sexuality and trans and found that most of those sort of LGB or trans initiatives didn't make specific reference to bi people in those initiatives. So again, it's sort of an invisibility issue - and we know that the B tends to get dropped off a lot of organisations that are LGB or LGBT will drop off the B, there are similar problems with the T of course.

Community linkage

As one of the million bi activist tasks on the to-do list that can be taken care of while waiting in at home for a delivery, I've been making BiBloggers a little bit more readable with a more purpley blue aspect and a bit less grey-on-white.

I think we need some graphics for people who are on the BiBloggers syndicator to be able to link to BiBloggers from their journals / sidebars / whatever.

I'm not having a brilliant lot of ideas for that but have made this for my one:

one of the bi bloggers

If anyone can come up with something better I'd be really happy to upgrade! :)

Wednesday 13 October 2010

Passed over again...

Stonewall, the - how should I put this - sometimes controversial LGB equality campaign group, have unveiled their shortlists for their annual awards.

A host of categories exist, and frustratingly they don't seem to publish a complete set of nominations: Community Group of the Year could for all I know have a shortlist of BiScotland, BiPhoria, Bothways and BiVisBristol. But without that set of nominees being public, what catches my eye first is the shortlist for Publication of the Year: Attitude magazine, Midlands Zone, The Lawyer, The Times and the Radio Times. BCN cruelly passed over once again there: perhaps if we added TV listings then the glitterati might love us?

And I see that: Ben Summerskill, Stonewall Chief Executive, said: ‘This year’s Stonewall Awards nominees include openly-gay sport stars, flagship soap operas, mainstream lesbian, gay and straight entertainers, tabloid and quality broadsheet journalists and politicians from all three main parties.

Now, you don't need a big purple neon sign to guess what I think's missing there.

I fear we need some bisexual nominees to badger Ben with over the next twelve months so he can't say the same again next time...

Tuesday 12 October 2010

What did you make of BiCon?

Another video, this time quite different, a few people talking about their experience of being at the biggest event of the UK bi calendar, BiCon, this summer. I think we need more of this to help bring new people in to bi space, as well as more, glossy, colourful magazines and suchlike.

I did get filmed by someone for another similar project - I wonder if I can chase down the footage and add it to the online selection?

Nine come along at once

Regulars at my local bi group will know I've been muttering for a few months now along the lines of 'we need multimedia stuff for the web' and 'we need to do more documenting of the community'.

Well, fortunately it's not just me, and so now we have a string of videos from the 2010 BiReCon research conference, giving a taste of some of the presentations people gave there.

As someone who suffers from a bad case of "in one ear out the other", you have no idea how excited I am at being able to see these over again! I'm sure I'll come back to blog more about specific videos from the set in the near future.

Meg Barker - Introduction to bi research in the UK

John Sylla from the American Institute of Bisexuality:

Serena Anderlini D'Onofrio - Bisexuality as Portal to More Sustainable Use of Resources of Love

Eric Anderson -- Heterosexual men, bisexual behaviour

Christian Klesse - Creating Bisexual Intimacies in the Face of Heteronormativity and Biphobia

Anna Einarsdottir - How Civil Partners meet

Miguel Obradors -- Deconstructing Biphobia

Jenny Kangasvuo - Comparing the Experiences of Finnish Bisexuals in 1999 and 2009

Robyn Ochs -- Why we need to 'Get Bi'

Thursday 7 October 2010

Issue 103

It's back from the print shop... and again a pretty, shiny magazine.

Going in the post shortly to anyone who is a subscriber.  Subscribe or renew now.

Tuesday 5 October 2010


Today, the gas man cometh.

So does the delivery of the new issue of BCN, ready for mailing... oh the anticipation! The last couple of magazines I've been really pleased with, and things are already in-hand for some of issue 104, which is As Things Should Be.

Saturday 25 September 2010

One in two hundred?

So, are there really one hundred and ninety seven straight people for every bisexual, lesbian and gay man?

BiMedia reports:
Figures published yesterday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimate one in two hundred of the UK’s population to be bisexual. The claim comes from examining the latest “Integrated Household Survey” which includes responses from nearly 450,000 people.
0.5% of those interviewed identified as bisexual. A further one per cent described themselves as gay or lesbian. 

However,  if you knocked on most people's doors and asked their sexual orientation, when their families or partners may be there, I reckon you won't get an honest figure.  And interestingly another four per cent or so refuse to answer or picked another label than gay, straight or bi - now just consider the number of people who are LGB from a behavioural or attraction viewpoint whose identity is other or consciously unlabelled, but whose lives are made much easier by LGB equality and liberation activists' work.

The figure for homosexuality is double that for bisexuality; given how much more social acceptance, recognition and visibility the one has over the other that is easy to understand.

Still, crucially, this is a strong, authoritative figure to work with as a baseline for identity.  Though 1 in 200 would mean just 2,300 bisexual people in the whole of Manchester - with some 800 or so people having been through its doors, you'd have to say that with BiPhoria is doing an amazing job of reaching such a large proportion of Manchester's bis if that is true!

Bi with preferences

As a bisexual with definite preferences, it's good to see the new Labour leader elected on preference voting (albeit without the principle of one voter, one vote, one value) - and the winner coming from behind in the final round of preference transfers.

It'll be hard for Milliband to lead his centre-right party to campaign for FPTP and against AV next May after getting the leadership in a result like this!

Thursday 23 September 2010

Pure Message

One of the dangers of pre-recorded radio is that you forget to listen when it's broadcast.  So thank heavens for podcast downloads, as I did a short piece for Stockport local radio station Pure FM about Bi Visibility Day and BiPhoria's 16th birthday for their show last week, and then found myself busy emptying the bi resource cupboard when it was on, ahead of the LGF's move to a new venue over on the other side of Manchester's gay village.

I wasn't particularly good, but it gets the word out, and perhaps when something bi-pertinent happens in the news they might get in touch for a quote or what have you... at least that first link has been made.

Happy Bi Day!

Happy Bi Visibility Day everyone - whether you call it that or the older name of International Celebrate Bisexuality Day.

Later today I expect I'll be at BiPhoria's pub quiz night in Taurus.  Hope to see lots of you there.

Wednesday 22 September 2010

Make it ten!

Sorry folks, I've been away from the internets for a week. In the meanwhile I see the number of events for Bi Visibility Day in the UK has for the first time ever broken into double figures - two events in London this year and also eight other cities hosting bi-themed get togethers for anything from quizzes to erotica, serious liberation discussions to knitting.

I think that's rather brilliant.

Friday 17 September 2010

And then there were eight...

Up to last year I think the most there was going on in the UK to mark 23/9, International Celebrate Bisexuality Day, was two events in any given year.

Last year was an amazing breakthrough with six events.And I think the rebranding as Bi Visibility Day is a good thing, for all that the abbreviation BVD sounds more like something you'd pop to the clinic about than ICBD does.

Well, last year's six events tally has already been beaten: so far I know about:

• Brighton
• Bristol
• Cardiff
• Edinburgh
• London
• Manchester
• Sheffield
• Winchester

I daresay more things might fall into place between here and next Thursday. Isn't it brilliant!?

Tuesday 14 September 2010

Marriage and Civil Partnerships and then...?

Bear with me, this is all leading up to a question.

At the party's conference in Liverpool next week, the Liberals will debate changes to the systems of marriage and civil partnerships that would open either up to any couple. It seems fairly likely that the policy will be passed: it has been put forward by the party's LGBT equality group, and I don't think the main conference of the party has ever defeated a motion put down by them in its twentyone (or fortysix or whatever) years.

Party leader Nick Clegg has already expressed his support for same-sex marriage.  His counterpart in the other party in Britain's left-right coalition government, David Cameron, has made similar noises - albeit perhaps facing a harder struggle to bring his parliamentary party with him in a vote on the matter. And I think all five candidates for the leadership of the centre-right Labour party have signed up to the idea when quizzed during the current leadership contest.

Seven MPs agreeing doesn't make a new law, mind.  Parliamentary time has to be found, and the Coalition Agreement includes various commitments on LGBT equality issues but not marriage.  However, there might well be an amendment to some bill or other along the way, and with the kind of cross-party support that voting with one's leader could allow, it might yet happen. If not, it's hard to imagine it not being in one or two manifestos come the 2015 election, if not all three.

There's a bit of talk now about how Civil Partnerships constituted some kind of sell-out.  Now, it's true they aren't good enough to constitute equality: as I'm fond of saying, ten years ago as a bisexual person some of my relationships were treated differently in law from others, whereas ten years on everything has changed and it's exactly the same.  But in the context of the time that law was drafted, when as a society we were closer to the introduction of Section 28 than we were to 2010, it was a bold but perhaps-deliverable goal.

But now the world has moved on: we may not get equal marriage (and access to civil partnerships for mixed-sex couples who prefer to keep their distance from the historic connotations of marriage) right away, but I'm sure it has to happen some time this decade.

After that, and given our propensity to want to formalise and recognise our longer-term relationships, I suppose the debate moves to poly partnership recognition: but surely that's hell to legislate. With civil partnerships there was a clear model being worked towards: "similar to marriage, similar to divorce, but without the wacky consummation clause".

So here comes the noodly bit I need to google properly some day: does the poly community have a moderately-agreed model of how it might work? I know every time I think about it my brain goes runny from the possibilities, especially of part-of-a-polycule divorce law. Linkys welcome!

Monday 13 September 2010


Yay the Bi Bloggers Aggregator is here! As discussed previously it's something I have been meaning to do for a while; now the off-the-shelf website building components are more or less up to the job, here it is.

I hope it'll foster a sense of community and discussion; there was something like that a while ago on LiveJournal but that has lost a lot of impetus as people fragment off to other platforms.

And, y'know, if it all works out then maybe there can be a Bi Blogpost Of The Month in that bisexual magazine ;)

Meanwhile - anyone got any graphic skills to jazz up the bibloggers website?  And maybe make an "I'm one of the bibloggers" icon for contributors' own blogs?

Sunday 12 September 2010

Race Revolt

Writing In Shadows highlights that there's a new issue of Race Revolt out. Excellent.

It's sometimes tricksy reading because it makes you think hard, and it's sometimes tricksy reading because in being a collaborative effort from many wide-ranging perspectives some of it needs my brain to spend a while translating to a less right-wing/monoculture model of the world to follow it, but it's always a good investment in time and moneys.

Friday 10 September 2010

Student time of year

The leaves haven't quite yet started falling but soon I'll be walking through them, swooshing through them and remembering being 18 and a new student, with My October Symphony cued up on my walkman for the leaf-strewn walk to college in the mornings.

While I might not be worrying about getting registered for a course this year, other people are, and with that comes the question of whether your uni LGBT will be B inclusive and friendly. I just wrote in another place to someone wondering whether to go along to their LGBT group and whether it would feel like a safe space:

One of the trickiest things in answering this one is - personal experiences of any given uni will be completely misleading. Whereas most LGBT groups have a broadly similar set of people in charge over many years, uni groups tend to have a much faster rate of "churn", as this year's leaders are next year's finals students and the year after's "does anyone remember" names.

So the place that was red-hot at bi inclusion two years ago could be dire today, and vice versa.

And depending how confident the group runners are at challenging biphobic remarks, one or two people can make the whole space seem unaccepting even if most people are.

The best answer is to proverbially "suck it and see". And try not to let just one person's biphobia put you off - cos wherever you go in life there'll be one plonker.

Most UK unis have a freshers week society fair with stalls from the various societies on show, it might be worth turning up at the LGBT stall with a small bundle of bi leaflets as a "hello, I'd like to join, and I thought these might be useful to add to your stall" donation, and see how they respond. If they take them it'd send out a good signal for other people thinking of joining; if they are hostile you know to wear your sturdiest battle helmet when going along to the meetings!

But then, I'm probably thinking that cos of the stash of bi leaflets in my front room that are looking for a place to go

The main thing to take out of that is: I have bi leaflets that I want shot of, please let me know if you can use them locally! (Oh, and they really are very UK specific, for any Rest Of The World readers)

Sunday 5 September 2010

Three weeks to Bi Day! hosts information about Bi Visibility Day events in the UK. We already have two things lined up in Manchester!

Please do add your local events (by emailing the BCN people).

Friday 3 September 2010

Talking to one another

One of the crazy things I promised to do at this BiCon was to build a blog aggregator site for bloggers who write about bisexuality (if you follow me in other places, sorry to be repeating myself!)

I did talk about doing it 2 years ago, but just didn't have the tech-savvy to make it work. But nowadays there is a lot more stuff off-the-shelf you can use, so a little work and I have the first mockup of the site running. Yay open source things that plug into one another and just damn work.

It remains to be seen if I can get enough bloggers to make it feel like a conversation space, but I'd like it to be. There's one for left/centreleft bloggers that works really well for me. There is the question of how much bandwidth it eats up but let's cross that bridge when we get there.

Over to you bi-blogging kids... nominate a blog or two?

Wednesday 18 August 2010


Activism is such a chore. Let's have another facebook page instead ;)

Sunday 15 August 2010

Very nearly 102

Gosh.  Issue 102 of BCN has gone for proof-reading.  I'm doing several magazines with tight deadlines this month so it feels fab to have this one nearly put to bed!

Sunday 1 August 2010

B is not for invisi-BI-lity, and London is not the World

This week's lefty weekly newspaper has a nice half-page piece about London LGBT Pride. Delga have it reproduced on their website already here, which is helpful.

See, mostly it's all good stuff: just two things make me go "Ah, but".

It makes that common mistake of making London-upon-Thames Pride sound like it's the national thing. Which I really don't think it is any more: in the 90s it was, back then it was so much bigger than the others and there was a real sense of momentum towards it, of spotting other queers on the road down south. But since then the other Prides have grown: I've not been there the last two years but by 07 and 08 it had nothing like that sense of build as you arrived in the city. We're not quite at the point equivalent to the Tony Wilson "wake up America, you're dead" line, but it is far more like that now. There are fifty or more Prides around the UK. If Pride was a corporation, London is no longer the majority shareholder. When evoking lefties to raise the stripey banner high, encourage them to do it everywhere, not just down in the bottom right-hand corner of the island.

But more than that, there's a difficult line in reference to "gay" marriage: "next year will be the 41st year of the London Pride marches - I hope that we might be marching with some married LGBT couples".  There are already lots of married LGBT couples. Most LGBT people are not lesbian or gay.  Even most LGB people are not lesbian or gay.

Thursday 29 July 2010

Internal politics

A few years ago I came up with this as an illustration of how the lgbt communities are not homogenous. There are more role models, more bars, more social acceptability, more support spaces, hell more money even, the higher up the pyramid you get to be.Which was very useful exploring the idea that Canal Street is not the be-all and end-all of outreach to LGBT at a conference the LGF hosted a couple of years ago.

It probably (subconsciously) derived from a one-dimensional power triangle by Dianne DiMassa in My Gender Workbook, applying the same idea but adding another dimension because of the ways that other factors than gender and sexuality, your wider normativity, slide you up or down the scale of voice, acceptance, representation and respect.

Though I'd have to rummage through my old papers to work out whether I was actually drawing things like this before Gender Workbook came out, I'm really not sure.

The things I've chosen for the slider side here are somewhat arbitrary and I'm sure readers will be able to suggest other things. 

Hard to illustrate is that the bottom row there is more of a wriggling writhing mass of competition.  When I was first coming out some twenty odd years ago I'd have layered things with B above T and Q, but they are at least level now.

Anyway, I thought I'd run it up as a computer graphic and share the image. It might be a good argument-starter 8)

Sunday 18 July 2010

Oh, YouGov...

YouGov should know better than to trot out heteronormativity like this...


Friday 9 July 2010


I'm far from alone in having two times for doing things: now, or someday.

Hence when the interesting email comes in about this or that publication wanting a quote or answers to half-a-dozen questions, I try to do it at the time if I can.  Otherwise it joins the long list of queued Get Round To It things that radio 7, Warcraft or hot dates ensures never quite happens.

So this week I'm full of being on the receiving end of the Get Round To It queue, as two interview shaped items that will be awesome in BCN when we get them are nearly here, yet might take six months to arrive, like a Manchester "be with you in ten minutes" taxi. Grrr!

Otherwise BCN issue 101 is coming together nicely. And waiting for BCN stuff to come in means BiMedia gets more stories fed to it...

Monday 5 July 2010

A little bi of trans politics

So mostly here I stick to the bi stuff. But however many years ago I started agitating on trans and genderqueer things (before we had the latter word to work with, and boy does having a word for it help!) could I have really thought I'd see a mainstream parliamentarian saying things like:
"I believe it is legitimate to extend the interpretation of EU law so that it protects not only (as it does) people who have undergone gender reassignment but also those whose gender identity is complex or who identify with no gender. We also need to promote a greater public awareness of transgender and gender neutrality issues."
 People of London who re-elected Sarah Ludford MEP last summer, we salute you!

Thursday 1 July 2010

What do we want shot of?

Last week was the budget, with the right wing of the government in the ascendant. But the left wing of the government gets its turn in the spotlight this week, with the web launch of the consultation on the Great Repeal Act / Freedom Bill which Clegg has been advocating for quite some time.

Naturally most of the suggestions don't have much to do with (bi)sexuality. But in amongst half-baked drug propaganda and proposals to make it easier to use a dog to threaten, kill and maim, or to deny people like me the freedom to breathe in public places, there is stuff on marriage equality and repealing the "extreme" porn laws - you remember the ones that made it illegal to take photos of things it's entirely legal to do - and a one on the crazy Labour law that made a swathe of cartoons illegal.

What laws do you want repealed? And don't just tell me, tell them!

Monday 28 June 2010

Swell the ranks

The programme for BiReCon has been published and includes a session on bi blogging from Sue George. Sue's blog isn't quite as frequently updated as mine but has more substantial pieces whereas mine tends to be a passing thought or question. Looking forward to it - and to there being more bi bloggers as a result!

Sunday 27 June 2010

Changing culture

Warning: political activism ahead!

Yesterday was the summer conference for us LGBT lefties. Now, most of what went on doesn't really belong here, but what really struck me was that after a couple of years of the Bisexual Democrats project, it has started to take a more serious hold, with both the immediate recognition of the pink, purple and blue stuff, and requests from new members of where they could get teeshirts, badges, or where to download logos to use on their own work.

I suspect the number of out-bis is a mixture of the targeted recruitment and of a wider visibility thing.  But having the bi materials produced is helping to reveal the 'hidden bis' - I look forward to citing it as good practice!

Friday 25 June 2010

Town Hall aftermath

Time to write up the 'what do bis want?' workshop from the Town Hall LGBT Day. I've run the session twice so this will be a blend of outcomes from both sessions, but that also means that half the contributions are unlinked from the Town Hall. 

Must find some way of wording a copyright statement or what have you at the end of the report to ensure that the council doesn't try to slurp up all the credit. After all, they didn't even cover my damn train fare to run the session for them*.

* I may just be carrying over some past grouching here from the annual LGBT Health Summit.

Thursday 24 June 2010

Rhif Cant

I've a very low grade tabloid writer's grasp of cheesy headlines, so I want to title anything about BCN issue 100 along the lines of "100 not out", which of course is the wrong message at every step of the way. It is out, we are out, and this isn't actually the 100th edition. You just can't trust these bisexuals, eh?

Not the 100th?  Afraid so: there have been various others including the Manchester-only editions for Prides and suchlike, and the annual Summer Specials given away at BiCon. And because it has always been run by geeks we didn't have a title at first, our first edition was issue zero. But it wasn't called BCN yet which puts it in a fuzzy state as to whether it is an edition of BCN. So it's probably nearer the 110th edition of the magazine.

It is, however, the one with the number "100" on the front, so it is the best place to pause and claim to have reached a hundred issues. I joined up back around issue 32 and have been editor since some time around number 50.

Between number 50 and the mid 90s not much changed except moving to photo covers rather than wordy covers. However, if I do say so myself, the last year has seen a big step forward for the magazine.  We were laser-printing onto ordinary 80g paper, now we're properly printed on glossy paper, with colour covers and (perhaps only me caring about this bit) with full bleed. BCN now feels like a magazine, not like a society newsletter.

One of the things I care about with BCN, and which I've argued about with other bi activists, is that it continues to be a paper publication.  This works in three directions:

1 - having a print magazine, albeit on a lower circulation than our rivals, puts a potential bi voice at the table alongside Gay Times et al. When discussing how to reach out and be visibily inclusive of bis, "but there is no bi press for us to also advertise in" has a neat rebuttal.
2 - as a paper trail of debate and events, it provides a 'journal of record' for academics and historians. More letters on the letters page might make it an even more useful one cough
3 - and this is the biggy: it makes the community 'real' in a way that a website doesn't: there are enough of us and bisexuality is sufficiently not "just a phase" for this long-running magazine that you can hold in your hands to exist. When I was finding a sense of myself as bi in a very gay/straight culture, BCN's predecessor mag was something I looked forward to landing on the doormat.  And I had the benefit of living in a city with a strong bi scene, how much more it would have meant living in the sticks.

An online only magazine would be easier, would involve fewer nights of stuffing envelopes and less time staring at a screen willing the words to fit on the page. But it becomes so much easier to not produce new content over time that way: every two months, whereas the pages of BCN start out each issue all blank and demanding.

Volunteers to help fill them are always welcome, by the by.  Articles, photos, cartoons, what have you...

Thursday 17 June 2010

How to hit harder?

BiMedia asks whether of 200 odd people at the Downing Street "LGBT" reception:
will there be anyone representing for the B in LGBT
Requesting information from Downing Street press people has so far drawn a complete blank, while the photos that have hit such authoritative sources as the Daily Mail don't have faces you'd recognise from doing bi work.

Now, it's too late to change the bi-excluding nature of last night's guest list, and (to get the party politics balance in) of the previous such event under Labour. And it's possible this is the last such 'do'. But if it weren't, gosh how grouchy I will be if it happens three times in a row.

Aside from starting a fresh "write to Dave and Nick" postcard or write-a-letter lobbying campaign to highlight the B in LGBT is not for invisiBility, how else could we change this? Indeed, aside from the general slight of not being invited to the ball, should we want to?

Thursday 10 June 2010

Sleep and Cheesy

I've got a lovely new "sleep and cheesy" teeshirt from the pobbleshop. Other fans of atrocious punnage may want one too, so there's a little link :)

Perfectly formed

Today was the annual LGBT consultation day at the Town Hall once again.  Last year's bi workshop was the groundbreaking first time they put the B on the agenda at the event, and was better attended than this time around. 

However, this was - with all respect to last year's participants - a case of quality over quantity, with participants this time around including an interested city councillor wanting to improve the council's engagement with the LGBT communities, and representatives from the local NHS and Police.  I'd really like there to be a chance for services like that to engage better with the bi community so these were really welcome links to draw in.

And between the outcomes of today's session and running the same session at BiPhoria a short while ago we have quite an interesting agenda of what bis in the city want. 

Monday 7 June 2010

military coup imminent: leadership required

Wanted: someone with a little bit of money and web savvy to take Bisexual Recruitment Army over. It's a lovely little idea, and putting the site together was awesome fun, creating bad punnage and taking silly photos and so forth. But I've had no time or energy to do anything fresh with it, and it is really just sitting there to be honest.

Someone with webspace and an interest in taking it over would be good to find. My web hosting can only take three websites at a time, and I'd like to shuffle B*R*A off so I can put something else in its place.

Naturally like any protective website-mother I don't just want to give it to anyone so I might be picksy.

Saturday 29 May 2010

David Laws

David Laws MP, chief secretary to the Treasury, has got in a spot of bother about expenses and in the process of running a story about that the Telegraph has outed him as in a same-sex relationship. 

Spinning their version of event beyond parody, the Telegraph claim that he was the one who chose to come out, they didn't out him, but that is absolute piffle: were they really going to run a story that never referred to the name or gender of the person he is living with and do they honestly think their allies in the hate press would have done the same?  And that a page full of playing the pronoun game wouldn't constitute a big flashing neon sign? 

So yes, let's be frank about this one: they outed him, and it's clear the motivations are nothing to do with sexuality or expenses.

I'm no expert on the MP expenses arrangements so all I shall observe on the rights or wrongs of the case is that people who do know more about it say that if he had been publicly in a relationship then he could have claimed the whole mortgage costs, so leaving things as they were was saving the taxpayer a big wad of cash. Way to go Telegraph, an investigation with a natural conclusion of costing taxpayers more, just as every other move from the Telegraph on expenses has wound up costing us more. Can we have a special Act to close the paper down on the grounds that its bosses are premeditatedly wrecking the economy?

But what I can make some informed comment on is the sexuality stuff. 

As someone who runs a social-support group for people from within the LGBT communities, there are still a steady stream of new people who come along who are not 'out' to anyone around them about their sexuality or sex life: family, friends, workmates, even openly gay, bi or trans colleagues. David is a very long way from alone.

It's something that we see less of as the world moves on but the idea that passing the civil partnerships law and scrapping clause 28 magically undid a century of social homophobia is dotty.  Yes, there are MPs around him who are out as gay, lesbian, or bisexual.  I know people who go hang-gliding, that doesn't take away any of my own vertigo and mean I suddenly feel fine at the top of a stepladder.

To mangle a slogan: some MPs aren't straight, get over it. And some people's relationships don't have cookie-cutter neatness, get over it.

Friday 21 May 2010

Five years, five pledges

The new left-right coalition's Programme for Government document has been published today, including a number of pledges on queer issues. The document sets out the agreed programme for the five-year coalition government so they have until 2015 to get it all done.

Those on-the-ball Delga folk say it includes the following:
The Government believes that there are many barriers to social mobility and equal opportunities in Britain today, with too many children held back because of their social background, and too many people of all ages held back because of their gender, race, religion or sexuality. We need concerted government action to tear down these barriers and help to build a fairer society.
• We will stop the deportation of asylum seekers who have had to leave particular countries because their sexual orientation or gender identification puts them at proven risk of imprisonment, torture or execution.
• We will use our relationships with other countries to push for unequivocal support for gay rights and for UK civil partnerships to be recognised internationally.
• We will change the law so that historical convictions for consensual gay sex with over-16s will be treated as spent and will not show up on criminal records checks.
• We will promote better recording of hate crimes against disabled, homosexual and transgender people, which are frequently not centrally recorded.
• We will help schools tackle bullying in schools, especially homophobic bullying.
The first thing that strikes me is that as the world has moved on, central legislation on LGBT issues increasingly looks beyond the UK to issues of equality worldwide.  Which is great, and timely: we needed to put our own house in order first.  Ten years ago Labour and Tory legislators had seen to it we had plenty to do here, and pressing for change overseas invited reasonable charges of hypocrisy.

The second is that awful line "hate crimes against disabled, homosexual and transgender people" - a copy and paste job from a mangled line in the Lib Dem manifesto.  As a bi activist, I have railed about it before: I trust that when it comes to the legislative stage it will be turned from what they say into what they mean.

The third is that the trans and genderqueer stuff out of the Lib Dem manifesto didn't make it through.  This is a damn shame, for all that the abolition of ID cards and the identity register removes two of the pressing issues around non-binary gendered identities.

But after those Labour governments which kept LGBT stuff out of the manifesto for fear of scaring the horses, and then deployed a string of delaying tactics over acting on equality, what a refreshing thing it is to have a clear idea of what is on the government's mind to implement in the years ahead. 

We have to make sure they deliver on it, and press them to do the other stuff, too. Write to your MP, and write often, folks!

Wednesday 19 May 2010


I made a bit of a booboo and broke BiMedia for 48 hours. Doh. I think it's the same mistake a friend made with her Wordpress blog a year or so back.

Must. Make. More. Backups.

However, it's back in action, nearly finished, and I think (...or I flatter myself...) that it looks a tiny bit slicker after the rebuild. But nonetheless, I'd welcome people who had problems with it loading in the past giving it the once-over in case those problems have returned.

In the process I have finally worked out how to send news stories direct to twitter, which is For The Win :) - decided to feed them to the BCN twitter feed rather than a separate one for bimedia, as much the same people would want to follow each.

Sunday 9 May 2010

More out MPs than ever

That's the election over - well, nearly over, barring the pending bit of the election in Thirsk.  We have a new swathe of gay and lesbian MPs, with an influx of new out MPs on the Liberal Democrat and Conservative benches and quite a few out Labour MPs holding their seats.

About 20 out MPs out of 650 seats is, er, three per cent or so.  Halfway to the government statistic of 6% being gay or lesbian; they never tried counting the bis properly.

But still - unless someone knows better - on the green benches at Westminster we have just the one out bisexual.  There are more of us than there are lesbians and gay men put together, but we have a twentieth of the open representation in government that they do. 

Saturday 24 April 2010

Idle wossnames

I've been looking at the upcoming NUS LGBT conference.  As ever, NUS is a source of despair if you're an activist interested in getting things done rather than furthering a career in centre-right politics.

So we have an order paper for the weekend of the various weighty motions to be debated.  Given the B in LGBT is the least well supported strand in mainstream LGBT work, what do they have to say about it?  What proposals, opinions, and tasks for their executive and huge membership in the coming year?

Erm... not a lot.  The 'b' word does crop up, but the only place where it is meaningfully used is in a motion that sucks up to biphobia, redefining the remits of the bi space at conference, and it would seem to be doing so in capitulation to the biphobic "bi=binary" myth.
Conference resolves: The Bisexual Representative may may define as bisexual, or otherwise define as being romantically/sexually interested across the gender spectrum.
Now, that's changing the definition of the bisexual rep so that - unlike the other specific positions NUS sets aside - the holder need not identify as bisexual, and is an amendment that is entirely in response to biphobic nonsense.

Will it make a difference though?  NUS LGBT doesn't have a great track record on having bi reps who ever seem to do anything related to their remit.  The bi place seems to be treated more as a way onto the national exec and a springboard to other positions rather than a position from which to enable work, communication and change targeted at and for bi students or bis in general. There have been exceptions to that rule but in ten years of watching, they seem to happen about once in five years...

Wednesday 14 April 2010

That's not what you mean

The Lib Dem manifesto has been launched. All good lefty stuff, the only coherent programme on the table, and may they win a swathe of seats not least as the only party consistently on side with LGBT issues, etc.

The Lib Dems do have one weakness on their manifestos, and it's the B word. Now it's peculiar that the 'third option' party should have such a persistent blind spot on the 'third option' sexuality but there it is. 

The manifesto includes:
Liberal Democrats will continue to encourage more openly gay and transgender people to stand for Parliament

How many times do I have to spell this one out?  I'm not gay.  I'm no more gay than I am straight.  Saying bis are a type of gay because they're not straight is like saying Germans are a kind of Egyptian because they're not Spanish.  You can reasonably shrink gay and lesbian down to just gay; you can't do that with the B strand of LGBT.

The manifesto also says a Lib Dem government would
Require better recording of hate crimes against disabled, homosexual and transgender people, which are frequently not centrally recorded.
Now, you can see how they got there.  Someone sub-editing things down sees a reference to hate crimes against disabled people, and a reference to homophobic and transphobic hate crime. "How can I put these together?" they think. "What's the -phobic word for disability? Erm. OK I'll do it the other way... homophobic hate crimes happen to homosexuals, and transphobic ones to transgender people".

Except of course they don't.  Or rather, they don't just.  The venn diagram has a big overlap between, say, being gay and being a victime of homophobic attacks.  But these things happen to bi people, to straight people, to cis people, too. 

I think it's pretty clear what they mean.  It's not quite what they said, and if they get in, or even if they don't and are advocating these things from the opposition benches, we need to make sure they get it right in the legislative print.

Saturday 10 April 2010

Just a slip o the keyboard miss, honest

Stonewall say that not including bisexuals in half their questions on LGB equality for MPs was an unintended mistake.  You know, in the best part of two decades of reading stuff from them, I've never noticed a publication where they unintendedly and mistakenly missed out the word 'gay' but remembered the 'b' word. 

Wednesday 7 April 2010

Stonewall and NUS

They haven't replied to last week's email yet, but their "questions for parliamentary candidates" page has been changed - it no longer just talks about "lesbians and gay men".

Result ~:o)

In other news, ahead of this year's Town Hall LGBT Day, I've dropped the local uni bi rep a note asking for any input from the student population. Would be good to get that alternative take on it...

Wednesday 31 March 2010

Stonewall General Election blooper

Stonewall have published their list of questions for candidates at the general election:

If you're elected at the next election, what will you do to ensure
homophobic bullying is tackled in our local schools? 
Hate Crime
Homophobic hate crimes are on the increase across the country. What will
you do to ensure lesbian and gay people can feel safe in their local area?

Equality Act
Will you - and your party  - commit to ensuring full implementation of
important measures in the forthcoming Equality Act, which would benefit
lesbian and gay people? 
Public Services
All too often, gay men and women face second class treatment by the public
services their taxes help to fund. What do you propose to do to address

What steps will your party take to ensure that those seeking asylum on the
grounds of their sexual orientation are assessed fairly and compassionately?

Will your party ensure that the UK continues to promote LGB equality
internationally through British embassies and High Commissions?

Civil Partnership Recognition
Will your party take steps to ensure recognition of UK civil partnerships
by other European states? 
Blood donation
Do you support the current life ban which bars all men who have ever had
sex with another man from donating blood?
That's quite a lot of "lesbian and gay" without any reference to bisexuals in the first few questions, so I've dropped them a note to enquire about the whys and wherefores.

Friday 19 March 2010

A bid for a second out bi MP

It's not often I quote the Daily Mail as an authoritative source, as I find it best not to trust them even just for checking what day of the week it is, but let's have a quote from them:

The first woman in Britain to direct adult films revealed yesterday, however, that her political colours are of a different hue. Anna Arrowsmith, hailed in some quarters as a champion of 'female-friendly porn', has been chosen as a Liberal Democrat candidate in the General Election. 

Gosh, an out-bisexual woman who admits to liking sex standing for Parliament, what is the world coming to?  Well, not the terrible state the Daily Mail's hate-mongering staffers would like to think as a strong showing of positive comments below the article reveals.  And as well as wanting to see more bis elected, I rather like the idea of there at last being someone legislating on porn who might admit to watching it in anything other than horror.

Total Politics does a little interview with her here, and there's a wikipedia page about her here

Monday 15 March 2010

Up and down like a cheap euphemism has been offline for most of the last three days and still isn't quite right.  Sorry about that.  It's a hosting problem on the servers of the company I get my webspace from, rather than me trying to be clever! I think the server is now fairly stable but the decision by the hosts to change the version of the PHP software underlying it all is causing technical wrinkles.

Sunday 14 March 2010

Following on

Blimey. There was a diversities fringe meeting at Liberal Democrat party conference this weekend, and they wanted speakers for the various diversity strands like trans, disability and so forth, to reflect on what has happened in recent years and our hopes for the coming parliament. Jen, can you...?  OK.  Then I find out that I've been picked as the first diversity strand speaker, right after a speech by Vince Cable, who for overseas readers is the Shadow Chancellor and probably the most popular figure from the party both within the Liberals and outside. Follow on from his speech - no pressure, eh!

But it all went well, people laughed in the right places rather than the wrong ones, there was very warm applause and I didn't fluff my lines.  The sheer panic kicked in about 20 minutes before I was due to speak and so I have absolutely no idea what Vince said, but it's great to have done it - now I can tell people about it without it being in my future and getting me worried about how it will go.

Tuesday 9 March 2010

What's useful?

I fear I'm trapped in a loop. That Stonewall report that quotes a Manchester City Council report that is in turn just quoting from my workshop notes? The city council just got in touch asking for another workshop or presentation, because they're planning the next conference in the sequence.

Now, last year I went with any old thing, as any time for workshop planning got eaten up by the European Elections. This year it's reasonable to expect that there will be about a month between the General Election and the conference itself so I can perhaps do some more planning work.

Now "any old thing" last year was actually:
- what do bis want?
- what's out there for bis?
- what do we mean by bi anyway?

But I wonder if there's a particular focus that might be useful this time. For bis, for the council, for bis in Manchester, for bis who work at the council, whatever.

I've asked the local uni LGBTers bi rep, and will run it past BiPhoria next month.  In the meanwhile your suggestions, dear reader, are only too welcome!

And now in colour

So here is the big thing that I've been working towards for several months. I didn't tell many people - I think! - so it will have come as a pleasant surprise to a lot of magazine subscribers. But the mag is landing on doormats across the country, so the cat's out of the bag.

We've got our first full-colour cover. This should be the pattern for future editions, at least for as long as subs levels remain at the kind of numbers they are now.

It means BCN has moved still further from the 'cheaply photocopied black-and-white rag' look, after last year's shift from 80gsm white paper and regular laser printing, to 130gsm gloss paper with full bleed.

I think this makes us unique among English language bi magazines. Bi Women and The Fence are entirely black-and-white printing, and Journal of Bisexuality is a bit peculiar being closer to a book than a magazine. It's a bit up my own ego perhaps, but I don't think there's been anything this 'pro' looking since Anything That Moves folded in 2002.

I'd like us to have full-colour inside pages too, but for that you all need to get your friends subscribing to BCN too so we can

Saturday 27 February 2010

History Month, part two

As one of the LGBT History Month events, today there was a brief chance to explore some of the LGBT archives at Manchester's Central Library. It was great to see a hugely improved turnout - last time I went along to the equivalent event there were about ten or twelve people present, but this time it was nearer to thirty and you had to do a lot more swapping places with people and waiting your turn to get a look at any particular resource that interested you.

Things I'd not browsed before included:

It's Queer Up North - a document about a dozen pages long that seemed to be the original mission statement for this arts project, circa 1993. Almost entirely 'lesbian and gay' in its language, with just a nod to the concept of a wider sense of queer implying that this is about trans. Gotta love activist plan documents complete with the pencil annotations.

A dissertation by some student from a few years ago, looking at the evolution of the gay village. Throughout it talks about the queer communities, people, etc, and in talking about Manchester's queer population since the 1980s it engages with the ideas of lesbian and gay non-scene spaces... but only those.

And a large-format version the fabulous 90s Manchester city council equal opps policy - the one that was the starting point of the conversation between Bisexual Action and Manchester City Council that led to the declaration by the latter that bis are just a type of a gay.

The notable missing element for me, of course, is a complete lack of any trace of the bisexual community. We've got what is now the longest running bi group in the UK, have been host city to two huge sprawling BiCons, and of course Bi Community News had a "printed in Manchester" line on the credits for over a decade. At one point there were at least four parallel bi projects running in the city with different sets of people behind each.

But it seems the archives say nothing.

Doing something to change that level of invisibility will take time and cash. There are resources out there - or here in my personal collection - documenting at least the period since 1994. BiPhoria flyers, newsletters, BCNs, BiCon advertising, and more. I don't have multiple spares to be able to donate them to places like Manchester Central Library, and I'm not donating my personal copies any time soon.

But with the devotion of some time and cash duplicates could be created, and maybe next year or the year after, one of the displays at LGBT HM might document the love/hate relationship between Manchester's council and gay scene, and the bisexual population. Wouldn't that be good to see?

(Part one has yet to be written - as this week mostly I'm in bed with lurgy!)

Wednesday 24 February 2010

History Month, part one

It is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender History Month and as ever I think there's not enough going on that is bi or bi-inclusive. If I've got my numbers right, LGBT HM started in 2005 so this is the sixth one - and in that time there have been just three bi-focused events nationwide. One in Manchester, one in London, and this year, one in Rotherham.

Rotherham, Yorkshire. So first up, top marks to the organisers, who put on a series of events to mark history month and consciously included bisexuality - besting all the other 'queerer' cities. Including the cities with serious and sustained bi presences like Birmingham, Brighton and Edinburgh.

It seems there are three approaches to running an event for LGBT History Month.

* Focus on history
* Focus on current and recent stuff
* Do something entirely tangential

In the first category, the Manchester bi event for LGBT HM looked at 3,000 years of bi history; in the third category, there have been lesbian and gay line dancing sessions hosted at the Town Hall - a great mixer but not that strong on the history I suspect.

Rotherham's event fell into category two, being essentially a blend of "what is bisexuality" and "bisexual identity and community in Britain today".

The first part was much as what I'd do myself - an overview of Kinsey and Klein. It seemed to be they were there to give academic grounding, where I'd use them to simply effect a common language for discussion: for instance it then makes it easier to talk about how I'm a right-up-in-the-high-numbers Kinsey bi, but a bit more wibbly wobbly toward the middle on a Klein index.

Then we came onto bi identity - marginalised and in need of forms of discourse and visibility outside of polyamoury. And the idea of a complete lack of a community: there is a thing called BiCon but there is nothing else out there, and while there are some internet bi spaces, the internet doesn't count.

Which I'd disagree with: there's a smattering of stuff out there and to take BiPhoria as an example, it's had let's say 4 new people encounter it directly each month for 12 meets a year over 15 or more years. Thats 15 x 12 x 4 = 720 people directly affected. Add in partners, family, a friend or three each, and a couple of people who later came out to that person and got a stronger sense of bi-ness. Stir in a host of people who never come to a group like that but who will in conversation tell you that it's important to "know that it is there" in case they ever need it. And the people in other projects and organisations who have been made more aware of bisexuality through encountering magazine articles, outreach speakers or what have you.

And I'd differ on the question of the internet too. The net has surely given many people who were isolated a sense of being less alone, even of virtual community. Someone will be along soon to point out that Second Life has a huge weekly bi meet.

Others may say that the thousands BiPhoria have impacted are a drop in the ocean. But those are arguments in interpretation of data. Which you can do, if you agree there is data there to interpret.

As billed, last night's talk was an academic talking about bisexuality - so it seems reasonable to expect a modicum of academic rigour. But that wasn't on display: now, I may be overly influenced by having just read Bad Science, but I tend to think that the right academic approach is to assemble whatever facts you can and seek to derive a hypothesis, or to start with a hypothesis and see how well the facts concur or undermine it.

There was no academic rigour here, and scant evidence of having done even the most basic research. 

Instead, this was cherry-picking. The 'only' thing even pretending to be a bi space is BiCon - forget the smattering of other dates in the bi calendar. The local groups don't exist and so can have had no impact. And you can assess the whole of what BiCon is by picking a couple of carefully selected workshop titles out of the programme. It's all about polyamoury and BDSM and nothing to do with being a Real Bisexual. Which is strange because I've been to BiCon more than once as a vanilla, monogamous person, chosen other strands in the programme, and got a very rewarding weekend of chatter, dancing, and activist networking out of it. With half-a-dozen things going on at any one time, BiCon is what you choose to take out of it: you have to make a conscious choice to experience it as being about kink and poly.

And that thing that so often grates with activists when we rub up against academics: analysis without action.

Now, I'm open to a sane critique of the UK bi movement. I've done a few in my time and done follow-on work to try to change some of the things I have perceived as needing improvement. There are many things that it might do that it doesn't and things that it is only just doing that it should have done years ago. Equally there are things where it pioneered long ago and the gay / lesbian communities, with their hugely greater resources, are only just starting to catch up. Bi projects in the UK reach far fewer people than I'd like to see be the case and only too often 'lgbt' work fails to fill the gaps.

But that kind of critique has to be grounded in first knowing what there is out there, where it has come from and what it's about, and needs to entwine that knowledge into the analysis. Otherwise, you're misleading your audience, and not doing your homework.