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?