Friday 1 July 2011

Queer Left gathers

It must be something in the air.

The weekend before last was the bi activist gathering; last weekend was the twice-yearly queer left gathering.  This time it was in Manchester - and where last time it had been the dayglo surroundings of the Lib Dem party HQ press room, this time it was one of the swish new hotels that have popped up near Piccadilly station.

There was some overlap with the previous weekend's bisexual activist - talking about diversity work, the left-right coalition government's action plan on LGBT equality, and suchlike.  There was welcome praise for my inky press efforts here just as there was there!

It's a lot more fun being in government than in opposition: the things you get to talk about are much more likely to lead to real change.

It's also lovely to be able to sit back and let the new generation of officers lead the discussion and planning, and just interject when you're feeling wise or motivated on a topic.  Having been Chair, I now know quite how much work doing that role in the organisation takes; it probably makes me a lot more tolerant of this one than I was of the ones who came before me!

Bi activists get together

The weekend before last was one of the irregular Bi Activism Conferences.  I nearly didn't go - being there, with travel and all that, cost me about £100 so it meant there would be nothing in the kitty for playing out the rest of the month - but I'm glad I did.

About 25 of us were there from various roles or interested backgrounds - local group runners, academics, event organisers, the bi press, and more; and we talked about a whole heap of things including some diversity issues around bi spaces, academic projects, how to interact with the left-right coalition's recently announced Action Plan on LGBT issues, ways we could use computer software to aid specific projects, skills swapping and more besides.  To break up the talking there was a fun exercise with bits of coloured paper and felt tip pens, and to my relief one bit where it all went over to flipchart.

The academics bit was especially useful - there is now quite a backlog of data from the annual BiCon surveys and it produced a plan for where we go from here with that. A plan which involves me only producing one more survey before it becomes Someone Else's Problem!  More widely, the BiReCon project rolls on which is brilliant for academic / activist / community links and communication.

I came away having talked myself into doing a few more bits of activist work - but I'd talked other people into doing one of the big projects I'd been contemplating taking on myself so that's probably a win overall!

The main thing we need to get out there about these weekends though is that you really don't have to be that much of a Big Activist to join in.  There were people who were just thinking about having a go at a one-off project there, with voices just as big and respected round the table as the old guard of been-doing-this-for-years activists like myself.  It is a space that doesn't suit all bis - it's for people who want to get their hands metaphorically dirty in order to get bi community and visibility building work done, but the door is very open.  The next one's in six months: care to join us?

A final note: I hadn't been in the last four years or so, on account of being extra busy with my three-year stint as Chair of Delga, but as I quietly ease down the level of commitment that queer left organising takes from my time, there's a bit more wiggle room for going to things like this.  It was a positive thing all round to have the break away, I think: I've been at or involved in so much 'bi stuff' over the last ten years that stepping back made it less easy for others to take me doing things for granted, and more easy for other people to start doing things that I'd been taking care of. But it was good to be back: the energy in lots of areas was really good to see.