Thursday 30 August 2012

Selling to bisexuals

The first (that I have seen) market research about the buying habits of bisexuals has been published in the USA. In the fine traditional comedic trope, I hereby present the next 12 months' bi news.

October.  With polls still close in the Presidential election, and polling showing bis split 12:1 in his favour, Barack Obama railroads the "Bis Vote Twice" bill through Congress.  The plan comes unstuck in November when bisexuals with a preference are nonetheless allowed to vote both ways.

November.  Prof Debunked of the Dodgy Research University publishes his latest findings about bisexuality.  He explains that subjects were shown gay and straight porn on different smartphones while sensors attached to their genitalia recorded whether that type of phone was doing it for them.

December.  The New York Times retracts its "iPhoneite, Androidite or lying" headline admitting the findings related more to how attractive the research assistant looked in a white lab coat.

January.  Apple announce their response to the findings that bisexuals are more likely to buy £100 android phones than functionally-similar £400 iPhones. "Clearly the problem is in our marketing feeling excluding to bi people," says a spokesPad, "and so we will be updating our rainbow striped apple logo to include a pink stripe next to the purple and blue ones."  The new biPhone will cost just £75 extra, and is available in five shades of purple.

February.  Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne slaps 20% VAT on valentines cards purchased by bisexuals, thus milking the Purple Pound for all it is worth.  "Woody Allen told me the bisexuals have twice the chance of a date on Friday night, and that means they must be buying twice as many valentines cards" he explains in an emergency budget statement. 

Stung by Apple's cornering of the bi market, Google releases a customised version of its phone operating system called pandroid.

March.  Not to be outdone by cheap pandroids, Apple launch the new biPhone2, with an extra button that speed-dials the complaints department at Stonewall. A new app for smartphones lets biphobic people automatically block calls from biPhones.

April.  After the quarterly economic figures reveal the valentines card ruse failed to raise a single extra penny, on account of the bis all being far too busy playing on their biPhones to remember to send one another cards, George Osborne goes on television to admit he's not the real Chancellor, just to be a schoolboy on a really long Jim'll Fix It.

May.  Apple takes Google to court over pandroid phones, claiming they are a blatant rip-off of the biPhone.  Google's lawyers defend the clear and vast difference between the two: "it is not just another word for the same thing. The pandroid phones are a touchscreen with a suffusion of purple, whereas biPhones are a suffusion of purple with a touchscreen".  The judge listens carefully and throws the case out of court on the grounds that everyone knows there is no such thing as a bisexual.

June.  Concerned that it is missing out on the purple pound and that the bi- and pan- prefixes have already been snapped up, Microsoft launches Windows Mobile Omnishambles.  Following the flop of a youtube 'viral' ad campaign where Gerald Ratner observes "people ask me how Microsoft can sell a phone this cheap, and I say: it's because it's total, totally purple" it is reviewed as both completely unusable and the best implementation of Windows yet.

July.  At a star-studded television awards ceremony, the heads of Sky, BBC and Virgin make a joint statement on the findings that 73% of bi women and 44% of bi men regularly see biphobia in the mainstream media. They pledge to make the negative portrayal of bi men that bit more obvious to help the boys catch up.

August.  Despite the market research claims of a year earlier, sales figures of biPhone, pandroid and omnishambles handsets reveal the purple pound to be as yet a myth and the bisexual community resolves to go back to taking all research about itself with a pinch of salt.

September.  Market research work begins to find out what kind of salt bisexuals find most reassuring.

Wednesday 1 August 2012

Chez Dave

"BCN magazine editor Jen Yockney was among the guests at last night’s LGBT garden party hosted by David Cameron at 10 Downing Street." reported BiMedia last week.

Yes, dear reader, it's true. After about five years of Prime Ministerial Downing Street LGB&T receptions, at last someone finally got invited on behalf of one of the projects that focus on the "B" thread.

I've no idea quite how I got on the guest list, but the invite dropped into my BCN email account so I have to conclude it was for my work on Bi Community News as editor for a decade and more of the main UK bi news source and journal of what the bi movement's been up to and talking about. 

It could have been someone from one of many other projects who got picked though: for example BiPhoria is 18 this year, the UK's longest running bi group these days. They might have picked a veteran of the London Bi Group which ran for longer but closed down a few years ago. Bisexual Index and BiUK are doing fabulous work. And BiCon is I think the longest-running LGBT festival / pride / whatever in the UK, with 28 years of track record and never a year skipped or new organisation formed following a tricky financial implosion.

Whichever of us were to be picked though, it was high time the bis were invited to the LGBT party. And the White House's LGBT receptions have shown that one person the first year can grow to be a sizeable bi caucus over time...

But to Number 10.  It was so damn exciting to be there: I grew up watching Yes Minister and listening to Week Ending and here I was walking through the black door into the epicentre of power, among so many people who have done great things for the LGBT communities – and in blazing sunshine after weeks of rain it was a lucky date to have picked. I'm told last year it bucketed with rain and the attendees were crammed inside. Garden drinks in warm late-midsummer sun much better.

Cameron spoke for a few minutes about how the anti-equal-marriage wing of the faith groups is making the same mistake of pushing away their natural friends just as the Conservatives did in the 80s and 90s (and 00s) with their homophobia and biphobia. He kept referring to 'gay marriage' but in a politician who just seven years ago was campaigning to get elected by attacking his opponents for the scrapping of Section 28 that's a very healthy amount of travel. I want more, but I'll settle for that much progress. What matters is not the Prime Minister getting the nuances of LGB&T identity and debate, but that the 'gay marriage' legislation that ends up coming forward reflects how the current partnership law particularly makes life peculiar for bi, trans and intersex people. You did include those things in your submission to the equal marriage consultation, didn't you? Good. Me too.

Outside in the twitterverse a few people errupted in the "oh my, how can LGBT people go there?" type remarks. Because the way round that the lustre of shiny importance travels when a big ole lefty genderqueer bi activist like me goes to 10 Downing Street is that it improves Cameron's image... riiiiight. Pish. It says that the kind of policymaking people who have spent years and years ignoring bis are starting to change their tune, starting to acknowledge our work, our existence and particular needs - which is what we as bi activists were working for all those years and what work like The Bisexuality Report has been building the focus towards more sharply of late.

That aspect of it was a bit frightening though - being the first one through the door means you have a tiny sense of carrying the future of better bi representation here on your own shoulders.

So? It was a pleasant gathering of a bit over a hundred key people in LGB&T community work: from groups like Pride Sports, Manchester Pride, Albert Kennedy Trust, TREC, GIRES and so forth, grassroots and policywranglers alike, alongside various clergy on the side of the angels, and only a very small smattering of politicians. Like many LGBT conferences I've been to down the years, it was a chance to swap news and ideas, to find out what we're all up to, only this time with fewer workshops and speakers between those conversations.

And it's going to be a long slow grind towards equal marriage legislation, but I think Call-Me-Dave is as committed to it as the rest of us there. Which is going to be an important part of the battle.