Tuesday 31 December 2019

That was 2019

The annual year roundup that I write for Bi Community News:

That was 2019. Three dates for Brexit came and went, the EU elections swung to the extremes of isolationist and internationalist politics, America impeached a President, and a handful of Brits chose a new Prime Minister and then 14 million voters endorsed the decision in time for Christmas. In queer life, we marked twentyone years of the bisexual flag and fifty years since the Stonewall riots in the USA. The year saw more Prides than ever before including London adding itself to the roster of Trans Prides around the country and a Bi Pride that broke records for a bisexual event in the UK.
Both our bi+ communities and bi+ representation are growing year on year – reflected not least in three separate lists of ‘best bi books’ that we reported on: the bi categories in the Lambda awards and in the Rainbow book awards and then the Bi Book Awards.

Here’s our month by month round up of the main points of the year in bi life:
In January one of the UK’s bi MPs declared that Brexit couldn’t come too soon – even though many LGBT people and campaigners were most worried at what its consequences might be for equality.

The ONS had figures showing more people identifying as bi or gay – in line with recent trends. And upskirting became illegal in the UK. BiCamp announced its 2019 date, and we got some bi TV to look forward to in Crazy Ex Girlfriend and Gotham.
February was LGBT History Month, with bi talks and bisexual community history archive displays.
The Oscars were especially memorable for bi representation, while the UK Prime Minister’s daily Points of Light awards honoured Marcus Morgan of Bisexual Index.
With over 100 Pride festivals due in 2019, Manchester Pride announced a hike in its ticket prices from £16 to as much as £70, with a rival festival launching in response. There’s a wider debate around the ‘commercialisation’ of Prides, which we reflected on in BCN magazine later in the year.
March saw a growing tide of rejection of transphobia in the LGB community with the hashtags and campaigns GwiththeT, LwiththeT and BwiththeT gaining momentum as well as banners on Pride marches and the like.

In a parallel development a host of LGBT organisations came together to press for better sex and relationship education. But one MP managed to delay it just that bit longer.
We got fresh research showing bisexuality on the rise in the USA in April. London saw a day-long BiFest once more. The House of Lords agreed to an improved sex education curriculum to include more about relationships. And the first of a trio of bi groups shared in £400,000 of government funding for LGBT projects in the UK through the year.
In May, Liberty announced they were taking up the case of a bisexual serviceman stripped of his medals twenty years ago. That case would take til the end of the year to be won. Big Bi Fun Day returned to Leicester.

There was tough research news from the TUC about working life for bi people. In the USA, Abby’s, a TV comedy with a bi lead got canned after just ten episodes.  Over here there was Blind Date’s bisexual awkwardness and the Eurovision Song Contest had an openly bi winner.
In June the National Union of Students presented research on experience of harassment and violence at our universities and colleges. It wasn’t good news about bi life. There was important news too about rates of gonorrhea and syphilis in the UK. Finally in research there was fun news: bis are more filled with wonder at the universe than are other people. In part these things are a legacy of past LGBTphobia: the APA apologised for its role in stigmatising bisexuality, homosexuality and transgender identity.
Ecuador legalised same-sex marriage. And the government admitted their plans to censor porn online in the UK still weren’t quite workable.
We saw new stats from YouGov suggest more people are identifying as bi in July. Parliament gave politicians in Northern Ireland a final warning over having neither same-sex marriage nor a functioning government, declaring they had til November to pick one.

We got a new Prime Minister and a new Equalities Minister, Penny Mordaunt, to replace Amber Rudd. Mordaunt would just weeks later be replaced in the role by Liz Truss. Over in the USA, the national Sexual Health Conference had a pre-conference Bisexual Health Summit. And on bi TV, Lucifer got a final run of sixteen episodes.
In August there was a BiCon in Lancaster, Prides in a host of cities, and for the first time Belfast city hall flew the rainbow flag. On telly, The 100 got a final lease of life, while Orange Is The New Black used the “b” word at last. And in the USA, politician Kate Brown was laid into for doing what she said she would do if she got elected. There’s no pleasing some voters.
September is always a frantic bi month with Bi Visibility Day and its offshoots, Bi Week and #BiMonth. Speaking of which, Bi Week finally settled on a regular date – it will henceforth run from 16 to 22 September. Bi Visibility Day was huge again.

Bi Pride broke records with over 1,000 attendees at a bi event.  In wider culture we saw the Emmy awards celebrate a host of bi content including programmes like Fleabag. The Last Night Of The Proms had a spectacular bi and queer dimension.
October saw the US lose prominent bi politician Katie Hill, but good news here as the porn registry plan was dropped by the government. A new expanded and rewritten edition of Getting Bi offered fresh advice on coming out and staying out as bisexual.
In November, a last-ditch attempt by the DUP to block same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland foundered. Fascinating research from New Zealand suggested a gap in how many people identify as bi that is growing among young people rather than shrinking. The Anderton Park school protests in theory came to an end when the courts ruled against them. On telly Atypical brought more bi representation.
December was dominated by the snap election where both out bi MPs held their seats though we lost some champions of bi and LGBT liberation.
We learned that the changes in the rules on blood donation haven’t affected the quality of the blood supply. But perhaps the most important news was that Northern Ireland at last had to join the rest of the country in recognising same-sex marriage.

Wednesday 11 December 2019

Let It Snow

So I've been sinking into Christmas films by way of cooling down to the festive season.  It's gonna be strange, like any Christmas where someone important is missing for the first time and you're trying not to mention the heartache. Regular readers of my proper blog will know all about that so I'll not waste space on it here.

Amongst the films distracting me is Let It Snow, a rare Christmas film with queer representation.  I loved the effusion of this bit:
Have you ever been with someone and you stay up until, like, 4am, just talking about everything, like how you're both super scared of getting old, and what it felt like the first time you saw The Goblet of Fire, and you're just like, "I can't believe I get to exist at the same time as you!"

It might not be where my mind is now, but the times I have helter-skeltered my way into love have been so very much Just That.  Both requited and unrequited: there is a place in Castlefield that warms my heart every time I pass it just a little for the love and hope I felt there one summer, even though it was for someone who would never feel the same about me.