Bisexuals of Colour at the 5th Imaan Conference 2012

BCN 116 cover

This originally appeared in BCN issue 116, December 2012

This year’s Imaan conference (www.imaan.org.uk/about/about.htm) was held at the SOAS University campus in London.  There was an estimated seventy people in attendance over the August bank holiday weekend.  Bi’s of Colour had a stall, alongside Youth Chances (www.youthchances.org) and Unison (www.unison.org.uk/out/index.asp).

As I set up the stall, a talented musician played guitar, and one of the organisers sang ‘Paparazzi’.  Shortly after a few conventioneers drifted in.  I spoke to a psychiatrist about the high levels of mental health problems that bisexuals experience.  I handed him a summary of the Bisexual Report which he took with interest.  He told me that it was, “Ludicrous that lesbian and gay people who experience discrimination go on to treat bisexuals badly.”

Later on in the morning, I met a couple from Canada; an immigration lawyer and a singer Troy Jackson (www.enjoytroyjackson.com/the_news/) who told me about his appearances in the U.K.

The Bi’s of Colour stall was visited by a woman from Safra (www.safraproject.org)  who said she was puzzled why a book for sale on sexuality in Islam, had lesbian, gay and trans* as subjects, but there was no mention of bisexuality.  She told me that her bisexual girlfriend had often spoken of bisexuals being made to feel invisible.

As the day progressed, more people dropped by the stall.  I spoke to a man from Bradford who had heard about BiCon being in his city a few weeks earlier.  I also spoke to a woman, who said that all her female bi friends had become straight when they got married to men.  I stated that you don’t stop being bi when you marry a guy.  It is now something I’d love to have on a t-shirt!

At lunchtime, a massive high tea was put out for the conventioneers.  There were literally hundreds of scones, cream, jam, as well as sandwiches with some vegan options too!  All of this food, along with the free tea, coffee and fruits that were available during the day, went down very well with everyone.

Throughout the event I noticed that when most of the organisers and volunteers addressed me, they spoke and signed to me at the same time.  It was great that they communicated in this dual way as a matter of course.

After lunch, I spoke to a Doctor about the need for specialist sexual and mental health information for bisexual people.  The Bisexuality Report found another welcome home!  I noted that this report was the item that almost everyone took away with them when they visited the stall.  It is great to know that such valuable research is being appreciated by a variety of health professionals, academics and regular readers.

I packed up the stall after the final session of the day, with a lot less items to take home with me than I’d gone out with.  I had a fantastic time at the Imaan Conference.  As a bisexual of colour, I’m aware how closely faith and ethnicity are related.  It is important that Muslim bisexuals are not ignored or dismissed, but encouraged to participate and engage with the bi community.  We all have something to contribute.

Jacqui