Opening Doors London Bi Visibility Group

BCN 124 cover

This originally appeared in BCN issue 124, April 2014

Opening Doors London is an organisation supported by AgeUKCamden which seeks to meet the needs of older (over 50) LGBT people living in or around the capital.
They provide regular social activities, a telephone information and signposting service, and a befriending service for members. They also offer information, guidance and training for other service providers, to help them develop appropriate and inclusive services for older LGBT people. Volunteers are also welcome – e.g. working with the groups and as a befriender.
When I became a member I found that like many LGBT groups they have split their communication channels and organisation along gender lines – so we have women’s updates, and men’s updates etc. When I queried this, I was told that they had mixed events too, which is true, and they do have a monthly listing which is inclusive, but although I’ve been to a few of the mixed socials, places are predominantly taken up by gay men and I did not feel they were particularly safe or welcoming places to be out as bisexual.
Given the number of members they have (hundreds!) I hoped I was not the only bisexual and that others might appreciate a bi group, so I asked if we could put on a bi event. As Celebrate Bisexuality (Bi Visibility) Day was approaching, we settled on an event for that day.
From that event there was enough demand that we now have a monthly group. Opening Doors London host it at their AgeUKCamden headquarters building, so it isn’t costing us anything. They provide some snacks and drinks, and we can take things to share.
We’ve held 3 meetings since the Bi Visibility Day one and although numbers haven’t been huge (just as well really as the room they have allocated is not enormous) each time there has been someone or two who have never previously encountered bi groups or safe space in which to talk about their experiences of being bisexual.
As I type I am planning my trip in to London tonight for the January meeting. I have a small amount of Bi resources to give away at the meeting – will need to replenish stocks soon though. I wonder who will be there tonight?
Nickie Roome

Outside London?

London’s the only city with an ‘older bis’ group at the moment. There are older LGBT groups around the country; as with most LGBT spaces, they probably vary a bit in how bi-inclusive they are, but the only way you’ll find out is by going along and finding out.
So a quick shout out for a couple of them that have been in touch with us: Sheffield’s LGBT@50+ meet at ICONS, 52-54 West St, – more info from Julie or Mark on 0114 2536736. And Lichfield has a similarly named LGBT 50+ group meeting the first Monday of each month, info from (01543) 411413.