Making a proper hash of it

BCN 125 cover

This originally appeared in BCN issue 125, June 2014

A debate has opened up amongst some bi activists and organisations online about how best to hashtag Bi Visibility Day – September 23rd – on twitter this year.

It may seem a bit navel-gazing a question, but I think how we hashtag it has an important impact on how the ‘official’ name branding is perceived. In turn, what happens on the date, and who engages with it and how will be affected. And a shared tag worldwide would get more momentum and attention – it is “good for SEO”.

Some of the suggestions bouncing around are:

  • #biprideday
  • #bivisibilityday
  • #internationalcelebratebisexualityday
  • #celebratebisexualityday
  • #internationalcelebratebisexualityday

– the latter is the historically accurate name. It sums up well what we want to do, promoting and celebrating the work of the (organised) bi community.

Unfortunately, it’s about a third of a tweet in itself – as well as being an unwieldy name for dropping into conversation. Do a speech or radio interview where you need to mention what the date is called ten times and you will soon learn to hate such a bold selection of multisyllabic words.

#celebratebisexualityday has the same qualities but dropping the ‘international’ feels like a step back where all about us LGBT campaigns and campaigners seem to be broadening their gaze.

There seem to be two main contenders for alternative directions to go in.

#BiPrideDay (and related, #BiPride) takes the existing common notion of gay or LGBT Pride, so is easy to understand. The downsides for me are first that for people who want to organise and bring bis together, it suggests quite a specific set of things to do. Pride is associated with a moderately narrow range of festival models these days. #BiPride feels good for bi visibility raising over the general LGBT Pride season, but lacks a focus on September 23rd. It’s a bit like tagging IDAHO(BIT) as #lgbtPride.

#BiVisibilityDay names one of our biggest challenges as people and as a community and its solution in the name. By not being ‘Pride’ it opens up more space around ways people – bi or ally – might mark the date and seek to advance bisexual visibility, of people or of community. Only bis can have bi pride, but allies of bis can help raise the bi profile. On the downside it lack the familiarity of a “Pride” branding – but then IDAHO(BIT) and TDOR – Trans Day of Remembrance – have that same issue and have still achieved decent levels of ‘brand recognition’ over time.

The blurring between those two is #BiDay. That’s a lot shorter than #BiVisibilityDay, it’s about bisexuals and it’s on a specific day. In the spirit of Bisexual Index’s work to define bisexuality in as few words as possible so that there aren’t stray words in there excluding people, I think that #BiDay probably does the job of summarising September 23rd best.

Yet because it already has some currency, #BiPride wins in terms of the short-term, perhaps tactical as opposed to strategic, way to go.

What do you think?
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