Bi speech at Leeds Pride

Veteran bisexual activist Jen Yockney spoke as the LGBT Community Speaker on the main stage at Leeds Pride this weekend.

She said:

“Hello Leeds!  Are you having a good Pride?

​”​My first Pride was in London in 1993, and in those days it was called Lesbian and Gay Pride. I thought: I’m not a lesbian, I’m not gay, I’m bisexual and genderqueer, am I wanted and included in this?  I went along and hoped bisexual would be “gay enough”. I didn’t know it back then but Pride was invented by a bisexual woman, Brenda Howard, so if you’re still in any doubt about the bisexuals being here – at this party, we’re definitely on the guest list.

​”​I’m delighted to be here on behalf of Leeds Bi Group, which celebrates its first birthday this month having been formed at the national bisexual festival BiCon a year ago.  If you’re bi and in or around Leeds join us at Mesmac, 7pm the second Wednesday of every month.  They say bisexuals want to have their cake and eat it, which is a strange slur, but if you want to bring us cake we’re good with that.

“​Pride can be an exhilarating event, and I remember the tears I cried at my first one just being surrounded by so many other queer people for the first time.  But it’s just one day.

​”The rest of the year there are groups all across the country like Leeds Bi Group making a space where it’s OK to be bisexual – in a world that still wants us to fit a simple box of gay or straight.

“And we sadly need it. Half of gay and lesbian people think they can’t be out about their sexuality at work.  Bi women are only half as likely as lesbians to feel they can be out at work.  For Bi men that falls to just one in eight.

“We may have nearly-equal marriage but in mental health, in experience of violence and more, we have so much still to do. Bisexual, transgender, lesbian or gay, we still die younger than our heterosexual cisgender friends, and that has to change.

​”But that’s the fight for tomorrow and the rest of the year. Be proud and have a wonderful Pride today.”