BiMate: Meg

Issue 81

This originally appeared in BCN issue 81, Sept 2006

Take a seat and introduce yourself.
Hello, I’m Meg. I’ve been out in varying degrees as bisexual since my mid teens but more definitely so after attending my first BiCon in 1997 (after meeting Grant Denkinson who has a lot to answer for!) I didn’t go back again for a few years but my sister dragged me along in 2002 and that was the start of me getting very involved in the bi community. I’m also a psychologist and I was just beginning to become interested in researching about sexualities, so I realised that I could bring together my activist interest in bisexual rights with my academic side and I haven’t looked back.

I’ve now published a few researchy things on bisexuality including a chapter about how bi matters are neglected in psychology textbooks, and a co-written analysis of bi images in the media and BiCon surveys. I jointly set up the UK Bi Research Group which is currently growing in size and enthusiasm in a very exciting way. I write regularly for BCN in a number of guises and there is talk of writing a joint UK book on bisexuality very soon.

I also research non-monogamies and BDSM and one of my dreams is to write a self-help style book on alternative ways of doing relationships.

Which Olympic sport (current or wished for) could you represent your country in?
I was always crap at PE except for running which I enjoy hugely, but certainly not to Olympic standard. I could represent my country in some test of dancing stamina because I am invariably the first up on the dancefloor at bi events and frequently the last to leave.

What’s the best collective noun for bisexuals?
People often suggest a ‘faff’ of bisexuals but this so doesn’t apply to me because I am quite frighteningly organised. It’s the one thing that has caused me to question my sexuality quite seriously…

What’s your favourite film?
I love Woody Allen movies (the later relationshippy ones). I used to say that my ideal partner would be someone who would lie in bed with me eating curry and watching Woody Allen films. I’m also a big horror fan, but my top movie ever is probably ‘The Big Chill’. I could live in that movie and it has a stella soundtrack and a sort of polyamorous twist.

When did you know you were bisexual?
There wasn’t really one key moment for me but I think I used the word from my late teens. My first two long term relationships were with men and my third was with a woman although there was a very close relationship with a woman before that too. I don’t think I can completely escape gender dynamics in relationships because they’re made such a big deal of in our society and therefore quite woven into the woof, but recently I think that things like the gender of a partner and their physical appearance have become less and less important in my choices.

What’s your favourite sexual memory?
A first date with someone I’d known for a long time but hadn’t met: We spent a day going round Tate Modern museum and it was incredibly exciting trying to suss out whether they were interested in me and whether I was interested in them – feeling their eyes on me and trying to sneak peeks at them in mirrored sculptures. Eventually I initiated a kiss on the millenium bridge and after that there was no question. As the guy in ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ says: thunderbolt city.

What’s your favourite thing about being bi?
The community, no question. BiFests and BiCons are amongst the very happiests moments in my life. They are one of the places that I feel most at home.

What’s your favourite sex accessory?
My brain.

Who do you respect most in the world?
That’s a big one. I’ve found that meeting my heroes generally reveals them to be just as flawed human beings as I am myself (which is often quite a relief), but some writers who I have a great deal of time for are: Stephen and Martine Batchelor (who write and teach about meditation), Dossie Easton (author of The Ethical Slut), and Emmy Van Deurzen (who writes about psychotherapy). I reckon if I ever had problems they could sort me out between them (although they’d probably all encourage me to sort myself out actually and that would be the point).

What or who has inspired you the most?
The people listed above for sure. Grant Denkinson, my sister and Jen Yockney all had a massive part to play in where I am now in relation to bi stuff. Several of my close people have helped me have the courage and self-belief to keep going for my dreams.

Which historical person would you most like to meet?
Simone De Beauvoir because she was struggling with a lot of the same issues that I do 60-odd years ago, and she was bisexual and non-monogamous too.

What makes you smile?
BiCon fun and games workshops, being tickled, sitting in the rain, meeting a friendly cat, feeling like I’ve had a positive impact on a friend or student, people saying nice things to me…

What is your most unlikely-to-be-fulfilled sexual fantasy?
A few years ago I might have been able to come up with something… I guess liaisons with fictional characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer probably still count.

What should people try?
Stopping, sitting and really trying to think about what the situation might be like for the other person/people involved. If we could manage that trick then we’d really be getting somewhere.

What are you most proud or ashamed of?
Proud: How close my family are – I think I played quite a big role in that and it means so much to me. Getting through some of the darker times in my life has also been a massive, often invisible, achievement.
Ashamed: The older I get, the more I realise that the choices we make are often not unproblematically postitive or negative. Some of the things I’m proudest of have also been hurtful to people and I often wish that some kind of telephathy and/or clairvoyance on my part could have prevented that from being the case. Often we find ourselves in situations where it simply isn’t possible to avoid someone feeling pain so I’ve stopped beating myself up so much about that when it happens. However, there are certainly times when I’ve been careless with people’s feelings or gossiped or judged and I’m not proud of that. I’m still working on it. That’s why I think forgiveness is so important because none of us are perfect. The people who impress me the most are probably those who manage to forgive.

What about your life would most surprise your 16 year old self?
Given that 16 year old me wanted nothing more than to find Mr. Right, settle down in a country cottage and have a big family, I think the answer to that question has got to be absolutely everything!