Bis in Unison: 7 Years On
Six years ago I attended my first UNISON LGBT Conference and found out that the group had included bisexual people for the past year, its members voting overwhelmingly for a bisexual inclusive group at the previous year’s conference; I experienced this as an encouraging and welcoming fact.
Attending the caucus meeting at conference for people identifying as bisexual, I put my name forward for the male convenor role and was duly voted in.
I felt excited and anxious at the same time; I didn’t know much about bisexuality and wondered whether I was the right person for the job? could I faithfully represent the unions bisexual members? Could I deal with the biphobia I expected to encounter from my straight, gay and lesbian colleagues? When I look back on the past six years in the role I think I can answer yes to those questions, I certainly gave it my best shot and we, i.e. all the bisexual caucus members achieved quite a lot together – as they say in Unison ‘together we are stronger’.
I think the most frightening experience for me was giving a teaching session on bisexuality and biphobia to the union’s LGBT National Committee, a year after being voted into the position. It was the first time I drank some wine so early in the day for many years, I was really anxious but what actually happened proved I had little reason to be. All the members of the National LGBT Committee attended the training and whilst a few disagreed with some of the comments made about Stonewall (this was prior to Stonewall England becoming more bisexual friendly) the training was well received and people were respectful and seemed to ‘hear’ and digest what was being said despite bisexuality challenging the straight/gay/lesbian divide.
The most satisfying (barring the obvious) experience was getting the Unison bisexual recruitment leaflets finished which we would not have been able to produce so well had it not been for the fantastic support and feedback we got from all those beautiful people at BiCon 2007. It just would not have been the product it is without the feedback we got, and credit has to be given to the Unison backroom team who took on board what was said and duly changed the format and layout. They still will not tell me where they found those two gorgeous people who adorn the front and back of the leaflet but I don’t care, well not much anyway! I am really proud to have been involved in their production and a big thank you to everyone who contributed towards them, especially readers of BCN and BiCon attendees. It’s good to be in a union, especially one that is inclusive, modern and forward thinking. If you haven’t already, try Unison, check it out, protect you rights at work and be even more beautiful than you already are.
Find more at www.unison.org.uk – look under ‘equality’ for LGBT info