How I accidentally started a local bi group
It had been a running joke for a few years. Every time a friend of ours came to visit (which is a few times a year) we’d go to the local pub, have a few drinks, and pretend it was a bi meetup. After a while we came up with a name for ourselves. Because we were in Winchester, the ancient capital of Wessex, we called ourselves Bi Wessex. We considered ourselves the Founder Members and we joked about committee meetings. Then one time we sprung upon the idea that we could make a Facebook group.
We went back home that night and set it up right away. We might have been a little bit drunk, or high on adrenaline, but we ended up making a logo for ourselves and a website. I think the twitter account came the next day!
Guess what happened next! Jen Yockney joined our Facebook group and asked whether we’d like it to be advertised in the next BCN as a new group. I said, “Sure, let’s do it!” and Jen advised us to get an email address so that people can contact us privately. I set up a Yahoo account and synced it to my GMail so that I could keep track of it easily.
Nothing happened for months. Then suddenly, i got an email. Somebody was interested in coming to the group. Ah. That was a bit awkward. We didn’t have regular meetings or any plans to do anything more than “exist” in a very abstract sense. But anyway, we decided to get together and discuss how we could promote the group and find local people who might be interested in coming to a regular group.
Still nothing happened for a few months, until our friend the other Founder Member came to visit again. We decided that we’d go to the pub as usual, but also put it on Facebook and Twitter. I think we called it a Card Night! That night, for the first time, we had a Bi Wessex meetup of four people! We’d also had some interest from others who couldn’t make it, so we did something very important: we scheduled the next meeting in a month’s time.
The next time I think six people came, two of whom I did not know previously. Now it was getting exciting. Some people had travelled quite a distance to be there. I suddenly felt a lot of emotions all at once. Pride that we’d started something that people wanted to come to. Humility that they were willing to travel to our little local pub to join in the meetup. Fear that they obviously wanted something from the group and I did not know what I could possibly provide. I asked the group what they wanted, and they said just a drink and a chat was fine. It didn’t have to be particularly focussed on bi matters. Just the sense of community was all they really wanted.
So together we scheduled another event. I think seven people came to the next one, including more new people. We played Uno that night and drank Pimms in the garden. Bi Wessex has never been very serious or particularly directed. We mix it up, we try different things, sometimes at different venues. We’re planning to do a Film Night in conjunction with the LGBT group at the university. We have a craft and cake event scheduled for September 23rd, Bi Visibility Day. We are hoping to have smutty stories read to us at one event. But there is really very little organising involved at all.
I’m at BiCon 2010 right now as I write this. I have a definite sense of pride that I have “done something” small though it was, it’s making a difference in Hampshire. Six Bi Wessex people are here at BiCon, one for the first time, and I feel a real sense of nurturing; a pleasure at helping people to find their way into the bi community.
Our latest running joke is that Bi Wessex is going to organise a BiFest in Hampshire. Since the last joke turned into such a positive success, all I can say is: Watch This Space!