Last yearâs only LGBT History Month event focused on bisexuality was the âBiCon Taster Dayâ in Camden, London.
This year it was Manchesterâs turn to fly the flag with a two-hour long lecture presentation on bisexuality in history ranging over the last 3,000 or so years. Organised by Emily and Jen from local group BiPhoria, and presented by Alex & Laws, and with venue hire paid for by Manchester LGBT Pride, it drew around forty people – despite being the only LGBT History Month event in the city the local council excluded from their History Month publicity!
Manchesterâs bisexual eyes move next to Pride in August.
If you were offered a job with an internationally famous company, capable of drawing the best from around the world and paying accordingly, would you take it? If you knew that becoming one of this firm’s 4000 employees meant respect from your peers in other firms, and an opportunity to have your name known everywhere, simply for doing your job well, would you sign on the dotted line? And if you then found out that this company, out of those four thousand employees, claimed to have not one single homosexual member of staff…would you still say yes?
Because there are currently four thousand professional footballers in England, and not a single one of them is even the tiniest bit queer. In fairness, the clubs that comprise the Premier League do have gay, lesbian and even bisexual staff. Manchester City FC have joined the Stonewall Diversity Champions programme, which is at least a start. Manchester United do tick the âsexual orientationâ box, although you have to go digging very deep to find the document that says so. And the Football Association’s commitment to âKick Homophobia Out Of Footballâ does
exist, although it doesn’t seem to kick very hard.
This is despite â possibly because of – the effective exileÂ and subsequent suicide of the only prominent EnglishÂ footballer to have ever come out â Justin Fashanu. You mayÂ remember him on the front cover of July 1991′s Gay Times,Â or from the headlines in the Sun and the News of the WorldÂ in 1990, giving the latter the golden opportunity to run theÂ banner headline âI’M GAYâ. His own brother and GladiatorsÂ host John Fashanu leapt into print not long afterwards; notÂ to support his brother’s brave move but to condemn him asÂ an outcast. Understandably, with brickbats flying from all
sides, Justin moved to the USA and tried to make a livingÂ as a manager. But unproven allegations of sexual assault onÂ a minor led to a return to the UK, a sauna trip, and suicideÂ in a Shoreditch garage. His suicide note hoped that âtheÂ Â Jesus I love welcomes me, I will at last find peaceâ.
Has the attitude of Fashanu’s fellow professionals changedÂ since these events? Well, the Independent claims to haveÂ found out in 2006. According to their survey , 55% ofÂ players believed soccer to be a homophobic industry, andÂ only one in five claimed to have any gay friends. But theÂ rest of the survey talked about racism, a possible two-week
winter break and favoured playing formations. This doesn’tÂ sound very in-depth to me. At least BBC Five Live tried toÂ hit the mark when it sent all twenty Premier LeagueÂ managers a questionnaire about sexuality in 2005.
It’s justÂ a pity none of them found the time to answer it.
So if that’s the attitude of the FA, the teams and theÂ players, none of which is particularly enlightening, what isÂ the opinion of the fans? I was joking with some friendsÂ about this recently â all of them identifying as straight âÂ and while this is no more scientific than the Independent’sÂ poll seems to be, I found their attitudes fascinating. ThereÂ were bloke-ish jokes about specific players; some culledÂ from tabloid accusations, others from simple nameÂ association. Francisco Arce of Paraguay was wise never toÂ play in England, for example, regardless of his sexuality.Â But the general opinion was that there must be gays inÂ football â but âthere aren’t any in my team.â I had a wordÂ with one of them a few days later, knowing he was theÂ biggest football nut in the group, and asked him aboutÂ racism and homophobia on the terraces.
âUp until recently you only saw white faces in the stands.Â Black people always watched football, just not typically inÂ the stadium. There’s still a bigger percentage of blackÂ players than black fans. There’s hardly any Asian supportersÂ of any kind, even at clubs like Leicester and Birmingham,
where you get a lot of Asian cricketers coming through.Â There’s only a few Asian players in the top flight, and Â they’re all from Korea and China, not India and Pakistan. InÂ fact the Pakistani Football Federation are trying to getÂ British Pakistanis to play here and then represent PakistanÂ internationally, but it hasn’t happened.â
And what about non-straight fans on the terraces, I asked,
or isn’t that a fair question?
âWell, going to the match is a very macho thing. You booÂ the ref and call players on both sides ‘donkeys’. PeopleÂ don’t act out at the football, so it’s hard to tell. I’mÂ completely straight, and I’m reserved normally, but I getÂ loud and a bit abusive at the football. Gay cricketers andÂ rugby players might be ok â they like character in theirÂ players. So does football, but even if all you do is useÂ moisturiser or have a funny haircut, you get laughed at.â
Or, if you happen to be 2 meters tall, you get âfreakâÂ bellowed at you by both sets of fans. This happened,Â constantly, to Liverpool’s Peter Crouch most of the wayÂ through his career. His skill is undeniable, as you do not
make 26 England appearances by whistling the nationalÂ anthem. He claimed, in an interview with the Times inÂ 2006, that âthe stick doesn’t bother meâ. But it botheredÂ his father, who at one point when his son was playingÂ against Gillingham in the Championship saw him take soÂ much âstickâ that he had to leave the stands or risk hittingÂ someone.
I don’t want to suggest that football stands are full ofÂ knuckle-dragging idiots. But I feel that I must close on aÂ letter published in âLondon Todayâ on Friday 4th April. IÂ quote it as it was published.
âTo Loretta, who said her nine-year-old son got abuse on
the train for wearing his Spurs shirt: it’s a shame you feel
your son was abused but if he can’t handle team rivalry he
shouldn’t wear the strip. And if you can’t protect him, don’t
blame innocent passers-by.â
A short story by Jacqueline Applebee
This is me dancing. Youâll notice that once my heels are gone, Iâm a short stub of a woman. My ivory bra that I dangle before you, and then drop to the floor, reveals that I am flat-chested, but the rest of me is big and round, with curves and fleshy parts that follow the flow of my movements, a split second after I make them. Itâs okay to look at me now. I feel better about things.
Darren, my partner of three years, first gave me this idea. He said dancing would be a good way to get more in touch with my body, and the power it held. I remember laughing at him, at first âŚ and then I remember getting scared. The thought of my body, as being anything but full of hurt, was terrifying. Somehow, over the course of time, Iâve become brave.
Ah, I see you are following my fingers, as I flutter them lightly over my body. Iâve slowed my movements, and I undulate leisurely, still in time to the music. I know youâve seen them now; by the way your eyes widen slightly, and then shift away. Youâve seen my scars havenât you?Â No, itâs okay to look at them. They are a part of me. I have blue eyes, short brown hair, and I have scars. Did you know that Darren was the first person to ever see me naked – apart from the surgeons of course? Darren licked his tongue along the length of one of my scars, on the first morning we spent together. The previous night, he and I had humped and ground, and swore out loud, smashing together in a whirlwind of pumping limbs. We had sweated, and grunted in the dark. I always felt safe in the dark.
When the sun had risen, that very first morning, I had awoken to find him examining me. He had knelt across me â the white sheets forming a tent, as it lay over his head. The stark cotton was such a contrast to his dark, dark skin. I could say nothing, as he scrutinised my flesh. I was bare before him. I could not hide, and I had never felt so exposed.
But then he lowered himself down, and he brushed his plaited afro across my thigh – nudging my legs apart with the soft, insistent gesture. I was still too afraid to even think about what he might possibly do, and then my thoughts were interrupted as he licked me. I shuddered as his tongue travelled from the top of my longest scar, right down to my groin, in one never-ending lick. He looked up
at me, from between my open legs, and he just grinned, before he did it all over again.
As I dance before you now, I know you can see the same spot where Darren first anointed me with his mouth. It was his idea that I dance naked for you. I wasnât so keen on that, but we came to this compromise, that I hope you like. Thereâs something about a striptease that is so very sleazy and so much fun too. This is nothing like lap dancing, or pole dancing. Stripping is something else. This is me, presenting my body to you as a gift. I give myself to you â the woman who made me jittery with longing. You are the woman I was too shy to talk to at first. And now here I am, taking my clothes off, for you, to the soothing rhythm of a waltz.
I told you to sit still, whilst I performed for you, but you donât seem to understand.
âHow can I keep my hands to myself, when youâre doing this to me?â Your Edinburgh accent is full of fun. âCome here love, let me at ya!â
I spin out of your clever grasp and dance away once more, sashaying across your bedroom. Youâve seen my scars, and you havenât rejected me. You donât hate me. I lift my arms up above my head, close my eyes, and I drink in the realisation, whilst I sway in place. Darren said it would be fine, but I hadnât fully trusted his judgement. And then he said I was beautiful â that you would think so too, and his words had finally convinced me.
My final piece of fabric falls from around my neck, and I am as naked as the day I was born. My movements halt, and I am aware of what you can see. You can see my scars. Iâm done hiding them.
I find my hands suddenly trapped. You grin cruelly, as
you secure them with one of the lengths of cloth that has
fallen to the floor.
âNow I know why they call it a strip-tease. You are one tempting lady, you know that?â Your kiss makes my head spin âŚ no, wait, thatâs you. You twirl me around like a spinning top. Our giggles are girlish, though we are both grown women. I topple to your bed, and you are right behind me â now silent as you pull your clothes off, and throw them into a corner.
Did I tell you I used to be scared? Did you know I only made love in the dark, before I met Darren? The lights are on now, and you can see everything I have.
âIâve wanted you for so long, Amelia.â
Why is your voice shaking?
âI thought you only like men,â you pause for a moment.
âMen like Darren.â
I understand your meaning now. Darren is a big man – he looks like a stereotype of a big black brotha, but appearances are only part of it. You donât know about the guy. You donât know that he calls himself “Desiree” sometimes, or he likes to dress up in womenâs clothes. You donât know the trouble we have, trying to find nice dresses and sexy shoes that will fit him. And donât get me started on the make-up!
Tricky things, slogans. They can be read so many ways. So a little while ago, a big rambling thread on LiveJournal invited anyone to suggest slogans, and to offer constructive criticism and alternatives. Many thanks to everyone who joined in. Here is a somewhat condensed version of what people said.
“Love more than one gender?”
neutral: Iâd suggest âfancyâ or similar, some people under the bi umbrella may be sexually bi but romantically into fewer genders
“Like Men? Like Women? Like Both?”
+ive: People have told me it âmade them feel they were welcomeâ – bisexuality in their terms was liking men and women rather than men or women.
+ive: Itâs simple, accessible to many people.
-ive: Implication that some parts of the bi community have been trying to challenge, that bisexuality is about only liking men and women. So perhaps add a * and a footnote â…yes we know gender is more complicated than that!â
-ive: The word âlikeâ feels wrong – I like a lot of things I wouldnât want to have sex with!
“Like men? Like women? Like people?”
+ive: The language is simple and more inclusive of genderqueer / other gendered people
+ive: Avoids using ‘both’ which might back up the ‘bisexual people need a boyfriend and a girlfriend all the time’ nonsense
-ive: I read this and this and don’t immediately associate it with sexuality.
-ive:I think âlike bothâ is better inasmuch as this suggests men & women arenât people!
-ive: Too subtle. If you want to reach out to the general populace slogans need to be almost literally hitting them over the head
-ive: better kept for inside ‘bi spaces’ & less suited to outreachy stuff.
neutral: works well for the name of a project (as with the old group ComBiNE) but isn’t very catchy on its own
“2-4-6-8! We’re not gay and we’re not straight!Â 3-5-7-9! Challenging unhelpful gender binaries and being free to form romantic and sexual attachments to people based on attraction not kyriarchal concepts is really fine!”
+ive: Yes… Possibly on a t-shirt rather than a postcard! …2468 bit on the front, 3579 on the back?
+ive: A great chant for quite long marches
“Love counts more than gender”
+ive: Goes down well at Prides
-ive: I know people for whom gender does matter and they donât find love overrides it.Â Bisexuality isnât the same for all of us.
-ive: The word âgenderâ pushes it to sound a bit more academic and a bit less accessible
“Itâs more about hearts than parts”
+ive: It rhymes, itâs simple and thereâs no âmiddle classâ-ness about it
-ive: It is a bit twee and cringe-causing
-ive: For some people, it is about parts!Â Sometimes I wand a good solid bounce around the bedroom, and that is about parts really!
“Are you just attracted to people?”
+ive: I like this but in combination with bisexual or bi on the same flyer so itâs not too obscure
-ive: Might risk misunderstanding “people” to mean something other than adults!Â âLike men, like womenâ type slogans avoid that.
“Bisexual? Bicurious? Bi Friendly? – itâs not just who you sleep with”
+ive: as a monogamous person it makes it less about sex cos I don’t have sex with people who aren’t my partner but that doesn’t make me any less bisexual.
-ive: I don’t like using the expression “sleep with” to mean sex.
“Bisexual? Bicurious? Bi Friendly? “
+ive: Good to get in the allies and those who are uncertain. Also some who are more likely to attend if they arenât having to out themselves as bi-identified in the process
“You donât have to be bi to drop by”
+ive: Slogans are meant to be naff – naffer the better!
+ive: Maybe as a tag line?
“Fancy men? fancy women? fancy both?”
+ive: to me bisexuality is about sex or the possibility of sex (even if only with oneself while thinking about the other people)
+ive: Again, with the * âwe know gender is more complicatedâ footnote
-ive: Fancy has a bit of an echo of 12 year old girls saying âyou fanceeeee him!â
“Bisexual? Bi-curious? Bi-furious?”
+ive: Drew people in – they knew the first two, wondered what the third was about.
+ive: What bisexuals are when people say we donât exist
-ive: Can we have a leaflet to explain âbi-furiousâ for people?
+ive: Challenges âbis have it easierâ and âbis are apoliticalâ.Â Youâre not taking bi invisibility lying down, youâre getting angry: GRRR!
-ive: It is a neologism / in-joke kind of thing
-ive:Â Furious isnât really me. At all.
Some thoughts didnât just relate to one slogan or another: they included:
âSlogans that focus on love may be looking for that to lend legitimacy in the face of accusations of bed-hopping and libertine lifestyles.Â I think thatâs ultimately limiting and painting ourselves into a corner.Â Itâs not just about sex, and for some people it isnât at all.Â But it can be, and thatâs OK too.â
âOne thing to think of. Who are we marketing to? Love Counts More Than Gender works well in LGBT spaces, does it work as well in mainstream presumed straight spaces?â
âWhat is workable for a BiFest or a pride stall may not be suitable at a BiCon or academic event.Â Similarly slogans that sound more to do with attraction/ sexiness (like mentioning ‘parts’ or ‘fancying’) not suited to eg a Big Bi Fun Day or family event where the emphasis is moreon bisexuality as an identity not an activityâ
This yearâs Imaan conference (www.imaan.org.uk/about/about.htm) was held at the SOAS University campus in London.Â There was an estimated seventy people in attendance over the August bank holiday weekend.Â Biâs of Colour had a stall, alongside Youth Chances (www.youthchances.org) and Unison (www.unison.org.uk/out/index.asp).
As I set up the stall, a talented musician played guitar, and one of the organisers sang âPaparazziâ.Â Shortly after a few conventioneers drifted in.Â I spoke to a psychiatrist about the high levels of mental health problems that bisexuals experience.Â I handed him a summary of the Bisexual Report which he took with interest.Â He told me that it was, âLudicrous that lesbian and gay people who experience discrimination go on to treat bisexuals badly.â
Later on in the morning, I met a couple from Canada; an immigration lawyer and a singer Troy Jackson (www.enjoytroyjackson.com/the_news/) who told me about his appearances in the U.K.
The Biâs of Colour stall was visited by a woman from Safra (www.safraproject.org)Â who said she was puzzled why a book for sale on sexuality in Islam, had lesbian, gay and trans* as subjects, but there was no mention of bisexuality.Â She told me that her bisexual girlfriend had often spoken of bisexuals being made to feel invisible.
As the day progressed, more people dropped by the stall.Â I spoke to a man from Bradford who had heard about BiCon being in his city a few weeks earlier.Â I also spoke to a woman, who said that all her female bi friends had become straight when they got married to men.Â I stated that you donât stop being bi when you marry a guy.Â It is now something Iâd love to have on a t-shirt!
At lunchtime, a massive high tea was put out for the conventioneers.Â There were literally hundreds of scones, cream, jam, as well as sandwiches with some vegan options too!Â All of this food, along with the free tea, coffee and fruits that were available during the day, went down very well with everyone.
Throughout the event I noticed that when most of the organisers and volunteers addressed me, they spoke and signed to me at the same time.Â It was great that they communicated in this dual way as a matter of course.
After lunch, I spoke to a Doctor about the need for specialist sexual and mental health information for bisexual people.Â The Bisexuality Report found another welcome home!Â I noted that this report was the item that almost everyone took away with them when they visited the stall.Â It is great to know that such valuable research is being appreciated by a variety of health professionals, academics and regular readers.
I packed up the stall after the final session of the day, with a lot less items to take home with me than Iâd gone out with.Â I had a fantastic time at the Imaan Conference.Â As a bisexual of colour, Iâm aware how closely faith and ethnicity are related.Â It is important that Muslim bisexuals are not ignored or dismissed, but encouraged to participate and engage with the bi community.Â We all have something to contribute.
Bill Brent, the founder and editor in chief of Black Books, jumped from the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco and took his own life at the end of August this year.
Bill was a bisexual activist who moved easily in gay men’s circles. According to fellow publisher and writer Cecilia Tan he arose from the punk community into leather, and into pansexual publishing and activism. His colleague and friend, Thomas Roche, wrote briefly about his death on FetLife.Â In the 1990s Bill published The Black Book, which Cecilia Tan calls “the leather community ‘yellow pages’ â something completely necessary in the years before the World Wide Web.”
It was one of the first and most important pre-web guides for information about alternative sexuality and included a listing of psychotherapists who could be trusted with people’s erotic identities, where I was pleased and proud to appear.
With The Black Book he founded Black Books and the literary zine Black Sheets, which Cecilia Tan called “the ‘must read’ magazine for bisexual and sexuality activists everywhere.”
Black Sheets profoundly affected the rise of literary erotica not only in San Francisco but well beyond, particularly in the leather and queer communities. Bill later published edited and published numerous anthologies, including Best Bisexual Erotica and Literotica, and founded Perverts Put Out, a literary salon cum reading series still active in San Francisco.
Bill will be missed by his friends and acquaintances, and his death is an absolute loss for the queer publishing world and for the world of queer sexuality activism.
Welcome to Bi Media Watch! Picking up where BiWatch left off with semi-regular articles on bisexuality, bi characters and all things bisexual in the media.
This first one is a bit of a short one, mainly because most US series are on their mid season break, and UK TV is moving inexorably towards Christmas Telly. We are moving into the land of âcomedyâ jumpers, tinsel on every available surface and endless repetitions of Noddy Holder yelling âItâs CHRISTMAS!!!!â
However even amid the seasonal glitter there are a few things about that might be of interest to the bi viewer. Firstly âRevengeâ, a US show that is shown on E4 (currently available on 4OD). âRevengeâ recently caused a ripple of excitement when the character of Nolan Ross (played by Gabriel Mann) was shown to be bisexual (and referred to the Kinsey scale!). All the net chatter that Iâve seen on this has been hugely positive, from the actorâs own comments, to that on fan boards and Twitter.
There also appears to be a bi storyline happening in Coronation Street, the character of Marcus Dent who identifies as gay, appears to be attracted to Maria, following the break-up of his relationship with Sean Tully. Looking at interviews with Charlie Condou, the actor that plays Marcus, it appears that Corrie is going down the âGay man finds himself attracted to a womanâ route. Apparently having Marcus identify as bisexual would have been taking the âeasy way outâ. Not sure how I feel about that, especially as there are so few bi characters on UK TV. I suppose it depends how the storyline is developed. It looks set to run into the first quarter of next year.
Lost Girl returns for Series 3 in January, with 13 episodes shown on SyFy. The DVD of the first series is also set for a Region 2 release in February. For those that havenât heard of Lost Girl, it is a show about a bisexual succubus, Bo and her struggle to remain neutral within the world that is divided into Light and Dark Fae. She has a male Fae lover (Dyson) and a female human lover (Lauren). Unlike other shows, there are no demands for her to choose between them, and no condemnation of her bisexuality.
As a quick final thing, there was much excitement with the idea that a random exchange in Skyfall could imply that Bond was queer. Whilst being propositioned in a sinister manner by the villain of the piece, Bond says âWhat makes you think itâs my first time?â
Would you like to go to BiCon 2013 in Edinburgh? Details are here: www.bicon2013.org.uk
But what about BiCon 2014?
As yet, nobody has expressed an interest in running a BiCon in 2014, to the BiCon Decision-Making Plenary or to BiCon Continuity Ltd, who can take expressions of interest on BiCon’s behalf between now and BiCon 2013.Â If you think you might want to run a BiCon – you might be a long-time BiCon attender or quite new to the community – please email email@example.com
For more information on what’s involved, you might want to read the BiCon organisers’ guidelines (http://resources.bi.org/wiki/images/1/16/BiCon_organisers_guidelines_current_as_of_BiCon_2012.pdf – which are agreed by the BiCon-going community at BiCon DMPs), and A Manifesto For BiCon Organisers ( http://resources.bi.org/pdfs/biconmanifesto.pdf – written/contributed to by some organisers of previous BiCons).
At the big annual bi conference BiCon this summer, the Decision Making Plenary (DMP) proposed changes to the guidelines underpinning how the event is run.Â Here is the revised text.
BiCon Organisers’ Guidelines – Section B DRAFT approved at 2012 DMP; pending approval at 2013 DMP
Statement of intent
B1.Â Â Â BiCon should have an unashamedly forthright stance on the inclusion of people of all marginalised or oppressed groups. Every effort should be made to increase the accessibility and inclusivity of BiCon for all attendees; this is the case whether or not their particular marginalisation or oppression is covered by current UK or EU legislation. BiCon does not, however, endorse or support behaviour which interferes with the rights of others.
Policies and systems
B2.Â Â Â BiCon should have published policies which include anti-harassment, anti-discrimination and confidentiality. People who consistently or seriously breach these policies – for example by harassing others, for any reason, including sexually or on the grounds of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender or sexuality, or by breaching another attendee’s confidentiality – should be required to leave and may be banned from future BiCons. BiCon should have a system in place to allow people to report harassment, discrimination and other incidents anonymously.
B3. Â Â Â BiCon is for bisexuals, their friends and allies.Â Many people who are members of multiple disadvantaged groups and have intersectional identities e.g. bisexual and Christian or bisexual and Black or lesbian and disabled, experience multiple discrimination. Organisers should be aware of intersectionality and do their best to balance meeting the needs of people in different groups and combinations of groups whilst minimising further marginalisation of anyone who is already marginalised.Â Where an “either/or” decision has to be made, organisers may choose to decide on the side of the group most marginalised in BiCon spaces.
Responsibility for inclusion and diversity
B4.Â Â Â The responsibility for inclusion and accessibility for members of oppressed and marginalised groups should not be automatically delegated to people in those groups. Organisers should be encouraged to seek opinions and recommendations from people and organisations representing relevant groups without over-burdening individuals. Organisers should publish contact details for themselves. They should also publicly encourage individuals or groups to approach them for assistance with making arrangements related to marginalisation-related needs, rather than putting in place ‘one size fits all’ solutions.
Inclusivity of spaces and sessions
B5.Â Â Â Organisers should consider the inclusivity and accessibility of all parts of BiCon to people from oppressed and marginalised groups, from planning onwards. This includes session spaces, social spaces and in particular evening entertainments and the appropriateness of any themes chosen.
Restricted and safer sessions and spaces
B6.Â Â Â BiCon should facilitate, if requested, the provision of session and social spaces which are only open to a restricted group e.g. bisexual, Black and minority ethnic (BME), trans or disabled people.Â BiCon may also offer sessions restricted to specified gender(s). In accepting sessions with restrictions on who may attend, care should be taken to avoid further marginalising already marginalised groups.Â Where restrictions exist, these should be very clearly advertised.
Race, Ethnicity, Nationality
B7.Â Â Â BiCon should take a proactive approach to reduce and minimise its institutional racism and aim to become a more accessible, inclusive and welcoming place for black and minority ethnic (BME) people. Ways in which BiCon may do this include, but are not limited to: having specific race/cultural awareness policies which are communicated to all who are attending; seeking out facilitators to provide awareness and education sessions for BiCon attendees during BiCon itself; encouraging organisers to seek out and access training and education on race, ethnicity and nationality.
B8.Â Â Â BiCon should be accessible to and positively support people of all religions and faith systems, and people who have none. Organisers should recognise and challenge discriminatory language, behaviour and attitudes towards people of all religions and faith systems and towards people who have none. Organisers should bear in mind the enormous diversity of belief and expression amongst people broadly described as religious. Organisers should be aware that religious identity is often closely tied to cultural identity and that anti-religious expression can be problematic within any space that wishes to be diverse and culturally inclusive. At the same time organisers should also recognise that many people who attend BiCon have had difficult personal experiences of religions.
Gender and trans
B9. Â Â Â BiCon should be an accessible and inclusive place for people of different genders and none. BiCon should accept people’s self-identity as any gender(s) or none. Sessions with gender restrictions should be open to all people identifying themselves as belonging to the gender(s) that the session is open to, with an effort being made to ensure that those who identify as other than ‘man’ or ‘woman’ are included where appropriate rather than being excluded from all gender restricted workshops.
Where some facilities e.g. toilets, are restricted on the basis of gender, efforts should be made to provide non-gender specific facilities (for these purposes single occupancy facilities are considered to be non-gender specific facilities).Â Non-gender specific facilities should not be the only option available, where possible. Whatever is available should be clearly advertised.
B10.Â Â Â BiCon should be accessible and inclusive for people with disabilities, including those with invisible impairments. BiCon literature published before the event (including the website) should give a clear description of the accessibility of the site being used, details of adjustments BiCon can make on request, as well as details of how someone can contact BiCon with specific accessibility requests. Accommodation should be provided which is suitable for people with mobility or sensory impairments. BiCon literature should also be made available in alternative formats on request. In planning the programme, consideration should be given to the need for adequate breaks between sessions. The Equalities Fund [see B15] is available to fund additional costs of attending BiCon that may be incurred by people with disabilities (e.g. carer’s costs) and this should be publicised appropriately.
Age and young people
B11. Â Â Â BiCon should be accessible and inclusive for adults of all ages. BiCon should have a published policy relating to the attendance of unaccompanied people under the age of majority attending in their own right, or as the dependants of adult attendees.
Parents of children
B12. Â Â Â BiCon should aim to be accessible to parents of young children. Where there is not sufficient demand for, or it is not possible to provide formal child care facilities, BiCon should consider what alternatives it may be reasonable to provide instead e.g. giving a parent a reduced cost BiCon, or putting parents in touch with each other to share childcare responsibilities.
B13. Â Â Â Whilst being the UK’s national bisexual conference/convention, BiCon should be open to people of all sexualities. Hetero/homophobia should not be tolerated.
B14.Â Â Â BiCon should be accessible to people regardless of social class or socioeconomic background. The use of pejorative language about people’s class e.g. ‘common’ should be challenged in the same way as other pejorative language, as should any attempts to define people’s class or socioeconomic background.
B15.Â Â Â BiCon should be as accessible as possible to people on low incomes. Means should include a variable price scheme, an Equalities Fund and one-day tickets. These methods should all be publicised. The Equalities Fund should be used to remove or alleviate barriers that may prevent people from otherwise attending BiCon. The Equalities Fund should not be something that is usually used to enable unwaged people, with no other barriers, to attend BiCon, as the unwaged price band should account for that.
Alcohol free spaces
B16. Â Â Â There should be provision for alcohol-free social spaces during the day and evening. Where alcohol is permitted in daytime session spaces this should be clearly indicated in the programme. Daytime session spaces are usually not suitable for people who are intoxicated. People who are intoxicated, whether through alcohol or other substances may be asked to leave public BiCon spaces and are likely to be asked to be leave daytime session spaces. BiCon attendees are still required to comply with the Code of Conduct if they are intoxicated.
B17.Â Â Â All outdoor space at BiCon, with the exception of designated smokers’ areas, will be non-smoking. Smoking areas should be advertised clearly.
B18.Â Â Â Organisers should provide as much detailed information about how attendees can manage food and eating as possible. This should include details of the kitchen facilities and equipment available, if any, where food can be purchased and information about what kind of food this is.Â Where possible, the food requirements of people with differing dietary needs should be considered.
As part of the Guidelines underpinning BiCon, it publishes the minutes of its annual Decision Making Plenary session here in BCN.Â As such, here are the minutes of the BiCon 2012 Decision Making Plenary held on 12 August 2012, in Bradford. See separate article for the proposed new Section B as debated.
1. Welcome and Introduction
The Chair â Sharon, Chair’s Aide and Minute Taker – DavidÂ were introduced and attendees to the Decision Making Plenary (DMP) welcomed. Sharon outlined the interrelations between the DMP, the Guidelines, the pre-DMP session(s) and BiCon Continuity Ltd.
2. Previous Minutes
Minutes from 2011 were approved with no changes. Minutes from previous BiCons can be found here: http://resources.bi.org/wiki/index.php/Main_Page#BiCon , and also in BCN.
Vote:Â Â Â For – all
3. Proposed Future BiCons
a)Â 2013 â The 2013 BiCon team will be headed by Sam and Katie.Â It will take place in Edinburgh at the John Macintyre Conference Centre at Edinburgh University, from 18th – 21st July 2013. See www.bicon2013.org.uk for details.
b) 2014 – no team came forward, so the decision was deferred to BiCon Continuity Ltd. Expressions of interest in running BiCon 2014 should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Vote:Â Â Â For – all
4. Proposed Guideline Changes
a) All Guideline changes must be approved by two consecutive years’ DMPs.Â In 2011 the following Guideline change was approved to make guideline B3 read:
âBiCon should have published policies which include anti-harassment, anti-discrimination and confidentiality.Â People who consistently or seriously breach these policies â for example by harassing others for any reason including sexually, racially, or on the grounds of sexuality, or by breaching another attendee’s confidentiality â should be required to leave and may be banned from future BiCons.â
Vote:Â Â Â For â manyÂ Â Â Â Â Â Against â 1Â Â Â Â Â Â Abstained – 5
This Guideline change is now in effect having been approved by two consecutive DMPs. The BiCon Guidelines can be found at www.bicon.org.uk/organisers/guidelines/
b) A redraft of Section B of the BiCon Organisers’ Guidelines was presented and is attached to these minutes. Section B of the guidelines deals with accessibility and inclusion. It was proposed that BiCon should adopt this new version of Section B.
The redraft was discussed section-by-section, with changes made to some sections as they were discussed.
Section B2 – gender was added to section B2, ‘Policies and Systems’ added
Vote:Â Â Â For – 30 Â Â Â Against – 12
Section B13 – we agreed to redraft the section on sexuality in future to take explicit account of asexuality.
Section B17 – in the guideline on smoking, we added wording saying that this should be advertised clearly.
Section B18 – we added ‘and equipment’ to the section on Food.
We then voted on the guidelines overall:
Vote:Â For â manyÂ Â Â Â Â Â Against â 0Â Â Â Â Â Â Abstained – 1
Thanks to many people, and especially Natalya & Karen for work on guidelines.
This change will need to be approved at the 2013 BiCon DMP in order to take effect.
5. Reports back from previous DMPs at BiCon
a) Oxford BiFest: Alex reported to the meeting. Oxford BiFest was run on 31Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â (continued next page but one)Â << BiCon Decisionscontinued from 2 pages agoMarch 2012, and focussed on targeting people new to the bi community. ÂŁ300 was given, ÂŁ337 was taken at the event and will be used to fun next year’s event. 67 people attended, and there are plans to run it again next year. The DMP thanked Alex and the Oxford BiFest team for running the event.
b) Race training funding. Natalya reported to the meeting. The race training happened at a bi activists’ weekend in November 2011. Resources from the training are available for use at other events; contact BiCon Continuity Ltd – email@example.com . The funding was in fact not needed, as the costs were absorbed elsewhere. Responsibility for allocation the money is now with BiCon Continuity Ltd and will consult Bis Of Colour about re-allocating it.
6. Bi Companies update
Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org / http://biconcontinuity.org.uk/ .
Karen outlined business so far, and said that the company’s first AGM had been on the morning of 12 August 2012, at which the existing directors of the company had been re-elected (being Karen, Sharon, Natalya, Grant, Elizabeth, Hessie, Ian and Edward). The next job is to complete the application to become a charity.
Grant gave a short presentation to thank Karen for her hard work over several years relating to BiCon Continuity Ltd.
7. Equalities Fund
We agreed to create an ongoing group to administer the Equalities Fund, with the aim of improving consistency of allocation, reducing the burden on individual BiCon teams, and making better use of the expertise that has been built up over the years. Hessie and Natalya invited expressions of interest to BiCon Continuity Ltd – email@example.comÂ .
Vote:Â Â Â For – all
Alistair asked how much money BiCon Continuity Ltd currently had. Natalya explained that the exact sum was difficult to determine at that time, but was in the region of ÂŁ20,000, plus/minus 2012′s ÂŁ5,000. This sum is so large because BiCon 2011 negotiated 50% discount from the Leicester venue due to problems with the venue.
The chair thanked the participants and the aide/minute taker. The meeting thanked the chair.