News from a Pride abroad
Catherine sent us in photos from Belgium Pride – 50 000 people attended in total, including Belgium’s gay Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, who was posing with pride-goers for selfies.
Itâs still a very political festival: asylum seeker groups formed one of the first sections of the parade. Amnesty International were very visible with banners highlighting anti-LGBT laws in other European countries.
The day had a big party feel to it, and many of the bars and shops flew rainbow banners in solidarity.
Many announcements were in English as well as Dutch and French: pop over and give it a whirl next year?
Staying at BiCon? Timeâs Running Out!
Bookings for this yearâs BiCon – to be held just outside Leeds – are now open. However if you want to stay onsite you need to make sure you get your booking in by May 31st.
BiCon is a weekend-long gathering for bisexual people, their friends, partners and others with a supportive interest in bisexuality.
If you want to come along for the whole event and to stay in the on-site accommodation, you must book in advance. But if youâre only a short journey away or want to stay locally offsite, then youâre welcome to just turn up. You can buy non-residential passes or day passes at any time including at BiCon itself. Day tickets cover all the activities in a particular day including the evening entertainments.
Book here: www.bicon2014.org.uk
The Access Report
Thinking of going to this yearâs BiCon but concerned about wheelchair or other accessibility issues?
The organising team have just published a 12-page report telling you all you need to know about the venue and onsite accommodation, from getting there to getting around the site if you have visual, balance or mobility impairments.
Itâs online as a pdf document here:www.bicon2014.org.uk/?p=184
Appeal: Equalities Fund Running Low!
In April the BiCon team announced that the Equalities Fund is running out of, well, funds. They need further donations to continue helping people access BiCon who otherwise would not be able to take part.
If you would like to donate to the Equalities fund you can do this when you make your BiCon booking, or by contacting the team directly at info@BiCon2014.org.uk
Make BiConâs Day
Is there a session that you have always fancied running at BiCon? If so, please contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org with your idea.
BiCon isn’t BiCon without your sessions, and all are welcome (as long as they don’t break the Code of Conduct). Please don’t assume that just because person(s) X has always done a certain session, it means that they always will. If you fancy doing a session,it is always worth emailing the team. It may well be that you have a brand new idea, or a twist on an old favourite. And if you do offer an identical session to one that we have already, there is always the opportunity to co-facilitate.
The organising team can’t wait to hear your ideas!
Last Autumn BCNâs letters page highlighted the challenges faced by bi people on many dating websites, which insist on users picking exclusively male or female as the gender of partner they are looking for.
This has since been picked up by other sections of the LGBT media and one of the sites involved, Match.com, has announced a new policy â that bisexual users will no longer have to pay double if they want to be found by both male and female prospective partners. Bis will just have to contact customer services and have a second profile set up for free.
I think itâs a messy bodge to try and fix the problem.
While itâs welcome that bi users of the Match dating website will no longer be paying double, they will be expected to maintain two user profiles and flick between them. Better to let users identify as gay, bi or straight and search on potential partners based on that attribute too â so bisexual singles donât find themselves on dates with biphobes, and they donât have to come out part way through the dating process â quite possibly when confronted with their âsecretâ other profile.
It all highlights how Matchâs model fails genderqueer and intersex users too, with its quaint binary dating model.
The call to âjustâ contact customer services and come out to them in order to have a second profile set up is a weird extra bar to participation for bi people.
I’d like to say a big thank you to all the bi groups that have publicised our LGBTQ+ singing group in central London. A big special thanks to John from Bi Meet-up who has kindly promoted our singing group and also Nickie from over 50’s Bi group for being very supportive. We now have a friendly group of inclusive LGBT people, including bi and bi-positive people, who come and sing at Westminster Quakers after the Quaker Lesbian & Gay Fellowship in central London on the second Saturday of each month.
We usually sing fun, easy uplifting tunes for about an hour and 20mins, then have tea and biccies and chat, leaving time for people going on to clubs or pubs to do that or stay and socialise with the group. There’s no need to read music or think you can sing. It’s not competitive and we’ve no plans to perform. It’s simply a Bi positive space that is also truly LGBTQ+ friendly, to come and sing in a wonderful friendly environment, and all are very welcome. We’ve now set up a meetup group ourselves (thanks to John), and it is www.meetup.com/ManyvoicesLGBT/ Next dates until the summer are 12th April, 10th May and 14th June. 7.30pm til 9pm, Westminster Quaker Meeting House. ÂŁ8 on door. Webpage www.many-voices.co.uk
All warmly welcomed! See you there,
Gaynor & Tati, Many Voices, London
In 2004 the annual bi gathering BiCon began a new tradition of an annual attendeesâ survey, after it was realised how little organisers and the wider community really knew about who attends the event and how they compare to the average âbi in the streetâ.
The findings of the 2004 survey were released in a detailed report, and every year since bar 2012 the survey has been conducted again, initially by BiBlio and later by successor group BiUK. However the findings for 2005 – 2011 have yet to be published.
The 2013 survey was organised by BiPhoria instead and the outcomes have just been published, with the 2004 figures for comparison. As with the 2004 survey it reflects responses of about 30% of people attending, so there may be some bias for example as to what kind of person fills in a survey and remembers to return it.
However, it suggests BiConâs attendee base has aged a little, with fewer under 25âs than ten years ago. On the other hand, efforts to encourage wider attendance through things like the Equality Fund have had a positive effect – thereâs a significant improvement in the number of people on low incomes or no income attending.
The survey has evolved over time and the 2013 one included some questions about what LGBT related magazines people read – BCN being a winner with BiCon goers is perhaps not a surprise – and what social websites people use ever and frequently (for the difference – consider how many people still have a MySpace account they have probably forgotten the password to!)
The web and magazine information might be particularly useful for people trying to reach bis to publicise events, local groups or to find participants to help with research.
You can download the full report from BiPhoriaâs website www.biphoria.org.uk – and if youâre going, please do remember to fill in and return your BiCon survey this summer!
âBeyond Babies & Breast Cancer â Expanding our understanding of womenâs health needsâ is a new report for all those interested in health service provision for bi and lesbian women, published by Manchester-based Lesbian & Gay Foundation.
A bit like the Bisexuality Report, this isnât new research. Itâs a large-scale research review of over seventy pieces of research from Britain and across the globe, with a lot of figures from places like the USA and Scandanavia where there isnât appropriate research from the UK yet.
It reviews the evidence on a wide range of health issues. There are the more perhaps predictable things to talk about as queer peopleâs health issues – alcohol, smoking and drugs, sexual health and mental health. It also explores issues like coronary heart disease, ageing and end of life care, domestic violence and abuse, fertility, pregnancy and parenting
It brings together evidence from many different sources including large-scale general population studies, smaller scale community studies and qualitative research to paint a vivid picture of the health needs of lesbian and bisexual women and of their experiences of accessing health care.
Pleasingly, it frequently separates out bisexual and lesbian experience â sometimes highlighting some stark differences. The health needs of bisexual women are sometimes doubly hidden, subsumed within information on âwomenâs healthâ and information on the health needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities in general. Indeed this is a general problem with information about bi life which is just starting to be addressed by researchers.
Looking at some of the differences you canât help feeling the best advice to someone questioning their orientation would be âdonât be biâ – as some of the statistics shown in the graphs here reflect, while individual experiences vary widely taken collectively bi womenâs experience can be worse than that of either gay or straight women.
If you would like a paper copy of the report, email email@example.com or call 0845 330 3030. Alternatively download it as a pdf from www.lgf.org.uk/women
May 17th, as many readers will be familiar, has been marked for a decade as IDAHO, the International Day Against Homophobia. The day was conceived in 2004 and a year of planning and organising culminated in the first IDAHO in 2005.
The date was chosen to commemorate the decision to remove homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization on May 17th 1990. It focuses on human rights violations around the world and LGBT equal rights work.
The name has slowly crept to be more inclusive, and in 2009 became the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia. Not surprisingly, bi activists have pressed for this to include our part of the LGBT umbrella too, and there is something of a ‘war of attrition’ online as it starts to become known as the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia & Transphobia, or IDAHOBIT rather than IDAHO for short.
This year, we know there will be bi speakers at IDAHOBIT vigils in Manchester and Brighton – we’d love to know of anywhere else this happens too. Send us in photos!
On twitter look for #IDAHOBIT2014
Big Bi Fun Day is a one-day (technically, one afternoon) event where weâve organised a space for bisexuals and allies to meet up, relax and socialise with other bisexuals and allies. It will be held in a family friendly venue and we hope that bisexuals from all over the UK (and anywhere else) will take this opportunity to come along and meet people from different regions, catch up with friends and have a fun day out.
It is not a small BiCon. There will be no scheduled workshops and it is not an overnight event.
It is not a BiFest. This event is not intended to be an introduction to bisexuality. However, new people are welcome to come along.
Children and families are welcome (in fact, itâs one of the reasons this event was set up!). The venue is fenced and gated with a double lock gate (inside and outside), doesnât open out onto a main road, has sufficient space for children to play in, and, doesnât serve alcohol so there are no restrictions on age.
It will be held in Leicester at the Friends Meeting House, 16 Queens Road, Leicester E2 1WP on Saturday 17th May 2014, 1pm to 5pm.
You can read more online at www.bigbifun.tk and let us know youâre coming on facebook here: www.facebook.com/events/636005493114865/Please email us directly on firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions e.g. regarding physical access to and within the venue.
April saw two pop singers trading places between our lists of straight stars and bi icons.
Deborah Harry, who I think of as âher what sung French Kissing in the USAâ and people a smidge older than me think of as âher from Blondieâ has a new album to promote and used the opportunity to talk about having had relationships with women as well as men.
Deborah told the Daily Mail that her longer relationships have all been with men but there were women in the mix too; âI donât know if I have any specific requirements,â she said. âJust somebody nice, who has a good sense of humour and loves to have sex. What more could you ask for?â
Meanwhile Jessie J, who came out as bisexual in 2011, took to Twitter to declare herself âstraight nowâ. She drops the dreaded âphaseâ word in there, and dismisses things as being part of growing up and figuring herself out, but doesnât deny anything having been true at the time.
“For me, it was a phase,” she told The Mirror. “But I’m not saying bisexuality is a phase for everybody.
Some of her twitter followers found all this a bit much to understand so she spelled it out as simply as she could: ‘I fancy/date/love men and only men.’
It may be Jessieâs earlier professed love of women was a media stunt. Iâm not persuaded thatâs the case. If we take her story at face value, this is someone finding their sexual orientation changes over time and feeling they need to be honest about that. That seems to be the case for quite a lot of people, and more people in the public eye being able to say âthis is true for me now, that doesnât mean what was true for me then was any less trueâ feels like a positive step.
Laura Kay in the Guardian declared Jessie’s manner of ‘coming in’ a terrible thing: “Jessie J stating that her bisexuality was just a phase feels like such a loss for young gay or questioning people who look up to her.”
âGay or questioningâ? The use of the word phase in Jessie’s initial declaration, especially as it was tweeted round the world without the follow-on sentence, got me grouchy too, though when fitted into context rather than the briefness of a tweet it made more sense. But when we’re talking about a (formerly) bi identified person could we keep the focus on bisexuality – and it being a real thing rather than “questioning” – for a whole sentence?