Edited by M. Christian
pub. Harrington Park Press
Ā£6.59 (Amazon), Ā£9.99 (Libertas)
Iām often quite sceptical of the distinction that lots of people make between pornography (noun, DISAPPROVING – books, magazines, films, etc. with no artistic value which describe or show sexual acts or naked people in a way that is intended to be sexually exciting but would be considered unpleasant or offensive by many people) and erotica (noun – books, pictures, etc. which produce sexual desire and pleasure).Ā As those dictionary definitions suggest, porn is something weāre supposed to disapprove of, whilst erotica is for Artās sake, which apparently makes it OK for us to get off on it.Ā Unfortunately, this division can mean thereās an awful lot of crap porn out there, which can be pretty dull because thereās nothing going on apart from badly simulated shagging; but also some pretty crap erotica too, which can use lots of long words or arty photography, but somehow forget along the way that itās actually supposed to be sexy.
However, itās fairly easy to see why the editors of Transgender Erotica: Transfigures decided to go for the āeroticaā label.Ā A collection of stories by, for and about trans people and their lovers, this book sets out to give them a voice in a realm where until now theyāve mostly appeared as a one dimensional stereotype in porn for straight men (āchicks with dicksā being as much of a clichĆ© as āhot bi babesā).Ā Fortunately, theyāve also avoided the potential pitfalls of erotica by collecting together a load of stories that are, well, very hot.Ā Thereās a massive range of experiences here, from the perspectives of people adapting their gender physically, psychologically, spiritually and imaginatively, and from the people they fuck. The latter also show quite how much those of us who take gender and sexuality for granted can learn from those whoāve had to think a hell of a lot about these things.
One of the very striking things about these stories is how intensely they convey the sensations, feelings and sheer sense of ābeing thereā of sex, with others and inside your own head.Ā Many of them explore themes of exploration and acceptance, vital for people who almost by definition arenāt comfortable in their own bodies, but again this is something that speaks to all of us, no matter what identities we use.Ā This book made me smile, laugh, cry, and yes, it did turn me on (quite a lot), but it was also just plain interesting, and thatās something you donāt see every day.Ā Itās also very full-on, and certainly contains things that might ābe considered unpleasant or offensiveā to some, but personally I think thatās all to its credit.Ā Thoroughly recommended.
Ange has just finished editing a short collection of bisexual smut (not porn or erotica), Salacious Stories for Boys and Girls.
This was on sale at BiCon Glasgow as a fundraising project towards the cost of printing fresh bi leaflets for distribution at Pride events etc.Ā Sixteen black-and-white A4 pages of rudery that is all in a good cause and so no-one can tell you off for reading.
There are some copies remaining and these are available for Ā£3 inc postage.Ā Maker cheques out to āBCNā but please mail them not to our London address, but to BCN
c/o Box 101, LGF, 105-107 Princess St, Manchester M1 6DD.
web note – address no longer valid
BiFest returns to Manchester to mark International Celebrate Bisexuality Day on 23rd September.Ā The one-day bi event will be shorter than recent BiFests since there is no official evening session.Ā Organiser Jen told BCN, āwe found at last yearās BiFest Manchester, and from looking at the others in Brighton and London, that the daytime discussion section seems to be much more in-demand than the evening.Ā As such, and since a suitable venue was proving tricky, it made more sense to concentrate on the part of the event people seemed to get the most out of.ā
This BiFest will be at the Lesbian & Gay Foundation, 105-107 Princess Street, Manchester – at the junction with Bloom Street and on the edge of the gay village- and will run from noon til the early evening.Ā To find out more see manchester.bifest.org or call 07981 577755.
Polyday goes to London
Of potential interest to many BCN readers, Polyday describes itself as āa one-day event for everyone who knows that happy and honest relationships donāt have to be monogamousā.Ā Remarkably similar to the usual format of BiFest, āPolyday will combine a day of discussions and an evening of dancing to give you a chance to meet other polyamorous people, to build the poly community and to experience its diversity.ā
The second such event, London Polyday will be on Saturday 14 October 2006, from 10:30am, with a disco in the evening from 8pm to midnight.Ā It will be at Doggett’s Coat and Badge, a large pub at the southern end of Blackfriars Bridge, London SE1 9UD. Nearest tube Blackfriars. Attendance is Ā£10 for waged people and Ā£5 for unwaged. There are no advance bookings; simply turn up and pay on the day.
Thanks to all the readers who have sent in photos of bi teeshirts, they are going online as an archive of past bi creativity and sloganeering.Ā From the BCN website homepage www.bicommunitynews.co.uk click on āBi Resourcesā to go to the archive.Ā If you have something youāve not yet submitted, and which isnāt already on the archive, please email the details (if possible attaching a photo) to firstname.lastname@example.org – if you remember when and where the teeshirt was from so much the better!
Activists go to Leicester
Rounding off our autumn diary dates, the next Bi Activists conference / away-weekend will be in Leicester on the 18th & 19th November.
It will be held in the local LGBT community centre; for details get in touch with the Bi Activist Network at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/uk-bi-activism/ or write c/o Bi Community News, BM Ribbit, London WC1N 3XX.
As most of our readers will be aware, the UK postal service has changed the structure of postal pricing.Ā To continue mailing BCN in the āC4ā envelopes we have used for the last few years would have doubled our postage costs, so we are using smaller envelopes for the forseeable future.Ā The changes also mean we can cram more in for the same price, so we will have more flexibility in terms of inserts in future (in case youād wondered why BCN has been 12 pages most issues, itās because adding one more sheet of paper would until now have taken us up a postage band!)
Speakers and delegates from the statutory and voluntary sectors were welcomed by the Department of Health Equality and Human Rights Director, Surinder Sharma. Mr Sharma said: āI am delighted to be chairing one of the sessions so I can hear first-hand both the successes and the challenges for the NHS in meeting the needs of the LGBT communityā.
The summit premiered a commissioned film on transgender peopleās experiences of general health services such as dentistry and generalĀ practice which will form the basis of a training resource on transgender health to be developed in partnership by Health First.Ā The summit also showed the Department of Healthās new web-based films for raising awareness of LGBT health issues ā Real Stories, RealĀ Lives.
Will Nutland, from the Terrence Higgins Trust, reflected that the involvement of the Department of Health and the NHS represented a āmassive political sea change in how the queer community is viewedā, he went on to say āit is essential that organizations, both voluntary and statutory, talk and listen to lgb and t people and work with them to provide services and resources that are accessible to allā.
Graham Rushbrook, Director of Health First, one of the summit sponsors, chaired a panel of the devolved nations presenting the wide range of approaches being taken to LGB and T issues across the UK. The Scottish Health Inclusion Project and the Department of Health Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Advisory Group in England were both key sponsors of the event and supporters of a developing national agenda on LGB and T health.
Delegates called for engagement in this new LGB and T health movement in the UK at all levels and an e-group has been established to take forward the networking and development across the UK. The e-group details are at
The LGBT Health Summit 2007 will be hosted by the LGF in Manchester.
I’ve been operating under a severe misconception, it seems, since my teen years. I remember making the decision at seventeen, shortly after my first love ripped my still beating heart out of my chest, that I was not going to be loves bitch. I decided that there must be a moment when one must judge which path to take – do I a) let myself fall, or b) do I refuse to develop any depth of feeling? Just as one chooses one friends, so one should be able to choose with whom one falls in love. This was my philosophy and I was sticking to it. I had been hurt and I didn’t like it. I, I decided, was going to snap out of it. I was going to fall out of love. With all the certainty of adolescence I set about my live safe in the knowledge that I would never be hurt again, that I was in complete control of my feelings.
It turns out that all of that was wrong. So determined I was that love wasn’t going to catch me unawares, that love, or something like it caught me completely unawares.
The last couple of months have been pretty hectic for me – I upped sticks and moved, lock, stock and shiny red heels to a new city and, since I got here, I’ve been quite the social butterfly. But no matter where I’ve been, who I’ve been with and what I’ve been doing, one thing has occupied my thoughts. ‘Look how much fun I’m having, even though X isn’t here’. ‘What would X think if she could see me now?’, ‘Look how much I’m not thinking about X’. ‘See how I’m moving on, without X.’
I’ve spent every waking moment thinking about how I’m not thinking about her, which suggests to me that I’m not quite as over her as I thought I was. This, it seems, is not quite the surprise to my friends as it is to me.
I used to think that love, real love, lasted forever. Now I’ve grown up a little I’m beginning to think that love can last forever, but it has to be nurtured. When left alone it will stagnate and eventually fade. If that’s true, and if what I feel for this ex of mine isn’t love, what exactly is it? It feels like love, but it’s a thing apart; love implies care, support, a sharing of the mundane as well as the fantastic. This is different. It’s selfish. It doesn’t want to care for its object, merely to possess it.
Some call it obsession, some call it puppy love, but it’s not really either of those things. It’s limerence – the crush that never went away, the unjustified depth of feeling for the one person that you can’t have, it is defined in Wikipedia thus: ‘an involuntary cognitive and emotional state characterized primarily by intrusive thinking, longing for reciprocation, and sensitivity to external events that signify uncertainty on the one hand, and hope of reciprocation on the other’. Who hasn’t at one time or another felt that way? It’ s a great human experience. Desperate to be viewed favourably in the eyes of their quarry, desperate to be noticed by them at all.
Wikipedia continues, ‘[limerence] can be experienced as intense joy or as extreme despair, depending on the perceived behavior of the “limerent object,” the person whose returned feeling is desired’.Ā How clinical.Ā How cold.Ā For a better articulation see the poetry of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, or Charlotte Bronte; ‘ Could the battle-struggle earn One kind glance from thine eye, How this withering heart would burn, The heady fight to try ‘ (from Passion). I might have said that that’s a little over the top, but to say that would be to forget what limerence is.
Having begun to understand this emotion in myself, I set out to challenge it.Ā This lust, I told myself, this fixation on someone I barely know anymore, is just plain silly and I’m not having it.Ā With my foot put firmly down, I set about banishing this girl from my thoughts. ‘Aren’t I doing well, forgetting about X’, I thought,’ look at me not thinking about her at all’. Later, ‘I’ve not thought about X all day, go team me’.
I suppose my limerent object is here to stay, and I’m going to have to stop thinking of my affection for her as a personality defect. Maybe this feeling will fade, and I suspect it will, but until then I’ll allow my self to indulge in an occasional woe is me moment.
In the bisexual community, thereās a large group of talented and creative people.Ā There are also a lot of people who would love to be able to make bi projects happen but while great at the organisational side, could use a little bit more help on making their project look as shiny as it is.
The idea behind The Bisexual Creative Network is to build a resource of creatives, (artists, photographers, graphic artists, designers, typographers, writers and editors) who are willing to give time and energy, working either collectively or as individuals, to projects that will benefit the bisexual community.
The Creative Bisexual Network currently has members skilled in the following areas: art, calligraphy, design (typographic, graphic, branding and corporate identity), photography and body painting.
Also within the collective are experienced and competent users of the following software, (on both the Mac and PC platforms): Dreamweaver, Flash, Freehand, Fireworks, Illustrator, PageMaker, PagePlus, Photoshop, Quark Xpress as well as coding for HTML and the web.
Most of us are currently based in the UK, although given the ability of people to work electronically there’s no reason why people shouldn’t be involved and work from all around the world.
If you’d be interested in joining the collective, identify as bisexual, (you don’t need to be ‘out’, outside of the collective) and have creative skills that you’re willing to give free of charge to the community, click on the link below to join. Please include a couple of lines explaining a bit about you and your skills.
To contact the collective or to request some project work from any of us, point your web browsers at:
I was excited to receive an invitation to the Mayor of Londonās reception in July to mark the beginning of London Europride. Much pondering of whether this meant that I was now a āfamous queerā ensued and I decided to venture down to city hall to see what, if anything, the mayor and others had to say to the bi community.
On arriving I was lucky enough to bump into another bi immediately: a woman who works for Rainbow Network (it was the New Rock boots that gave her away!)Ā We grabbed some drinks and sat on the rainbow cushions that had been placed around the outdoor amphitheatre next to City Hall. The place soon filled up with about 250 people drinking MorganStanleyās free wine and eating canapĆ©s. That was without counting the many tourists and others who watched the event from above the rainbow flag which was tied around the whole outside of the area.
The speeches were hosted by Ben Summerskill: the chief executive of Stonewall. He started by thanking the mayor, Ken Livingstone, for his London-based partnership register which paved the way for civil partnerships. Ben also highlighted the continued homophobia faced by many people in the UK and internationally. He mentioned the violent outbreaks in Moscow and Warsaw as well as the murder of the UK barman Jody Dobrowski.
He also spoke about the new Stonewall campaign addressing homophobic bullying in schools. They have a survey on www.speakoutonline.org.uk which they are encouraging school and FE college students to fill out confidentially. Ben told us that Stonewall come across almost daily incidents of homophobic bullying in schools and mentioned some who had committed suicide as a result. He gave the following example: ānot long ago we heard from a young girl aged 14 who had told a teacher that she was a lesbian, ever since then she has been forced to sit outside the changing rooms before and after games lessons until the ānormalā children have finished.ā
The only problem with Benās speech was that he didnāt mentioned bisexuals once, only ever using the term ālesbian and gayā. Donāt bisexuals ever have civil partnerships or experience bullying on the basis of their sexual orientation? Stonewallās website (http://www.stonewall.org.uk/) is very consistent in referring to lesbians, gay men and bisexuals. However, this unfortunately didnāt come across at the Europride event. Hopefully they will address this in future.
The next person to speak was Ken Livingstone. I was happy to note that he used the term āLGBTā throughout his address, although I was sorry that I didnāt get the chance to catch him at the end to tell him about all the bi events that have happened, and will be happening, in London (BiFests 2005 and 2006, BiCon 2003, Bi Undergrounds, and potentially an international BiCon in future).Ā Ken concluded his speech by saying āThere will always be a Mayor of London standing here representing the LGBT community because you cannot govern London without defending all its peopleā.
Following these speeches we also heard from Khi, who highlighted the minority status of black and minority ethic people within LGBT communities, and a man from MorganStanley who argued that companies like theirs should become more diverse and embrace people from LGBT communities.Ā After that my new friend and I became rather too excited as Sir Ian McKellen walked right past us to take the microphone to publicise some of the events taking place at the Europride festival.
After the speeches I grabbed that chance to talk with Katherine, the Stonewall policy and information officer. She was keen for BCN readers to contribute to their regular e-bulletins with news about bi media representations or community events. Please see their website for details.Ā (and be sure to copy your notes to the bi media group – Ed.)
Finally, thanks to all the bis from London and beyond who attended the Europride march on our behalf on 1st July. I hope you had a fantastic day. Apparently over half a million people attended altogether.Ā Hopefully thereāll be a good turnout at the other pride events later in the summer too.
Earlier in the summer, Birmingham Bi Women had boycotted their Pride event on account of spiralling commercialism since the Birmingham Gay Business Partnership had taken over: as well as paying to get into the festival area, attendees were to be prevented from taking any food or drink onto the site to maximise profit for the traders who had been sold the chance to sell to those taking part in the event.
As bags and pockets were to be searched for ābanned itemsā even if you werenāt bringing in a contraband bottle of tap water you might not feel too welcome: do you really want to explain to an event bouncer what those tablets are and why you need to have them with you in front of a long line of strangers?
In mid-August, Cambridge Pride had a bi stall too for the first time in a few years.Ā Sadly, this was just as we were going to press so no photos yet!
Brighton Summer Pride saw Brighton Bothways bi group out in force and wielding fences.Ā As well as appearing on the parade they ran a community stall with balloons in the colours of the bi flag (pink, purple and blue), assorted BCN backnumbers, some of the old ābispotting flyersā from BiCon 2004 re-stickered to offer more up to date information, flyers for their group and a bi picnic the next week, copies of Both Directions, and lollipops.Ā Thatād be āwell-stockedā then!
Manchester Pride is just days away as we go to print – see inset box for some of their plans.Ā So far as weāre aware at BCN thatāll be the last Pride event of the season to have a bi presence; weād love you to tell us weāre wrong though!
Like Birmingham, Manchester is heading perhaps too far into the commercial view of what a Pride festival is there for in the popular imagination.Ā On top of the now-long-running ābuy a Ā£15 wristbandā entry requirement, and charging for floats on the parade, Manchester has a new twist: charging anyone who wants to join the parade at all.Ā This is on a flat āper organisation representedā basis, at Ā£50 a time, so if you are part of a large group that might be a pound a head, but for small struggling groups who really gain from the potential visibility and collective cameraderie of taking part in a march, that might be Ā£17 each for the three people who are able to join in.
Andrew Stokes, Chair of Manchester Pride felt enough pressure from the community to make a statement in July defending the decision on the grounds that you could have as many people as you wanted representing your organisation for the Ā£50 fee, rather missing the point that it is the smaller groups that will be really hit by this.
Yes, what do you do when youāre lucky enough to have an older and wiser Got-The-T-Shirt best friend: a friend who, for the past few years, has been on hand at every turn to assure you that sexuality can be fluid and that who you are is OK, to rescue your battered sense of self-worth, and to listen patiently as you bend his ear about successive hopeless crushes?Ā Why, you fall hopelessly in love with him of course.Ā Terminally laid-back, he treats my blatant come-ons with the seriousness they deserve: i.e. absolutely none.Ā But donāt get me wrong, heās sympathetic.Ā After all, he knows these feelings of hopeless fixation well and he feels them exactly the sameā¦. about someone else.
So, sodding that one for a game of soldiers temporarily, I jettison Suze, switch off the stereo and stretch right the way across my single bed, reminding myself of how lucky I am that I can fidget and scratch and scrunch up the duvet without annoying anyone beside me. Then I fall asleep.Ā The next thing I know, Iām in a recreation ground identical to one near my childhood home.Ā Female Heroine and Repressed Teenage Crush Numero Uno, is there with me, for some reason ā her equally delectable husband and cute Monsoon Baby-clad toddler in tow.Ā I presume Iāve been so nervous about the prospect of this outing that I havenāt eaten all day because Iām starving and my senses are failing me.Ā Mrs. Heroine expresses concern for my health and insists I go home and eat something.Ā Iām reluctant: knowing what an epic procedure it has been to arrange to see her, and how long itāll be until I next do so, I donāt want to cut us short, but I see the sense in what sheās saying.Ā Besides which, Iām crap at arguing with her, and perish the thought that I should look too reluctant to leave her and reveal myself as the pathetic infatuated little creature that I am.Ā In short, I do as she suggests.Ā After I finish eating, I want to phone her, to find out where she is, maybe re-join her or at least arrange another meeting.Ā But the carpet of my vocabulary has been unceremoniously tugged from beneath my feet and I donāt know what to say.Ā I try writing a letter, before it cleverly occurs to me that itāll be days before it reaches her and Iām not prepared to wait that long.Ā As a last resort I try to squeeze the contents of the letter into a text message but I canāt seem to manage it: thereās just too much to say and – as the lady herself would attest – brevity aināt my forte.Ā Then I wake up from my nightmare, bewildered, dishevelled and sweating.
Across the county-border, the most cynical and avant-garde of my old school friends (the one we all thought destined for Professorship at St Martinās College of Art) and her 30something boyfriend are probably up and about in their shared Fiat Punto, touring the estate agents of Oxfordshire for a flat close to where sheās just bagged her first primary school teaching job.Ā And here I am: newly graduated, unemployed, in my single bed, in my parentsā house.Ā At risk of sounding like a million-and-one boring āBoo-hoo, all my smug responsible-adult friends are outgrowing meā weekend columnists, the thought hits me like a rake Iāve just stepped on.Ā My friends are discussing houses and teaching children, Iām lying in my parentsā house preoccupied by silly, useless fixations, like some silly, useless teenager.
I lay there with the quilt pulled to my ears for a while, too numb to get up.Ā After half an hour, spurred on by the insistent internal mantra āitās just a dreamā I manage.Ā On my shelf from the night before, is the Suzanne Vega CD Mister Older and Wiser gave me.Ā I file it away and switch on my laptop.Ā The obnoxious āpiiingā sound of MSN Messenger alerts me to the fact that Mister Older and Wiser has just signed in. I allow myself a little chuckle: his use of instant-messaging software is generally a reliable indication that heās at work.Ā Downstairs, meanwhile the letterbox clangs ā the Amazon package on the mat heralds the arrival of the aforementioned Regina Spektor CD. I rip it open and catch a glimpse of her colour photo in the sleeve notes: dark as opposed to Mariella-Frostrup-blonde, not my usual draw-factor for a woman, but beautiful looking ā and dual-heritage too: something we have in common. (Oh for heavenās sake!).Ā Reginaās voice has a bohemian quality to it, blended with a quiet sincerity that reels you in.Ā Track one, Fidelity, appears to be about a woman upset at never been able to commit to her lovers, and unable to escape reminders of the fact: āI hear in my mind all these voicesā¦I hear in my mind all these wordsā¦I hear in my mind all this musicā¦.and it breaks my heartā she trills:Ā Sort of the opposite of my problem but somehow terribly applicable all the same.Ā I am a life inmate in HMP Ridiculous Infatuation, and everything I see and hear leads me back to my follies.Ā God bless her, bisexual blues siren Billie Holliday mustāve known what she was talking about when she covered āThese Foolish Things Remind Me Of Youā.Ā During one particularly frustrating period of my life I even wrote my own personal version of said classic ā if you ever persuade me to perform it, you can probably persuade me to marry you – or civil partnership you, if youāre female and insist on calling it that.
Of course, however much it hurts to hear lyrics that serve as poignant reminders of your own hopelessness, you can at least take comfort in the cultural enrichment youāre getting out of sitting at home listening to the likes of Billie Holliday and Regina Spektor.Ā Itās probably safer for you than going out, where you risk having to leave a clothes shop because itās blaring out some vapid slice of chart pop that your beloved once coyly admitted to buying.Ā And I donāt know who Marlene in Suzanne Vegaās song is supposed to represent, but its chorus sticks in the mind: āMarlene watches from the wall: her mocking smile says it all, as she records the rise and fall of every man whoās been hereā¦ But the only soldier now is meā¦ā
Indeed. Of every man and woman. And, for what itās worth, I soldier on.
<a href=”http://bicommunitynews.co.uk/category/bcn-81-sep-2006/”><img class=”size-full wp-image-509″ title=”bcn81″ alt=”Issue 81″ src=”http://bicommunitynews.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/bcn81.jpg” width=”140″ height=”200″ /></a> This originally appeared in BCN issue 81, Sept 2006
Our warm congratulations and thanks for all they do for the movement to award-winning activists, David, Meg, Camel and Alison (pictured in print edition from left in that order, with awards compere Ian).Ā Over the coming months we hope to feature them as BiMates in BCN.
The previous round of Cake Awards had been given at Leicester BiCon in 2002.Ā There are plenty more deserving people in the community, so no doubt the awards will be back again in a few years.