“What can little old me do anyway?”
I was talking to a friend about getting involved in bi activism and the bi community the other day when they said ‘what can I do anyway? I’ve got nothing to offer.’ Now in this person’s case this is obviously not true. They’ve been involved in campaigning for years, although not on bi issues; challenged a big organisation on bi inclusion; run women’s call centres and helplines and much more, but it got me thinking how many more people who are passionate and committed feel they have nothing to offer the bi community?
It seems to be a constant factor in our community that people don’t feel they are good enough or can’t do anything or have no real skills, whilst the community is crying out for people to get involved and help avoid activist burn out.
The truth is everyone has a skill and something to offer, but don’t see it in themselves. Thinking back to BiCon last year when Alison asked if I’d volunteered at all when going around handing out silver stars to volunteers (brilliant idea!) I said no, except facilitate a workshop at Bi Recon and put up some posters on the walls. I was told putting up posters counts and was useful, showing how even the smallest thing can help. I hadn’t counted this or given it a second thought, as it was just a 10 minute job I did when I was bored between Bi Recon and BiCon while waiting for friends to turn up. Something if I hadn’t done then someone else would have, but it still helped.
Our community is brimming with people who have skills and experiences from their jobs, life or other things they do outside the bi community that they can use to help within the community. One of the things that strikes me at every bi event is how diverse and colourful our community is, how we meet people from all different walks of life and with interests and hobbies I’ve never had the opportunity to chat about elsewhere.
Some of them are great people people, some are organisers or leaders, others just want to be given a small task and get it done, but at the end of the day each person has strengths they can use to help out.
Many are like my friend. A wealth of experiences and skills, but shy and undervalue the contribution they could make. Getting involved can be as simple as staffing a registration desk or pride stall for an hour, putting up posters, dropping off fliers to a local group or bar, being a friendly face to meet new people or just suggesting new ideas to others.
There’s always something to be done, whether for your local group, Bifests and BiCons, BCN or on your own and always something you can do that isn’t big or scary.
Without someone doing the run to the print shop and others stuffing envelopes BCN wouldn’t get printed and you wouldn’t be reading my ramblings. So my top activism/volunteering/ getting involved tip would always be ask what you can do to help. Don’t worry if ‘nothing’ is the answer at the time, they may be too busy with their own monkeys at the time, but it will be appreciated and you won’t know how much that little task you do can help. It’s our community and you’re part of it too.
Editor’s note: If you’re at BiCon in Worcester and want to find out more come along to the volunteering workshop!