This Spring’s UK bi activist gathering in Manchester was combined with an academics mini-conference. There will be a report on the academics gathering in the next issue of BCN.
The activism conference kicked off with a report from the BPS conference (see last BCN).
The British Psychological Society are setting up a register of gay-friendly therapists and it is hoped that as a result of the discussion at their conference this will also note the bi- and trans- awareness of the worker in question, since being aware of L/G issues does not imply appropriately supportive attitudes toward the others.
A good part of the weekend was spent looking at the BCN guide booklet Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Bisexuality In The UK But Didn’t Know Who To Ask. Along with having a title that trips off the tongue easily, this also suffers from now being quite painfully out of date, celebrating the mid 90’s decision to change the name of London Pride to include bi and trans people, and skipping over most things that have happened since. An almost complete rewrite is needed, so sections for a new edition were agreed and ten or so people each took on writing one section. The revised edition should be ready in time for BiCon.
We also considered the old “purple and green” leaflet produced by BCN in the mid 90’s which gave basic information about the UK bi community – groups, phonelines, BCN, BiCon – and which might be revamped for awareness raising. A small group are aiming to take this forward.
There not being any current bi youth groups around the UK, we considered how LG youth groups could be more bi-friendly, in particular where they are heavily lesbian & gay dominated so awareness workshops could backfire in making a solitary bi participant feel less welcome and more alienated.
This flows over into issues for student LGBT groups as well; while this year’s NUS bi officers have not been helpful or communicative there will be a changeover in the summer and we should seek to work with whoever takes office ready for the student freshers fair season in September, which is an excellent outreach and awareness raising opportunity.
Bi Rapid Response Unit
The Bi Media group has now been up and running for a year and undoubtedly could be doing more than it does – at present it is a reactive group mostly writing for BCN. There are opportunities to get pro-bi messages into print through spaces like the BBC’s Have Your Say web pages and sometimes even the letters and texts pages of unfriendly publications.
The group needs more people to draw attention to bi items in the media, as most journalists still substitute gay / lesbian for bisexual regardless of the story and so finding bi stories takes more than a simple media-cuttings search for the ‘b’ word.
On The Phone
One important yet simple piece of work would be outreach to the various LG(BT) phone helplines. We know that they vary in how they react to bisexual callers, but we largely fail to engage with them to improve matters or make sure they have information about bisexuality and the bi community to give to callers. The Bi Media group will be taking this one up; get in touch with them if you’d like to help.
Finally, the Bi History Project’s online record of the UK bi movement has been established as a ‘wiki page’. This is a kind of web page that readers can add to and amend, so they would welcome your contributions to the archive. See http://www.ukbi.info/pmwiki/pmwiki.php and if you’ve never used a wiki before, play in the ‘sandpit’ first while you get the hang of it all.
We also had reports from the BiCon and London BiFest teams about their progress, discussion of a potential rescue bid for the ailing EuroBiCon 2005, and the latest situations of projects such as bi.org and the online bi diary system.