For Services To The Bisexual Community

The first MBE “for services for the bisexual community” (should that be the M-Bi-E?) was presented at Buckingham Palace earlier today to Jen Yockney, recognising more than 20 years grassroots bi volunteering.

Accompanied to the Palace by fellow volunteers from other bi projects around the UK over that time, she received the honour in a carefully co-ordinated pink, purple and blue ensemble. The presentation was given by from Anne, the Princess Royal.

Mx Yockney’s work, including taking the helm here at BCN for more than a decade, includes leading BiPhoria – the UK’s longest-running bisexual group – and the @bisexualhistory project recording our collective history.

Jen led the BiCon 2000 and 2004 teams, and her vision for what would become The Bisexuality Report helped to push bisexual inclusion up the agenda of many LGBT organisations.

getting-biMore than 15,000 copies of her 2011 publication Getting Bi in a Gay / Straight World have found homes, spreading advice on coming out and staying out as bisexual. A third reprint is expected later this year.

The presentation follows her appearance in this summer’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Jen commented on the announcement at the time, “I’m delighted. When I came out aged sixteen at the height of Section 28 mania it was a very different world and much more isolating. If you had told me that twenty-eight years later anyone would be in the Honours list for doing the kind of things I’ve done – let alone that it would be me – I would have laughed the idea.”

“It’s also, I believe, the first time someone has been listed with the title Mx. As well as being a bastion of traditional privilege, the honours system has always been steeped in the gender binary: Sir this, Dame that. As a genderqueer trans woman, I’m delighted to have played a tiny part in breaking that down. When I was first coming out it was hard to even find the words for things like this.”

“The world has changed but at BiPhoria – the UK’s longest-running bisexual project – even now we have a steady stream of people seeking support and community. As long as it’s still needed I hope we’ll be there.”

The MBE, or “Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire“, is the tier of Honour three ranks below a Dame or Knight. It, along with the OBE and CBE, were created by King George V during World War I to reward services to the war effort by civilians at home and those in support positions in the armed forces. In peace time they are given for prominent national or regional roles and to people who make distinguished or notable contributions in particular areas of activity. The MBE is normally given for service or achievement in the community.