BiMate: Jen Yockney

This originally appeared in BCN issue 62.

Jen was one of the winners of the Cake Awards at BiCon 2002.

Take a seat and introduce yourself.
In the 1990s, Jen Yockney overheard a critic describe her as “leader of the bisexual liberation army”. It only encouraged her.

She came out aged 16 but it took until she was 21 to actually find some other bisexuals. In which time, she got very wound up by the peer pressure to be gay rather than bi in the lesbian and gay communities and decided rather than changing the world to just make a bisexual one instead. In due course she built the UK’s first youth work project focused on the needs of young bisexuals, created the BabyBiCon youth gathering, grew a thriving adult bi group in Manchester, organised the sixth international BiCon and has done an assortment of other stuff along those lines.

She likes stripey tights, having her head scratched and red things.

Which Olympic sport (current or wished for) could you represent your country in?
The “having your head scratched” marathon. I can sit there and enjoy it for ages and ages – well until I run out of saliva to drool with at least.

What’s the best collective noun for bisexuals?
Collective noun? Damn I wish they’d taught grammar in my school. (considers the term) Ah. Given how hard it was to find any other bis in the first place, I’ll go for an obscurity of bisexuals.

What’s your favourite film?
But I’m A Cheerleader. Everything, the gorgeous cast, the camp edge to it all, the vicious ridicule of homophobia, the songs, the colour scheme…

When did you know you were bisexual?

I knew when I was eleven, but I didn’t have a word to explain it til I was sixteen. Whereupon I came out to the whole of the sixth form en masse – which at least saved me from there being any rumours and gossip about whether I was queer, on account of having told everyone.

What’s your favourite sexual memory?
If I said it involved having my head scratched by several people at once you’d look at me funny, so I’m going to pretend to be too prim and proper to answer such a lewd question.

What’s your favourite thing about being bi?
I can never make my mind up about that.

What’s your favourite sex accessory?
What, you can get accessories now? You must show me…

Who do you respect most in the world?
You know, I’ve never really thought about that. Donnachadh McCarthy, I suppose, from what I know of him.

What or who has inspired you the most?

Oooh, a toughie. In the bi community, a close contest between Marcus Morgan and Gina Roberts, though I think Gina wins. More generally I suppose Section 28 becoming law was what first kicked me off into the whole activist sort of mind set. It was when I was doing my GCSE’s and before I came out, but having newspaper cuttings about it all over my bedroom walls must have been a dead giveaway.

Which historical person would you most like to meet?
Myself, pretty much any age more than a week ago, to hand over some notes of the winning lottery numbers between then and now. And a warning about the two occasions I wish I’d had my anti virus software more up to date.

What makes you smile?
A game of “I love you honey…” usually works.

What is your most unlikely-to-be-fulfilled sexual fantasy?
What, you think someone who has had their head scratched by two people at once could have any sexual fantasies that were unlikely to be fulfilled? I mean, what more could one want?

What should people try?

Scratching other people’s heads. It’s kind of karmic, someone will scratch yours soon after, and there’s nothing more delicious than having your head scratched. Almost nothing.

What are you most proud or ashamed of?

I’ll pick proud: Making the bisexual youth group happen. Sure it crashed and burned in the end, all projects do sooner or later. But I know so many people now whose lives it touched, and I know how much difference it might have made to me as a kid if it had been there then.

What about your life would most surprise your 16 year old self?

From the perspective of where I am now it would be something like how casually out and open I am about who I am. From the point of view of geeky teenage me, though, it would probably be something like having totally sold out and got a PC rather than something contrary and obscure that I’d have to write all my own software in order to use.

That or being such a goddamn hippy.


Jen was dead easy for BCN to track down on account of being the editor. But she won an award, so we had to do her.