Bis at Prides: Oldham and Scotia

This originally appeared in BCN issue 102.

A contingent of Manchester bisexuals ventured to Oldham for its sixth annual Pride festival on Saturday 31 July.  To my knowledge we were all new to it and I for one wasn’t sure what to expect, having only been to the purse-emptying behemoth of bacchanalia that is Manchester Pride.

Oldham Pride proved to be small and friendly, welcoming and cosy.  The parade was an easy stroll, but gave us ample opportunity to show off the new banner and four purple umbrellas that last year’s BiCon arranged to provide for the various regions (I thought perhaps only the northwest got the brollies, it seeming such an astoundingly appropriate and useful thing, but I was told that everybody gets them; they do certainly provide for a lot of eye-catching purple, and I’m sure they could double as parasols though, perhaps unsurprisingly, I could not test this in Oldham… at least the rain held off enough that the non-brollied banner holders didn’t get too soggy!).  There were six people marching, so with two to carry the “Bisexuals fighting for equality” banner and four with the umbrellas, it all worked out very neatly.

After the parade some of us retreated to (wo)man the BiPhoria stall.  The stalls were sensibly inside, and while this might have meant we didn’t get some of the visitors that were outside getting food, waving hello to the owl mascot of Oldham FC, or watching men in kilts dance around in circles…. yet there was never a dull moment, with people from organisations asking for information they might be able to pass along, bi-questioning people, very bi people who were delighted to finally find other bis and bi materials, and one long “I don’t get it! How can people be bi!” conversation.   Several people stopped and asked us if we’d been there before, which helped lead to the welcoming community feel of the event.

All in all, a lovely day out.  Here’s hoping we can make it back there in future years!

Pride Scotia
The day dawned far too early and with it that horrible muggy weather that promises rain. Still, it was a rather over-excited me that helped lug the banner, umbrellas and various paraphernalia across town (being thankful it was all so lightweight!). I love Pride!

After the stall was set up in the GHQ club, those of us who were going on the march left, following some grownups with rainbow flags who looked like they knew where they were going.

We got to the start of the march where cheese-tastic music was playing from the back of a converted double decker bus and people were mingling around flooding the area with colour. We soaked in the atmosphere whilst we assembled our crack team of bisexuals. After obligatory faffing with balloons, cameras, stickers and each other, we stepped out in style.

The new banner looked really good and the umbrellas came in handy as, true to Scottish weather it began to rain as we began to gain (literally!) momentum down the Royal Mile. It was wonderful to march down the mile. There was such a great acoustic from the narrow road which made us all sound very loud.

The bi group, in party spirit, decided to wave at everyone hanging out the window, with such force that few could resist our onslaught. A few of us also bolstered community relationships with a conga and some very dubious renditions of chart hits with the groups from Unison and LGBT drama company Luvvies.

The march was over disappointingly quickly (despite the blisters and heat!), and we made our way to the assembly area to listen to the concluding ceremony.

After the Rainbow Voices had sung a capella, there were some speeches and then a minute’s silence in memory of those we’ve lost to HIV/AIDS, followed by a minute’s noise to celebrate their lives and to remind the world that people with HIV/AIDS have not gone away!  All I can say is that after safely retreating to the community fair the other side of the major road, could still hear the vuvuzelas (and probably still am hearing them now!).

An excellent day, rounded off with some ill-advised karaoke, pints of strange beverages and meeting many new people with which to share such things with!

Thanks to everyone who came and made the day so special, manned the stall and carried the beautiful banner!
Tor Hamilton