That was 2018
So, 2018 has been and gone. Here are our bi-lights of the year past.
Seen On Screen
We had more bis on TV than ever including shows with bisexual leads The Bi Life, Sally4Ever and The Bisexual, as well as bis in shows like Riverdale, The Good Place, Jeremy Thorpe drama A Very English Scandal, bi poly life in the 1940s with Professor Marston & The Wonder Women, and the Freddie Mercury film Bohemian Rhapsody.
Research showed bisexuals are far more closeted than gay and lesbian people – and more likely to experience violence and abuse. So much for the ‘best of both worlds’. The BiReCon (bisexuality research conference) events that have happened each even-numbered year since 2008 took a break but there was a day-long event in a similar vein in Manchester.
The government published the findings of the biggest LGBT survey ever conducted in the UK – and pulled out the bi findings where they were interesting, and often sadly reflected how bi people face additional challenges compared to gay and straight people. Among the resulting work programme they promised to ban ‘conversion therapy’ – the discredited practice of trying to persuade people into being straight or gay rather than gay or bi.
Political life in the UK is in a bit of turmoil, but in some parts of the union more than others. While the Conservative-DUP not-a-coalition struggles on in Westminster, and the Sinn Fein-DUP deadlock sees nothing happening in Stormont, there’s a working coalition in Cardiff Bay, and a minority government in Holyrood similarly getting on with its own agenda.
And so Scotland and Wales both announced improvements in sex and relationship education in schools – thanks in part to SNP education minister John Swinney and Lib Dem education minister Kirsty Williams but importantly thanks to long lobbying campaigns by individuals and campaign groups like TIE. Working for change takes time but the changes set for classrooms in Wales and Scotland will make all the toil of recent years feel worth it. England and Northern Ireland may be waiting a bit longer for equivalent improvements. We got our fifth equality minister at Westminster in the space of two years: I suppose they last longer than Brexit secretaries.
Referendums continued to be a poor way to decide human rights: while Ireland voted the right way on abortion, giving people rights over their own bodies rather than over one anothers, Taiwan rejected same-sex marriage, and Romania debated redefining the word ‘family’ to exclude same-sex couples.
Meanwhile in the US midterms the voters put Kyrsten Sinema in the Senate alongside other LGBT winners in other races while the Republicans’ most prominent out bisexual defected to the Democrats. The Danish minister for Education came out as bisexual, and Colombia got its first out-bi Senator.
Many events for LGBT History Month in 2017 had focused on 50 years since a bisexual MP (Home Secretary and later SDP leader Roy Jenkins) had enabled the partial decriminalisation of sex between men. This year we had other key anniversaries with round numbers involved – 40 years since the Rainbow Flag, 30 years since Section 28, and 20 years of the bisexual flag.
There were bi stalls at more LGBT Prides than ever (we reckon) with BiPrideUK’s campaign of publicity stalls reaching much of the smattering of prides that local groups like Bothways, BiPhoria and BiCymru don’t reach in an average year.
It was a summer where a small clique of transphobic people disrupted Pride in London and inspired many other Prides to show their rejection of transphobia.
Bi Visibility Day (and that does seem to be gaining ground as the name used for it worldwide now rather than just in the UK) was huge once again – with its children, BiWeek and BiMonth growing in usage as well. Twitter joined in with a special BiWeek emoji. and BiVisibilityDay trended hard in the UK on September 23rd.
Big Bi Fun Day‘s future was left in doubt with no-one coming forward to run it in 2019.
It turned out there will be a sexuality question in the census in 2021, along with a trans question – but they’ll be optional and people will still have a blunt “are you male or female” question, so there is still more work to do.
Making it optional implies a degree of shame about the answer, if you ask me.
The Year Ahead
And so to 2019, whose anniversaries include 50 years since the Stonewall riot in the USA, 30 years since the UK’s LG(BT) lobbying group named after it was launched, and 25 years since BiPhoria formed – the UK’s oldest extant bi group.
The year was rounded up by Jen Yockney MBE.
What else would you have added? Tell us!