That was bi 2013…

Bi-coloured UK map

Bi Britain in 2013 – what were your highlights?

It was the year Bi Community News – a survivor in an ever-shrinking field of LGBT print magazines – turned eighteen, and the year Brighton BothWays celebrated ten years of giving bisexuals a friendly and supportive space. What else might we remember 2013 for?

For England and Wales the first six months of the year were the story of the Same-Sex Marriage Bill. Unveiled in February after Westminster’s largest public consultation exercise ever, this seemed to go on forever at the time, and eventually passed by a huge majority in the summer. So great was its success, by later stages the anti-equality camp in the House of Lords – which over the last fifteen years has blocked or delayed so much legislation on bisexual and gay equalities – didn’t even press the decision to a vote. A number of issues remain with the bill, including pensions issues and problems for intersex and genderqueer people, but it was a huge step forward – in a year where many other nations were taking the same step.

@bisexualhistory - Putting the B in LGBT History MonthFebruary is LGBT History Month and there were no bi-specific events this time around, but twitter saw the launch on January 31st of @bisexualhistory, giving a daily “on this day…” snippet of bi history. It’s now on Facebook too.

In May the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency published the findings of a large-scale research project across the EU, looking at how LGBT experiences compare from country to country.  Over 93,000 people took part so the scale of the research was much larger than most similar projects. Across the 28 member states, about four in every 10 respondents did not reveal their LGBT identity to anyone in their social environment bar a few friends. However, this rose to half of respondents among bisexual women and transgender people, and three quarters of respondents among bisexual men.

As the summer approached, Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski came out as bisexual – the first Conservative MP to do so and one of only two out bi MPs currently in Westminster. Sharp as ever the Daily Mail trumpeted Kawczynski as the “first bisexual MP”, forgetting Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes, as well as former MPs like onetime Secretary of State for Wales Ron Davies or Winchester byelection winner Mark Oaten. All three main parties have now had at least one out bi MP, and they have all had openly gay MPs too, which is surely a good thing for keeping legal equalities that have been won over recent years.

BCN magazine - issue 121

BCN’s autumn cover celebrated ‘Bis on Downing Street”

While we are on the subject of politics it was a year for bisexuals in the corridors of power with both Bi Community News and BiUK represented at the annual 10 Downing Street LGBT garden party with David Cameron in July – and a few weeks later at the counterpart Deputy Prime Ministerial event with Nick Clegg.  Two-party coalition government really means twice as many parties, it seems.  Meanwhile across the pond the White House joined in, assembling representatives from bisexual organisations and LGBT groups across the USA to talk about what the US government could be doing to tackle bisexual people’s issues.

It was a year for community-building as new bi social and support groups launched in Edinburgh, in Dublin, and for Bi Professionals and over 50s in London. Annual bi conference / festival BiCon returned to Scotland for the first time since 2006 and saw extensive engagement from LGBT and wider community groups.

Bi Visibility Day on September 23rd was bigger than ever. We saw bi flags flying from buildings around the country including universities, police stations and town halls, a plethora of local events, and support for Bi Visibility Day from both the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and Equalities Minister Jo Swinson.

heygoogle280There were new battles to be fought online. In August, Apple backed down on their bi ban – but Google kept theirs in place. Later in the year internet censoring “child protection” filters set up by UK ISPs under pressure from 10 Downing Street turned out to block lots of LGBT info sites like Bi Community News, Bi.Org and more, even including services specifically targeted at vulnerable young people in need of help like Childline.

As the year came to a close Scotland picked up the same-sex marriage baton and the Holyrood Parliament had its first debate on the issue. This passed overwhelmingly with further legislative stages to come in 2014.

And then to round the year off we had Olympic medallist Tom Daley‘s non-specific coming out on YouTube, where he talked about having a male partner but didn’t use words like “bisexual” or “gay”, prompted lots of debate online about identity, relationships, labels and bisexual erasure.

2014So 2013 comes to a close and that naturally takes us to the New Year ahead… some things we’re looking forward to already:

  • Two new bi groups launch early in 2014 – watch this space!
  • The return in July of BiReCon, the bisexuality research and theory conference, along with BiCon in Leeds at the start of August.
  • Big Bi Fun Day on May 17th and the BDSM Bisexuals weekend on March 22nd.

Have a great New Year’s Eve.

Your New Year Bi Reading

BCN magazine cover

BCN: Out Now

The new issue of Bi Community News magazine is out now, with features on the ‘gay cure’ therapy debate, research suggesting more women are having sex with women, BDSM, the Wales BiFest and Tom Daley’s coming-out video.

EuroBiNet and International BiCon organiser Loz Brewer, who died last month aged 46,  is the cover star.

Get your copy!

That’s Doctor DiFranco to you

BCN magazine cover with coverbi Ani DiFranco

Ani was a BCN coverbi nearly ten years ago

The University of Winnipeg, Canada, awarded bisexual singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco with an Honorary Doctorate of Letters at a Special Convocation last Friday, November 22, 2013.

Ani became a queer/indie music icon in the mid 1990s, her music a staple of many bisexual events.  As well as bisexual life, her songs often embrace themes of sexism, heterosexism, racism, and class discrimination.

She appeared on the cover of UK bi magazine Bi Community News in April 2004.

“DiFranco has long been an advocate for social justice and environmental sustainability, and she lives those values as both a performer and entrepreneur,” said Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, President and Vice-Chancellor, UWinnipeg. “Ani is a strong example of courage, tenacity and compassion –characteristics that our university holds in high esteem. We are pleased to welcome Ani to our University community and we are grateful to our partner, the Winnipeg Folk Festival, for its significant role in facilitating our ability to bestow this honour.”

“We are pleased that the University is complementing the presentation of our 2013 Artistic Achievement Award by recognizing Ani’s similarly impressive contribution to social activism,” said Lynne Skromeda, Executive Director, Winnipeg Folk Festival.

“Given The University of Winnipeg’s deep commitment to social justice, sustainability and the arts, it is fitting that we acknowledge DiFranco’s contributions in this way,” said Dr. Angela Failler, Chancellor’s Research Chair and Department Chair, Women’s & Gender Studies, UWinnipeg.

Ani has recorded over 20 albums and collaborated with musicians and artists including Pete Seeger, Bruce Springsteen, Gillian Welch, Cyndi Lauper, and Burmese activist and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Honorary Doctor of Letters is conferred upon those who have made a significant contribution to the Arts and Humanities.


(For the uninitiated, the headline is a play on the line “it’s Mr DiFranco to you” in her song about bisexuality “In or Out”)

Happy birthday Bi Community News – new issue out now!

BCN magazine - issue 121The new issue of Bi Community News magazine is out with features on Bi Visibility Day’s biggest September ever, bisexuality research and the Google bi ban.

It’s the magazine’s 18th birthday edition, having launched back in the autumn of 1995. The first edition, entitled simply “issue zero”, included a ballot paper to decide what the name should be.

The new BCN also reports on bis in the media, the new wave of local bi social & support groups, has photos from Prides around the UK. Get your copy!

Bi Visibility Day? More like a fortnight!

Bi-coloured UK mapThis year’s Bi Visibility Day events in the UK are stretched out over nine days – at least!  The September23 website sets them out – so far – as follows, while noting that new dates are still coming in to add to the diary.

Manchester, Friday 20 September: BiPhoria will be running a bi outreach stall at the local university student union (Barnes Wallis building), 7pm-9pm.

Manchester, Sunday 22 September: BiPhoria will be hosting a social afternoon for Bi Visibility Day at the LGF centre, Richmond Street. With local bi organising history talk, poster displays, food & drink and more. 2pm-5pm.
Sunday 22 September: BiPhoria pub quiz and social meet-up, 5.30pm into the evening. Quiz starts 6pm. Downstairs function room, Taurus, 1 Canal Street.

Brighton, Monday 23 September: bis and allies get-together over ice-cream. From 4-6pm at Gelato Gusto in the North Laine (2 Gardner Street, BN1 1UP). Look out for the BothWays flyers and the Bi Cat on the table
Monday 23 September: event for over-50s bis at Tavis House, 1-6 Tavistock Square, 2pm-7pm and Penderel’s Oak, 283-288 High Holborn 6pm-9pm. Contact: Kate Hancock on
Monday 23 September: evening event hosted by the Co-Operative, with speakers from Bi Community News, BiUK & more. Details and online booking form here.
Sheffield, Monday 23 September: local group is organising a social event, details to be confirmed.
Southampton: Southampton Solent University will have a display about bisexuality in the Mountbatten Library from 23-30 September 2013, organised by the LGBT Staff Network, from 23rd – 30th.
Swansea, Monday 23 September: 2pm-5pm Have Your Say event, Committee Room 1, Civic Centre. Facebook has details here.

Brighton, Tuesday 24 September: “This Is What A Bisexual Looks Like Life Drawing Workshop” from 7-9pm at the Marlborough Theatre above the Marlborough Pub (4 Princes Street, BN2 1RD), hosted by Brighton Bothways.

Manchester, Wednesday 25 September: LGF will be screening a bi themed film and using it as the starting point for a discussion around bi visibility and representation. 6.30pm, LGF centre, Richmond Street.

London, Saturday 28 September: BiFete – 2pm-8pm at Brixton Community Base, £3 entry – details here. 

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