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  • Sue George 1:00 pm on December 16, 2014 Permalink  

    Bi and over 50 5: Chip 



    I'm so pleased with the response to this series of email interviews with bi people over 50. Thanks again to everyone who has shown interest in this project.

    Each of the "interviews" is written by the individual concerned, with the questions in bold written by me.

    ***

    My name is Chip and I'm a 51-year-old white, bisexual male from Boston, Massachusetts, USA, where I work as a professional freelance artist. Currently single and looking. 

    How did you come to think of yourself as bisexual?
    I knew I was bi when as a teenage boy I'd enjoy looking at my older sister's Playgirl magazines (depicting photos of nude men). I was fascinated by their bodies - athletic, hairy chests, and of course their penises! When I had sex with another man, it felt natural. It felt wonderful. I loved it.

    What does being bisexual mean to you?
    Being bisexual means I have twice the chance of getting lucky in a bar - LOL! I have the ability to be happy, enjoy relationships and sexual intimacy with both men and women without guilt.

    Has this changed over the years, and if so how?
    For men, it is harder to be bisexual than women,. If a woman openly flirts or kisses another woman it's hot, and accepted. If a guy openly flirts with or kisses another guy, he's labelled as gay.

    What do other people in your life know about your bisexuality and how do they react? 
    After years in the closet, inspired by the positive reaction of a Boston sports writer, who came out as gay, and at the urging of friends who are lesbians, I decided to come out on a Facebook status update. I explained that I had an announcement to make. I wrote for years I had been intimately attracted to both men and women,. That to support my art career I had worked as a stripper in a gay bar. In closing, I said I wanted to come out of the closet and let you all know I am a happy bisexual man. Then I went to bed. 

    The response the next morning was great and supportive. It felt like a piano off my back. Even some straight girls/guys introduced me to their gay brothers or cousins for dates. 

    Looking back over your life so far, is there anything you wish you’d done differently? 
    I wish I'd come out sooner. No question. Wish I had explored more relationships with guys.

    What about your hopes or fears for the future regarding bisexuality?
    I hope more male and female celebrities come out as bisexual so it gives encouragement to people young and old to enjoy being bisexual without fear of being beaten, bullied or chastised by others. 

    Any words of wisdom for younger bi people – or older ones? 
    Come our of the closet and enjoy love with whoever you desire without fear or guilt.

    Chip is on Twitter @chipobrien - he is looking to meet bisexual men or women for friendship and more.


    Would you like to help combat bi erasure and increase the visibility of bisexual people over 50? There are plenty of us out there, but far too many people don’t know that.

    I am looking for other individuals over 50 who would like to contribute their “email interviews”, as Chip has done here. For more about what to do, look at this post

    Thanks.
     
  • Sue George 7:27 pm on December 10, 2014 Permalink  

    Bi and nearly 50 2: Mary 

    Due to popular demand, I have expanded the remit of this blog series to include people who are nearly 50. There are even more of us out there!

    As before, the questions in bold come from me. Everything else is written by the interviewees themselves.

    ****

    My name is Mary Rowson, I am nearly 49 (just about 50!) and live in Australia with my husband and grown-up daughter. I was born and raised in Nelson, New Zealand - a very beautiful part of the world. I am a social worker by trade and also a writer and musician (I play the violin).

    How did you come to think of yourself as bisexual?
    I recognised attraction to more than one gender as a young adolescent (1970s) but didn’t fully understand it until my late 30s/40s. I thought I was mistaken or ‘confused’. The AIDS epidemic was hitting NZ at the time I was recognising my bisexual feelings. Unfortunately bisexual men were getting a hammering from the press then for being ‘the evil spreaders of disease’. The negative stereotypes really affected me, and I pushed all those feelings down. Of course, they exploded 25 years later (as feelings tend to do when pushed down!).

    What does being bisexual mean to you?
    Being bisexual means being attracted to more than one gender to me.

    Has this changed over the years, and if so how?
    Yes, things have changes significantly for me. I have tried polyamory (loved the person but decided it wasn’t for me). I have become increasingly interested in writing short stories with bi characters in them and have also (like Harrie) written a novel with bisexual main characters.I am also involved with the bisexual alliance in Melbourne and think it is crucial to keep pushing bi visibility. I think older bi visibility is particularly an issue, so I like what you are doing here!

    What do other people in your life know about your bisexuality and how do they react?
    My friends and family have been pretty ok with it apart from a few! Presenting as confident about my sexuality certainly helps to reinforce positive reactions back from people.

    Looking back over your life so far, is there anything you wish you’d done differently?
    I wish I had come out earlier but actually I don’t think it would have worked out, so no, I don’t have regrets.

    What about your hopes or fears for the future regarding bisexuality?
    My hopes are that bisexuality will be recognised as real and bisexual people will be able to be themselves –in all their wonderful diversity.

    Any words of wisdom for younger bi people – or older ones?
    Be yourselves. You DO exist and you are absolutely OK.

    Would you like to help combat bi erasure and increase the visibility of bisexual people over 50? There are plenty of us out there, but far too many people don’t know that.

    I am looking for other individuals over 50 (or thereabouts) who would like to contribute their “email interviews”, as Mary has done here. For more about what to do, look at this post

    Thanks.


     
  • Blogging in Shadows 8:26 pm on December 9, 2014 Permalink  



    Bi magazine is compiling a Purple List. http://thisisbiscuit.com/purple-list-tell-us-youd-like-give-bi-five/

    So below I’ve included a list of a few bisexual activists who I think are making the world a better place. It’s not everyone, and I know I’ll miss out some by accident, but here goes!

    Ele Hicks http://www.bicymru.org.uk/author/ele/ My go to person for anything bi and Welsh!

    Jennifer Moore http://www.uncharted-worlds.org/spindex.htm Incredibly talented musician & activist in Nottingham

    Shirt Eisner http://radicalbi.wordpress.com/about/ Author of Notes for a Bi Revolution

    Jen Yockney http://bicommunitynews.co.uk Editor extraordinaire of BCN & Manchester bi activist

    Sue George http://suegeorgewrites.blogspot.co.uk Sue has been writing about bisexuality longer than anyone I know.

    Marcus Morgan http://www.bisexualindex.org.uk The brains behind the Bi Index, educator & great public speaker.

    Edward Lord OBE http://edwardlord.org Did you notice the OBE? Ed is a bi activist who also supports diversity in sport. And he probably met the Queen.

    Robyn Ochs http://robynochs.com Robyn’s work as a bi activist is internationally known. She has edited books, given presentations and done so much more in the U.S and beyond.

    Also, there’s me!

    When it comes to celebrities, take pick from Frank Ocean, Alice Walker, Grace Jones and many more.

    This list isn’t confined to the UK, so check out the Bi groups around the world http://www.biresource.net/bisexualgroups.shtml for an activist closer to your location that has done good things for bi-kind.

     
  • jen 11:00 am on December 3, 2014 Permalink  

    Get Your Bi News at www.BiCommunityNews.co.uk 

    In case you’ve not already noticed, the bi news and news headlines that have been running for the past seven years or somesuch on BiMedia have now moved to the website of Bi Community News.

    BiBloggers has been essentially unchanged since its launch in 2010, but the plan is for it to have a bit of a rejig moderately soon, along with a bigger refit for BiMedia.  There may be the odd outage in the meanwhile as it all migrates from here to there – do please bear with!

    This shifts things towards how they were supposed to work years ago when I set BiMedia up, but an experimental version of the BiMedia site got some momentum and the switchover back then never wound up happening. As with most of the peculiar things in life, it’s about c—up rather than conspiracy.

     
  • Sue George 3:00 pm on November 29, 2014 Permalink  

    Bisexual and over 50 4: Lynnette 

    Here's the latest in the series of email interviews with bi people over 50. Other potential interviewees always welcome - do get in touch!

    Each of the "interviews" is written by the individuals concerned, with the questions in bold coming from me.

    *****
    My name is Lynnette McFadzen and I live in Portland, Oregon, USA. I am a 57 year-old single white cis-gendered woman with three daughters and four grandchildren. I am single and, at the moment, celibate.

    I am disabled but have had many occupations in the past, from nursing to chainsaw chain packaging. The packaging job is where I lost most of my hearing but it really started way before then. After the death of my estranged husband and my mother, I had my biggest breakdown and attempted suicide. That time I sought help. I spent the next 10 years healing and figuring out why my life was so dysfunctional. There was no room for relationships during that time.

    How did you come to think of yourself as bisexual?
              
    Last year I had finished my second round of chemo for Hepatitis C that I probably contracted as a nurse in my 20s. Not that it is important where I got it - Hep C is non-discerning. The first round failed so I spent a total of two years in treatment. That's a lot of down time to think.

    At the end I felt ready to try dating and my old demons re-emerged. I found women attractive. I always had. My first crush was on Audrey Hepburn and I had a series of “girl crushes” throughout my life. But I truly believed all the lies I had been told about bisexuality.I spent the best part of my life proving to myself I was heterosexual and somehow broken and wrong inside. I know that was a contributing factor to my depression and suicide attempts. I really believed my loved ones would be better off without my evilness. What saved me was realizing I could not leave the legacy of suicide to my children and grandchildren. My father had done that to me.

    I had never really acted on my same attractions but once and it was a disaster. But with the help of good friends and family I began to learn bisexuality was not what I thought. I turned to the LGBT community and was met with disdain, coolness or outright hostility. I was shocked and disheartened.

    So I searched for a bisexual community and eventually was able to find it online. I made good supportive friends with similar stories and similar struggles with internalized biphobia. Through this I was able to accept that, yes I am bisexual. But it took some searching And the search engines at the time were not much help.

    It also spurred me to help others like me who felt lost and alone and confused to find and build their support, and realize they can be proud. And have a community of their own since I am limited physically I decided to learn to podcast. And with friends and volunteers we created The BiCast. A podcast for the bisexual community. 

    What does being bisexual mean to you?

    It means being a complete whole person with no internal shame or feeling of wrongness. Of understanding myself. It means being at peace with me. It has really to do with sex and everything to do with self love. And knowing that just because I am bisexual it doesn't alter my moral compass at all

    How has this changed over the years?
    I just came out last year. Doing that to myself was the biggest issue. The climate is changing for the general public perception of bisexuality. But the biggest reason I could not accept sooner that I was bisexual was because of what most people believed as I grew up and many still do. That it is a lifestyle choice, that you are shallow, indecisive, hypersexual, liars and all round morally bankrupt. It is changing, but not fast enough for me.

    What do other people in your life know about your bisexuality and how do they react?

    Everyone knows I'm bi. It's part of being on a podcast about bisexuality. My family and friends are totally supportive. I am blessed with a diverse and loving family and have been fortunate to find amazing people as friends. I am a lucky one. I am in a really safe place.

    Looking back over your life so far, is there anything you wish you’d done differently?

    I wish sometimes I had come to terms with this at a much earlier age. That I may have dismissed a good relationship as a possibility based on gender. That I had not tortured myself for no reason at all.
    I get a bit melancholy but then remember it gives me a better appreciation of the happiness I have now.

    What about your hopes or fears for the future (regarding bisexuality)?

    Truthfully, I want to see how all bisexuals are treated change, and help others understand they are OK.

    Any words of wisdom for younger bi people – or older ones?

    For both really. Don't believe what you are told. Find out your own truth. Stay strong.

    YOU ARE NOT WRONG. YOU ARE NOT BROKEN. YOU DESERVE RESPECT.YOU ARE A HUMAN BEING. YOU ARE BISEXUAL.

    Would you like to help combat bi erasure and increase the visibility of bisexual people over 50? There are plenty of us out there, but far too many people don’t know that.

    I am looking for other individuals over 50 who would like to contribute their “email interviews”, as Lynnette has done here. For more about what to do, look at this post

    Thanks.


     
  • Traveller_23 1:54 am on November 23, 2014 Permalink  

    Coming Out to…the New Office 

    A Downward Trajectory?


    I recently relocated from London to a small town in Scotland for work.  The move is good for my career - I get to spend time doing practical engineering work as my new role is more field-based. Of course, I knew moving would complicate things in other ways - flying to Bangladesh from this place is a logistical nightmare, and trying to get visas to other parts of the world is even worse. Admittedly, I've never actually lived in a small town so part of me has been looking forward to the experience. On the other hand, I knew a place like this would have some downsides compared to the UK's more cosmopolitan capital. The posts I've published on the blog so far have mostly been positive, and thus in a way I'm almost glad to be talking about something negative for a change. 

    Of course, people in the office are as pleasant as ever. Most of my new team and other co-workers I socialise with know about my male partner, and it's been a complete non-issue. This includes my boss, who has been happy to give me advice on approaching my career and a long distance relationship. I've even tried dropping hints to let them know I'm bisexual (though I'm not 100% sure they've understood!). The environment on site, however, has been more complicated. One of the field offices, for example, has a poster up complaining about political correctness and how some people hide behind discrimination all the time. I've been witness to small occurrences of racism and homophobia, and a more poignant episode of sexism. None of it was particularly shocking: the racism involved a white co-worker aping a "typical Indian accent" to tease someone about their food choices. He wasn't making fun of South Asians per se, but I'd argue the imitation was inappropriate nonetheless - laughter at the expense of someone else's language skills.  The homophobia was similarly casual, where one of a group of white men aged 40 and above seemed to be using "shirt-lifter" as a neutral substitute for the word gay. They were discussing a gay man they knew and it seemed to be more a case of ignorance as opposed to directed malice but again - the original term has historically been a homophobic slur. 

    The sexism was a little more elaborate, and involved a group of reasonably senior men on site discussing the attractiveness of women in the office and detailing what they liked or disliked about several individuals. I don't expect a male-only team (a sad but common engineering demographic) not to talk about women, but I wouldn't expect that talk to include women who are colleagues or the conversation to go into such physical minutiae while on the clock. I'd also like to say that I have done site-based work previously, and I haven't encountered anything like any of these scenarios before. Sadly, the trend in the field seems to be something replicated in the town itself. A group of white teenagers decided to have a party at my apartment complex this weekend, and I walked through a bit of "Indian accent" banter on the way to my front door. 

    Of course, nothing that has happened so far is something that couldn't happen in London - in fact I've heard of people having similar if not worse experiences down there too. But what I describe here is my experience of Scotland as it currently stands, and if I'm being honest I have to say it's been a mixed experience. Nothing yet has happened that I can't deal with and I'm hoping it'll stay that way. In the meantime, perhaps I will be able to tactfully bring up some these occurrences at work, and maybe it will bring about a little bit of awareness and positive change. 

     
  • Blogging in Shadows 9:29 pm on November 21, 2014 Permalink  

    Older Bisexual Meetup 

    I attended the Older Bisexual Meetup on Monday 17th November. It was held at Age Uk’s Camden Office at Tavistock Square, London. The group meets on a monthly basis from 6-8pm. The venue is very accessible, and the meetup took place in a large airy room on the ground floor. Nickie, the host, said we had to move to that room as the meeting was so well attended that they had run out of space in their usual location! There were eleven people on the night I visited. In a rare event, there were more men present than women, which was a surprise to me. Everyone was friendly, and the attendees came from a variety of backgrounds and ethnicities. Kate, who works for Opening Doors, and Nickie had provided a range of refreshments which was very welcome, especially as some of the attendees had come to the meeting straight after work.

    The group is aimed at any bisexual person who is over 50, or who is interested in life for bisexuals over 50. I am not their target audience for age, but I have worries about how my life will be when I’m older. I’ve heard of too many LGBT people who are forced back in the closet when they enter care homes, and of the way the LGBT scene is often aimed at those who are young. When I include elements such as racism, sexism and biphobia into this, I feel justified to have worries.

    The meetup itself was quite easy-going. I spoke a little about my volunteering role at the Terrence Higgin’s Trust project for people over 50 living with HIV. That led to a discussion on safer sex for older people which proved useful to some attendees. Kate Harad was also present; she spoke about the project “Purple Prose” a proposed guide for bisexual people in the U.K. There will be a chapter on bisexuality through our lifetime. Several attendees were excited about the project, and gave some suggestions and comments about how they could get involved.

    The night came to an end at 8pm. There was a flurry of people swapping contact details, and a lot of smiles. I had a very pleasant time, and was thankful that groups like this exist.

    The next meetup will be on 15th December 2014

    Health, Wealth and Happiness http://www.tht.org.uk/myhiv/Staying-healthy/Health-Wealth-and-Happiness
    Purple Prose http://loveandzombies.co.uk/purple-prose-a-uk-bisexual-guide/
    Age UK http://www.ageuk.org.uk
    Opening Doors London http://openingdoorslondon.org.uk
    Older Bisexual Meetup http://www.meetup.com/london-bisexuals/events/218775112/

     
  • Blogging in Shadows 8:39 pm on November 6, 2014 Permalink  



    I’ve recently been voted in as the bisexual people’s rep for London Pride Community Advisory Board! http://prideinlondon.org/about/who/community-advisory-board/

    I promise to do the following:-

    1 LISTEN TO BISEXUAL PEOPLE!

    2 Not be so into myself I will refuse to learn

    3 Listen to bi folks some more

    I hope to count on your support as I take on this new post. Because I’m half overjoyed and half petrified!

    I can be contacted at Jacq.bi.rep AT gmail DOT COM

     
  • Ludy 1:56 pm on October 18, 2014 Permalink  

    BiCon MultiFaith Spiritual Space 2014 

    I actually started writing this post soon after BiCon but inevitably other things and stuff took precedence so it’s only finished now – sorry for the extreme lateness …

    Spiritual is probably not the first word you would associate with a BiCon. The Survey shows that the vast majority of attendees (or at least the ones who fill out surveys!) are either atheist or agnostic. But there will still be a substantial number of People of Faith attending a BiCon. And some, like me, find that the emotional pressure-cooker effect and constant busyness of the Con mean it’s important to make space for some quiet, reflection and getting in touch with the spiritual.
    I have facilitated multi-faith spiritual spaces at several previous BiCons. It’s different each year and no matter how much I plan it advance I find I have to adapt and change it in the moment, to suit the particular group that has gathered in that particular time and space. Which is fun and a little bit scary… Though of course in the end it’s the group that make the workshop rather than what I say and do.
    Anyway, this is how 2014’s multi-faith spiritual space went:
    There was a medium sized group of attendees, who took some time to arrive and settle. The multi-faith spiritual space was straight after Symon’s excellent “What the Bible Really Says About Sex” workshop and there was some crossover in participants, although I thought there would be more. Symon’s workshop was a very thinky and discussion-based – looking at details of texts and comparing different translations. I found it intellectually stimulating and the different points of view were fascinating.My workshop was aiming to be something very different. Most BiCon workshops seem to be largely word based (which as an auditory learner works well for me but doesn’t suit everyone) and I wanted to use different sensory modalities to create a different kind of workshop experience.
    We were a bit late starting, waiting for people to turn up and get comfortable. We sat in a circle of chairs around a rainbow cloth and an LED candle (so as not to set off smoke alarms!) and chatted for a bit which hopefully gave people time to fully “arrive”. Then I did a fairly standard workshop welcome introducing myself and explaining the basic ground rules of confidentiality and respect. I reminded people that there can be a lot of pain around issues of sexuality and spirituality and to be gentle with each other and ourselves. Then we went round in a circle giving our names and one word or phrase about how we were feeling right now (I think it’s important to bring ourselves into a shared space by checking in about where we are at the start of a workshop. It’s hard making people stick to just one word or phrase but my experience is that if you don’t the name round can end up eating the rest of the workshop. I think my word was something like “tired”)
    We came together as a group by chanting the vowel sounds together. I didn’t want to use words associated with any particular spiritual tradition but reckon that all words have vowel sounds in so they should cover everybody’s favourite/meaningful words. We started with the English vowels of A, E, I, O and U and then speakers of other languages shared their vowel sounds with the rest of us (this was quite a challenge for me trying to find the unusual-to-me shapes in my dyspraxic mouth – that’s probably a good reminder of what an almost entirely English language BiCon must be like for someone who thinks in another language.)Next we had another round of the circle briefly talking about our spiritual backgrounds – there was quite a mix, mostly various flavours on pagan and new-age with some Christians (and others having grown up Christian but then found it hard to stay in the church because of attitudes to sexuality and gender) I would have really liked to have some input from people from other traditions too.
    We then talked about whether BiCon can be a spiritual space. My feeling is that it is – if we decide it is. Separating the “spiritual” from “the rest of life” is just another false binary that we don’t have to get trapped in unless it’s useful to us in a particular time and place. We shared a period of silence for everyone to approach their understanding of the spiritual/God/Goddess(es) and be mindful in the way that was most meaningful to them while the sounds of the rest of BiCon and the West Yorkshire rain happened around us.
    The next step was to share blessings. I asked people to think about the blessings they found in being Bi – or an ally – and being at BiCon. And then to think about their hopes and wishes for the rest of the group. I asked for everyone to try to find a movement to express sharing blessing with the person next to them as we went around the circle. Outside of the world of formal dance it’s unusual to share meaningful movement and I found it incredibly power and er … moving … to give and receive blessings in that way. We ended up spontaneously sharing the final person’s gesture of blessing as a group. It was a joyful kind if gesture and it just felt right.
    Finally we brought our concerns for others to the circle (some people would describe this as prayer). I provided some smudgey pastels and some small, textured pieces of paper and asked people to make a mark, a smudge of colour or a symbol to represent their concerns. I had deliberately provided materials it would be difficult to draw accurately with because I didn’t want people to get hung up on their artistic ability or lack of it (when I’ve facilitated “This Is What A Bisexual Looks Like” Life Drawings Workshops I’ve found that most people are far more worried about sharing their drawings than about modelling for each other). Some people’s concerns were about their close people and others were for international political situations (I’d asked people to focus on just one thing so we weren’t there all day – I know everyone’s heart is big enough to contain a multitude of hopes and fears and desires for change). We arranged the piece of paper around the “candle” and spoke briefly about each one. Then we ended the session holding hands in silence around the “mandala” that we’d made together.

    collection of drawings expressing concerns for others around an LED candle on a rainbow cloth

    Spiritual Space “mandala”


     
  • EsmeT 9:51 am on October 15, 2014 Permalink  

    Being a young bisexual 

    Since I started reading up on bisexuality and getting involved with the online community, it was impossible not to become aware of the great history and legacy that led up to 14yr old me starting this blog in 2007, having realised and accepted my bisexuality seamlessly and without hassle. That would have been an unlikely scenario in the year I was born, 1992.

    I have a lot to thank older bisexuals for. I know they aren't going to like that term, but 23yr old bisexuals are older bisexuals to me! So it's a large group and of the ones I've met, there don't seem to be many bisexuals who act 'old' anyway, so I use the term out of respect that many bisexuals have been working so hard for decades before I was even a twinkle in my mother's eye, and meant I could eventually tell said mother of my swerve away from the norm and not get thrown out the house immediately.

    The stalwarts of the community and pioneers of our campaign for awareness, equality and respect amaze me when I look back at all they have done, and are still doing. The reason for this post is that I was struck by how young I am with only 7yrs involvement when I came across the Bisexual Manifesto. I clicked the link thinking "Oh my God, we have a manifesto??" As a stage manager, the sheer organisation alone was inspiring. And then I read it.

    The 1990 Bisexual Manifesto
    We are tired of being analyzed, defined and represented by people other than ourselves, or worse yet, not considered at all. We are frustrated by the imposed isolation and invisibility that comes from being told or expected to choose either a homosexual or heterosexual identity.

    Monosexuality is a heterosexist dictate used to oppress homosexuals and to negate the validity of bisexuality.

    Bisexuality is a whole, fluid identity. Do not assume that bisexuality is binary or duogamous in nature: that we have "two" sides or that we must be involved simultaneously with both genders to be fulfilled human beings. In fact, don’t assume that there are only two genders. Do not mistake our fluidity for confusion, irresponsibility, or an inability to commit. Do not equate promiscuity, infidelity, or unsafe sexual behavior with bisexuality. Those are human traits that cross all sexual orientations. Nothing should be assumed about anyone’s sexuality, including your own.
    We are angered by those who refuse to accept our existence; our issues; our contributions; our alliances; our voice. It is time for the bisexual voice to be heard. - From the wealth of knowledge that is the Bialogue Tumblr (original attribution: the historic Bay Area Bisexual Network publication Anything That Moves)

    And all my inspiration and pride deflated slightly, as I thought "24 years later, and not a lot has changed." However, the one thing that can be said as a positive over two decades later is our voices are being heard. There are more of us speaking, we're louder, we're in the White House for pity's sake, and whilst we're only inching our way to true change, we seem to have got somewhere. For example, my friends' responses to my intense Celebrate Bisexuality Day Facebook output, and my less intense but still visible Bi Awareness Week Facebook contributions, were all positive.

    Sure we still have to make a lot of noise, A LOT, to finally be heard, but our strike rate seems to have gone up. So I stand behind this manifesto because it represents part of a wave that I am part of now when it is bigger and stronger than it was then.
     
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