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  • Blogging in Shadows 11:49 am on September 2, 2015 Permalink  

    Trigger Warning: Rape, Suicide, Abuse

    I’ve had depression for most of my life.  I have a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder and Post Traumatic Distress Syndrome.  But chronic anxiety was something new to me; until 2014, I’d never experienced it.  Anxiety for me wasn’t simply feeling nervous or on edge.  Anxiety felt like a blazing fire behind me, and barrels of oil around me, just waiting to explode.  Anxiety makes me want to run as fast as I can.  It makes me grind my teeth and clench my fists.

    I’m invited to give a talk for a panel on LGBT hate crime at a small London police station.  I’m surrounded by white police officers, most of whom are wearing body armour.  Multiple radios crackle on the table as I clear my throat.  I speak about racism of the police, of how biphobia is different to homophobia.  There is a strange silence around me.  I feel very nervous, but once I start talking I don’t stop until all I’ve wanted to say is done.  The police officers are positive – they ask a lot of questions that show how little they now about biphobia.  I’m happy to answer them with a smile.

    I was raped in 2014.  It was not a first for me.  I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, which carried on into adulthood and only ended when I ran away aged 22.  Shortly after the assault, I got sick.  I had severe abdominal pains that landed me in hospital twice.  The first of these admissions into Casualty happened on the first day of my new job.  I lost my job whilst in hospital.  I also had a breakdown.  Everything seemed to be happening at once.  Chronic anxiety shoved its way into my life, and it hasn’t left.

    I lead a workshop for the British Psychological Society on mental health and LGBT people.  I print out webpages from a few organisations who claim they can help.  Most of these pages only ever use the word Gay.  Any illustrations are of white people.  Bisexuals are never mentioned.  People of colour are never mentioned.  Intersections of oppression are ignored.  I ask the group to look at the sheets and tell the others what they want to see changed; how these organisations could do better.  The participants have lots of ideas.  I’m happy to see their enthusiasm.  As soon as the workshop ends, my stomach bunches into painful knots.  I want to hide in a corner.  I do exactly that until someone I know spots me.

    I blame myself some days for being raped.  I feel like I should have known what to do.  I should have been able to stop it.  I should have pushed them away.  I shouldn’t have been frozen in place.  I shouldn’t have waited until they left and I knew I was safe before I started crying.  Anxiety makes it difficult to breathe when I think that way.  Anxiety makes me want to step in front of a bus.  Somehow I keep on living.

    Twitter and Tumblr have been lifelines for me; when I was in hospital, it kept me in touch with people I know who live thousands of miles away.  Tumblr in particular lets me see images of people similar to me, all of whom seem to live in the U.S.  Twitter is great, but it is also chock full of mean people who slip into my mentions with racist, biphobic and sexist trash.  My block hand is strong.  But my anxiety is stronger.  I dread clicking on the little bird symbol most days.  Sometimes I want to smash my computer into pieces.  The only thing stopping me is knowing I wouldn’t be able to watch Steven Universe otherwise.

    I was a survivor before I started writing this.  I’m a survivor when I speak in front of hundreds of people.  Reading my smutty stories out loud in the past has prepared me well for public speaking.  But when I’m alone, the anxiety barges in to the front of my mind.  When I’m in crowds, I want to disappear into the shadows.  Bisexual activism makes me feel like a confident, competent human.  It also fills me with despair when I see how aggressive it makes (mostly lesbian and gay) people.  I stand on the edge of a knife, trying to balance the positive things my activism can do, with the hatred it exposes me to.  I feel anxiety pushing me on to the blade.

    I’m invited to speak at Totnes Pride in Devon.  I accept without hesitation.

  • bisexualblogs 9:15 am on August 26, 2015 Permalink  

    Bi Erasure on the BBC Nottingham Breakfast Show 

    This morning the horrific abuse and transphobia a trans woman faces everyday in Mansfield was discussed on the Andy Whittaker Breakfast Show on BBC Radio Nottingham from 8am. I thought the presenter did a good job in discussing what Kerry Ann has been going through. They never misgendered her. They never questioned why she was transitioning or made comments about it. They simply explained what people have been saying and doing to her, and made it clear their behaviour was wrong and unacceptable. In addition the general consensus from people who called and texted in was how intolerant and narrow minded people in Mansfield are in general to anyone LGBT+ and anyone who is outside of the accepted social norms. I thought the show did a great job in raising awareness of this issue.

    After playing a pre-recorded interview with Kerry Ann, Andy Whittaker then interviewed a police officer about hate crime who encouraged LGBT people to report it. Sadly at the start and end of the interview Whittaker referred to “IDAHO Day”, calling it the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. (This mistake when repeated by the woman reading the news at 9am.)

    I have to admit, seeing as this police officer was the man who organised all the events across the county for May 17th I was disappointed he didn’t correct him on air. It would have only taken a few seconds. Especially as he texted me at 7:40 in the morning just to tell me he was going to be on the radio! I wouldn’t have listened otherwise. (Though I accept he may have simply not had chance, as he was only given 2-3 minutes of air time.)

    I immediately texted in to the show to correct Whittaker and explain it’s IDAHoBiT Day, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

    Please could you email the show to do the same?
    Here is a template you can adapt, and the email addresses to send it to. If you can phrase it in a better way than me, then please let me know! and

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    I was listening to the Andy Whittaker breakfast show this morning (26th August) and was disappointed when the presenter used the term “IDAHO Day” and described it as ‘the international day against homophobia and transphobia’. I was further disappointed when this mistake was repeated on the news at 9am. In 2015 the day was actually renamed to IDAHoBiT Day to include bisexuality, and the day campaigns against homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia.

    Whilst this is a minor correction in the grand scheme of things, I feel very strongly that it is important to get this right. Bisexuality exists, and bisexuals face biphobia in the same way gay and lesbian people face homophobia, and trans people face transphobia. Our lives are made miserable through discrimination, harassment, and hate crime too. However when bisexuality is erased and ignored in the media, it is forgotten about and taken less seriously as a result.  We need visibility and representation too. Our health and wellbeing matters too. People listening might not think they are able to report bisexual hate crime because of this omission.

    I hope in the future you will use the correct terminology for IDAHoBiT Day, and mention it is the day to campaign against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, when you cover any LGBT stories.

    I look forward to your reply.

    Thank you and best wishes.

    Yours sincerely.


  • Neil 11:01 am on August 25, 2015 Permalink  

    Interview: Eliel Cruz 

    Eliel Cruz is an articulate, passionate voice in the world of bisexual activism.  He’s a prolific journalist and vlogger, and I was delighted to include Eliel in my recent 5 Great Bisexual Blogs article.

    Here’s my interview with Eliel. I hope you find it useful. As Eliel says, ‘Bisexuality is valid, your experience matters, and most of all you matter.’

    -How did you come to identify as bisexual?

    Eliel Cruz: I didn’t know what bisexual was until I stumbled upon the word when I googled “I like boys and girls.” I was 11 and super excited to finally understand my sexuality. At the point, I thought you had to “choose” between being gay or straight one day. So I came out to myself at 11, then came out to friends and family around 14.

    -What are the main factors that have contributed to your sense of wellbeing as a bisexual person?

    I think writing has helped me heal a lot. I used to write diaries when I was young to keep myself sane. Now, as an adult, I write through the things I have gone through and continue to go through on huge platforms. This allows me to connect with thousands of bisexuals who have similar stories to me from across the world. This community and knowing that I’m far from alone helps me tremendously.

    -Can you share a coming out story?

    My coming out story is complicated. I came out to friends at a private Christian academy during my freshman year of high school. After I came out word got out to my school’s administration. I was “asked to leave.” This made me come out to my family but it was quickly swept under the rug. I came out when I was 18 to my family when I was on my way to college. They have always been loving and accepting which has helped ground me and deal with biphobia.

    -What advice would you give to someone who thinks they might be bisexual and are unsure what to do?

    There isn’t a rush. Don’t feel like you need to ID a certain way under a certain time frame. Educate yourself in the definition, and history, of bisexuality. Perhaps most importantly, know you’re not alone. There are many others out there with similar experiences. Bisexuality is valid, your experience matters, and most of all you matter. Find community, whether in person or online, and always reach out to bisexual activists or organizations with any questions you may have.

    Eliel Cruz is a speaker and writer on religion, (bi)sexuality, and a culture critic. He reports regularly for The Advocate and has a column on the intersections of faith, sexuality, and gender at Religion News Service. His work has also been found in the Huffington Post, Mic, Sojourners, Washington Post, Patheos, Everyday Feminism, DETAILS Magazine, Rolling Stone, VICE, and Slate.

    He’s the co-founder and former president of the Intercollegiate Adventist Gay-Straight Alliance Coalition, an organization that advocates for safe spaces for LGBT students at Seventh-day Adventist colleges. He has a BBA & BA in International Business and French Studies from Andrews University.

  • bisexualblogs 10:12 pm on August 24, 2015 Permalink  

    Hypersexualised Objectified Bisexual 

    Over the weekend I was helping a friend sell merchandise on her company stall at a large trade show up in Manchester. I had a great time, as I always enjoy meeting new people and chatting with them – even if they don’t end up buying anything! I also have a fair bit of experience in this particular field, and really like getting to know people in order to signpost them on to websites and events that I think they would enjoy and find useful.

    Around midday on the second day, I chatted to a couple who I would guess were about 20 years older than me, possibly even double my age. They were very nice and lived in the East Midlands too and we were talking for about 5 minutes before they carried on looking round the event.

    By the time I had arrived home that evening they had already messaged me to tell me that they were seeking a “suitable and enthusiastic submissive female”, and wondered whether I would consider having a relationship with them. From the way they described it in the message, this relationship would seemingly take the form of meeting up for sex a few times a month.

    Needless to say I was a bit stunned. I had only spoken to them for a few minutes to recommend events in their area. I didn’t know their names, nor could I even remember what they looked like. I gave them my username for networking purposes as they were potential customers. I certainly didn’t think any of my actions during that brief time were flirtatious or suggestive.

    I’m a very smiley, sociable person. I would never want to restrict that in order to reduce inappropriate and unwanted attention from others. I shouldn’t have to. No one should be making these kind of assumptions based on my sexuality and the fact that I was friendly towards them.

    The sad thing is this kind of experience is really common for me. I hate how I never get asked how I am in a message, or asked what I want or what I’m looking for. People only state their wants and needs, as if I will immediately stop what I’m doing so I can fly over to theirs. (Presumedly leaving a trail of condoms and sex toys along the way, as I’d be unable to carry much whilst using my unicorn wings). People never speak of what they could bring to my life, they only write about what they want me to do for their sex life. They never offer to go out or do anything together or get to know me.

    There is a sketch of a phallic object with an arrow pointing to it with the label ‘sex toy’. On the other side of the picture is a sad stick figure. There is an arrow pointing to them with the label ‘objectified bisexual’.

    The myth that bisexuals are all super horny greedy sexed up individuals is just that, a big stupid myth. All I really want is someone to share my life with, so it would be nice if I could be considered for someone’s primary relationship for a change.

  • biphoria

    biphoria 4:48 pm on August 23, 2015 Permalink  

    Pre-Pride email 

    Our latest email bulletin is out now with news about the bi presence at Manchester Pride.
  • skibbley 1:13 pm on August 23, 2015 Permalink  

    Restrictions on speaking about BiCon overly restrictive 

    I enjoyed BiCon and thought almost all of the organising communications were bang on.

    The only think I'd like future BiCons to do differently was the policy on speaking about BiCon.

    I think the BiCon 2015 Policy sheet I was sent as a session facilitator would be perfect for core team members. I think an agreement when making corporate decisions to not speak as individuals much about the event is sensible. I can also see why limiting internet arguments and being careful with the press would be important to the team.

    For non team members I also think that asking everyone to be super clear that they are not speaking for BiCon is a good idea: it may not be obvious to everyone who does what in the bi community. When people are helping on BiCon's behalf such as on the desk, I can see them getting mixed up with core team in unproductive ways especially when "on duty."

    I think it is an entirely reasonable request that people who have a problem with BiCon try to sort this out with the organisers in the first instance. I also hope that everyone would check facts and get some background from BiCon before giving interviews to the press and would be clear what were personal impressions, feelings and opinions rather than speaking for the event or the wider community.

    I thought a policy that I read as attempting to bind say workshop organisers to not speak to the press and not discuss BiCon online was overly restrictive.
    I'd prefer people to feel they can and should discuss our community openly where they wish. Being given suggestions and requests from BiCon is fine and helpful. I don't want to feel the need to ignore BiCon guidelines or argue with them, possibly with official sanction against me for doing so. I don't want to be seen as lying about accepting rules or breaking agreements. I like the role other policies such as the code of conduct have in setting joint community aims and expectations.

    As it was, I didn't have a single bad thing to say about BiCon, didn't see any internet arguments and was happy to check-in for a briefing before speaking to the press. Still, I'd like future BiCons to not try to limit the speech of attendees.

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  • MrandMrs 4:35 pm on August 22, 2015 Permalink  

    Is Bisexuality Different for Men and Women? 

    Being a bisexual woman.

    The prevailing feeling is that it is more acceptable for a woman to be bisexual than a man. That society is happy to accept a woman that is attracted to other women. I would have tended to agree with this, until I realised that I was actually a bisexual woman.

    I think that it is deemed okay to be bisexual if you are a women in current society, but only if you are under 25 and blonde and very attractive. Basically you have to provide fodder for male fantasies, a non-threatening object of lust, magnified in appeal because you also like men.

    This isn't the reality for most bisexual women. We aren't all young, super pretty and up for a threesome with a man who would get a kick out of acting out his fantasies. We are real people. Of all ages. Some married to men. Some to women. Some with kids. We work at different jobs. Some are disabled. We are as varied as any other demographic. And yes, some bisexual women are young and attractive, but that is the minority.

    When, like most of us, you don't fit the acceptable mould of a bisexual women things aren't as easy. You cannot be an object of lust, you are just a woman with a minority sexual preference. However, due to modern society's desire for youth and beauty, the experience of older bisexual women isn't that much different from that of all women. If you aren't young and pretty you are basically ignored.

    Being a bisexual man.

    There appears to be no hyper sexualised image of bisexual men like there is with young good looking women. There does appear to be an unfortunate recurring meme of evil men being bisexual. The lack of a hypersexualised image of bisexual men could be said to be helpful. When I read about bisexual women being propositioned for threesomes, I'm grateful that male bisexual's don't seem to fall into this hyper sexualised category.

    There are still no prominent positive male bisexual role models in the public eye that have reached a large audience.  Because of this not many prominent media personalities, sportsmen, public figures or high flying career men have chosen to come out as bisexual. Many will assume it's a private matter that could only harm them if it became publically known. Many will be correct in their assumptions.  However the lack of positive role models that these demographics would provide means the stigma is perpetuated.  Recent YouGov polls in the U.S. and UK have shown that over a quarter of the population are basically bisexual to some degree.

    In the absence of prominent openly bisexual male role models, and a prevalent stigma of a male bisexual being evil or predatory, bisexual men are left with being brave and stigmatised, or coming out selectively to a chosen few.

    In my opinion the problems arise when coming out to male friends who may start to feel threatened or targets of imagined sexual advances. These are the same people harbouring homophobia or believing bisexual myths.  Knowing when it is safe to come out can be tricky and scary.  I've seen others test the water with me to see if I am LGBT friendly, such as talking about themselves not judging the lifestyles of consenting adults, waiting for me to reciprocate.  If you are asked this and agree, then do reciprocate clearly.  Sometimes I have just politely nodded or smiled and this is not enough to provide reassurance to them.

    I always drop hints, or talk about related subjects first, to judge someone's reactions to LGBT matters.  If they use derogatory language about any sexual minority or transgender people then they are off the list of people who I like well enough to tell about my own sexuality. Their tone of voice can matter here since many will not know the correct terms to use.  Kind words said with wrong or offensive terminology are better than correct terms said with venom and spite. In my opinion intent is more important than politically correct words.

    The 'choice' about coming out as a bisexual man in a different gender relationship is a blessing and a curse.  Those wanting to live authentically, the hearts on their sleeve types, may still decide that their career would be better served by using cautious and discretion in coming out to selectively chosen work colleagues.  This can cause internal conflict about being proud and true to yourself and others and maximising your career success and possibly even family relationships.  I talk about careers and being male because many industries are male dominated, especially at the top of career ladders.  Therefore the attitudes of males towards bisexual men can have quite an effect on one's career.  I don't blame anyone in this position wanting to try to remain closeted to get ahead before coming out, although I personally think the more of us who are out the better it will be for others.

  • Blogging in Shadows 12:55 pm on August 19, 2015 Permalink  

    BiCon 2015

    Inclusivity has always been at the heart of my values.  I’ve felt like I don’t belong, been actiely erased, dismissed and ignored for years.  BiCon, and the Bi’s of Colour group has helped combat the loneliness and isolation and otherness I’ve felt in a big way.  It’s why BiCon is the highlight of the year for me and so many others.

    This year I gave a presentation with two other bisexuals of colour on what we have been up to as a group for the last five years, since the group’s formation.  It was wonderful to see how things had changed, and how much more of an accepting place BiCon has become.  But more needs to change.  During the weekend, I was spoken to in a really harsh manner by a few people who treated me like a research subject, instead of a human being.  The middle-class, white, academic bias many attendees have ingrained in their psyche, was something I found disappointing.  This came to the fore, both in casual meetups over lunch and dinner, and also in a few workshops (especially the nonbinary gender one).

    There were some wonderful things that eclipsed the bad this year: there were 19 bisexuals of colour in attendance at the Bi’s of Colour session.  We raised £190 for the Bi’s of Colour History Project , and the Steven Universe Sing-along was one of the most enjoyable sessions I’ve taken part in!

    BiCon 2015 took place in Nottingham University.

    BiCon 2016 will be at the University of Preston.

  • bisexualblogs 11:15 pm on August 17, 2015 Permalink  

    Hannah’s Write Up of BiCon 2015 

    TW: Mention of depression, and suicidal thoughts and feelings.

    This year’s BiCon has been my best for several reasons. One is simply down to the fact that it was my fourth BiCon, so I knew what to expect and felt very comfortable for the whole weekend. I knew lots of people, I knew what to pack, and I knew what I wanted to get out of the conference. I had a chilled out time with plenty of naps.

    My room was right next to registration and the location for the breakfast & evening meals, and all of the evening entertainment. So I was a happy hobbit with not having to wonder very far.

    Fourth BiCon/having lived in two big cities/the fact that I run a group in the city where BiCon was being held… All of these things meant that I didn’t have to make any effort with socialising this year. This was a wonderful thing as I suffer from very low self esteem and always feel people are not interested in talking to me. The awkwardness of shuffling over to people to try and start a conversation with them was completely removed this year, as wherever I went people recognised me and approached me to chat & hang out with. Thank fuck for that!

    Another reason why BiCon rocked for me this year was that during the closing plenary the leaders of local bi groups were given a purple unicorn to say thank you. I was absolutely delighted to receive one and was very moved by the gesture. Thank you Rowan!


    Photo description: a very cute, soft, small, purple unicorn cuddly toy poking its head and two front legs out of a black handbag.

    The workshops I went to really helped me increase my knowledge and equip me with lots of practical steps to take in terms of improving my group and doing more bi activism in my area. Sam Rankin of The Equality Network was a particular inspiration. Her workshops were absolutely stellar. The confidence with which she presented her material, and her anger at the biphobia that plagues our country’s society and services were extremely validating for me. When you’re the only bi person in every meeting you attend, when you push and push for inclusion but never get let in, you start feeling like a tiny lamb bleating about bisexuality in a world of spiteful sheep. After some time of false compliance and facing resistance to all you say and do, you feel like you’re being silly. Like you should go home and not bother. Like it’s not really that important after all. Seeing Sam speak so passionately and eloquently has instilled me with confidence and reassured me that I’m on the right path. That I’m fighting for the right thing. Thank you!

    Another wonderful thing was being able to introduce myself to people I follow online whose work I admire. Got totally bi star struck when meeting activists such as Hilde Vossen and loved having the chance to talk to them.

    Several other people (including a published author) complimented me on my writing – which provided a much needed boost to my self esteem…

    …You see I have a confession to make. My mental health has been very poor lately. Recently I have spent many hours and days lying in bed feeling such intense emotional pain I have been unable to move or function. I have been so depressed I have planned how to take my own life and what I would need to do in order to wrap up lose ends before I go. BiCon really helped me clear my mind and calm me down and cheer me up. Everyone is so lovely, friendly and supportive. Being at BiCon makes me feel like everything is going to be ok. It makes me realise I have so much support for when things aren’t going ok. I feel like everyone is on my side.

    And that’s what makes BiCon so special and so important really. I did cool things like tasting tea and going to a beautiful exhibition at a gallery, but it’s always the people that make it for me. It’s catching up with friends and making new ones. Being loved and supported. Having your sexuality validated. It’s those little moments of hanging out in between workshops, or sitting on the grass in the sun with a drink or three. Looking round during the ball and seeing everyone laughing and smiling and looking happy.

    Thank you so much to the BiCon organisers and volunteers. I am so grateful you made it happen. Congratulations and well done on running such a huge, successful event!

  • skibbley 4:02 pm on August 17, 2015 Permalink  

    Catered food at BiCon 2015 

    A few initial thoughts about food at BiCon 2015.

    As far as I know this was the first BiCon with most meals included in the registration fee. We're more used to self catering, bringing food with us, going out for meals or buying them on-site (perhaps in advance).

    I go to a lot of work events and I expect though don't welcome bad or non-existent vegan food. It doesn't seem to correlate with expense: one of the most expensive venues didn't know what was in their food and couldn't find out or managed a main meal with practically no carbohydrates, protein or green veg. Some student unions have been excellent.

    I know Nottingham, Beeston and the university well and so could easily find other food if I needed it and I brought a little of my own (yay vegan jerky!) I'm also privileged financially in that I could order in or buy food if I wished and I have many friends at BiCon who would feed me if I asked. I can deal will missing the odd meal though wouldn't like it, particularly if stressed or ill. I find food I like comforting. I'm into good food and quite critical of bad food (food for me, not so much other people's taste in food) though I can and will eat a wide variety of vegan fayre without major distress or adverse bodily reaction. When I've been other places where I'm unsure there will be good Grant food, I've brought more of my own for my own peace of mind.

    I don't come to BiCon for the food though meals and chat over snacks at BiCons with other attendees have been many of the best bits of BiCons for me because of how social they have been and I chose not to do that this year but instead to try the meals offered.

    I found the BiCon venue's food inadequate at lunch on the first day though I got to it late because I was being interviewed for the local radio. I thought it was quickly corrected to something better the next day. Otherwise the food was OK to live on for a couple of days if uninteresting. The bulk food serving seemed a bit inefficient for a venue used to conferences though perhaps we are unusual in demanding good accessibility but not wanting a lot of frills. Again, they made corrections within a day. I don't think it was particularly expensive though could be wrong. I thought the cafe by the day venue quite pleasant.

    I found knowing where I might find most attenders at regular points of the day an unusual highlight of BiCon this year. I liked being able to sit with or near other BiCon people especially sharing with people I don't otherwise know and so would be less likely to have met on a meal out. I liked having an easy place to arrange to check in with partners and friends. I found the dining hall a little loud but not much too loud. On Friday night I was very tired and food was close to my room and easy to get apart from the queue.

    When I've organised community stuff I find it makes attendees and organisers lives much easier if people are well fed and watered.

    I know I can sometimes latch on to a concrete thing to fix discomfort on, such as catering, rather than deal with anxiety around say sexuality or unstructured social time with many strangers with social rules outside the ones I usually see or my hopes for a peak life changing experience. I suspect some others may do the same so I try to be understanding of the worry rather than arguing the details of the snacks.

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