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  • skibbley 12:02 pm on June 30, 2015 Permalink  

    Prides 

    Perhaps now would be a good time for every LGBT Pride event to:

    1. Have a top level ethos and mission to be for all LGBT people and not to be oppressive

    2. Have a clear strategy and policy of positive anti-discrimination, diversity and equality, to include at least all equality strands or protected characteristics: Be clear that Pride will work to be a space free of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia and also of racism, discrimination against the disabled, sexism etc. Mention every strand so it is clear they are all important. Make sure everyone working together is committed to agreed strategy

    3. Have procedures for effecting anti-discrimination policy: check with possibly affected groups that strategic and tactical decisions do not adversely affect them (ideally, the management of Pride would already include such voices), deal with community concerns properly, make sure codes of conduct are agreed and binding on partners too and lobby for statutory bodies to work to the same standards

    4. Make sure appropriate guidance and training are in place and refreshed regularly to make sure everyone is acting in accordance with an anti-oppression ethos of Pride

    5. Reflect on any problems or concerns and update policy and practice in line with best practice and help others do the same. Get help and advice as needed and don't exploit oppressed groups further in doing so.


    Perhaps now would be a good time for LGBT people to ensure their local Pride will do this.

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  • Blogging in Shadows 7:00 am on June 29, 2015 Permalink  

    London LGBT Pride, Part Two: The rubbish bit 

    UKIP, a fascist political party has its own LGBT group.  They applied and were accepted to march with the Pride parade in June.  However, there was a bit of a backlash from LGBT PoC and others, who said a hate group had no place at Pride.  Pride had accepted the inclusion of this group without telling anyone on their Advisory Board about it, including me as the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic member’s representative.  I was so disgusted at this underhand tactic that I resigned my post.  I wanted nothing to do with an even where UKIP would appear.

    As a result of this, and heaps of bad publicity, London Pride issued a statement saying that UKIP’s LGBT group would no longer march in the parade, due to “safety concerns”

    All of this came to nothing when UKIP’s LGBT group crashed the parade, pushing their way past the Lesbian and Gay Immigration group.  For more info on this see: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/ukip-sneaks-march-pride-london270615

    I would never have attended Pride if I had known a hate group would be in the march, that wants to see people like me dead.  I feel as if London LGBT Pride has once again, screwed over People of Colour, in allowing this entire debacle to happen.  There were hundreds of stewards and police along the parade route; why did they do nothing when this incident occured?

    Because they don’t care about us.

    At the start of the parade, a man protested over Barclay’s Bank being present (and at the front).  He was wrestled to the ground by a Pride steward, and then arrested by the police.  The same people did nothing when UKIP barged in.  That group hadn’t paid a marching fee, and they hadn’t signed the code of conduct agreement.  Many small charities had to pay to be part of the parade, but UKIP got in for free by shoving black people out of the way.

    I am incredibly upset about this.  So I’m going to cheer myself up by looking at Part One of this, over on the Bi’s of Colour site: http://bisofcolour.tumblr.com/post/122742976253/london-lgbt-pride-part-one-nice-bits-i-attended

     
  • Traveller_23 9:51 pm on June 26, 2015 Permalink  

    LGBT Asia: Thoughts About Bisexuality 

    I promised a follow up post to the short talk I gave at the Southbank Centre a few weeks ago, so here it is. With anything we write or say beyond cathartic self-expression, I believe the reactions people have to our work are very important to note. Given the short amount of time we had for discussion, I wouldn't say any of us had the chance to fully articulate our positions. As such, I don't want to single anyone out or criticise anyone, and will rather be speaking generally. The below is an amalgamation of themes that arose from discussions after the event had come to a close, and I wanted to expand on certain impressions people seem to have of bisexuality that keep cropping up in my life.

    One of the most honest things I've heard in a while was around jealousy, and how gay men and lesbians may be jealous of bisexuals given we are capable of having heterosexual relationships. As perceived by them, this allows us to gain access to heterosexual privileges and shields us from homophobic discrimination. And yet, our realities are often a little more complicated. It's true that heterosexual relationships are still more socially accepted - whether in Bangladesh or the UK. And in Bangladesh, some very significant legal barriers fall away as soon as you are involved with the opposite sex. And so to a certain extent, I can understand the jealousy. It's rooted in how our world is currently structured and not something to be dismissed - although it's important to note it's not this way because of something bisexuals have done. But there is more to it than that. If you're openly bisexual, the homophobia, and indeed the biphobia, don't suddenly go away. We merely face a different set of prejudices and stereotypes when we enter an opposite-sex relationship - the questions about when we're going to cheat, when we're going to “switch” sexualities again, and of course the "everlasting taint" of any same-sex partners from our past. So yes, while we may be able to get married, and get that couple's honeymoon deal no-awkward-questions-asked, acceptance itself can remain an elusive goal.

    This brings me to another point often made about how the word bisexual is a label people use to hide behind and lessen stigma. I can understand somewhat, given what I've just written, how coming out as bisexual may sometimes seem easier. At the event, I was told that this was the reason certain gay men in the Asian community come out as bisexual, thereby creating a sense of mistrust around anyone using the term. People wonder if a man claiming to be bisexual is actually gay and I know the story of the bi-now, gay-later men is an oft repeated one. How these men navigate between these identities can vary, and I've been told by several that the label of bisexuality was in fact a safe halfway house for them. But for others, their sexualities have been fluid, and the change in labels was more an honest necessity. And beyond this are those who are in fact still bisexual, but the biphobia and lack of understanding makes it easier for them live out their lives as gay men. There's a myriad of possibilities here, and it's important to take each story and consider its merits without generalising. The truth is no one really knows what's going on in someone else'd mind, and so no one really know what someone else's sexuality is. Passing judgement is risky business, and often judgement passed is through a prejudiced lens. Effeminate men seem to be one of the biggest targets here – apparently some guys are such queens that there is no way they could be bisexual. However, the reality is someone's mannerisms do not define who they are attracted to or aroused by. If we stripped away the heteronormative assumption that traditionally defined masculine men are the only ones capable of being attracted to women, this would be easier for a lot of us to see.

    Going back to the original point about stigma, I also question if telling people you are bisexual really does protect someone from prejudice within South Asian communities, diaspora or otherwise. Based on the personal experiences of myself and others, I cannot imagine how identifying as bisexual instead of homosexual would make coming out significantly easier. Any confessed attraction to the same-sex can be taken with surprise, seen as an abnormality or met with hostility – regardless of whether it comes packaged as bisexuality or homosexuality. To add a more specific biphobic dimension, when some Bangladeshi people hear I am a bisexual man they seem to assume not all hope is lost for me. I am seen as fixable, and continual suggestions to fix me are made - I can still find the right woman after all, unlike a gay man who is condemned to his fate.

    I will end this here, as this is not meant to be an exhaustive post on the dynamics of bisexuality and prejudice, similar to how our discussions themselves were not exhaustive. I hope at least some parts of what I've written have been accessible and relatable. I know biphobia is a topic more and more people are writing about nowadays, and so I remain positive that we are moving in the right direction. I'd also like to thank everyone who attended on the day (if any of you are reading!), because it is events like these that also serve to build bridges where there may be none!

     
  • Neil 5:05 pm on June 25, 2015 Permalink  

    5 Great Bisexual Blogs 

    Sharing in the personal thoughts and reflections of another bisexual person through a blog can be an intimate and powerful experience.  If you’re uncomfortable with your bisexuality, then witnessing others confidently identifying as bi and expressing themselves openly on a blog can be really empowering.

    Blogs can also help us to better understand our own bisexuality, providing us with the opportunity to recognise ourselves in the experience of others, and to learn about unfamiliar and different experiences as well.

    Here are five of my favourites:

    1) Eponymous Fliponymous – Patrick RichardsFink

    A self-described ‘angry bisexual with a keyboard’, Patrick RichardsFink is one of the most articulate voices in the bi blogosphere. He covers the full gamut of bisexual issues, including identity, bisexual erasure and gender.  I particularly like Patrick’s writing on the experience of bisexual men. Also check out his writing on biphobia, starting with this passionate post.

    2) Bisexuality and Beyond – Sue George

    Sue George has been blogging about bisexuality for nearly ten years, making hers one of the longest running bi blogs out there. A journalist by trade, Sue writes beautifully about a wide range of bisexual issues.  I recommend taking some time to browse her substantial archive of posts, as many of her early posts remain relevant today.

    Sue’s current focus is the experience of older bisexual people. Her excellent ‘Bi and Over 50’ interview series is well worth checking out.

    3) The Bisexual Bangladeshi

    Eloquent and thought-provoking, this blogger details his experience as a young bisexual man coming out to family, friends, and work colleagues.   He writes about his efforts to reconcile his sexual orientation with his religion, and also reflects on sexuality and Bangladeshi society.

    This is a blog providing valuable insights into bisexuality, religion and culture, but it’s also very good on the universal issues that we face as bisexuals, such as the process of self-acceptance.

    4) Hannah Bee’s Bisexual Blog

    This new blog established itself earlier this year with a great series of posts providing advice on how to set up a local bisexual group.  Hannah also writes about biphobia and media depictions of bisexuality, as well as reflecting movingly on her experience of bisexuality, family life and bereavement. Her recent post on the lack of LGBT-specific sex education in schools is excellent.

    5) Eliel Cruz

    Eliel Cruz is a talented and prolific writer specialising in bisexuality, religion, media and culture.   While Eliel doesn’t have a personal blog, he writes regularly online in The Advocate, Huffington Post and Mic.  I especially like his articles which reflect on his own experience, such as this one on biphobia and this one on bisexual identity.

     

     
  • bisexualblogs 8:00 pm on June 24, 2015 Permalink  

    Bisexual Visibility at Manchester Pride 

    Originally Published September 2014

    Last year I took part in Manchester Pride Parade for the first time by joining BiPhoria’s walking entry. It was an amazing, exhilarating experience but I left with a lot of ideas of things I wanted to try for the parade in 2014.

    The parade at Manchester Pride is massive. Thousands of people line the streets to watch behind metal crowd barriers. Over 100 entries take part and many of the larger groups and businesses have decorated floats, marching bands, goodies to hand out to the crowds and amazing costumes (e.g. people on stilts). Things which are sadly beyond the scope of smaller walking entries comprised of a 10-20 people like BiPhoria.

    Last year whilst we were walking in the parade I noticed a lot of puzzled looking people, and I could hear some in the crowd asking those stood next to them who we were.  However I did notice that the bisexual flag was being photographed a lot, and people really responded to the bubble swords I’d brought; often asking for photos of us/the flag with bubbles in!

    For the parade this year I wanted to build on what worked well for two reasons:

    1. To prevent the bisexuals from getting lost amongst all the larger, more well known entries.
    2. To help people realise who we are and why we’re there.

    So I made two A3 sized signs and taped them onto broom handles for people to carry and  brought two sets of poi. This worked really well as I could see/hear people reading the signs. When someone asked who we were I heard the reply of “They’re the bisexuals!” One of our party was even filmed twirling poi by a camera crew from Channel 4 before the parade started, and a few of us managed to stand behind him holding our banner! (Though I haven’t been able to find footage of this anywhere yet.) Another member of the group brought little pots of bubbles which again went down very well. Lots of kids kept shouting us over so they could have a go at blowing some bubbles for themselves. So cute!

    bi sign

    The signs meant we could put out a more visible message against biphobia, and increase awareness that bisexuals exist and have their own group/scene in Manchester. I hope it made people think and helped challenge some of the assumptions made about us and our sexuality. I’d like to use the signs for BiTopia in the Nottinghamshire Pride Parade next year.

    image (1)

     
  • bisexualblogs 8:00 pm on June 24, 2015 Permalink  

    A Look Back at 2014 

    Originally Published Dec 2014

    As we’re approaching the end of December I thought I’d write an entry to summarise the year…and what a year it’s been! We’ve had 12 pub socials at The Lord Roberts, a post BiCon meet up, Christmas drinks and we’ve marched in the Nottinghamshire Pride parade. BiTopia attendees have also gone to other events such as The Big Bi Fun Day and BiCon 2014 together, and several people have had things published in Bi Community News (BCN).

    We normally have between 12-20 people per meet up, and about 40-50 people have attended at least one of our events in the past 12 months. This is an outstanding achievement for the first year of a new group, made possible only by the work others have done in helping me to spread the word. I would particularly like to thank uncharteredworlds, the editor of BCN and the person who runs the East Midlands Bi Network emailing list for all their hard work and support in this.

    The highlight for me has been watching friendships grow over the course of the year and seeing a local bi community develop.  It’s also been really meaningful to see the group become a source of support for bisexuals and those questioning, exploring or struggling with their sexual orientation.

    2015 looks to be another promising year. Thanks to the help of unchartedworlds we now have a date set for our new discussion and workshop based event (BiTalkia) which will run several times a year in addition to the monthly pub social. I also want BiTopia to take part in Pride again and look into creating some sort of display for one of the libraries in Nottingham for LGBT History Month. I will continue to attend the LGBT and KIN meetings run by the local police and encourage others to attend too to make sure we are represented and our voices are heard.

    Whether you’ve donated money to us, lent us washing line poles and banners for Pride or supported us in any other way not mentioned in this post, thank you. It really means a lot.

     
  • bisexualblogs 7:02 pm on June 22, 2015 Permalink  

    Lush has got it wrong with their “gay is ok” soap 

    A link to a Gay Star News article popped up on my Twitter feed this morning with the announcement that Lush has launched a brand of soap with the words “gay is ok” on. The money raised from the sale of this product will go to global LGBT charities via AllOut, and the article also mentions the soap cannot be sold in countries such as Russia or Qatar. I felt really frustrated and angry with Lush, and the way that Gay Star News (and probably many others) are reporting this new product for several reasons.

    The first is, unsurprisingly, its focus on the word gay. Why just gay!? Why can’t Lush make a “bi is ok” bath bomb or a “trans is ok” shampoo? Why not just a bar of soap with “LGBTQ+” on? Or how about they donate the profits of an existing product? (This would be less harmful than just selling a soap labelled “gay is ok”.) That way maybe money could still be raised from sales in countries with anti-LGBT laws such as Russia? What Lush has done is damaging and erasing. It makes me want to throw all my toiletries at them and yell “Bisexuality is ok too!” or even “Bisexuals exist!”. The use of a “gay is ok” product and social media campaign whilst making statements about how important LGBT issues are to Lush really bothers me as well. Gay does not hold the same meaning as LGBTQ+. People need to stop using them as if they are interchangeable.

    Secondly their bi erasure on their website is painful:

    If you can’t see the image, the text on one picture link reads “Homophobia and transphobia: get your facts straight”.

    They also use language such as “The fight against homophobic prejudice…” and “International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia”. (IDAHOT was officially changed to IDAHoBiT this year to include biphobia.) Gah.

    Thirdly I feel angry and frustrated that Gay Star News (and others) are also using bi erasing language in their articles and headlines. For example here’s the headline to the article I linked to earlier:

    Lush launch #GayisOK soap bar to help scrub away homophobia

    *Waves “I exist” sign.*

    Finally the article also mentions that:

    Lush will also be encouraging customers to post selfies of themselves holding the #GayisOk soap, to spread the message over social media to all corners of the globe.

    Friends, can we try and hijack this Twitter hashtag with messages like “Bi is ok too!”, “Trans is ok too!”, or messages to Lush asking them to make their website more bi friendly and bi inclusive.

    Thanks for your help!


     
  • bisexualblogs 10:02 am on June 21, 2015 Permalink  

    Lost (TV Show) 

    Lately I’ve been re-watching Lost, the TV show which ran for 6 seasons from 2004 – 2010. The show was unfortunately a victim of its own unsatisfactory ending and has never been remembered fondly since. It is also known for having too many unanswered mysteries, despite the fact that nearly all of them were resolved by the end! However I’m finding the re-watch to be absolutely gripping. To get the most out of it, I’d recommend shifting your focus from the sci fi/fantasy aspect of the show and enjoying it as a strong character drama. Some of the themes that run throughout involve love, loss, loneliness, friendship, family conflict (especially absent, cruel, and dead parents), survival, good v evil, science v faith, free will v fate, and the question of what happens to us when we die. I find the show a really interesting fictional format to explore all of these issues.

    I was 18 when it started, and a decade later I see the show in a different way than before. I’m only on the second series at the time of writing this, but the female characters are not being written very well in my opinion. Whilst they are many in number they don’t have many storylines outside of their relationships to a man or outside of motherhood. (E.g. Rose, Claire, Sun…) One exception is Kate, a very strong and independent woman who  can rescue herself and others as well as any male character. However, even whilst she’s off roaming the island to move the plot forward with the men she’s caught up in a whirl of sexual tension love triangle. Most of her angst and character motivation comes from the fact that she unintentionally got the man she loved killed. I’m looking forward to seeing how the female characters are written throughout the rest of the series. I hope it gets better, but I don’t think it does! Sigh.

    I realised this morning that I couldn’t remember seeing any LGBT characters in the show. It’s always a great shame in any sci fi/fantasy show when this happens. It subconsciously conveys the idea that things such as smoke monsters, seeing dead people, and tropical islands that travel through space and time are all more normal and easier to understand than the fact that someone isn’t straight. Double sigh. This is an especially big fail in Lost’s case when you consider the sheer number of characters that must total up to several hundred. Surely more of them could by gay, lesbian, bi or trans? Surely there could be more same-sex characters and couples as background extras and minor characters? WRITERS, IT’S NOT THAT HARD TO DO!!

    What makes me doubly sad is that a decade on, they still haven’t changed. A lot of the same producers and writers for Lost went on to work on the show Once Upon a Time. Sadly it’s still a case of creating a world where murder, mass murder, dragons, magic, torture, children being the same age as their parents, being able to travel between worlds… etc etc. all regularly occur BUT GOD FORBID WE HAVE AN LGBT CHARACTER! Once is also just as bad for not casting BME people in anything other than small supporting roles. Though oddly the show does a lot better than most shows in terms of awesome female feminist characters…BUT IT SHOULD NEVER BE EITHER/OR IN THESE CASES. A SHOW SHOULD BE ABLE TO HAVE A DIVERSE CAST, DIVERSE CHARACTERS *AND* WELL WRITTEN FEMALE ROLES!!

    And breathe.

    So how many LGBT chracters are there in Lost? According to this website there are two gay males and one assumed bisexual (Hurley’s sister in law). Who leaves Hurley’s brother for another woman.

    *throws laptop out the window*

    Please excuse me whilst I go and sulk in the Swan Station with a poler bear and dream of representation in the media.


     
  • Neil 6:17 pm on June 18, 2015 Permalink  

    How to support a bisexual person 

    Being bisexual in a society which doesn’t understand or accept bisexuality is difficult.  When bisexual people look for help and information, they often don’t find what they need.  Organisations like BiNet USA and The Bisexual Index do a great job of providing online information, and there are local bisexual groups in many larger urban areas.  In general though, bisexual people are poorly served compared to gay and lesbian people.  It’s common, for example, for there to be relatively few bisexual-specific resources available at LGBT centres.  This increases the importance of well-informed support from individuals who know a bisexual person.

    You might be reading this because a friend or relative has come out as bisexual to you.  If so, you are doing a great service to that person by exploring how you can help them.  Here are some suggestions:

    1) Learn about bisexuality and why it’s hard to be bisexual

    Before anything else, educate yourself about bisexuality.  Understanding bisexuality and the challenges bisexuals face in our society will enable you to appreciate why support for bisexual people is so vitally important.

    Life is hard for bisexuals because society doesn’t generally acknowledge bisexuality as a real and legitimate sexual orientation.  I’ve written before about the commonly held misguided beliefs about bisexuality which are so hurtful for bisexual people.  Learn why the myths and stereotypes are wrong.

    Here are some key facts about bisexuality in a nutshell.  Bisexuality is a real, common and enduring sexual orientation.  Bisexuals comprise the largest group within the LGBT community.  Bisexuality is not a phase or a stepping stone to being gay or straight. Bisexuals are no more greedy, libidinous or non-monogamous than anyone else.

    2) Be encouraging and positive

    Being open about being bisexual is a major achievement.  In order to come out, bisexual people have to overcome fear and accept that they will be exposed to prejudice.  In short, it takes real guts to come out as bisexual.  Celebrate that achievement.  Affirm and recognise their bisexuality. Let them know that you appreciate how hard it was to be open about it. Praise them generously for their courage in coming out and being themselves.

    3) Show an interest, but be respectful

    Being curious about someone’s bisexuality is understandable, and showing that you are interested can be a helpful way of demonstrating that you care and don’t see bisexuality as something that’s outside the boundaries of polite conversation.  Limit your curiosity though, in exactly the same way you would if you were talking about any other personal topic.  The fact that someone is bisexual doesn’t mean they’ll be happy to be asked intimate questions about sex or sexual preferences, for example.

    Asking about a person’s experience of bisexuality, such as how they developed a sense of identity around it, and what kind of problems they have encountered, shows that you are sensitive to their wellbeing and would like to understand and know them better.  If they don’t want to talk about those things, then respect that too.

    4) Don’t assume or suggest that a bisexual person is really gay or straight

    When someone says they are bisexual, assume that they’re telling the truth.  While it’s true that some gay and lesbian people initially say they’re bisexual in an attempt to lessen the extent of homophobia they might suffer, this phenomenon has nothing to do with the experience of bisexual people.  Similarly, don’t assume that they’re really straight, and are going through some kind of bisexual phase.

    I know from personal experience how much it hurts when people have questioned my bisexuality. The first person I came out to as a teenager told me I was a confused straight person.  The second person I came out to told me I was gay.  Both were wrong, but their lack of acceptance affected me deeply, and I went back into the closet for many years.

    It’s just not respectful to tell someone that they don’t know their own mind or experience.  Bisexual people have to pluck up a lot of courage to come out, as they know that many people don’t believe that bisexuality really exists.  Show bisexual people the respect and admiration they deserve, and believe what they’re telling you!

    5) Don’t suggest they limit themselves to heterosexual relationships

    Sometimes people suggest that a bisexual person should choose to have relationships only with opposite sex partners in order to avoid prejudice directed at same sex relationships.  The problem with this approach is that it validates society’s hostility to bisexuality by encouraging bisexuals to suppress part of their sexuality.  The best way for a bisexual person to be happy is for them to feel free to have relationships with whoever they want, not to deny part of themselves.

    Remember a bisexual person has no choice about who they are attracted to, just like a gay or straight person has no choice about who they are attracted to.

    6) Challenge biphobia and homophobia when you encounter it

    If you can, whenever you hear comments and beliefs which put down bisexuals or homosexuals, challenge them. Politely let the speaker know that you find what they are saying unacceptable.  Do this even when you’re not in the company of a bisexual person.

    Try to challenge beliefs and assumptions in yourself and others that there are only straight people and gay people.  For example, when you see a same-sex couple holding hands in the street, consider that one or both people may be bisexual.  Notice how often the term ‘gay and lesbian’ is used without including ‘bisexual’.  Try to include ‘bisexual’ when you talk about a relevant matter. Changing this kind of understanding creates space and awareness in your mind and the minds of others for bisexual people.

    7) Let them know you are there to support them long-term

    Having an ally, someone who sticks up for you, who understands bisexuality, who’s there to help, makes a huge difference to any bisexual person.   Let them know that they can talk to you if they have a problem relating to their bisexuality. Bisexual people face an ongoing battle against biphobia and misunderstanding.  Being open and available, should a sympathetic ear be needed, is a great service.

     
  • Blogging in Shadows 6:26 pm on June 16, 2015 Permalink  

    Bi’s of Colour History Survey Report:

    This is the report I wrote from the Bisexuals of Colour History survey.  If you’ve ever wondered what our lives our like, how we mesh our cultural and sexual identities in a harsh world, click on the link!

     
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