When I’m using my tablet the spellcheck/autocomplete keeps on replacing the word “bi” with “no”!
I was very confused at first and then I realised that on the QWERTY keyboard letters B and N and I and O are adjacent to each other. It’s very easy typo to make when you are using a touchscreen like a tablet and in fact, if you’re dyspraxic like me, it’s a very easy typo to make when you’re using keyboard (even a full-size one with a nice guttering between the letters). And “no” is obviously a much more high-frequency word than “bi” is (it’s probably one of the highest frequency words there is) so the spellcheck must be assuming that’s what i mean to write (because it obviously thinks it knows better than my fingers what my brain wants to say).
But for me “bi” is actually a pretty high-frequency word – so I keep finding I’ve written things like No Activism and No Visibility Day … hmmm!
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When I’m using my tablet the spellcheck/autocomplete keeps on replacing the word “bi” with “no”!
1. Baby BiCon: a look back at the younger people's Bi event, ask young bis if they would like something similar, if so, find a couple of youth workers to facilitate?
2. Bi youth: resource for youth workers / teachers etc?
3. Bi bus: touring bisexuals in a big bi bus visiting a town or village near you
4. The anon: whisper / secret / Experience Project etc. online and in sex spaces around the country bi people make themselves known anonymously. Who are they and what if anything would they like to have a happier life?
5. Discreet meetup: a lunch or after work meetup could allow people who don't want to be out to meet other bisexuals in a "normal" environment.
6. Bi music event: there are some excellent bi musicians and bands with bi followings. We could have a concert / gig / album
7. Connecting via music: We could have a radio programme / podcast of bi relevant music through the years
8. Bi books: the same thing, books important to bisexuals; meet at the library
9. Zines: so many bi zines and difficult to find older ones.
10. Bi TV / films: Film festival? Gaps for a new one?
11. Bi theatre: BiCon the Opera anyone?
12. Bi art of other types: sculpture? Paintings? Photography?
13. New bi book: already happening!
14. New music: any good bands out there doing bi relevant stuff?
15. New film / video: recording is cheap for basic stuff. Who writes screenplays or wants to get some facts across?
16. Where do we search, what do we find? Do we contact assorted "communities" of bis online? What do searches find?
17. Fundraising: let's do some?
18. International BiCon: It has been a while. How about organising mostly remotely? site? Travel funds?
19. EuroBiCon: Happening! Do we want a travel fund to get people from every European country?
20. Crossover: disability (people in both, being bi in disabled communities / scenarios, being disabled in bi spaces – access, prejudice)
21. Crossover: race / ethnicity
22. Crossover: Age
23. Crossover: Gender reassignment
24. Crossover: Marriage and civil partnership
25. Crossover: Pregnancy and maternity
26. Crossover: Class
27. Crossover: Religion and belief – for each and for none
28. Crossover: Gender - sexism in the world and in bi spaces
29. Crossover: Sexual orientation – biphobia, homophobia by and to us
30. Mapping privilege – where are we on the pyramids? How do we measure this? How to change?
31. Bi history – preserving and selecting from now, preserving older stuff, learning from and being entertained by it.
32. Science! What causes sexuality, fluidity, homophobia, biphobia – what do we know, what do we want to know?
33. Other crossovers? Where are we? BDSM, academia?, queer DIY? SF? Poly? Goth? Bears?
34. Stuff we do that isn't bi but we do a lot of: poly, some anti-oppression – transferable skills
35. Help? Helplines, centres, therapists, friends..
36. Language: words we use, changes, want, non-verbals
37. Languages: UK, Euro, world -‘terps and translators
38. Infrastructure: Good pop-up events with minimal admin?
39. Innovation: support and train and safety net the next set of ideas
40. Bi businesses?
41. Bi in the workplace – corporations, charities, civil service, voluntary, unions
42. Bi and mental health – disorders, experiences (I'm doing some of this one)
43. Looking in depth into worries about bi life
44. Looking in depth into dreams and utopias: what we want the world to be like
45. Longer term campaigning? What would we work on for years, decades?
46. Bi and queer and pan and omni – working out community connections / arguments
47. Bi academia – what are you doing? Informing whom?
48. What evidence base do we need? How do we justify our group needs?
49. Testing our assumptions: checking myths etc. of our own.
50. BiFests: thoughts and reflections
51. How do we measure how well our stuff goes? Cost / benefit?
52. Most annoying things in bi life? To fix.
53. Most happy things in bi life? To celebrate and do more of.
54. Mediation and group dynamics. How do we do conflict?
55. Professional help – what could we fund bis to do or buy in?
56. Diversity: What are we missing?
57. Why are we (individually) doing organising and participation?
58. Humour – where are good bi jokes?
59. Dating, sex, relationships: how to find others, make connections, navigate relationships
60. Bi Groups: could / should / do we want to / does anyone want to have more, fewer, different?
61. Not having martyrs – asking, passing on, dropping, pausing, 2nd level support for busy bisexuals
62. BCN: Been going a while. Thoughts and reflections?
63. BiCon: We already talk about this a lot.
64. Politics: Do we have space within community for political debate? Rules of engagement?
65. Lobbying: who and why?
66. Big Bi Fun Day: Reflections. Similar elsewhere too?
67. Online "community" – where and how do we want to keep in touch?
69. Students (working with NUS, local universities, internationals)
70. Schools – what do we want taught (formally and informally)
71. Threats (SWAT) and paranoia where threats are in fact mild
72. Mainstream, fashion, cool stuff and how we interact with it
73. Niche places: how we interact with non mainstream unfashionable and uncool
74. Books: are bi books on the shelves in homes, libraries and bookshelves
75. Journal of bisexuality: How is it? Much UK involvement?
76. BDSM bisexuals: been two, probably will be more. Thoughts and reflections and budded off projects
77. IDAHO(BBIT): International anti biphobia
79. EU / UK initiatives
80. Diasporas and travellers and migrants
81. AIB etc. other bi orgs in other countries
82. Bi.org, bimedia, bicon websites control or contribute a lot too: refresh, keep, delete?
83. Bi Continuity: Our charity and company. Next steps?
84. UK regions: Belfast, Aberdeen, Exeter - where do we rarely if ever go in any organised fashion?
85. News – do we have any or any comments on it?
86. New media – bis on whatever the cool new thing is. Gaming say.
87. Stopping stuff: What do we want to stop doing or have others cease and desist?
88. Enemies / misguided friends: interventions and strategies
89. Our own place: Do we want something with a bit of permanence? A holiday home, a club, our own castle?
90. Our bi myths and traditions – amusements, cliques, history, desire for some?
91. Bi other things: biracial etc. picking up on themes from the first bi books
92. Visitors and connectors: shall we send a delegation? Should we invite excellent people to visit UK?
93. Good health – smoke, cars, fitness?, alcohol, other drugs
94. Being happy! Do it, show it
95. Outsiders and outcasts, what do we reject / hide? Scapegoating
96. Bi style, fashion, signifiers.
97. Being sold to advertise? Capitalism and the bi.
98. Being objectified? Exotic? Nice to be wanted but... How do we deal with?
99. Commercial sex: what do we do as sexworkers or clients?
100. Generations: parent, grandparent, mentor, elder roles? Needing more care. Death?
101. Celebrating bisexuality / noticing the bis day. Coming up soon. What about next year?
Perhaps I should chill out and stop doing this sort of list and thinking and just enjoy life?
This year, on the tip of a friend at church, I applied for an internship with the events company hired by the Greenbelt charity to put up, manage, and take down the site. This meant spending three weeks stuck on an estate in the arse end of the middle of nowhere (but don't get me wrong, it was gloriously beautiful http://www.boughtonhouse.co.uk/boughton-estate/), and during the four days of the festival itself [the August Bank Holiday] I experienced as much as possible of the music, arts, debates, talks, and worship that was put on outside of my shift hours.
Professionally and spiritually, I felt inspired and enriched. But I was a little blindsided by how much I was affected personally in my experience of the LGBT events put on be Outerspace. I had googled whether there was anything LGBT at the festival and resolved to go to the Outerspace stall. It was when I was there that I was delighted to find several LGBT events taking place as well.
There was a interesting debate about marriage, and how the church is dealing with it. It was a little sad to hear one of the participants advocating a third option to add the choices of marriage and celibacy, and seeming to be under the illusion that he was advocating something fair and just, when in fact his ideas were plain suggestions for inequality. There was a conversation about the general state of LGBT issues in Christianity, followed by lovely worship that included various LGBT Christians sharing their stories. The much acclaimed Rev Andrew Cain spoke of being the first ordained priest in the CofE to marry his husband after the UK instigated the marriage bill in April, and being stripped of his licence to minister; and a woman spoke of meeting another woman, falling in love, and feeling a call to marriage, but realising that she had to choose between that call and her call to ministry and ordination - she chose the latter and they are now civilly partnered as she starts her training. They sang an a cappella two part harmony duet version of Down By the River to Pray, and whilst the singing was gorgeous, it was the glances at each other that tugged at my heart strings.
These were all wonderful, but it was one other event that hit me to my core. At 10pm on the Saturday, one of the small venue marquees filled up with people, and so began the Outerspace Eucharist. It started with a quick introduction to Outerspace, and then there was an invitation to those who, since Greenbelt last year, had had an anniversary, gotten engaged/civilly partnered/married, or come out to stand up so we could celebrate with them. I was surprised and elated to see a member of my own home congregation stand up at the call for those who had come out; I made sure I went over to him at the peace and gave him a great big hug.
It was a solid Anglican service after that, barring the rainbow altar cloth and rainbow stole on the gay priest. His sermon made me cry. I don't remember all of it - I think it was mostly about how we're slowly getting to a good place with the church and we need to keep going - but he ended by holding up a piece of yellow paper. He said he had been tidying around the Outerspace stall earlier that day, and found it on the floor, and upon reading it, immediately wanted to send it to every bishop in the CofE, with a note saying something along the lines of "In regards to how you treat LGBT people and issues in the church, read and take note." He then explained that it was a child's wordsearch, and the theme was 'How To Make Friends'. And he read out the list of words to find in a quiet, measured tone, and it was this that brought me to tears.
Say sorryBe yourself
Be respectfulHelp out
Be acceptingListenWe try and teach our children to be good people and good citizens, and this list may seem simplistic in the face of the complex theological, scriptural, religious, philosophical, and sociological arguments about being LGBT in Christianity. But we cannot let the gumpf and fluster make us forget the simple truths we learnt as children in how to treat each other. The preacher was right when he pointed out that it sometimes feels like that has been lost in the conversation, and this needs to be fixed.I've been lucky to not meet people who disapprove of my orientation. I have been blessed to find a church that not just accepts me, but welcomes me and even celebrates me! And I have 'known' that there's Christian support for LGBT people outside of my church as well. But at Greenbelt, I was overcome by the realisation that it was the first time I had truly believed it, because I experienced it, I saw it, and heard it, and my cup runneth over with the support and joy of Christians for LGBT people on a grand scale. It was heart-warming and inspired great hope for the future.
This is the third in the 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.***I am BrianDriscoll, aged 59, married to a woman for 31 years and living in a medium-sized city in British Columbia, Canada. Retired from a career in journalismWhat does being bisexual mean to you?Being bisexual means (to me) being sexually attracted to, and enjoy being with, both men and women.How did you come to think of yourself as bisexual?At age 18, I realized I wanted to experience gay sex, even though I felt strongly attracted to females. I thought that meant I was gay and felt confused and disturbed about the situation. About a year later (this is 40 years ago), I heard the term bisexual and intuitively recognized that it described me.Has your bisexuality changed over the years, and if so how?Over the years I have heard that gay people follow a path from bi to gay, and wondered if that would apply to me as well. It hasn't really. I've remained bisexual though I lean more toward homosexual in terms of physical needs and straight in terms of emotional needs. I have never felt the need for an emotional relationship with a man.What do people in your life know about your bisexuality and how do they react?My wife has known I am bi for many years but most friends and acquaintances are only now learning about my bisexuality as I have come out recently on social media. The reactions have been muted, at best. Nothing really negative or positive. In fact, I've had no reaction from most people. That does not surprise me, though. If I learned on a friend's Facebook page that he was bisexual or gay, I may not have commented directly, either.Looking back over your life so far, is there anything you wish you had done differently?I came out late in life. I deeply wish I had done so twenty or thirty years ago. If I were twenty today, I would probably come out at that age. But then, today's situation is different from the 1970s.What are your hopes and fears for the future, regarding bisexuality?That difference between then and now makes me profoundly hopeful for young bisexuals. They can (and probably should) come out shortly after they come to accept their sexuality. Coming out early can make a great difference in their lives.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 Brian has done here. For more about what to do, look at this post.Thanks.
There being nothing for bisexuality in the index didn't fill me with hope.
So a year ago, I decided I ought to have a blog. I did a bit of reading, looked at other people’s blogs and fussed for a while about exactly how I should set mine up. In the end the chose the name Heart Shaped Peg (because I’m much harder to fit into a standard round hole than even a square peg) and to use WordPress, played with themes a bit, (actually quite a lot) wrote one entry for last year’s Bi Visibility Day and promptly got distracted by other things. It happens to a lot of blogs – you see links to their long forgotten remains all over their friend’s social media and in the second and third pages of Google searches.…
I did mean to come back and write more here – but I was busy for a bit, and then in the winter the shape of my life changed rather dramatically.
It was the sort of avalanche of change that starts with a few pebbles falling. My Mum has had health problems for years. In November her diagnosis of “mild cognitive impairment” got upgraded (or downgraded, I’m not sure) to full-on dementia. And then in December, her long-standing chronic knee problem suddenly flared-up and became acutely disabling – so she started using a wheelchair. We went on Family Christmas Holiday as planned (my brother and his families live in Eastern Europe) and while we were there Dad hurt his back and also had impaired mobility. It took him several months to get better (or as close to better as he’s going to get – he still gets some pain but is back to riding his bike and holding down several part-time jobs). And so I became a part-time carer.
My parents live in London, I live on the south coast, so I’ve spent a lot of time on trains. Which was particularly fun after New Year when there was extensive flooding causing delays and cancellations. I’ve been travelling up there for a day or two or three almost every week since Christmas. It’s eaten most of my spoons.
It’s left me feeling like a bit of a failure as an activist. I’ve had to step back from co-chairing BothWays. I’m saying for now that I’m taking a year out but that’s just a guess – I don’t actually know what the shape of my life is going to be like in a year’s time. And of course we don’t know what the shape BothWays will be like in a year’s time either – maybe the current co-chairs and committee will be so successful that they won’t need, or want, me to come back. I’m currently working on hand-over –which turns out to be a surprising amount of work (well, it’s a moderate amount of work spread over a surprisingly long time). It feels very strange to let things go and am trying very hard not to fall into the trap of going “ooooo but I wouldn’t do it exactly like that”. It’s good that things evolve and I’m really pleased to be watching the group building on the strengths of its current committee.
As a carer, even “just” a part-time one, I felt that my sexuality and relationships – and my own disabilities – have often been invisible. It’s easy for my biological family, social services, medical staff and others to see me as “the spinster daughter” who doesn’t have a paid job and not see my complex web of Poly relationships and responsibilities – and all the unpaid activist-y work that I do. Also in the same way that older people are generally assumed to be straight so are their carers (it seems like thinking about carers’ sexuality is far too close to thinking about the sexuality of the people they care for and apparently that’s icky and nobody wants to think about it…)
I know there are plenty of other Bi and Poly and disabled carers out there but it’s not something that gets discussed very much (probably because we’re too busy actually being carers). So I decided to facilitate a carers’ meet-up at this year’s BiCon – which was fascinating, and painful and affirming. And I’m going to try and write about it here… well, I’ll try to do it sometimes, whenever I’ve got the time and spoons at the same time as having something to say…
And who knows what other adventures and activism I’ll find myself caught up in now that I’m not focused on running a local Bi group…
For the complete strip, see http://empathizethis.com/stories/prejudice-pride/
I was interviewed by Empathize This ( http://empathizethis.com) a great website that creates comic strips based on social justice. I contacted them with an idea, and they encouraged me to tell of my experiences attending LGBT pride. They are very open to people sharing their stories, and were helpful through the whole process.
I wish biphobia at LGBT events didn’t happen, but they do at almost every single one I’ve been to. I felt so sad when I saw the image of myself crying at Brighton pride, after I was spat on; it’s one of the most horrible things to happen in a supposedly LGBT space. I remember how alone I felt when it happened. I also remember how that incident still makes me nervous at times. However, the final image of me hugging a bisexual heart makes me smile. I am happy to be bi. I’m happy that I can love others. I just wish lesbian and gay folks would be happy to leave me alone too.
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. Otherwise, all the words are from the interviewees themselves.***I am Laura, 48, female, chronically sick from Ehlers Danlos, living in the USA since February 2013, in The Netherlands before that.I am married to a woman, since May 2013. From 1986 till 2005 I was with a man and had two children with him.How did you come to think of yourself as bisexual?
I have always had crushes on boys AND girls. Sexuality in The Netherlands is not a taboo and certainly not in my family. When I told my mother that I was seeing a girl, my first sort-of-relationship when I was 16, it got accepted without any word of surprise. When I got my first real relationship with a boy at 18, that was no subject of discussion either. I don’t even remember when I started calling it bisexuality, I do know that when I dated that girl it was not a word I used. And it did not change for me during the years.Has this changed over the years, and if so how?
After my first girlfriend I had a few sexual experiences with girls but after that I met my boyfriend, later husband, and stayed with him for almost 20 years. After that I started dating again, but by then I had a chronic illness and the responses of the men I dated was horrifying. The last date ended with the guy asking: “But what if I want to go out on Friday evening and you are tired?” and that’s when I decided I’d had it with men. So I contemplated: how about dating women. And that was quite a step. Because I knew I was interested sexually and I knew I could fall in love, but having a relationship with a woman? And I didn’t want to date women and then have to tell them, no sorry, I’d like a night with you but a relationship no thanks... But I took the step and never looked back. I met my present wife, by the way, very unconventionally, via Farm Ville on Facebook.... She was a new neighbor, saw my pic, thought hm ho, asked me if I needed something for FV and after the second talk we were both hooked.When I was dating, many lesbians had atrocious statements on their profiles, like “if you’re bi, don’t even bother dropping me a note, I won’t even write you back”. The bi-hate is so big in the lesbian world. That was very very hurtful, and still is. They try to make it sound like just one of the many preferences they have, like preferring tall women, but it boils my blood. So lets not go there today.
What do other people in your life know about your bisexuality, and how do they react?Here in the US I don’t know a lot of people, and since being gay is hard enough, I refrain from taking it one step further. When I started dating women after my divorce though, there were people who were sort of offended that they didn’t know that about me. Well, when I am with a man, you can’t TELL that I am bisexual. And if the subject doesn’t come up...Looking back over your life so far, is there anything you wish you’d done differently?Not in regards to my bisexuality, no.What about your hopes or fears for the future (regarding bisexuality)?I hope that the biphobia and bi-erasure will stop, certainly from within the LGBT-community.Any words of wisdom for younger bi people – or older ones?Don’t let others tell you what your bisexuality means for you. People like to think that they know better, but there’s only one person who knows you best: you!Would you like to help combat bi erasure and increase visibility of bisexuals over 50 (or thereabouts)? There are plenty of us out there but far too many people don't know that.I am looking for other individuals who would like to contribute their "email interviews" to this blog, as Laura has done here. For more information about what to do, take a look at this post.Thanks.
Though that's a worrying definition of bisexual so far as I'm concerned, because I've 'seen' a lot of personalities, a lot of genders and (gasp!) even some genitals as well.
It is I'm sure a well-meaning thing to say. It implies a certain "I wish I were, I just don't have it in me", and it's complete nonsense. We're as evolved and as prone to cockwomblery as anyone else.
Earlier I was reading someone (no links, doesn't deserve the traffic) bewailing that they had tried going to bi spaces, but it was just so terribly unwelcoming because they had to listen to women, too.
More evolved? Pffft. In this case: the 1950s called, they miss you and want you back.
Here's the second in the series of "email interviews" with bi people over 50. There has been a lot of good reaction to this on social media, so many thanks! We are out there.Each of these "interviews" is written by the individual concerned; the questions in bold come from me.***I'm Jan Steckel, 51, white, female, writer and former paediatrician. I live in a house in Oakland, California, USA, with my husband who is also bisexual.How did you come to think of yourself as bisexual?I’d had boyfriends since the eighth grade [aged 13] and assumed I was straight. Then, the summer before I turned 18, I sang in a band. I was falling in love with the lead guitarist, a man, when the drummer, a woman, asked me out. I made out with her that night and realized that I was bisexual, even though I ended up with the young man.What does being bisexual mean to you?It means I am sexually attracted to some people who are the same sex as I am and to some who are of a different sex from me.Has this changed over the years, and if so, how?Not much since I realized I was bi. It’s my gender identity that has changed instead. When I was a kid I thought I was a boy and that some mistake had been made. In college I wished I was a man. I was pretty dysphoric about my body’s curves, such as they were. I wanted the hard planes of a man’s body, and I wanted to love a man as another man. Almost all the fiction I wrote then was first person male, and my closest friends were male, too.Now I’m comfortable with being female. As an adult, I was always more sexually attracted to women but had a tendency to fall in love with men. Since my recent menopause, I think I’ve become more attracted to women as well as to trans and nonbinary people and less attracted to men, though my attraction to my husband has remained constant.What do other people in your life know about your bisexuality and how do they react?Most people who know me know that I’m bi. I’m pretty out and loud about it, and have been for decades. Since my poetry book The Horizontal Poet won the 2012 Lambda Literary Award for Bisexual Nonfiction, I pretty much lead my literary bio with that. One of my older female relatives told me angrily that by putting the fact that I was bisexual on the back of my book, I had disrespected my marriage to my husband, but most of my family has been pretty cool.When I first came out to my mother, she was worried that if I ended up with a woman I wouldn’t have children, or my children would be screwed up. She got over that well before I was out of my childbearing years, I think, though in the end I didn’t have kids. My Dad was probably more uncomfortable at first than my Mom, but he’s pretty cool about it now. My brother’s always been fine about it.It was definitely not cool, though, with many of my fellow physicians. That’s part of the reason I’m not in medicine anymore. Poets and writers are a lot more accepting.My husband is bisexual, too, and it’s a pretty big part of our lives. We march every year in the bi contingent of the San Francisco Pride parade, and he hosts a social group called Berkeley BiFriendly where we met. We’ve both been published in bisexual anthologies and periodicals. I just had a short story come out in Best Bi Short Stories, and he has a painting being reproduced in a forthcoming anthology of work by bi men. Many of our friends are queer, so we get a lot of support from our community around it.Looking back over your life so far, is there anything you wish you’d done differently?I wish I had dated more women early on and had longer-lasting relationships with them. I was a little passive at first, waiting for people to pursue me instead of taking the initiative.What about your hopes or fears for the future (regarding bisexuality)?I belong to an online writing critique group where some jackass keeps attacking me every time I mention writing for bi periodicals or any honor I’ve got for bi writing. He accuses me of playing identity politics. My answer to that is that I’d be delighted not to need identity politics anymore. When discrimination against bisexual people goes away, then if people don’t want to label themselves according to their sexuality, fine. Until then I’m sticking to my label and making sure young people see plenty of bisexual characters in literature. I want young bisexually inclined people to see themselves reflected in what they read. I want them to have a peer group of other bisexual people, unlike me when I was coming up.Any words of wisdom for younger bi people – or older ones?Find a peer group of other bi people, even if it’s only online. Get support from them. Try to find a safe way to come out, even if it means moving to a city with a visible bi population.Would you like to help combat bi erasure and increase visibility of bisexuals over 50? There are plenty of us out there but far too many people don't know that.I am looking for other individuals who would like to contribute their "email interviews" to this blog, as Jan has done here. For more information about what to do, take a look at this postThanks.