From Black Girl Dangerous
I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to realise this is me. This is me in bisexual communities. This is me in activism spaces. This is me in my friend groups. This is me in the whole damn world.
I’m not your Mammy.
From Black Girl Dangerous
I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to realise this is me. This is me in bisexual communities. This is me in activism spaces. This is me in my friend groups. This is me in the whole damn world.
I’m not your Mammy.
Post 1: Practical things, how the day went, an overview of content.
At first I felt really apprehensive about attending the Stonewall Bi Role Model Day. We had been emailed over some booklets in advance to get us thinking about role models beforehand. Whilst they served this purpose well they also triggered a lot of negative feelings for me and I grew weary of what Stonewall were planning to do. This was down to the fact that the booklets only seemed to contain one token bi story each. (Several people featured didn’t label their sexuality.) So it left me wondering why they couldn’t have made any bi specific resources to send us? I was afraid that the day would involve non bi staff telling us how to be role models without listening to our experiences or addressing issues which are specific to our non-monosexual lives.
Thankfully I needn’t have worried. After a brief introduction by Edward Lord (who funded the event), the chief executive of Stonewall stepped forward to welcome us and begin the day. After a short speech Ruth explained she would be leaving so it could be a bi safe space. I was really grateful for this action and I thank her for it. She got up early and gave up her time on a Saturday morning to show the event had full support from the organisation, and then recognised that it needed to continue without her. I also liked the way she specifically said that trans people were welcome and had a place there.
The three facilitators were absolutely brilliant. The fact that they were bi staff put my anxieties at ease. The event was well run and well planned. All the sections flowed really well together and the content was clear and concise. The facilitators led the day with the right mix of professionalism, warmth and humour. They contributed experiences from their own lives where appropriate. They listened and took on board people’s ideas and suggestions as the event went on. They let attendees speak and contribute.
Practicalities first. The layout of the room didn’t quite work for me as we were all sat in one large | _ | shape and the chairs were very close together in order to fit everyone in. The seating arrangement sadly meant anyone on the sides couldn’t see the other people in their row and it was a struggle to hear what was being said at times. Also having seats without any tables meant you couldn’t lean on or support your weight for comfort so my limbs started aching quite early on in the day. Drinks were frequently knocked over as people had to put them by their feet on the floor so I often accidentally stood or put my stuff down in wet patches.
I feel like these are minor points to raise – but I know others struggled with this arrangement too. So much must depend on what room they are able to acquire, and I guess this layout was chosen to facilitate communication and moving around but I feel like a different format might work better in the future?
However on a positive note the location was right in the centre of London and (as an able bodied person) was very easy to get to by public transport. It was also close to many major train stations. Food and drink were plentiful throughout the day and the facilitators didn’t mind me constantly standing, sitting, standing, and going for walks in the corridor to ease discomfort. Dietary requirements were catered for too. People could write their own name labels. The event was free and transport costs were reimbursed.
People had travelled from all areas of the U.K. to be there, both urban and rural. There was a mix of trans and cis gendered people. BME people were also present. Those in attendance had a wide variety of life experiences. For example:
Some people had not come out to any/many people. Some were well known activists or people who’d been out for a long time.
Some people had known they were bisexual for decades. Others had recently realised.
Some were writers, or LGBT network members at work, or leaders of organisations. Some were none of these things (and that was ok).
As is often the case with these kinds of events, one of the main benefits is that everyone can look round the room in awe and think, look how many of us there are! In the same place at the same time! For a lot of people it was their first experience of being in a room with so many other bis. It’s a powerful, liberating, and validating feeling. Especially for those from smaller cities, towns and rural areas who don’t know any/many other bis and don’t have a support network.
Another plus for me was the chance to feel safe in public. It’s so rare. I feel unsafe and anxious nearly all of the time when I leave the house. So when I step into bi friendly environments like the one on Saturday I feel like a huge weight has been taken out of my heart and off my shoulders. I almost just wanted to lie on the floor and sigh in relief. Then take a nap.
I wish it were possible to write everything talked about during the day.
Below is my failure to summarise!
Content wise the day started with setting guidelines of how we could navigate through the event together whilst keeping it a safe and comfortable space for everyone.
We were then asked to think of role models in our own lives (which could be anyone) and the idea was put forward that no one person encompasses everything. We look up and want to emulate different aspects of different people. After we explored the idea of what a role model is. Who can be one? What does it mean to be one? How can you be one?
Role models don’t have to be perfect or get it right all the time. Nor do they have to be super heroes doing super duper things. For me one theme of the day was thinking about the power of ‘small’ actions. A lot of people in attendance felt they were not role models. Or that they couldn’t be unless they did x, y or z. However something like coming out to one other person, or challenging someone on something they’ve said can all be radical and empowering acts. We shouldn’t discount how much of an impact ‘small’ actions can have on the world and on other bis.
Often just seeing someone being bi and comfortable in their own skin can be life changing. I know it was for me when I met Jen Yockney. And it still is so affirming when I meet others who comfortable/confident with their own bisexuality.
We also looked at bi specific things related to being a role model. I found it really interesting how the words people associate with role models such as honesty, trustworthiness, and being genuine can be a burden to us. As these are often things bi people feel they have to spend their lives trying to prove to monosexuals that they are! So we don’t need additional pressures being added to this when we are trying to empower ourselves and others. Instead we explored other ideas of what a role model can be. E.g. Curious? Learning? Fragile?
We were also encouraged to focus on the things we can do and the things we want to do. And not to feel guilty if can’t or don’t want to do something.
Self care isn’t selfish!
Finally one person mentioned the burden of when you are out and bi and are trying to do x. Others automatically expect you to know what you’re doing and expect you to do the heavy lifting.
Later on in the day we looked at what barriers prevent us from reaching our potential as role models either internally or externally. Then we looked at potential solutions.
In the afternoon we did an exercise in threes where one person spoke uninterrupted for 5 minutes about things they wanted to start, things they wanted to stop and things they wanted to continue. After there was an additional five minutes where the other two could ask questions and offer their thoughts or advice. I found this helpful as it meant no one could dominate the group. You often don’t realise things until you speak out loud and have a sounding board. People offered me some very useful pointers to take going forward.
The event was wrapped up by getting attendees to write our 3 key themes of the day in our own notebooks and then completing a statement provided. Anyone who wanted to share their statement to the group was welcome to in a circle at the end, and it was very moving and empowering to hear people’s answers.
Finally it was group photo time then home!
I do have one last thought to share with regards to content. One thing which I felt could have made clearer is the effects of bi erasure. It was only because someone pointed this out that it even got mentioned. Some in the room were aware of bi erasure but I know others weren’t. It needed to be said that our invisibility is not our fault. Being a visible role model and taking action no matter how big or small does help and as I mentioned before it can have huge impacts. But it will never solve the issue of on its own. We need others in society to recognise us, support us and stop erasing us. Just knowing about erasure is a really empowering thing in itself! It means we don’t blame ourselves for our invisibility and suffer the effects of believing that.
But that is a minor niggle from a wonderful event. Others may well have left feeling very different and I would love to read other people’s write ups to compare experiences. But as you can tell I found the day to be very useful, affirming and empowering. I learned so much which I will have to blog more about later.
I’m really glad Stonewall is offering programmes like this for bi people. It is vital that they continue to do so. I know they will run another one of these days in September.
One day doesn’t erase years of hurt for me. Though it has made me feel less weary and afraid about engaging with them in the years to come. I even signed up for more information about volunteering!
I look forward to seeing what else they do for bi people in the future. Lots more I hope.
Black Lives Matter. And that includes black bisexual lives too.“
Check out the Bi’s of Colour report. https://bisexualresearch.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/bis-of-colour-survey-report.pdf
Bisexuals have higher rates of suicideality, mental and physical health problems, Poverty, homelessness etc than cis lesbian and gay people. Black people have the highest rates too.
Where do you think this leaves black bi people, especially thoae of us who are also Trans and cis women/ gender Variant?
Photo credit: @heardinlondon
The Golden Road to Hell
There are racists with good aim:
White folks who know how to throw a brick;
How to spit,
How to hit their mark
On my bloody back.
They’re easy to spot,
I can try to avoid
But their strong arms
Make my bones and my spirt crack.
And then there are well-meaning racists,
With soft words
And good intent.
And silence as your life goes down the golden road
They make you hurt.
They leave no mark.
And they smile at you all the while.
How can I avoid
What I can hardly see?
So many of them in alternative communities.
And when I bleed
The pain is on the inside
My lungs fill with blood
From their two-faced lies.
Must I choose
Between a kick, a bruise
And those who dismiss, withhold and use?
I can dress physical scars
With bandages and gauze.
How can I soothe?
How can I heal?
The disdain they hold me in their eyes?
Never being seen as human
By an enemy who smiles.
It makes me doubt my own mind.
But racism is a tool to keep folk like me down
Whether a punch to my face
Or destruction with a smile.
On Saturday 25 June, I had the privilege of speaking from the main stage of London’s LGBT+ Pride as Deputy Chair of Pride’s Community Advisory Board, representing bi people and communities. This is what I said:
“It is twenty years since I first got involved in Pride in the Capital.
And it was in that year, 1996, that bi and trans people were for the first time recognised in London Pride’s official title.
Twenty years on we are still here, out and proud.
Whether we identify as bi, queer, pan or in any other way, we stand here shoulder to shoulder with our LGBT+ siblings fighting against homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia.
That is what Pride is all about.
Have a great day everyone. Happy Pride.”
By Jacq Applebee
I lost my voice for several months when I was a child. I don’t talk about it much. I pledged myself to become an ambassador of silence, and now I use my mouth in other ways.
As a teenager I learnt sign language, but even that was too involved. No, I preferred the fluid voice of a human body in motion. I listen to facial expressions, and I read kisses like journals. A long drawn out groan means more to me that a library of books.
A lack of words however, does not mean a lack of sound. I’ll murmur with delight when I eat rose-petal chocolates, I’ll sigh when I sink into a hot bath. The noises I make when I come surprises me every time. My mouth holds power, and it is something that I treasure. I choose to be mute only when it pleases me, and it pleases me to communicate without words. Why would I spend my time yapping, when my mouth is capable of so much more?
I long for a silent world, and want to draw a hush around me – the quiet is a comfort blanket that muffles the rest of existence into distortion. If only I could keep that blanket around me when I dream, when I lose control, and am surrounded by the sounds of screaming. I’d cut my tongue out if I knew it would silence my nightmares.
I like my lovers to keep their mouths shut when they are with me. I have ways to quieten those who cannot help themselves. Take Professor James Fitzgerald, for instance – his Southern Irish accent was mellow and sweet, but he talked far too much. He was the youngest professor in the University, and he insisted that everyone call him by his first name when they spoke with him, but I longed to hear his real voice. I wanted his body to speak to me.
I knew he wanted to screw me from the first moment we met. He had come to my accounts office in the basement of the University with an expense sheet. I was impressed; this was something that most other academic staff saw as beneath them, a thing they would get their secretaries to do, but Professor Fitzgerald said that he wanted to get a feel for the place. I think he was secretly checking out the potential for some action. All that blarney wasn’t fooling anyone, and I reeled at the volume in which his eyes swept over my round soft curves. However I heard something else beneath the flirting – the gaps between his lilting words held a hidden concern; he was unsure of me. My silence was a deep pool he could not fathom.
The next day, we sat in the private dining room at the top of the University’s oldest building. For almost three hundred years, only the most senior academics had used this space for their meals, but I was allowed in as a guest of the professor’s. There were no noisy students here, no clanking pots and pans. I was more grateful than he would ever know.
I savoured my carefully prepared meal, and enjoyed the sly looks that James gave me. He started recommending what I should have for dessert, his voice a low whisper, but it was still too much.
It was the first word I had spoken all day. I lay my warm brown hand in James’ pale one, and he smiled with surprise when he noticed the card that I had slipped him, with my address and a time written neatly on it.
“Tonight?” he asked softly, and I nodded before rising to leave.
I had a long way back down to my office, but I didn’t complain. I enjoy my job, and a major perk of this is my assistant, a beautiful deaf woman named Kate, whom I’ve dated a few times. Numbers are her language. We get along just fine.
As an ambassador of silence, I always prepare before venturing into new territories. At home later that evening, I set out my supplies before James would arrive and the real adventure would begin. Ball gags are the main tools of my trade. I lined them up on the white bed sheets – my modest arsenal in my campaign for quiet. I fingered a large hard gag made of resin. This was not really something for beginners, but James was generously proportioned, and it might just fit. I lifted my perforated dribble gag next; that little beauty usually led to a complete loss of composure for whoever wore it. I put my pony-bit gag away; it was more for show than anything else. There would be no theatrics tonight. A few homemade creations were included in the line-up – three knotted scarves were for the more nervous of my lovers. There was one last addition, a rigid dildo made of swirls of blue and white silicone. I adored the firm feel of it inside me, and as a bonus, it had a bulbous base that could double as a gag too.
My thoughts were interrupted by my mobile phone vibrating on the bed. I switched it off, and answered the front door.
“Sorry, but your doorbell doesn’t seem to be working,” James said apologetically. In truth, I had disconnected it when I first moved here years ago.
James stood in my hallway, and looked nervously around. He opened his mouth, and I place a finger to it.
I kissed him, pressed the directive inside with my lips and my sweeping tongue. I wanted no words between us. I held his hand and pulled him after me, my footsteps swallowed whole by the thick carpet.
When we reached my small bedroom, James froze on the threshold. He gaped at my collection of sex toys, and then he turned to me smiling a wide naughty smile. I stepped to the bed, and held up the smallest gag in my collection, a soft red sphere that hung from a strip of thin leather. I silently asked him if he wanted this, by raising an eyebrow.
Of all the things that could have happened next, I never expected one of them would be Professor Fitzgerald making a dive to kneel at the side of the bed. He reverently ran his hands over the line of gags, and I was shocked beyond belief.
Once I had recovered, I drew the red gag over his face. He arched against the toy, and quietly sighed. I read his exhalation like poetry, knew just how he felt. He had found something he loved, and a thing that he never thought anyone else would want to indulge him with. My heart sang at the knowledge that he would be a citizen of my silent world.
James remained on his knees as I buckled the gag, adjusting it until I achieved the perfect fit. He grunted, and I translated the sound. He adored the full warm sensation, and he loved the liberty of restraint. He was now free to scream until his lungs hurt, and a muffled murmur would be the only thing that anyone would hear. I lifted his hand to my face, and kissed the inside of his wrist.
“Welcome,” I said with the action. "Welcome home.“
I shouldered out of my long simple dress, and stood naked before the professor. He watched me as I moved, but remained on his knees by the bed. I crooked a finger, and he shuffled to me, eyes wide with longing.
James was a tall man, so I could rub my breasts over his frizzy black hair from his position on the floor. He nosed my skin desperately, increasing the speed and the friction with every movement. I could hear my own heart beating as I gyrated against him, a roaring drum in my ears. I grabbed a handful of his wild hair, and he stilled after a moment.
It was now time to open relations with the natives. I sat on the edge of the bed, and James instantly leaned forwards, following me. A firm yet gentle hand on his head stopped him, and he looked up at me with a question in his eyes. I shook my head, and opened my legs instead. My fingers reached into my pussy, spreading my lips wide. All my professor could do was to kneel where he was, and inhale my rich scent. This was a special type of communication, animal-like and base, but as I watched his chest expand with an intake of breath, I heard his hunger clearly. I grinned at the loud hiccup as he tried to draw my fragrance deeper.
James was a quick study, and I rewarded him by slipping a finger inside myself, only to smear it along his stretched lips; a taste of things to come.
I reached to the collection of toys, and produced the pretty dildo. James tilted his head, and made an inquiring noise behind his gag.
I placed a finger to his lips, and then quickly removed the device from his mouth. James flexed his lips, working out the stiffness with see-sawing motions of his jaw. I gave him a moment before I pressed the dildo to his mouth, then pushed the base of it inside. He dutifully accommodated the tool, and when I removed my steadying hand, he bit down to hold it inside him. I almost laughed as James looked down at the jutting dildo – he went cross-eyed at the effort.
I lay fully on the bed, and spread my legs once more. My pussy was an open invitation that the good professor accepted, by climbing up to squat at my feet. It took a few tries but eventually he managed to position himself so that he could push the dildo inside me. The solid strength would have made me speechless, if I wasn’t already struck dumb by the moans James emitted with every shove. I could hear other things – my sticky juices made sordid music that I could listen to all day.
My quiet world threatened to shatter with my building climax, and I panted, keened, but I did not scream out. I remembered my place as an ambassador. Wherever I go, and whatever I do, a hush should follow. This was my commodity, my skill and my pure sweet heaven. There were no other words for this; none that I could express in English anyway. I came to the sound of explosions in my head. James stumbled back, and the dildo lay protruding from my pussy like the flagpole of my new nation.
"Well, that was different,” James said breathlessly. He yanked the dildo out, and replaced it with his heated face a moment later. He planted persistent kisses all over my pussy, with urgent open-mouthed phrases. I listened to his dialect as he stroked me with his tongue. Then he spoke directly to me with a kiss to my clit. I willed the involuntary sounds to stay inside me, but every sweep of his tongue brought the start of a scream to my lips. Screams were for my nightmares only – they had no place here. I came once more, with my mouth stretched wide, and my hips clenched around the head of a professor.
I fumbled for the dildo, and stuck it into my mouth as I came down from my climax. I sucked contentedly, and tasted my juices with every slurp.
James wearily climbed up the bed to lie beside me. He kissed my shoulder affectionately, and I gurgled like a baby. But as the sound of childishness touched my ears, a different kind of silence fell over me like a shroud. James seemed to sense my shifted mood, and he pulled the covers over us both. A dozen different gags toppled to the floor and rolled away unheeded.
I listened to James’ heart thump against me, like a slow Morse code that I didn’t have to decipher. I felt safe and sleepy, and so very satisfied. Maybe that’s why I chose that moment to do something that was rare for me. I stepped out of my silent world for just a second, opened my mouth, and I spoke out loud.
“I saw my best friend die when I was eight years old. I screamed at her to move back from the railway platform, but my words made no difference. She fell in front of a speeding train.”
James said nothing, but he wrapped his arms tight around me. I stayed in his embrace until I fell asleep, and when my dreams came, only the softest whispers could be heard.
The QTIPOC picnic was more than an alternative to London LGBT Pride. This was a space where queer, trans and intersex people of colour could relax and have fun in a safer space. There was no expectations, no gatekeeping; just the warm weather, good music and shared food and smiles. It was great to see so many bisexuals of colour in attendance too!
This was not an event for tourists and sightseers to look at - this was a space to join in conversations, take pics and simply chill out. It was fantastic!
We are not allies; bisexual and asexual people are part of the LGBTIQA umbrella. And don’t forget Intersex people too!
Saturday 25th June marks London LGBT Pride. It also marks the Queer Trans and Intersex People of Colour picnic in Burgess Park, London. So if you’ve had enough of pinkwashing of racism, colonialism, biphobia and transphobia in London’s Lesbian and Gay scenes, go to the picnic instead! There will be no corporate sponsors pushing alcohol, no armed forces, and no facist hate groups. In fact, this will be the polar opposite of what London LGBT Pride has become. The hashtag for this picnic is #Notyourfuckingrainbow and that kinda says it all…
Visit the page at https://www.evensi.uk/queer-picnic-2016-burgess-park/177570693 to see the map and to learn more.