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  • Blogging in Shadows 11:34 am on February 2, 2016 Permalink  





    bisofcolour:

    February is #LGBT History Month in the U.K.  There are a few events with content from bisexual AND Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people.  For more information on LGBT History Month events across the country, see http://lgbthistorymonth.org.uk/

    February 4th Expansions  - 6:30pm onwards - https://t.co/lIitRwIwDE -
    Idea Store Watney Market, 260 Commercial road E1 2FB

    February 14th Peckham Library, 122 Peckham Hill Street London SE15 5JR
    1-3 Bi’s of Colour Event, with food, socialising, stories and talks. Wheelchair accessible.

    February 20th Bristol National LGBT Festival - History and Stories from J. Applebee – the only bisexual content in the entire festival! http://lgbthistorymonth.org.uk/event/national-history-day-bristol/?instance_id=2882

    February 27th Manchester – 5pm - LGBT Foundation – 5 Richmond St, Manchester M1 3HF –
    Past, present and future of Bisexuals of Colour from J. Applebee

     
  • bisexualblogs 2:46 pm on January 30, 2016 Permalink  

    Saying Something Doesn’t Make It So 

    Recently I mentioned an LGBTQ+ issue to a colleague and was immediately met with the words “But that’s not really a problem any more.”

    This happens to me a lot.

    I can understand the (false) reasoning behind the sentiment. There is a pervasive feeling amongst people with privilege in our society that, in this modern day and age, things have improved and people are now tolerant and accepting. Like we’ve reached and crossed a finish line and there is nothing else to be done. It’s 2016 you know? That stuff just doesn’t happen any more! I can also understand how the ‘I don’t see it, so it mustn’t happen’ way of thinking an take hold. For example if you are white, and your life doesn’t intersect with any/many BME people, then you wouldn’t see any violence, prejudice or discrimination against them taking place. So you could reach a false conclusion that it barely occurs. (I sadly, wrongly used to be that person.)

    I think the British media also exacerbates this, as issues such as racism in the police force or the fight for equal marriage in America often get more coverage than UK issues. Or the UK issues barely get mentioned at all. So people think it’s not much of a problem here. E.g. many people have heard of how all the Oscar nominees are all white this year, but they might not think about the lack of diversity in British film and television. And BME people are more likely to die in police custody in the UK too. In terms of general knowledge, a lot of people will know who Caitlyn Jenner is, but could they name a British trans person?

    A lot of people don’t want to think about these things because it makes them feel uncomfortable. So it’s easier for them just to say it’s not an issue, and suppress other people speaking up about it. “Just live your life and be happy.” they say. “Stop making everything into a big deal!” Or they do things like make you hide your (perfectly reasonable) posters for a protest in case you upset other people, who aren’t even affected by the issue you’re protesting against!

    And yes things definitely have improved a lot over time. But saying that things are still bad isn’t disagreeing with that, it’s acknowledging that something is still happening that people shouldn’t have to deal with. That something, like violence against trans people, or LGBTQ+ homelessness, or the fact that women are more likely to be raped if they’re bisexual needs to stop NOW. ASAP. We can’t improve anything if people won’t even accept it’s happening. It’s a powerful tool of oppression.

    It’s really frustrating when people who are not affected by an issue, or are not a member of a minority group disproportionately affected by something, insist that it’s not really a problem. Putting salt instead of sugar into your tea by accident is an example of something that is not really a problem. Saying something doesn’t make it so, and I wish people would at least listen for a few minutes before opening their mouths in these situations. If they meant well and honestly didn’t know it was an issue in society, then why can’t they take a step back and think, “Well by Jove, I’m so lucky. I was so unaffected by that awful thing I didn’t even know about it! I should learn about it, and see if there is anything I can do to help stop it.”

    On this occasion I didn’t know the exact figures, so I just mumbled quietly that it is still a problem before the conversation moved on. I have just looked it up for next time. We shouldn’t have to be walking encyclopaedias of depressing statistics, but other people often force us into that position by insisting things aren’t important or that they aren’t happening. Then they get into arguments with us when we have the audacity to point out their false beliefs.

    Life makes me tired, and I am tired of banging my head repeatedly against brick walls.


     
  • Ludy 2:29 am on January 21, 2016 Permalink  

    And The Stars Look Very Different Today 

    Since David Bowie died last week there has been avalanche of blog posts celebrating and critiquing him. This isn’t really one of them – I just want to talk about what it was like for me to see visibly Queer celebrities when I was growing up.
    I was born in the 70’s so Bowie’s early career passed me by. The gender roles I was growing up with were much more traditional (although I got good messages about what girls could achieve) and sexuality was considered far too rude to mention. There was no World Wide Web so it was much harder to find information or role models. By the time I was coming to terms with my sexuality in the late 80’s Bowie was less in the public eye but I treasured things like occasional TV re-showings of his homoerotic Top of the Pops performance of Starman. It meant so much to me to see visible, unapologetic same-sex affection. It didn’t matter to me then whether or not it was staged to sell records. It was powerful, inspirational and affirming – there were other people like me in the world! Somebody who was admired and acclaimed could be LGBT and so maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t doomed to a life of shame and hiding in the shadows.

    I don’t want this to turn into a queer 40-something version of the Monty Python Four Yorkshireman Sketch but it was a very different world then. This was the time of section 28. Without the Internet I had to wait for the few and far between times that mainstream media chose to address LGBT issues before I could hope to find out about possible sources of support. And then without anything like PayPal I had to go and buy an expensive postal order to sign up for the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement’s newsletter or save up for a phonecard to ring the local Lesbian Line from a phone box (they were only open a few hours a week and I made sure to choose a phone box well away from my home or Sixth Form College – I don’t know if I was expecting passers-by to be able to lipread me daring to say the word lesbian or something!).
    Looking back, I feel sorry for the teen I was then, the damage to her mental health and the bullying she endured. And I feel proud of her for coming out the other side, for finding other Queers and building a life for herself that was very different from the models she’d received growing up. I remember my heart racing when I stuffed an entirely innocuous self-help/health education book called So You Think You’re Attracted to the Same Sex? into a pile of young adult fiction terrified that the librarian would stare at me or say anything. And nervously watching Channel 4’s OUT on Tuesday with my finger hovering above the change channel button on the remote, just in case anybody surprised me by walking into the room even though I only dared to do it when the house was empty. I griped it so tightly it got sweaty! When I did finally find out about a local “Lesbian and Gay” group (which did actually include several bisexuals but the terminology of the time was strictly L and G – in fact it seemed pretty radical to even have the L in there) we had to rely on landlines (which might well get answered by your parents) and a photocopied newsletter to keep in touch. Some pubs refuse to let the group meet on their premises – they didn’t want to get a bad reputation. It all seems prehistoric now. Sometimes we’d meet in people’s houses and watched “gay interest” programs they’d (literally) taped from television – I fondly remember a special “Gay” edition of The Rock ‘n’ Roll Years and how very exciting and unusual it was to see LGBT people on screen. vaguely
    I am so very grateful to David Bowie – and a whole host of other heroic pioneers – for making Bisexuality visible. For giving the young me hope and strength (and some good tunes!)


     
  • Blogging in Shadows 7:39 pm on January 19, 2016 Permalink  

    Zine: That doesn't happen to black kids!:

    I decided to put the complete zine on surviving child abuse up on this blog for free.  You can download, print and read it.  You can also repost it with Credit to Jacq Applebee.

    There is a massive trigger warning – abuse on this zine.  Please be gentle with yourself whilst and after you read it.

    Why free?  Survivors of childhood abuse (especially People of Colour) are more likely to experience poverty.  I usually sell this zine, but it is too important a subject for me to keep aside for those able to buy it.  Plus, with many of my followers living outside the U.K, postage costs are prohibitive.  So I hope everyone gets something out of this free resource.

    All the best,

    Jacq 2016

     
  • jen

    jen 10:51 am on January 19, 2016 Permalink  

    Stonewall 100 and Bisexuals At Work 

    Today Stonewall presents its annual list of the UK's top employers for LGBT staff.

    The "Workplace Equality Index" is one of the organisations key programmes these days, after 25 years of campaigning for, and sometimes against, legal changes to establish either lesbian and gay or LGBT equality.

    Bisexual exclusion in LGB or LGBT spaces is nothing new, though there is an encouraging trend to address it in workplace staff networks. At BiPhoria, the UK's longest-running bisexual organisation, we've been working with employers and voluntary organisations on bisexual inclusion since the late 1990s, when the more switched-on groups started to address this.

    Research over the past decade on workplace experience for bi people tells us two key things. First, that simply having an LGBT network in place made a big difference to how comfortable gay and lesbian people were about being out at work; but no difference to bisexual staff. Second, that while around 50% of gay staff feel they can safely be out at work, bi women are half as likely to feel they can be out at work as are lesbians or gay men - and bi men only half as likely again. When seven out of eight bisexual men feel they need to mask their sexual orientation to get by at work, we've still got a lot to do.

    To me, that reflects the wider 'gay scene' where in the 80s and 90s there was widespread prejudice towards and exclusion of bi people. Back then Unison's lesbian & gay network expelled bi members, the London Lesbian & Gay Switchboard would not let bi volunteers work on its phonelines, and bars on Manchester's Canal Street had "no bisexuals" door policies.

    There has been a tendency when moving from "LG" to "LGB" or "LGBT" organising to welcome the "gay side" of bisexual people - which of course we don't have, any more than an English person is just a Welsh side and a Scottish side put together. We're entirely bisexual.

    But if your LGBT group is having a women's night out and your lesbian colleagues can bring their girlfriends, do you feel you can bring your husband, or do you feel a bit less welcome?

    If your posters and policies in the workplace talk about homophobia and transphobia, are you challenging biphobia - including biphobia from gay and lesbian staff?

    What can employee networks do?

    - Understand that you don't start with a clean slate: for example Unison's LGBT group spent several years getting from the initial change from LG to LGBT to having a thriving bi network, because they had to undo the effects of past bi exclusion.
    - Collaborate with local bi organisations around the country like BiPhoria. There's a list of them on the Bi Community News website.
    - Put Bi Visibility Day (September 23rd) squarely on your activity plan for the year alongside events like Trans Day Of Remembrance.
    - Be conscious about language; it's easy to slip from "LGBT" into "gay", yet it sends a message about which parts of the LGBT communities are welcome and the centre of your attention.
    - Assume some of your staff are bisexual. Including some of the people who you've read as being gay or straight.
    - Outreach work such as advertising in bi press like Bi Community News, sponsoring or otherwise supporting events like BiCon and BiReCon.
     
  • Blogging in Shadows 11:33 am on January 18, 2016 Permalink  

    Fear In The Lives Of Bisexuals Of Colour:

    bisofcolour:

    The abstract for this poster:

    Fear is an emotion that was raised throughout the first-ever report on Bisexuals who identify as Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic.  Fear mixed with corresponding negative experiences, which many bisexual People of Colour report, may lead to or worsen adverse mental health, including depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicide idelation.  Bisexual People of Colour have spoken of their experiences of racism, biphobia, sexism, abelism and fetishization both within and outside of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans communities.  These intersecting oppressions leads to an ongoing fear of being “out” in daily life. Fear was also raised in connection with family rejection, risks of violence including sexual violence and honour-based violence, which leads the bisexual person of colour to exist in a near-constant state of heightened awareness and dread.  All of these experiences, both lived and potential, places a great mental strain on bisexual people of colour.
    There is currently very little information on bisexual people in the United Kingdom, and even less on People of Colour who identify as bisexual; this leads to mental health treatments being unsatisfatory or inappropriate for this group.
    The Bisexuals of Colour Report can be read in full at: https://bisexualresearch.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/bis-of-colour-survey-report.pdf

     
  • Blogging in Shadows 1:26 pm on January 10, 2016 Permalink  



    Not too long before UK’s LGBT History Month.  The 5-poster set on the experiences of Bi’s of colour is almost ready to go out!

    If you are/know of a library, community centre or charity that could use this resource, please email me at bis.of.colour@gmail.com and I’ll add you to the mailing list.

     
  • Blogging in Shadows 1:26 pm on January 10, 2016 Permalink  



    Not too long before UK’s LGBT History Month.  The 5-poster set on the experiences of Bi’s of colour is almost ready to go out!

    If you are/know of a library, community centre or charity that could use this resource, please email me at bis.of.colour@gmail.com and I’ll add you to the mailing list.

     
  • bisexualblogs 5:25 pm on January 9, 2016 Permalink  

    Fanfiction is usually viewed in a derogatory way and is likely to be dismissed as badly written, childish drivel produced and consumed by “fangirls“. However people of all genders and ages write it. Some fiction will be published by the most talented authors you’ve ever encountered, whilst others are so bad you can’t read past their first paragraph but ultimately I don’t think ability is the point. Whatever their sexuality people are being inspired to write and create and I think that’s wonderful. Even if you never post any yourself, fanfiction improves your writing and editing skills just by reading it. It also builds friendships and community as people comment, critique and come together to recommend and discuss stories.

    Fanfiction is important to me for several reasons. One is that there are so few LGBT+ characters in film, books and television it allows you to input something else into a monosexist heteronormative world. With hindsight I’m no longer surprised I’ve consumed so much fan fiction over the years. If writers, producers and television networks aren’t going to portray it then fans are certainly going to take their creations and write their own LGBT+ characters and storylines with them. Hell sometimes we even give them a happy ending too! It makes a nice change from all the character deaths we get lumbered with. I suppose you could view fanfic as some kind of creative, literary wish fulfilment. 

    Fanfiction also allows us to have stories where other character’s reactions to someone’s gender or sexuality isn’t the plot. In TV & film the story for an LGBT+ character always seems to be about rejection, discrimination, bullying, violence, fighting for rights etc. If it’s not that then it’s a negative portrayal which, for example, sees bi people as hypersexual, greedy, murdering, cheating secondary characters to be used as a plot device to further someone else’s story.

    For bisexuals, even reports on piss poor representation in the media are bi erasing and biphobic. Yes Stonewall, I’m looking at you!

    So as you can see fan fiction has been invaluable for me. When I was a teenager I devoured it. I was addicted to it. I would do things like pretend to feel ill on family holidays just so I could ‘rest’ in a public library and read it on the Internet whilst my relatives went sightseeing.

    For most of my teenage years I didn’t know anyone else who wasn’t straight. In my small town I had nowhere to go to meet other people like me. There was no LGBT centre or youth group where I could get support. I didn’t even know those things existed. So fanfic showed me that there were other queer people out there looking at their computer screens too. Thanks to fanfic authors and websites I knew I wasn’t alone. More importantly, fics taught me that life would get better. It wouldn’t always be about loneliness and isolation, combined with feeling terrified that your parents might find out about your sexuality whilst you were trying to cope with being bullied at school. It taught me that when I would be an adult there would be a scene, a community that I could join. Fics gave me hope I could find happiness and relationships in the future.

    Fanfiction was also one to way to find out answers to a curious teenager’s questions. What was it like when two women kissed or had sex? How did two women have sex?! As I’ve written before, my education certainly didn’t provide any answers.

    Of course it’s not all positive. When people post LGBT+ fanfiction online (or even just link to it) they face harassment, abuse and bullying. You’re also not going to get a safe, accurate sex education from reading fanfiction! In addition unquestioning minds can absorb the attitudes of the writers of what they read and they might not find, or there might not be, any alternative view points to counteract it. If they only find fanfics saying x, they might begin to think is x true.

    Fanfic, like the media, is a reflection of the dominant beliefs and attitudes in our society. One example of bi erasure is that stories involving two women getting intimate are nearly always tagged ‘lesbian sex’, even if the characters in the story are bi. Biphobia might take the form of someone writing a character that pertains to the aforementioned negative stereotypes. People also tend to do things like take straight characters and write them as gay/lesbian. Yes fans are welcome to write whatever they like, and that’s the point I made in the second paragraph isn’t it? Though I guess what I’m trying to say is when the majority of fiction is gay/straight as it reflects our monosexist society, this sucks as it reinforces biphobia and bi erasure both internally for any readers attracted to more than one gender and amongst readers in general. I long for more bi fanfic and bi friendly fanfic!

    However at least you can (for the most part) choose, control and contribute to what you read on the Internet. In film and television you don’t have a say about content. Nor can you stop people showing endless hetero kissing and sex yet cut to a shot of lady legs behind a metal shutter because showing two women so much as brush lips will…erm…cause the viwers’ eyes to burn? Send us all to hell? Yes The Good Wife, I’m looking at you!!

    shutter shot

    The picture is a screencap from the first season of The Good Wife. A kiss between two women is implied by a shot of two pairs of legs very close together. The upper halves of their bodies remain obscured by a partially closed shutter of a storage unit.

    So yes, fanfic definitely fills the gaps of what you rarely/will never see onscreen.

    So what is being an avid consumer of fanfiction like? How have things changed over time? 10-15 years ago before Google took off it was really hard to find any LGBT+ fiction. Search engines were so crappy! So when I did find some I always quickly copied and pasted it into Word documents. If you wanted to read it you either had to be in front of your own computer, or save it to a floppy disc in order to read it on a different computer. The only alternative was printing it off on A4 paper. This was easily done with a short stand alone story, but a bit more difficult and time consuming when it was written across 70 chapters all posted on different pages of a website! 

    Closeted teenage life also meant having to delete all your browsing history and saving documents to floppy discs hidden in your bedroom so parents wouldn’t find anything on the computer. I certainly enjoy the freedom having my own laptop brings now.

    As the web grew and grew so did massive archive sites like Fanfiction.net and Archive of Our Own. It soon become a lot easier to publish on sites and blogs through creating an account rather than through having to make your own website from scratch on somewhere like Geocities. As those older sites disappeared offline over time anything you hadn’t copied and pasted was lost forever. Now you can download nearly anything and put it on your phone or kindle to read anywhere you go. Some fandoms even have communities where people record themselves reading fics out loud (not necessarily their own stories) so others can listen to them instead of read them.

    Experiences of finding fiction varies greatly depending on the popularity of the thing you’re interested in. The more well known and liked something is, the larger the fan base and the more fiction produced as a result. I’ve been lucky as the things I love have always had huge online fandoms. It’s nice to know you’ll never run out of anything to read.

    I can’t imagine a life without fanfic. My favourite stories will always stir up emotions along with the memories from the period of my life when I first discovered them.


     
  • nottmbitopia 11:40 am on January 7, 2016 Permalink  

    January 2016 BiTopia Pub Social 

    This month there is a one off change of venue as our usual hang out is closed for refurbishment. Boo.

    So join us for our pub social in the upstairs bar of The Broadway Cinema on Broad Street (NG1 3AN) on Thursday 14th January. We’ll be there at the usual times from 7:30pm-11:00pm.

    Group leader Pete will meet and greet.

    More info can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1006562626069786/


     
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