Manchester Remembers #BiHistory as part of Awareness Week

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Manchester kicks off the week of Bi Visibility Day today with a Bi Coffee meet & chat focused on our community history.

The city has a long record of bi activism, with the UK’s longest-running bisexual group and BCN magazine published there since 1998. But it also has a history of challenges, with a city council that had the non-existence of bis as a matter of policy through the 80s and 90s, and a gay scene notorious for “no bisexuals” door policies up until the passing of the 2005 Goods & Services Act.

The meet will be followed by an outing to see Pride, a film about the relationship between some queer rights campaigners and pit workers at the time of the 1984 coal miners’ strike: an era when bis were especially invisible and scapegoated within gay and straight communities alike.

Find out more here on Facebook.

Our #BiHistory: Let’s hear it for @BisexualHistory

bisexual history project

bisexual history projectIt’s Bi Visibility Day on Tuesday and all week we (and a host of other bi organisations) will be championing different aspects of our community and bi experience. In the UK there is a modern thread of some 33 years of bi organising since the launch of the London Bisexual Group in September 1981.

The Bisexual History Project runs the @bisexualhistory twitter account which gives a daily snippet of bi life from years gone by: whether ‘bi community’ or in the public eye, long gone or recent history.

They are always looking for extra dates to add to their calendar so if you have any bi history to add to the mix, drop them a line.

All their twitter dates are cross-posted to the facebook page too.

Get in touch via Facebook or Twitter to get involved or add your dates.

2012: Manchester Council Responds

town hall manchester

Manchester: now leaving the 1980s

To round off our Bi Stories for LGBT History Month, a story that spans the past and the present.

In 1995, members of Bisexual Action Manchester lobbied their city council about its Equal Opportunities and Diversity policies and statements.

The council’s diversity monitoring offered three options for sexual orientation: Heterosexual, Gay and Lesbian. Service user monitoring and job application equalities paperwork did the same. Not surprisingly, Bisexual Action thought that if you had enough room for three options, and had already asked about gender, this could be somewhat improved.

The council knocked this back saying that the Equal Opportunities sub-committee saw no need to amend or revise such things for now, but thank you for your interest and we’ll bear it in mind.

That was 1995.

Today, 29th February 2012, at the council’s annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Consultation Day the council announced a review of the equalities policies. They intend to consider whether – as amongst other things we have largely moved from talking about L&G to LGB&T – perhaps it is time to update such documents. This would mean building on changes a few years ago which led to a peculiar blend of LG and LGBT highlighted during last year’s LGBT History Month bi talk in the city.

Lead councillor in Manchester on gay men’s issues, Paul Fairweather, told BiMedia of the review: “I think we are looking – because we haven’t reviewed our policies for a long time. I think the debate is whether we keep specialised workers or move to a more generalised system.

“My view is we need more specialised workers. We’ve developed more work around B and T issues recently. We’ve included bisexuals, we talk about LGB not LG in the consultation day, and we have had bisexual workshops within that day. I think we are keen to work with bisexual groups in the city.”

So BiPhoria and Bisexual Action may yet be pressing at an open door, albeit probably more down to the new public sector equality duty and less down to pressure from bis within and without the council.

It took somewhere between a decade and a touch over sixteen years. Quite speedy for a council…

2009: Bis At Work

For many years the people who ran bi groups and events picked up anecdotal information about bi life, but it was only relatively recently that this turned into formally  researched academic findings that did not merge gay and bi experience.

One such was Ellison and Gunstone’s research in 2009 on lesbian, gay and bi people’s experiences. This was produced for the EHRC: they said that bis found it much harder to be out in the workplace,

“Seven in 10 lesbians (69 per cent) and gay men (70 per cent) felt they could be open about their sexual orientation in the workplace without fear of discrimination or prejudice. This contrasts sharply with only around two in 10 (23 per cent) bisexual men and three in 10 (30 per cent) bisexual women who felt the same.”

2009 also saw the Stonewall report on bisexuality and employment, which highlighted similar issues.

September 2003: Brighton swings our way

The mystery is how there wasn't a group for so many years before 2003...

Brighton BothWays started in September 2003. It was the first specifically Bi group for 18 yearas to run in the city that’s been known for its large and vibrant LGBT community for decades. The group has always been open to allies as well as bi people and those questioning their sexuality.

The group has been been through several incarnations over the last eight and a half years – the present structure with a monthly CoffeeMeet and TalkySpace has been running since 2009.

The group has organised four day-long BiFests and had a presence at several Brighton Prides. They work with other LGBT groups in the city on collaborative projects, and have held diverse events including camping trips, self defence classes, Life-drawing, a book-group, and clubbing. In recent times they’ve marked their group’s birthdays and celebrated Bi Visibility Day through events with cake and “bisexual cliché bingo”.

Find out more here.

(It wasn’t the first: Brighton Bisexual Action Network briefly flourished in 1985)

 

Submit your favourite bi people and events to remember for LGBT History Month – see here for details

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