BiUK- looking back, looking forwards.

BiUK was established in 2004 by Meg-John Barker and Christina Richards, in order to promote and support bisexuality research in the UK and to create a link between academics and activists. It has always been run by a small core of volunteers, with no resources or funding other than that donated by members.

Our achievements so far include:

Because of this increased profile, in 2014 It was decided that BiUK should become a more formally-constituted organisation.  A Board of Trustees was established, and membership was closed in order to allow the Board to establish the scope and remit of the organisation, and to investigate funding possibilities.

However, this move resulted in an unsustainable administrative burden for the Board, taking time away from our core work of promoting research and activism in the UK and beyond, while also preventing us from recruiting new members who might be able to contribute time and energy to the organisation.

The Board has therefore decided to step back from formalising BiUK, and to return the organisation to its original status as a loose network of academics and activists.

Business as usual

This is a internal restructure, so most stakeholders will be unlikely to notice any change in their dealings with BiUK. Our members will continue to conduct internationally-recognised research on bisexuality; to sit on the National LGBT Partnership; to engage with the media, and to provide research-informed advocacy on behalf of bi people with Government and decision-makers. We will continue to organise events bringing together academics, activists, practitioners and community members, and, where invited, to represent bi people and bi communities on wider stakeholder groups and at speaking/training events.

Stepping back from the formalisation process also means that BiUK is once again able to open to new members, and details of how to join will be announced soon.

 

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Reading list on bisexuality and ageing

Here’s a reading list of academic literature on bisexuality and ageing. It’s a pretty small field, so the heading ‘Empirical studies of bisexuality and ageing’ is everything I know of that focuses on ageing and bisexuality i.e. that’s not about LGBT ageing more generally. If I’ve missed anything, please let me know! The ‘Non-empirical literature’ list is not exhaustive, these are just some of the most commonly cited academic book chapters and articles.

Empirical studies of bisexuality and ageing

Special Issue of the Journal of Bisexuality on Ageing and Bisexuality (2016) 16:1:

  • BÉRES-DEÁK, R. (2016) “I’ve Also Lived as a Heterosexual”—Identity Narratives of Formerly Married Middle-Aged Gays and Lesbians in Hungary. Journal of Bisexuality, 16, 81-98.
  • HILL, B. J., SANDERS, S. A. & REINISCH, J. M. (2016) Variability in Sex Attitudes and Sexual Histories Across Age Groups of Bisexual Women and Men in the United States. Journal of Bisexuality, 16, 20-40.
  • SCHNARRS, P. W., ROSENBERGER, J. G. & NOVAK, D. S. (2016) Differences in Sexual Health, Sexual Behaviors, and Evaluation of the Last Sexual Event Between Older and Younger Bisexual Men. Journal of Bisexuality, 16, 41-57.
  • WITTEN, T. M. (2016) Aging and Transgender Bisexuals: Exploring the Intersection of Age, Bisexual Sexual Identity, and Transgender Identity. Journal of Bisexuality, 16, 58-80.

JONES, R. L. (2011) Imagining bisexual futures: Positive, non-normative later life Journal of Bisexuality, 11, 245-270.

JONES, R. L. (2012) Imagining the unimaginable: Bisexual roadmaps for ageing. IN WARD, R., RIVERS, I. & SUTHERLAND, M. (Eds.) Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ageing: Providing effective support through understanding life stories. London, Jessica Kingsley.

JONES, R. L., ALMACK, K. & SCICLUNA, R. (2016) Ageing and bisexuality: Case studies from the ‘Looking Both Ways’ Study, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK https://bisexualresearch.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/looking-both-ways-report-online-version.pdf

ROWNTREE, M. R. (2015) The influence of ageing on baby boomers’ not so straight sexualities. Sexualities, 18, 980-996.

WEINBERG, M. S., WILLIAMS, C. J. & PRYOR, D. W. (2001) Bisexuals at midlife: Commitment, salience and identity. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 30, 180-208.

 

Non-empirical literature on bisexual ageing

DWORKIN, S. H. (2006) Aging bisexual: The invisible of the invisble minority. IN KIMMEL, D., ROSE, T. & DAVID, S. (Eds.) Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender aging: Research and clinical perspectives. New York,ColumbiaUniversity Press.

FIRESTEIN, B. (Ed.) (2007) Becoming visible: Counseling bisexuals across the lifespan, New York, Columbia University Press.

JOHNSTON, T. R. (2016) Bisexual Aging and Cultural Competency Training: Responses to Five Common Misconceptions. Journal of Bisexuality, 16, 99-111.

KEPPEL, B. (2006) Affirmative psychotherapy with older bisexual women and men. Journal of Bisexuality, 6, 85-104.

JONES, R. L. (2016) Sexual identity labels and their implications in later life: The case of bisexuality. In: PEEL, E. & HARDING, R. (eds.) Ageing & Sexualities: Interdisciplinary perspectives. Farnham: Ashgate.

KEPPEL, B. & FIRESTEIN, B. (2007) Bisexual inclusion in addressing issues of GLBT aging: Therapy with older bisexual women and men. In: FIRESTEIN, B. (ed.) Becoming visible: counselling bisexuals across the lifespan. New York: Columbia University Press

RODRIGUEZ RUST, P. C. (2012) Aging in the bisexual community. In: WITTEN, T. M. & EYLER, A. E. (eds.) Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender aging: Challenges in research, practice and policy. Baltimore, US: The John Hopkins University Press.

 

Bisexual Erasure in Academic Research

A new research paper outlines that bisexuality is often marginalised, under represented and erased across social sciences literature. The paper is written in collaboration by BiUK’s Prof. Surya Monro (University of Huddersfield and BiUK), Dr Sally Hines (University of Leeds) and Dr Antony Osborne (University of Huddersfield).

The abstract states:

‘This article provides a review of sexualities scholarship within the social sciences between 1970 and 2015. It takes an innovative approach by focusing on the way in which bisexuality is addressed in this body of literature. The article reveals the marginalisation, under-representation and invisibility of bisexuality within and across the social sciences in relation to both bisexual experience and identity. Reasons for this varied across the different eras, including the heterosexist nature of the literature, the impact of gay and lesbian-focused identity politics, and queer deconstructionism. In addition, patterns of bisexual erasure and invisibility were uneven, with some scholarship taking inclusive approaches or criticising prejudice against bisexuality. The initial findings of the review were enriched by critical commentary from key relevant sociologists and political scientists. The article concludes that future sexualities scholarship could be enhanced by greater consideration of bisexuality.’

 

The paper is available to read here.

Its full reference is: Monro, S, Hines, S & Osborne, A. (2017) ‘Is Bisexuality Invisible? A review of sexualities scholarship 1970–2015’, The Sociological Review, pp. 1-19.

 

White House Bisexuality Briefing

Rewriting The Rules

On 26th September 2016 I attended a historic bisexuality briefing at the White House. Bisexual community leaders had met with the White House on previous occasions, but never before had the meeting been live-streamed, recorded, and made public during and after the event. There were well over a hundred bisexual activists in attendance, and the two hour event mixed together talks and panels on vital topics as well as some powerful music, poetry and other creative input about bisexual experiences.

It was extremely valuable to me to have the opportunity to learn about how bisexual matters are being discussed and engaged with in the US. Speakers emphasised many of the same issues that affect bisexual people globally: invisibility, discrimination from both straight and gay communities, and high rates of mental health struggles due to biphobia. However, it was also striking how much careful attention was paid to intersectionality. That is the idea that sexuality intersects with many other aspects of experience…

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New Resources by National LGBT Hate Crime Unit Published

Professor Surya Monro has worked on behalf of BiUK with the National LGBT Hate Crime Unit. They, and in consultation with other bi* activist groups, have produced a series of resources to help individuals affected by hate crime, and to support agencies tackling hate crime. These are published in advance of National Hate Crime Awareness Week that will take place from the 8th to 15th October 2016.

The 17 resources, and 5 videos, offer guidance and practical help on a wide  range of subjects, including:

  • Emergency Accommodation
  • Financial assistance schemes
  • Practical help keeping a record of incidents
  • Guidance for LGBT parents on talking to their children about bullying
  • Tackling Biphobia and Transphobia

The full set of the 17 resources, and 5 videos, can be found  on the LGBT Hate Crime Unit’s Public Resources pages or at:  www.lgbthatecrime.org.uk.

The leaflet on Tackling Biphobia: A Guide for Safety Services is available to download here.

 

British Bisexuality: Purple Prose out now!

Meg-John Barker reflects on the awesome new book on British Bisexuality…

Last week saw the launch of a book project that I’m very excited to be part of: Purple Prose.

pp

This collection, edited by Kate Harrad, brings together experiences from a diverse spectrum of bisexual folk in Britain today. It works as a how-to guide to British bi communities and identities, as well as providing a fascinating insight into the wide range of experiences under the bisexual umbrella.

A particular strength of the book is its focus on intersectionality. Most writing on bisexuality, including The Bisexuality Report which I was part of, focus on bisexual people as a fairly unified group: how they are represented, the challenges they face, bi-specific discrimination, etc. The problem with this approach is that bisexual experiences – like all experiences – are very different depending on other intersecting aspects of identity and experience such as gender, class, race, disability, geographical location, generation. Also, as Shiri Eisner points out, there are vital links between bisexual activism and feminist, trans and queer activism, anti-racism, and other anti-oppression movements, which are vital to attend to because a single-issue kind of activism can’t get us very far.

For these reasons it’s great to see a book in which at least half of the chapters are devoted to specific intersections (e.g. ‘Bisexual and disabled’, ‘Bisexual Black and Minority Ethic People‘, ‘Bisexuals and Faith’).

Even within these chapters there is a clear sense of the range of experiences that exist amongst any specific group, such as older bisexual people or non-monogamous bis, for example. In the chapter that I co-edited with Fred Langdridge, ‘The Gender Agenda’, we decided to foreground the experiences of non-binary bisexual people, given that there are already books about bisexual women and bisexual men, but none on this topic. While we included the voices of bisexual people of many genders, we gave specific attention to those who are non-binary in terms of both their sexuality and their gender. Even within that group we discovered many differences in relation to how they related to the term ‘bisexual’, how they experienced their gender and sexuality, whether these things changed over time or not, and how they were navigated in their close relationships and communities.

We still have a long way to go on bisexuality in Britain given that the biggest group under the LGBT umbrella still has the highest rate of mental health problems, and gets the least attention in policy and practice, both outside and within the LGBT sector. Purple Prose is definitely a step in the right direction.

New case studies available about older bi(ish) people

There are some brilliant case studies available about older LGBT people, where someone’s individual story powerfully makes the case for why sexuality and gender identity continue to matter in later life, for example here. But until now, there’s been a bit of a shortage of case studies about bisexual older people (and there is still a shortage for trans older people). There are one or two but usually only focusing on the person’s same-sex relationships, not on what it means to have had relationships with more than one gender.

So about three years ago we – Rebecca Jones, Kathryn Almack and Rachael Scicluna – decided to do something about this. We set out to interview people aged over 50 who either identified as bisexual, or had bisexual pasts but didn’t now describe themselves as bisexual. We only had little bits of money to enable various parts of the study, so it took us two years to gather 12 interviews but we’re really pleased to now be able to present the case studies within a short report.

This research shares the limitations of much other research on LGBT issues, in that we mainly managed to recruit participants from within organised LGBT communities, and via personal networks. This means that our sample is disproportionately white, middle class and highly educated relative to the general population. We recognise that this is a significant limitation of this work, but nevertheless hope that these case studies will be useful to practitioners seeking to meet the needs of this sorely under-researched population

The report and the case studies are copyright, but with a creative commons BY licence which means that anyone can reuse and rework them, as long as you acknowledge the original source. We would love to hear any feedback.

You can download the Looking Both Ways Report online version here.

New Research: The Voices of African Descent Bisexual Women

Kristin M. Brown writes…

Title: The Voices of African Descent Bisexual Women: Experiences Related to Identity and Disclosure, in Social Support Networks and Health Care Settings, in the US and UK

Researcher: Kristin M. Brown, PhD, MSW, MPA; Email <WomenResearch7@gmail.com>

Summary: Inaugural LGBTQ Scholars of Color Conference Presentation (April 2015, New York)

In this summary, I detail findings on the well­being of cisgender bisexual­ identified women of the African diaspora (ABW). As a member of the population, I collaboratively implemented this study for our empowerment. I conducted individual face­to­face interviews with six women in the United States in 2013, and eight women in the United Kingdom in 2014. I gathered information on quality of social support and health care, related to disclosure of bisexual identity, using qualitative research principles of grounded analysis. This study focused only with cisgender ABW, as researchers with prior and concurrent studies were focusing with transgender and lesbian women.

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Pink Therapy: Beyond Gay and Straight

On March 12th 2016 the UK LGBTQ+ therapy organisation Pink Therapy ran a conference on working with bisexual people. You can read summaries of the conference here and here, and view all of the talks on the Pink Therapy YouTube channel for the conference.

2nd Call for Papers: EuroBiReCon Amsterdam 28 July 2016

First European Bisexual Research Conference (EuroBiReCon): Bisexuality and (Inter)National Research Frontiers

28 July 2016, University of Amsterdam

EuroBiReCon is a conference for anyone with an interest in contributing to, or finding out about, current work on bisexuality. The conference aims to bring together academics, professionals, activists, and bisexual communities. It builds on BiReCons held in the UK every two years organised by BiUK (see the BiUK website for information about past BiReCons). This year it will take place on Thursday 28 July 2016 at the University of Amsterdam* which will be followed by a three day community organised event (www.eurobicon.org).

Keynote Speakers

Prof. Surya Monro‘s (University of Huddersfield) book Bisexuality: Identities, Politics, and Theories is published in the summer of 2015. She has also written multiple books on sexual diversity including Gender politics: Activism, Citizenship and Sexual Diversity (2005) and Sexuality, Equality and Diversity (2012 with Diana Richardson).

Dr Alex Iantaffi (University of Minnesota) is editor-in-chief of Sexual and Relationship Therapy. Alex has written multiple articles on bisexual identities, sexual-explicit media use of MSM and bisexuals and (white) privilege.

What are we looking for?

We welcome papers from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines including social sciences, health sciences, arts and humanities, therapeutic practitioners, activists and others. We encourage contributions from postgraduate students, early career academics and more senior academics from Europe and beyond.

We invite papers and workshop sessions that include but are not limited to the following:

  • Bisexuality, wellbeing and health (including mental health and sexual health).
  • The implications of bisexual identities and labels.
  • Bisexuality, space and communities.
  • Bisexual people’s access to, and experiences of,health and other services.
  • Inclusion and erasure of bisexual people in politics and activism.
  • Representations of bisexuality in media, culture, and literature.
  • Intersections with other aspects of experience such as physical disability, age, race/ethnicity, nationality, gender (both trans- and cis-gender), sexual practices, religion, education and social class.
  • Bisexuality and relationship styles (e.g. monogamies, polyamory, swinging, open couples and non-monogamies).
  • The role of technologies in bisexuality and forming bisexual spaces and communities
  • Methods for researching bisexuality
  • Public engagement in bisexuality research.

During the day there will be opportunities to:

  • Find out about issues affecting bisexual people
  • Hear from experts about cutting-edge research on bisexuality
  • Discuss ways in which organisations can better work with, and for, bisexual people, drawing on good practice
  • Take part in workshops on specific issues

If you would like to present at EuroBiReCon, please provide a 250 word abstract and a brief biography (max. 100 words), by 26th February 2016 to Emiel Maliepaard (e.maliepaard1@gmail.com) and Dr Caroline Walters (carolinejwalters@gmail.com).

If you are interested in facilitating a workshop, roundtable, or panel discussion at BiReCon, which can include data gathering for current projects or research, then please email Emiel Maliepaard (e.maliepaard1@gmail.com) and Dr Caroline Walters (carolinejwalters@gmail.com) with a brief description of your proposed session by 22 January 2016.

Language: For logistical reasons, the conference’s common language will be English, and abstracts must be submitted in English. If you wish, you can send us your abstract in another language, provided that you also submit it in English. It is highly recommended that presentations during the conference are in English. However, we are exploring possibilities to use translators to provide space to people who would like to present in their mother tongue.

Funding: EuroBiCon and EuroBiReCon are community organisations so unfortunately there are no funds for presenters or travel expenses. However, EuroBiReCon will provide an excellent opportunity to network with others working in the field, to share good practice, and there will be spaces available to conduct research which fits within the ethos of the event.

* Conference venue: Oudemanhuispoort 4-6 (in between Spui and Waterlooplein in the historical centre of Amsterdam).