The Bisexuality Report in Metro

Today’s Metro included a great article about biphobia which included numerous mentions of BiUK’s Bisexuality Report.

Many thanks to journalist Francesca Kentish, and to clinical psychologist Siri Harrison for some great insights throughout the article.

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‘Just a phase’? This is why we need to talk about biphobia

Unless you’ve been in hiding for the past 40 years, chances are you know what homophobia means.

The same can’t be said for biphobia.

Simply put, biphobia is when people are prejudiced towards bisexuals.

It’s pretty similar to homophobia, except people often aren’t aware it’s happening.

Bisexuals often face added discrimination from people within the LGBT community as well as discrimination from heterosexual people.

Chances are you will have seen biphobia on TV or heard someone make a biphobic comment without even realising it.

Ever heard someone jokingly say bisexuals are greedy?

That’s biphobia.

Or that bisexuals should make up their minds?

Biphobia strikes again. Read more…

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BiUK Celebrated in the Purple List

We were delighted today to see three members of BiUK celebrated in the first ever Purple List: Biscuit magazine’s list of ‘people who make the world a little brighter for bi* people’. BiUK research associate Caroline Walters, and BiUK trustees Surya Monro and Meg John Barker were all recognised on the list for their work, as were a number of other brilliant bi activists, writers, and celebrities.

The Purple List was conceived as a counter-balance to the high levels of invisibility around bisexuality, and the double discrimination experienced by bi people, meaning they are often not recognised in similar LG(BT) awards ceremonies and honours lists, despite bi people making up half of LGB people.

We look forward to seeing other people – including further BiUK members perhaps! – celebrated in future editions of the list, as we’re assured that it will be published every year from now on, recognising the work of different people each year. As Biscuit says, there are many ‘awesome people who give their time, energy, cash and resources to make life a little bit better for bisexual people’. It’s great to see that acknowledged in this way. Thank you Biscuit.

Public Health England to report on lesbian and bisexual women’s health inequalities

Lisa Colledge writes…

Public Health England (PHE) is producing its first ever report on UK lesbian and bisexual women’s health inequalities. The report will inform a national action plan to improve the health of lesbian, bisexual and other women who have sex with women (LBWSW). Writing will be completed by end-December 2015 and the report will be published on 8 March 2016 (International Women’s Day).

The report is being researched and written by PHE staff, guided by an expert advisory steering group. This group has met twice so far, to discuss current knowledge, terminology, scope and suggested methodology. A systematic review of 23,000 initially identified publications is currently under way.

The next step is an academic symposium to discuss the initial literature review findings, on Monday 14 September 2015, 2–4 p.m., Warwick University. This is open to academics and service users with expertise in lesbian and bisexual women’s health and wellbeing issues. If you have expertise to contribute, please attend – contact the project lead Dr Heema Shukla (Heema.Shukla@phe.gov.uk).

Alongside the PHE literature review, the LGBT Partnership is organising autumn workshops with LGBT community groups to gather evidence on LB women’s health interventions, especially best practice. Workshops will happen in the North England, Midlands, South England and London regions, working with local partners (e.g. LGBT Foundation, Birmingham LGBT, Consortium, London Friend, Metro and East London Out Project). Information gathered at these workshops will feed into a separate report addressing good practice for LBWSW women’s health interventions.

After the main PHE report is published, the LGBT Partnership will hold a workshop in spring 2016 to communicate report findings to local LGBT community groups, and explore how the report can be used to improve local services.

I’m on the expert steering group and aim to ensure the report represents bisexual women’s concerns as well as it can. I’ll publicise details of the information-gathering workshops as soon as they’re available. I want as many bi people as possible to attend these workshops and make their voices heard.

This is the first time a government-sponsored report has addressed UK bisexual and lesbian women’s health concerns. Public Health England wants bi women’s health issues to be well represented. The report will feed into action to improve bi and lesbian women’s health. Let’s make the most of this great opportunity!

Statement by the trustees and associates of BiUK: Pride in London

This is BiUK’s official statement on the inclusion of LGBT+ in UKIP in London Pride 2015:

The inclusion of LGBT members of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) in this year’s London Pride parade has been the cause of much debate and considerable distress amongst LGBT communities. It has divided friends, colleagues, and comrades. It has drawn out significant issues of principle about fundamental rights of freedom of speech and association, and about the absolute need to feel and be safe in queer spaces and events and to recognise multiple marginalisation and embrace the intersectionality between the many differing characteristics of queer people.

Read more of this post

New report: Bi’s of Colour

Following the Complicated report on bisexual people’s experiences of services last month BiUK is pleased to be able to announce yet another important piece of grassroots research on bisexual experience: The Bi’s of Colour Survey Report conducted by Jacq Applebee, founder of the Bi’s of Colour group.

The experience of bisexual people of colour has been woefully under-researched and neglected to date, with no UK studies focusing on this area. This is despite the fact that we know that people who experience multiple marginalisations through both their sexuality and their race or ethnicity have the worst mental health outcomes due to their experiences of intersecting oppressions, and discrimination on more than one dimension. This is, of course, a particularly vital issue in relation to bisexuality given that bisexual people in general have higher rates of mental health problems than either heterosexual, or lesbian and gay, people.

You can download the full report here: Bi’s of Colour Survey Report.

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The report provides a thorough overview of the study, as well as a useful commentary, by Jacq Applebee, on the findings. It supports previous research on bisexuality, such as the double discrimination that bisexual people experience from both straight and lesbian/gay communities, and the difficulties that they face finding communities and support. It also demonstrates important and concerning facts about the experiences of bi people of colour particularly, for example:

  • The whiteness of offline and online bisexual and LGBT spaces and groups, such that bi’s of colour often feel unwelcome, overly visible, or experience explicit racism and microaggressions, if they do access such spaces.
  • Specific negative experiences such as being hypersexualised (on the basis of both sexuality and race), exoticised and fetishised, or used as the token person of colour to demonstrate the supposed diversity of a community or group.
  • Being presumed straight due to a lack of awareness of the LGBT history within communities of colour, and colonialist assumptions.
  • Feeling excluded from certain spaces due to financial constraints, or because events take places in venues which many people do not feel comfortable in (university settings, or clubs and bars, for example).

Some people also spoke positively about their sense of inclusion in certain communities and groups which have been set up (some bisexual spaces, and QTIPOC spaces, for example).

The Bi’s of Colour study points to the desperate need for more sustained research in this area and far better resources to address the intersections between sexuality and race and ethnicity in general, and the experiences of bi’s of colour in particular. BiUK hopes to support such moves as much as it can, and we also call upon funded LGBT and mental health organisations to make this a priority.

New book out on Bi men from around the world

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Recognize: The Voices of Bisexual Men is a collection of short fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, reflective essays, critical essays and visual art produced by cisgender and transgender bisexual, pansexual, polysexual and fluid queer men from the United States, Canada, Chile, India, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The 70 contributors, ranging in age from early twenties to mid-seventies, explore the themes of: identity, challenging labels, liminality, institutions, angst, anger and critique, bodies and embodiment, religion and spirituality, traveling and relationships.

Find out more here.

LGBT history in the making: Stonewall bisexuality consultation

On Saturday 7th February several members of BiUK attended a historic event: the first consultation between Stonewall UK and bisexual communities. The day went very well and we were left very hopeful about possibilities for working together more closely in the future.

Marcus Morgan, from The Bisexual Index, has written a great summary of the day here.

Biphobia in the pansexual community

Sali Owen (twitter: @SaliWho) writes:

As awareness of non-binary gender identities has developed, some members of the queer community have chosen to identify as pansexual rather than bisexual. Pansexuality is sometimes defined as attraction to people of all genders, which is also the experience of many bisexual people. More often than not, however, people define their pansexuality in relation to bisexuality. In response to the question: “What does pansexual mean?” I’ve seen countless people reply: “I’m attracted to people of more than two genders. Not bisexual.” The implication is that bisexual means binary attraction: men and women only.

Since I came out in the late 90s, I haven’t seen one bi activist organisation define bisexuality as attraction solely to men and women. Bi and trans* issues began to grow in recognition at the same time. When I use ‘bi’ to refer to two types of attraction, I mean attraction to people of my gender and attraction to people of other genders.

I also frequently see cisgender pansexuals managing to be both transphobic and biphobic in their definitions. They say pansexuals are different to bisexuals because pansexuals are attracted to “men, women and transgender people,” as if binary trans people aren’t really men and women, and bisexuals couldn’t possibly be attracted to them anyway.

Despite the presence of bisexuals at every queer demonstration since Stonewall, we’ve always been told by the lesbian and gay community that we’re somehow not queer enough. This pushes many bi people who are active in the queer community to identify as lesbian, gay or just queer. Being forced to pick a closet by both the straight and gay communities results in bi people having significantly higher rates of mental health problems than straight and gay people. This is why it’s so upsetting to see internalised biphobia leading many pansexuals, most of whom until recently identified as bisexual, telling us we’re still not queer enough. Gay and straight people aren’t being pressurised into giving up the language they use to describe their attractions and neither should they be. As usual it’s only bisexuals being shamed into erasing our identities and our history.

The most frustrating thing to me about the current bi vs pan discourse is that it’s framed as a cisgender vs genderqueer debate. This has never been the case. In reality, many genderqueer people identify as bisexual. At least three of the most influential bi activists, researchers and academics are genderqueer. Meg John Barker, founder of BiUK; Jen Yockney, founder of ‘Bi Community News’; and Shiri Eisner, author of ‘Radical Bi: Notes For a Bisexual Revolution’, are all non-binary. They’ve spent years at the forefront of campaigns, lobbying for queer rights. To say bisexuality is binary erases the identities of these revolutionary bisexual genderqueer activists, and it erases the identity of every marginalised genderqueer bisexual they’re fighting for.

I have no problem embracing more labels to better describe our attractions and our gender politics. We all have every right to use the labels that fit us. Some people identify as both pan and bi depending on context, but I can’t consider doing this before the implicit and explicit biphobia within the pan community is rejected. If your definition of pansexuality relies on redefining my bisexuality and negating it, I can’t support that. If you need to prove your queer credentials by vehemently clarifying that you’re not bisexual, you’re doing to me exactly what the lesbian and gay community does to both of us.

LGBT manifesto – out today

BiUK was proud to be involved in producing the LGBT manifesto along with other members of the LGBT consortium. We ensured that it linked nicely with the key recommendations of The Bisexuality Report. Please do share this on and use it if you find it helpful.

Manifesto

You can download the pdf here: LGBT Manifesto v1.0

There are also websites for the LGBT manifesto and the trans manifesto.

BiUK interviews

BiUK members have taken part in a couple of interviews during the last week that you might find interesting.

Meg Barker was interviewed by biscuit magazine here.

Caroline Walters was interview by BiCast here.