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.


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.

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.

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 (

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!

New research on UK bisexual people’s experiences of services

This week an important new piece of research on bisexuality was launched: Complicated: Bisexual people’s experiences of, and ideas for, accessing services by the Equality Network.

It is the first UK wide research report to focus specifically on bisexual people’s experiences of accessing services.


The report’s key findings were:

  • Bisexual people are highly unlikely to share their sexual orientation with services, most commonly because of fear of negative reactions.
  • 66% feel that they have to pass as straight and 42% feel they need to pass as gay or lesbian when accessing services.
  • 48% have experienced biphobic comments and 38% have experienced unwanted sexual comments about them being bisexual while accessing services.
  • The highest amounts of biphobia experienced are within LGBT services and NHS services.
  • 61% have experienced multiple discrimination. 35% said that they are disabled.

You can download the full report here. And a media reports about it in Bi Community News and Gay Star News.

New research on bisexual women’s mental health

Lisa Colledge writes:

On 14 January 2015, sexual health researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) published a new UK study in the Journal of Public Health showing worse mental health in UK bisexual women than lesbians, based on data from the Stonewall 2007 Women’s Health Survey. The link to the full paper (permanent open access) is here.


This paper was publicised in the following press release, which was sent to 40 media targets covering local, national and international general news (print, radio, television and online) plus general health, mental health and LGBT publications.

At the time of writing it had been picked up by 12 news websites (including Daily Mail Online), featured on the LSHTM news and Bi Community News websites, and sent via 20 Twitter accounts to more than 157,000 followers.

Bisexual women have worse mental health than lesbians in the UK

Largest UK survey of its kind finds bisexual women more likely to self-harm, have eating problems and feel depressed

Read more of this post

Minister acknowledges work with bi communities in addressing mental health challenges

Helen Grant (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport) was recently asked what discussions the UK Government Equalities Office has had with LGBT mental health service providers in the last year. Here is her response (reposted from

Ministers and officials from the Government Equalities Office regularly meet a broad range of LGB&T stakeholders, including mental health providers and other organisations with an interest in this area, to discuss key issues and priorities for the sector. Topics raised include the mental health needs of LGB&T individuals, areas of discrimination and issues with service provision.

In the last year, officials have met with organisations with an interest in this area including: the Albert Kennedy Trust, Bi Community News, Bisexual Index, BiUK, Broken Rainbow, GALOP, GIRES, METRO Centre, PACE, Press for Change, Stonewall, Stonewall Housing, The Lesbian and Gay Foundation (LGF), The LGBT Consortium, and The National LGB&T Partnership. The LGBT Consortium, the National LGB&T Partnership and BiUK are umbrella organisations who raise issues on behalf of their wider membership. Officials also sit on the Parliamentary Forum on Gender Identity where mental health issues are regularly raised. Officials have also had meetings with NHS England andPublic Health England at which they have discussed mental health issues.

In the last year, the Minister for Sport, Tourism and Equalities met representatives from the Lesbian and Gay Foundation, LGB&T Consortium, PACE Health, Stonewall, Broken Rainbow, the METRO Centre, and BiUK on 10 October 2013; and representatives from GIRES, Gendered Intelligence and the Gender Identity Clinic in Hammersmith on 15 October 2013.

On 12 June 2014 the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport visited Birmingham LGBT Centre which hosts mental health services. The Secretary of State also met leading LGB&T representatives on 30 June 2014 including Stonewall, Lesbian and Gay Foundation, LGB&T Consortium, GIRES, and Gendered Intelligence. Health issues were discussed at all events.

New article on bisexual counselling competence


Brooks, L. M. & Inman, A. G. (2013). Bisexual Counseling Competence: Investigating the Role of Attitudes and Empathy. Journal of LGBT Issues in Counseling, 7 (1), 65-86.

Researchers have identified factors that contribute to counseling competence and multicultural competence, yet there continues to remain a gap in bisexual counseling competence. Negative attitudes faced by bisexual individuals have significant implications for their psychological well-being and identity development. It is important for clinicians to explore their ability to empathize with this population and their attitudes toward bisexual clients. This study sought to determine whether clinician empathy and attitudes toward bisexuality were significant predictors of perceived and actual competence with bisexual clients. The study surveyed 101 clinicians. Multivariate multiple regression analyses revealed that only attitudes toward bisexuality were significant predictors of perceived and actual bisexual counseling competency. Implications and limitations of the study are discussed.

Bisexual Health Awareness Month

Activists and researchers in the US have dubbed this month ‘Bisexual Health Awareness Month’ to highlight the health disparities faced by bisexual people.

Ellyn Ruthstrom draws on the extensive evidence that now exists in this area to report that:

  • Forty-five percent of bisexual women have considered or attempted suicide, followed by bisexual men (35%), lesbians (30%), gay men (25%), and much lower rates for heterosexual women and men.
  • Bisexual women are twice as likely to have an eating disorder than lesbians.
  • Bisexual women report the highest rates of alcohol use, heavy drinking, and alcohol-related problems when compared to heterosexual and lesbian women.
  • Bisexual men and women report the highest rates of smoking of all orientations.

They also created this useful summary image:



You can read the full post about the Bisexual Resource Centre initiative here.

Interview with Meg Barker at BECAUSE

Bi Cities has put up the interview they did with Meg Barker when they were over at the first US BiReCon, and BECAUSE conference, earlier this summer.

Meg talks about BiReCon, The Bisexuality Report, mental health, and more.

Bisexuality and depression

There’s a great new post up on Bisexuality and Beyond by Sue George on bisexuality and depression.

For long as I’ve been writing this blog, one of the main ways new people find it is by searching for “bisexuality and depression”. I find that really sad, but nothing like as sad as the statistics about bisexuality and mental health.

  • A major Canadian study found bisexual men 6.3 times more likely, and bi women 5.9 times more likely, to report having been suicidal than heterosexual people
  •  A large Australian study found rates of mental health problems among bi people to be higher than those among lesbians, gay men, or heterosexuals.
  •  The UK Mind report on the mental health and wellbeing of LGB people found that bi men and women were less at ease about their sexuality than lesbians or gay men, and less likely to be out.

Bisexuality and mental health is currently a big issue in the bi community. This summer’s BiReCon (the British conference that looks at current research on bisexuality) had bisexuality and mental health as its theme. Read more…