Ian (lovingboth) wrote,
Ian
lovingboth

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Prompted by some conversations at EBC2

If the UK bi community fell under a (rather small fleet of) buses tomorrow, would anyone notice?

I don't think so.



With the exception of Jen's efforts in Manchester, the last serious bits of collective dealing with the outside world we had were London's Pride - getting the name changed in 1996, and the tents at the festival in 96 and 97 - and BiFest in 99.

Since then, what? We've had BiCons. Yay the organisers. We're still to beat the attendance record of 1991 though, and it's been a while since we had anyone significant from outside groups coming to talk with us. (A panel I chaired back in Edinburgh 99, I think. I'm suggesting names in the hope it will be better this year.)

Some bis have done stuff as bisexuals in other organisations - eg Grant and Elizabeth (and Anna Maria before she went off) with the Sexual Freedom Coalition. Yay them. Not least because SFC actually does stuff as well as have fun.

Yay too to Jen for her 'if it doesn't move, ask it for funds' approach. (Even if I sometimes think some things that would be cheap and easy don't get done because they get complicated by seeking funding.) And double yay Jen for doing so much for BCN. But there are some very noticeable omissions from the subscribers list, and it's not really distributed outside the community.

Some readers may remember that at the end of the first EuroBiCon, some people from Belgium got upset at some others for not working with the lesbian and gay communities more and for pointing out that not all of the rest of the happy queer family were nice to bisexuals.

The alternative style they didn't like was personal liberation - 'trying to fuck yourselves free' was the memorable summary.

And it's obviously the way things have gone here. Ten years ago LBG was a thriving, outward looking, mixed social and political space. Now Fridays are split into a dismal small self-support group for men that retains the name, and a slightly larger 'party party party' clique that has the fun.

But what, beyond the individual level of some good times, some serious hangovers and various life-shortening habits, has been the result?

Some recent developments in the health promotion field have me jumping up and down in anger. But while I blame the people who've taken huge piles of cash for work with gay and bisexual men - and then promptly and deliberately dropped the 'and bisexual' bit when it comes to doing the work - I also think that we're not entirely blame-free.

By opting out into the personal liberation attitude, fun though it can be, we've let them get away with it.

Pride didn't change its name because we sat around moaning - and there had been a lot of that. They were prodded into coming to BiCon 13, then lots of people joined, and some actually did something to make the tents the huge successes they were.

Now, the gay scene may be a over-commercialised ghetto, with some dodgy businessmen interested in grabbing some pink pounds for themselves, and Stonewall a private club that delayed at least one law reform by a year due to incompetence and sucking up to a Labour government, but it's extremely difficult to ignore gay men. (The only people more ignored than lesbians are bisexual women of course...)

Witness the "gay marriage" partnership proposals currently out for consultation. No bisexual input, especially on the 'only one' aspect, was ever wanted or offered.

It's equal now despite Stonewall's best efforts, but even though a differential age of consent was another absolutely blatant 'bisexual issue', no-one ever bothered to contact us, never mind involve us. Why should they? Who would they ask?

'We agreed - no leader!' 'Right. So shut up and do as I say!'

Along with the dash for personal liberation has been the Time Bandits approach to leadership.

Its huge advantage is that if someone wants to do something, they can. If I had thought having EBC3 in the UK was a good idea, I could have committed to doing it on the spot. The Germans who did offer had to do so provisionally - they need to ask the rest of their national organization's board.

I quite like that. I think that freedom should continue.

But what we miss out on are the advantages of having something between BiCons. Certain decisions have dragged on for years as successive BiCon sessions have gone 'ooh, that's too complicated / difficult, let's put it off until next year.'

(Of course, even organisations with continuing structures can do that - softfruit and vampwillow, have the LibDems ever got around to deciding their position on the Elgin Marbles? Twenty years ago, putting that one off for next time was already a tradition almost as old as the sculptures themselves...)

And when something does happen or someone - gasp - does want to get in touch, what happens? Nothing usually.

The two approaches are not incompatible - while there's a national Dutch Bi Network, just try stopping Dutch people doing their thing!

So why don't we have a national body too?

The basic reason is that the people who tried back in 99 were the wrong people and went about it the wrong way. Spurred on by Dr F Patronising, they formed the British Bisexual Federation and probably never got above three members.

At the time, I was one of the people who said the idea was stupid anyway. We don't need no stinking organization. Now, I'm not so sure.

For all the bitchy comments about it, the LBG's constitution was very simple. You have members. Once a year, they elect some people. They can do what the fuck they like, but the members can have a meeting to throw them out if they go too far.

It made it clear who was running it, and for how long, and what you could do about it.

I think that's a reasonable model for an organization that actually wants to do something. And I'd quite like to have people do something, not least because I think there's a lot that needs doing.

Looking around, we're being fucked over the health promotion issue. Bisexuals are considerably less popular with the public than either gay men or lesbians (it's the non-monogamy issue!). Bisexuals have worse mental health on average and to my knowledge, no-one in the health field has ever done anything about that. There are still organizations that are rabidly biphobic. You can probably add some more, but do you care?

Poll #154791 A UK bi organization

So, what do you think? Having a UK bi organization would be...

Very wrong. I'd try to stop it
2(15.4%)
Wrong. I'd not join it, but if other people wanted to, let them
0(0.0%)
Irrelevant
4(30.8%)
Good, but I'd not join
4(30.8%)
Very good, and I'd join
3(23.1%)



Whatever the answer, I'd love to hear your comments.
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