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The only scary thing here is that I've been doing "bi stuff" longer than some shybis have been alive!

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The other weekend it was Manchester Pride and I was along with a big table full of bi stuff at the community fair.  BCN bi magazines and subscription forms, the Getting Bi In A Gay / Straight World guides to coming out and staying out, bi & pan pin badges, bi research info about how it's different for bis, Visibly Bisexual stickers to pop on the back of your phone, some shiny new leaflets that I've just had made that help people find local bi support group meets near them all over the country... you get the idea.

Running a stall like that for two days you get to have a lot of conversations.  Some are better forgotten, but some really strike home.

One was with a 13 year old and her parents, who were super-supportive and whose school had helped her set up an LGBT group for pupils.  Lots of members, all older than her: but her being out to teachers has been a catalyst for a whole bunch of teens feeling less alone.  I gave her as big a pile of resources to take for their classroom as I dared.

One was a woman maybe three times that age.  She clearly had gay and gay-friendly friends, but there being bi stuff out there, there being other people who would put all those moments of silencing and erasing we live with as bis into words was like more than she had ever imagined she could find. We wound up in hugging as her tears started.  That isolation we get from bisexual invisibility is so damn powerful.

Definitely worth being out and visible for the weekend. 


This started as a comment on someone's post but I feel like it's a big enough a Bi Thing to be worth a blog post!

One of the things people say to us when we come out is "oh, you're just going through a phase". And it's a silencing thing, to get us to shut up about something they maybe don't like hearing or discussing. Or something they say just because it's the only thing they know as received wisdom about being bisexual and they haven't thought it through any further. Either way it's like being patted on the head and told to shush our silly little heads.

Now, one of the things we used to say and write on placards when I was first out and involved with my local bi youth group was "it's not a phase!"

Only I have to admit: sometimes it is. I've known people who for instance when I first met them were lesbians, had a time of identifying as bi, but these days if you asked them they'd most likely say they were straight. Other mixtures other ways round - straight to bi to straight again, bi to lesbian to bi again, or all round the houses like the slow bus that stops everywhere in a loop round your town. I was comparing life stories with a trans friend the other day about how they'd collected the full set of calling themself gay, bi and straight in two genders. Pokemon sexuality!

The thing is though: people who are bisexual for the whole of their lives are bisexual for the whole of their lives. People who are bisexual for only part of their lives are bisexual for that part of their life.

And if you're "only" bi for months or years or decades, where your head and heart are at that time are totally real. Those crushes?  Real crushes.  Those kisses?  Real kisses.  Those orgasms?  Ho yus, And how. Ahem.  Where was I?

Dismissing it as "just a phase"? Well, being a teenager is a phase but it doesn't stop you being a mardy git for a few years. Being pregnant is a phase - a year from now you won't be! - but a plan of just ignoring it and pretending it's not really happening isn't a good idea.

Some of us are bi the whole of our lives, for some people it's a phase - yet if it's a phase so is whatever comes before and whatever comes after and no-one dismisses those as "just phases".

"It's just a phase"?  "Well, maybe it will turn out to be a phase, but it's the truth about who and where I am right now."


Owning the word

So often in talking about bisexuality I find people wanting to dodge "being labelled". Labels are, they explain, bad. Harmful. Restricting, people putting you in a metaphorical box.

I wonder what it's about really.

Cos when I came out as bi to my sister and she said "me too", labels were really useful.

When we talked about some of the problems we'd had being bi, other labels were really useful too - gay, straight, men, women...

When I found a bi group, having a word for it was very handy. Otherwise the poster would have had to be terribly waffly, like some kind of parlour game, a version of the yes-no game where you can never say "both" or "and".

I think frustrations with labels are often not about labels - which are just words, the very things that have made us such a hugely successful species - but about the things people think come along with the labels. Bisexuals are indecisive. Bisexuals are greedy. Bisexuals haven't properly come out yet and will pick a team later.

None of those things are actually about bisexuals. But you hear them enough and being labelled bisexual doesn't feel like a good idea.

Which is a shame, because as boxes to be put in, bisexual is just about the roomiest, least restricting box in the world. As wide as the seas. From "my head is almost only ever turned by women, but that one man every now and then" to "it's all about the genderqueers, but there was that one time with someone cis", from "lots of all sorts of people" to "only a couple of people ever, but I'm open to whatever might come along next".

This year's "Big Bi Tweet" for Bi Visibility Day has launched! Anyone can join in and help #BiPride and #BiVisibilityDay trend again this September 23rd.
If you've never heard of it - September 23rd has been marked as Bi Visibility Day, also known as International Celebrate Bisexuality Day, since 1999. It's a great excuse to talk about both bisexuality and the effects of biphobia.
In recent years its grown and grown. Barack Obama's White House held receptions to talk about bi people's issues from 2013-2016. Sadly that's probably not going to be continued by the Trump administration (now I stop and think what The Donald might tweet about it I'd probably rather they ignore it!)
The UK government has issued messages of support for the past few years too.
Bi and bi-friendly groups organise events, town halls issue proclamations and the like. Last year Leeds City Hall even got lit up in purple to mark the day while many public buildings fly the pink, purple and blue bi flag.

Last weekend was York LGBT Pride so I went along and helped out for a bit on the bi stall (if you can talk cheerfully and on-topic to strangers, the people who organise those stalls at Prides are always looking for volunteers!)

It was striking just how many bi people there were - lining up sometimes four people wide and three rows deep to take turns to sign up to email lists, take flyers and stickers and bi magazines and the like.  I've run bi stalls in the past with hardly anyone showing interest so it was really heartening.

It was fairly busy at Bury Pride a few weeks ago too. I think the bisexuals are coming out of the woodwork more than ever before - it's heartening and I love going home from a Pride stall that we've had to close down because of running out of every single leaflet, pamphlet and so forth we had!

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