Friday, 31 July 2015

Bi Visibility Day 2015 Thunderclap

Click here to auto-tweet in morning in the UK (9:30AM BST) and here to auto-tweet in the morning in the US (11:00AM CDT - I'm doing both!).

Also start thinking about what you'll do with your day. Are you near any events? Can you get to further away events? Is there anyone you would like to invite/go with to an event? Listings here http://www.bivisibilityday.com/year2015/ which will fill up with details as the day draws nearer. Good tip from this page - be aware of Jewish friends holding Yom Kippur on 23/9 this year.

I generally only have time for a Facebook/Twitter spree, which friends tell me is quite positive action - flood your feed with stuff and even with FB's algorithms, something gets through to everyone. As long as it's not in your face or angsty, no one wants that in quantity on a day of celebration. I try and paint my nails, wear my "Keep Calm It's A Bisexual" tee shirt, rainbow pin on my coat, and just find ways to mention it in conversation whether at work on socialising.

s23 bis everywhere woody

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Being a young bisexual

Since I started reading up on bisexuality and getting involved with the online community, it was impossible not to become aware of the great history and legacy that led up to 14yr old me starting this blog in 2007, having realised and accepted my bisexuality seamlessly and without hassle. That would have been an unlikely scenario in the year I was born, 1992.

I have a lot to thank older bisexuals for. I know they aren't going to like that term, but 23yr old bisexuals are older bisexuals to me! So it's a large group and of the ones I've met, there don't seem to be many bisexuals who act 'old' anyway, so I use the term out of respect that many bisexuals have been working so hard for decades before I was even a twinkle in my mother's eye, and meant I could eventually tell said mother of my swerve away from the norm and not get thrown out the house immediately.

The stalwarts of the community and pioneers of our campaign for awareness, equality and respect amaze me when I look back at all they have done, and are still doing. The reason for this post is that I was struck by how young I am with only 7yrs involvement when I came across the Bisexual Manifesto. I clicked the link thinking "Oh my God, we have a manifesto??" As a stage manager, the sheer organisation alone was inspiring. And then I read it.

The 1990 Bisexual Manifesto
We are tired of being analyzed, defined and represented by people other than ourselves, or worse yet, not considered at all. We are frustrated by the imposed isolation and invisibility that comes from being told or expected to choose either a homosexual or heterosexual identity.

Monosexuality is a heterosexist dictate used to oppress homosexuals and to negate the validity of bisexuality.

Bisexuality is a whole, fluid identity. Do not assume that bisexuality is binary or duogamous in nature: that we have "two" sides or that we must be involved simultaneously with both genders to be fulfilled human beings. In fact, don’t assume that there are only two genders. Do not mistake our fluidity for confusion, irresponsibility, or an inability to commit. Do not equate promiscuity, infidelity, or unsafe sexual behavior with bisexuality. Those are human traits that cross all sexual orientations. Nothing should be assumed about anyone’s sexuality, including your own.
We are angered by those who refuse to accept our existence; our issues; our contributions; our alliances; our voice. It is time for the bisexual voice to be heard. - From the wealth of knowledge that is the Bialogue Tumblr (original attribution: the historic Bay Area Bisexual Network publication Anything That Moves)

And all my inspiration and pride deflated slightly, as I thought "24 years later, and not a lot has changed." However, the one thing that can be said as a positive over two decades later is our voices are being heard. There are more of us speaking, we're louder, we're in the White House for pity's sake, and whilst we're only inching our way to true change, we seem to have got somewhere. For example, my friends' responses to my intense Celebrate Bisexuality Day Facebook output, and my less intense but still visible Bi Awareness Week Facebook contributions, were all positive.

Sure we still have to make a lot of noise, A LOT, to finally be heard, but our strike rate seems to have gone up. So I stand behind this manifesto because it represents part of a wave that I am part of now when it is bigger and stronger than it was then.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

My Bisexual Story: 14-22yrs old, The Video

For today's BiWeek hashtag (#BiMedia) and also as as contribution to the Bi+ Story Project (www.bistoryproject.org) here is my story. You've probably seen or read a lot of the information before, but I've been a bit more succinct this time!


Tuesday, 23 September 2014

BiVisibility - love not hate

My love is like anyone else's love. Being a minority, we can be seen - and also see ourselves - as intrinsically different. That's not an unusual phenomenon, because everyone wants to be special. But we're asking the haters to realise that there truly are more than two boxes (straight or gay) so why should we go against our own advice, and try and live in the world that we want, rather than the reality that we live in?

I'm not trying to accuse anyone of egotism or narcissism, nor am I disparaging the great work that bi activists have done for decades, flying our flag and making our voices heard. The work must continue; on this Bi Visibility Day 2014, we have every duty to be loud and proud (if we want to, and if we're in circumstances where it will not lead to harmful consequences) I don't disagree with that. But I want to take this opportunity to remind us to not get caught up in our own hysteria and start thinking of the bisexual community as superior.

Not many do. Sure, there are militant bisexuals who take it too far, but there aren't many of them, and we need to keep it that way. It is a great temptation, to me as much as any other person under the bisexual umbrella, to feel smug at my liberal and progressive gender knowledge/opinions; to scoff at ignorant plebs who still work on the gender binary system; to feel intense hate towards those who will not listen and spread suffering among the LGBT people that I love as my extended family.

But my love is like anyone else's love. Yes, there are polyamorous lovers, asexual lovers, and aromantics, plus a whole host of people who you could say technically love differently to me personally. What I mean is that I am a human being, and complex as I am, every other human being is just as complex, and more importantly, every other human being is worth no more and no less than me. So I have no right to feel smug, to scoff, or to hate - in fact, if being bisexual is a core part of my identity, and so if the way I love is so important, I am betraying myself by hating anyone or anything. It's not just unhelpful and nasty, its unbisexual.

Today is a day to celebrate. Take today's joy and love and carry it through the difficult times, and don't give into hate.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

LGBT at a Christian festival

Outerspace is the LGBT organisation at the Greenbelt Festival, an annual festival that started as Christian music in 1974, and has turned into an ecumenical and interfaith celebration of arts, faith and justice. I went to Greenbelt for the first time last year on the coat tails of my rector who was speaking in one of the debates. It was only for a day, and not being one of those young people who enjoys rock concerts or festivals, I wasn't really sure how to 'do' a festival, so I enjoyed myself but left feeling like I hadn't really seen a lot.

This year, on the tip of a friend at church, I applied for an internship with the events company hired by the Greenbelt charity to put up, manage, and take down the site. This meant spending three weeks stuck on an estate in the arse end of the middle of nowhere (but don't get me wrong, it was gloriously beautiful http://www.boughtonhouse.co.uk/boughton-estate/), and during the four days of the festival itself [the August Bank Holiday] I experienced as much as possible of the music, arts, debates, talks, and worship that was put on outside of my shift hours.

Professionally and spiritually, I felt inspired and enriched. But I was a little blindsided by how much I was affected personally in my experience of the LGBT events put on be Outerspace. I had googled whether there was anything LGBT at the festival and resolved to go to the Outerspace stall. It was when I was there that I was delighted to find several LGBT events taking place as well.

There was a interesting debate about marriage, and how the church is dealing with it. It was a little sad to hear one of the participants advocating a third option to add the choices of marriage and celibacy, and seeming to be under the illusion that he was advocating something fair and just, when in fact his ideas were plain suggestions for inequality. There was a conversation about the general state of LGBT issues in Christianity, followed by lovely worship that included various LGBT Christians sharing their stories. The much acclaimed Rev Andrew Cain spoke of being the first ordained priest in the CofE to marry his husband after the UK instigated the marriage bill in April, and being stripped of his licence to minister; and a woman spoke of meeting another woman, falling in love, and feeling a call to marriage, but realising that she had to choose between that call and her call to ministry and ordination - she chose the latter and they are now civilly partnered as she starts her training. They sang an a cappella two part harmony duet version of Down By the River to Pray, and whilst the singing was gorgeous, it was the glances at each other that tugged at my heart strings.

These were all wonderful, but it was one other event that hit me to my core. At 10pm on the Saturday, one of the small venue marquees filled up with people, and so began the Outerspace Eucharist. It started with a quick introduction to Outerspace, and then there was an invitation to those who, since Greenbelt last year, had had an anniversary, gotten engaged/civilly partnered/married, or come out to stand up so we could celebrate with them. I was surprised and elated to see a member of my own home congregation stand up at the call for those who had come out; I made sure I went over to him at the peace and gave him a great big hug.

It was a solid Anglican service after that, barring the rainbow altar cloth and rainbow stole on the gay priest. His sermon made me cry. I don't remember all of it - I think it was mostly about how we're slowly getting to a good place with the church and we need to keep going - but he ended by holding up a piece of yellow paper. He said he had been tidying around the Outerspace stall earlier that day, and found it on the floor, and upon reading it, immediately wanted to send it to every bishop in the CofE, with a note saying something along the lines of "In regards to how you treat LGBT people and issues in the church, read and take note." He then explained that it was a child's wordsearch, and the theme was 'Tips For Keeping Friends'. And he read out the list of words to find in a quiet, measured tone, and it was this that brought me to tears.

Be supportive
Be encouraging
Don't tease or belittle
Cooperate
Compromise
Be considerate
Talk openly about disagreements
Apologise when you've done something wrong
Listen to each other
Give each other a compliment
Be dependable
Respect each other
Be trustworthy
Care about each other
We try and teach our children to be good people and good citizens, and this list may seem simplistic in the face of the complex theological, scriptural, religious, philosophical, and sociological arguments about being LGBT in Christianity. But we cannot let the gumpf and fluster make us forget the simple truths we learnt as children in how to treat each other. The preacher was right when he pointed out that it sometimes feels like that has been lost in the conversation, and this needs to be fixed.

I've been lucky to not meet people who disapprove of my orientation. I have been blessed to find a church that not just accepts me, but welcomes me and even celebrates me! And I have 'known' that there's Christian support for LGBT people outside of my church as well. But at Greenbelt, I was overcome by the realisation that it was the first time I had truly believed it, because I experienced it, I saw it, and heard it, and my cup runneth over with the support and joy of Christians for LGBT people on a grand scale. It was heart-warming and inspired great hope for the future.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Pride in London 2014

Yes, this is the obligatory post about my day at Pride in London. Didn't do one last year, so I'm going to do one this year. Yes, every LGBT blog does one, but hey, Pride's important, and every year I have a different experience.

I go with my church, who join in with Christians Together at Pride, which also has Catholics, Quakers, Baptists, and Methodists, among others. I see the same people each year in the purple "Christian & Proud" t-shirts, and sometimes new faces. The Christian group is usually about 60 people I'd say, and we're normally in the same region as the Muslim group (see this blog post about an incident that happened while we were all lined up waiting), the Humanist group, and the Jewish group.

We had 8 people turn up at the church, and we made our way to the meeting point. The most exciting thing for me was I got to see Big Jesus, who I had heard would be joining us. A church in Blackpool have made this massive Jesus wearing a traditional robe and a not so traditional rainbow sash, that stands on a scaffold on someone's shoulders  and joins the parade, with independent arms that two other people control. During the parade, he was waving, blowing kisses, giving hi-fives, it was awesome! Who doesn't love a massive, home-made Jesus?! There were also badges being handed out that said "Justice for Jeremy" which refers to this historic incident which was followed by this one.

We headed to Baker St, and eventually found our spot. Our church rolled out our banner, and I wore our rainbow flag as a sarong. It went well with my rainbow nails, and my make-up; I didn't have face paint, but using lipstick, eyeshadow, and eye-liner, I draw on and coloured in a stars and swirls design encircling my face and going down onto my neck. I had big earrings as well, but it wasn't all girly - I also wore my Timberlands, because I wanted to, and no one gave a damn about gender expression. Obviously.

It started to rain, and very rarely stopped for the rest of the day. Plus we were stuck. We arrived at 12, the front set off at 1, we moved at 2.15. But we're British, so essentially queuing in the rain was no problemo. I felt sorry for they guy wearing Big Jesus, that thing must have gained serious weight from water-logging. I had a brolly (I am a stage manager, always be prepared) so it was fine, and we did eventually move off.

There weren't quite as many crowds, because we were near the back and it was raining, but it was a lot of fun. My cheeks hurt from smiling so much. But by gum was it tiring. By the time we got to tea and cake at the Quakers meeting house, I was cream crackered. I went home, took off the face, and did my grocery shopping.

The most inspiring thing for me was seeing the joy of my friend who was part of my church group. It was his first time in a Pride parade, and he was almost gleeful. "I want as much tat as possible!" It was heart warming, and shows just how important pride events are even on a personal level. There was also a friend of a friend who came, who balked as we lined up, and went to disappear into the crowds rather than marching with everyone watching. Because for every man, woman and those in between in that parade, there were thousands like him who cannot feel comfortable being so open about who they are. For him, it was an acute suffering, as he is from a country that culturally and legally is very hostile towards LGBT.

Today, my church also had a combined feast day - St Peter and LGBT Pride. The rainbow flag was on the altar, the banner was hung up where our ten commandments are supposed to go, and I wore my rainbow pin on my alb (white robe) whilst serving. Our 'sermon' was one of the LGBT group interviewing a member of the Open and Proud Diamonds group, a UK charity that give support to LGBT refugees and asylum seekers from Africa. And my enthusiastic friend wrote the prayers, but he was unwell this morning, so I read them. It was agreed by all to have been a wonderful service, with extra cake and sweets donated by members of the group to accompany the tea afterwards.

I love being part of LGBT stuff. I have had a great weekend. And I feel Proud to be a bisexual.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Part of the family

I've just finished working on a show with people I have taken to calling our rainbow team ie. the core few people I've been working with within a bigger team are all queer in one way or another.
And of course our sexualities didn't come up in conversation a lot [even when working in theatre it generally doesn't] but just knowing that if I did bring it up, the people around me would know, acknowledge and further what I was talking about, which did happen on occasion; and knowing that I wasn't a minority on my own (as we were still a minority in the wider team) - it felt wonderful.
It was simply lovely, similar to the feeling I get in a gay club or when I'm in or watching a pride parade, a feeling similar to that of family - affection, solidarity, pride, understanding, support. But it was different because it was under everything; our queerness wasn't the main focus of the activity, and we rarely talked about it, because we were getting on with the job, but it wasn't quashed. It wasn't hidden or ignored. It was just there and not a big deal.
I do feel that it's not a big deal with straight friends and coworkers as well (except those that don't pick up or simply forget that I'm bi). It's a feeling akin to acceptance, I think. However, the novelty is being in essentially a queer environment without it being the main reason we are together, and still being tangibly aware of it. LGBT meetings are great, but it is encouraging to find I can get that feeling of solidarity in a 'real life' context as well.
I've always liked being with other queers, just like I enjoy being with my family. Working on this production was like putting on a wedding - the purpose is the marriage of two people (putting on a performance), and it involves a ceremony and a reception (a rehearsed staging and first night party), and logistics like clothes (costume), venue (theatre) and decor (set and props); but doing all the planning and execution around the main event [that can sometimes be dull or a lot of time/effort!] with people you feel a connection to makes it more than bearable; it can at times be as fun as the event itself eg. a shopping trip for clothes becomes enjoyable if you have a parent and/or close friends along to do it with you, and a lengthy conversation about scheduling is made easier if you have something in common with your director.
Hopefully that simile shows that they are similar contexts, with similar results. Feeling closer to my team through our shared queerness enhanced the trust we built in our relationships whilst working to put on a show. Sure, you can't get over major arguments or personality clashes just by being connected - that's why Aunty Margaret has to be seated the other end of the marquee to her sister who she's had a feud with for 20years - but hastening the familiarity meant more honest, frank, and I suppose just more grown up conversations (and Aunty Margaret kept her promise and didn't throw wine in her sister's face. After all, she's still her sister.)
I will admit I started writing this post on the way home from the wrap party, so if it doesn't make sense, blame the gin!