By Jenny Crocker, Service Manager
Earlier this month, I attended BiCon 2018 in Salford, the UK’s biggest gathering of bisexuals, their friends, partners and anyone with a positive interest in bisexuality.
We don’t all use the labels ‘bi’ or ‘bisexual’ or even agree on what it means to be bi, but bisexuality is the common theme.
It is run solely by volunteers and has aspects of both a convention – socialising, fun sessions, dancing and board games – and a conference, with more serious workshop sessions from activism to being bi in the workplace, as well as several safe spaces for various groups of attendees.
Attendees refer regularly to the ‘Bi Bubble’ and it really is a thing.
The majority of attendees stay on site and, during the day, the main venue is restricted to attendees only. People felt able to discuss what they wanted, wear what they wanted and generally be their whole selves. It was an excellent, relaxed, safe atmosphere and made me realise how much we alter our behaviour day to day out in the real world.
In the fandom sessions I recognised echoes of my blog last year around problematic representation in media – not just for those identifying as bi or pan sexual, but also people of colour, transgender people and the lesbian and gay community.
I came away with some recommendations of interesting series and shows (I just spent most of a week off binge watching Orphan Black).
In my more serious sessions, there were common themes throughout around representation and concerns over being ‘out’ to people at work and at home. Numerous Facebook and Instagram details were exchanged with strict instructions over what content could be posted where due to people not feeling safe with their family knowing they were bi.
In the workshops it was reiterated in figures from a Unison report – 40% of the LGBT community identify as bi or pan, however only 6-12% of those are out in their workplace and bisexual people are six times more likely to commit suicide than those identifying as lesbian or gay.
What shone through throughout my weekend is how positive my experience of being out at work has been compared to so many others. Riverside has already adopted so many of the best practice suggestions discussed, in policies, engagement in local events, the Spectrum group and our thriving Friends of Spectrum network.
So I will just leave you with some of the suggestions as to what you can do to support your friends, family and colleagues and be an active ally:
- speak up in support in social spaces including online
- be there to listen
- respect confidentiality
- get involved in events and training.