Tag Archives: bicon

Image

Guest Post by @Angreebindii

People of Colour at BiCon: Are we really welcome there?

@Angreebindii works in Higher Education. She has a background in political activism and social justice campaigns. She is QTIPOC, disabled, a trade union organiser and is mostly angry about inequality.

Bicon is the UK’s largest and most consistent event dedicated to the bisexual community. It is the amalgamation of both a conference and a convention, hence the name Bicon. Bicon explores a whole spectrum of issues relating to bisexuality, kink and sex positivity. It came about in the mid-1980s after an event titled ‘The Politics of Bisexuality’ was the first to be organised in London, 1984. What followed was a series of similar events after fully concretising into Bicon shortly after. It is a yearly event where the management and delivery of the event is democratically run.

This year’s event was the second I attended. And it may well be my last. In fact, my first Bicon was on the cusp of being my last. My first Bicon was rifled racism. I found myself swimming in meagre attendance of people of colour in an oppressive sea of white attendees. It was an unsafe space fraught with white dreadlocks and well-meaning pretty white bindis. It also consisted of culturally appropriative events organised and led by white people. These included meditation mornings and tantric sex type of sessions. This year’s Bicon was  pretty much of the same old white thing. Even with Bicon’s sponsorship of first time Bis of Colour attendees, this year’s event was quite white.

There have always been ongoing Bicon issues with whiteness. However, this year took more than an uncomfortable turn and it shook me. The organisers booked in Spectrum, the LGBT arm of the Home Office and praised the presence a uniformed Police Officer at the event. Many members from the Bis of Colour were uncomfortable and felt unsafe. I took to Twitter to highlight the issue. The response was mixed. At one point, it got very frustrating. My ‘views’ were disputed however, those of white people were not. For example: I, a migrant of colour got whitesplained about the police & the Home Office. However, ex-employees of the Home Office received support and compassion for stating the same thing as I did.

The very same weekend the police were aiding racists to attack people of colour in Charlottesville, Bicon was sharing pro-police & Home Office tweets. At the event, organisers and attendees were friendly and complicit with their presence. The lack of sensitivity, disrespect and outright racism at the expense of people of colour was hurtful. It certainly felt that our bisexuality counted less than white queers.

The presence of organisations linked to institutions such as the Home Office and the police is not only racist due to how the people of colour are treated but how our sexuality is discriminated against. Bicon organisers decided to defend their presence. That was racist as well a biphobic, classist, ableist and sexist. Their discrimination towards us were intersecting. The Home Office’s abhorrent treatment of queer, disabled, and women refugees cannot be ignored. The same is with the police. In fact, the police are responsible for killing people of colour due to the colour of their skin. These facts are not ignored by white queers at Bicon – they are debated then negated.

Following from these debates I had about Bicon, I decided that enough was enough.

Bisexuals of colour are told to engage in the event’s organisational processes. We are encouraged to attend, to contribute, and to make complaints within the existing structures. And when we do, we are thanked and our ‘views’ appreciated. However, those views, which in stark reality are in fact outright experiences of discrimination, are only ever just acknowledged. Racism becomes diluted to ‘microaaggression’ and ‘cultural appropriation’ almost as if that is an optional form of being discriminated against. It is as if we, queers of colour, choose to feel discriminated, hence actual change to create decolonised queer spaces become optional. That is all too convenient to white LGBT types. It suits them that we have done our job and contributed. And they have done their bit, they have acknowledged us. So the matter is closed.

Except that for us, queers of colour – the discrimination is ongoing. So each year, we have to do the same, contribute and be muted. It goes on until it becomes all too much for queers of colour. Then sometimes we let the less worse things slide. At other times, we get traumatised, burnt out and angry. Or just angry. Often we need to distance ourselves and take breaks whilst we carry on being racially discriminated against. All the while the racism never stops and nor do the white excuses. Hence, for us the racism never ends.

If we demand our rights, we are told that we are insensitive and unreasonable. We are told to appreciate that Bicon ‘is run by volunteers’. We are told that it takes a lot to organise an event. We are told that organisers get burnt out. We are told that it is a structural issue. All in all, we are told many things and are reduced to feel like misunderstanding children.  At the end of the day, all those things we are told are white excuses for racial bias. Respectability for the structure and the ‘volunteers’ outweigh our struggle to exist safely as bisexuals/queers of colour.

Bicon has been going for over 30 years, yet people of colour still face the brunt of bi-racism. I have been involved in political work since I was seventeen years old so I understand the dynamics of oppression. I have experienced such exclusive behaviours far too much. So for it to happen again, for me, is unacceptable.This is why I have made my decision.

Bicon and its white apologists are not worth my time. In an act of decolonised queer self-love, Bicon will never be graced by my powerful and important presence. Not until, real action occurs. By that I mean at least 1) a consistent increase of Bis of Colour year on year 2) a stronger decolonised code of conduct 3) the proper enforcement of the code of conduct 4) the end to cultural appropriation 4) POC focused session *run* by POCs 5) intersectionality.  

I encourage other queers of colour and their allies to demand the same. We need to stand up and own our power. It is an act of self-love to break an abusive relationship. People of colour everywhere deserve to be respected and valued. Until those changes in Bicon happen, we should stand up and demand change. Bicon’s reward would be our presence. And until then we will thrive by organising together our own events as queers of colour – in a decolonised act of self-love.

Image

Structural issues with BiCon. Or why I’m not returning unless I see some changes.

BiCon is run by volunteers in the bisexual community.  Every year the organisers change.  If an organiser screws up, often nothing is done, cos they won’t be there next year (usually).  Last year an organiser made paedophile jokes during the cabaret, mocked non-binary people & was generally inappropriate. Very little was done, even though lots of people complained & were in tears (including me) at the Paedophile thing.  There’s nothing to guarantee the same won’t happen this year or the next, because they’re never held accountable.  The same guy who caused the upset last year (breaking several BiCon Code of Conduct rules in the process) wasn’t thrown out of the Con. If an attendee had done that, they’d be told to leave immediately.  It’s been almost a year since that incident, but I haven’t heard or seen anything on BiCon website apologising about it, or even mentioning it.

When I’ve brought up problems in the past, I’ve often been told “We’re just volunteers!  We don’t get paid to do this!”  This is a silencing tactic, which minimises the power that these volunteers have.  It’s like saying, “Shut up and be grateful!”

Another issue is the constant lack of engagement with bisexuals of colour.  The highest attendance (20+) we had was the year a donor gave BiCon funding to subsidise free places for People of Colour, disabled and working class.  The next year there was nothing, and the attendance went down to about 5 bi’s of colour.  Nobody on organising teams wants to look at the fact that bi’s of colour are more likely to be unemployed or on low wages – due to racism.  If we can’t get subsides places, we simply can’t go.  I’ve been saying this since 2008, and nobody seems to listen.  At the same time, I keep getting asked how BiCon can become more accessible and diverse.  This just feels like the minimum amount of lip service.

I’ve been a bisexual activist for years.  BiCon has been the highlight of each of those years.  BiCon needs to look at the structure of organising the event.  BiCon Continuity could possibly include this in their remit too.  Because until things change, and I feel safer attending, I’m not going back.

Multiple Oppressions in the UK Bi Scenes

Standard

When a very brief exchange reminds you why you don’t miss the white middle class bicon world that much any more. (by extension all the other white and middlecass ‘alt’ worlds: lgbtq, kink, geek etc etc)

so so much emotional labour of explaining racism (and you know you’ve got problems if IM explaining classism too coz i am one of the people who gets it) of being expected to explain/educate, because an ‘activist’. (activist, not masochist doormat/your personal/community resource)

I had to cut off completely from a scene that I’d worked/loved/fucked/found myself in over ten years.

It became no longer possible to be in that scene without being shut down/told off for being ‘unreasonable’ /angry or being a version of me that fanned my internalised racism.

But there are so few spaces which are not shit for bi people. Basically are there any that aren’t organised primarily by bi people?

That’s part of why I stayed so long, and it was a huge huge loss stepping away.

That’s why bi’s of colour, which Jacq Applebee and I founded, has been a fucking lifeline.

http://bisofcolour.tumblr.com/

Gallery

Image

Since the publication of groundbreaking study that bisexual men do in fact exist, I thought it would be a good time to post something from my upcoming book.  Below is the introduction to Bisexual Men, which will be released on 23rd September (International Celebrate Bisexuality day).  Bisexual Men will be available in print and as an e-book on eXcessica, Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

Introduction

In search of the Invisible Man

Where are all the bisexual men?  Where are the male role models, making it easier for others to accept who they are?  Where are the male celebrities stealing kisses at award ceremonies? Male-identified bisexuals don’t only exist in the media, they live next door, stand next to me at the bus stop.  Bi men are friends and colleagues.  But when I started thinking about bisexual men, I could only find a handful; a famous wrestler, a couple of rock stars, and various men in the European bisexual communities whom I’d see at BiCon (Convention of Bisexuality) every year.  As much as I admired these guys, I knew I wanted more.  But then maybe they were keeping quiet because bisexual men tend to get a raw deal in the grand scheme of things?  Bi men bring queerness a little too close to home for the liking of some who find it easier to dismiss them as either curious or experimenting; never settling, but always a pretender to the throne. 


Bisexuality has often been marginalised by both straight and gay/lesbian communities.  It seems that every year a study is published to state that there is no such thing as bisexuality for men, as if sexual orientation can be boxed up and disposed of as simply as that.  An attraction to more than one gender is not something just for women.  Not all bisexual men live in secret (or on the Down-Low if you’re in the U.S).  Some men are proud of their orientation, some are less so.  Regardless of their visibility, I wanted to write something in celebration of these fierce souls who have open arms and hearts too.  In doing so, I’ve learnt that these once-invisible men truly are everywhere.

Fuck ‘em all is a story about a man who completely accepts himself, including his sexuality.  He only gets angry at people who don’t do the same.  Homeless tells of a man who buys sex from men, with the full knowledge of his angelic wife.  What’s in a Name? shows how a faux pas in bed (calling out the wrong lover’s name) can lead to self-discovery for all involved.  Not with a bang, but a whimper sees a sexual surrogate observe her changing relationship with two men—one a lover and one a friend. 


Some of the characters have to reach rock bottom before they start living the life they truly want.  In How Special is Special? A man faces a terrible dilemma on his wedding day; choose the bride or the best man.  My Generation is all about a man who finds himself taking a bit too much interest in the boy bands his daughter loves.  He doesn’t want to call himself bisexual in case the name sticks, but he learns to embrace his changing desires with time.

Bisexual men come from all backgrounds: in David does BiCon, the central character falls for a man with ‘skin the colour of soot.’  I’ve found my man takes place during the Notting Hill Carnival, which is the largest multicultural event in Europe.  The players quickly change their views as to what types of people are bisexual during a sexy evening of fun.

Bisexual men exist, period.  If you still think they’re invisible, then maybe you’re looking in the wrong place.  I love bisexual men, every single chance I get.  Please enjoy these stories and see why that’s the case.

****

Bisexual Men will be available in print and as an e-book on eXcessicaAmazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

Gallery