Bi Cymru/Wales was founded in 2007 by bi people in Wales who felt that their issues and voices are often missing or overlooked in LGBTQIA+ spaces. We came out of a workshop held at BiCon UK held when BiCon came to the University of South Wales in Trefforest in 2007.
We work with and for all people attracted to more than one gender, whatever label they use, or if they use no label. Embracing the diversity within bi communities is an integral part of our identity and at the core of our work.
We meet monthly in Cardiff and Swansea as discussion and peer support groups. Since COVID-19 we have been meeting every two weeks online. We also run campaigns on key bi issues, events for Bi Visibility Day and other key dates, deliver bi training, and run an annual BiFest Wales event with workshops, social space and events, community stalls, and an alternative live music event.
Providing spaces where people can be their whole selves as bi people is vital to our wellbeing and acceptance.
We create safe spaces, where bi people can feel comfortable and confident to be themselves. Members often talk to us about feeling they do not belong in either straight or gay spaces and feel alone and isolated. Evidence shows that bi people are often only welcome in gay spaces if they are single or have a same-sex partner, and only welcome in straight spaces if they are single or have an opposite-sex partner. This leads many to hiding their orientation or feeling their orientation is not taken seriously. Providing spaces where people can be their whole selves as bi people is vital to our wellbeing and acceptance in Welsh and UK society.
The lack of bi spaces and of understanding of bi people and issues leads to many members feeling they have found a space with us where they can finally be themselves and be welcome as themselves. This sense of freedom to be ourselves, part of a community, and not alone and isolated as a bi person is a key part of wellbeing and all our groups and events.
As we reopen, we are keeping the mix of online meetings and face-to-face groups, so everyone can access the support and community they need.
Adding Zoom meetings has allowed us to support and engage bi people in rural areas of Wales, in areas without a local bi group, and for bi parents, carers, and some disabled people. However, some members have found online meets inaccessible for them. As we reopen, we are keeping the mix of online meetings and face-to-face groups, so everyone can access the support and community they need.
An extra benefit of bringing bi people together is widening understanding of bisexuality and bi issues. Our training, public events, and campaigns provide a platform for bi people’s voices and issues, which are usually missing in LGBTQIA+ work. By working with other organisations, including Pride Cymru and Stonewall Cymru, biphobia and bi issues are becoming more visible and part of the work of these organisations. The view that a person is defined by their current relationship and that bi people are gay or straight depending on the gender of the person they are dating is changing slowly, with bi people becoming more recognised as consistently bi, not defined by our relationships. Working with public, private and third sector organisations deepens understanding of these issues and recognition of bi people and our issues.
As part of the UK bi family, we also bring bi people and allies from Wales together with our wider community through key events such as Bi Pride UK and BiCon UK. We connect together through Bi Community News and Biscuit. And we link internationally through the bi steering group of ILGA and the international Bi+ group and event organisers’ network. These connections provide a vital link to a wider community, beyond the Welsh borders.
Bringing bi people and allies together for both workshops and social spaces is vital for bi people to develop community, tackle isolation, and provide peer support.
We are looking forward to being able to have BiFest Wales again on a Saturday in May in 2022. Bringing bi people and allies together for both workshops and social spaces is vital for bi people to develop community, tackle isolation, and provide peer support. We have been missing this opportunity to celebrate our bi family, alongside providing an opportunity for key discussions and change to challenge biphobia, bi erasure, and bi exclusion in Wales. Our voices are often unheard and bringing people together is important to hearing and acting on our voices, experiences, and issues.