The Scottish Bi+ Network | Stonewall
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The Scottish Bi+ Network

During Pride, we are celebrating the ways we are #ProuderTogether. Nic from the Scottish Bi+ Network talks about intersectionality in the bi community, and how you can get involved with the network’s activities.

The Scottish Bi+ Network began in 2018, becoming a constituted group in 2019.

Our aims are to raise bi+ visibility and increase awareness of the issues facing the bi+ community, both in the LGBTQIA+ community itself, and with the public. We are Scotland’s main voluntary-run organisation for anyone attracted to multiple genders. We organise events, liaise with other organisations, take part in Prides, and provide online support. As Covid restrictions ease, we hope to help in-person bi+ groups start up around the country to provide in-person peer support and social activities. We’d love to hear from anyone who wants a bi+ group in their area - we can provide some financial support, practical help, and training, but we need people in the area to sustain a group!

Since the pandemic began, we have moved our activities online. We have active social media, and our Discord server is proving very popular!  We have multiple channels, including neurodiverse, events, games, links/info, and regional channels to help people find others near them. We keep the Discord relatively private to ensure safety - this has worked very well so far, and we’ve had no problems. We’re happy to give the link to anyone who asks for it though, and love to welcome new people - just contact us by email/social media!  People are finding the Discord to be a good source of peer support as well as being a social space.

We’ve had several day-long online Bi+ Gatherings which have been well-attended not only by people in Scotland, but throughout the UK, Europe and beyond. These events have been a mixture of workshops, talks and social events, covering everything from a workshop with internationally renowned bi activist Robyn Ochs to juggling!

Our next major event is ... BiTastic.

Our next major event is a partnership with the Equality Network and Stonewall Scotland - BiTastic. This will be a multi-day online event in September, our biggest event to date Get in touch if you’d like to facilitate a workshop/session - it doesn’t need to be bi+ related, just of interest to our community - we want a full range of activities in the programme.

We know that as well as our bi+ identity many of us have other identities which are important to us.

Intersectionality is huge in our community. We know that as well as our bi+ identity many of us have other identities which are important to us - whether that be that we are BAME, disabled, neurodiverse, trans/non-binary. We may face discrimination due to our religion or our class background.  At Scottish Bi+ Network we aim to recognise this and make our spaces (physical and online) safe spaces, where people can be their true authentic selves and don’t have to hide any part of their identity or being. 

As part of that, we’ve recognised that many who interact with our services are neurodiverse. This led to us developing a neurodiverse area within our Discord for peer support, socialisation and sharing links, tips, and resources. This area is open to anyone who identifies as neurodiverse whether formally diagnosed or not, and includes a wide range of neurodivergence including autism, ADHD, dyspraxia, sensory processing difficulties, and dyslexia. We have a monthly neurodiverse meetup on Zoom on the 2nd Sunday of each month, where we have a “starting topic” (chosen by the group) to allow the group to work together and collaborate on ways to help things they struggle with, as well as generally socialise in a safe space with other neurodiverse bi+ people. Both this meetup and the neurodiverse channel on Discord are peer-support spaces but are facilitated and moderated by a neurodiverse person (me!).

Providing we have appropriate volunteers to moderate and ensure safe spaces, we would be happy to expand and have other meetup groups and Discord channels for other intersectional identities - we are always happy to grow and meet the needs of our community! The power of this peer support network cannot be underestimated, particularly as a community who suffer erasure and high rates of physical and mental poor health.

As an individual, I feel proud to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community. I’ve always felt “different” and never really fitted into mainstream society. The LGBTQ+ community (particularly the bi+ community) have really embraced me for who I am - quirks, disabilities, neurodivergence and all. I’ve finally found my community and am accepted. I am home. Obviously, I credit Scottish Bi+ Network as having a pivotal role in that!  As a community we make up the biggest proportion of the LGBTQ+ umbrella, and as an organisation we’re proud of that.

As a small organisation we are continually looking for more people to get involved, and to let us know what the community wants and needs! This could be as little as 1.5 hours every 2 months as a committee member. Our AGM is coming up very soon, and we will have spaces for new members - email to find out more! No experience is necessary, just a desire to help with ideas and suggestions. We recognise our community is more likely than many to be affected by disability or caring responsibilities. As such we have a generous expenses policy as we aim to remove financial barriers to volunteering. Speak to us in confidence to find out more.