Over the summer, Stonewall will platform LGBT groups and Pride organisers to share what Pride means to them. Here is Kaz Pollock of Bi Pride UK.
Bi Pride 2019 takes place on 7th September. Find out more.
Not all views are necessarily Stonewall's. To learn more about the project e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tell us about Bi Pride UK
A newly formed charity, Bi Pride UK, is organising a march and event for March 2019, developing virtual Pride spaces, and working with local Prides and already established bi groups across the country to ensure that people attracted to more than one gender are included and heard in all aspects of life.
We also offer training, consultation and webinars to other Pride organisations wanting to ensure they're bi inclusive.
What does Pride mean to you personally?
For me (as Diversity and Inclusion lead of Bi Pride UK), Pride is about the vital importance of affirming all people, all identities, and all ways of being. The very visible nature of Pride events is a vital part of LGBT history. From the very first Christopher Street Liberation March, being open, proud and seen has been intrinsic to Pride.
This visibility also gives hope to those who are not able to be out. By claiming the streets as our streets we are saying we belong, and will not be hidden or silenced.
Everyone deserves the right to be celebrated for who they are.
Bi Pride UK’s mission to create spaces, physical, virtual and accessible to all who want to celebrate attraction beyond gender, speaks to me on a very deep level. Everyone deserves the right to be celebrated for who they are.
How did Bi Pride UK get involved with Prides?
Our very first involvement with a Pride event came literally weeks after our formation, when we were invited to march by Pride in London. Many bi activists challenged the lack of a single bi-specific group being present in the march, rejecting the defence that bi people were already marching with other groups.
The fact that there were no bi organisations represented is just one example of how often bi people and their representatives are seen as an afterthought, if they are remembered at all.
Pride in London approached the Bi Pride UK committee and as a fellow Pride organisation asked if we would lead the Prides section of the march. The whole thing highlighted to us the importance of an organisation like Bi Pride UK alongside the work of existing bi activist organisations and networks.
What changes have you seen in the way Prides are run since you've been involved?
Over the last year, it’s been heartening to see an increasing commitment to be more inclusive of people attracted to more than one gender, whatever labels they use - bi, pan, queer or anything else.
Working alongside other bi activists and groups, it really feels like change is finally coming.
Prides up and down the country have invited us to attend their events, we’ve been developing a series of training seminars for Pride organisers, and we’ve had many enquiries from different Prides.
Working alongside other bi activists and groups, it really feels like change is finally coming, not just because of our work, but because of all the work that has gone on before us. It's exciting to see where we might be in 10 years’ time.
What have you learned along the way?
That organising Pride events is exhausting, exhilarating, and worth the effort. That very first group of people with us at Pride in London, 50 of us from London and beyond, who marched to say, "we are here, we will be heard and seen”, all felt the power of inclusion, after the hurt of exclusion felt frequently by all.
What does it feel like to not be included?
Despite ‘B’ being the third letter of the acronym LGBT, it very often feels as if people forget we even exist.
We’re told “gay includes you” or to come along to “lesbian and bi” events erasing the very specific needs of bi women. There is a constant erasure and appropriation of the bi experience.
Bi and pan people are told their identities are not real, that it's just a phase, that they are promiscuous and not to be trusted.
Then there is explicit biphobia, even from lesbians and gay men. Bi and pan people are told their identities are not real, that it's just a phase, that they are promiscuous and not to be trusted.
Very often the suggestion is that in fact we're just closeted gay and lesbian people, and that we're therefore hiding our true selves.
The data on mental health, sexual assault and domestic violence shows how the lives of bi people are impacted, and yet usually this is lumped into wider LGBT stats, meaning that bi people do not get the support they need.
Even marching in Pride in London last year, someone of one of the podiums we passed used a tired biphobic ‘joke’ when doing a shout-out as we went past. Things like this are the experience of many bi people at Prides each year and it is something we are determined to challenge.
We reported it back to the organisers, and will continue to challenge things making bi people unwelcome or unincluded at Prides whenever we encounter it.
What does it feel like to be included and accommodated?
As already mentioned it has been so heartening to see real commitments from Prides over the last year to improve and be more inclusive of bi people. There is a genuine desire to do better, and that not only feels positive but gives us the energy to do even more for bi inclusion.
What are some innovations or guidance and are there any resources you'd like to recommend or feature?
We'd certainly recommend looking out for our next round of webinars.
We'd also like Prides to talk to us: it‘s OK to be unsure about what bi inclusion looks like, and what bi people might need.
In the future we'll be holding training days, and we invite everyone to learn more about the experiences and needs of bi people.
What’s your closing single message for Pride organisers?
Make the 'B' in 'LGBT' more than just the second letter of the alphabet.
We will not be erased from the rainbow.
Do not make 2018 another Pride season of 'jokes' that are really microaggressions, biphobia and bi erasure. We will not be erased from the rainbow. Look at your performers, volunteers, organisers and attendees and ask “Is the 'B' welcomed and affirmed here?”
To hear more about what we’re up to, the latest news about our Bi Pride event next March, and how you can join us at Prides, take part in our training or volunteer with us, subscribe to our mailing list.