Bi Nottingham

Info for bi / queer / pan / bisexual / bi-curious / bi-by-some-definition people in Nottingham, England, UK

Category: BiTopia

A New(ish) Bi Blog

by nottmbitopia

I recently set up a blog to gather together all the bi related stuff I’ve written over the years.

I also write about:

  • My experiences of being bisexual
  • Biphobia and bi erasure
  • Nottingham BiTopia
  • How to set up and run a bi group
  • Bisexuality in the media (especially TV shows).

You can find it here: https://bisexualblogs.wordpress.com

Hannah

A Look Back at 2014

by nottmbitopia

As we’re approaching the end of December I thought I’d write an entry to summarise the year…and what a year it’s been! We’ve had 12 pub socials at The Lord Roberts, a post BiCon meet up, Christmas drinks and we’ve marched in the Nottinghamshire Pride parade. BiTopia attendees have also gone to other events such as The Big Bi Fun Day and BiCon 2014 together, and several people have had things published in Bi Community News (BCN).

We normally have between 12-20 people per meet up, and about 40-50 people have attended at least one of our events in the past 12 months. This is an outstanding achievement for the first year of a new group, made possible only by the work others have done in helping me to spread the word. I would particularly like to thank uncharteredworlds, the editor of BCN and the person who runs the East Midlands Bi Network emailing list for all their hard work and support in this.

The highlight for me has been watching friendships grow over the course of the year and seeing a local bi community develop.  It’s also been really meaningful to see the group become a source of support for bisexuals and those questioning, exploring or struggling with their sexual orientation.

2015 looks to be another promising year. Thanks to the help of unchartedworlds we now have a date set for our new discussion and workshop based event (BiTalkia) which will run several times a year in addition to the monthly pub social. I also want BiTopia to take part in Pride again and look into creating some sort of display for one of the libraries in Nottingham for LGBT History Month. I will continue to attend the LGBT and KIN meetings run by the local police and encourage others to attend too to make sure we are represented and our voices are heard.

Whether you’ve donated money to us, lent us washing line poles and banners for Pride or supported us in any other way not mentioned in this post, thank you. It really means a lot.

Dates for 2015 Pub Socials

by nottmbitopia

8th Jan
12th Feb
12th March
9th April
14th May
11th June
9th July
13th Aug
10th Sept
8th Oct
12th Nov
10th Dec

In addition there is usually the Big Bi Fun Day (family friendly picnic type event in Leicester) one weekend towards the beginning of May and BiCon is usually one weekend towards the end of July.

To the best of my knowledge Nottinghamshire Pride will be held on Sat 25th July.

Last but not least the Brum Bi Fest is held on one Saturday at the end of November.

Save the dates!

New discussion group BiTalkia! Please help by filling in survey about dates etc.

by unchartedworlds

As some people know, plans are brewing for a new bi discussion group for Nottingham.

(When we say “bi”, we mean it in a fairly umbrella-ish sense of the word, not being picky about labels.  We’ll welcome people who are in a questioning stage about their sexuality as well.)

It’s kind of a spin-off from BiTopia’s pub meetups, for those of us who’d like a more socially-structured space, and we’re calling it BiTalkia.

We’re hoping to run the first one in January or February 2015.  It will be in a wheelchair-accessible venue somewhere in Nottingham City, on a weekday evening…

but which venue and which evening, and what time?  and what discussion themes?

Ha, well, that is exactly what we now need to work out 🙂

If you are a bit bi in some sense, and you want to egg us on, please fill in our spangly new survey!!

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/JBYW3LS

(Time predictions for filling it in:
Quickly clicking on buttons & boxes, inc looking in your diary at the possible dates, about 10 mins.
If adding optional comments to help us think things through, maybe more like 20 or 30 mins.
Emails to me with your ideas are also welcome:  jennifer at uncharted hyphen worlds dot org.)

Spreading the word

If you’d like to help by spreading the word, you could send people either here, or direct to the survey.

Twitter:  I’ve done a tweet about the survey, which you could retweet – or of course just do a tweet about it yourself, whichever.

Facebook:  BiTopia Facebook is here, and I expect there will be a post coming up there soon about this survey (when Hannah gets time to do it – I try to ignore Facebook myself ;-/ )

Working with the Police

by nottmbitopia

At Nottinghamshire Pride this year I got talking to the staff at the police stall and learned about their Key Individual Network (KIN). This network is a system where the reps/staff members/equality officers/leaders etc. of minority groups can sign up to be the main point of contact for the police for their group or organisation. The police then have a network to distribute important information directly to the community and receive feedback. We have a main point of contact for the police regarding any LGBT issues and for reporting hate crime. I signed myself up for BiTopia, and was really impressed at how friendly and easy to talk to they were.

Tonight I went along to what I thought was a KIN meeting. I was a bit shy and nervous, and blushed when I spoke, as everyone there seemed to be some kind of working professional. There were people from the police, the NHS and “proper” LGBT groups such as Outburst. (By “proper” I mean they are not run informally by one person from their bedroom!) So I felt like I didn’t really belong there. However this meeting was a really interesting opportunity for me to see what work the police are doing for LGBT people in Nottingham. I also tried to network and get contact information for the other attendees. One of the things discussed in the meeting was a future anti hate crime campaign for the city, and I even had the chance to give feedback on their draft campaign posters! This was quite an astonishing moment for me. Imagine, a lowly unimportant citizen such as myself, reminding key police staff  to use bisexual inclusive language on their campaign posters and social media sites!

Towards the end of the meeting it turned out that we were not there for KIN at all,  but for an LGBT Community Meeting for the city division of the police. I had been put on the mailing list for it without realising when I signed up to be a key individual. I learned that the meeting is held quarterly and that anyone from the public can go and speak with the police, ask questions, get information and give feedback. How amazing is it that this exists!? How sad that barely anyone seems to know about it. Indeed some other issues raised tonight were the confusion between the KIN and LGBT Community meetings, and also the lack of people attending.

 

Tonight gave me a lot of ideas for bi activism and for working with the police to improve communication and collaboration with the LGBT community:

  • We could compile a list of contacts and places to advertise the LGBT Community meetings and pass them on to the police. (If people consent!)
  • We can advertise the next meeting on the 13th January and encourage LGBT people to attend.
  • When someone said the police would like more feedback about their campaigns/materials, I offered to help.
    E.g. Show their mock posters to members of BiTopia, collect feedback  and let the police know what we like/dislike about them.

Another attendee invited me to speak about bisexuality and bisexual issues at police training days!

Crikey. To think all of this happened because I accidentally went to the wrong meeting!

Which brings me to my final point. One thing that I realised tonight was that ordinary people like me can make a difference. You don’t have to be a professional or super human being. You just need to be a bit more aware of what’s happening in your community. Do a bit of digging,  find out what’s going on and what’s being offered. See who you can work with. Get involved. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Know that your opinions and experiences are just as valid as anyone else’s.

Don’t do nothing.  

You never know what might happen when you do something.

I grew up scared of the police. I never would have considered going to them with an LGBT issue or to report a hate crime. I would have assumed they would be disgusted by me or laugh at me or tell me to run along now. I never thought they were bothered about bisexuals. Since Pride, I now  know that the police are putting a lot of time, effort and money into tackling hate crime, supporting LGBT people and engaging with us. Tonight I’ve learned that there are some wonderful people in the force. Some who do their LGBT work on top of their full time policing duties. And these people do care about bi folks like us. : )

Coming Out Day Project/Event

by nottmbitopia

Saturday 11th October is Coming Out Day and BiTopia is holding a special meet up on Sunday 12th October to mark the occasion. This meet up is in addition to the regular pub social on Thursday 9th! (You lucky things you.)

We’ll meet at 1:00pm on Sunday 12th October at The Roebuck Inn, 9-11 St James’s St, Nottingham NG1 6FH. St Jame’s St is one of the side streets just off Old Market Square which leads to Maid Marian Way. There is a step free access via a ramp that slopes up at one side of the entrance to the building. This is a massive pub, so don’t forget to look for the rubber duck on the table to identify us! Hannah, the group leader, will wear a purple shoelace on her left wrist so you can spot her. : )

Please bring pens, pencils, markers, paper, scissors, cuttings from newspapers and magazines, laptops or tablets to type on etc.

The aim of the afternoon is to document our experiences of coming out in some way. This could be done through writing, drawing, painting, cutting & sticking…whatever floats your boat! Any format is fine; comic, blog, photos, rants, short stories, poems, interpretive dance… Any/all ideas welcome!

Here’s some prompts:
*Biphobia, how does it affect you and your decision to come out?
*Do you tell people about your sexuality? Why, why not?
*Make a guide to coming out.
*Make a list of resources related to coming out.
*Create something like biphobic bingo!
*Your best/worst coming out stories.
*A list of witty comebacks to phrases like “You’re greedy.”
*Create things for people to post on social media. For example the meme and info-graphic below:

images-11013_222x180bi-suicide

Why do all this? Well members of our community are affected by bi erasure. Our lives, stories and experiences will go undocumented unless we capture them. Let’s put stuff like this out into the public and show people we exist! Encourage LGBT people and organisations to include us. This is a great chance to raise awareness about coming out, the issues we face and help combat erasure. We can also create resources about coming out for others who are attracted to more than one gender.

Things that people have written/made will be posted online and made into mini booklets and magazines to sell at zine fairs. We can dream bigger if we like…maybe this could form part of a display in libraries for LGBT history month next year!?

Don’t worry if you’re not sure what to do. I will provide prompts and examples to start us off.

Your creations can remain anonymous if you want.

If you can’t make this date, or don’t live in the East Midlands, why not write/create something and email it to nottinghambitopia@gmail.com? Or perhaps you can give something to Hannah (group leader) in person at a later date?

Thank you!

Bisexual Visibility at Manchester Pride

by nottmbitopia

Last year I took part in Manchester Pride Parade for the first time by joining BiPhoria’s walking entry. It was an amazing, exhilarating experience but I left with a lot of ideas of things I wanted to try for the parade in 2014.

The parade at Manchester Pride is massive. Thousands of people line the streets to watch behind metal crowd barriers. Over 100 entries take part and many of the larger groups and businesses have decorated floats, marching bands, goodies to hand out to the crowds and amazing costumes (e.g. people on stilts). Things which are sadly beyond the scope of smaller walking entries comprised of a 10-20 people like BiPhoria.

Last year whilst we were walking in the parade I noticed a lot of puzzled looking people, and I could hear some in the crowd asking those stood next to them who we were.  However I did notice that the bisexual flag was being photographed a lot, and people really responded to the bubble swords I’d brought; often asking for photos of us/the flag with bubbles in!

For the parade this year I wanted to build on what worked well for two reasons:

  1. To prevent the bisexuals from getting lost amongst all the larger, more well known entries.
  2. To help people realise who we are and why we’re there.

So I made two A3 sized signs and taped them onto broom handles for people to carry and  brought two sets of poi. This worked really well as I could see/hear people reading the signs. When someone asked who we were I heard the reply of “They’re the bisexuals!” One of our party was even filmed twirling poi by a camera crew from Channel 4 before the parade started, and a few of us managed to stand behind him holding our banner! (Though I haven’t been able to find footage of this anywhere yet.) Another member of the group brought little pots of bubbles which again went down very well. Lots of kids kept shouting us over so they could have a go at blowing some bubbles for themselves. So cute!

bi sign

The signs meant we could put out a more visible message against biphobia, and increase awareness that bisexuals exist and have their own group/scene in Manchester. I hope it made people think and helped challenge some of the assumptions made about us and our sexuality. I’d like to use the signs for BiTopia in the Nottinghamshire Pride Parade next year.

The bisexuals who marched with BiPhoria this year.

The people who marched with BiPhoria this year.

Nottinghamshire Pride 2014

by nottmbitopia

What a wonderful day! It felt like everyone had come out to join us. I arrived at the parade start point at about 10:30am and was joined by more and more BiTopia members until it was time to start marching. Whilst we were waiting we took photos, played with poi, and even got interviewed by Notts TV! (I’m still not sure if we actually made it onto the news though.) The weather was boiling, but sunny and there was a fantastic festival feel in the city centre as the parade snaked slowly round the streets. Some of us held the banner, others handed out stickers and leaflets. Most of us were either wearing or waving bisexual/rainbow flags. During the parade a few people came up to look at our banner and ask who we are. Some people took our picture and some even stayed to march with us!

After the parade ended about half of us stayed together to go for lunch, then we wondered round the stalls and stages before heading our separate ways.

As someone who has experienced biphobic abuse at Prides in the past, I’m always a bit nervous about attending but I didn’t have any problems at all this Pride. I was also delighted to discover two of the stalls were selling bisexual related merchandise, as at most Prides I’ve been to there is only gay, lesbian and rainbow merchandise for sale.

These kind of events are so important for bi visibility and reducing bi erasure, so I’m really happy and proud we managed to get such a large presence at Pride. There were about 20 people for the parade, which is amazing considering we’ve only been running for 7 months.

As I said before, what a wonderful day!

BiTopia at Notts Pride 2014

Important Pride News!

by nottmbitopia

The time and route for the Pride parade has now changed! Please refer back to the previous post to get the latest information as I have now updated it.

I also borrowed a banner from the group leader of BiPhoria for us to use during the Nottinghamshire Pride Parade.

Excitement levels are rising. Less than two weeks to go!

pridebanner

Nottinghamshire Pride

by nottmbitopia

*IMPORTANT UPDATE: PARADE ROUTE HAS NOW BEEN CHANGED!*

This year Nottinghamshire Pride is on Saturday 26th July in the Hockley and Lace Market area of Nottingham City Centre.

The parade will now start at 11:30am from Castle Gate (opposite the Marks & Spencer) and will finish on Broad Street. This is rather appropriate for BiTopia seeing as we meet there every month for our pub social. : )

As a result of the route change we will now meet at 11:00am at the parade start point.

Here’s a link to the Pride site info which features a route map for the parade.

Please wear purple if you can, or any purple/bisexual coloured clothing and accessories. It might be a good idea to wear flat, comfortable shoes and check the weather report beforehand so you can bring your brolly or sun cream etc. if needed.

After the parade finishes we will wonder round stalls and stages at Pride and go for lunch somewhere.

Hope to see you there.