Another Brick in the Wall?

Salutations again one and all! I am back after my brief hiatus to recover my health and to appear in a local pantomime ‘Mother Goose’ where I played a demon called Typos, competing to become the Apprentice of the Demon King. This wasn’t the main narrative of the pantomime mind you, but I do think it was by far the more interesting one 😉 Anyway, time to get on with it!

The central themes of this particular entry essentially boil down to frustration and self-care.

For clarity, this entry is being written from a bisexual activism view point, but the examples I will cite in regards to frustration can easily be extrapolated out to situations. I know I have felt similarly in many social situations as well. We have all, I’m sure, encountered the phenomenon on more than one occasion in our lives, of feeling as though we are smashing our heads against a brick wall. That profound epiphany that no matter how articulate your argument to the individual/s in question is; it is having no impact whatsoever. brick-wall

Be it the well-meaning volunteer who just refuses to see why calling a new group the bi/pan/omni/kinky group as its title, because that is how he identifies, is unwieldy and impractical; not to mention potentially off-putting to prospective attendees unlikely to have encountered these terms before.

To venue managers/organizers charged with providing a safe space for all, but whom if any misconduct in relation to bi/trans/ homophobia, misogyny, etc, does occur;  respond to it simply by shrugging their shoulders in disinterest and telling you prejudice happens everywhere.

Not too mention community leaders who loose their way and take the attitude that unless you have a similar wealth of experience and community history to them, you are incapable of forming a contribution or indeed, an opinion, of any worth.

Or even professional colleagues or acquaintances that, upon learning you are bi, instantly assume they are entitled to ask the kinds of personal questions they would never consider it appropriate to ask you, were you gay or straight; and often compound this by then taking umbrage if you object.

My reason for citing these examples is not as a rant for catharsis, well, not entirely, but to use them to highlight a point when it comes to self-care.

Self-care is a term banded about often in activist circles but I have found it’s true importance is not sufficiently explained to new-comers whom upon hearing this term, must just think ‘Well, duh’! I first came across the term in the handy guide given to me at my very first BiCon back in 2008 and in this context was referring to sensibly managing your energy levels and not burning yourself out in over-enthusiasm.  I had the ‘well, duh’ response, before going on to learn to my cost just how easy it is to over-do yourself mentally, physically, psychologically etc. This is especially true if you have never been in that kind of space before and are struck with ‘OH MY GODS THIS IS AMAZING, I MUST THEREEFORE DO EEVERYTHING!’ There is nothing wrong with sticking a ‘sensible head’ on and choosing to opt out of some activities so that you can enjoy the over-all experience more.  Remember, popular workshops and activities at events like BiCon/Fests are often repeated, some even over following years.

On the activism side of this spectrum, is ensuring that you have everything you need on a logistical and personal level in order to be able to fully contribute to the event/meeting/discussion etc, you are participating in. While it is vital to ensure all of the resources such as reading materials for example, are accessible to you, the personal side of this equation should never be over-looked. I have known of experienced activists, well-intentioned, knowledgeable people who should know better, still being silly and falling into the trap of sub-consciously thinking ‘I’m hardcore, we’re making some good headway here, I don’t need to eat, so I’ve only had 2 hours sleep; I can pull through on caffeine and gumption!’

The upshot of this tends to be that the activist in question then later feels grumpy, vulnerable or in some other way unable to engage as much or as effectively as they were before. I used to joke that my task was not only to ensure the activist I used to be involved with had food/drink, but also that they had indeed eaten/drank it. While I appreciate it may be vitally important to pin down how a particular grant application should be approached, or an official lobbied, the nourishment isn’t going to benefit you much if you don’t actually ingest it!

I feel that if a newbie asks if saying you need to do a little self-care in order to function isn’t a little selfish? That it should be better explained how this self-regulating works in terms of managing your own capabilities and thus your ability to be effective either at activisting and/or socializing.  You should never feel guilty if you need to duck out for some alone time, go for a nap, do some knitting, colouring or whatever, or even stomp up and down for 5 minutes listening to Industrial music. Whatever you need, just be sure to give yourself that space.

The reason this is so important for activists is that we so often find ourselves in a mentoring position, even it is in an indirect capacity, so it is important we set a good example and look after our newbies by taking best care of ourselves.

To end on a cliché of my own devising, remember, a broken lantern can guide no one.

This turned out to be longer than expected! An that was after pain-staking reconstruction from the original draft of this I made the mistake of writing on my phone (mental note: Do not try to blog from the wordpress phone app again).

I would love to hear your thoughts, so please feel free to comment below.

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A great post with many of the same thoughts I’ve had on the matter myself.

Eponymous Fliponymous

Part One: Find Another Word

So I’ve had more than one straight person tell me about how calling something “gay” to denote its unworth is not intended as a slur against LGBT people. It had sort of faded recently, or at least I thought it had due to the efforts of clever and widespread campaigns against it, until I heard a story a couple weeks ago on NPR about GLBT on television, and heard the following line from a recent TV show, delivered by a gay character. “Even I think rollerblades are gay, and I had sex with a dude last night.” (More on that story in part 3)

Really? So the vaunted surge in Gay Presence On Television is simply another way for people to use “that’s so gay” as a slur. Thanks. This simply adds legitimacy to the idea that saying something is “gay” as a negative is

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Musings From My Mind OR (to satisfy the writer in me) ‘When I Run Away With Me’

First off, I just want to say I have learned a cardinal rule of blogging from last time – DON’T press a random button when you don’t now what it does and you have no back up of your post! Thanks to Jaxdia who had left the page open, I was able to restore the page, but sorry to anyone who followed a duff link!

Now, things have been busy for me lately as, amongst my other interests, I am the Publicity Officer for my local community theatre, The Belfry. On top of this I have been busy rehearsing for our up-coming pantomime Mother Goose in which I play one of the villains, Typos the Demon.

As a consequence of this, it is taking longer than I wanted to get myself into gear completing the next main entry I wished to post. In lieu of that, I decided I would post one of my frequent musings as it says I will in my tag line. Before starting this blog such musings were largely confined to written form. Not all of them are bi related, but as I grow and develop as an activist, an increasing amount are. I have a purple (naturally) note pad known as ‘My Big Bi Book of Hair-brained Schemes’ which I use to keep track of all the random ideas for articles, projects, fundraising etc; which are just not practical to execute at the time due to inadequate resources.

A particular example I shall give you today is one such notion, a bisexual paint ball team. Yes, you read that correctly.paintballing

Think about it, it would be brilliant! They could perhaps even use exclusively pink, purple and blue paint balls if such a thing is possible, and enter tournaments to raise money for various bisexual causes! Apart from the amusing visual imagery I honestly do feel that there is a serious point to be made here, namely increasing bisexual visibility.

We as activists are always trying to think up new and interesting ways to make the wider world more aware of us and our issues. My point is that I think some times activists who have been so long used to having to conform to other organizational structures, in an effort to be taken seriously by them, become almost institutionalized nd thus petrified of being seen doing anything that might be deemed as too ‘silly” or “unprofessional”. Every now and then, you just have to have the nerve to try something completely new and often that is where you will find people interested in the cause whom have never encountered it before.

Without intending to seem like I am ‘othering’ our movement, by (and I hate to use this term) ‘normalizing’ us. If we crop up as either a paint ball squad, a roller derby team or even a reinactment group, it brings us to the attention of a whole new selection of people who, once they see that we’re (in the words of my Welsh friends) ‘up for a laugh’ just the same as them; may then be more receptive to learning about our issues and why they matter to us.

All of a sudden, we have a brand new wave of fresh allies! Something to think about.

Oh, an lastly, my friend Kay and I actually once were intending to form a bisexual reinactment group, we were going to call it ‘The Knights of the Purple Blade’!

Till next time

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If it Isn’t You, Is It Me?

If it Isn’t You, Is It Me?.

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If it Isn’t You, Is It Me?

Hello one and all, and welcome to he exciting entry of my new blog!

As some may be aware, I moved back to my home town of Telford last March after years of living in south Wales, both during and after university, coming out as bisexual and learning all about the bi community there. It is where I had my first foray into LGBT activism and later specifically bi activism, but I will get to that another time.

Not long afterwards I decided that as I had spent years participating in a bi group and assisting at events, that I would role the dice on starting my own bi social group confident that I knew what it took to make a group work. Now I knew that there used to be a Shropshire bi group based out of Shrewsbury and dutifully attempted to find it before I began. I could find not a trace of it, not even the mailing list after one pedantic activist had insisted it was still there. The illustrious Editor Jen of Bi Community News confirmed for me that even that had folded, while I was at BiCon 2012 Bradford.

After that I approached my friend Jaxdia who has always been a great ally and supportive of my bisexuality, he even helped out when I was part of Bi Cymru/Wales at no small expense to himself, a lot of this is due to how welcome and a part of the bi community he feels even as an ally. I told him what I wished to do and he said he would help. After much consideration I decided I didn’t want to simply call the group ‘Bi Telford’ as that seemed boring, and ‘Bi Shropshire’ might of confused people into thinking it was linked to the old mailing list.

Then I remembered both an antiquated Shropshire phrase denoting talking round a point instead of getting to it AND how much bisexuals love word play!

With that I chose to call the group Bi’s Around The Wrekin as the more astute readers will have observed is on my t-shirt, with a slightly altered version being the title of this blog, just to point out the obvious. It was Jaxdia who was responsible for the design of the logo and I remain extremely grateful to him for that.

I then proceeded with all of the usual advertising it is wise to do with a new group, writing to local media, newspapers etc. Jaxdia kindly printed off some flyers for me to send out and I created the Facebook group which serves as a host for this blog too. I trundled along every second Saturday of the month and even remained up beat when it was just myself sat alone for a couple of hours, I know word of mouth can take time to travel.

Jaxdia accompanied me when I went along to a meeting of Wolverhampton’s Third Way Bi Group, which as well as being the next large city closest to us, is also the town I was born and spent my childhood in. Andy, Bob and all the others present were extremely welcoming and grateful of our input. I was then bolstered by the fact that from then on, they both regularly attended Bi’s Around The Wrekin every month, which made me very happy.

Unfortunately, they remain to date the group’s only external attendees, despite all my efforts.

I however, remain undiscouraged Sometimes you have to just admit when something isn’t working in it’s present form. I know from speaking to a few odd random bisexuals I bumped into that 1) They didn’t know of the group but had no the faintest desire to be a part of it or any bi community or 2) Were to scared of being outed (Telford isn’t famed for being a progressive place) that know amount of reassurances would convince them to give it a try.

I therefore took the decision to switch the group to an online format only for the time being, while attending groups like Third Way when I can plus other related events, and promote the group there with a view to holding meetings again if there is sufficient interest.

At BOP Chair Lauren Beach’s suggestion, I have begun this blog under almost the same name as my group to help bolster interest and aid me in my activism.

I still like to think I have a lot to look back on with pride in 2012. Since moving back and founding the group I have:

. Gotten the group listed in BCN.

. Became affiliated with LGBT Telford & Wrekin before it became apparent that the B’s inclusion was a simple box-ticking exercise.

. Engaged in hate crime activism with West Mercia Constabulary.

. Attended and forged links with both Birmingham & Wolverhampton’s bi groups.

. Represented Bi’s Around The Wrekin at both Birmingham Pride plus Wolverhampton & Black Country Pride with my photo featured in BCN and other media.

. Attended BiCon 2012 Bradford where Jaxdia and I participated in workshops and I delivered one.

. I attended Birmingham BiFest 2012 as a representative of my group and participated in workshops.

. Interacted with, and assisted, bisexual activists at an international level.

. Received my one and only promotional Bi’s Around the Wrekin t-shirt curtsey of the lovely Lauren and input from Jaxdia.

So,here is hoping 2013 hold good fortune and more opportunities for me to grow and improve upon my bisexual activism skills.

Thanks for reading!

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If It Isn’t You, Is It Me?

If It Isn’t You, Is It Me?.

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