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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3 Responses to If it Isn’t You, Is It Me?

  1. Pingback: If it Isn’t You, Is It Me? | Bi Around The Wrekin

  2. It is a bit of a conundrum, why some in-person bi groups flourish and others don’t. As I only have the energy (and mobility) to run one real-world group, I can’t really compare and contrast in the way I might like to.

    Yet there are clearly some places where right now “it’s working” – Bristol, Manchester, London, Brighton, Birmingham – and others where it seems to struggle more. It doesn’t seem to be as simple as “is it a big enough city” for instance.

    I’d like it if there was more talk about what draws people in and what puts people off on the Bi Group Runners email network, and perhaps somehow something outside that as well for an outside perspective.

    • Simon Manley says:

      Agreed, as near as I have been able to determine, the fact that Telford is a rural town is a major contributing factor. People are more worried about being noticed and suffering reprisals and this is born out by the dearth of other communities cities like Manchester enjoy such as Trans, Poly, Kinky, Pagan etc. I guess in a large city there is simply a stronger sense of community to provide a feeling of safety and security; there are places you can ‘go’ so-to-speak.

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