Yesterday I spent the afternoon in Kingston attending BiFest, the sister event of BiCon. My friend, someone who identifies as bisexual, wanted to go so I went with her as an ally and interested-writer-type-person. Also Eroticon has increased my enthusiasm for conventions so I was keen to experience more workshops and break-out sessions on sexuality.
A quick note on my own bisexual credentials. I wouldn’t identify as bisexual even though I enjoy sex with men and women. For me bisexuality is the attraction, and openness to a relationship with, men, women, people of all genders. I identify as lesbian, or queer, because my relationship goals are somewhat singular. I do enjoy the men, but as Doms or one night stands or fuckbuddies; I prefer the ladies for love and relationships. For more information, see anything I’ve ever contributed to a book – there’s a theme!
The sunshine was out in full force as we found the Quaker Centre in Kingston. Its a beautiful building, light and airy and there were spaces to sit out and enjoy one of the first warm days of this year. We attended the Coming Out workshop, facilitated by Hannah Bee, which was an excellent way to bring people with all levels of coming out confidence together to share happy and sad stories of coming out, best practices to come out and methods of self care when coming out. Hannah shared some great silent gestures which we could use when agreeing with others or wanted to make a point which followed on from the one just made. There was a wonderful atmosphere in the room and I think almost everyone felt empowered to contribute something to the discussion.
Afterwards we attended the Non-Monogamy workshop, which had a huge audience. We were excited to see this one as my friend and I both identify as non-monogamous in different ways. For me the session wasn’t very helpful, so I decided to leave halfway through and sit in the quiet room. My friend stayed on and we met up afterwards to browse the stalls.
We met Libby Baxter-Williams, who runs Biscuit, an online magazine for bisexual women. She was selling some gorgeous stickers and greetings cards so we stocked up on those. Then we looked at Jennifer Moore’s stall which was covered in beautiful button badges of all colours and messages. Some sassy like: ‘I’m bisexual, you’re the one that’s confused!’ and some very to the point such as: ‘Queer As Fuck’. There was lots of kinky identity badges too which was awesome. I bought a ‘Queer Girl’ badge in a teal colour. I met Jennifer later and we chatted about her badges. You can buy them online via her website and I heartily advise you to check them out because they are wonderful.
There were also copies of Purple Prose on sale! I showed my friend the paragraph I had contributed to the book. She’s going to download it on her Kindle and devour it on her commute.
The rest of the afternoon was spent with Libby at the activism workshop for working class people. This was Libby’s first workshop as a facilitator and she shared that she was nervous. Also due to laptop difficulties she didn’t have the notes she had prepared on the session so she wasn’t happy with how things turned out. But I found it really enlightening to understand how class in the UK is structured and how this can affect engagement with events like these. We also discussed how to overcome some of these issues and I had not considered some of this before. I found it a really worthwhile session to attend.
We skipped the singalong (I’ve lost my voice) and got gelato in the evening sun. Then we returned for the No Stupid Questions panel which addressed questions that had been anonymously submitted all day. Lots of great discussion about the changing nature of language, how to share resources and more thoughts about activism. Marcus shared the “activism ladder” which consists of:
I’ve written it upside down so you can read how its climbed. I loved thinking of it in this way, considering which rung I might be hanging out on most of the time and how to keep climbing.
Night had fallen so we got a train back to London proper. My friend was really glad she went, as it was heartening to see so many bisexuals gathered together in the same space in all their diversity. I’m really glad I went to as the sessions gave me some great ideas to consider personally and some exciting topics for future pieces.
The next BiCon is being held on Thursday 10th – Sunday 13th of August 2017 at Leeds Beckett University, Headingley, Leeds.
You can find more details online here, or follow BiCon on twitter.