Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Is there a ‘bisexual’ in LGBT history month?

Well no, probably not. This February's UK-based yearly event is, as in all other years, probably entirely “b” free.

A trawl through the website (10% of the 367 events anyway, before I got bored) indicates nothing specifically bi. There are lots of events where bi people could well be included among all-encompassing “gay” events. But nothing to imply that bisexuality might have a history in and of itself.

Anyone who might think it does could do worse than look at the links to this blog’s history posts. I have listed them on the right of this page. History is my thing, you see (well one of them! I am bi, I have lots!).

The ever-active Jen Yockney posted on bimedia.org that there was just one event with a bi speaker. This happened last week – but on a Tuesday morning!

Who do I blame?
Well, not the organisers. They publicise the events, it seems, they don’t arrange or commission them. This is a great “month” to put on, regardless.

A society that thinks that bi people in the past were really gay? So therefore to see bi people separately is simply wrong? Possibly.

A bi community that has shrivelled away, so that putting on any events is asking a lot of a very small number of people? Not really.

It’s true, too, that lesbian and gay history (particularly gay men) is much more documented than bi history. It can (and often does, and certainly used to) take in anyone interested in same-sex.

So I am left with no one to vent my frustration on. Ideas, anyone?

Moving on
I kind of think this shouldn’t happen next year. There ought to be at least a few more events on bisexuality throughout the ages. So who would run it? Get money for speakers’ expenses? Any ideas? It would be interesting, no?

At any rate, I promise to do a few more bi history posts on here this month. I do, I really do.

PS I went on a work-sponsored “writing for the web” course today. And I am tailoring this piece accordingly. Can you tell the difference between this and what I have written before, dearest regular readers? This piece seems very tabloidesque to me.


Jen said...

Last year, as noted a year or so ago on your blog, there was something since I was determined something should happen. It was notable for being the only LGBT history month event in the city that my local council didn't include in its publicity for the month! Despite which there were 40 or so people along for two hours of quite serious academic bisexuality-in-history stuff.

This year I kind of went on strike, as I thought someone else ought to make things happen.

I think in the next nine months or so, we* need to work out what shapes a bi history "thing" should take and work up the resources and potential speaker lists that people need such that putting things on in bloggstown is more realistic.

* and when I say "we" I'd like it to be something like the bi academic network doing this rather than you and I!

Sue George said...

Yes - I remember now about last year's event.

A question: *are* there any historians working on bi issues in any way? Surely there must be but I don't think I have ever met one. I was under the impression that most bi academics were psychologists / sociologists / with one or two cultural theorists and geographers.

Jen said...

That's an interesting question... the people I can think of in BiBlio/BRG are, as you say, not "doing" history. But I'm not a BRG person so it might just be the selection of people I talk to.

Ereshkigal said...

Dear Sue,

I wasn't aware of your blog before today, my apologies for this very slow response, but;

My partner and I actually did run several LGBT history walks in Central London in February, with a strong bi and trans emphasis, but we were frustratingly let down about publicity we were promised. Still, they did occur, but ended up mostly being publicised only to people we knew, or people they knew.

We are both interested in doing more work to raise the profile of the 'b', and work on more representative LGBT events. If you would like to talk about London-based events for next year, I'm hoping I may be able to get some financial assistance as I'm also LGBT officer for my union branch.

Please email us at: lgbthistorywestminster@gmail.com if this sounds useful, or you have suggestions about pushing this forward. Thanks for all your work!