Friday, November 11, 2011

Straight out of university - a bi novel

There aren’t too many novels with bisexual characters, so when I “met” Rosen Trevithick on Twitter, I was intrigued. Her new book, Straight Out of University, is a comic novel with a bi woman at its centre.

Rosen has been doing a blog tour this week – a blog tour is where writers “visit” different blogs each day to write a guest post, or be interviewed on them. A bit like a book tour from the comfort of your living room. She’s visiting Bisexuality and Beyond today; the other dates are at the bottom of this post.

And this is what I asked her:

Can you tell us a bit about Rosen Trevithick. Who *are* you?

I'm a British writer and woman, who now lives in Devon. I've recently become a passionate reader of indie books, having been given a Kindle as a birthday present.

So what's your book about, what sort of book is it?

Straight Out of University is a comedy about a bisexual woman whose life shifts when she leaves Oxford University and moves back to her hometown in Cornwall. It focuses mainly on her romantic life.

Why did you think Bisexuality and Beyond would be right for your book tour?

There are a lot of blogs about bisexuality, but many of them are... how shall I put it? A little tasteless. Straight Out of University is an honest book, not an erotic-orgy-romp, so I would like to visit blogs with a similar tone.

To what extent is this an autobiographical novel? I mean, both you and the heroine come from Cornwall and went to Oxford....

Obviously I've used personal experiences and the experiences of those around me, to inspire parts of the story, but it's not autobiographical. I am very much single and have never dated a man in a cardigan, or a rock star.

So you interviewed a few bi women when you were researching this novel. What did they tell you about their lives?

There were a wide selection of responses. Some women were single, some were in relationships with men, others were in relationships with women and a handful were polyamorous. There were a very wide variety of stories. However, as I expected, the predominant theme was love and respect - not detached promiscuity, as the stereotypical bisexual woman dictates.

I'm intrigued by the fact that you did a YouTube trailer for your book. What's the thinking behind that? I loved the animation by the way.

I was inspired by Miranda July's trailer for "No one belongs here more than you". It showed me that sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. I'm glad you enjoyed the animation.

Are there any other bi/queer books or authors that you like?

I've just discovered a great, young writer called Sophie Robbins. She's written an indie book called, "A hole in the World" and it's really quite lovely.

You seem to have e-published a few books, Can you tell us a bit more about them...?

I've written two novels. The first is called Footprints and it's a dark mystery set in Cornwall. However, I feel more comfortable writing contemporary comedy such as Straight Out of University. The other eBooks are plays that I'd written in the past, before the days of Kindle, and decided to share.

What are your future plans? Specifically, do you intend to carry on publishing yourself, electronically, or are you after a big publisher with a big advance?

Obviously, it would be fantastic if I could make a living from writing. I would love to be able to afford to buy my own house, with its own cutting patch and sea view - if I could achieve that doing something that I love, that would be great. However, for now, I'm just happy to have the chance to write and be read.

To download Straight Out of University, click here

Rosen’s website is at

The blog tour

Monday 7th November - Literature & Fiction -
Tuesday 8th November – Kait at Catz -
Wednesday 9th November – Along the Write Lines -
Thursday 10th November – Mel Comley Author -
Friday 11th November – Bisexuality and Beyond –
Saturday 12th November - Fentonton

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Everyone who’s ever put fingers to keyboard for money is scrabbling around these days trying to find new ways to make it work. Fortunately for those of us who appreciate our sexual politics through a combination of witty writing and thought-provoking ideas, Mark Simpson has found a way with his new ebook Metrosexy.

Even those people who have never heard of Mark Simpson himself will have heard the term “metrosexual” which he coined in 1994. (Metrosexual meaning something along the lines of “man relaxed in his sexual and gender identity, who takes great interest in his own appearance and that of other men”. Or something like that. Aargh!)

He blogs at, and sometimes has features published in magazines or newspapers, but it has been FAR TOO LONG since he last had an actual book published.

The book

Metrosexy (subtitled a 21st century self-love story) is a collection of Mark’s writings mostly, but not all, published before. So whether it’s Sporno (sports/porn combo a la David Beckham) or a critique of what metrosexuality has become (“metrosexuality was anything but skin deep, whilst metrosexmania pretended that’s all it was”) there’s lots to ponder over.

E-books tend to be substantially cheaper than paper ones, certainly if they are e-book originals, and not just another format for a large publisher. So at £2.86 (for 70,000 words), Metrosexy is a downright bargain. You can download it here.

The ideas

Mark’s work is all about about gender and masculinity (in men) and how men are seen and see themselves in the media and popular culture. Metrosexuality, for instance, is an indication that traditional gender differences between men and women are fading away. It has sexual ambiguity written into its very core. Where once men looked and women were looked at, now men delight in being objects of desire. They aren’t particularly bothered whether it’s men or women doing the desiring because, fundamentally, a metrosexual’s love object is, it seems, himself.

My own particular interest in Mark, and why he is of interest to this blog, is his own take, and personal experience, on bisexuality. In brief (pun sort of intended), he knows that men don’t have to be gay or even bi to have sex with each other. A lot. And specifically, in a period when mainstream and much of gay society considers bisexual men, or indeed bisexuality in men, to be bogus in some sense, here’s someone who’s not part of the bi scene, or even bi, who disagrees.

I also like Mark’s anti-respectable queerness. Most people writing on L or G issues these days are very focused on equal rights and, in particular, equal rights to marriage. He’s not.

He also writes about complex ideas accessibly, for a non-academic audience. Most books on sexuality these days that are about actual ideas are written by and for people within universities. That’s great for them (and just the way the publishing cookie crumbles these days), but not so good for the rest of us.

Him indoors

Alongside Metrosexy, I’ve also been reading The Spiv and the Architect (Unruly life in postwar London) by Richard Hornsey - a more traditionally academic book in the cultural studies field.

TS+TA isn’t really about spivs and architects per se. Instead, it’s about the post WW2 to 1950s development of the notion of the respectable homosexual and how he did and mostly didn’t fit in with the development of domestic and civic urban life. The book charts the way that male homosexuality moved from that of pre-war London, where men more often felt able to have sex with each other without being unmasculinised, or Queer in the old-fashioned sense of the word.

In the 1950s, where conformity to the nuclear family was all around, and heterosexual marriage was the most natural thing in the world, a few high profile legal cases highlighted the plight of The Homosexual and divided men who had sex with men into Respectable (wanted domestic companionship) and Queer/disruptive (cottagers, bi men, young men). While law reform (which didn’t actually happen until 1967) meant that men could settle down together, those who still wanted to take their sexuality away from the domesticated environment felt the full force of Lily Law.

So thank God to be living in a London where – despite all our many problems - metrosexuality is the new conformity, heterosexual and queer men both wear flowery shirts, kiss each other even when they’re sober and discuss the best product to stick into their carefully tousled hair.

And also

As she so rightly points out in the commments below, I was first told about Metrosexy by Quiet Riot Girl/Elly who (at that time) was promoting this book and Mark's ideas. So thank you QRG for that. And readers might like to know that she also has an e-novella out herself Scribbling on Foucault's Walls. I've only read 10 pages of it so far, but it's an extraordinary book, very unusual and engaging. And free. Free!

Friday, July 01, 2011

Bisexual blog, Bisexual Pride

It’s five years tomorrow since I started this bisexual blog. I don’t update it regularly any more, but it has been very important to me as an outlet for my ideas on bisexuality when other outlets have seemed a bit sparse. And, as hundreds of thousands of people have visited it, it must have been of some interest and importance to a few other people too.

Below, I’m going to post a link to the entry with which I opened this blog. I wrote about EuroPride, held in London that year. Tomorrow is the Pride march in London too. I had a great time at EuroPride in 2006, but in general I find the lack of politics at Pride in London combined with vacuous celebration a bit wearing and tedious. And believe me, I LOVE celebrations in general.

I think the purpose of Pride should be political as well as celebratory – just as a quick for instance, there are homophobic attacks in the UK, and essential solidarity with people in countries where same-sex is illegal and strictly punished. There are tremendous queer activists, such as David Kato in Uganda who was murdered this year, to honour.

In the Pride press pack, their Love Without Borders campaign is one of the things they do talk about. But if you saw the Pride poster (seen on the London underground, but nowhere that I can find on the interwebs), you’d have to search hard to figure out what sort of Pride it was. Smirnoff Pride, perhaps.

There will be a bi stall and bi banner at Pride, London tomorrow and I really wish those attending all the best. It is absolutely essential that bi people are properly visible and there is even an international campaign about it.

Moving on up
Thanks (in a large part) to social media, there seems to be a lot more of a bisexual community than there was back in 2006, in the UK and elsewhere. Twitter and Facebook have put loads of people in touch with each other, and not just virtually. Ideas spin around the world soon as anything.

Also, there are many more bi bloggers than there were in 2006 when I couldn’t find any British ones at all. It’s very hard to keep blogging in the long term and many have opened and closed. But thanks to the Bi Bloggers aggregator site, organised by the ever-efficient Jen Yockney, anyone who’s interested in British bi bloggers can see that there’s quite a lot of it about. And of course there are many other bi bloggers around the world (particularly North America). If a bi celebrity comes out, or a prominent queer columnist such as Dan Savage opines on bisexuality, there are plenty of other people who can write about it. There are other aspects of bisexuality that people don’t write about, though, and when I write here in the future that’s what I’ll be covering.

Anyway, as anyone who knows a smidgeon of blogging theory can tell you, less is most definitely more. So happy bisexual birthday and Pride – whether it’s been or still to come where you are – and be happy that things really can and do get better.

Here’s what I wrote in 2006.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

20th Century Bi - Books and Links

Last Saturday (12th February) about 30 people came to Conway Hall in London for what was a really good bi history event. Sadly, Lindsay River was ill and so didn’t do her talk on creative women of the inter-war period, but Christian Klesse, Ian Watters and I were there. As well as the talk listed in the previous post, I did a personal memoir of the 70s. Nothing too personal...

Anyway, I said to people I would give a few links and notes about my talk Androgynous, Ambisextrous, or "enjoying all life's pleasures" - bisexuality before the sexual revolution - so here we are. I also have audio files of all the talks (from an Olympus voice recorder – won’t play on a Mac without some jiggery-pokery that I don't know about), plus printed versions of the talks that I did. Email me if you’d like them (my address is below my pic, on the right).

Books I mentioned
Queer London, by Matt Houlbrook: a truly excellent book about all sorts of man-man sexual behaviour from 1918-57.
The Secret World of Sex, by Steve Humphries: Oral histories of people in the UK before WW2, to accompany the 80s TV series of the same name.
Sex before the Sexual Revolution, by Simon Szreter and Kate Fisher: oral histories, plus analysis, of married couples in Britain who were sexually active before the 1960s. Recently out in paperback.
Fashioning Sapphism, by Laura Doan, looking at androgyny in the 1920s, and how the "masculine" fashions for women in the early part of that decade became connected with lesbianism after The Well of Loneliness prosecution.
Bisexual Love by Wilhelm Stekel. Originally published in 1922, this radical and almost unknown book has been digitally scanned and is available from Amazon!
Passionate Friendships, by Nerina Shute, in which she writes about her bisexuality and her relationships with women and men, was published in 1992. Nevertheless, it almost never appears on abebooks lists, or elsewhere on the second-hand market. I have only ever seen it in the British Library. Currently, there is one copy on Amazon for £29.50
There is more information about her in Shepperton Babylon, by Matthew Sweet – a great book for anyone interested in British cinema, bisexual or not.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

20th Century Bi - London's bisexual history event

February is LGBT history month in the UK and - as promised last year, and the year before - this year there WILL be a specifically bi history event (I think there may even be two. More details at the end of this post).

So... drum roll ... I am co-organising, and speaking at, an event in London called 20th century bi. (Great title, eh. Not my idea sadly, but that of my co-organiser Lisa Colledge.) Here's the details:

20th Century Bi
To mark the 30th anniversary of the bisexual community in the UK, this event will look at some of the big, bad, bold bis who made the 20th century great. A panel of speakers discusses 20th century bisexuals and bisexuality in Britain, as part of LGBT History Month.

Speakers are:

Sue George: Androgynous, ambisextrous, or “enjoying all life’s pleasures”: being bisexual before and after the sexual revolution

Christian Klesse: 'Re-writing the scripts of Love. The Critique of Monogamy, Polyamory and Bisexual Intimacies in the late 20th Century'

Lindsay River: Lesbian... or bisexual? The (mis)naming of creative women of the early 20th century

Ian Watters: Bisexuals at Pride: The somewhat partial story of bisexual involvement in the annual London Pride celebrations

Our individual talks will be followed by a panel discussion and Q&A.

Everyone is welcome to this bi-positive event.

Saturday 12 February 2011
2.30 - 4.30 pm

Conway Hall (Bertrand Russell Room)
25 Red Lion Square
London WC1R 4RL
(nearest tube is Holborn)

Tickets £5 (£3 unwaged) from EventElephant here and at the door (all profits to BiCon Helping Hand Fund)

Wheelchair-accessible venue: for Conway Hall access details contact Carina on 0207 242 8032


There's also an event in Manchester on Feb 15th. It doesn't sound as specifically historical as ours, but nevertheless good stuff. This information is taken from Biphoria's website.

As part of LGBT History Month 2011, on Tuesday, 15 February we will have a special event to launch our new publication "Getting Bi in a Gay/Straight World". It will be at the Levenshulme Inspire centre, 747 Stockport Road, Levenshulme M19 3AR, from 7pm to 9pm. Come along, and if you have them, share your memories of bisexual Manchester.

Have a great LGBT History Month everyone, and I hope you will go to one of these events - bi or not - to celebrate our history.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The bizarre world of the bisexual

Happy Friday!

Some of you may have seen this before, but just in case you haven't....

PS: it's meant to be ironic.