in central Manchester.
News reaches us that the annual LGBT Consultation Day at Manchester Town Hall, normally each June, is delayed until some time in the Autumn. Meanwhile parts of the council's LG(BT) website information has started to be taken down.
This year's LGBT History Month event focusing on the modern bisexual history of Manchester, organised by BiPhoria, highlighted that even now the city council's website sections on LGBT fail to include or reference bisexuality beyond 'LGBT' in section headings.
With the annual LGBT Consultation Day coming up in a couple of months, might it be time to highlight the bi-fail of the council at that event?
We've heard complaints about biphobia on the main stage at Pride this year, from the official compere.
Jokes about our communities from our communities can be fabulous. There's no point not being able to mock yourselves, and most of us have long since learnt to tell friendly ribaldry from malicious Othering.
So, inviting an audience to cheer for the gays, cheer for the lesbians, cheer for the friendly straights, and then join you in bemoaning that the bisexuals can't make their minds up whether they are this or that... welcome to 1973, Sam Tyler.
Evidently Manchester Pride are dodging questions on this one like a hot potato. We'll be interested to see if the same person is invited to play that role in 2011!
Thanks to one of those scheduling arrangements of putting 'fringe' issues neatly to one side meant that there was a particularly low attendance at the Town Hall's LGBT Consultation Day bisexuality workshop this year. Maybe next year it will be structured in a way that is less marginalising? Time will tell. However it seemed to be a valuable networking opportunity for the small group present.
This year's Communities Of Interest report on the work of the Manchester Partnership, the LSP route through which the council engages with the voluntary sector and suchlike in the city, has a section on the dual discrimination lesbians and bisexual women face. It goes:
Lesbians and bisexual women are considered to be the
victims of dual oppression, that is, they are discriminated
against because of their gender and secondly because of
their sexuality. Multi-oppression is complex and difficult to
address. Lesbians are among the most discriminated
against sections of our society. This discrimination results
in a lower quality of life than heterosexual women and
men, and as a result lesbians have higher rates of alcohol
use, smoking and mental health issues caused by the
stresses and strains of living with discrimination.
7.7.2 The Double Glazed Glass Ceiling
Dual oppression also has an adverse impact in the
workplace. Lesbians are less likely to progress to senior
jobs and consequently have less income than heterosexual
women and men. Not being able to be out and feel
comfortable in the workplace causes individuals stress, is
exhausting and can be damaging to the individual and to
colleagues in the team.
Hmmm. Possibly a moment to admit that either you've failed to get the evidence on bi women, or that your sources are more than a little skewed on account of the evident institutional biphobia at Stonewall?
The report has, in something of a Manchester Council breakthrough, a section on bisexuality:
Our staff and residents have told us that a key issue for
bisexual people is invisibility. The very absence of the word
from policy documents and event titles creates oppression
towards bisexual people. Being visible, being included and
being acknowledged is what people have told us they want.
Bisexual people often experience discrimination from both
the gay and heterosexual community. At the Council’s LGBT
Discussion Day people told us they wanted bisexuality to be
referenced explicitly in literature and wanted services to
engage more with the bisexual community
All of that information is taken from the report on the bisexuality workshop at the 2009 city council LGBT discussion day. Are they going to leave engagement with the bisexual community - making up as it does more of the city's population than lesbians and gay men put together - or can we look forward to something more?
Manchester city council's lead councillor on gay men's issues (they have councillor and staff leads on gay, lesbian, and gender-including-trans... spot the gap there) has said at a conference on LGBT equality and inclusion that in the past the city council engaged well with the lesbian and gay communities but that identity politics has moved on and it must now engage with the bisexual and trans communities of the city as well.
Watch this space!
Our postcards have been trumped - we've picked up Some People Are Bi Get Over It cards riffing off the Stonewall Some People Are Gay campaign and highlighting some of the areas in which Stonewall has noticeably failed on the B in their LGB remit recently. Brilliant work! And very eyecatching.
Bisexual Action have had enough of moaning about Stonewall - Britain's biggest LGB lobbying organisation - publishing reports and recommendations that seek only to change things for lesbians and gay men. As Stonewall believe the way to change minds is through sending postcards, they've produced a postcard to lobby Stonewall to be more bi-inclusive.
The postcard is designed to be printed double-sided - print one side, flip over and print the other side so one side has the "tackling bisexual invisibility" logo and the other has the message to Stonewall.
Over 330 downloads of this resource in the four months from its launch.
Bisexual Action have been writing to gay businesses in Manchester ahead of the BiFest that BiPhoria are organising.
In this city many 'gay' venues have been found to operate biphobic door policies in recent times. Several gay clubs turning bis away at the door on their "gay only" policy. A Canal Street bar operating a "bisexuals on weeknights but not welcome on weekends" rule.
That was always offensive and stupid - but now it is also illegal. To test the water of how welcoming gay venues are, we wrote to every venue in Gay Village we could find an address for to ask if they welcomed bi custom in this new era. We'll post a list of who we wrote to soon but suffice to say, it was pretty much everyone you'll think of.
And the result? Only two venues in Manchester's gay village actually say they welcome bisexual customers. Hats off to the Rembrandt and Taurus. Guess the rest of the gay scene still has a lot of catching up - and growing up - to do.
Bisexual Action has been intermittently putting the B onto the agenda in Manchester through quiet lobbying and questioning since the early 1990s. We hope to add more of the pre-web information here in due course, in the meanwhile if you e.g. are a researcher who wants to know more, get in touch via 'manchester at bi.org' email address