The UK’s very first Bi Pride will be held on 7 September.
When model Andreja Pejic publicly came out as trans, she bravely announced: “All human beings deserve equal treatment, no matter their gender identity or sexuality. To be perceived as what you say you are, is a basic human right.”
However, bisexuals, pansexuals, polysexuals, and everyone who feels attraction beyond gender, who are the majority of LGB people, are marginalised and made to feel like a shameful minority. Even ultimate bi-con Cara Delevingne had to defend her sexuality and stand up to writer Rob Haskell, by arguing her sexuality wasn’t just a “phase”.
Bi individuals are also hyper-sexualised in popular culture. For example, I’ve heard many of my friends ‘ogling’ at Miley Cyrus and Kaitlyn Carter’s new relationship, and on some occasions bisexuals have misused their platform. Rita Ora’s catchy song Girls, including the lyrics ‘Red wine, I just want to kiss girls’, was heavily criticised (and rightly so) for fuelling the male gaze and fetishising same-sex relationships. How are bis supposed to be taken seriously when this is how the media represents them?
This shaming, criticising and ‘othering’ can have a negative effect and lead to self-hatred or self-doubt. Research shows that bisexuals are more likely to experience anxiety, depression and other mood disorders.
These are the thoughts, feelings and negative outcomes of destructive representations, that Bi Pride UK aims to challenge and we couldn’t be more excited to hold the UK’s first EVER Bi Pride on Saturday the 7 September, at the Round Chapel in Hackney. Calling all individuals who fall under the bi umbrella (bisexual, biromantic, pan, pansexual, panromantic, poly, polysexual, polyromantic, queer, fluid, heteroflexible, homoflexible, and anyone who experiences attraction beyond gender), along with allies, to clear your diaries and don your pink, purple, blue and yellow as Bi Pride is a must-see in the ever-changing, and always progressing, Pride calendar.
So why do we need a Bi Pride?
With the recent explosion of new (or at least named) gender and sexual identities, and a growing understanding of certain experiences, we are led to believe that the world is a more accepting place than it was ten years ago.
However, biphobia (discrimination towards bi individuals), bi-erasure and bi-invisibility (ignoring or removing the bi identity) are all prevalent issues. With nearly a third of under 35s identifying as bi or pan, a massive group of young adults are often being accused of ‘having their cake and eating it’. The negative labelling of bi individuals has a detrimental effect on their mental health, as the Bisexual Resource Center (BRC) found that around 40% of bisexuals have considered or attempted suicide, compared to just over 25% of gay men and lesbians. This isn’t surprising as many of these individuals hide and perhaps even suppress their sexual identity; only 28% of bi or pan people feel comfortable to come out to their friends and family, according to a study by the PEW research centre. Plus, the Office for National Statistics found that bisexual females are twice as likely as straight females to experience abuse from their partners.
These statistics are simply harrowing and imply that more needs to be done to expel biphobia and bi-erasure from our society. Abigail Kay, the Chair of Bi Pride UK, said: “Bi and pan people are just not having their voices heard loud enough. Don’t get me wrong, Prides all across the UK do amazing things for bi people and do cater for bi groups, however people who experience attraction beyond gender, make up a significant proportion of the LGBTQ community and bi people are not getting enough of the limelight.”
Here at Bi Pride UK, we aim to create a safe space for bis, pan individuals and all those who experience attraction beyond gender, projecting one simple clear message – bi people exist and, more importantly, bi people matter.
So, how exactly do Bi Pride UK aim to convey this message on the 7 September?
An inclusive and celebratory festival in London for all bi people.
Expect two stages – the main stage with singers, performers, comedians and more, and the suitably titled ‘I Am Proud’ stage with talks and panels about bi representation in various spaces; mental health, diversity, history and empowerment.
Performers are being revealed on the Bi Pride UK Twitter feed (@BiPrideUK) and the response has been phenomenal. Editor of Fruitcake magazine and fashion influencer Jamie Windust, E!’s The Bi Life cast member Irene-Elisabeth Ellis and editor of Burnt Roti magazine, and Guardian writer, Sharan Dhaliwal are amongst the diverse line-up. Keep an eye out for more as we climb closer to the big day.
There’ll also be stalls from a variety of bi groups and charities, a Bi Pride UK stall selling our unique merchandise and food and beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) to keep everyone well fed and hydrated.
“We made a promise at the beginning of this year to make 2019 the best year yet for bi people,” explains Lev Alexander, the Bi Pride Media and Comms Manager. “We meant every syllable of that statement. Bi people are beautiful and they deserve a pride that celebrates every single freckle of their gorgeous individuality.”
Accessibility is a core-value for Bi Pride UK and the event has been made as accessible as possible. They’ll be BSL interpreters on both stages, roaming BSL interpreters on-site, a quiet sensory area, gender neutral toilets with free sanitary products and a trans changing area.
Tickets are completely free, however to guarantee entry please order your ticket online as Bi Pride UK is expected to be a necessity in many people’s Pride calendars. Donations are optional, but of course welcomed, so Bi Pride UK can continue with the great work all the volunteers do to increase the visibility of bi individuals and challenge biphobia.
“We encourage everyone, bi and allies, to attend the UK’s first ever Bi Pride, and especially welcome individuals who have never been to a Pride before,” adds Abigail Kay. “Your very first Pride really is a memorable moment and the staff at Bi Pride UK really do want these individuals to feel supported.
“If you’re coming alone and don’t have anyone to speak to, look out for me or any member of my fabulous team, in our Bi Pride t-shirts, and make our day by coming over to say hi!”
When someone asks me ‘why is Bi Pride a must-see in the pride calendar?’ and ‘why can’t bi individuals join in with the LGBTQ Pride?’, I simply state that they can and regularly do. Bi Pride UK is simply just acknowledging that bi-erasure, biphobia and bi invisibility together are still a massive issue in 2019. We want to provide bi individuals and allies with their own day – free of judgement, criticism and disapproval, but jam-packed with self-respect, self-love and celebration.
We cannot wait to hold the UK’s first ever Bi Pride. Let’s make history!
The UK’s very first Bi Pride will be held on 7 September at Round Chapel in Hackney from 2pm until 10pm. More information can be found here.