We recently caught up with BiPhoria a social support group for bisexual and bicurious people in Manchester.
You are renowned for being a social group for bisexual people. Can you tell us a little bit about the work you do, and the services you provide?
Our central work is providing a little bit of bi space in a world that is still mostly about being straight or gay. So we have a regular 'talky' group space, social meet-ups, and also have people who can talk about bisexuality for groups and events. We have produced a few publications and hosted day and longer bi community events too.
We started back in 1994 so we've recently turned sixteen and are the longest running bi group in the UK. A lot has changed in that time, but we still find there are a lot of people who could use a little bi space in their lives.
BiPhoria has been granted some community funding from Manchester Pride. Please can you tell us what this money will be used for and the difference it will make to your group?
The funding pays for room hire that lets our core 'talky space' group work happen. Sometimes these meetings can be quite fluffy, but sometimes a lot more serious, depending on the issues raised - it's down to what is on the minds of the people who come along. So it lets bi people and those who think they may be bi have a space to talk about problems and issues they are running into that they might otherwise not have anywhere else. A space where bisexuality is normal rather than questioned, and is just something about you rather than 'the problem'. Thank you everyone who gave at Pride last summer for helping that happen!
There's a little bit extra in the funding which helps us be visible at events like Prides around the region so people can find us.
What advice would you give to those who are in any way questioning their sexual orientation who think they might be bi?
The most important thing is: don't panic, and don't let anyone else's ideas about sexuality dictate your life. Who you fancy may have changed, but you are still the same person.
There are lots of different ways of being bi - for example, some bi people find their attractions to men and women are very similar and would say they're 'gender blind' whereas for others they get different things from different genders. Still bi!
Talk to someone you trust, or if you could use a chance to talk to people outside your regular circle of friends, come along to a BiPhoria night or drop us a line.
Can you tell us a little bit about the regular events you have an offer?
The main talky space sessions are the first Tuesday of each month at the LGF centre on Richmond Street, from 7.30pm. There's a monthly pub meet two weeks later, but the rest of our calendar is up to group members - someone posts a suggestion to our email list and before you know it we're hiking up a mountain, soaking up some cultural event, or propping up a bar somewhere.
How can other people help and support BiPhoria?
Not everyone needs a group space, but projects like ours need a high profile to reach the people who do. So you could link to our website, or get in touch for flyers and booklets about the group and bisexuality if there are places you can distribute or display them. And if you have other ideas - drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org - we'll be glad to hear from you.
And finally, what is in store for BiPhoria 2011?
It's already been a busy year, with two new publications launched - our guide to coming out and staying out, "Getting Bi In A Gay/Straight World", and a more serious one on bisexuality and mental health that comes out of some work we did with the NHS last year. We had a day-long event to celebrate sixteen years of the group and a talk about Manchester's bi history for LGBT History Month. As we head into the summer we'll be heading out of town for Prides across the North West, for Leicester's Big Bi Fun Day and for BiFest Oxford. Then it'll be a busy pair of weekends as Manchester Pride is followed a few days later by BiCon, which is kind of "Bi Pride". And a couple of weeks after that it's Bi Visibility Day on September 23rd - no idea what we'll be doing for that yet but you can be sure we will mark the date in style!
For more information:
Email BiPhoria on email@example.com
Or write to: Box 101, LGF, 5 Richmond Street, Manchester M1 3HF