Manchester Pride is committed to improving the lives of LGBTQ+ people in Greater Manchester and beyond. We’ve engaged with bisexual+ members of our team and the wider community to deliver a Bisexual Awareness Week campaign that aims to challenge the discrimination that bi+ people face, promote the advancement of bi+ equality, raise awareness and support for bi+ mental health, and support grassroots projects and initiatives that encourage the wellbeing of bi+ people in Greater Manchester.
Bisexual Awareness Week is observed throughout the UK from 16th-23rd September 2022 with the aim of promoting cultural acceptance of the bisexual community, improving visibility of bi+ people and creating a platform for advocating bisexual rights.
We're kicking off by spotlighting local Bisexual group, BiPhoria. We spoke to Jen from BiPhoria about the important work they're doing with the group and how you can get involved.What is BiPhoria?
We’re the UK’s longest running bi group, based in Manchester and launched in 1994, so here for more than a quarter of a century now. Back in those days you developed catchy names rather than ones people would google, so the name is a blend of “bisexual” and “euphoria”, as we want to overturn experiences of biphobia and the shame it can bring into a sense of celebrating your bisexuality. We’re actually about both bisexual and biromantic experience, whichever label under the bi umbrella (pan, omni etc) people prefer. Attracted to more than one gender? You’re bi enough.How long have you been part of BiPhoria?
Right back to almost the start – I was there at the fourth meeting in December 1994. I’d actually gone into the Gay Centre on Sydney Street to ask about setting up a bi group because I was fed up of enduring or challenging biphobia in “LG” spaces. As I was just starting to deal with being trans it also needed to be something that wasn’t a gender based group, which a lot of spaces were at that time. But there on the wall was a poster for a group that had just launched. Since then I’ve missed about four sessions, so with about fifteen to twenty people along at each meeting over the years I’ve met a lot of bis! And I’m still not tired of it: I should probably be on a TV show talking about being addicted to hearing people’s coming out stories.What does BiPhoria do?
We started out as a social/support group for bi people ages 18 and up – just being in a room full of other bi people, where you don’t have to defend bisexuality being real or an equally valid experience of being queer, is powerful and rare. Over time that grew to include doing outreach work, providing speakers for events, and research and publications. But our core mission is still providing a safe, supportive space for bi folx.Can you tell us about some of your activities?
In a typical month we have Bi+ Talky Space (structured discussion), socials (virtual pubs and cafes these days!) and other things like daytime online hangouts and Gamesplaying. Then from time to time we do bigger or one-off events, like hosting our 25th birthday party at 70 Oxford Street as part of Manchester Pride in 2019. And in a typical summer we are there putting the “B” into half-a-dozen or more Prides around the region. People who have never been to our events may nonetheless have spotted our “this banner is on the fence, bisexuals aren’t” sign adorning the side of Sackville Park each September as part of our regular Bi Visibility Day work.
We made a decision back in 1998 to add a message to our website making it clear we were a trans inclusive space, long before most LGB groups made such statements. We hosted an international bi conference in 2000 with 265 people from 20 countries. Our first BiFest in 2006, with about 130 people joining us for a day and night of bi talk, performance and socialising. And making something happen for Bi Visibility Day back in 1999, when it was first marked and no-one knew what a feature of the LGBT+ calendar it would grow to become.How can people get involved with BiPhoria? What can they expect from their first visit?
Newcomers start off with our Talky Space meets which are at 7.30pm the first Tuesday of each month, which have a structured discussion space with the first half-hour just for newcomers because - even on Zoom - walking into a room full of strangers can be a challenge. Drop an email to email@example.com and tell us this was where you found us!Support BiPhoria and donate here: https://www.biphoria.org.uk
Follow BiPhoria here: https://twitter.com/BiPhoria