BiCon is a weekend-long gathering for bi+ people, their friends, partners, and others with a supportive interest in bisexuality.
It has been held in university venues around the UK since the 1980's.
They don’t all use the labels “bi” or “bisexual” or even agree on what it means to be bi, but bisexuality is the common theme.
This year they have invited hundreds of bisexuals from across the country to gather in the centre of the historic city of Nottingham,
at the Nottingham Trent University City Campus between the 3rd and 6th August to take part in discussions, educational seminars,
games, socialising and fun!
To coincide with the event, OutUK's Adrian Gillan has been examining the bi scene and biphobia. Just why do bi's pose such a threat - not
least to us gay men?
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"If you want to meet long-term bisexual partners," says Marcus Morgan, long-standing BiCon and bisexual community stalwart, "your
best bet would be going to bisexual places, most of which, as I say, don't exist
physically - facebook, twitter, chat rooms, lonely hearts - as well as local groups, or
BiCon even! The majority of bisexual people I know date almost exclusively within
the bi community so they get understanding and are not faced with neurotic, insecure,
paranoid partners constantly anxious they'll be dumped for someone of the opposite
"But," he vies, "such underlying insecurity is the same if you're gay or straight.
It's still all about love and commitment. Bisexual people are neither more nor
less sexually monogamous than anyone else. It's not that we have to have both male
and female; it's that we are open to male and female. And besides, you can have
stable multiple relations!"
BIPHOBIA : EITHER-OR, THEM-AND-US
Contends Morgan: "Biphobia from straight men normally arises from fear: ether that
you're challenging their own sexuality or - just like if a gay man tells a straight
man he's gay - that their being chatted up. What vanity! Biphobia from gay men is
the accusation that you're 'gay really but closeted', often combined with blatant
disgust: 'urgh, you go with women!' They also seem to think you're going to bring
all your straight friends and invade their little gay space."
Indeed, perhaps it is modern society's - and the gay world's - inability to properly
accept a genuine duality of orientations within a single human being that in part
perpetuates the great, well-nigh hysterical, straight-gay stand-off, gulf and divide.
"As a teenager I hadn't fancied women at all," relates Morgan. "I only became more
attracted to them in my early twenties. So, when I came out as bisexual, some of
my gay friends acted with horror and accused me of having been straight all along.
Conversely, when I rang the London Lesbian & Gay Switchboard and asked them if there
was a bisexual group in London, they said, 'There is, and we'll give you the number
but it is our duty to ask you first if you're quite sure you're not really gay.'"
"Some people do indeed say they're bi to 'lessen the blow'," he concedes, "like when
coming out to their family or friends. This can be the result of internalised homophobia."
"This causes an awkward problem for genuine bisexuals, since people will often
wrongly assume the same of you."
Morgan also thinks bisexual men have in the past been misleadingly demonised through
their portrayal as spreaders of HIV within the mainstream community: "Talk is thankfully
now more of high-risk activities, not high-risk groups. So being gay or bi doesn't
put you at risk - having unprotected sex is what does."
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LAWS AND MULTIPLE RELATIONS
"The majority of the criminalisation of sexuality deals with individual acts between
two people," explains Morgan of matters legal, "so consequently it's not possible
to criminalise a 'bisexual act' per se! However, any laws around the world covering
group sex situations in private may certainly have a knock-on effect for those bisexuals
who are in multiple relationships."
Morgan insists that multiple relations, where say two bi men may live with a woman
or two bi women with a man, can cause added complications when it comes to partnership
rights, wills, inheritance and parental responsibility: "As for fostering and adopting,
people have just about started to get used to the idea of gay or lesbian people
adopting - they haven't got a handle on bis or multiples quite yet."
PORTRAYAL: MEDIA AND HISTORY, CELEBRITY AND COOL
"There are lots of famous bisexuals," claims Morgan, "but they're normally mistaken
for homosexuals. From Oscar Wilde to Alan Cummings - there are far too many to
mention. "The mainstream media go for what makes the best headline: 'gay' or 'lesbian'
grabs attention better than 'bisexual'. And the gay media and public are always looking
for icons and claiming bis as their own. Or at least they do when it suits them - remember
poor 'gay icon' Tom Robinson being basted for saying he was in a relationship with a woman!
But it's never the people speaking for themselves: it's the warped media speaking for them."
He suggests bisexuals have suffered a similar fate at the hand of history: "Bis - like gays - have
always existed even though our modern labels and concepts may have not. What
has in the past been mistaken for gay history, could really be gay and bisexual history."
He asks the all important question, "When people say some well known person, celebrity or royal was gay,
were they gay or in fact bi?"
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Says Morgan: "It may once have been cool for exceptionally famous people who were
leading surreal lives to claim to be bisexual. Maybe
they sought a layer of mystique without realising that, for many people, this
isn't mystique - it's their reality. Thankfully, bisexuality is treated less as a
fad now - it's not just for Xmas or a fortnight! And as people get used to
homosexuality, so too bisexuality gets pulled out of the spotlight and into soft focus."
"That said," opines Morgan, "I still think one of the biggest issues for bis today
is visibility. If you see a man and women holding hands in the street, you assume
they're straight; a same-sex couple, you assume they're lesbian or gay; a group of
men and women holding hands - friends. But what would a bisexual image look like - short
of printing 'I'm bisexual' on a T-shirt? The challenge is to get people to even
countenance the possibility of bisexuality, and not to just assume it's either gay
or straight or nothing - which brings us back to where we started."
2023 Bicon - the National Bisexual Conference is at Nottingham Trent University City Campus from 3rd-6th August.
The event takes place each year, attended by hundreds of bisexual
people of all ages. For more information
If you live in or around Manchester then
is the perfect place to meet other bisexual people from the North West. For nationwide bi news,
and local groups in your area www.bicommunitynews.co.uk, and
Marcus Morgan is chair of www.bisexualindex.org.uk.
For links to bi groups worldwide www.bisexual.org.