There have been two BiCons at the University of Edinburgh's Pollock Halls. The first, in 1999 used them for both accommodation and session space. The second, BiCon 2013, had the session space at the John Macintyre Conference Centre.
Both involved dealing with Edinburgh university's 'Edinburgh First' organisation.
In 2013, we fulfilled our end of the contract. They did not.
When that had become clear, this is what was said at the start of one of the plenaries. Unusually for me, it was written down and emailed to myself to read out, otherwise I would have used phrases like "fucking unacceptable" and "don't fucking harm my attendees" a lot. Read more
The research on behaviourally bisexual men commissioned by Health Education Authority in 1994, completed in 1995, and eventually published in 1996, was largely ignored.
In part, that's because the HEA leaked the findings – there are a lot of bisexual men! – months earlier, so by the time it was properly published, it was no longer 'news'.
But at least one paper noticed enough to refer to it a year later…
.. even if they didn't read it properly. The estimate of 12% of men being behaviourally bisexual – that is, being sexual with more than one gender – is informed largely by a 1982 survey of Playboy readers in the US and..
While exact rates are impossible accurately to quantify it seems reasonable to assert that the lifetime figure lies somewhere in the region of 5-15%. Our best guess would be closer to the 12% of Lever et al. (1989; 1992) than the 3-7% of Johnson et al. (1994). However, with little direct evidence, estimates of the proportion of adult men that have had sex with both males and females in the last five years are too hazardous to even attempt.
The "in the last five years" came from the predictions of the person who commissioned it that they'd find hardly any bisexual men and so they needed to make the criteria for being included fairly broad. In fact, it turned out that the average number of partners was three men and three women per year.
The article was prompted by an episode on bisexuality that was part of Channel 4's Seven Sins series, entitled 'Greed', sigh. Read more
Even governments sometimes realise that spending money on health promotion – enabling people to increase control over, and to improve, their health – can be better than dealing with the consequences of not doing so.
In the UK, the Health Education Council (greatest hit: the 'pregnant man' campaign with its "Would you be more careful if it was you who got pregnant?" strapline) ran government campaigns between 1968 and 1987, before a reorganisation (not entirely coincidentally following a row about a politically embarrassing publication about health inequalities) led to its replacement by the Health Education Authority in 1987.
When the UK government decided that Aids was in fact worth doing something serious about (about three years after gay and bisexual men in the UK started dying from it, followed by similar epidemics amongst IV drug users and then haemophiliacs), one of the things that pushed it towards that position was the way that Aids activists had deliberately chosen to emphasise the risks of bisexual men being responsible for the spread of the epidemic into the presumed heterosexual population.
The result was the first big 'Don't die of ignorance' campaign by the Department of Health and Social Security – the 'icebergs and monoliths' one – following which the HEA ended up with the responsibility to do national HIV/Aids health promotion work.
Here's are the ads that they did aimed specifically at bisexual men rather than 'gay (oh.. and bisexual) men'. Read more
Originally set up in 1971 with the intention of being the counselling arm of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality, "Fellowship for the Relief of the Isolated and Emotionally in Need and Distress" was far more widely known as 'FRIEND'. By 1977, its national organiser stopped being on the CHE board by right, and its newsletter stopped calling FRIEND "the befriending arm of the CHE".
Also in 1977, the London arm became a company limited by guarantee, Friend Counselling (London). As 'London Friend', it ended up operating from Caledonian Road N1, and was the venue used by the London Bisexual Group from around 1990 to its end around 2004 or 2005ish. Its website is here.
As other groups sprang up, a network was created as National Friend, becoming a company in 1987. The book's author, Macolm Macourt, is described as its company secretary and a lecturer at Newcastle upon Tyne polytechnic. He was also involved with Project SIGMA that looked at the sex lives of gay and bisexual men from the start of the HIV/Aids epidemic in the UK. Read more
See the article on the history of bisexual phonelines in the UK for more details, but from its start in 1987 until 1995, when I think it became unviable to repair, the London Bisexual Helpline used a call-diverter box.
Here are the instructions on how to use it that people doing shifts were given… Read more
A three line history of bisexual men in the news:
1987 – There are "7 to 10 million" bisexual men in the USA
2005 – "Straight, Gay or Lying? Bisexuality Revisited"
2020 – .. we've looked again at that study, and bisexual men do exist!
What's particularly interesting about the first one is that at least three of the men quoted – Richard Isay, Bruce Voeller, and Laud Humphreys – were all married to women for years, with all having children with their wives. Clearly, they were all bisexual by behaviour and to at least some degree by attraction, before deciding to identify as gay.
What won't be surprising to anyone who was a bisexual man in the 1980s is the 'bisexual men give women Aids' angle… Read more
Recently added to its page on bicon.org.uk.
Amongst other things, the very lovely designer also made one of the early banners for the London Bisexual Group and the poster for the Second International BiCon.
When last contacted, they didn't want to be credited with their work in this context.
Following their article on bisexuality in Square Peg 14, issue 17 (published some time after June 1987) had something in its news pages on the 5th National Conference on Bisexuality that was to happen in Edinburgh during mid-October.
Note the line welcoming "feminist transsexuals to women-only workshops"!
Alongside assorted art, Square Peg 17 also had one of the most erotic short stories I've ever read, Chrissy by Fi Craig; a look at the bathrooms of six LGBT people; a look at the films of Barbara Hammer and the recently deceased Curt McDowell; some photos of sex involving several women ("In issue 11 we talked about it, in issue 14 we read about it, in this issue we deliver it"); Manchester as England's second city; some photos of sex involving two or more men (probably); a look at pre-Aids gay porn stories; homo-eroticism in Italian cannibal movies; an interview with Roz Kaveney; a look at Aids in the USA; a Prague travelogue, then behind the 'Iron Curtain'. Read more
The last issue of the run, this was first published around September 1991 as another A5 4 page newsletter, given away free.
Given how much text there was in this one, I can only guess that the type size was smaller to fit it all in the same space – again, I don't think I have a paper copy to check. Read more
Outright was a free community newspaper in the East Midlands – it started life in February 1990 as 'Outright: Gay Freesheet for the East Midlands', and became '.. For Gays and Lesbians in Central England' by November 1992.
By issue 43 in November 1993, it was '.. For Gays Lesbians and Bisexuals in Central England' and in the same issue carried the following story about the recent BiCon 11 in Nottingham: Read more