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.


Editorial. Introduction.
Form EN202 Application form for Bisexuals.
Census, Bloody Census, by Russell Gardner.
Reviews of Anything that Moves, Bi-Us.
Community in the Bisexual Movement by Kevin Saunders.

 

Editorial

Welcome to the third edition of Bi-Issues. With the advent of a new newsletter on the Bisexual scene, (Bi-Frost**) Bisexual publishing is looking more healthy. Bi-Frost is published every month and has so far produced two editions. They are hoping to expand to a two page format. More information can be obtained by writing to Bifrost, [PO Box address in Norwich].

Good progress is reported on the new book Bi-lives 2.***

Bi-Issues will be concentrating more on the issues around community and the running of groups. In the next few editions we will be taking a look at some of the more established groups in the country. If you attend a bisexual group on a fairly regular basis and want to write about your impressions and experiences then write to Bi-Issues. The article can be a few sentences or as long as you want. Either way, if you have something to say about your group, let us know.

Health and Happiness
Kevin Saunders

Bi-Issues is published every two to three months. If you want to get a copy, they will be available at most of the national groups. If you want to take a subscription, send four 1st class stamps (unwaged) or £1.50 (waged) to [address].

NOTE
Bi-Issues is published independently of the London Bisexual Group. The views published here are the views of Bi-Issues, not the LBG.****

 

Form EN202

Application Form for Bisexuals

  1. Are you Bisexual?
    Yes__ No__ Don't know__
    Don't believe in labels__
    Only in it for the sex__
  2. How many partners have you had in the past year?
    …..
    Really?…. No, really?.
    Oh dear.
  3. Do you have frequent arguments about monogamous and non-monogamous lifestyles?
    Yes__ No__ Don't Know__
    Look I keep telling you I don't believe in labels__ Only in it for the sex__

 

Census, Bloody Census

Russell Gardener

Did you or did you not fill in your 1991 census form?***** Whether you did or not is completely irrelevant, but the chances are that you would have been either angry about some of the sections or very distrustful of it. The Gay Press made, much of the assumption of universal heterosexuality in the relationship section. That was certainly something that annoyed me. Just why is it necessary to know the name of my employer? Knowing my occupation is enough, I think.

In my first job I worked for a company which provided retail location studies for major petrol banking and food retailers. A company such as Esso might be considering two new sites for petrol stations in Sheffield and need to have more data on which to base their decisions. The company I worked for did an in-depth study of all factors, both supply and demand, then gave recommendations. This is where the census form came in, it gives all the information a commercial operation might need, such as household sizes, average income, etc. The materialist bias of the form is depressing, anyone wanting to get information for such things as health care or the integration of energy saving insulation into national life would have to go elsewhere.

Another worrying aspect of the census was the nationality part. Page 2 carried the figures for the place of birth. Who does this information benefit? A lot of non-white adults now living here were born outside of Britain. Does that sort of information help racial integration? or does it just help the bigots to target racial minorities more effectively?

The census provides much useful information and is an interesting social document. Unfortunately it seems to provide us with more information about the attitudes and prejudices of the people who wrote it than genuine snapshot of the population as a whole.

 

Reviews

Bi Any Other Name

This review is eight months after the publication of 'Bi Any Other Name', but better late than never. It is a collection of short pieces and is divided into four sections; Facing ourselves, Healing Splits, Bi-Community and Politics. No less than 76 contributors make their voice heard. Articles range from 'My life as a lesbian identified bisexual fag hag' to 'Growing up with a bisexual dad'.

The breadth of the book is tremendous and really does bring out the immense diversity of the bisexual community and experience. The depth is somewhat lacking due to the shortness of each contribution. The effect is like being at a party where 76 people stand up and do their party piece. it leaves me thinking 'Wow there are a lot of them … tell me more'.

The writing is sometimes awkward, I sense that many of the contributors are ill at ease with putting their thoughts on paper, yet the really unique achievement of both the editors and the contributors is that each personality behind the article shines through. I was left with a feeling of contact with real people, even the political section was remarkably free of the aggressive posturing, something which can mar similar works by Gay and Lesbian writers. For all the works flaws it is human and this bisexual is grateful to Editors Lani Kaahumanu and Loriane Hutchins for producing it.

Bi-Us

Bi-Us has now been published and is available from the Bi-Us collective (see below for the address). It is well written and is lighter in tone than its predecessor Bi-Monthly. Articles include 'Threesomes' and it has an advice column.

The collective deserve congratulations for their hard work, it has not been easy for them to publish. There are still some unanswered questions about why it took over two years to produce and whether it has a long term future.***** *

Bi-Us costs 1.25 and is available from PO BOX 1912 LONDON N16 5AU

 

Community in the Bisexual Movement

I like being powerful. Being powerful, to me, means being able to truly be myself. It means being able to love who I want in the way I want without the debilitating fear of being judged and found lacking. The knowledge that others think I'm O.K. no matter what helps me take risks I'd never normally take. This knowledge also helps me heal my wounds and protect myself from attack. This is what I understand to be in community.

Community is both an intuitive feeling of being involved, of feeling safe and stimulated, and a pragmatic task which the Bi-movement needs to tackle. The following list is one of the attributes of community is one used by Scott Peck. (The different Drum).

Inclusivity; one of the greatest means of control in Western Societies is the threat of exclusion. For many bisexuals being excluded for not towing the line on sexual identities is one of the most painful experiences they have had. Conversely one of the great healing factors of Bisexual groups is their inclusivity.

Commitment; this means hanging in there when the going gets rough, and believe me the going can get very rough indeed.

Consensus; conventional use of the word consensus means everyone being equally unhappy and no-one really getting what they want. The real meaning of the word is getting agreement by balancing individual needs against group needs. This requires;

Realism; which is facing up to all the issues and not just the ones you find the easiest to deal with. It also means acknowledging different aspect of reality both the positive and the negative. This requires;

Contemplation; which means knowing your own shit and owning the effect you have on others.

Can Fight Gracefully; a toughy, most groups avoid contentious issues in the hope that they will go away, and when it is obvious that it will not, they'll have a enormous bust-up (later saying really stupid things like "that cleared the air, didn't it") Fighting gracefully means knowing exactly what you're arguing about and its relevance to the overall group aims.

A safe place; a place where people can let their defences down and know that they're going to be 0.K.

Group of all leaders; means that everyone has some contribution to make, I take it to mean that power within the group is able to be passed to those who are fitted to take on whatever task needs to be undertaken.

Having read through the rather formidable list above, try to figure out how your group is doing on nurturing community. Probably no group ever has all the above attributes, no-one is totally perfect. Have a go at the questions below and if you'd like to write them out and send them to Bi-Issues I'd be happy to read them and perhaps publish an overall conclusion.

  • What sort of people do you have difficulty with in the Bi-movement? Can you say why?
  • What sort of things make you want to give up going to your group or dissociate yourself from being Bisexual? Are you doing anything to ensure that you can keep up your enthusiasm for a long period?
  • Can you say what your groups aims and goals are? Do you think that these aims and goals are being carried out effectively by; others? yourself?
  • What sort of issues is your group good at dealing with? What sort of issues would the group try and avoid unless you all had a gun pointed at the group?
  • On the whole, do you feel safe in your group? If not can you say what it is that gives you feelings of being in an unsafe place?
  • Do you encourage others to make a contribution? Do others encourage you to make a contribution?

Kevin Saunders


* When originally putting these online, Rowan reckoned the date for this one was August or September 1991. The way Bifrost – said to have 'so far produced two editions' – was ultra-reliably monthly would suggest September as that started coming out in July 1991.

But the comment that it was eight months after the publication of Bi Any Other Name which happened in March 1991 would suggest it was later. Or perhaps Kevin made a mistake in that latter comment.

I have a memory he'd produced all three copies by the time of BiCon / the '9th National Bisexual Conference' in late September.

** There's no hyphen in 'bisexual', and there isn't one in Bifrost either 🙂

*** The first 'Bi-Lives' is obviously Bisexual Lives, republished here. 'Bi-Lives 2' would be published as Bisexual Horizons: Politics, Histories, Lives in 1996, a mere five years later than this newsletter.

**** There's obviously a story behind this – I wonder what it was. Did people assume it was an official publication of the LBG?

***** The UK has one census every decade: this one was on Sunday 21st April 1991. It was the first UK census to have a question on respondents' ethnic group. Probably largely because of the deeply unpopular Poll Tax in England, Wales and Scotland, over half a million people failed to respond, despite the announcement of its abolition in March.

***** * I don't think I have ever had a copy of this 🙁 and it wasn't something Rowan put online either.

The aside about it being the successor to Bi-Monthly and taking a while to produce makes me wonder if it was the same team who put together the unpublished Bi-Monthly 22, a copy of which I had in my hands at an LBG meeting to discuss the magazine's future but never saw again.

The question as to whether or not it had a future was answered by the way that I don't think there was ever a second issue. By this point, Bifrost had replaced Bi-Monthly for most people and the community wasn't big enough / have enough spoons for two similar publications.

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