There will be much more on this later, but in the mid 1990s Bisexuals' Action on Sexual Health ('BASH')What the 'Bisexual Development Group' that tried to advise the Health Education Authority turned into. won funding from the UK arm of the Red Hot Organization for a part-time worker to run a peer education project in the UK bi community.
I'd been one of the group that put together the application, submitted the finished version, and I ended up as 'chair' of the three or four people who managed the project.
Although I would have been surprised if the person who would eventually be appointed, whoever it was, didn't read Bifrost, the amazingly reliable UK bi community monthly newsletter that ran from 1991 to 1995 or go to a bi group, as part of the funding application we included the cost of advertising outside the community.
So I designed and placed at least four ads about the job and I can currently find three of them…
Bisexuals' Action on Sexual Health
Consultants on Bisexual Issues
Worker needed for pioneering year-long project
BASH has just won funding for an innovative project, involving safer sex education, raising self-esteem and bisexual community development work. We need a project worker who will research the needs of bisexual groups, and organise fun weekend training for facilitators, covering areas such as HIV/Aids information, safer sex negotiation, group organising and publicity skills. (These can then be passed on, in turn, to group members.)Hence its Peer Education Project title!
The project will last a year, and although some months will be busier than others, the workload is expected to average around 20 hours/week. The worker does not need to live in London.We were very aware that lots of good candidates wouldn't and that we weren't paying enough for anyone to move there!
We're looking for someone who is articulate, organised, self-motivated and good at encouraging others. Detailed knowledge is not required as training can be provided. Similarly, experience in this field is not necessary, as no one's done this work in the bisexual movement before…
Candidates should feel part of the community – if you read Bifrost, this means you! Age, race, gender, marital status irrelevant. If you've ever helped to run a group, bisexual or otherwise, you've probably got what it takes.
For more details about the wonderful pay(!) and conditions(?), send us a letter, with some ideas of how you'd tackle this work, to arrive by Tuesday 7th February, please.
BASH, [the group's PO Box that located just to the north of Oxford Street, London]
All of the local bi groups we knew about were also sent copies – Bifrost had very useful listings of groups, but another bit of paper says that we managed to find three that weren't then listed there.
This was the 'teaser' ad, letting the community know the project was happening. We also used the responses to help check if we'd missed anything important in how we saw the work going – it turned out that we hadn't – as well as a 'let us know if you're interested' so we could send out application packs to respondents later.
Bifrost was used for a second ad a couple of months later that was an expanded version of the one in the..
The Pink Paper
Bisexuals' Action on Sexual Health
Part-time Peer Education Project
BASH requires an innovative bisexual woman or man with knowledge of the bisexual community (bisexual groups and BiCon) and sexual health to undertake a peer education project. The work aims to improve the sexual health of people using bisexual groups across the country.
For a recruitment pack, please contact Ian on
[My then home phone number] or write to:
BASH [that PO Box address again]
stating where you saw the post advertised.
Closing date for applications is Friday 21st April.
Average 17.5 hours/week, one year contract
Salary scale £6,900-£7,500 (APT&CThe pay bands used for 'Administrative, Professional, Technical and & Clerical' jobs in local government, which was the standard for jobs in the HIV industry at the time. scale 6)
plus possible London weighting.
Funded by the Red Hot AIDS Charitable Trust
Note that the advertised hours have dropped from 20 to 17.5 per week – I can't remember if this was because the Red Hot grant was slightly less than we'd asked for or if the other costs of the project meant that we had to lose a couple of hours from the worker's time or a combination of the two.
Note also that it explicitly says that we were looking for a bisexual person: someone in the bi community wasn't happy with that, but we saw it as essential for a "peer-education" project in our community. It was also absolutely legal to specify that at the time, with no need to give any reasons or claim any exemptions from discrimination legislation whatsoever.
This feels like ancient history, but at the time there was case law that said employers could discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation to the point that the courts had upheld the right of an employer to fire a gay worker not because they were prejudiced against them, but just because they thought someone else might be.Incredibly, this lasted until the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations, which came into force in December 2003!
Part of me really, really did not want to give the Pink Paper any money: the five uses of the b-word in the ad was probably more than the number of uses in the paper's articles that week! But – in another way that seems like ancient history now – the Pink made a large chunk of its money from its recruitment section:
.. there would usually have been at least a couple more pages like these each week. Advertising in it was considered more or less essential if you were advertising a lesbian / gay / bisexual job.Not that there were many of the latter… The Pink Paper knew that and charged accordingly, but even so they weren't as outrageously priced as..
What do you mean, you can't see it? It's there at the bottom of the first page:
Bisexual health project needs one-year half-time worker. Ring Ian on [my then home phone number].
Again, it seems like ancient history, but in the 1990s, the number of 'society' – government and charitable sector etc – jobs in the Guardian meant that they had a large supplementJust look at the page number the ad's on: 44! Most of the rest of the 60-or-so page supplement would have been lucrative job ads. of them every Wednesday.Most other weekdays the paper had similar supplements because of the volume of job ads in other fields, such as education or science/technology. Again, they knew exactly how essential many organisations thought advertising in them was and charged accordingly.
Even a 'one inch' column ad was way out of our price range, so I went for a lineage ad and was charged by the word. If you're wondering why "one-year" and "half-time" are both hyphenated, it's because their definition of a 'word' meant that, that way, both were treated as one word each. It made that much difference! There may well have been a minimum spend, or I wouldn't have bothered with the "on"…
Ironically, being the only linage ad on the page meant that, along with the white space above it, it stood out more than expected. Memory is telling me that the Guardian messed up somehowPublished the ad a week before the agreed date?? and we ended up being in the paper for two Wednesdays for the price of one.
I kept a record of where respondents heard about the job when sending out application packs and the totals were:
- The Guardian – 21 people
- The Pink Paper – 6 people
- Bifrost / bi groups – 4 people
- members of BASH – 3 people
- other – 4 people
That last category includes the word 'Voice', so perhaps there was a linage ad in the British Afro-Caribbean community paper, The Voice as well.
I didn't go for the 'gay men & bisexual men' health promotion job at THT that's also advertised in the Pink Paper. Was I too busy with this, or did the person who would have been a boss of me put me off doing so?
|↑1||What the 'Bisexual Development Group' that tried to advise the Health Education Authority turned into.|
|↑2||Hence its Peer Education Project title!|
|↑3||We were very aware that lots of good candidates wouldn't and that we weren't paying enough for anyone to move there!|
|↑4||The pay bands used for 'Administrative, Professional, Technical and & Clerical' jobs in local government, which was the standard for jobs in the HIV industry at the time.|
|↑5||Incredibly, this lasted until the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations, which came into force in December 2003!|
|↑6||Not that there were many of the latter…|
|↑7||Just look at the page number the ad's on: 44! Most of the rest of the 60-or-so page supplement would have been lucrative job ads.|
|↑8||Most other weekdays the paper had similar supplements because of the volume of job ads in other fields, such as education or science/technology.|
|↑9||Published the ad a week before the agreed date??|