This is the version that was used in 1995, when the Health Education Authority ran the second version of its (awful) 'hands' ad with a referral to the London and Edinburgh Bisexual Helplines in its body text.

In exchange for some money to open the London line six evenings a week rather than its usual two for some months, they wanted some data back, hence a somewhat expanded version of the call record sheet.

I'm not sure how much detail the HEA was given, but these sheets were used to note any trends in calls and, if needed, discuss how to deal with them at the regular Sunday meetings.


Bisexual Helpline Record Sheet

Taken by:Day and date:
Assumed gender of caller:Approximate age group:

Call type: information / advice / help / chat / abusive / hoax / wank / silent / rang off immediately

Referred to: LBG / LBWG / local bisexual group / local bi-friendly group / Bifrost / Penpals / Conference / books / NAH / THT / Body Positive / local HIV or sexual health clinic / other (please specify) :

Was HIV or safer sex discussed?

oral sex / anal sex / vaginal sex / sex with women / sex with men / HIV test / condom use / other (please specify) :

Other issues discussed:

having sex with men and women, general / secrecy of homosexual element / pleased to see ad and line / did not know where to get info / personal disclosure of bisexuality / just had or about to have first gay sex / confusion about own sexual identity / unprotected sex with female partner / other (please specify):

You can ask the following question directly if you wish, or gather it from what the caller says, or omit it if it seems inappropriate

What do you think is the sexual history of this caller?

Ever had unprotected anal sex with men? With women?
Ever had unprotected vaginal sex with men? With women?
Unprotected oral sex with men? With women?
Other sex with men? With women?
Currently in a relationship with a man? With a woman?
Do they use safer sex?

Please ask the following two questions for our statistics:

Where did the caller hear of the phoneline?

HEA ad: Radio Times / TV Times / Sunday Express / Observer / Mail on Sunday "You"
Other: Time Out / monthly magazines / free gay papers / paid for gay press

Calling from (local authority area, if possible):

Call duration:


Call types

As mentioned, the bisexual helplines got very few abusive calls, far fewer than the bigger London Lesbian & Gay Switchboard got, for example. Given the level of biphobia out there, we put this down to the number being publicised in far fewer places and the way that the helplines had only been open for four (London) or two (Edinburgh) hours a week before this point. Anyone wanting to abuse us / bisexuals in general would usually have to wait, unlike callers to the 24/7 Switchboard…

There were also few wank calls (I think I had one in over a decade, and while people answering the line with a voice perceived to be female got more, it still wasn't many) for presumably much the same reasons.

The majority of callers were after information/advice or a chat.

Referred to

LBG = the London Bisexual Group, which ran from 1981 to the mid 2000s
LBWG = the London Bisexual Women's Group, which needs someone else to write about
Bifrost = the monthly newsletter that ran from 1991 to 1995 – this is one of the ways the sheet can be dated. Bi Community News started after BiCon 13 in September 1995, following Bifrost closing
Penpals = the Edinburgh Bisexual Group ran a penpals service for many years. If you sent a stamped addressed envelope to them, you got back a sheet asking some questions. Return that, and you'd get sheets with everyone else's answers. It was then possible to write to them using a 'box number' system
Conference = obviously BiCon – at first, I wasn't sure why that wasn't spelt out, but by this point, only two of them had used the word 'BiCon' in their publicity: most of the early ones used the 'National Bisexual Conference' name
books = Bisexual Lives, plus a handful of others
NAH = the National Aids Helpline, still with us as the 'Sexual Health Information Line'
THT = Terrence Higgins Trust, still with us as a general sexual health charity rather than concentrating heavily on HIV
Body Positive = a series of local groups for HIV+ people. A couple have survived the funding cuts over the past decade that ended lots of local sexual health groups

If I were doing one today, it'd have something on gender identity and not be quite so binary when it comes to partners.

The emphasis on sexual(ity) questions are partly because there was, at the time, money available for sexual health promotion. Apart from this HEA money, I don't think we ever got any.

Similarly, asking about the caller's local authority was done to see if there were any we could approach for funds because a significant chunk of the calls were coming from people in their area. We definitely didn't get any of that…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.