By March 1996, the London Bisexual Phoneline needed some money. The diverter box we used had failed and it wasn't cheap to repair or replace.
One way or another, probably through some of us also being members of the Health Education Authority's bisexual advisory group, we arranged that they would give us a second bit of funding.
Because of some budgeting rules within the HEA, this time they could not give it to us for what we actually needed it for, running costs. It had to be capital costs, i.e. buying something you could kick.
Well, if that's what they needed, that's what we would tell them. While I am certain that Clive knew exactly what was actually happening, either from us telling him verbally or him going 'If you want to spend it on A, you have to tell me B so I can pay', this is what he was told via a fax… Read more
In a London Bisexual Helpline meeting at London Lighthouse in 1998, it was decided to formalise assorted policies:
- equal ops
- good practice
Each was given to someone different to draft, and I had the last one. I can't remember if it was completely original or adapted from somewhere else. I also can't remember if it was adopted.
Although it gives a date of August 1998, the PageMaker 5 file it was recovered from has a 'last changed' date of 12th September. One of PageMaker's little quirks was that how many copies you wanted to print of a document was saved with the file, so it could simply be that was when enough copies for everyone were printed, rather than any more significant changes… Read more
The BiCon Guidelines as originally passed (unanimously!) at the plenary of BiCon 16 in Cambridge, September 1998.
Before being taken to the DMP, they were first discussed at an earlier session – Ian's notes and the changes made to the original draft: Read more
This was a rare example of a THT 'gay and bisexual men' campaign that was designed to been seen by the general population.
One of the reasons that's rare is that advertising on, say, London Underground is considerably more expensive than in a scene magazine or given to workers to hand out at scene venues. (If you did actually want to reach as many gay and bisexual men in London as possible, places like the Underground and the Metro and Evening Standard newspapers is where you'd do it…)
The graphics here aren't particularly good quality, being in a low resolution even in the original PDF from tht.org.uk, despite being intended to be seen on A3 or larger posters.
This is particularly noticeable on the CHAPS logo, which is almost unreadable,* but it means that it was definitely part of a program to reduce HIV infection in gay and bisexual men that got about £1m of funding from the Department of Health every year.
It was recognised by Martin Kirk of the UK Gay Men's Health Network in giving evidence to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on AIDS as "an HIV campaign but it is a campaign targeted at prejudice against, in this case, gay men".
As we'll see, this was more correct than it should have been. Read more
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. Read more
One of the never ending issues for graphic designers is 'how to show bisexuality without showing three (or more) people'. Most of them never work it out, so go for three people…
.. and sometimes, they add a bench!
I am not entirely sure which of the first two came first, but the Norwegian one is actually aimed at bisexual men, so… Read more
In 2018, some academics got eleven people who'd worked in the HIV prevention sector in the UK for a two hour discussion on some of the history.
In this extract, they remember the 'hands' ad. Interestingly, the only ones to get much more space are the 'iceberg' and 'monolith' "Don't die of ignorance' ones.
'Ford' is Ford Hickson, part of Sigma Research, responsible for multiple surveys and research projects on gay and bisexual men.
'Lynne' is Lynne Walsh, talking about her time as half of (also known as 'in charge of') the press office for the Health Education Authority (HEA).
'Dominic' is Dominic McVey, talking about having been an HEA researcher. His line elsewhere about "Much of my work involved developing and evaluating the HEA gay and heterosexual public health interventions" accurately shows how much the HEA cared about bisexuals… 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
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