BiCon 2010 and Why You Should Go To a Bi Conference.
The bisexual Brits are bringing it. An early announcement has been made about the 28th BiCon UK merging with the 10th International Conference on Bisexuality, happening in the UK, August 26-30, 2010--though specific venues are still to be announced-- "welcoming activists, academics, and the 'ordinary bisexual next door'." Its website is still skeletal--but the word is out.
Being an ordinary bi/pansexual across the pond, I thought this would be an opportune time to discuss why you should head to a bi/pan/queer conference, especially if you've never been to one and your current environs are short on bi/pan/queer community.
Reason #1 actually comes from an older coming out story of a lesbian woman living and trying to date women in the horrible 1950s, when homosexuals were a Cold War national security threat and gay bars were police favorites for raiding and intimidation. Living down South in a large city with several underground gay bars, this young lesbian got arrested in such a raid and dragged downtown with other usual queer suspects to be booked. Lo and behold, the police had swept all gay bars in the city on that night and packed them into one holding area. The dyke was amazed. Never in her young life had she seen so many queers in one place before. Deep in closeted 50s America, it changed her perspective and her life forever.
Now, you don't have to get arrested (unless you want to). But if you are bisexual and you have never been in a room packed with hundreds of bisexual/pansexual/fluid sexuality queers before, then going to a bi conference and having that experience just might change your life. The first I attended was in 1990, the First National Bisexual Conference in San Francisco.
I was young and bursting at the seams to talk about so many things that I had trouble discussing with people who just couldn't get my sexuality, even if they were sympathetic and supportive. By the end of the convention I was so talked out, I didn't even want to discuss bisexual issues anymore. But, what is even more important, I got to discuss issues at an even deeper level of understanding than I had ever experienced, even in general queer spaces.
So that's Reason #2: you can finally get into the deeper stuff that's been sitting there, undiscussed (maybe under-pressure?), because you are finally in an environment where most of the people around you get you.
Reason #3: this won't be just a local UK bisexual conference; it will bring an international focus to conditions that people with fluid sexuality are facing around the world. Bisexuals could also benefit from exposure to other cultures' constructions of sexuality and gender. As a general rule, I think all Americans would do better to look outside their country's borders and know what's going on in the world beyond the typical media portrayal. Sadly, our media acts as bubble wrap for our brains against other perspectives from other nations.
So this could be a pretty significant conference and could set the tone for activism in the next decade. But even if you can't make this one, look for things in your area or "in country." The Transcending Boundaries Conference, for bisexual/pansexual, trans/genderqueer, intersex and polyamorous people and allies is still on this November. Follow the link.
I close with this logo from an earlier 90s bi conference in the UK. I like the "have your cake and eat it" approach. After all, how are you going to eat your cake, unless you have it?