Here’s What Working Class Bisexuals Want in 2017

6943475504_3797d010cd_kHere at Biscuit we’re kicking off the new year by asking what the British bisexual community wants in 2017, not just from the wider world, but from itself.

With that in mind, we asked working class BiCon attendees to tell us what they want they want to see from their communities . Here’s what they said.

There’s no denying that working class bisexuals in the British bi community are a hidden minority. We’re not easy to spot, mainly because so few of us look like traditional working class stereotypes, but that doesn’t mean we’re not there. And when you’re invisible, as bi people know all too well, it’s easy for the prevalent group to assume you’re not there at all.

But it’s really shouldn’t take much for BiCon and the communities it hosts to grow their awareness of working class bis. Here’s what we need.

Understanding 

It’s not easy to wrap up in a neat way, but there is an unfortunate lack of understanding of what classism and intersectionality are, and how they operate in communities like BiCon.

Some working class bi’s face a brutal combination of classism and racism at BiCon, and self education plus the will to call others out (or in, but that’s another discussion) could make this event accessible and safe for all. It helps if people have an idea of  the kinds of comments that are unacceptable (or even just complicit with an oppressive norm), but most of this can be found by doing a quick Google search. It includes avoiding: intellectual snobbery, making fun of working class culture, or using slurs like ‘scum’, ‘chav’, ‘rough trade’ and ‘white trash’.  It also includes perhaps more subtle things like assumptions about people’s ability to afford material objects or access to travel or events.

At bi community events dominated by a white middle class it’s easy to assume everyone is from the same type of backgroud as you. Keeping in mind that the landscape of class is much more complex than it first appears is a significant step in the right direction.

Money

By having a sliding scale of ticket prices, and the wonderful Equalities Fund,  BiCon automatically beats most other events in terms of its consideration of attendees with differing abilities to pay. By  giving better off attendees the opportunity to pay more for a ticket and to donate to the Equalities Fund, access to BiCon is improved.

Going to an event like BiCon is a huge gamble in terms of money and emotional investment for people in oppressed groups – imagine spending more than you can afford to access a safe space, only to risk finding it oppressive in many of the same ways you do everywhere else – this is why once in the past there was a token cost to attend BiCon for a small number of first time attendees from under-represented groups, like bi’s of colour and working class bi’s. The funding isn’t currently available to do this again.

We need to be listened to whether we’ve got the right language to express ourselves or not.

To be listened to

Whether we’ve got the right language to express ourselves or not. When we know what we need and we want to be listened to and not talked over, it’s vital that this happens. It is imperative we are included in the community and not made to feel like outsiders.

Open minds

We need people to keep an open mind about who working class bi’s includes (because even we’re not sure how to define it, and lots of people who experience the same issues won’t identify with the label).

We’re a diverse bunch and we’d like to be more so. I’d like for people to assume they might be sitting next to someone with a very different life experience. Some of us have been or are without a home, or have no formal qualifications, or have never travelled beyond our local area much, or come from a different culture. Most of the people who have said to us that they’ve experienced classism at BiCon heard it from people they felt safe and comfortable with. Similarly, equating income and class is generally a bad idea.

Not to be judged on appearances

The truth is that the queer aesthetic – and the opportunity to define what that aesthetic is – belongs to a distinctly privileged minority, and it doesn’t take much for us to be judged as not dressing ‘queer’ enough. Not only do these things cost money, they also quash the potential diversity in our growing community.

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Working class bi’s aren’t really asking for anything special. In 2017 diversity shouldn’t be hard to embrace. All it takes is a little consideration.

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Tracey

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