EXCLUSIVE extract from British Bi Guide Purple Prose

purpleBiscuit has been given a sneak preview of Purple Prose, a guide to the bisexual community from indie publisher Thorntree Press now crowdfunding over at Indigogo. The book is billed as “a guide to the bi community in the UK, and an exploration of the issues facing bisexuals everywhere”.

In the first of two exclusive extracts Marcus Morgan, Chair of The Bisexual Index, talks about bisexual activism:

“If you’ve been reading the chapters of this book in sequential order then by now you have a better understanding about bisexuality, the bisexual community in the UK, what biphobia is, and how bisexual erasure (or invisibility) hurts people.

If you’ve been paying attention, you might even be starting to get cross. What right do people have to oppress us, who decided that bisexuality would be erased, what’s the deal with the lack of services, information and support?

But, also, you might be thinking – what can be done about it? What can we do to fight against it? How can we raise bisexual people’s voices so we are heard above the deafening background hiss of our heteronormative society?

There’s a lot of big LGBT organisations fighting homophobia and transphobia, working to support LGBT people, trying to teach people the message that it’s not okay to be prejudiced. In recent years some of them have started to say “and biphobia” in these contexts.

But not all of them really understand biphobia all that well. Not all of them notice that they don’t, don’t notice that their message is being shaped only by homosexual and trans people, don’t notice (or don’t care) that they’re not representing bisexuals. People use ‘gay’ as an umbrella without irony – not realising that abbreviating a list down to the first item is like calling apples, potatoes, mangoes and limes: “apples” and the arguing that ‘fruit/veg’ was too long and confusing for people.

This is why we need activists – because thanks to institutional bisexual erasure no-one’s going to suddenly clap a hand to their foreheads and say “Silly me, guess who I’ve missed out!” without an awful lot of prodding. The most common thing I hear people say, gay or straight, when I’m talking about bisexuality is: “Oh yeah. That makes sense. I guess I hadn’t really thought about it.”

They really don’t think about it. We’re all trained by society not to. Understanding biphobia can be like owning magical glasses that no-one else has.

While a lot of bisexual people notice their own erasure, many remain seething balls of rage and don’t feel they’re allowed to do anything about it. We read articles online that refer to LGBT people as “gays” or talk about the homophobia that “LGBT people” face. We roll our eyes when the bisexual TV character is a murderer, or weird. We sigh when the panellists at an LGBT event are feted for being inclusive of lesbian and trans people, because we’ve noticed they haven’t included any bisexual speakers.

The barrier to doing something about it puts a lot of people off when they think about activism, but the truth is that the barrier to getting something done is so low that many a time it’s possible to clear the hurdle without noticing you’ve done it.

There are no Secret Powers That Bi to oversee bisexual activism. We don’t need anyone’s permission to start. If what we’re doing isn’t pulling in the exact same direction as other people, that’s okay – we’re all working to make bisexuality either less erased or more visible.

Some people reading this will think that they can’t make a difference. Surely activism takes certain skills, commitment, dedication and especially time? Not necessarily…

Here’s what you can do, right now, if you feel you want to make difference.
Here’s how you can find support to be an activist.
Here’s what you can do from your armchair, the ways other activists have found works”

To read the rest of the chapter, and find out more, you need to read Purple Prose. This is just one of the chapters in this fantastic book, the first by bisexuals for bisexuals to come out of the UK bi community for 20 years.

Come back on Friday for another exclusive extract from Biscuit editor Libby Baxter-Williams.

To back the indiegogo campaign, click here now.

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