To Celebrate Bisexuality Week, we wanted to share this post from a civil servant. This post shares an individual’s personal experience, which includes frank references to his negative experiences in another civil service network. Many staff networks will have members and interests in common, but we also serve differing needs and as this post makes clear, these are sometimes incompatible.
We hope that sharing these experiences will allow a better understanding of this, and this in turn will help act as a first step to allow us to work together to reach a place where all staff networks can complement and support one another.
Our network, as ever, welcomes collaborative dialogue between networks and across government departments.
I wanted to share some thoughts on why, as a bisexual man, SEEN is important to me, and why I haven’t found a home in the existing LGBT+ networks.
The popular cliché is that a bisexual is some young, frivolous person with blue, green or purple hair and probably various facial and other piercings and a devil-may-care attitude to societal norms and who believes that gender is fluid. But it also includes people like me, a 50 something ex-policeman, in the Civil Service, divorced with kids and who is attracted to both sexes: appreciating the masculinity in men and the femininity in women.
Early on I accepted that my bisexuality was purely one manifestation of the continuum of human sexuality and I was relatively content in that knowledge. In spite of my own acceptance, I have always wanted to protect those around me from the knowledge or, where I had told them, at least the stigma of being the parent, sibling, wife, child or friend of someone who is bisexual. I believed this was the least I could do to show my gratitude and love.
In recent years, I had become very isolated and alone, in part because I had moved around quite a lot geographically, but also because I lacked contact with people with whom I could be myself, and who shared some of my life experiences. I knew intuitively that there were others in a similar predicament, but I didn’t know where I could find them. I had read that bisexuals are at risk of poor mental health and I did feel that I was suffering, so I looked first to the LGBT network for support, and in particular the Bi+ Inclusion Group. It wasn’t something that came easy to me and I was sceptical about whether I would fit in. However, I had hoped to find a friendly welcoming group where I could discuss my feelings and find other bisexual people with similar life experiences.
The people on the calls were friendly enough and we all conducted ourselves respectfully, but unfortunately it was apparent that the “+” was more important than the “bi” in the title of the group, even though often the “+” was omitted, as if it were a given that we all accept that there are many genders rather than two sexes. Stonewall came up in conversation once and I questioned why there seemed to be such an obsession with the view of one organisation, when there were other organisations such as the LGB Alliance with differing views. I was told that the LGB Alliance was a fascist and anti-trans organisation.
Sadly, after several months of attending I was approached privately and it was made clear that having gender critical views was not welcome. It felt like the ultimate bi erasure as a bi man not being welcome in a Bi(+) group. However, looking back at my experience of the group I recognised that I had never found what I wanted there; a place to relax and speak openly. It seemed that rather than being allowed to speak about our own feelings and experiences, we were required to submit to a political ideology whether or not we agreed with it. There were also very few men who regularly dialled into the calls, so again it was difficult to find people with a similar life experience to my own.
Having gone back into my shell somewhat, it was a revelation to later happen across SEEN where different perspectives are tolerated, diverse voices welcome and same sex attraction is recognised as a unique category of experience. I hope others will also find a welcome here too.
Cover image: “Bisexuality symbol (bold, color)” by Kwamikagami is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/?ref=openverse.