BiCon 12 was held at Methodist Central Hall, Edinburgh, on Thursday 4th-Saturday 6th August 1994. It was run by the Edinburgh Bi Group. About 200 people attended. It was the last non-residential BiCon, though beds were booked at the local Youth Hostel (£29 for 4 nights in same-sex dormitories) to supplement the use of crash space.
First Bisexual Activist Canonised
First Published in Bifrost #37 September 1994
The 12th National Bisexual Conference in Edinburgh saw the first ever Saint from the bisexual movement created as part of its closing ceremony on the 6th of August. The ceremony was led by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and included readings of gay poetry and lesbian erotica and the singing of traditional hymns such as Somewhere Over The Rainbow and a bisexual version of These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things. Sisters Dominatrix and Pronuptua then surprised the 200 conference goers with the announcement that Kate Fearnley of the Edinburgh Bisexual Group was to be canonised for all her work over the last 10 years, and as a representative of the bisexual movement as a whole.
Kate is one of only a handful of saints to be canonised by the Sisters, others including Derek Jarmen, Lisa Power and Derek Cohen of SM Gays. She was a founder member of the Edinburgh Bisexual Group which celebrated its 10th anniversary at this year's conference and has appeared in numerous TV and radio programmes and in articles in both the gay and straight press. As part of her canonisation she received a tartan ribbon as a badge of office as 'Saint Kate of the tartan kiss' and vowed to "go forth amongst the masses and spread tumultuous joy in the name of bisexuality", which after the success of the conference she should have plenty more opportunities to do.
And Yet More Growth…
This years conference attracted 200 people in spite of the train strike which ran the day before, and they came from all around the UK as well as the USA, Ireland, Australia, and Holland. One result already being seen is that new bisexual groups and events are being set up around the country. So far we have heard from start-up groups in Southampton and Hull, Wakefield and Plymouth (see listings for details). Some people are planning a poetry book and others are talking of holding another Bisexual Women's Conference and perhaps a weekend away for women who are thinking of facilitating work-shops or organising groups. We hope to have details of all these events soon.
At the final plenary session it was also decided that next year's conference – the thirteenth – will be held "Somewhere in the Midlands" and organised by a group of people mostly from Birmingham and Coventry. The location should be good news for people who came from the South to this years event (though less fortunate for those from Dundee), especially if they succeed in their aim to make it residential.
Suggestions as to what to call the Conference and any ideas for a logo will he gratefully received – "BiCon the 13th, just when you thought it was safe to go back in the closet?" Maybe not. Watch this space for further details, or send an SAE to BiCon 13 c/o Bifrost to receive them as soon as they come out…
Thoughts on BiCon 12
First Published in Bifrost #37 September 1994
Somebody once told me that your true family is not necessarily the one you are born into, but something you find and create. Well, BiCon 12 was like that for me. Just before leading a workshop, I suddenly realised that all these people, all ages, backgrounds, opinions, and identities, had all somehow agreed on one important thing. They had rejected what society calls normal. It was exactly the right starting point for my workshop. I suddenly realised I was scared. The conference was a safe enough place to admit it.
Owning up to being scared both to myself and to the workshop was an important step and helped it go well and to be fun. As I introduced the workshop, I realised I was surrounded by fifteen bright, attentive, eager faces, ready to go for it. I was not just running a group, like I sometimes do for a living, but sharing in a process that had turned my life upside down. It had made it possible for me to go to this conference, to identify as bi and a whole lot of other things. This conference was part of that process – one of those "my life will never be the same" events.
All because of a label? Well maybe. I have often found it hard to belong. This morning when they played the slow movement from Mozart's clarinet quintet on the radio, I remembered that I belonged to the human race. What's been harder is to feel that I belong to any particular group. There were times that I not only knew I belonged, but felt it as well.
There were some notable highlights. For instance, it was very special to be able to say to two women that I was attracted to them. It was one of those things "I never do". I think it's been my fear of rejection masquerading as not wanting to appear sexist or something ridiculous like that. That bit of fear has sometimes made me come over cool, or as if I don't like people. This time I went over the top and it was great. And I got very interested and positive responses. Not the end of the world at all, or even the beginning of a romance, just a bit of good warm communication.
The conference churned up my thinking about a lot of things, but it also confirmed some things for me. At one workshop somebody said this is all very interesting, but when are we going to get to the real issue? What she had in mind was the oppression (and therefore the liberation) of bisexuals and gays and everybody on the basis of their sexuality. Aha! At last. What's worrying the gays is not so much what people do in bed as the question of whether the bi's (and hets for that matter) take a stand against anti-gay oppression. Which really means will we take a stand against the oppression of any group, whether we are "really" in it or not.
It was wonderful having two people to stay at my house. Thank you Rita and Anna Maria for staying, and talking and listening and sharing.
It was also very good to spend ages on the phone one evening, talking to a close lesbian friend about what it was like for me being at the conference. And how was it for me being at the conference? Liberating, a bit scary sometimes, but safe. And it provoked a whole lot of thinking about identity, oppression and liberation.
Going to the conference was just one step. I don't know what the next will be, but I'm looking forward to it.
There were only around a thousand websites at the start of 1994 (and only around ten thousand by the end of the year) so unsurprisingly, BiCon 12 didn't have one.
The announcement and booking form were published in places like the soc.bi Usenet newsgroup – the booking form post mentioned it was also sent to the soc.motss newsgroup, the uk-motss, glb-news, BiAct-L, Bisexu-l, BiFem-l, Biversity, Arenal, Gay-Libn, UUs-L, Stonewall25, euro-queer, and queerplanet mailing lists plus America OnLine, Prodigy, and CompuServe.
Announcement – Jan 1994
THE 12TH NATIONAL BISEXUAL CONFERENCE ------------------------------------- A conference for bisexuals and their allies. The 12th National Bisexual Conference will be held in Scotland this year. The location (probably Edinburgh) and the date have yet to be confirmed. BiCon involves lots of workshops and discussions on all aspects of bisexuality and how it affects our lives. It is also a social space, and an opportunity to meet and talk to other bisexuals and their friends Further details will be posted when they become available. This is just to let you know that wheels are turning! If you have any suggestions about the type of events you would like to see at the conference, please email bic...@ed.ac.uk
Booking form – May 1994
Obviously, it's decades too late to use this, but…
TWELFTH NATIONAL BISEXUAL CONFERENCE Edinburgh 1994 To be held at Methodist Central Halls, Tollcross THURSDAY 4TH TO SATURDAY 6TH AUGUST A conference for all bisexuals, their allies and anyone with a positive interest in bisexuality. ABOUT THE CONFERENCE This is the fourth conference to be held in Edinburgh and coincides with the tenth anniversary of Edinburgh Bisexual Group, so it should be by far the largest---we've outgrown all our previous venues! We want to provide a chance to meet and mingle with other bisexuals that is not to be missed. THE VENUE The Methodist Central Halls in central Edinburgh provide a large concourse for stalls, a huge hall for conference gatherings and smaller spaces for workshops. There are plenty of cafes, sandwich bars and restaurants nearby as well as a good range of shops. There will also be some food available at the venue. The venue is wheelchair accessible with a lift from street level to the first and second floors where the conference is to be held. It has disabled toilet facilities. ACCOMMODATION We have booked self-catering places in single sex dormitories that will be for conference goers only at Bruntsfield Youth Hostel (10 minutes from the venue). These can be reserved for #29 for four nights only (Wednesday to Saturday) on a first come first served basis. We will also provide information in your confirmation pack (or on request), of guest houses, B&B's and campsites. We will try to organise crash accommodation, but you must register early (before June 23rd) if you want us to have a chance to do this. When requesting crash accommodation please let us know if you have your own transport. Edinburgh is very busy in early August so arrange your accommodation as soon as possible. TIMETABLE The conference is running Thursday to Saturday in order to give people plenty of time to get home on the Sunday and so that no-one has to miss the final sessions. Registration is available on Wednesday 3rd from 6.00-9.30pm, and from 9.30 each morning. There is a facilitators workshop on the evening of the 3rd and the conference will be kicking off at 11.00am on the 4th. In the evenings we will have our own specially arranged and exclusive conference events including a free disco for conference attenders on the Friday night to celebrate the Edinburgh Bisexual Group's 10th birthday. SPECIAL NEEDS There will be a creche available during the workshop and plenary sessions. BSL interpretation will be provided, and we can provide conference documents in braille or on tape. However, in order to make sure that we can provide for these, and any other special needs you may have, please let us know before June 23rd. Please note that places in the creche cannot be guaranteed after this time. People attending the conference solely in order to aid a disabled friend may register free. A small hardship fund has been made available from the previous conference. If you think you will have difficulty affording to attend this years conference please write to us saying what you need and why before June 23rd and we'll see if we can help. FINALLY... For anyone who hasn't had the pleasure of attending a bisexual conference before, don't be put off by the word 'conference'. They are very friendly affairs with a wide range of workshops, games and other activities to interest and entertain hordes of bisexuals, their partners and allies who attend. See you there! -------------------------------------------------------------------------- REGISTRATION FORM Please register before June 23rd if you want to be sure of crash accommodation, creche space, sign language interpretation or conference documents on tape. Enclose a separate sheet to tell us what you need. We will do what we can after this date but we can't guarantee anything! Don't post money with this form if you are registering less than a week before the conference. Name: Address: Postcode: Tel (optional): e-mail (if applicable): I will be attending on: Wed eve/Thur/Fri/Sat I would like to facilitate a workshop. Title: Registration fee (see below): I enclose a cheque/P.O. for: Accommodation I want to stay in Bruntsfield Youth Hostel and +---+ enclose #29 for four nights: | | +---+ I will bring a sleeping bag, please find me crash accommodation for these nights: Wed/Thur/Fri/Sat Return this form with a cheque/PO payable to EBG to BiCon Twelve, 58a Broughton Street, Edinburgh, EH1 3SA. Please do not send registrations via email. You will receive a confirmation pack after June 23rd. REGISTRATION FEES Registration fees are charged on a sliding scale to make the conference accessible to as many people as possible. The registration fee for the whole conference depends on your income: Under #5000 #13 #5 - #8000 #19 #8 - #12000 #25 #12 - #16000 #31 #16 - #20000 #37 #20000 + #43 Funded delegates #50 The fee for a single day is half the full cost. ACCOMMODATION INFORMATION Once you have registered for the conference, information about B&B's and guest houses will be mailed to you with your confirmation pack (unless you have booked a place at the Bruntsfield Youth Hostel). If you would like information about B&B's and guesthouses before you register, please send an A4 SAE, indicating that you want accommodation info to BiCon Twelve, 58a Broughton Street, Edinburgh, EH1 3SA. VOLUNTEERS Creche and BSL signing will be run by professionals, but any help we can provide for them would be appreciated. We are also looking for volunteers to run errands, offer counselling and act as helpers for disabled people. If you can give help please tick the box and give details below. For counselling and creche, references will be required. I can volunteer as a: +---+ creche helper | | +---+ counsellor | | +---+ gopher | | +---+ assistant to a disabled person | | +---+ BSL interpreter | | +---+ I live in Edinburgh and can volunteer crash space for ____ people +---+ I do NOT want my name passed on to the next conference organisers | | +---+ -------------------------------------------------------------------------- For general enquiries about the conference, email bic...@ed.ac.uk or write to Edinburgh Bisexual Group, 58a Broughton Street, Edinburgh, EH1 3SA. Bisexual Phoneline: 031 557 36xx Thursdays 7.30-9.30pm -------------------------------------------------------------------------- MAP (not to scale and omitting most streets) | | BRITISH BUS | | RAIL STATION | | WAVERLEY -------------+ +------------------ St Andrew Sq Waverley Bridge -------------+ +------------------ |P| |r| |i| |n| |c| |e| |s| | | |S| THE CASTLE |t| | | | +-------------------------------- | Lothian Rd Earl Grey St | +-----------+ +------------------------+ +---- |S| /t/ CONFERENCE |T| |h| /S/ VENUE |o| |a| / / CENTRAL |l| |n| /n/ METHODIST |l| |d| /o/ HALLS |c| |w| /s/ |r| |i| /i/ |o| |c| /r/ |s| |k| /r/ |s| | | /o/ |P|/M/ |l +------- | | +--------- | | BRITISH | | RAIL | | HAYMARKET | |
(The use of # for the £ symbol is because the latter is not part of the 7-bit ASCII character set, so not all newsgroups / mailing lists / computers could display it properly. Similarly, few of them could handle graphics except as ASCII art, hence the delightful character-based map.)