Notes from the BiCon 2020 Decision Making Plenary

A shortage of 'spoons' means that these are more 'notes from the meeting' rather than the more usual minutes.

Held 3 p.m. on Saturday 15th August 2020 online.

Chair: Grant Denkinson.

Audio-video and text chat via Zoom and live speech to text reporting by MyClearText.

David was looking after the Zoom tech and introduced the session and Grant.

Grant Denkinson as chair welcomed everyone.


Grant gave an introduction to the session and a recap of the decision making procedure this year:

  •   Votes are voted on. Notes are to be noted for the record. We do not vote on these items and do not express agreement or disagreement.
  •   There had been an online Pre-DMP session.
  •   Grant collated items for the DMP in collaboration with those proposing them and circulated them via BiCon website, email notice from BiCon and other announcements.
  •   There had been time for discussion of items on the unofficial BiCon Discord text channels and elsewhere.
  •   Items would be introduced by Grant as either things to note or questions to vote on. Each item could be spoken to by the proposer or someone on their behalf and someone else giving an alternative comment. Online votes would taken anonymously using and Kate introduced this and we ran a test vote.

Update from BiCon Continuity


  •   Continuity was formed as a company, first, in 2011, and then as a charity in 2014, to look after the surplus that sits with BiCon, to ensure that we can pay deposits.
  •   The DMP has traditionally given a few small grants to local Bi groups, especially to hold pride stalls, to print matter and things like that so we've also taken on giving grants throughout the year so that doesn't have to be just a once a year notion.
  •   This year Continuity got Gift Aid sorted, a long process and thanks to Karen.
  •   Asha has joined as a trustee. Pascal has left as a trustee. Thanks to Pascal for "a solid year getting us organised, getting our finances more readily, I think, understood and gave a presentation to the DMP last year about the state of finance and BiCons into the future."
  •   Since Pascal's presentation, there has been and needs to be ongoing conversation about inflation which eats into funds and how to increase income to cover this.
  •   Continuity has five trustees with probably one more joining and 15 members of 25 spaces so there is room for more very active volunteers. AGM next weekend after BiCon, attendees welcome.
  •   One grant requested: from Leeds Bi group for Biconography, a photography project about identity and we were really pleased to support that. Also pleased to have that as a reminder to people that you can approach your local group and for starting things.
  •   Congratulations to the BiCon 2019 for making several thousand pound surplus due to unexpectedly being charged less by the venue.
  •   There is an offer to run BiCon 2021 and people looking for venues in Scotland for BiCon 2022.
  •   Thanks to all organisers and volunteers in the last year towards BiCon 2020 through pandemic, frustration and exhaustion.

Grant thanked Elizabeth.


Voting point 1

(From Kate, who spoke also)

We feel that BiCon Continuity Ltd's structure and role within BiCon are not properly understood by BiCon organisers and others who may be interested. We'd like to ask for an exploratory webinar or talk, or a series of events so we can explore the role and accountability of BiCon Continuity to the bi community – and how we may or may not want this to work.

Voting Question 1: This DMP welcomes Continuity's 45 minute Question and Answer session next Sunday (details in a link in the chat) before their AGM as a move towards increasing transparency. We would like this to continue and develop into ongoing engagement with the wider BiCon community. [Details: BiCon Continuity Q&A, 2 – 2.45pm on Sunday 23rd August 2020 by video conference]

Result: 62 votes: 89% Yes, agree. 11% Abstain. 0% No, disagree.

Voting point 2

(from Rachel, who spoke also)

From 2021 BiCon plans to run anti-racism training to reach the vast majority of attendees. We would like, as a community, to ask Continuity to help pay for the anti-racism training from the BiCon funds. Continuity is responsible for this money, but has said they will listen to community requests. Based on previous in-person BiCon numbers, we estimate that an additional 250 people will need to attend this training between 2020 and 2021 after the 50 who attend in 2020. This should cost £2,500 in total if it is run by the Anti Racist Educators who completed the trial run at BiCon 2020 online. We recognise that it may not be appropriate for everyone to complete the training for reasons including their own race or disability. We recognise that BiCon has the responsibility to make the training as accessible as possible, both in format and in price, and that BiCon attendees have the responsibility to try their best to complete the training in good faith.

Voting Question 2: [To the paragraph above]

Result: 63 votes: 52% Yes I want these funds used for this, 40% Continuity should partially fund this in addition to community fundraising, 3% No, no Bi continuity funds at all, 5% abstain.

Voting point 3

(from Kate, who spoke also)

One of the key things I believe should be looked at is how teams function and report back to the community. The teams are almost seen as 'owning' the BiCon and the community aren't seen as having an active say. I'm not too sure on the 'ins and outs' of this, but I would like to put it to the vote that the community would like more transparency and accountability from its organisers – who work for the community as a whole. The next few years are key in looking at this process and seeing what kinds of calls or meetings we could have. Until some exploration is done, I don't want to change any guidelines, but future BiCon DMPs could look at that in their own time.

Voting Question 3: This DMP encourages organising teams to engage with the wider community and booked attenders throughout the year and take on board any feedback about how they do this. The guiding principle should be greater transparency and removing barriers to community input.

Result: 63 votes: 83% Yes, Agree, 5% No, Disagree, 13% Abstain.


Grant told the DMP about a proposal which came in after notes and questions for the DMP had been circulated:

Mel's Proposal: Towards the establishment of a steering committee for the goals of:

  •   Taking on leadership in running BiCon as an organisation, separate from event managers and organisers
  •   Liaise between continuity, organisers, and the public
  •   Establish transparency in BiCon operating procedure and sharing those procedures with the community, balancing the need for security and privacy with accountability
  •   Set out a manual or roadmap for organisers with an interactive log to clarify volunteer roles and ensure smooth handover from year to year
  •   To collect and pool knowledge from previous organisers
  •   Oversee adherence to the code of conduct and community decisions by continuity and organisers gathering input of the working groups
  •   To receive and act upon complaints, feed them back to the organisers and continuity. That includes liaising with the listening team.

Actions: I [Mel] propose to carry out the collection of knowledge and operating procedures from those with experience in running and organising. That includes overseeing a moderated online discussion (not on facebook) with community members and volunteers. I will present my findings and ideas for structuring at a meeting where a structure will be agreed upon and a procedure for implementing and assigning roles will be decided.

Note 1

(From AC)

At the Decision Making Plenary at BiCon 2019, a motion 'Being Consistently Anti-Racist and Anti-Oppressive'. – of which Bis of Colour said "it accurately reflected their position and they hoped BiCon would take the motion seriously." – was passed unanimously.

The full motion text is available on the BiCon Web site: for-attendees/dmp-minutes/minutes-from-the-BiCon-2019-decision-making plenary/

A BiCon Anti-Racism Working Group formed and started work in Autumn 2019. The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic reached the UK in Spring 2020. Arrangements for BiCon 2020 changed repeatedly due to the pandemic.

On 26 Jun, the BiCon Anti-Racism Working Group and BiCon Continuity Ltd Trustees put out two summaries of anti-racism work. Excerpts:

"No volunteers were turned away from the group. There were no Black [people] or people of colour who wanted to volunteer for this work and had the time and energy to participate."

"There are 4 active members (Elizabeth, AC, Naomi, Jane)." [all white]

"This Group has: ..

  •   Sought advice from other groups tackling similar issues;
  •   Applied for two grants for training and support, which we didn't get;
  •   Collated UK-specific resources on anti-racism;
  •   Agreed with BiCon that white attendees should use at least one resource before arriving. ..
  •   "Can you help us to fund that work? Please donate to Sort code: 40-06-32, Account number: 51685848 This is administered by BiCon Continuity."
  •   ".. [T]he Equality Network, especially their Intersectionality Team, .. has pooled its resources for this year’s online BiCon and provided organising hours, as well as funding to pay speakers who are from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds."
  •   "We also take this opportunity to invite Black Bi+ people & Bi+ people of colour to tell us what you would prefer to see funded, as we will no doubt embark on seeking grants or looking at internal funding again. Please email"

(Full text of Shorter Update: and full text of Longer Update:

On Sun 26 Jul 2020, Elizabeth Barner reported for BiCon Continuity Ltd to Virtual BiCon 2020 and the Anti-Racism Working Group that only one enquiry and no donations to the Anti-Racism Fund BiCon Continuity Ltd are administering.

During July 2020, a white community member, Blake Alexis Noble – initially in accountability to Yas Lime, and in reference to the 'Dialogue for Affinity Groups: Optional Discussions to Accompany 'Facing Racism in a Diverse Nation' resource by Carolyne Miller Abdullah and Susan McCormack of Everyday Democracy abdullah.pdf – has facilitated a number of 'white affinity group' online sessions as a 'pilot' for the BiCon Community. Facebook announcement here with more details:

For Virtual BiCon 2020, expert anti-racism trainers Abiọ́dún Abdul and Titilayo Farukuoye will be running free two sessions (25 places per session) to hold white BiCon 2020 attendees accountable for our anti-racism work.

Kate and the Virtual BiCon 2020 team say, "our plan is (if this goes well) to hold further sessions every two months until every BiCon attendee is trained .. after these sessions it'll be mandatory to attend before Bicon 2021 and might cost £10 a head."

More details:

Voting point 4

(from Blake, who spoke also)

In the 2019 BiCon Decision Making Plenary a motion was passed to instigate an anti-racism working group for the stated purposes of raising and ring fencing funds for consistent anti-oppression training, bringing forward advice on action for future BiCon organisers and suggesting changes to the guidelines and code of conduct. It was also stated that BiCon resolves to review progress on this subject the following year.

A year has now passed and as such it is time for us to review our progress.

A summary of what has happened over the past year in relation to the content of the motion that was passed in 2019:

  •   There have been no changes to the guidelines
  •   An anti-racism working group made up of four white people (AC, Elizabeth, Nairmi and Jane) has been active since October. As a group they have sought advice from other groups tackling similar issues, applied and been denied two grants for training and support, collated UK-specific resources on anti-racism and agreed with BiCon that white attendees should use at least one resource before arriving
  •   Kate made some changes made to the code of conduct
  •   Kate organised free anti-racism training for Virtual BiCon 2020 with the help of Rachel and Blake
  •   There are plans for anti-racism training sessions for BiCon community members throughout the year which attendees would need to pay for out of pocket.

Voting Question 4: Has the anti-racism working group and our community as a whole succeeded in accomplishing the aims set out in the motion that was passed last year on the subject of being consistently anti-racist and anti-oppressive?

Result: 62 votes: 3% The aims have been accomplished in their entirety, 37% Some but not all of the aims have been accomplished, 15% None of the aims have been accomplished, 45% Abstain.

Note 2

(From Rowan, who spoke also)

This is an announcement, not a vote, and reflects the wishes of people who attended the pre-DMP.

Last year’s DMP voted that there should be an anti-racism group, which should be reviewed this year. Since then there’s been various anti-racism work done, by the anti-racism group, this year’s team and other people in the community.

As this year we are on Zoom we don’t have time to do a full review in the DMP but we want a review to happen separately fairly soon, preferably in the next two months. This is important so we know which things have been done, and what has worked or not worked, which will help us work out how to continue our anti-racist work. This review should look at the anti-racism group and at other anti-racist efforts in the bi community, assess what has been done, and take some decisions about how to continue the work.

Ideally this review should be chaired by someone who doesn’t want to present anything, but as we don’t know yet who will do it we will use the DMP channel in the BiCon Discord channel for further discussion of how to do this and as a place where people can volunteer. The review will then hopefully happen as a Zoom meeting of no more than 1-2 hrs, but there is still time to discuss this.

Note 3

(Anonymous, introduced by Grant)

This was mentioned to BiCon by someone who will remain anonymous since we do not have consent to name them.

They initially wanted a vote. However on further questioning we could not determine which part of the code of conduct they wanted to change. I as chair of the DMP passed a message to Kate to see if this person wanted to engage with the DMP process or edit their comment and did not get a response.

I give a content note that this could be read as allowing or excusing harassment.

I want to allow space for community members to express themselves if they wish. The writer notes an intersection with race and many of us are trying to be better at listening to matters of race and racism.

Text of note 3:

"As you are aware since the metoo movement and other cases that highlight harassment, being pestered by people can show itself in anybody of any orientation. I have reread the community rules again and I have to say that racism can rear up in the victim accusing as well. There is a zero tolerance to racism and I feel that certain rules against harassment can entrap other minorities who may not be harassing anybody at all.

"I've been street harassed since my teens by older people and people my age. I am a person of colour by the way. At first I was distressed but there are ways to ward off harassers (e.g. at the end of BiCon, give a fake number, or say you have a partner, for the session only be friendly regardless) I understand if the accused is violent or aggressive, they should be removed but stopping anybody from speaking to BiCon members can exclude people automatically. This is counter productive to bringing people together.

"So I want there to be a vote to not shun people from social interaction in case they turn 'aggressive' it's passive racism.

"Should BiCon get rid of the no talking to other BiCon members, this is harassment, part of the conduct policy (Yes, No, or maybe but under certain conditions)"

[To query on which part of the code of conduct the writer wants to remove] "Something about 'you're not allowed to talk to people this can be construed as harassment". There's no mention of how communicating with people in a normal way is fine or okay. It seems to just say don't talk to people unless they talk to you like you're a robot with a power switch to start interacting when people want to suddenly include or exclude you"

A break was taken for ten minutes

Voting point 5

(from Blake, who spoke also)

I, (Blake Noble), put myself forward to run BiCon 2021. Before Rachel resigned, her team secured Leeds Beckett as the venue and I’m happy to go ahead with that as planned. On my team I have Aquila, Robin and Felix. It would be useful to have additional volunteers to work on accessibility and finance. My hope is to run a bigger, better, blacker, browner BiCon. To achieve this my team and I would do more to promote the event to people of colour, increase the highest price tier of tickets in order to reduce the lowest price tier, offer free tickets for working class people of colour, work with individuals of colour to review the code of conduct and create a better system for responding to breaches of conduct that promotes restorative justice. The final decision will go to continuity for affirmation on running the team.

Comment on vote 5 (from Natalya, who spoke also)

My name is Natalya, I am a former Continuity trustee and have been on six BiCon organising teams.

I am excited and interested to see what anti-racist ideas and work Blake and others can bring to BiCon.

With a deposit paid for Leeds Beckett University for August 2021 it makes sense for BiCon to use that space as the next in-person chance to discuss and start making changes to make:

  •   BiCons anti-racist
  •   BiCons less arduous and damaging to organisers to organise.

I believe we all want BiCon to be safe and welcoming for Black and other People of Colour to be fully part of at ALL levels: attending, volunteering, organising and overseeing. We recognise that is going to take critical evaluation of our systems and selves and open minds to change.

However. I have concerns about the current organisational state of Blake's 2021 bid. I've talked to Blake about some things and know others have too. The reason this is important is because if the organisational logistics are poor, there won't be good spaces to do our necessary anti-racist work.

Organising a BiCon requires teams to have skills to:

  •   Regularly wrangle venues and banks,
  •   Deal with attenders (think herding cats!),
  •   Build and sustain relationships within and outwith bi communities and
  •   Being a strong, organised, visible and trustworthy presence throughout the entire BiCon event so people can ask questions, get assistance and very importantly deal with conduct issues.

Poor logistics is a significant factor in many of the ableism and conduct issues that have affected many BiCons.

This is not an anti-Blake motion. Due to the pandemic, it hasn't been as easy for the community to support and scrutinise this bid. This a record of concern because we should have more transparency. In the recent past I had similar concerns about a BiCon bid and while I talked to the proposed organiser, I did not raise my concerns at the DMP – and should have done. That BiCon had to be rescued by Continuity and a new team, which I became part of.

Most importantly, this is a call out to this community. Each and every one of you to reach out to and help Blake make 2021 BiCon work and work well. Please listen for Blake asking for people with certain skillsets and capabilities. If you can, please step-up, volunteer and help make 2021 BiCon happen, and happen well. So that we have a BiCon space to start to do the work that we all need to do.

Response to comment on vote 5 (Ford, nominated by Blake, spoke):

[From transcript] "The team would like to thank Natalya for voicing your concerns and for doing so here rather than in private. The whole team was sorry to hear you felt you couldn't raise these concerns in public and we take it as good sign that you feel able to do so now. We hope others in the community will feel the same and be able to raise their concerns and we'll be ensuring there is a public channel for these questions and our answers that I'm already planning to run monthly Q&As. Our team is as aware about what is involved in running a BiCon as any other attendee can be. That this list had to be made speaks volumes about how much the capacity of BiCon organisation is hurting our ability to continue to sustainably organise BiCon. We do appreciate the list, and these are all issues that we aware of. The team includes people who are willing to or able to learn how to deal with venues and banks, we have experience in the team of wrangling a diverse and sometimes contradictory list of needs. The diversity of the team that we mentioned earlier speaks to the same ability to build and sustain relationships with wider communities. We're aware that the actual weekend can be brutal on the team. As they're expected to be available for nearly 72 hours straight. Our hope is by having publicly visible process our community can start to begin looking after itself as much as possible as well as it being easier for folks to volunteer and help out and resolve issues as they arise. On top of this, blame will be expecting his team to make as much as of their knowledge public as possible, which is part of what I will be doing and this will, we hope, ensure that any member of the team can help any other member as well as making sure that future teams do not need to be established with all of this knowledge pre-baked, or learnt on the fly. Again we would like to thank n for raising these valid concerns and hope that they and the rest of our community are feeling more confident in the team's ability to deliver an amazing BiCon in 2021. Thank you."

Voting Question 5: This DMP supports Blake’s bid to run 2021 and to try a number of new systems/ideas.

Result: 61 votes: 67% Yes, 20% No, 13% Abstain.

Grant congratulated Blake and the BiCon 2021 team for being supported by the DMP and noted that this will then go to BiCon Continuity to confirm.


Grant thanked everyone for thought, comments and work to put this together for all of the votes and notes that we have had.

Grant told people about an anti racism work fundraiser that Susie Rachel is organising and requested we support that or let people know about it for those that can afford and want to support that anti racism work.

Grant handed over to Kate to run two polls which created word clouds:

  •   3 words to describe our community now (57 responses)
  •   3 things you would like our community to focus on between 2020 to in person BiCon 2021 (58 responses)

Grant thanked:

  •   Everyone who came to the meeting and their involvement and connection
  •   Our captioner Kate [From MyClearText] and Kate [BiCon] for arranging it.
  •   BiCon organisers Kate and Katy
  •   David for the Zoom admin
  •   Past community for getting us where we are today
  •   All BiCon participants for making BiCon what it is.

Meeting closed.