UNISON (Public-sector union) had its LGBT conference in Brighton.  I attended as a member of the union, but I also manned a stall with bisexual information.  The organisers of the conference were friendly and helpful; they even printed a batch of postcards for Bi’s of Colour, thus saving us a lot of money!

I attended fringe meetings for black members, bisexual members and disabled members.  I also took part in a discussion for people who worked in Higher Education, where LGBT staff and students are often overlooked.

There were many positive parts to this conference: a motion on bisexual visibility being debated was really affirming to me.  However there was also a steady stream of biphobia and transphobia from delegates.  People came to my stall to announce that bisexuals were divisive; that we are only using our sexuality as a stepping stone to being gay.  I was sneered at a few times.  I was asked intrusive and downright rude questions about my sexual preferences.  I also experienced biphobia in the form of invisibility.  Many speakers would say “gay and lesbian” and ignore bisexuals and trans* people.  All of the above was a real shame as the conference was an LGBT event.  It is unfortunate that this is a common occurrence that I’ve experienced at many supposedly LGBT events.

People join unions to feel protected; it gives us a voice at work.  Unions are supposed to be supportive.  Until all parts of the LGBT acronym are treated with the same respect and seriousness, we will continue to suffer needlessly.

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