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.