Bisexual Visibility Day

BiPhoria's stall at UMSU on Bi Visibility Day 2014
BiPhoria’s stall at UMSU on Bi Visibility Day 2014

Today, September 23rd, is Bisexual Visibility Day. Today there’s been a bi visibility stall at the University, and this evening the new Getting Bi guide is being launched at Taurus on Canal Street (do pop along if you can!)

Manchester is home to the UK’s longest-running bi support and social group, BiPhoria, which meets monthly at the Lesbian & Gay Foundation and holds other meetings for established members and friends.

Why am I talking about this as a Lib Dem candidate? It’s not because I’m bisexual myself; that does give me some understanding of the difficulties that bisexual people face, but once elected it’s my job to represent local residents regardless of their sexuality, race, background etc.

Perhaps it’s because two years ago, representing LGBT+ Lib Dems at a Question Time-style panel event for Gaydio, I heard my colleagues from the Tories’ and Labour’s national LGBT equality groups describe bisexuals as “the grey area of the gay movement” and complain that “nobody knows what they want”. This was a few months after the publication of The Bi Report, widely-publicised research into bisexual life which demonstrated that ignorance from lesbian and gay communities is a big contributor to the problems bisexuals have. These representatives also said that we need more openly bisexual public figures and politicians, so hi there if you’re reading this.

Perhaps it’s because my blog will probably end  up added to web adult content censorship filters for mentioning the word “bisexual”, far more likely than mentioning “gay” or “lesbian”.

Perhaps it’s because when the Lib Dems became the first major party to support same-sex marriage, Stonewall (the UK’s largest charity which supports bisexual people) said that the related issue of mixed-sex civil partnerships was “a matter for heterosexuals”, ignoring the bisexual people they’ve asked to support and fund their work, who have similar opinions on the historic implications of marriage law as lesbian and gay people. Perhaps it’s because the law for Civil Partnerships, originally written by Lib Dem peer Lord Lester, included mixed-sex couples but Labour removed this provision.

Perhaps it’s because I want represent all local residents, not just the ones who fall into neat predefined boxes with stereotypes on the telly. I’m a liberal, and I believe that all individuals who are not hurting others deserve respect, dignity and visibility.

UMSU Welcome Fair

The 2014 UMSU Welcome Fair stall from Liberal Youth
The 2014 UMSU Welcome Fair stall from Liberal Youth

I’ve spent the last couple of afternoons at the Welcome Fair laid on by the University of Manchester Students’ Union, on a stall with Liberal Youth. It’s been a good and positive experience – lots of people interested in the campaigns we were running on the environment and International Development, keen to hear about what we’ve delivered as part of the Government that you wouldn’t have seen under the Tories, or Labour, alone.

We’ve also got a lot of people interested in joining the Manchester Liberal Youth student society, to be invited to social meetings, political discussions, meet Lib Dem figures such as Manchester MP John Leech and party president Tim Farron, do some on-the-ground campaigning, make new friends, learn new skills and have fun. A couple also joined the national Liberal Democrats for the Freshers’s Fair discount rate of £1 for your first year!

I was also interviewed live for Fuse FM, the UMSU radio station – I’ll see if I can grab a clip and post it here later.

It looks like we’ll have a strong student society this year with Liberal Youth’s English chair-elect, Matt Downey, involved in the running.

If you’re a student at the University of Manchester, you can join UMSU’s Liberal Youth society online here. If you’re a student at Manchester Met or Salford, please get in touch with me and I’ll see what we can do for you.

20mph Limits Across Fallowfield

Lib Dem Campaigners supporting 20s Plenty
Manchester Lib Dems have long supported campaigns such as “20’s Plenty”.

The local Liberal Democrats have campaigned for 20mph speed limits in residential areas across Manchester for some time, so it’s great to hear that they may finally be implemented in Fallowfield.

As a motorist, cyclist and pedestrian, I get to see the roads from multiple perspectives, and I’m aware that a 20mph zone can make a big difference to traffic speeds and make the roads safer for all. However, it remains to be seen how well these zones will be enforced; it’s a question for Labour’s Police & Crime Commissioner how seriously he intends to take road safety.

In any case, I am very glad that the Council has finally gotten around to acting on this Lib Dem campaign.