Remembering My Hat

20th July 2016

Looking Both Ways: At last some real-life case studies about older bisexual(ish) people!

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Case studies about people are great, in education and in workplace settings. They help you think about complex issues in a human and manageable way. They can make abstract ideas concrete and graspable. People generally like to read them, which is half the battle as an educator or trainer.

Training and education for health and social care sector workers often uses case studies, and within my particular specialist area – the ageing of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people – there are some brilliant case studies where people’s individual stories powerfully make the case for why sexuality and gender identity continue to matter in later life. But, until now, there’s been a bit of a shortage of case studies about bisexual older people (and there is still a shortage for trans older people). There are a few but usually only focusing on the person’s same-sex relationships, not on what it means to have had relationships with more than one gender.

Some sort of flag

(cc) Peter Salanki

So about three years ago, I and two colleagues – Kathryn Almack and Rachael Scicluna –  cresting a wave of enthusiasm at a seminar on bisexual ageing in the Minding the Knowledge Gaps ESRC series, decided to do something about this. We set out to interview people aged over 50 who either identified as bisexual, or had bisexual pasts but didn’t now describe themselves as bisexual. We only had little bits of money to enable various parts of the study, so it took us two years to gather 12 interviews but we’re really pleased to now be able to present the case studies within a short report.

The people we talked to probably aren’t representative of older people with bisexual histories or identities – we don’t actually know what older bi(ish) people are like, as there’s been so little research with this group but the people who took part in this study were all white and predominantly middle class and well-educated.

The report and the case studies are copyright, but with a creative commons BY licence which means that anyone can reuse and rework them, as long as you acknowledge the original source. We hope that they are useful and would love to hear any feedback.

You can download the Looking Both Ways Report online version here. BiUK have kindly paid for some print copies as well, so I can send these out to individuals (but don’t have enough for mass mailings). I’ll be bringing some along to EuroBiReCon as well.

 

 

 

18th September 2012

Bi erasure

Filed under: Uncategorized — rememberingmyhat @ 18:24
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One of the things we talk about in The Bisexuality Report is the way that bisexuality gets erased as a legitimate sexual identity when people tack ‘and bisexual people’ on when they are really talking about lesbian and gay people. It’s often quite subtle.

For example, the opening three sentences of this Stonewall UK page about families and parenting are:

Gay men, lesbians and bisexual people have been parents for a long time. Some have children from a previous heterosexual relationship, some adopt and others become foster parents. More recently, LGB people have entered into surrogacy agreements and co-parenting arrangements.

The first sentence sets the scene and establishes the important point that queer parenting is nothing new. The second sentence lists the ways in which this has happened for many years. The third talks about more recent ways of forming queer families [1]. But the second sentence ignores the possibility that bi people may have different-sex partners with whom they conceive biological children. Their experience is made invisible by this list of ways in which LGB people become parents.

(cc) KristinNador

Or does it mean to imply that you’re not really queer if you have a different sex partner? That the ‘B’ in ‘LGB’ only covers bi people who are currently in same sex relationships? Are you in ‘a heterosexual relationship’ if your partner is a different sex? Some people who experience attraction to more than one gender might define themselves as heterosexual when they are in a monogamous different sex relationship, but others do not.

It’s not enough to tack ‘and bisexual’ on to something that is really about lesbians and gay men. Taking bisexuality seriously makes things more complicated – you have to think about the distinctions between identity, attraction and behaviour more, for a start [2]. But surely that’s a better way of thinking about such a multi-faceted  and changing thing as human sexuality.

[1] The historian in me is suspicious of the claim that co-parenting has happened only recently. Likewise, surrogacy, depending on what you mean by that term.
[2] As I’ve written about here: Jones, R. L. (2010). Troubles with bisexuality in health and social care. In R. L. Jones & R. Ward (Eds.), LGBT issues: Looking beyond categories (pp. 42-55). Edinburgh: Dunedin Academic Press.

17th August 2012

BiReCon 2012: Bisexuality and mental health

Filed under: Uncategorized — rememberingmyhat @ 11:24
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Last weekend I co-organised a conference on bisexuality and mental health. It was even harder work than organising conferences usually is but, thanks to the wonders of the internet and to one of the plenary speakers, Dr Meg Barker, who is brilliant at mobilising non-traditional academic media, writing it up here is extremely easy:

You can see the call for papers here.

You can see the programme and abstracts here.

You can listen to Meg Barker’s plenary speech (and my introduction to the conference) while watching her Prezi presentation here.

There will  be a write-up for BCN which I may post here too. But, in summary, it went really well. The plenary speakers were all great and beautifully covered three distinct areas but with clear links and wider relevancies. The individual papers also went very well and there was some really good discussion in the final plenary.

If you are interested in the context of this event, you can also find out about BiReCon and its parent organisation BiUK

 

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