Chatting with the Chair

So here at Bi Pride UK HQ we’re all incredibly excited (and incredibly busy) getting ready for our first ever Bi Pride event! As it’s a first EVER for this country I thought I’d grab the Chair themselves, Avi Kay, to take a few minutes out of their hectic schedule to answer a few ‘need-to-knows’ about Bi Pride UK and our eagerly anticipated event.

So first things first, tell me how and why the Bi Pride UK charity started?

We have someone called Hannah-Rose Tristram to thank for all this. In the summer of 2016, she realised that we need a Bi Pride, and when we were introduced by a mutual friend, we set about making it happen. The original plan was to do a one-off small event somewhere and see what happened, but it quickly grew into something so much bigger than that, and now we’re a national charity which runs a Pride event, but we also do engagement work with other Prides to help them to be more bi inclusive and create virtual bi spaces (like our website, press engagement, and a very exciting upcoming project known only as Unicorn at the moment) to reach more people than we could ever reach through a once-a-year event.

This is a question I get asked a lot, but clear things up for us. Why do we need our own pride?

A question I get asked a lot too! The Pride movement is growing almost exponentially across the UK, which is amazing, because communities of all sizes are getting the opportunity to celebrate their queer identities, but there is a history and a reality of bi identities being marginalised within spaces that claim to be for them. Some Prides are doing amazing things to put a proper spotlight on the B in LGBT, but sadly we tend to be forgotten (or actively erased) more often than we’re celebrated, so it’s time to create a Pride which is all about us in all our beauty. Our work with other Prides is just as important to us as our own Pride event, but there’s nothing that can quite substitute for walking into an event entirely for you and your identity.

Is Bi Pride UK 2019 a Pan Pride too?

100%. I’m pan myself! We spent a lot of time choosing a name, and although we eventually settled on ‘Bi Pride UK’, it’s really important to us that we use bi as an umbrella term for anyone who experiences attraction beyond gender, regardless of the label (or lack of label!) they use. All of our merchandise is available in both bi and pan flag colours, and we even have a small range of polysexual/polyromantic merch because we’ve seen how much it means to see and touch the flag you most identify with. We know that there will be people who don’t agree with our use of bi as an umbrella term, and we completely understand that too. Language is never perfect, but we’ve given it our best shot.

Volunteers from the charity have been visiting MANY prides around the UK. How has the support for Bi Pride UK been?

We sure have! Last year was 27 Prides, and we’re on track for 33 Prides this year. We’ve been really overwhelmed by the support we’ve received. So many people are so excited to know that there is a Pride happening which is entirely for them! And for a lot of the Prides we’re attending, we’re the only visible bi group or organisation at the Pride, which makes it even more special. There’s an incredible trend we’ve seen at Prides across the UK of there being huge crowds of children and teenagers in bi and pan colours, often attending their first Pride, and it feels so powerful to be able to be there for them from the beginning of their journey. There’s really very little that I’ve experienced more satisfying and energising than hearing someone say that they finally feel fully accepted and welcomed for who they are, for everything that they are.

How long has everyone at Bi Pride UK been prepping for the event and what have they been up to?

Our first conference call to begin talking about this idea was on 6th February 2017, and we got charity status on 12th February 2018, so quite a while! We spent the first year or so getting ourselves established as a charity and working out what a Bi Pride event should look like, but it’s been all hands on deck since the beginning. Every one of us is a volunteer, and the amount of passion and time the team has collectively poured into our work is humbling. Our volunteers never fail to blow me away, whether they’re designing visual campaigns, putting together bi inclusion training plans, finding creative ways to engage grassroots groups in our Pride event, writing funding applications or even ‘just’ keeping our Google Drive tidy and our emails running. This is a group achievement, and I want to take this as an opportunity to thank them all for everything they’ve done and continue to do.

What can we expect to happen on the big day?

There’ll be a lot going on! We have two stages, one with performers, musicians, dancers, comedians and more, and the ‘I Am Proud’ stage with panels and speakers on a range of topics highlighting the diversity and achievements of the bi communities. There’ll be lots of stalls from bi groups and other charities and organisations, as well as a stall where you can buy our merch and learn more about our year-round work. We’ll have food and drink available for sale throughout the day too. Accessibility is a core value for us, and we’re trying to make the event as accessible as possible; expect BSL interpreters on both stages throughout the day, as well as roaming BSL interpreters throughout the site, a quiet sensory area to retreat into for those who need it, a Mobiloo unit as well as standard accessible toilets, gender-neutral toilets throughout the site and free sanitary products available in all of them, a changing area for trans attendees, and many other features.

Ok. So now everyone’s dying to get to the event! How do we get tickets and how much are they?

Well, that’s another element of accessibility. It’s completely free! London is an expensive city, and an expensive place to travel to from elsewhere, and we want to challenge that by offering a full day of entertainment and education which is open to all, regardless of income. Of course, if you want to drop a donation in a collection bucket on the day, we will be very grateful (we are a charity after all!), but you won’t have to pay to come in the gate! We have free tickets available online in advance at , but you can also show up on the day. Getting a ticket will guarantee your entry.

What’s the one thing you’d say to someone who wants to attend but also feels like they may not have the confidence?

Everyone has their first Pride, and no one forgets their first time at Pride. I was so nervous my first time, at Pride in London, but it was a watershed moment in my blossoming queer identity. Coming to our event will be all that and more, because it’s not a generalised Pride – it’s been designed specifically for the bi community by the bi community, and whether you’ve been out for 40 years or you’re not out to anyone except yourself, your community is there for you and will welcome you. And if you’re coming alone and don’t have anyone to speak to, look out for me in whatever colourful branded t-shirt the team puts me in on the day, and make my day by coming over to say hi!

What do you expect the aftermath of Bi Pride UK 2019 to be?

Personally, I expect to spend several days not getting out of bed and give my local takeaway a lot of business! But more widely, I hope to see this event start a lot of conversations about what real bi inclusion at Prides can and should look like. I also truly believe that this event will make history in the UK – there’s never been anything like this before, and if even only one person comes away from it feeling more included in a community for them, the last two and a half years have been worth it. We will have the honour of being part of a lot of personal stories of people feeling more confident in themselves, and the thing that moves me most is knowing that there will be huge numbers of people that our team will never meet but whose lives we’ll have changed for the better.

And finally, we all have our own favourite bi icon. So who’s yours?  

Well now, that’s a hard one! Can I say the entire Bi Pride UK volunteer team? Is that cheating? Ok, so in that case, probably either Freddie Mercury or Stephanie Beatriz. If anyone has a way to get Stephanie to Bi Pride, I would be in your debt forever, but I’d probably forget how to word in her presence!

Wouldn’t we all Avi. Thanks so much for taking the time out from all your pre-Bi Pride planning!

So you’ve heard it here first – turn up to Bi Pride on the 7th of September and you may be lucky enough to find Stephanie Beatriz… probably not, but we can all dream right? Remember to grab your tickets online here for guaranteed entry to our history-making event. Let’s wave our beautiful flag together!

Megan Evans