How to meet people at BiCon

Author: Grant Denkinson

Consensually! I don’t need to interact with anyone more than I want to or in ways I don’t want and this is true for everyone else. I try to tell how I’m feeling and do what’s good for me and also I love BiCon’s positive consent culture and try to enhance this: does someone want to be talking to me? Are they enjoying talking about what we are talking about? Do we both want to be flirting, debating or just hanging out? I like to be approached and asked if I fancy talking with the confidence that I can say no thanks, or not right now, and that needs to be respected. This can feel quite different to mainstream places and I prefer that but it is also a bit unusual and that is ok even if it feels a bit weird to start with.

Much as it can look like everyone already knows everyone, they don’t! Lots of people will be there for the first time or will be also wondering how to meet people at BiCon. It isn’t unusual for people to be nervous at being at such an event or wondering if they fit in. We’re used to not always fitting in. There are often sessions for newbies or places set out for socialising to help. There are often places to just be around people doing crafts or dancing or something and no conversation is required.

Workshop sessions are great: it is often a safe topic to chat about what sessions people are considering or have been to – though remember that personal shared details are private and people might not want to open up difficult topics over breakfast. I used to ask where people were from but that can make things feel hostile to non-white folks so I prefer other conversation starters now. I don’t know someone’s gender at a glance and they may tell me and if I make a mistake I can apologise briefly and move on. I go with the names people choose to share even if they might be known differently outside BiCon. Name badges are helpful I find.

Some of my favourite parts of BiCon have been chats with flatmates, meals together and hellos over coffee so I try to do more of those things and don’t try to get to every workshop slot.

I’m organising BiCon and this is why

I’m Claire, the team lead for this years BiCon and I signed up to run BiCon 2019 a few years ago at our Decision Making Plenary – the meeting where all attendees gather to make decisions about future BiCon’s. My first BiCon was Edinburgh in 2012, it was a life changing experience for me.

Luckily for me, I was quite young when I first attended. Fresh faced, still in university, fairly active within LGBT circles. Something never felt quite right when I was in LGBT spaces until I went to BiCon. It was the first time I had been in a space dedicated to bisexuality and the first time I felt like I fit in. There was no trying to be “queer enough”, no proving I deserved to be in that space, no feeling like I was lesser than others who were part of the group – I just belonged with no questions asked and no quizzical looks if I happened to mention a male partner when I’m a cis woman. It made me realise what I had been missing from all the LGBT spaces I had been in until then.

Over the course of that first weekend in Edinburgh I learnt so much. I learnt I was non-monogamous, quite an eye-opener for the baby faced 19 year old that I was! In the 6 years since then, that has probably been the biggest impact that BiCon has had on me. I remember leaving BiCon for the first time, calling my partner at the time and delighting with him about all these amazing things that the weekend had made me discover about myself. Since Edinburgh, I have attended every BiCon and seen how amazing that space is for such a wide variety of people, how freeing it is for most, what a valuable resource it can be. I really value that and I never want that opportunity to go away.

In essence, that is why I chose to volunteer to run BiCon. Running it is a difficult task, it’s time consuming and there are many threads to keep track of to ensure the weekend runs smoothly. But it’s worth it. All that hard work is worth it to ensure that we keep access to this wonderful space that is beneficial for so many people. It may sound cliched, but it’s true…