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.