Friday, 29 November 2013

The Pilling Report - A bisexual perspective

The Church of England published today a report commissioned in January 2012, named Report of the House of Bishops Working Group on Human Sexuality. Many news agencies are trumpeting the news that it contains recommendations that "there can be circumstances where a priest, with the agreement of the relevant parochial church council, should be free to mark the formation of a permanent same-sex relationship in a public service but should be under no obligation to do so."

Exciting as this may be, it was when I was perusing the CofE's official news item on its website ( that I came upon this sentence - "It warmly welcomes and affirms the presence and ministry within the church of gay and lesbian people both lay and ordained."

Oh here we go, I thought. Where are the bisexuals please?

So I am going to search the report (PDF: for the word 'bisexual' and write notes here as I go (I haven't the time to read through the whole thing, thought I wish I could).

1. First mention is in the classic LGBT list in paragraph 32 on page 6. Not a good start.
2. Same again in par. 41
3. Ooh, quoting stats now. 2012 British survey by Office of National statistics - 0.4% identified as bisexual. Unsurprising that, seeing as it is misunderstood, marginalised, and discriminated against by straight, gay and lesbian people!
4. OMG they've raised their game, I'm impressed! The next paragraph is actually quite rational and reassuring: These data give a combined total of 1.5% of the adult population that self identifies as homosexual or bisexual...only gives a snapshot of those who self-identified in this way when the survey was taken. It does not take into account those with a degree of same sex attraction who chose not to identify as homosexual or bisexual, those who would have identified as homosexual or bisexual in the the past but who no longer chose to do so, or those who did not identify as homosexual or bisexual at the times of the survey, but might go on to do so in the future.
5. Par. 199 acknowledges that sexual fluidity is probably a thing! Again, surprised and pleased at the level of knowledge show. 
6. FOLLOWED BY THIS AMAZING PARAGRAPH: Rather than thinking about the human population in terms of a fixed binary division between two sets of people, those who are straight and those who are gay, it seems that we need to accept that while there is a large majority of people who only ever experience heterosexual attraction and a smaller number who only experience homosexual attraction, there is also a significant minority of people who either experience some form of bisexual attraction or who move between heterosexual and homosexual attraction at some point or points in their life.
7. And back to being part of the LGB/T list.
8. Interesting phrase "bisexual and same sex attractions" in par. 418. What are bisexual attractions?? I think they've gone too far with trying to use inclusive language. But good on them for trying!
9. OOH Par. 419 points out that we're well beyond just dealing with homosexuality and homophobia! Yay.
10. "What...would the Church of England say to someone...who says they identify as gay or lesbian or (increasingly likely) as bisexual..." Interesting.
11. Oh, mention of those bisexual attractions again, quite a few times.
12. And finishing back in the LGBT list.

Wow, okay, that is encouraging. Amazing that the investigation really stuck into the nature of sexuality, an understanding of which is, I believe, crucial. I think it is that education, above all, that has enlightened the writers and led to their recommendations of progress and improvement. Small steps, but my Church might just be on the right track after all!!

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

New place, new people, how/when to drop the B bomb

I am currently on a work placement. To pass my degree, I have to do a minimum 4 weeks at a place of work related to my course/career (usually a theatre or theatre company) and the ideal is that each student finds their own placement ie goes job hunting without the scary part. Nice idea, right?

I was very lucky on a recent project to meet a member of the stage management team of a well-known theatre company whose latest show is currently running in London, and through that contact secured 6 weeks with the show. I'm just coming to the mid-way point as I type, and I've mostly been with stage management, but I've also been with the production management, design, and lighting teams.

I have yet to use the word 'bisexual'. And I feel bad about it. The question is whether I should feel bad, whether there was an onus to on me to come out early on, make it clear and obvious (but not in a way that shoves it down people's throats. We wouldn't want that) to which I have somehow not lived up. Because I have no idea if any of the people that I have met, got to know, and worked with over the last three weeks have any idea that I'm bisexual, and I suppose I want them to know.

[Oh no, I can already see this post getting self-psychoanalytical... Bear with me, I'm sure there'll be a point somewhere along the line.]

I can tell you that I've tried, attempted to spread the word. Just today in fact, I was talking about my hair, how it refuses to be anything but straight, "which is ironic, because I'm not straight" I said. Seems quite a neat trick to getting it out there, or at least, that's what I thought. I was irritated that none of the three assistant stage managers with me within the small, dark box room hidden on set questioned this statement. Similarly, at another time, I mentioned the project I just finished, and upon being asked to explain further, I told of the LGBT nature of the research. And again, no comment was made to clarify my own orientation.

 I can tell you. I'm disturbed that my reaction of disappointment shows an unconscious desire for drama and intrigue about my orientation - I'm pretty sure this stems from my pride being hurt, which I do not like to realise about myself; compared to how I feel consciously and objectively, which is that I want interest, as opposed to intrigue, and no drama.

I haven't talked about much else that's personal with them, we haven't reached that stage in our working relationships; plus I am here on a temporary basis, and establishing deeper friendships is unlikely to occur in this situation. So it does seem like communicating that I'm bisexual is unnecessary, the same as my love of Disney, and how I schedule my meals.

But it's an integral part of who I am, especially how I interact with people - I'm a very flirtatious person, I really enjoy being flirty even with people I have no intentions on, and obviously I flirt with people of all genders, so surely giving that interaction some sort of context will improve things. I have my cross round my neck at all times to express my Christianity, which puts things like anecdotes I might tell from church into a context that negates the need to extra exposition. But I have nothing like that for my bisexuality.

And yes, it would be irritating as hell if I constantly had a bisexual flag pinned to my chest every day. Religion is one thing, something that influences all aspects of my thought process, behaviour, and decision making, but orientation involves personal relationships, and sex, and all sorts of things that don't actually have an impact on most other parts of life, especially at work.

As you can see, I'm of two minds on this one; objectively, revealing my orientation would be helpful, but it is not necessary, but emotionally, it feels like hiding, like dishonesty, and I suspect people not knowing (or at least, not knowing if people know or not) affects my behaviour and interactions. Should be letting it get to me, or should I be more laid about about it? I don't know.

Friday, 1 November 2013

My coming out as bisexual - this time as a video

There is already a post I wrote about my coming out somewhere in the archive of this blog, but I've been meaning to post it as a video on Youtube for sometime, and I finally got round to it!