A bisexual+ community float featured in the Pride in London parade this year for the first time in 46 years.
Libby Baxter-Williams is the Director of Biscuit, a group which advocates specifically for bisexual women.
Plans for the float started earlier this year, with a crowdfunder launched.
‘Our community lives largely on the poverty line, so we just can’t afford to do things like this regularly,’ Libby explained.
‘Of all the funding that goes to LGBTQIA organizations in the UK, less than half of 1% goes to organizations that focus on bi people.’
She says some of this is due to ‘institutional biphobia’ and some is to do with ‘invisibility and erasure.’
The crowdfunded surpassed it’s first goal within 36 hours though. This only covered half the bills though. Even with private donations and corporate sponsorship, the Biscuit board ‘has paid out of pocket to make this happen.
‘It is our duty as activists…’
Marcus Morgan is Chair of the Bisexual Index, another bi group who helped with the creation of the float.
The team involved in it’s creation ‘included event organizers and people with years of experience with stage or community events.’
But Marcus adds: ‘No-one had ever done something quite like this before.’
Libby explained this year they faced ‘unexpected expenses’ and ‘more bureaucracy than we planned for.’ This hasn’t deterred them though. Planning is already underway for next years float.
The team are also putting together a guide for other community groups and non-profits to create their own floats.
She adds: ‘The community must be primarily about the community and it is our duty as activists to keep the grassroots at the core of what we do.’
Libby echoed this sentiment. He said: ‘In many ways this year I think was bringing back a bit of what we’ve lost as Pride has grown. ‘
While he couldn’t be there to walk with the float during the Parade, he described going to see it before the Parade.
‘I was there to see the float arrive at the parade form-up area and it felt amazing to see it,’ He explained. ‘I was so proud of the volunteers who built it, all the team who had worked on it, and everyone who was going to be stewarding, driving, and marching alongside it.
No place for hate at Pride
‘With an increased and visible presence this year, we expected the amount of hate we receive to go up too. But actually it went down,’ Libby tells Gay Star News. ‘Of course this is much to do with the growing tolerance towards bisexualities. But I think the float legitimized us a lot too, so those usually loud and obnoxious bigots felt disempowered. Good. There’s no place for hate at Pride.’
Despite the growing tolerance, bi groups in the Pride parade are usually faced with at least one incidence of biphobia.
This year it was a ‘parade announcer calling us greedy and suggesting if we were at Pride then we “must’ve made up our minds.”‘
Libby usually laughs bi stereotypes, ‘the only person who has the right to label me a confused, greedy, promiscuous fence-sitter who is probably just doing it for the attention of boys is me. I don’t make gay jokes and you don’t make bi jokes – that’s the deal.’
There was uproar in 2017 after people noticed no bisexual groups were listed as being part of the parade. It then emerged no bisexual groups had applied to be part of the parade on time.
Pride in London worked with BiPride to come to a solution though. BiPride UK were to be invited to walk at the front of the UK Pride section of the parade.
Looking back at this, Libby explains that the bi float this year ‘felt really supported by Pride in London.’
She added that there was a ‘clear effort there to build bridges, understand the issues we face and make a real difference.’
‘Empower the bi and pan kids’
The pictures are evidence enough of how many people were happy to have the float there.
Libby explained that everyone involved in the float were ‘thrilled to have made this happen.’
She explained they ‘turned out to empower the bi and pan kids in the crowds.’
Jessamy is Baxter-Williams’ partner and was in charge of music on the float.
They spoke about what the float meant to them.
‘I was only out as a lesbian for many years before I felt like I could talk openly about how that wasn’t the truth about how I felt. I’ve seen a lot of biphobia and bullying occur in and outside of our communities, and I was legitimately afraid of being ostracized and humiliated by people around me.
What was missing, and what I needed, was positive and visible representation in the community. I really think that having the float and two walking groups in something as massive as Pride in London is a beacon to people who need that in their lives, who want to be honest with people about who they are and need to see it’s possible and that there is a community there to support you if you do want to come out as bi or pan.’
‘Pride for all LGBT people ‘
Marcus added that for him, Pride is about ‘celebrating our community, cheering our wins and commemorating our losses.’
Having the bisexual float in the Parade made him feel like the bi community was welcome, respected, and an integral part of LGBT.
Josh was also in the Parade with the group.
They said: ‘Bi+ representation is hard to come by, especially for bi guys, I find – there’s just so little out there. The smallest nod of acknowledgement can make such a difference, and helps establish this as Pride for all LGBT people – of which bi people are a fundamental part.’
When Emma attended Pride last year, they got ‘grief just for carrying my bi pride flag.’ They even heard acts on the main stage making ‘bi folks the butt f the joke.’
But she said: ‘This year I got to see my community represent ourselves with our own colours and without being sidelined or insulted.’