BiCon (UK)

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The UK BiCon (more formally known as the UK National Bisexual Convention or UK National Bisexual Conference), is the largest and most consistent annual gathering of the United Kingdom's bisexual community. It is also the world's longest running bisexual community event.[citation needed]

While the format does vary, the common format is a long weekend over 4 days consisting of workshops, discussions, meetings and social events. Although being billed as a "bisexual" event, it is open to partners of bisexuals, supporters, non-bisexuals, non-definers, and anyone else interested in the issues around bisexuality. To that extent it can often be characterised as a nexus of the sexual freedom and queer movements. Each BiCon event usually attracts between 200 and 400 people.[1][2]

History[edit]

In December 1985 the London Bisexual Group (in association with the now defunct zine Bi-Monthly) ran a conference called "The Politics of Bisexuality" at The Factory Community Project in Highbury. Around 40 people braved the icy weather to attend and judged the event to be a huge success. A second event was then attended by over fifty people in April 1985. Unfortunately the venue used, the London Lesbian and Gay Centre, had just decided to ban bisexuals (and some other groups) from their premises.[citation needed] This did not stop the conferences which soon gained popularity in a Britain devoid of bisexual-focused events.

That following October the Edinburgh Bisexual Group took up the torch and ran an event called "Bisexuality and the Politics of Sex". This established the idea of conferences moving around the nation. The next was run by a bisexual women's group in London. By this point the community was starting to know what they wanted from BiCon - a chance to meet other bisexuals (and their allies) from across the country, discuss sexuality issues, relax in the company of likeminded folk and network.

Armed with an agreed purpose, for the next few years the conference alternated between venues in London and Edinburgh. Then in 1989 it branched out to Coventry. As well as being the first one outside the two capitals, it was also the first to be residential (previously, people from outside the host city had either booked accommodation privately or stayed with local attendees: 'crash space') and to use the name 'BiCon', in part because of the organisers' and venue's experience with SF Cons (Science Fiction conventions).

A range of cities and towns have hosted it since. Over time BiCon has evolved to fit with the needs of the community. The word 'conference' has been largely replaced by 'convention', but there is still a political and campaigning side to the event. In recent years the momentum behind the event has spawned a number of off-shoots, such as 'BabyBiCon', BiFest and the 'Bi Academic Conference' BiReCon, which have concentrated themselves on particular aspects covered by BiCon.

In 2002 BiCon hosted the first Cake Awards[3] recognising the breadth of contributions made to the bisexual community in the UK. Further Cake Awards have been presented at BiCon every few years since.

Past events[edit]

Name Dates Venue City Attendance Residential?
The Politics of Bisexuality December 1985 The Factory Community Project London 40 no
2nd Politics of Bisexuality Conference April 1985 London Lesbian and Gay Centre London 50+ no
Bisexuality and the Politics of Sex October 1985 The Pleasance Student Centre Edinburgh 52 no
4th National Bisexual Conference July 1986 The Mary Ward Centre, Bloomsbury London 70 no
5th National Bisexual Conference ? 1987 The Pleasance Student Centre Edinburgh 119 no
6th National Bisexual Conference October 1988 Friends Meeting House, Hamstead, London 154 no
BiCon 7 : The 7th National Bisexual Conference 26–30 August 1989 Coventry Polytechnic (now Coventry University) Coventry 200-? yes
8th National Bisexual Conference 7–10 September 1990 Tollcross Community Centre Edinburgh 200+ no
9th National Bisexual Conference 20–22 September 1991 University of London Union London 240+ no
BiCon 10 26–30 August 1992 University of East Anglia Norwich 200 yes
BiCon 11 1–3 October 1993 Derby Hall, University of Nottingham Nottingham 250+ yes
BiCon 12 3–6 August 1994 Methodist Central Hall Edinburgh ~200 no
13iCon 1–3 September 1995 University of Central England Birmingham 245 yes
BiCon 14 30 August - 1 September 1996 Kingston University, Kingston upon Thames London 250 yes
BiCon 97 / BiCon 15 28–31 August 1997 University of Greenwich, Woolwich London 180 yes
BiCon 98 / BiCon 16 4–6 September 1998 New Hall, Cambridge Cambridge ? yes
BiCon 1999 / BiCon 17 16–18 July 1999 Pollock Halls (Edinburgh University) Edinburgh 201 yes
BiCon 2000 / BiCon 18[dead link] (incorporating the 6th ICB) 24–28 August 2000 Owens Park Campus, University of Manchester Manchester 265 yes
BiCon 2001 24–27 August 2001 Singer Hall and main campus, Coventry University Coventry 169 yes
BiCon 2002 16–18 August 2002 College Hall, University of Leicester Leicester 189 yes
BiCon 2003 22–25 August 2003 Docklands Campus, University of East London London 237 yes
BiCon 2004 26–30 August 2004 Fallowfield Campus, University of Manchester Manchester 273 yes
BiCon 2005 25–29 August 2005 University College Worcester Worcester (+170) yes
BiCon 2006 13–17 July 2006 Glasgow Caledonian University Glasgow 200 yes
BiCon 2007 16–20 August 2007 Trefforest Campus, University of Glamorgan Pontypridd, nr Cardiff 246 yes
BiCon 2008 28–31 August 2008 Gilbert Murray Hall, University of Leicester Leicester 250 yes
BiCon 2009[dead link] 20–23 August 2009 St. John's Campus, University of Worcester Worcester ~235 yes
BiCon 2010 & the 10th ICB 26–30 August 2010 Docklands Campus, University of East London London ~460 yes
Bicon 2011 1–4 September 2011 Stamford Hall, University of Leicester Leicester 297 yes
Bicon 2012 9–13 August 2012 University of Bradford Bradford 300 yes
Bicon 2013 18–21 July 2013 University of Edinburgh Edinburgh 311 yes

Future events[edit]

Name Year Dates Venue City
BiCon 2014 2014 31 July - 3 August 2014 Leeds Trinity University Leeds

BabyBiCon[edit]

A spin-off event BabyBiCon, aimed at bisexual youth (under-26's) was held in Manchester on 5–7 June 1998. It was organised at the Ardwick Youth Club by the group 'BiYouth' (folded in 2000) with support from a couple of local lesbian & gay youth projects. While attracting around 25 people, discussions of holding successor events in 1999 and 2000 led to nothing.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bisexual spaces: a geography of sexuality and gender, Clare Hemmings, page 18 [1]
  2. ^ "Stonewall". Stonewall. 2014-06-25. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  3. ^ Name *. "BiMedia Awards". BiMedia.org. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 

External links[edit]