Memories of BiCon 2010

London Docklands from the University of East London

BiCon 2010, the 28th annual bisexual conference/convention took place from August 26th – 30th at the University of East London, Docklands campus. It was combined with the 10th International Conference on Bisexuality, and the first international Bisexual Research Conference. About 450 people attended, from 28 countries!

I got up ridiculously early on Thursday 26th August in order to take the coach from Winchester to London leaving at 06:30. The journey was smooth and I was at UEL by 10am, in time to check in and drop off my suitcase in my accommodation.

The research conference was utterly brilliant, full credit to Meg Barker and Christina Richards for running it. Most of the talks were of exceptional quality, and i feel i learnt a lot. I enjoyed hearing about Helen Bowes-Catton’s research into how people perceive and visualise bisexual spaces. Kaye McLelland spoke about bisexuality in the works of Shakespeare, and i marvelled at how well my English teachers at school managed to hide it all from us!

Robyn Ochs at BiCon 2010

I was thoroughly inspired by a keynote talk from Robyn Ochs, a public speaker, writer, and long-standing bisexual activist. Robyn spoke of the importance of the impact that we make when we create space for people to be comfortably bisexual. I was touched by Robyn’s description of the reward when somebody tells us that we make a difference for them. I felt so proud at that moment that I helped to found Bi Wessex in Winchester: proud that people come along and gain something from the group, and that some of the members were there at BiCon.


Miguel Obradors Campos speaks at BiCon 2010

On Friday i bought Robyn’s book, Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World and attended the workshop where we heard from ten of the people who contributed to the book. They stood up and told us something about themselves and read an excerpt from the book. It gave such meaning to hear them speak personally, and when i reach their stories in the book, i will remember them. Their contributions will be particularly meaningful for me. I asked several of the contributors to write in my book, which they gladly did.


Sexual orientation self-definitions

I enjoyed hearing Heidi Bruins Green and Dr. Nicholas Payne speak about the results of a workplace survey on bisexuality. It was very interesting to hear the results analysed and validated from a mathematical perspective. Their results showed that bisexuality is not a phase on the way to something else, but a valid destination point, as are many other sexual orientations. They had some interesting data to show that happiness at work is directly correlated with LGBT support groups in the workplace, and anti-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.

Saturday’s discussion about words and phrases for bisexuality in other languages was intriguing. I shared my Esperanto knowledge about the etymology of the word ambaŭseksema and the positive phrase borrowed from shipping terminology navigi per vaporo aŭ velo (to navigate by steam or sail). We learned phrases, both positive and negative in German, Dutch, Danish, Spanish, Italian, Sri Lankan, Welsh and Hebrew. Everybody contributed something, and the results will be published … somewhere.

Knitting a bi pride bracelet

I knitted a bi pride bracelet in the amazing craft room, and then on saturday afternoon i took some time out to visit Central London. I went to Covent Garden to visit the new Apple store (the biggest in the world) and enjoyed spending time by myself.

Saturday evening was the BiCon ceilidh which i enjoyed immensely. When it comes to dancing, i really like being told what to do! :) I made a new friend that night, somebody who i feel could become a very good friend. We danced together a lot and had some lovely conversations. Later on the music became too loud but i joined the Corridor Club upstairs where it was quieter and i enjoyed chatting to more people. We were actually the last to leave because we didn’t realise when the music had stopped and everyone downstairs had left!

Sunday was the disastrous “Bisexuality in Science-Fiction & The Future” workshop. It was marred by the speaker being late, a church group being in the room we were supposed to use, the laptop being broken, the projector refusing to work, and the speaker’s corny sense of humour which did not go down particularly well at 10am. I gave up and left after about ten minutes of technology fail, and went and joined the church, which i actually really enjoyed! Those who stayed said it only got worse, and by half way through several of them had started their own alternative science-fiction workshop out in the atrium!

The highlight of Sunday was “Smutty Storytelling” which was very well attended, and the storytellers did not disappoint! The stories were well written, and delivered with humour and enthusiasm! There were cheers and a standing ovation by the end! I sat with my new-found friend and mentioned that I had “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” on DVD, which we watched later that evening.

Monday morning seemed to go quite slowly. Things were winding down but there were still a few workshops left. I went to one on sensual play, which was well facilitated, and led to discussions of how we might turn the results into an amusing website! Later i went to have my photo taken professionally, so that hopefully i will appear again on the front cover of Bi Community News and maybe in other publications about bisexuality.

Latimer "the buck" and a lion from BiCon 2008 share a hug

Before i knew it, it was closing plenary. Awards and thanks were given, we celebrated the success of this BiCon, and met the team of BiCon 2011 which will be in Leicester from September 1st – 4th. Registration is already open!

The bi community is amazing. So totally inclusive and unquestioning. I am so happy that i went, I am sad that it’s over, but writing this is my therapy: recording my happy memories and celebrating the joys of the last few days.

Thanks so very much to the BiCon 2010 organising team – you did an incredible job!

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LOLKATOJ ESPERANTAJ

For Kapitano:

LOLKATOJ

Kapitano, vi estas prava: ni ne povas havi lolkatojn esperante. Tio ne funkciias ĉar esperanto estas tro simpla por malparoli! Do la lolkato perdas lian humoron.

LOLCATS will never work in Esperanto. Firstly the spelling is entirely phonetic, so you can’t mis-spell things or use homophones. There are no double letters so no chance of a spelling mistake by dropping a letter. Also, you can’t use humorously wrong verb forms because all verbs are perfectly regular. If you tried to get it wrong you’d be saying a different word. There is no humour in it.

Better just enjoy the original then! :)

Why i love Esperanto

Resumo: Mi diskutas mian lernadon de Esperanto, kial Esperanto tre plaĉas al mi, kaj kion mi dezirus ŝanĝigi.

I am so happy to be learning Esperanto again. I have come a lot further than i ever did before – the difference this time is i have lots of people i can talk to in Esperanto. In Second Life, particularly, although i am suddenly finding people all over the Internet – Facebook, Youtube, and even commenters on this blog who speak Esperanto! I go to Esperanto lessons in Second Life, i receive homework by email, and i’m doing a bit of Esperanto practice a couple of times a day from Teach yourself Esperanto.

I have studied many languages over the years, but i am still learning things about grammar through Esperanto. It’s quite amazing how it highlights ambiguities in English which are distinct in Esperanto.

For example: I met an old friend could mean:
Mi renkontis maljunan amikon – the friend is old in years
Mi renkontis malnovan amikon – it is a friend i have known for a long time.

How about: The mouse ran under the bed:
La muso kuris sub la liton – the mouse was not under the bed but ran to be under it
La muso kuris sub la lito – the mouse was already under the bed, and ran around underneath it.

A cup of tea:
Taso de teo – as opposed to a cup of coffee
Taso da teo – as opposed to a pot of tea.

John was unhappy because George drank his beer:
Johano ne estis kontenta ĉar Georgo trinkis sian bieron – the beer was John’s
Johano ne estis kontenta ĉar Georgo trinkis lian bieron – the beer was George’s.

For the first time in my life i understand the difference between to lie (kuŝi) and to lay (kuŝigi) – the latter is a causative verb:
La knabo kuŝas sur la lito – the boy is lying on the bed
La knabo kuŝigas sin sur la lito – the boy lays himself down on the bed (causes himself to be lying)

Lay is to lie as teach is to learn. Or as remind is to remember. How fascinating is that?! :)

Continue reading

String theory

Komika bildo ke mi ĵus trovis ĉe xkcd:

String Theory

Mi konfesas, mi ofte scivolas kio estas la efektiva kialo de kordoteorio …

(Sorry i’ve been in a major Esperanto mood for the last few weeks since i discovered the Esperantists in Second Life! I promised my blog won’t go entirely Esperanto!)

Esperanto

Esperanto and Second Life – a match made in heaven! In Second Life you have a lovely mixture of people from all around the world who want to speak Esperanto and are happy to teach other people. Plus you have this real-time conversation style which, combined with the easy grammatical rules of Esperanto, helps newbies to pick up a bit of the language very quickly.

I have discovered how to modify my Dvorak keyboard layout to include the extended Esperanto keys. On Linux, all you have to do is find your current keyboard layout (for me it is in /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/gb) and add or replace the following lines:

key <AD07> { [ g, G, gcircumflex, Gcircumflex ] };
key <AD08> { [ c, C, ccircumflex, Ccircumflex ] };
key <AC04> { [ u, U, ubreve, Ubreve ] };
key <AC07> { [ h, H, hcircumflex, Hcircumflex ] };
key <AC10> { [ s, S, scircumflex, Scircumflex ] };
key <AB03> { [ j, J, jcircumflex, Jcircumflex ] };

For me, i simply had to add the lines because the gb(dvorak) layout extends the us(dvorak) layout. This allows you to hold down AltGr with the letter to type the modified version. Shift-AltGr also works.

Nun mi povas tajpi ĝusta en Esperanto! :)