Originally published in January 2014
After I had got the basics of the group established nothing could move forward until I’d found a venue. As I was new to Nottingham I contacted people on Twitter and sent out a message asking for recommendations on a Yahoo Groups mailing list. This proved to be really helpful as I eventually choose one of the venues suggested.
I’d say I spent about six hours over the course of a few weeks wondering around streets in the city centre looking for a suitable place to meet. I wanted it to be bi friendly, free to use, have disabled access and be an independent venue. It also needed to quiet enough for us to socialise so venues with live music or sport were ruled out.
I felt like I’d hit the jackpot with The Lord Roberts. After a quick look round I went to speak to the people behind the bar to check if they would be OK with me holding a meet up for bisexuals there. I was afraid that as a gay pub they would give me a frosty reception, (many bisexuals receive more biphobia from gays & lesbians than straight people), but they couldn’t have been more welcoming. They gave me a tour of the venue and said they’d be delighted to have us. The barman I spoke to turned out to be an equalities officer for a union. He explained how happy he was to speak to me as he wants to be more inclusive of marginalised groups such as bisexuals. He even offered to come and speak at future events! I snagged his email address and hurried home delighted.
That evening I rang the landlord (who wasn’t in earlier) and arranged for us to come in on the 14th January.
The following few weeks went by in a blur of online promotion. About 16 hours in all. I created events on FetLife and Facebook. I sent out messages on mailing lists. Made threads and updated groups. Tweeted. I also googled LGBT organisations in the East Midlands and asked them to add my group details to their websites and databases. I even got BiTopia listed on the Nottingham city council website! At first my fingers hovered over the keyboard as I wondered if I could really email these kinds of organisations about my little new “group”, but it turned out to be quite a liberating experience. No one was saying I couldn’t, so I just gave emailing loads of different organisations a go! I thankfully got lots of positive responses.
I was kept in good spirits by the amount of encouragement and support I received. People were so helpful in spreading the word. I think Nottingham bisexuals are already well connected as they have had a lot of bi events in the past, but it must be a lot harder to start a group in a region that doesn’t have this foundation to build on.