Speaking to the Press at Pride Parades

Last year at the Nottinghamshire Pride Parade me and Kate were interviewed by Notts TV and I remember thinking afterwards that I wasn’t ready for it. I didn’t say anything useful or get any good points across. I hadn’t even thought about speaking to the media, let alone prepare any messages that I wanted people to hear. However Kate came up with a cracking phrase; “We’re here to put the B back in the LGBT.”

Notts TV 2014

The photo shows two women being interviewed by a Notts TV reporter. They have bi flags draped round their shoulders like capes, and there is a banner in the bi flag colours in the background. The reporter is standing opposite the women wearing headphones and he is holding a mic towards them. He is stood next to a large television camera on a tripod.

This year I was a little bit more prepared. With help from Jennifer I made a large sign to carry, and this was a big pull for reporters and those with cameras whilst I was stood waiting for BiTopia members to join me for the parade. I was photographed a lot and interviewed by a reporter from the Notts Post. The same man from Notts TV in the photo above also stopped to speak to me and another group member. I was able to speak a bit more eloquently this time and convey some messages and facts.

The thing that disappoints and frustrates me every time I’ve been filmed at Pride is that it never seems to actually get shown! (I use the word seem here because it is possible its been shown or put up somewhere I’ve not found.) I suppose the media are looking at any event from a certain angle in order to make a story out of it. For example one question I was asked by Notts TV this year was what I thought about the council’s decision to cut funding for Pride. So with their story already planned, they are hardly looking to include anything from a small local bi or LGBT group.

Journalists collect a lot of footage and interview a lot of people, but only have a very short slot to fill on screen so I know most of what’s been recorded will never be shown anywhere. However in the age of the Internet it’s disappointing that a local TV station can’t put a bit more online than two short clips of the secretary for Pride and the actor who plays the official Robin Hood! What gets me even more is that the title for this page is “Pride event highlights Nottingham’s diversity”!

I suppose we can only keep trying, and if we give interviews we are at least making one or two journalists aware of bi issues. Who knows, maybe you can get their email addresses and contact them for Bi Visibility Day or BiCon or something?

Tips for Being Interviewed at Pride

  • You can give a reporter a fake name if you don’t want to give your own, but think up one in advance so you don’t hesitate when you’re asked who you are!
  • You don’t have to tell them what you do for a living. Just say you’d rather not share that information with them if you don’t want to.
  • Only be on camera if you want to be. Don’t let anyone pressure you into speaking with them or getting a few shots of you if you are not comfortable with it. You never know who might end up seeing you on TV/the Internet.
  • See if there are any news stories relating to Pride/LGBT+ issues in your area in case you get asked your opinion on them.
  • Think of a few sentences to say with regards to who you are, why you are taking part in the parade, why you think Pride is important, and your bi group if you run one or are a member of one.
  • Being on camera is nerve-racking and scary. It makes you forget everything you wanted to say and your voice goes all wibbly wobbly! Practising your sentences out loud the day before helps combat this.
  • Ask reporters for their business card in case you want to contact them again in the future.
  • If you are involved with a local group, print or write down the group’s contact details so you can hand them out to anyone who interviews you.
  • Tell reporters you’d love to receive an email from them if your footage makes the final cut/photos of you are used. (Though to be honest, they probably won’t contact you even if they do.)
  • Don’t be afraid to ask any technical questions such as whether to look straight into the camera or at the reporter, or whether you in standing in the right light etc. They should be able to work with you to get the best results. You won’t look foolish, as they are used to working with the general public so don’t expect people to know these things already.
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The sign painted for Nottinghamshire Pride Parade this year. It has a faded, purple, ‘washed out’ effect background with dark purple lettering. The sign title reads: Nottingham BiTopia. The sub title: Bringing together Bi People in the East Midlands.

If you have any other advice please share in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.

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Nottinghamshire Pride 2014

Originally published August 2014 over on https://nottinghambi.wordpress.com

What a wonderful day! It felt like everyone had come out to join us. I arrived at the parade start point at about 10:30am and was joined by more and more BiTopia members until it was time to start marching. Whilst we were waiting we took photos, played with poi, and even got interviewed by Notts TV! (I’m still not sure if we actually made it onto the news though.) The weather was absolutely boiling but sunny and there was a festival feel in the city centre as the parade snaked slowly round the streets. Some of us held the banner, others handed out stickers and leaflets. Most of us were either wearing or waving bisexual/rainbow flags. During the parade a few people came up to look at our banner and ask who we are. Some took our picture and a few others stuck around and joined us to walk the rest of the route!

After the parade ended about half of us stayed together to go for lunch, then we wondered round the stalls and stages before heading our separate ways.

As someone who has experienced biphobic abuse at Prides in the past, I’m always a bit nervous about attending but I didn’t have any problems at this Pride. I was also delighted to discover two of the stalls were selling bisexual related merchandise, as at most Prides I’ve been to there is only gay, lesbian and rainbow merchandise for sale.

These kind of events are so important for bi visibility and reducing bi erasure, so I’m really happy and proud we managed to get such a large presence at Pride. There were about 20 people for the parade, which is amazing considering we’ve only been running for 7 months. As I said before, what a wonderful day!

image

The photo shows eleven of the people who took part in the parade. Many are wearing purple. Some are holding bi flags or wearing them as capes. Two are holding a large banner which says ‘Out and proud bisexuals fighting for equality’.

Big Bi Dreams for 2015

Here’s what I’d like to make happen in 2015:

  • Print off and distribute leaflets advertising Nottingham BiTopia.
  • Organise at least 3 BiTalkia events.
  • Get this blog featured on Bi Bloggers.
  • Find a way to raise funds for the group to do things like pay for stalls at Nottinghamshire Pride and the cost of hiring a room for BiTalkia.
  • March in Nottinghamshire Pride again this summer, and maybe run a stall.
  • March in Manchester Pride again.
  • Have some kind of presence at Leicester and Derby Pride.
  • Go to The Big Bi Fun day in Leicester.
  • Set up some kind of quiet-cup-of-tea-more-chilled-out social to cater for people the pub social (unintentionally!) excludes. I feel like I’m currently letting those people down by not holding an event that meets their access requirements.
  • Get a map of the UK and mark down where bi events happen.
    Work on finding a way to set up some kind of bi event in the least purple areas!
  • Write a code of conduct/anti harassment policy for the meet ups.
  • Learn more about how to do more to include more BME people.
  • Run a ‘bi group runners’ and ‘So, you want to set up a new bi group?’ workshop at BiCon.

and last but not least…

  • Have a rest!

The First BiTopia Meet Up!

First published in January 2014, the date of our first meet up.

Before the big day I’d tried to do as much preparation as possible to ensure the event ran smoothly. I’d promoted it online. I packed everything I’d need the week before. I found a purple shoelace towear round my wrist so people would be able to spot I was the group organiser. I also needed something to put on the table for people to be able to identify us without outing us to other members of the public. I looked around my room for something suitable and promoted my rubber duck from shelf clutter to group mascot.

bitopiaduck

The photo shows a rubber duck with travel/passport stamps all over its body.

On the day I had a few feels but wasn’t too nervous. Work passed very slowly.

That evening I brought a book in case no one turned up for a while but didn’t need it: as soon as I walked in I spotted someone wearing a necklace with the bi flag on!

I’d hoped to get five people attending the first meet up so was astonished to have twelve attendees within about fifteen minutes of the start time. Mission accomplished! I couldn’t believe how far people had come either; Leicester, Derby and rural Lincolnshire were all represented. Everyone seemed to have a good time and get on really well with each other.

I was able to relax, enjoy myself and get to know everyone as the event needed very little involvement from me. People introduced attendees to others, instigated a round of name sharing when someone new arrived and even encouraged each other to swap seats to ensure everyone got a chance to speak to everyone else! The venue was very bi-friendly & made us feel very welcome.

In total we had 17 people who came for the event, along with 3 others who saw someone they knew and stuck around.

What a perfect evening.

“Get up to anything last night?” my work colleagues asked.
“Nah. Just stayed in and watched a movie.”

Kept smiling when no one was looking.

Can’t wait for the next meet up.

Setting up a Bi Group – Part 2

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 Lord Roberts

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.

Setting Up a Bi Group – Part 1

Originally published in January 2014

I’ve decided to write about the process of setting up my new group for bisexuals so I have a record of what happened when and gain an idea of how much time and work I put into this project. I also hope it will inspire others to do something similar if there is a need for it within their own communities. (Be it netball, knitting, Doctor Who fan clubs…not just bisexuality, anything!) I would also like this blog to be a useful resource for people in the future who are thinking of doing the same but don’t know where to start…

Continue reading “Setting Up a Bi Group – Part 1”