From The Bisexual Index

Main: Purple Prose

Purple Prose is a new book about bisexuality in Britain, written by the bisexual community for bisexual people. It's currently seeking funding on Indegogo.

Here's what the editor Katy, a member of The Bisexual Index, has to say about it:

What's so special about bisexuality?

Right now I am in the final stages of crowdfunding a book called Purple Prose, about bisexuality in general and the British bi community in particular. Why does anyone need a book about that? you might ask. And after eighteen months of working on the book plus nearly a month of nonstop promotion, my current answer would be a blank stare and vague hand gesture indicating 'stop talking and give me money'.

But there is a proper answer, and it is this: sometimes a book has to exist because there is nothing like it out there. Try to buy a contemporary, accessible, community-produced UK publication about bisexuality. Go on. I'll wait.

Ok, so a book like that doesn't exist. But why should it? What's so special about bisexuality?

Nothing. Bisexuality is not special. It's reasonably common. Maybe 10% of the population identifies as it, and maybe another 20%-30% identify as 'not quite gay, not quite straight'. Fancying more than one gender is, in itself, boringly normal. But that's not the end of the story. The problem is that although there's a lot of it around, and although it's not really a complicated concept, bisexuality is surrounded by weird misunderstandings and assumptions, perhaps more so than any other orientation. Which makes it a bit special, maybe. Although not in a way anyone would envy.

It's also an identity that intersects with a lot of others. I'm part of what you could describe as the 'BiCon bi community' - BiCon being an annual bi weekend that moves around the UK, like a convention crossed with a conference. (In that we discuss academic theories and also dress up in fairy outfits, sometimes at the same time.) In the community I'm part of, roughly half of the members have a least one mental or physical health issue. It's a fairly poor community, too. And it's full of people who live outside mainstream society, either because they choose to or because they have to. (It's also full of people who live within it, also either because they choose to or they have to.) it's full of trans people, genderqueer people, fat people, people who've been kicked out of their gay or lesbian friendship groups for being bi, people who've got difficult relationships with their faith for the same reason, parents, sex workers, people of colour, socially awkward people, people who don't quite fit in anywhere else, people who don't quite fit in there either. And many many more. It's a complicated and often difficult community to belong to.

It's also where 90% of my friends come from. I've been part of it for about 20 years, organising events and writing newsletters and running workshops and decorating dining halls and wearing ridiculous outfits. So in creating this book - creating it with dozens of other people from the same community - I have very much been following the classic advice to write what you know. Without realising it, I've been working on Purple Prose for half my life. It's personal to me, and to many others.

It's stuff that needs to be said. It's about dating, and stereotyping, and being an activist, and all the different ways to be bisexual. It's a guide to an identity and a community. It's a snapshot of history, too: in five years' time it might all need to be written all over again.

But right now, it's waiting to find out if it gets to exist. Crowdfunding is about to finish. I hope with all my heart that we will be able to make Purple Prose real.

You can back the campaign here: Purple Prose.

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Page last modified on November 11, 2015, at 10:05 AM