By Ann K Addley
Celebrating Bi+ Visibility Day on September 23 has been
growing in popularity since its inception in 1999. This year,
despite various levels of COVID-19 lockdown, the need to
connect and celebrate our community was stronger than ever.
A collective of bi+ organizers across New Zealand and Australia decided to pool their resources and create the first joint
Australia/New Zealand bi+ conference: Stand Bi Us 2020.
The conference ran September 18-27 and included over
37 free events mostly online, with some face-to-face where
lockdown rules allowed. There was a diverse range of events:
panels, workshops, shows, and meetups to suit all attendees.
Including bicons such as Shiri Eisner (Author, Bi: Notes for a
Bisexual Revolution), Sheela Lambert (Founder/Director of
the Bisexual Book Awards), Jen Yockney MBE (Awarded the
MBE for Services to the Bisexual Community in the 2016
Queen’s Birthday Honours List), Hilde Vossen (Representative of the Bisexual Steering Committee for Europe and
Central Asia), and Senator Janet Rice (Australian Greens
Party Room Chair and Deputy Whip, and spokesperson for
LGBTIQ issues), among others.
And come they did, with an estimated 700 attendees logging on from nine countries. In fact, we quickly realized
that though COVID had forced us online, this format was
more accessible than ever. It enabled the participation of
community members with diverse accessibility requirements
and those in rural areas, and allowed community members
who are not out to participate and explore anonymously.
The decision to create the Stand Bi Us conference grew
almost organically in response to both the cancellations of
our usual face-to-face events due to COVID and a strong
need for connection. It grew to a size that surprised us all, including 16 organizations across New Zealand and Australia.
Organizing was done by a team of volunteers who built on
their existing events and learned new skills in online content
formats as they went. Collaborating and overcoming tech
issues, we connected and celebrated our community with
much chaotic bi+ energy and excitement over offerings we
can provide in the future.
All events were well attended with a beautiful supportive community
feel. Some conference highlights included a question and answer
session with Shiri Eisner in the Opening Plenary hosted by Bi+
community Perth; BiCONIC’s live Visibility Day extravaganza with
tons of super talented queer acts; and Sydney’s Bi plus network’s
BiLines storytelling event, presented in a new online format that
worked well and was packed with bi+ history. I personally also loved
the Bi Bi Bonanza’s Play Bi Play panel about bi+ representation and
access to sports.
Every time we create an offering for the bi+ community, there is an
outpouring of love and gratitude. We are reminded that we are still
struggling on many fronts. For many people, Stand Bi Us was their
first experience of an inclusive bi+ community. These acts of visibility, education, and affirmation of community that reach beyond
our own neighborhoods are extremely valuable. Seeing ourselves
in others and exploring the different challenges and triumphs our
community faces create a sense of validation in our bi+ identities.
That new-found confidence and collaboration will grow into a new
generation of bicons and gradually work toward a world in which
biphobia is a thing of the past.
Recordings of several of our panels are available for viewing at www.
When not managing events Ann K Addley is primarily a travel and
children’s non-fiction author. She is a member of the Melbourne Bisexual Network and passionate about building Queer communities in