Seeing the B in LGBT

Guest blog by Dr Allán Laville, School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences



In 1998, Michael Page designed the Bi Pride Flag to increase the visibility of bisexuals within the LGBT community and within society as a whole.

Bi flag

Bi flag

In a blog, Page discusses the symbolism of the components of this flag:


The pink color represents sexual attraction to the same sex only (gay and lesbian), The blue represents sexual attraction to the opposite sex only (straight) and the resultant overlap color purple represents sexual attraction to both sexes (bi).

 The key to understanding the symbolism in the Bi Pride Flag is to know that the purple pixels of color blend unnoticeably into both the pink and blue, just as in the ‘real world’ where most bi people blend unnoticeably into both the gay/lesbian and straight communities.”

In the above quote, Page discusses how bi individuals are often invisible within various communities and this has been termed ‘bi invisibility’. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that bi individuals are visible and supported within our society.


Bi visibility

In relation to bi visibility, from 1999, Bi Visibility Day has been celebrated annually on the 23rd of September. There are various events held across the UK (as well as internationally) to encourage and promote bi visibility. This day also highlights biphobia which is the fear or dislike of someone who identifies as bi.

When considering biphobia, Stonewall, the largest LGBT charity in Europe, state that bi individuals suffer from dual prejudice. This is from within the LGBT community and outside of it. This prejudice can lead to mental health problems and risk taking behaviours. Therefore, the aim of Bi Visibility Day is a reminder that we need to address biphobia whenever and wherever we see it.


Bi visibility in the workplace

Stonewall’s Top 100 Employers Report 2017 found that only 18% of bi men and 14% of bi women are comfortable being out to all colleagues, managers, and customers or service users. Furthermore, the same report identified that only 23% of bi people could identify a bi role model in their workplace. In summary, this report highlights the need for bi individuals to feel more comfortable with bringing their authentic selves to work as well as having identifiable bi role models in the workplace.

I was fortunate to be funded by Diversity and Inclusion to attend Stonewall’s Bi Workplace Role Models Programme on the 13th of September.

The Stonewall Bi Workplace Role Models Programme promoted a safe space for individuals, including myself, who identify under the ‘Bi umbrella’. The day was very experiential and provided a lot of time to discuss ideas with others who identified as Bi.

Throughout the day we were encouraged to think about our own role models and what it means to be a role model in the workplace. We completed a range of activities that provided us with the opportunity to consider what we can do within our own organisations as a Bi Role Model. We explored barriers to being a Bi Role Model within an organisation as well as potential solutions to this.

One key learning point for myself was that it is very important to be visible as a Bi Role Model at the University. I have taken steps towards being more visible such as being profiled for the Faces of Reading project. As a bi person who has experienced biphobia outside of work, I hope that my level of understanding may be of benefit to others who have/are experiencing the same.

Reading Pride 2017

Saturday 2nd September, the day of Reading Pride, dawned bright and clear and as we arrived at Kings Meadow to unload there was alread

UoR volunteers at our stall at Reading Pride

y a lovely cheery atmosphere developing. We had boxes of postcards, rainbow flags, stickers, lanyards, mini prospectuses and events guides plus our banners and the wonderful picture boards developed to support events to mark the Wolfenden anniversary. Plus a box of red t-shirts for volunteers to wear!


We were quickly set up and most of us were able to carry or follow the large RUSU University of Reading rainbow banner along the march from the station, through town and back to Kings Meadow. We had taken bags of lanyards, stickers and small rainbow flags to give out to people as we passed and it was wonderful to hear that the march was estimated to be about 1,500 participants compared to 800 last year.




Reading Pride 2017 march

Once back in Kings Meadow, we were very active as a team ensuring that virtually every single person at the event had either a UoR rainbow flag, sticker or lanyard!

Our popular flags!

We gave out mini prospectuses to the many groups of young people who were in secondary school or college groups. We were visited by people who were keen to tell us that they attended Reading University and also some very excited freshers who were thrilled to see that we had such a large stall with so many enthusiastic and well informed volunteers. It was also lovely to see the smiling familiar faces of current staff and current students and others from the growing Thames Valley LGBT+ network.

The theme of Reading Pride this year was ‘Love Unites’; we were placed very close to the main stage and heard speeches from representatives of the transgender, asexual, Muslim and leather communities as well as the organising committee emphasising how love unites and it is important to show love and kindness in the face of the bigotry in wider society in current times. The market place had a wide variety of stalls representing local charities, community organisations, faith groups, sports clubs, political parties and a wide range of support groups. There was also a good range of good stalls that were familiar from our own International Food Thursdays and vendors of bright festival wear!

The LGBT+ staff network co-chairs, Dr Calvin Smith and Dr Deb Heighes would like to thank the large group of volunteers from the LGBT+ staff and Allies network and the RUSU Diversity officer, Leen Alnajjab, and Welfare officer, Rose Lennon. Tips for next year? Don’t forget string, gaffer tape and scissors are essential; book the sunshine to ensure a great turnout; and take an unofficial mascot! Having Eddie the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel made the volunteers very happy and encouraged more people to stop and talk.

Our popular mascot Eddie