Author Archives: Alan Collins Rosell

A post for Bisexual Visibility Day

As I hurtled uncontrollably towards my 30th birthday at the beginning of January and felt as though I was stuck in a rut, I decided that this milestone year would be the year my life would change – and that would start with me finally being open and proud of who I am.

I realised that I was bisexual when I was a teenager, thinking first that I was straight, and then gay, before finally recognising that I did not fit into either monosexual identity. I told some of my friends at the time, while for others it was an “open secret”. For the most part, though, my sexual identity was, at best, something I did not speak about – and, at worst, something I have since actively repressed.

However, on 26 January this year, I finally came out as bi with the help of the above heavily-Photoshopped (or, rather, as a good Lib Dem, heavily-Photoplussed) photo.

Today I am marking my first Bi Visibility Day since coming out in the only way possible – by spending all day at work and the evening in a local party executive meeting.

Bi Visibility Day is not just about the bi community celebrating our identity. It is about raising awareness and challenging bisexual and biromantic erasure.

Sadly, not everyone who identifies as bi is lucky enough to have had a positive experience since coming out – while many do not feel able to come out at all. Indeed, according to Stonewall’s 2018 LGBT in Britain – Health Report, 30 per cent of bi men and eight per cent of bi women said they were unable to be open about their sexual orientation, compared to just two per cent of gay men and one per cent of lesbians.

Similarly, 38 per cent of bi people are not out to any of their work colleagues, compared to seven per cent of gay men and four per cent of lesbians, while in 2016 it was reported that bi men earned 30 per cent less than their gay colleagues. Although published four years ago, this does suggest that bi men are at the rough end of the LGBT+ pay gap which was revealed last year.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 3 Comments

Virtual Conference

Embed from Getty Images

The date was 17 September 2008. I was on holiday with friends in Verwood and over the moon following what I had felt had been a successful telephone interview (conducted on a fire escape at the Fleet Air Arm Museum) for my dream summer internship.

Serendipitously, my grandparents were on a coach holiday that week in Bournemouth, so while my friends saw relatives elsewhere in the county, I arranged to see my grandparents by the seaside. We met outside their hotel, took a wander down to the park to grab a bite to eat and then walked back along the sea-front.

At the tender age of 18, I had not quite started university. I certainly did not, as now, possess a mobile phone with a camera, so you will have to take my word for it when I say we stopped outside an imposing hotel proudly flying yellow flags, watched a strange collection of photographers grouped outside the entrance as though hoping for an A-list celebrity to emerge half-cut, and then stood as passive observers to Nick and Miriam emerging from that hotel and being carried away along the sea-front by a wave of paparazzi.

Now at the tender age of 30, that is still the closest I have ever been to a party conference. Sure, I have only been a member of the Liberal Democrats for a little over three years, but despite having first joined a political party at the age of 15, a combination of work commitments and financial pressures have always meant that the next-closest I have ever been to a conference has been watching them on BBC Parliament.

Until now. Because this year I will at last be attending a party conference for the first time.

While COVID-19 has been absolutely devastating on our economy, killed tens of thousands and impacted hundreds of thousands more, the technological race to keep the wheels of business, politics and the voluntary sector moving in these unprecedented times has set welcome precedents which must remain in the “new normal”.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 6 Comments

We should be defending the fundamental rights of the people of Catalonia

An illegal vote. State police censoring political websites. Paramilitary police using violence against peaceful protesters. Calls from Amnesty International to release imprisoned political campaigners. The right-wing preparing to seize control of a democratically-elected government.

You might think that I’m talking about a backward dictatorship in a far-flung corner of the world. Rather depressingly, I’m not. Instead, these events are happening right now in one of our fellow EU countries.

By now, I’m sure most of you are aware of events in Catalonia. You may not be aware that this is not a sudden constitutional crisis, but the culmination of centuries of repression from Madrid and, more recently, a failure of the right-wing national government to engage in meaningful dialogue with the wealthy north-east region’s autonomous government.

Spain’s transition from the brutal dictatorship of General Franco to democracy has often been admired by foreign observers. 40 years on from the horrors of Franco’s Spain, the country is now regarded as a respected liberal democracy.

Let me be frank and shatter those illusions for you:

There is nothing liberal about national leaders refusing to engage with political problems (instead passing that responsibility to the courts and ensuring that, rather than progress reflecting changes to the political reality, the status quo is maintained at all costs).

There is nothing democratic about sending riot police in to beat peaceful demonstrators and elderly citizens to stop them from exercising the most fundamental democratic right: the right to vote.

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