In 1990 a small group of bisexual men and women carried a banner declaring "Bisexuals Are Everwhere" in the first Pride Parade to be held in Perth, Western Australia to mark the first anniversary of law reform in that State. The group again came together in 1991 to participate in the first march to celebrate the Stonewall Riots of 1969 and again at the second Pride Parade in October 1991. In November of 1991, a meeting for bisexual women and men was organised at Fremantle and at a follow-up meeting two weeks later, the Western Australian Bisexual Network was established. Publicity, regular meetings and social events were organised and the group grew in number.
In March 1992, WABN started a newsletter called Biways. During the 1992 October Pride Festival in Perth, WABN held the 1st Australian National Bisexual Conference. The Conference received national coverage when conference organiser, Wayne Roberts appeared Channel 9's Today Show and various radio interviews. It was at this Conference that a resolution was passed by those attending that a national network, the Australian Bisexual Network (ABN), and a national newsletter be established. Following the Conference, bisexual people in Adelaide, South Australia, formed the South Australian Bisexual Network (SABN) in November. The same month in Sydney, New South Wales, bisexuals and transgendered people formed a group called, Love Is Boundless. An Australian Bisexual Network banner was displayed for the first time at a gay and lesbian community protest in Adelaide in December.
The first national newsletter was issued in February 1993 under the name of the Australian Bisexual Network and called National Biways. Distributed from Brisbane, Queensland and incorporating the old Biways, it was released in time for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival and Parade. Sydney group, Love Is Boundless entered a small float in the Parade and the ABN banner accompanied the float carried by Sydney members and ABN coordinator, Wayne Roberts. This represented the first identifiable bisexual participation in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade. It was greeted with many cheers and well wishes from spectators. In March the first meeting was held in Brisbane followed by a forum on Bisexuality in April. This resulted in the establishment of the Queensland Bisexual Network. QBN groups and contacts are established on the Sunshine Coast, in Townsville, on the Gold Coast and later in the Wide Bay area.
Meanwhile in Sydney a furore explodes over the exclusion of bisexuals and transgendered people from membership of the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby. Love Is Boundless splits into two groups, a transgender group and the Sydney Bisexual Support Network (SBSN) to better represent their communities in the current Sydney scene. In July, Wayne Roberts represented ABN at a HIV/AIDS Conference on men who have sex with men at Macquarie University, Sydney. This was the first time ABN had a presence at any conference.
ABN/QBN set up Australia's first Bisexual Resource and Drop-In Centre in rented premises at East Brisbane from October 1993 with the Centre officially opening in January 1994. The Centre operated as a venue for meetings, forums, socials, as an office, library, a drop-in and provided a telephone information service. Unfortunately the Centre was forced to close in October 1994 after several submissions for government funding were unsuccessful and rental payments could not be maintained.
Bi Centre at East Brisbane officially opens in January 1994. SABN becomes Adelaide Bisexual Collective (ABC). Bisexual Awareness in Melbourne (BAM) forms followed by Canberra Regional Bisexual Network (CRBN). SBSN, ABN & ABC members on the SBSN float participate in Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade. Rockhampton forms while Perth, Sunshine Coast & Townsville groups fold.
ABN is represented at International Bisexual Conference in New York, USA and at ILGA's 16th World Conference also held in New York where ABN is voted in as the 2nd bisexual group to become a full member of ILGA. The ABN banner is carried on the March to the United Nations for the Human Rights of GLBT Peoples and also in Stonewall 25 Parade through the streets of New York to Central Park.
QBN receives grant from Qld. Drug Offensive to produce information for bisexuals about alcohol and drug misuse. Bi Centre closes in October.
New Bisexual Community Centre opens at New Farm in rent free premises in January 1995. ABN and SBSN again in Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade and some members get on ABC TV coverage. QBN/ABN receives funding for computer & office equipment and the purchase of books from the Gaming Machine Community Benifit Fund of Queensland.
ABN youth representatives attend a queer youth conference & the national queer students conference both held in Melbourne. ABN rep goes to ILGA's 17th World Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and presents a workshop on bisexuality. Wayne Roberts marches with ABN banner in the Pride Parade along Coppacabana Beach and is interviewed by the print and television media in Brazil and also appears on the news when in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Bisexual Community Centre forced to close by October & lobbying for funds commences. Bisexual women's discussion groups form in Brisbane and on the Sunshine Coast and in Melbourne.
ABN is represented at four major conferences in Sydney during the second half of 1995. Our new brochure, Women, Bisexuality & Sexual Health was launched at NSW HIV/AIDS Health Promotion Conference, Sydney in November. This was the first brochure produced that specificly targets bisexual women and sexual health issues.
ABN, SBSN, CRBN, and BAM participate in the 1996 Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade. ABN coordinator is interviewed by ABC TV which screened the Parade nationally the following Wednesday. ABN participates in the 1st NSW Rural HIV Conference in Dubbo in March. In late May around 550 bisexual people and friends gathered over 3 days in Berlin, Germany for the 4th International Bisexual Symposium. Wayne Roberts, ABN Coordinator attended and presented at the Conference. One other Australian and one New Zealander also made it to Berlin. With the next International Conference to be held in Boston, USA in 1998, it is hoped Australian bisexuals will have a greater presence and through a new Travel Assistance Fund, some bisexuals from Asia, Africa, South America and other developing countries will also be able to attend.
Please support this Fund with your donation. Contact the Australian Bisexual Network for more information.
In late June, ABN in Brisbane marches in the Pride Parade and has a stall at the Fair Day. ABN coordinator attends Health In-Difference, a national Conference on Lesbian, Gay, Transgender and Bisexual Health, in Sydney from October 3-5. A paper, workshop and display were conducted at this conference. Perth ABN members march with the ABN Banner in the 7th Annual Pride Parade on November 2nd. The Sydney Bisexual Support Network vote to drop "Support" from their name and to 'officially' affiliate with ABN. SBN have a stall at the annual Newtown Festival on November 10th.
The Australian Bisexual Network in partnership with the Australian Centre for Lesbian and Gay Research start working on the 2nd Australian Conference on Bisexuality to be held during February 1997 in Sydney. Unfortunately ABN is left to organise the whole conference.
The highlight for bi people in Australia had to be the 2nd Australian Conference on Bisexuality - Lifestyles, Sex and Politics, the first since 1992. An enormous amount of work goes in to getting the conference organized. Somehow Wayne keeps track of everything and co-ordinates the various tasks and volunteers.
The weekend of 21st - 23rd February saw a whole load of enthusiastic and friendly people arrive in Sydney from around the world. The key guest speaker was Robyn Ochs from the Bisexual Resource Center in Boston, USA. Other international attendees were Megan Pienell from New Zealand, Tracy Schmidt from the USA and Dave Wilson from Canada. Various addresses, workshops, and social activities were appreciated so much that agreement was reached that another conference should be held in 1998. This took place in Sydney from February 20th to 22nd, 1998.
Bisexual Networks and individuals again participated in the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade on March 1st. SBN had a fabulous float (see our photo gallery). All our international guests for the conference stayed on to participate in the Mardi Gras parade. The theme of our float was "Discrimination puts us all in the same Boat". Bi groups/networks also participated in Pride parades in Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth during the year.
On 18th June 1997 in Brisbane, ABN launched Bar Bi, a bisexual bar to be open twice a month. This was held at the Shamrock Hotel until October when it moved to The Rat Hotel, Constance and Ann Streets, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane. It is now on the 2nd Saturday & 4th Wednesday of the month from 8pm and has been quite successful. Bar Bi has again moved to a new location, see 1999 for details.
In July ABN sends Sabina Nowak then of Adelaide to the IGLYO Conference in Pisa, Italy, 27 July - 3 Aug 1997. Silke's Travel of Sydney was a sponsor of Australia's youth representative to the International Lesbian and Gay Youth Organisation conference on Homophobia and Fascism. Financial assistance was also received from IGLYO. Sabina presented a paper at the conference and a report back here in Australia.
In October, Wayne Roberts flew out to Manila, Philippines to attend the 4th International Congress on AIDS in Asia & the Pacific. There he presented a paper on working with bisexual people via the internet and also set up ABN's very popular information table. Many Bi contacts were made with people from the countries of the region.
Late November saw ABN hold the first Australian Bi Camp at Byron Bay. This looks like becoming an annual or twice yearly event possibly held at different locations each time.
January saw a number of bisexual people including Catherine Lawrence of Melbourne Bi Youth and Wayne Roberts of ABN attend the Health In-Difference 2 Conference in Melbourne on 21-22 January. Catherine presented a number of papers and Wayne had a information table at the conference. Melbourne Bi folk came together on the night of January 22nd for a Bi dinner which just happened to be Wayne's birthday. A great night was had by all.
The 3rd Australian Conference on Bisexuality - Beyond the Boundaries: Bisexuality in Modern Society, took place in Sydney from February 20th to 22nd, 1998. The opening, Award presentations and cocktail party were on Friday evening at PRIDE, the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Pride Centre. The conference was again held at the same venue as in 1997. Though numbers were down on the previous year, there were a greater variety of people represented from further afield and also representatives from other groups and services. Renowned USA author and researcher, Fritz Klein was special guest speaker. Famous UK Bi rocker, Tom Robinson, sang at the opening and again performed at the Good Bi Party. The Good Bi Party at the Stonewall Hotel followed the closing of the conference on Sunday night. We had a great turn out and all had a fantastic time listening to Tom and dancing the night away.
As we have each year since 1993, bisexuals participated as a group in the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade. This was the 20th anniversary of Mardi Gras and to fit with the theme we all marched wearing Bi Pride t-shirts and carrying our banners. A number of Bi original 78'ers, including Craig Walker, joined us along with Tom Robinson whose song, "Sing If You Are Glad To Be Gay" was played at the 1978 Mardi Gras march.
In June, Bar Bi in Brisbane moved from the Rat & Parrot Hotel to Options Niteclub at 18 Little Edward Street, Spring Hill and to the 2nd & 4th Saturdays each month from 8pm.
Check back soon for the rest of 1999 and 2000 details of our history.
If you have any questions or comments you can mail us at The Australian Bisexual Network
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