It's My Story: Tom Robinson - Getting Bi will air on BBC Radio 4
at 8pm on Monday 19 September.
Presented by Tom Robinson, who found fame in the 70s with his
provocative ballad, Glad To Be Gay, the 30-minute documentary
features interviews with researchers, activists and ordinary men
and women, who describe the responses to their sexuality from both
straight and gay people.
It's a rare outing for the subject as the programme's producer
Ashley Byrne told DIVA: "For some reason bisexuality remains a bit
of taboo in the media and society at large. We've been trying to
cover the issue on both TV and radio for years. So it's a real
credit to Radio 4 that they've had the courage to go with a topic
which often gets overlooked."
Indeed, the public face of bisexuality is often a young,
"bi-curious" woman, so it is refreshing that the show focuses
equally on the experiences of bisexual men.
Tom Robinson describes how, having come out as a gay man, he
"quite literally made a song and dance about it", only to discover
that he wasn't quite as gay as he thought. After coming out (again)
as bisexual on agony aunt Claire Rayner's Casebook programme,
Robinson found himself booed on stage at London Pride 1987.
He is quick to point out that gay people in the 1980s were a
demonized population, bearing the brunt of the Aids epidemic, not
to mention the insidious campaign for Section 28. When Robinson
fell in love with a woman and went public about it, he was seen as
a traitor by many in the embattled lesbian and gay community.
However, the veteran activist Peter Tatchell remembers a time
when "Pride" meant something altogether more inclusive and
"[In the early days of the Gay Liberation movement], when we
spoke about gay liberation we meant liberation for gay men,
lesbians, bisexuals, transgender people and even straight people
because we had an agenda for liberation - not mere equality and gay
rights but sexual liberation for everyone," Tatchell recalls. "To
banish shame and guilt and enable everyone to love the person of
their choice and not suffer discrimination or prejudice as a
Things are undoubtedly better than they were in the early 70s,
but does the greater tolerance the LGBT community now enjoys extend
to the rather low-profile Bs, asks Robinson.
Cue a plethora of opinion and experience, from academic
researcher Surya Munro, who presents the concept of
"homonormativity" (when homosexuality is seen as the only authentic
queer identity) to Ann, who feels more accepted as bisexual by her
straight mates than her gay pals - and many more.
Then there's the bar room expert who offers the following
explanation for bisexuality: "It's a search for attention. They
didn't get enough attention as kids. That's my opinion."
Robinson's having none of that.
"Many people will experience bisexual feelings at some point in
their lives. Not just people who are straight, but also lesbians
and gay men who can find those feelings deeply disturbing," he
reminds listeners, before invoking the famous Stonewall poster
slogan: Some people are gay, get over it.
"Some people are bisexual and both communities need to
get over that," he suggests, before breaking into a
rousing new verse to his old anthem:
"For 21 years now, I've fought for the right/ for people to love
just who ever they like…"
Sing it, Tom.
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