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Tom Robinson: It's My Story - Getting Bi

Monday 19 September 2011, 21:00

Ashley Byrne Ashley Byrne

Editor's note: In this episode of It's My Story, Tom Robinson, assesses his own changing attitudes to bisexuality and asks if it's still a bit of a taboo in Britain today? Here on the blog the programme's producer Ashley Byrne writes about the process of getting it made -PM.

Tom Robinson

Tom Robinson

Credit is due to Radio 4 for commissioning Tom Robinson: It's My Story as it's taken us six years to convince a mainstream broadcaster in the UK to do a programme about bisexuality.

Some bisexual activists will be convinced there's a concerted media conspiracy to erase the subject from the airwaves but I put it down simply to innocent ignorance.

We did get TV people in particular wondering if it was a bit risqué. "I don't think we're ready yet for a big bisexual expose" was one retort.

And in more than one instance people would say "but the gay thing is passé now, it's nothing new. It's been done." When we said "but it's about bisexuality, not being gay", they'd just look at you with a rather confused expression.

For many people bisexuality just isn't on their radar because it's largely invisible. Unless someone tells you, how do you know they're bisexual? If a man and a woman walk hand in hand in the street, people will assume they're straight. If you see a same sex couple canoodling, then they're gay or lesbian. But as I discovered in making this programme, you really shouldn't assume anything.

Statistics on the prevalence of bisexuality are contradictory. Scientists disagree about its true existence and there are those who dismiss bisexuality as merely "trendy" or a phase on the way to being gay.

Whatever the academics or cynics think though, the fact remains that some people do not define their sexuality as 100% straight or gay. But where and how do they freely express those feelings in a society where, with the exception of John Barrowman's character in Torchwood, there are few media portrayals?

In 30 minutes you can only scratch the surface of a subject like bisexuality but I hope, if nothing else we have made people think before they rush to define their relatives, friends and acquaintances in the future.

Ashley Byrne is the Producer of Tom Robinson: It's My Story - Getting Bi


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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    i thought my tub-thumping days were over until i caught the second part of this programme by chance and realised how invisible i do still feel in terms of my sexual identity, it was connecting to hear other folk who had married a partner of the opposite sex but still were able to preserve their identity as bisexual

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    At last, a vocalisation of what is blatantly true to many. With the need to procreate becoming less and less relevant as human numbers swell to damaging levels, sex should be recognised as a form of recreation and friendship, much as bonobo monkees use it in relationships. Unfortunately we have millenia of brain-washing to overcome.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    As a long standing supporter of Tom's this was a very interesting program. Well explained & narrated - However I have a wish ...where I would really like the world to be is where we don't have labels and no-one actually cares whether you are straight, bi, gay, transgender, transsexual, disabled, black, white, male, female (need I go on?) - the tendancy of humans to ghettoise themselves is always dissappointing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    This program was very interesting, my dad actually suggested it to me to listen to. I am 17 and have been VERY openly Bisexual for a year now. I am so happy with who i am, I am very camp and so often it is just assumed im just gay and believe im 'covering it up' but honestly i have no preference of either sex and to me men and women are the same. It actually makes me feel physically sick when people say I'm 'greedy' or that i havent 'made up my mind'. Though i have found very little hostility towards me, i think its because i am so confident in the way i am about my sexuality. Infact a couple of times i have had gay or straight people say to me, 'I wish i was Bi, it seems so much more right'. I beleive everyone can see attraction in everyone else but some can feel love for both and some only for one, but that should never mean that they discriminate against each-other. Anyway, a very nice program thankyou. x

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    In this society, endlessly obsessed with its labels and highly suspicious of the label 'bisexual', many bisexual men and women like me end up in a somewhat self-imposed identity limbo. I have been moving from 'gay' to 'straight' and back again for the last 15 years, being alternately homophobic and hetero-phobic regarding my own sexuality and always feeling like I never really left the closet no matter how many times I 'came out'.

    Thank you for a great and, for me, very moving programme. You helped me remember that there is a label for me as well, no matter how ill fitting that label may be. You also helped me remember that I do not have to be one thing or the other, be it 'gay' or 'straight'; I can be myself without being 'confused' and I am certainly not alone. I should have known that I could rely on Radio 4 to get it exactly right.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Well done BBC for having a programme about bisexuality and about time too! More please.

    What next about relationships? Polyamory?


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