The coverage of Simon Hughes’s outing as bisexual demonstrates the media’s confusion of bisexuality according to research by gay news provider, PinkNews.co.uk
PinkNews.co.uk, the largest news service for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (lgbt) outside of North America has found that out of 116 reports of Simon Hughes’s sexuality, only ten articles correctly defined his sexuality as bisexual. 87% of PinkNews.co.uk readers believe that the British media as a whole does not understand what bisexuality is.
Simon Hughes “came out” in an interview with the Sun published on the 26th January. Within the interview, he admitted sleeping with both men and women, intimating that he was bisexual. However, the Sun led with the headline, “A SECOND LIMP-DEM CONFESSES…I’m gay too.”
The revelation that Mr Hughes had engaged in sexual relations with another man sparked 53 articles in the national press and 63 references in the regional press on the 26th and 27th January. Of these articles, four in the national press and six in the regional press correctly defined Mr Hughes as a bisexual. The majority, portrayed the politician as either gay or as a straight man who occasionally engaged in gay sex.
On the 28th January, Mr Hughes writing in the Independent used the word “bisexual” to describe himself. As a result, the majority of coverage since has used this term as a direct quote.
PinkNews.co.uk’s Editor, Benjamin Cohen says the coverage demonstrates the misunderstanding of bisexuality in the British media: “When we read the story as published in the Sun, the first thing that we did was get in touch with Mr Hughes’s spokesman who was able to confirm that Mr Hughes self defined as bisexual. At the time BBC Radio4 seemed to be describing him as a straight man who slept with other men.
“The coverage in the proceeding day, seemed to completely ignore that bisexuality exists. It seemed to imply that you are either straight or gay and nothing in between. Just because Mr Hughes slept with men, the press assumed that he was gay, without any clarification from the man in question.”
A separate piece of research found that 87% of LGBT readers of the news website believed that bisexuality was under-represented in the British media.