As the UK is poised to celebrate 50 years of LGBT history Bisexual activist Lewis Oakley asks ‘why do so many older gay men still dismiss bisexuality?’
Kicking off 2017 is Boy George – a man who has benefited greatly in life from progressives attitudes towards gay men. In a Tweet published yesterday, Boy stated: “Ok. ‘My computer got hacked’ is like ‘I’m bisexual’ or ‘I’m sniffing because I have allergies!’”
His comments are reminiscent of Christopher Biggins Big Brother appearance last year in which he said: “The worst type, I’m afraid to say, are the bisexuals. What it is, is people not wanting to admit they’re gay. Be honest; that’s what you’ve got to be.”
These comments are also representative of about 70% of the older gay men I run in to in Soho who think me dating my girlfriend is a cover. Many non bisexuals don’t recognise it but there is a huge portion of gay men who have no respect for bisexuality in males and see persecuting us as fair game. Two studies published in the December 2015 issue of the Journal of Bisexuality confirmed what bi people have been saying for some time: The discrimination we face within the LGBT community is as real as the discrimination we face outside of it.
I’m not going to justify my sexuality but let’s just say – YES I think women are hot, YES I think men are hot. I’ve slept with both, dated both and fallen in love with both. The fact that this is a concept hard to grasp/ believe in 2017 is just ridiculous.
I don’t consider myself to be part of Generation Offended. I see the funny side of dark humour where it is justified, and am not looking to jump on everything and cry discrimination. But I’m a realist! I don’t think we should put minorities on pedestals anymore than we should persecute them. Equality means equality not special treatment.
However Boy George’s Tweet is offensive because it attacks bisexuals in the most insidious and main way bisexuals are attacked – verbally discrediting the orientation.
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What it really comes down to is understanding the individual needs of the minorities. We aren’t gay men that actually needed their orientation decriminalising in 1967 to achieve equality. We aren’t women forbidden to vote and we aren’t black people sentenced to sit at the back of the bus. Bisexuals don’t need any change in the law, we need public opinion change – we need people to stop acting like bisexuality is a lie or the same as ‘my computer got hacked.’
The truth is there are consequences to biphobia being a tolerated form of discrimination in the UK. We wouldn’t tolerate someone trying to convince a black man that he wasn’t black, or a Christian that they aren’t Christian and Boy George certainly wouldn’t tolerate anyone telling him he is just confused and that he is actually straight. Yet suggesting a bisexual is secretly gay is fair game and just ‘banter’ in modern Britain. There is no regard for how hard this makes life for bisexual men. The women who won’t date bisexual men because they think that there is no such thing. The mental effects of constantly having to ‘prove’ your sexuality takes on a person. And perhaps even more insidious, the effect it has on our partners, I can’t tell you how many times my girlfriend has been told I’m secretly gay or that I’m going to cheat on her.
The discrimination bisexuals receive is verbal that’s why these comments saying Boy George was ‘just joking can’t we have free speech?’ are wrong. Some things you can joke about but bisexuals secretly being gay is off the table. That’s what leads to the shocking statistics such as the ones highlighted by Nicole Kristal in The Huffington Post last year, Nicole observed that ‘One in three bisexual men has considered or attempted suicide. They are 50 percent more likely to live in poverty than gay men. Nearly half of all bisexual men suffer from mood disorders, while one in three has experienced rape, violence, or stalking by an intimate partner as opposed to one in four gay men.’
Even Boy George himself seemed to be shocked at being called biphobic, back peddling he tweeted: ‘One was not talking about actual bisexuals. I’m sorry if you struggled with my Tweet!’
Well I’m sorry Boy George but highlighting to your millions of followers that a portion of people pretend to be bisexual isn’t helping genuine bisexuals in the slightest. In fact the ‘bi now gay later’ stereotype is a serious, delicate and potentially volatile topic. As an older gay man he should understand that and not cheapen the issue in a failed attempt to sound sassy in a tweet.
The truth is Bi now gay latter is why so many bisexual men have trust issues with the LGBT. Why should genuine bisexual men care for the well being of gay men when that compassion isn’t reflected back? Why should bisexual men have to put up with closet gays hiding behind the bi label until they are ready to come out? And ultimately why should we put up with a large portion of gay men constantly discrediting our sexuality?
It’s sad to see some of the older generation of gay men who actually lived through hard persecution for their sexuality turn their nose up at bisexuality, which hasn’t been championed as much as gay power has. Like I said, I’m a realist, I understand that 50 years ago people getting their head around being gay was hard enough and bisexual was a concept too far but it’s 2017 – It’s not a concept too far anymore and we deserve respect and recognition.
Ultimately as a bisexual man seeing a gay man like Boy George who has profited from the efforts of LGBT progression not understand the struggles of bisexuals is a kick in the face. As the UK celebrates 50 years of law changes, equality and progressive attitudes towards gay men, just remember that for bisexual men in the UK – it still feels like 1967.
As with all comment, this does not necessarily reflect the views of PinkNews