Last week Olly Alexander had some loving words he wanted to share. “I feel sorry for straight people,” he remarked, continuing: “For straight people it’s just, ‘I sleep with the opposite sex’.”
No one really batted an eyelid at this, but if gay men like Olly want a more inclusive LGBT community they are going to have to stop taking shots at straight people.
It may come as a shock to some but both bisexual and transgender people can find themselves in relationships with straight people. That means poking fun at straight people is going to go down about as well as me poking fun at your boyfriend’s sexuality.
I’m not singling out Olly here, every gay man I know has had something negative to say about straight people at some point. Reflecting on my own experience, I’ve been with my girlfriend (monogamously) for two years and in that time LG (lesbian and gay) people have had the biggest problem with it.
In one instance I was told by staff in a gay bar to stop kissing her and in another a team of gay men told her she shouldn’t be dating me at all. They told her she has the option of dating straight men and that as there are so few men in the world attracted to other men I could be put to better use by being with a gay man.
You can mad tweet me and comment until you are blue in the face but the truth is a lot of LG people have a problem with straight people. I’ve lost track of the amount of times I’ve heard gay men refer to them as ‘breeders.’
I’ve heard LG people express disgust at straight sex, ‘How could you put it in that flappy thing?’ They ask. There has always been this general undertone of insinuating straight people are boring and predictable.
Why would I want to be in a community and come to Pride if it’s full of people saying such things about my partner? The other aspect is a worry that these negative attitudes to straight people could be helping fuel the flames of biphobia.
As a bisexual activist I often reach out to other bisexuals to discuss the issues they are really dealing with. I recently asked a fellow bisexual man if he felt LGBT groups were equipped to handle bisexual specific mental health problems. Surprisingly he felt that negative attitudes towards heterosexuality from LG people means LGBT groups are ineffective on not just mental health but all bisexual specific issues.
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Bisexual Spike Warden commented: “In my experience, most of the LGBT community (and therefore the organisations within those communities) puts homosexuality on a pedestal. Not only does that place B and T on a lower pedestal – if they’re on pedestals at all – it inherently places straightness on a lower pedestal.
“Oh sure, they say that heterosexuality is just as legitimate as homosexuality, but within LGBT it most certainly isn’t. It’s evidenced by how much more pushback bisexuals get from within LGBT circles if they’re in an opposite-sex relationship than they do when they’re in a same-sex relationship.
Until this inherent bias is fundamentally changed, most support for bisexuals within LGBT organisations will be insubstantial, subpar afterthoughts with little real impact.”
After pondering his comments and realising it is the ‘straight’ aspect of bisexuality that has proved a problem for LG people it made me think, maybe its time we stopped seeing the straight bashing as cute and sassy.
The idea that reducing the resentment of straight people by LG people might benefit bisexuals is something we should consider.
Most bisexuals will tell you LG people can be more biphobic than straight people. In fact, according to Equality Network research 66 percent of bisexuals only feel “a little” or “not at all” part of a LGBT community. With many stating that biphobia and bi-erasure within their LGBT communities limited their full inclusion.
But if you break this down, in my experience LG people don’t have a problem with the side of my bisexuality that has seen me getting with men. They have a problem with the side that sees me getting with women. They have a problem with the ‘straight’ aspect of bisexuality.
Most LGBT groups know that the work they do to support bisexuals is lacklustre and we need to figure out a way to improve it. If the answer to that is to work on the wider issue of getting LG people to be more comfortable with straight people then let’s get it done. If there is a chance that some of this ‘hetrophobia’ is blowing back on to bisexuals then it is an issue we need to deal with as a community.
The truth is, as a community we need to work on our attitudes towards people who have straight sex! Why would I bring my girlfriend to Pride if I’m worried ‘her kind’ won’t be welcome?