As Brighton Pride Festival is primed for one of its best years on record, Paddy Power have revealed their contribution to the parade.
An empty open-top bus will be joining the march highlighting the ‘statistical anomaly’ that none of the 500 top-level footballers registered to play are openly gay. The idea is that the bus will have every gay footballer on board – therefore leaving it empty.
The side of the bus reads ‘Official Bus of Gay Professional Footballers’ however, as so few ask, what about the bisexual men?
Statistically speaking, more people are bisexual than gay. So, would Paddy Power have had more luck by also looking for bi players?
Just this week the Triple j’s What’s Up In Your World survey found more young people identify as bisexual than gay and lesbian. That revelation is nothing new. Research has long shown that bisexual people make up 52 per cent of all LGB people compared to the 31 per cent of gay men. So why then is the drive to get gay men out always seen as more important?
My argument here isn’t that bisexual suffering is more important than gay suffering. It is instead that bisexual suffering is so often forgotten meaning so few people are actually looking to improve the lives of bi people.
This campaign in particular is a drive to get people to come out and live openly, an area where bisexual men certainly suffer the most.
Pew Research Center has found that only 12% of bisexual men are actually out of the closet compared to 77% of gay men.
This trend is reflected in the workplace whether that be in the office of on an international football pitch.
This year the Stonewall ‘LGBT in Britain Work Report’ found that 49% of bi men are not out to anyone at work, compared to seven per cent of gay men. Bisexual men face a different coming out process to that of gay men and for too long the approach has been that what helps gay men will also help bisexuals – that simply isn’t the case.
‘The Football Association’
For any bisexual football player coming out they face a different brand of stigma.
They face a culture that only sees a man with attractions towards men as gay. They face a world that will always judge them by the gender of their current partner. They face a world where they are just as likely to receive discrimination from gay people as straight people. They face a world where people will constantly tell their partner that they are going to cheat and will never be enough to satisfy all their needs.
Footballs attempts to tackle LGBT discrimination have always had a focus on gay men and perhaps that’s why bisexual players don’t feel they can come out. Last year the Football Association’s attempts to contact gay professional footballers proved to not work.
Not one footballer was willing to meet the organization’s chairman Greg Clarke, even in secret or anonymously. One wonders if he may have had better luck if he’d also opened up that call to meet with bisexual players.
‘Gay Prem Star’s Agony’
We need to understand that for most of their lives bisexual men have been told they are gay. We can’t expect bisexual men to want to join the drive for more ‘gay’ players.
Earlier this year, a former lover of a Premier League footballer did a tell all with The Sun about their ‘gay’ affair.
It was reported that ‘The international ace, who has told close pals in the game he is bisexual, has a child with his female partner. But he has also been having an affair with an openly gay fashion worker.’ Yet of course the headline read ‘GAY PREM STAR’S AGONY.’
What guarantees can the Premier League, the media and brand such as Paddy Power give that a bisexual man will be taken seriously and not forced in to identifying as gay?
Gay men have become the canaries of LGBT issues. We send them in first and then the rest of the LGBT follows. As a result, homophobia is more seriously dealt with and funding and campaigns such as this are always putting the interests of gay men first. We can no longer deny that this lack of attention and funding is negatively affecting bisexual men.
The American Organization Funders for LGBTQ Issues conducted a 40 year study in to LGBT funding and found shocking levels of neglect.
Bisexuals only received $84k between 1970 -2010 compared to $34,143,243 to gay men in the US.
Since that report Global LGBTI funding grew by 23 per cent, or $100 million (USD), in 2015-2016 compared to the year before.
Yet projects focused on serving the specific needs of bisexual communities received only $2,000. We don’t even bother monitoring how LGBT funding is divided in the UK but simply looking at campaigns like this show where the majority of the money is going.
If we truly want to make the world better for all LGBT people it’s time to realize that we all suffer differently. It’s time for brands that want to help, to better understand the issues at hand before they parade empty busses down pride marches.