Lewis Oakley wears a bisexual t-shirt at Pride in London | Photo: Supplied
What a weekend: both Pride in London and UK Black Pride saw their highest ever turnouts. I was lucky enough to be present for both. The energy was incredible. The city was washed in rainbow and everyone was there to say love is love and who you are is valid.
I was honored to be asked to speak on the Trafalgar Square stage and address the crowd. Speaking in front of thousands of people is not exactly my dream but I felt it was important to have people like me represented. I did it for the young bisexuals out there searching for representation and rarely finding it. It was an amazing experience: seeing people raise those bisexual flags high and cheer at me for saying positive things about bisexuality truly gave me hope for the future.
What I decided not to share with the crowd was that two gay men made biphobic comments to me that day for wearing a shirt with a huge bisexual emblem.
Biphobia is happening at Pride, of all places
The next day at UK Black Pride a gay guy pointed at my shirt and remarked, ‘really? I don’t believe you.’
These were three gay men making biphobic comments during Pride weekend. That number doesn’t even include the nonverbal eyerolling from passers-by.
If there is one thing that truly pushes my buttons it’s hypocrisy. Of all the places and people to make negative remarks about my sexuality, it was gay men at Pride. People at a protest, calling on people to not discriminate against them, were happy to dish it out to others.
The truth is I’m more angry with myself. I was on such a good vibe at both Pride events. I also didn’t do what I normally do – put the fear of god into them.
The truth is this isn’t about me. I’m a big boy and I can take it. But the young bisexual guys, girls and non-binary people out there just emerging in to their sexuality will take these comments to heart. It is on the shoulders of people like me to call out biphobia and make these people feel so small that they never dare do it again.
What is important is that I am by no means criticizing the organizers. Both the Pride in London team and the UK Black Pride do a fantastic job and, of course, stand against biphobia. They have bisexual people working on their teams that know the issues. However, they can’t control the millions of people that attend these events.
Biphobia within the LGBTI community is a big problem
These problems exist in our community long after the Pride flags comes down every year.
It’s important to understand this isn’t just one bisexual man’s anecdotal experience, it is widespread throughout our community.
One report found that bisexual people face just as much discrimination within the LGBTI community as they do from straight people.
The Equality Network found 66% of bisexuals do not feel part of the LGBTI community. Figures that seem to have a knock-on effect. Bisexual adults are also much less likely to join an LGBTII organization or attend an LGBTQ Pride event.
Biphobia coming from within the LGBT community is actually so well-documented there is actually a term for it. Researchers came up with the term ‘androcentric desire hypothesis’ to describe the phenomenon that gay and lesbian people perceive bisexuals as being more attracted to men, which is why they treat us with disrespect.
That’s why we need a better way to stamp out biphobia within our community than our current efforts. Going forward I would like to see more of an effort made to specifically tackle attitudes towards bisexuals. It starts with LGBT groups spending more than 1% of their budgets on bisexual issues and bringing bisexual leaders in to the fold to help advise them.
This year the UK will hold its first ever Bisexual Pride on 7 September. I hope all queer people will join the celebration and help leave biphobia in the past.
Lewis Oakley is a weekly bisexual correspondent on Gay Star News. Follow him on Twitter.