When will the media and regulators take biphobia seriously?

Channel 5

“Bisexuals are greedy, indecisive, promiscuous lying gay men…” I’ve heard comments like this all my life and today’s decision by the broadcast regulator Ofcom feels like it’s given the green light to these comments being acceptable on television.

lewis-oakly-circleThis week we learnt that no further action was going to be taken by the broadcast regulator after Christopher Biggins said on Celebrity Big Brother that: “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.”  And his apparent reasoning that bisexual men are responsible for the AIDS epidemic.

According to Big Brother at the time, Christopher said: “There were a lot of bisexuals who went to [third world] countries and had sex with those people and brought it back to their own families in America, so that’s how it became such a worldwide disease.”

Following an investigation, an Ofcom spokesperson stated: “We investigated whether a discussion between Christopher Biggins and Renee Graziano about the sexual orientation of bisexual people was offensive.

“We accepted that these remarks made in Celebrity Big Brother were capable of causing offence, but they were likely to be within the audience’s expectations of this programme.”

I for one am so over the 2016 definition of equality, had the word bisexual been substituted for black, woman or Muslim, he could be facing a hate crime charge, but the truth is biphobia is well and truly a tolerated form of discrimination.

I mean what’s the harm? How could anyone possibly take offence at constantly being told they don’t know their own sexuality? What problems could possibly be caused by telling happy women that their bisexual boyfriend will inevitably end up gay? How could simply pointing out the obvious fact that it’s impossible to be attracted to two genders cause mental strain on people who find themselves in that situation?

The issues facing bisexuals run so much deeper than people saying mean words. For example; there are few research findings that actually class being gay and bisexual as two different sexualities, meaning the information regarding health and lifestyle that is provided to bisexuals is actually designed for gay men. There are no bisexual magazines, meaning the conversation on bisexuality never evolves past the obvious ‘It’s someone who likes both.’ There are no bisexual venues, meaning that bisexual people become isolated, rarely getting to hang out with other bisexuals. And there are no bisexual dating apps, meaning we have to put up with the rife biphobia on Grindr and Tinder.

It’s left to people like me, lone bisexual men with a backbone.

Now, it seems, bisexuals have the pleasure of the media regulator Ofcom passing biphobic comments off as: “Capable of causing offence, but they were likely to be within the audience’s expectations of this programme.” Which basically means we can look forward to many more years of biphobia on national television. Ow goodie!

I’m not sure where the disdain for bisexuals has come from but I can tell you the effects. Just yesterday, UCL’s Institute of Education released a report that analysed the historical earnings data of 20,000 employees in almost 2,000 workplaces in Britain. Their findings? Bisexual men ‘earn 30% less than gay colleagues.’ This echos similar reports of bisexuals being more likely to suffer depression and consider suicide, but remember bisexuals don’t actually exist so we can also pretend these problems don’t either and continue to fail people because of their sexuality.

In the absence of any real help it’s left to people like me, lone bisexual men with a backbone, to shout down the discrimination we receive and set a good example that bisexuality is not only real but an awesome sexuality. It might only be a small team of activists out there that will fight for bisexual men but we will achieve our goals, it just might take longer than I would have hoped.

In the mean time what can I say to the young bisexual men growing up in the UK right now, looking around seeing organisations turning a blind eye to biphobia?

I give them this message: Being bisexual is awesome, it’s a freedom and perspective on life that few people get the privilege to experience. Together we will make sure things get dramatically better for bisexual men, but in the mean time never let bullies who think they know more about what turns you on than you do get you down.

I also encourage you to do what I’m doing; get writing, blogging or vloging – I can’t be the only bisexual with a big mouth. Find your voice and do what you can to deepen the conversation of our people. Help the younger bisexuals who aren’t confident enough yet to stand up to people who tell them ‘What it is, is people not wanting to admit they’re gay.’

If you’ve been affected by any of the issues raised in this opinion piece, there is always someone around to listen.

If you want to talk about bisexuality, or any other topics, Switchboard LGBT+ helpline are here to listen. You can read all about them on their website, switchboard.lgbt, and you can phone them on 0300 330 0630 between 10am-11pm every day.

You can also read more about bisexuality at the fantastic website bisexual.org



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