OPINION: An open letter to Boris Johnson to mark two decades of Bi Visibility Day

Monday, 23 September 2019 07:40 GMT

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson enters Downing Street as he meets with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani (not pictured) in London, Britain, September 20, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

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As Bi Visibility Day marks 20 years, bisexual activist Lewis Oakley calls on the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to recognise the issues faced by bisexual people

Lewis Oakley is a bisexual UK-based activist

Dear Prime Minister,

I’m sure you have your hands full; Brexit has had more twists, turns and dramatic cliff hangers than any TV show or film I’ve ever seen.

But I’m also sure I’m not the first to tell you that while the Brexit battle wages on, important issues are being ignored. That’s why I’m writing to you.

Today is Bi Visibility Day – an internationally recognised day to highlight the issues faced by bisexual people. But this year is so much more than that, it marks 20 years since the day began.

Don’t worry, I’m not writing to ask that you fly the bisexual flag from the Houses of Parliament. I’m seeking help beyond pointless gestures of empty comradery.

The truth is bisexual people currently make up a majority of 52% of all LGBT+ people, yet our issues span much further. According to YouGov, a staggering 43% of 18-24 year olds in Britain do not identify as entirely gay or straight. This means that while not identifying as bisexual they are dealing with many of the same issues that we face.

So many people wish to help the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, but it's about more than just saying the words and throwing a rainbow flag at things. Many fail to understand that there is not a one solution fits all when it comes to LGBT+ people; often the way to improve issues for gay men won't be successful for those same issues for bisexual men.

For example, gay men only have sex with men. But bisexual men can have relationships with both men and women, so looking at our risk of sexually transmitted infections through the same lens is completely illogical and leaves us at risk of unique differences being left undetected. This is just one of the areas that your government needs to look at.

Ultimately, overall effectiveness of the LGBT+ community’s ability to properly care for bisexual people is often called in to question.

Current figures indicate that 66% of bisexual people do not feel part of the wider community, blaming high levels of biphobia experienced from gay men and lesbians. Yet the issues go much deeper than mean comments.

One thing we have learned from the United States is that funding by LGBT+ groups is far from equally divided. One U.S. non-profit organisation, Funders for LGBTQ Issues, conducted a 40-year study and revealed that between 1970 and 2010, bisexuals only received $84k of overall LGBT+ funding. A pitiful amount when compared with the $34,143,243 given to gay men.

While some might expect that things have improved in the past nine years, current figures show that only 1% of LGBT+ funding is spent on bisexual issues.

insiders tell me the situation is mirrored here in Britain, but no official figures exist as such.

Much like your predecessor achieved with the gender pay gap, I am asking that you force those claiming to represent the LGBT+ community to show us where and how their money is being spent.

With the right understanding, investment and effort, this time next year we could have completely turned the tide on bisexual issues.

As we move forward, I would encourage you as prime minister to recognise the key differences and lead from the top so that we don’t just say “LGBT+ people” as a homogenous block, but actually understand the needs and struggles of every part of the community.

Most respectfully,

Lewis Oakley 

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