A court case from last year regarding the rights of bisexual men moved forward this week, reopening debate over bisexuality’s place under the “LGBT” umbrella. Last year, three bisexual members of “D2,” a gay softball team in Seattle, sued the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance for violating Washington state anti-discrimination laws.
The association had ruled in 2008 that the men were ineligible to play in the Gay World Series because of their sexual orientation, which revoked the softball team’s second place finish in the tournament. The alliance argued that official rules for the league stated that only two heterosexual men were allowed on each team and that the other players must identify as gay. The league did not have an official policy on men who identified as bisexual or transgender.
In 2010 The Seattle Times reported on the men’s claims of discrimination.
According to the lawsuit, a competing team accused D2 of violating that rule. Each of the three plaintiffs was called into a conference room in front of more than 25 people, and was asked ‘personal and intrusive questions’ about his sexual attractions and desires, purportedly to determine if the player was heterosexual or gay, the lawsuit alleges. The alliance has no category or definition for bisexual or transgender people in its rules, the plaintiff’s attorney said. At one point during the proceedings, the lawsuit alleges, one of the plaintiffs was told: ‘This is the Gay World Series, not the Bisexual World Series.’Don’t like ads? Become a supporter and enjoy The Good Men Project ad free
Earlier this week U.S. District Judge John Coughenour said it would not dismiss the discrimination case. He did, however, rule that the NAGAAA could continue enforcing its limit of two heterosexual men. At the same time, the judge said that “treatment of bisexuals remains of central importance to this case” and that the NAGAAA may still be held liable for its intrusive questioning during the 2008 incident.
The ongoing lawsuit is reflective of the fragmented state of the LGBT community. Large numbers of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people regard their identity as separate from the rest of the “alphabet soup,” which encourages exclusivity of specific sexual minorities. Despite the unique societal issues and pressures that face each subset of the movement, it’s important for LGBT people to view their plight as a sexual minority as a common thread. They must work together to assert that inequality—whether the victims are gay, lesbian, bi, or trans—is unacceptable.
It’s disappointing to see such a long-running feud about discrimination between two parties within the LGBT community. But the bisexual men have every right to demand respect from the NAGAAA. The “heterosexual limit”—and the complete oversight of bi and trans men—is offensive and counter-productive to any potential bridge-building that could come from the existence of gay softball leagues. The leagues show that gay men can dig sports, too, and that they are, on average, just as talented as athletically inclined straight men.
Removing the “two heteros only” rule wouldn’t defeat the purpose of having a “gay softball league.” Accepting men of other sexual orientations while retaining the overall concept—a softball league where gay men know they’re fully accepted and not looked down upon for their sexual orientation—can only result in a stronger pro-gay organization.
We’d do well in considering this issue to look back at this story in the Good Men Project from almost a year ago. Allowing straight men to play in a gay softball league doesn’t destroy the gayness of the games. And if straight men are harmless, does the NAGAAA really think that welcoming bisexual men, who already identify as sexual minorities, will destroy the alliance’s integrity?
(Photo Seth W/Flickr)