It seems likely we can dismiss two fresh claims in the press that the vital difference between gay and straight people has been found.
Scientists have recently found that the brains of homosexuals have structural and functional differences from those of their straight counterparts. The Wellcome Trust Centre for neuro-imaging at University College London used magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI to look into the brains of 80 men and women, including 16 gays and 15 lesbians. – PinkNews.co.uk
Now first just look at that sample size. 16 gays and 15 lesbians. 49 people presumed by our researchers to be straight. The most basic opinion poll for gauging voting intentions in the UK will have a sample size of over 1,000 and recognise a margin of error of several per cent.
Meanwhile, from the same news source we are given the findings of Ivanka Savic of the Karolinska Institutet, who “presented 12 gay men, 12 heterosexual woman and 12 heterosexual men with male sweat”.
Are we supposed to think those statistics are credible because there are twelve people on a jury?
Stonewall’s new report on queer women’s health has drawn a flurry of media attention, such as here on the BBC and here on PinkNews. It’s great proof that if you use the B word in a credible, respected report on gay issues, the media won’t necessarily edit things down to “lesbian and gay”.
As a report it highlights some of the key health issue differences, comparing the figures the research found with the accepted figures for women in the UK as a whole. For example, the pub / club commercial gay culture which leads to higher levels of drinking and smoking in the bisexual and lesbian population. There is also a wealth of anecdotal information on the failings of mainstream health provision across the board to cope with anything but heterosexual experience.
The report does not differentiate between lesbians and bi women though, so it does not make clear whether for example the Stonewall findings reinforce MIND’s findings on the different levels of mental health issues for gay and bisexual people.
Stonewall say that of 6,000 people interviewed, 81 per cent identified as lesbian, and 16 per cent bisexual. This means nearly 1,000 were bi – a good sample size from which to extract bi-specific data.
Once again Stonewall, Britain’s biggest gay equality lobbying group, has published a report which makes sweeping recommendations about the need to effect change for lesbians and gay men without touching on similar challenges faced by bisexuals.
The survey interviewed more than 1,600 lesbian, gay and bisexual people – yet the analysis and recommendations are almost exclusively about lesbians and gay men, with a bizarre exception for the Judicial Studies Board.
What can it mean? Did none of the 1,600 admit to being bi? And if so have Stonewall a plan for working out where the bisexuals are hiding? Does the detailed analysis of the polling show that bisexuals encountered no prejudice or discrimination except when up in court?
Those curious bisexual types at bimedia.org would like to know.
Find others concerned about Stonewall‘s record on bisexuality on Facebook, or read the full report.
Manchester is hosting a bi-focused event for LGBT History Month in just over a week’s time, on Saturday 16th February. “2,000 Years of Bisexuality” will run from 2pm – 4pm at the Lesbian & Gay Foundation, just off the city’s famous Canal Street. It’s being organised by the local bi social-support group BiPhoria.
For more information see http://manchester.bi.org/ or sign up to the event’s facebook group.
The fourth Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month kicks off today – and it’s the first to fall in a leap year so slightly longer than usual!
Editor of Bi Community News, Jen Yockney said, “It looks like an even bigger and more varied season than before with events all over the country. History Month is great for reminding us all how far we have come in the last few decades, and also has room to be thought provoking as you go back further and have to face the question ‘what counts?’ In the centuries before the invention of words like homosexuality, heterosexuality and bisexuality, there are many figures we can pick out as queer in our modern view – but quite how they would have seen themselves if they lived today is open to some debate.”
“At the same time it serves a great educative purpose in showing how rich and diverse life has always been and reminding us of the struggles for the freedoms we have now. I’m sure we all send our best wishes to the hundreds of volunteers who will be putting on History Month events in the next four weeks.”