Friday, 25 November 2011

How LGBT is your LGBT Pride?

About ten to fifteen years ago, there was a trend of "lesbian and gay" organisations and events in the UK shuffling over to  calling themselves LGBT, or "lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender".

London L&G Pride and the L&G wing of the Lib Dems were the first I noticed make this change, around 1996. Slowly other Prides and LG(B)(T) organisations around the country followed suit. We've advanced to the point that now, fifteen years on, it looks a little peculiar when you see something that is, at least on the label, LG rather than LGB or LGBT.

But changing the label on the tin is one thing, how far have we changed what's in the tin?

This came back into my mind as I was bumbling around the Manchester Pride website this week. I'd never noticed their Pride Surveys before, but here were some remarkable results.

At the 2008 and 2010 Manchester LGBT Prides, they conducted some kind of survey of attendees.  Each time the best part of 1000 people were interviewed, so you would imagine there was some degree of statistical validity to the findings.

I'm going to put trans/cis matters to one side for a moment and ask: what did they show on sexuality?

Lesbians and gay men form the lion's share - 80%+ - of those attending. The next largest sexuality grouping is heterosexual people. Bisexuals only make up about 7% of those attending - a tenth of the attendance by gay and lesbian people.

A remarkable statistic, that hugely underlines the need for bi work and bi visibility at that event, given every study of sexuality worth reading finds more bisexuals - especially when it comes to women - than gay and lesbian people.  It is on a par with the stats from Kairos' London LGBT Almanac, which suggested that of all LGBT service users in London, only about 6% were bi. 

It would seem we have a long way to go yet before the label "LGBT" really means it.

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