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When someone is tempted to ask "why should we bother to mention bisexual people (or as recently happened biphobia) separately? Everyone knows that when you say 'Gay' it really means the entire LGBTQ+ spectrum", it may be useful to point out the sad, humiliating and ultimately expensive saga of the 2008 North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance's "Gay Softball World Series".

The 1st thing to know is that despite it's name the actual stated mission of the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance (NAGAAA) was declared to be, in writing (yes I noticed the hastily edited deletions to some areas of their website removing bisexual and transgender people), that of promoting amateur sports competition, particularly softball, for all persons regardless of age, sexual orientation or preference, with special emphasis on the participation of members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community.”

San Francisco Gay Softball League Team D2: Steven Apilado (kneeling, second from right), Jon Russ (standing, first player from left in front row), and LaRon Charles (standing, center player in front row) with their team during the 2007 seasonThe 2nd thing to know is despite all the spiteful online gossip about "straight ringers" being snuck in, i.e. heterosexual ball players being secretly placed onto "gay" teams in order to win championships, (because as we all know REAL gay and bisexual men are congenitally bad at sports *rolls eyes*) this particular group had been playing together for several years. As long as they weren't in championship contention, this team of various queer-identified men had played together unmolested and even gone to the Gay Softball World Series before, but had never finished better than fourth place.

And the 3rd thing to know is that according to recent statistical studies of the USA, most people in the LGBTQ+ Spectrum are not actually monosexual and that this large bisexual community demographically "looks" much more like the rest of America than just the traditional Gay and Lesbian only portions. As per Russell K. Robinson, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, “A number of studies have shown that men of color [Ed note: actually all QOC regardless of gender identification] are more likely to identify as bisexual as opposed to gay.” Additionally the founders of the bisexual rights movement were extremely diverse and included queers of colour (QOC) as well as well as trans* and gender non-conforming individuals. And unlike the mainstream gay and lesbian rights wing, they were never forced out. In fact the current leadership and membership of the bisexual community is extremely diverse and has no need to scramble about looking for people to fill in the ranks to look properly PC when picture taking time comes around.

Back in 2008 the San Francisco-based D2 softball team came to Seattle to play that years "Gay Softball World Series". They were an established squad that had been steadily improving each year and now advanced to the finals playing against the established teams who usually won each year, beating the Atlanta Mudcats in the semi-final round and were matched against the Los Angeles Vipers when the commissioner of the league’s Atlanta affiliate filed a protest under Rule 7.05 (“maximum of two heterosexual players are permitted” on a world series roster) of the NAGAAA Softball Code against five to the SF D2 players.

The Softball League then convened a hearing described as "truly Orwellian" where members of the protest committee and at least 25 lookie lous and gawkers jammed themselves into a a room and asked the embarrassed ballplayers a series of highly personal questions to determine their “predominate” sexual interest. This was important because “gay” and “straight” are the only classifications that matter under the NAGAAA’s curiously binary system for defining sexuality. When the players protested they were bisexual (that would be the "B" in that same "GLBT" the league claims in their own literature to represent), one of the inquisitors made the now-semi-famous quote "This is not a bisexual world series. This is a gay world series."

Ultimately, the predominantly-white committee voted that Steven Apilado, LaRon Charles and Jon Russ, all men of color, were not gay. The committee also declared that the other two players, both white—one of whom had given precisely the same answers as Russ—were gay. The league must have supposed that was the end of it and the now humiliated payers and team would just go away. But they didn't. They took their case to the powerhouse LGBTQ+ public interest law firm the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) led by Legal Director the bisexual trans* Shannon Price Minter Esq. who among his many other accomplishments lead attorney arguing before the California Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8, and in April 2010 sued the NAGAAA for sexual orientation discrimination under Washington State's public accommodations laws.

To their eternal shame the gay men in the leadership of at NAGAAA chose to defend their right to discriminate against bisexual men on the basis of sexuality using the same legal strategy that the Boy Scouts of America did in seeking to keep out all LGBTQ+ people. While they did succeed in having one portion of the case thrown out by using dubious arguments including trying to convince the Court that bisexual people are not actually part of the LGBTQ+ Community and are actually just closeted men or straight day-trippers in gay-land (it is believed to be the first time that the organized gay community has actually tried to prove that too common slur in court) the rest of the case was allowed to proceed to trial.

Finally in November 2011 the NAGAAA threw in the threw in the towel and settled. The far reaching and costly agreement should stand as an example that being a sore looser and a bigoted fool is not only wrong, but expensive. In the settlement the League agreed:

  • that all bisexual and transgender people are welcome to play at its tournaments as full members of the LGBT community

  • the D2 team will be awarded the second-place trophy that it was denied at the time and all the leagues stats will be updated to reflect same

  • the three ballpayers will be compensated for the distress caused them

  • that the league will participate in an ongoing dialogue about making sports at all levels more inclusive of the entire LGBT community

  • While still whingeing on about alleged "straight people" and the sanctity and purity of gay only this and that, the truth in hard cold legal facts is the league has had to formally agreed that disqualifying D2 was not consistent with its goal of welcoming bisexual players saying in part, "NAGAAA regrets the impacts the 2008 protest hearing had on plaintiffs and their team." Victorious D2 team member LaRon Charles summed it up nicely when he said, 'It means a lot to me that NAGAAA is going to recognize our second place finish in 2008, I look forward to continuing to play ball with my friends, teammates and community in NAGAAA's tournaments."

    So next time that you are told to just take someone on their good word that 'Gay' includes you, ask if you can please get that in writing, most preferably signed, witnessed and notarized too.

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    ( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
    4th Dec, 2011 01:33 (UTC)
    Gee wizz. That whole bias makes no sense to me, and I have no respect for the league leaders. A bigot is a bigot, even if they belong to a minority group of some kind, themselves.
    4th Dec, 2011 23:57 (UTC)
    I agree with this comment.
    ( 2 comments — Leave a comment )