The great Olympics omission

Besi Besemar August 20, 2012

The Olympic Games have been very successful, and we hope that this will prove very beneficial to our country and that there will be true legacy.

Afterwards, Lord Coe stated that the Games had been announced as being “for everyone” and had become the games “by everyone”.

In the run up to, and throughout the games, we heard much reference to “Inclusivity” and “Equality”. The implication was that they were now truly in place, but there has been one glaring omission.

Where was the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community?

At Danny Boyle’s much applauded Opening Ceremony, we saw the Suffragette movement depicted, the arrival of the Empire Windrush, bringing passengers from Jamaica to start new lives in the United Kingdom and heralding the start of the significant contribution of the black and other ethnic communities to Great Britain, but where was any mention of the LGBT community’s long and still ongoing battle for true recognition, acceptance and equality, or portrayal of their everyday contribution in thousands of ways to British society?

Where was our Heritage and Culture Championed?

As the spotlight was on London, why was London’s Gay Pride celebration not depicted?  Why did we see no drag queens, so significant in the fight for gay rights, many of whom work tirelessly, not just to entertain the community, but also to raise money for AIDS charities and many other deserving causes?

At a time when homophobia in sport is a major problem and there was only one out Team GB athlete competing in the games, why were the Games not used to highlight this?

Why were organisations such as Stonewall, Outrage, School’s Out, Mindout Allsorts and the many other organisations that work to fight homophobic hate crime and promote good self-esteem and mental  health for LGBT people throughout the country, ignored?

Probably because daily throughout this country and in spite of the Equality Act, we are the one minority group that can be sidelined and ignored often with impunity.

Similarly, at the closing ceremony, the party for“everyone”, why were there no signs of our community;  a community which knows how to give a party and frequently brings colour, excitement, glamour and fun into the lives of gay and straight people alike. Where was Elton John, Julian Clary, Sandi Toksvig and others?

Surely, as she has come out of retirement for Pantomime this year, the legendary Lily Savage could have been persuaded to attend. The few gays, who were there, were not obviously representing our community.

This seems to confirm a worrying suspicion that there is a policy in the country of attempting to homogenise and assimilate us into society, so that we become invisible, diminished.  It seems however that they were not afraid to borrow from us or use us.

The impressive entry of the motorbikes echoed the start of Gay Prides in Los Angeles and San Francisco.  David Bowie, who employed a trans image very effectively in the early days of his career, was used merely to introduce British fashion.  The event had a male sexist feel to it. There were plenty of women in skimpy clothing, but very little similarly scantily dressed male “eye candy” for us gay men and straight women.

When we need to be planning to nurture young athletes to compete in Rio de Janeiro and beyond, this was a missed opportunity. Research clearly indicates that young LGBT people avoid physical activities during their early days due to homophobia and fear of bullying. This is, no doubt, why Team GB had only one out athlete. The Olympics was an opportunity to send a message to our young people, and to all LGBT people in Great Britain and throughout the World that ‘Gay is OK.’ The opportunity was sadly missed. A concerted effort is vitally necessary starting NOW, to work to correct this.

Andrew Brettell