The National Center for Lesbian Rights is suing the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Association for allegedly discriminating against three bisexual male players who weren’t gay enough to play in the 2008 Gay Softball World Series. According to the plaintiffs, NAGAAA officials asked five members of team D2 to specify whether they were “heterosexual” or “gay”, which makes me wonder: Did eating pussy in college make me too straight to play in a gay softball league?
The suit alleges NAGAAA asked the players “intrusive questions” about their sex lives and whether players identified as “predominantly attracted to men” or “predominantly attracted to women” while in a room filled with 25 strangers (most of who had come just to watch). When one of the players responded that he was both heterosexual and gay, an NAGAAA official allegedly said, “This is the Gay World Series, not the Bisexual World Series.”
The predominantly-white NAGAAA committee then disqualified three bisexual men of color (and not the two white guys) and recommended disciplinary measures against the D2 team and San Francisco league, including forcing them to forfeit their second-place World Series win. The NCLR says that no apology has been issued to the men nor has any disavowal been made of their public sexual questioning. NCLR is suing to rid the NAGAAA’s rules of discrimination against any sexual identities.
In response, NAGAAA’s attorney Beth Allen asked, “Why is [the NCLR] asserting this claim on behalf of three poor beleaguered straight men? I don’t get it.” And she’s right, neither Ms. Allen nor the NAGAAA get it. The players aren’t gay nor are they “beleaguered straight men”—they’re bisexual, an identity that’s regularly discounted by straights and gays who don’t know where to place them.
It reminds me of the recent, botched introduction of bisexual wrestler Orlando Jordan. TNA Wrestling had no idea how to convey the star’s bisexuality to an audience, so they had him sit between a twink and a vixen (as if he’d suddenly become gay or straight just by making out with either one).
What evidence could D2’s accusers possibly have provided to prove the three disqualified team members weren’t gay? Did they bring in old boyfriends or ask Broadway trivia questions? Is there a penis-to-pussy eating ratio that designates whether one of us is LG or B? No, attraction is intangible and trying to quantify it is absurd and dehumanizing.
Yes, a Gay World Series becomes meaningless if a bunch of straights can go gay-for-play. But the NAGAAA itself says that it exists to promote “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.” So why, then, are their own policies so ill-equipped to address bisexual men? Especially ones of color who may not fit within the neat and tidy boxes of GLBT?
NCLR executive director Kate Kendell said the suit “makes very clear that the core issue in the case is that sexual orientation discrimination is harmful, demeaning, and stigmatizing.” And she’s right. The sports field is supposed to be an equalizer where ability trumps identity. Even Ms. Allen agrees that the NAGAAA strives to create an environment where queer athletes can “play ball together… [and not] face any type of discrimination.” By trying to create teams of purely gay players, the NAGAAA has created the very discriminatory environment they sought to avoid.