Bisexual Boy

Friday, July 24, 2009

Question

Do you feel that bisexuality in women is more acceptable than bisexuality in men? My girlfriend and I are both bisexual. When we come out to people, I notice that the response to her is very different than the response to me. She's seen as being sexually adventurous and hot; I'm just a disgusting fag. I'm not kidding! I've had "friends" try to sabotage our relationship by going to her behind my back and implying that I am going to give her AIDS. But these "friends" have no problem with the idea that my girlfriend might get into a threesome with them and their female lovers.

At the same time that my straight friends are freaking out (and making sure they never, ever visit the men's room at the same time that I do), the men that I date seem universally scared and disgusted by the fact that I put my cock inside a woman. I have yet to get an affirmative reaction from a man that I've had sex with, and I am tempted to just stop telling them.

Why does this disparity exist? I don't want to go back into the closet or stop being open about who I am. But I could use a lot more support.

Answer

I don't know if I would say that bisexuality in women is more acceptable than the same orientation in men. I might use the term "titillating." But as we all know, thanks to all the double standards about sex in the industrialized West, turning people on and even having sex with them sometimes results in them feeling worse about you, rather than better. The guys who want to use your girlfriend as a sort of human vibrator to turn their women on are probably as ignorant about lesbianism as they are of male homosexuality. Lesbians are going to see your girlfriend as either a spy from the Breeder Planet or a closet case who hasn't made up her mind to come out yet. Much the same way as gay men perceive you, I suspect.

Sigh. What a mess. Your girlfriend has a bit of an edge when she comes out, but only because so many straight people think of woman-to-woman sex as being trivial and sometimes even ridiculous. The revolutionary potential of women being devoted to and prioritizing one another is underplayed, and so she gets stereotyped as an appetizer, something to tease the senses before the main course.

But you—you have betrayed one of the cornerstones of patriarchy and heteronormativity. Despite decades of research that demonstrates the majority of men have had sexual experiences with other men, our society remains rampantly on patrol to root out and punish anybody who is honest about that fact. It's as if men could no longer remain the dominant group in our society if the truth was told about same-sex desire within that gender. Men who enjoy and honor sex with other men are seen as lesser men, or as having given up their manhood. There is a covert acknowledgment here of the predatory nature of patriarchal sex, and a sad indictment of what straight men thinks happens to the people they fuck. Why would anybody want to be the object of a desire that irrevocably sullies and disempowers them? Yuck and double yuck. And who would want to be the person who does that to others? This is clearly a system that needs to be junked. Your girlfriend is seen as perverse, but you are a traitor to the very foundations of our society. Eeeeeeeek!!

Biphobia among gay men and lesbians makes me especially sad. I am always overjoyed when members of one minority are able to recognize, respect, and support members of another minority. But it seems that bisexuality pushes buttons everywhere. Perhaps it's because gay men and lesbians are so often told that their own orientation is sinful, wrong, and inferior. Most gay people have experienced a huge struggle to face their own natures, and have also experienced betrayal when friends or lovers abandoned them to "join" the majority. The fear is that a bisexual person can't be trusted—sooner or later, they will abandon the front lines of sexual dissent and take an easier path. After all, if you are bisexual, the thinking goes, faking a straight life is so much easier than it would be for a gay person. So why not do that and get all that yummy privilege? From where I stand, bisexual activists have demonstrated over and over again that they are not going to cut and run and hide when the going gets tough, but some prejudices are oblivious to contradictory facts.

I think there is also a fear of not being able to fully sexually satisfy or bond with someone who is bisexual. Both men and women fear that if they get involved with someone who is bisexual, they will have to share that person with partners of the opposite sex. There is a stereotype that bisexuals are ravenous creatures, incapable of monogamy, ready for all manner of sexual extravagance at the drop of a hat or any other item of apparel. If only!

Things are changing, but man, it's a slow process. Thanks to a handful of bisexual activists and a growing body of literature, more and more people are being exposed to the idea that there is a valid sexual identity that embraces both genders. They are learning that you have more than two boxes to check when it comes to describing your own desires. This is a very important piece of the social change that's necessary to create a society that is less crazy about all matters erotic and romantic.

Sounds like you could really use some support from people who share your sexual orientation. Ever thought about starting a support group? All it takes is some advertising and contact information. In the meantime, I dug up some on-line information. There's a good "Bisexuality 101" pamphlet on PFLAG's website (www.pflag.org). It includes information about organizations and a reading list. At www.binetusa.org, you can find information about their annual health conference. You can also join their Yahoo listserve, and they have a presence on Facebook. The Bisexual Resource Center is at www.biresource.net. They have a Yahoo group, but much of their focus is in Boston. You can find support groups via Yahoo! Groups, but they are age-restricted, and you'll have to sign up there to get access to the information. There is also BiGi, a bi men's community, on www.polychromatic.com/bigi/. There's another group at www.dailystrength.org/c/Bisexuality/support-group. Among several resources for married gay or bisexual men, I found www.bimarried.com to be a good starting point.

Some books that might be of interest include Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World, by Robyn Ochs and Sarah Rowley; Bi Men: Coming Out Every Which Way, by Fritz Klein, et al.; Bisexuality: The Psychology and Politics of an Invisible Minority, by Beth A. Firestein, Sage Publications, 1996; and Bisexuality in the Lives of Men: Facts and Fiction, by Brett Genny Boemyn and Erich W. Steinman, Harrington Park Press, 2001.