Daddy Bear's Blue

Friday, July 13, 2012

Question

I am a slightly older, bisexual man who has a younger lover. He is a cute boy who enjoys having a bear for a daddy. We have been together for almost two years. I hope we continue to stay together because he has brought a lot of happiness into my life.

But he is not comfortable with me as a bisexual man, so I usually don't insist on talking about that part of my life with him. We had a dinner party for some of his friends the other night. They are a bunch of cute, noisy club kids, and I usually enjoy their youthful energy and silliness. One of them had apparently been approached by a woman who tried to get him into bed, and he was quite offended by her persistence. The four of them started to talk about how icky women's bodies are. The conversation just kept getting more and more explicit and hateful until I finally couldn't take it any more.

I told them that I thought being gay was about loving and desiring other men, not hating women. I told them they were being a bunch of misogynist jerks. I also told them I was bisexual, I enjoyed having sex with women, the term “pussy” is not an insult, and I wanted to change the topic of conversation.

Of course this blew the evening apart. My boyfriend tried to salvage things by putting on a new CD he'd made of his favorite music videos. But his friends excused themselves and went home. I didn't get my usual goodbye hugs, either. The two of us then had a big fight, maybe the worst one ever. He admitted that he doesn't understand how I can have sex with women, the thought disgusts him, it's something he has never done and never wants to experience, and furthermore, he doesn't understand why I am with him if women turn me on.

Since then, we have been tiptoeing around this house. I am tired of walking on egg shells. Is my relationship over? Do I need to search for a bisexual man my own age? I don't know how to explain my sexuality, especially if the other person is being hostile. I only know what works for me. It has taken me a long, hard struggle to be okay about the fact that both men and women turn me on. So far, I only fall in love with cute gay boys, not women, but I wonder sometimes if that will ever change.

Should I just apologize and hope we can go back to the way things were before?

Answer

I hope you are not beating yourself up for losing it and giving your boyfriend's pals a piece of your mind. They ought to be listening to you, because what you said was utterly and completely true. Hating women has nothing to do with being a gay man. It's ugly and unnecessary behavior. But every group of human beings obsesses about who belongs and who doesn't. Talking hateful shit about outsiders is one way to claim membership in the group and bond with one another. If we replaced the word “pussy” with “African American,” however, I think these young'uns would get the rude awakening they deserve. Racism is no longer socially acceptable, but for some stupid reason, sexism remains a largely unchallenged aspect of much of gay male culture.

Such behavior is also the result of some cultural misconceptions about the nature of human sexuality. Bisexuality is not recognized as a valid sexual orientation. There are only two choices, gay or straight, and supposedly there's no overlap between the two. But this means that we are left with huge chunks of human behavior that we can't explain under such a system. What about the large numbers of married men who seek out anonymous sex with other men? What about the gay men who have occasionally enjoyed sex with a woman? What about the men who come out later in life, after decades of enjoying straight sex? All these things really happen, and they don't make any sense without the concept of bisexuality.

Men are under tremendous pressure to perform heterosexually. As soon as you have a single hair on your body, you are expected to start chasing skirts (and what's underneath them). This social pressure is terrifying and emasculating for young gay men. If they aren't getting erections while visualizing breasts or pussies, they are told that they are not men at all. This is, perhaps, worse than being gay. The trauma of these early experiences results in animosity toward women, but in fact it is usually other men who try to enforce universal heterosexuality.

All this political philosophizing does not, however, help you to mend fences with your boyfriend. I think an apology ought to be carefully phrased. Don't apologize for who you are or what you believe. You can tell him that you are sorry if you embarrassed him or frightened his friends. This opens the door for him to tell you what he experienced during the ill-fated party. You can empathize with his discomfort, I hope, without taking back the personal truths you felt compelled to emit.

I hope that once he has had a chance to vent, he will realize that he ought to give you a chance to share your emotional experience. This would allow you, too, to explain why you lost control. If he doesn't understand that you also need empathy and a chance to air your feelings, I will start to wonder if the relationship is worth salvaging.

Bisexual folks have unique issues when it comes to romantic, committed relationships. Many of us are capable of being monogamous, but some of us don't want to live that way. If your partner wants monogamy and you feel capable of living according to that value, there's nothing wrong with settling down, whether you are gay, straight, bisexual, or a Martian with seven genders and three sets of genitals. If you have an open relationship and your partner is not also bisexual, there will probably always be at least a little friction between their erotic parameters and your own. I am all too familiar with the insecure question, “Why are you with me if you want somebody who isn't like me at all?” But that question comes from the mindset of the monosexual. Girls don't understand why I like boys, and boys don't understand why I like girls—unless they are bi, too or have made a conscious effort to educate themselves about how other people perceive the full spectrum of sexual options.

It sounds like you have had some trouble keeping the lid on your opinions, life experience, and desires. You've been censoring yourself to make your boyfriend happy. This created an artificial little world where none of his prejudices or assumptions were challenged, but you were working way too hard to keep him “safe.” That self-censorship was doomed to come to an abrupt and dramatic end. So if the relationship does continue, I think it has to do so on a new footing—one that allows you to speak your own truth more frequently even if he doesn't like it or share it. None of us want to get rid of our own prejudices. We only want to get rid of prejudices that other people have, mindsets that inconvenience or hamper us. I don't envy him the discomfort of having to update his assumptions, but he could come out on the other side a wiser and more autonomous human being.

I've personally decided that I don't want another relationship with a person who is exclusively gay or straight. I'm more comfortable in my own home if I can tell dirty stories about past escapades without worrying that my partner is going to curl his or her lip or silently tighten up into thinly-veiled insecurity and jealousy. But I can't tell you if that's what you should do. That would be wrong. I can, however, point out that there are a fair number of cute, queer boys (of legal age) who are also bisexual. So if the daddy/boy dynamic is what gets your dick hard, you don't have to hunt in just one section of the rainbow.