Bisexual Men Fight For Visibility


According to the Williams Institute, bisexual people make up about 40% of those who are attracted to people of the same gender. Despite this statistic, bisexual people continue to lack visibility compared to lesbians and gay men. And because about three-fourths of that 40% are bisexual women, bisexual men often struggle for visibility even more.

Efforts to raise awareness of bisexual issues, including last week’s Bisexual Awareness Week, often focus on the health and well-being disparities faced by bisexual women, which are significant. It’s also important to realize that biphobia negatively affects bi men too. According to BiNet USA, bisexual men have significantly higher rates of suicide than all other groups except bisexual women, and they are also much more likely than gay men or straight men to experience sexual assault and domestic violence.

In a recent blog post, bisexual activist Dr. Herukhuti explained that some degree of the invisibility of bisexual men when compared to bi women is due to the fact the “popular media embraces the idea of female bisexuality to the degree that it fulfills the fantasies of men.” [pullquote]In a recent blog post, bisexual activist Dr. Herukhuti explained that some degree of the invisibility of bisexual men when compared to bi women is due to the fact the “popular media embraces the idea of female bisexuality to the degree that it fulfills the fantasies of men.”—Dr. Herukhuti [/pullquote]

“Bisexual men don’t factor into the sexual desires of straight men,” he continues, which “makes it easy for a media industry that largely caters to straight men and women to ignore us.” Moreover, Dr. Herukhuti explains, bi men are stereotyped as conduits for STIs, and the media warns women about men who are “down low, undercover, or closeted.”

Dr. Herukhuti, whose new book Recognize: The Voices of Bisexual Men – coauthored with bi activist Robyn Ochs – was released last week, is one of a growing chorus of bisexual men who are working to make themselves visible and thereby combat this stigma surrounding male bisexuality.

In recognition of Celebrate Bisexuality Day on Sept. 23, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation released a report groundbreaking report on the experiences of bisexual youth in America entitled, Supporting and Caring for Our Bisexual Youth.

[From an HRC News Release]

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1 Comment on "Bisexual Men Fight For Visibility"

  1. Dr. Herukhuti’s comments about how male bisexuality doesn’t titillate heterosexual men’s sexual fantasies and thus is a lot less likely to be accepted in media or given attention is only partially true. The average viewer of TV shows, esp. prime-time dramas, is not just female but overwhelmingly female. Yet, bi and gay female characters are a lot more likely to be represented therein than gay or bi male ones. The producers know the demographic as do the networks. (It’s urban females aged 18-35.) You need only watch the ads to see who the viewers are. Ads for bras, skin cream, feminine hygiene products, “soccer mom” vans, etc., pretty much give it away. So it isn’t straight men’s viewership driving the character dev’t or personalities thereof, it’s female viewership, straight or otherwise. Best explanation I can think of is that the minority sexual orientation of one or more of the characters on a show adds some drama/suspense by opening plot line opportunities that an all-heterosexual character lineup wouldn’t provide. In addition, it’s a way to increase the appeal to a broader subsection of the target demographic (gay/bi 18-35 YO urban females) and so long as it doesn’t occupy too much of the plot line, fine. But why only have gay/bi women?

    Ah-ha. That is because gay/bi men don’t hold any erotic titillation value for the typical woman, whether she is straight, gay, bi, or something else. Most women of any persuasion find the idea of men engaged in sexual or erotic behavior at least unappealing and at most revolting. Only a very small number of women as a percentage of the adult female pop’n find the idea of men having sex with men appealing erotically. And, men as characters on a TV series who are unavailable as sexual or romantic interests to the female characters doesn’t appeal to female viewers, either. The goal of TV shows is to sell airtime to advertisers. To do this, you need viewership. You get that by finding a way to get ppl to watch faithfully the TV series in question. The best way to do this is to create characters with which they identify, projecting their own identities onto the characters. In short, you find a way to mass-hypnotize millions of viewers into thinking if even for a brief time that what they’re seeing is 1) real and 2) relevant to their lives. Insidious, but highly effective. Now, do millions of 18-35 YO urban females want to watch TV shows about groups of men and women wherein, for example, of 10 regular characters, 5 are men and 5 are women, but one man is gay and so inaccessible to any of the women relationship-drama-wise, and another is bi so that now a female character involved with him has to worry not just abt another woman nabbing him from her, but also possibly a man? Yeah, young urban women’ll just LOVE that show! Try re-arranging the gender dist’n and in both cases, you’ve lost the demographic, too. Too many women take the “fun” out of it for the ladies, since they will have a much harder time keeping the attention of the fewer men. But even worse, the eye candy factor for the female viewers is undercut. Now, increase the men relative to the women and the demographic is unhappy about how in the undoubtedly professional env. the drama is set in, the show is depicting a “male-dominated” workplace. Only way to remove that complaint is for the female characters to p-whip/humiliate the male ones, and then the female viewership will again lose interest as gee, how can you respect a man who’s been p-whipped/humiliated by women like that?

    See the no-win situation here? Lacking a substantial, money-making motive to add gay/bi men to the cast of characters in any of these prime time drama shows whose principle audience/target demographic is 18-35 YO urban females, you just won’t see them.

    Now if chicks got turned on by guys making out and so on, it’d be a whole different story. 😉

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