Erasure of the experiences and desires of bisexual men contributes to toxic social norms around masculinity
By: Jason Graves/TRT Guest Columnist—
As a bisexual male who’s been asked if I’m “gay yet” or whether I’m “over that bi thing,” I acknowledge how blessed I am to have a partner who unquestioningly accepts me and my attraction to both genders. Bisexuality is not a passing trend. It does not mean that you are mentally ill. You are simply wired that way or you are not.
My gay friends are understanding, but some cannot relate, while many straight women I’ve dated find a bisexual male “confused” or “disgusting.” This has lead me to feel that being a bisexual male is less accepted and understood than being gay or even being a bisexual woman.
Society’s perception of masculinity skews reality
The problem with surveying males—especially married males—to discover if they are bisexual is that society’s conception of sexuality undermines our collective understanding of what masculinity is. Therefore, these men are less likely to admit their true orientation. I’d guess that the number of bisexual males in a heterosexual relationship is easily 40 percent or more. Unfortunately, there is no way to truly quantify my theory and I am basing this notion on my own discussions with married men.
I’ve known many married men who’ve been attracted to me or to another male, but they simply could not tell their wives or significant others. Conversely, I have known many gay males who have had relationships with women. Does this mean they are actually bisexual? Or does this mean that they were trying to fit within society’s explicit framework of what masculinity should be?
Our society is more accepting of female sexual fluidity in heterosexual relationships than male fluidity. Most straight people view bisexuality as a form of “gay” whereas gays view bisexuality as a form of “straight.” There are no collective understandings of bisexuality.
Does the bisexual man in a 20-year marriage reveal himself just to lose the dignity he has with his wife and his children? Or, does he maintain his secrecy and take it to his grave?
These are questions that I have asked myself many times while attempting to understand my own sexuality during my previous marriage to a conservative woman whom I could never reveal my true sexual identity to. I can personally say that there is nothing more liberating than being with someone who accepts you for who you are and continues to see you as masculine.
A generational divide
Many in the baby-boomer and older generations are reticent to understand and relate to the LGBTQ community to the point that they have completely shut out any acceptance of it. Many view gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender identities as “drama” or a fad. They feel that too many young people are easily persuaded that they are gay or bisexual simply because the media has increasingly covered differences in sexual orientation and gender identity.
Although I do understand the reasons that Caitlin Jenner has chosen to publicize her identity, she has done very little to help older members of our society understand the reality of what the LGBTQ community faces. Dramatizing one’s identity through hosting your own reality TV show, unfortunately, reinforces the idea amongst older generations that transgender identities are a “fad,” or even worse, a mental illness or public spectacle.
It’s not the gender, it’s the soul
Regardless of your gender, orientation, or identity, when you find the right person that fits you, you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. You hold true to that which God has granted you and take it as the blessing that it is. It does not matter (to me) whether a person is male, female, or transgender. If you and I have an attraction to each other, I’m willing to have a monogamous relationship with you.
According to most Christian and Islamic beliefs, there is nothing natural about homosexuality or bisexuality; our sexual and gender identities are solid lines drawn in stone. These lines have become less visible as we progress towards a better understanding of our nature and what it means to be human. I believe that we as a society are only beginning to touch the tip of the iceberg in our understanding of human sexuality. That fact blurs the lines more every day and makes those opposed to change more uncomfortable.
Only time will tell how our society progresses, but I think in trying to understand bisexuality, we may find that we will also come to understand ourselves and each other much more.
*A writer for more than 20 years, Jason Graves has focused his talent on fiction and biographical writing. As a bisexual male living in a society that often negates, and erases, bisexual identities, he’s had a wealth of experiences that give him a unique perspective on sex and how it defines us in modern culture. Jason is a strong advocate for LGBTQ rights, a philosopher of human sexuality, and a strong promoter of family values. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter, @JGravesWrites.