By: Mark Lees, M. A.
We are your fathers, sons, brothers, uncles, co-workers, friends, neighbors, boyfriends, lovers and husbands. But according to a Pew Research Center Survey, bisexual men are the least of the LGBTQ community to be out to those closest to them.
Pew surveyed 1197 LGBTQ individuals and found 40% of the LGBTQ community identify themselves as bisexual, the largest segment of the LGBTQ community. Yet, bisexual people are less likely to be out of the closet than their lesbian or gay peers. Only 28 percent telling Pew, “Friends, family, and co-workers” are aware of their ‘secret.’
Bisexual men due to unique stereotypes and stigmas make it even more difficult to measure their numbers. (Only 12 percent of bisexual men told Pew that they were out to the important people in their lives.)
In a day and age where sexual fluidity is the new norm. Why are bisexual men reluctant to share their true selves with family, friends, and romantic partners?
Here are 5 possible reasons why:
1. Public Relations: Of those in the LGBTQ community. Bisexual men have been the least portrayed on the big and little screen. Hollywood, TV, and literature have depicted the openness of female bisexuality in characters and roles for years. For bisexual men, the representation has been invisible. Not to mention bisexual men have a lack of public role models. Possible Solution: Cast more men as bisexuals in TV shows. Write the networks and studios to request this.
2. Masculinity: Men have evolved into a stay at home dads. We change diapers in sports venue restrooms and we are ok with our spouses being the breadwinner. All good things the majority of men in the past have perceived as ‘emasculating.’ But the final masculine vestige we will not let go of is our sexuality. We hide under the macho veil we have worn since the beginning of time. Even though we have romantic and or sexual feelings for both men and women. Possible Solution: As more well known (perceived) masculine men come out as bisexual the masculinity stigma will diminish. The increasing change in gender titles will also help men take off the masculinity mask.
3. Family: Men are afraid of what family will think of their bisexuality. We have played our straight roles well for them. Our families have seen us grow up having crushes on females. They have met our high school girlfriends and college sweethearts. Many of us became good family men and caring fathers. How many times have we heard from family members and parents? “Oh honey it’s a phase, you will grow out of it.” A common thing I hear from other bisexual men is “What will my child think of me If I tell them?” “They do not need to know.” ‘What will my brother or sister think of me?” The family is the hardest to share our secrets with. Besides #5 this was a tough one for me. Possible Solution: Start slow. Talk to a family member you feel the safest and trustworthy with. Starting first with a good friend helps with confidence. From my own experience, fear overshadows the reality of our family being more than supportive.
4. Support Systems: Another factor making it difficult to come out as a bisexual man are support systems or lack thereof. Support systems are not as prevalent and strong for bisexuals as they are for other LGBTQ individuals.
Julia Taylor, of the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, who is leading the country’s largest study into the mental health of bisexual and pansexual people, makes a strong point when she says, “There are “protective factors for gay and lesbian people that bisexual people aren’t privy to.” “If gay and lesbian people come out and things don’t go so well for them…they do have a big vocal community to find support and that’s something bisexual people don’t have,” Taylor added. Possible Solution: Join bisexual friendly groups. Most towns have LGBTQ centers as well as excellent resources for bisexual men.
5. What will Women Think of Me? Many bisexual men are hesitant to share their bisexuality with a woman. I say this is due to his perception of what she will think of him. The prevailing belief by many men aligns with this statement from a bisexual man. “Being attracted to men negates masculinity in the eyes of a shit ton of women.”
From personal experience, this statement holds some truth. Besides telling the family this was my biggest fear.
The first person I came out to in recent years was a female friend I began dating. When I told her I was bisexual, she joked. “Any man who sucks the c**k of another man is not straight and there is no such thing as bisexual.”
Needless to say, this set me back on my campaign to come out as bisexual for a few years. But, the next female friend I told, a person I had known for over forty years was very accepting and affirming. I begin telling female friends, co-workers and potential dating partners I was bisexual. Dating partners who were not comfortable with it would say, “Thank you for telling me. But I am not ok with that.” It was freeing and liberating to be able to share openly and honestly with others. Living my truth was a huge step in self-acceptance for me. Possible Solution: From my experience, bisexual men have a few close female friends. Start by telling one of them.
These 5 reasons are not etched in stone. But professionally they are the 5 reasons I have heard the most from bisexual men I have counseled. I have also experienced these 5 on a personal level. It is this writer’s opinion we are undergoing another sexual revolution in our society. Gender titles and sexual identification are changing. The LGBTQ community is undergoing a renaissance and now more than ever is considered mainstream. As bisexual men ease through the fear of coming out. The societal acceptance and validation of them will become the norm.