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The Myth of Male Bisexuality

by David Levinson
August 30, 2005
The Myth of Male Bisexuality
A friend's boyfriend returned from a trip to Rome recently with some strange news from his mother, the psychic. She told him that he would meet a man and fall in love, even though (as far as he knew) he was straight and hadn't ever once slept with a man (he knew this for sure). He took the news well and while in Rome, checked out every man he could, trying to see if any of them aroused his desire. But they didn't. And they didn't because my friend's boyfriend is not attracted to men on any physical level at all. Although open to the idea of finding another man sexually appealing, he admitted that he could only get off in the company of a woman. His mother went on to say that deep down he was fooling himself and that if he really understood his own sexuality, he'd also understand he was bisexual and that he just hadn't tapped into that part of himself yet. But can these parts actually be tapped into and if so, how?

Where it is perhaps difficult to think of a man in his thirties or forties suddenly waking up to his own latent bisexuality, especially when he's had no prior experience or desire for men, it's not as difficult to imagine a woman exploring the same terrain. With popular shows like "The L Word" and "Sex in The City" demystifying the topic of sexuality-from hetero to homo, and everything in-between-the world seems like a safer place for all people and yet, bisexuality itself remains as taboo a subject as ever. Though these shows in particular might have brought into focus the lighter side of sex, the way in which they deal-or don't deal-with larger concerns, i.e. what it means to be a bisexual man in America, is still an ongoing issue. And an issue worth exploring and fixing, since many continue to believe that male bisexuality, while in the air, is nothing more than a myth and beyond that, a copout.

Dating back to the mid-19th century, bisexuality is nothing new. What is new is the ways in which we deal with it today. A recent Times article, "Straight, Gay, or Lying? Bisexuality Revisited," debunked the myth completely, citing that male bisexuality isn't a "distinct and stable sexual orientation" and that men "who claim bisexuality are ambivalent about their homosexuality or simply closeted." But what about people like my friend's boyfriend, who checked out guys in Rome, if only to put to rest his own doubts?

Relying on statistics and science is a risky business in any case, but in this climate of racial profiling and rightwing religious fervor, it's downright scary. To eliminate an entire group of men based on a single study and then to call them liars to boot seems the height of hubris and incredibly short-sighted. The world might be quite a different place if men fought less and slept together more. Maybe instead of looking into ways of tearing down a man's self-proclaimed sexual identity, it might serve scientists better to find ways to cure the general public of its sexual hang-ups and phobias.

Dreaming wrote:
September 06, 2005
Hi David

In publication "The Myth of Male Bisexuality" your criticism of the NY Times article "Straight, Gay or Lying? Bisexuality Revisited" has no grounds. How do we know about anything if it is not for the science? If indeed a man is bisexual the same way as a woman is then how do men cope with their mental blocks. It would take another S.Freud to deal with it. Moms do not help here.

Thank you anyway,
September 12, 2005
While the Times article presents a good case, it is society that dictates male socialization and sexuality, not scientists or their scientific data. There is far much more gray area, in the heart and mind, that scientists cannot possibly get to or understand. I agree that without science we wouldn't know much, but does it really matter, in the end, if a man calls himself bisexual or homosexual or purple-sexual? Sexuality is too mysterious and fluid and, in my opinion, has no place in the scientific arena. Many men cope with what you call their mental blocks by having anonymous sex with other men and feeling guilt-ridden about it. Plenty of women do the same thing, however, but women are less villified for it than men. If bisexuality in men really exists, it is not up to scientists, but the individual, because it is he who chooses his sexual partners and not the men in white lab coats (though he might choose one of them if they're hot.)

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