I recently started dating an awesome man who happens to be bisexual. Many of our deepest conversations have been about his struggle to come out. So, this month, I decided to write about his journey and the challenges many bisexual men face finding acceptance.
Yes, like you, when we first started talking about it I suspected that shame and internalized homophobia were at the heart of his issue. But, as I’ve gotten to know him, it’s become clear that something else is going on. His identity as a bisexual man is something most people, including a lot of gay men, don’t understand.
If he shows up dating me he will be perceived as gay. He doesn’t have an issue with that. Except that he isn’t gay. His dating a man doesn’t suddenly negate his attraction to women. Of course, if he’s dating a woman everyone simply assumes he’s straight. You may think that would be easier, but it still means living in the closet. We all now how painful closets can be. His is no exception.
He’s stuck in a situation that many of us are familiar with. It falls on him to educate people about his sexuality if he wants to be out. Having me in the picture complicates matters. If he’s open about our relationship he faces an uphill battle against ignorance that he doesn’t feel ready to fight.
Even some very queer friendly people, one of my closest friends included, believe that all bisexual men are just gay men in the closet. That was true of many closeted men in the 1970’s and 80’s. It isn’t now. Our younger generations are much freer with their sexuality. They shun labels because they place too many limits on identity. But, It’s our ignorance that causes them to stay closeted for fear of being labeled.
So much of what has become “common knowledge” among gay men was true a couple of generations ago and no longer holds. The idea that all bisexual guys will eventually dump you for a woman is one of them. I struggle with that old belief sometimes. But, that’s my insecurity not some truth about my boyfriend because of his sexuality.
I’m not just some experiment that he’s doing to figure himself out. But, some of my gay friends think that’s exactly what’s happening. Our chemistry, affection, and close bond is real not some trial. It’s different than other connections I’ve experienced because all relationships are unique.
I also don’t buy into the myth that all bisexuals must play with partners of both genders in order to be happy. Bi men are just as capable of, and challenged by, monogamy as other men. For my part I want him to go out and explore when the opportunity arises. He hasn’t had much experience and I wouldn’t think of denying him the opportunity to deepen his understanding of himself as a sexual being and the pleasure that provides.
So, as gay men, it is our responsibility to support our bi brothers on their journeys. My role, because of this man I deeply love and care for, is to educate people about the struggles of this hidden group within the queer community. Everyone should enjoy the support and freedom that being truly themselves offers. In an ideal world that would mean no one would be concerned about whom someone is attracted to. Until we get there we owe it to each other to fight together for a better world.