As the gay lifestyle becomes more mainstream, the bisexual lifestyle remains misunderstood.
Bisexuality is the new gay. By this I mean that since homosexuality is becoming increasingly acceptable in the United States, the proverbial torch has been passed to bisexuals and their allies. Now their cause needs championing because bisexuality remains stigmatized, stereotyped and discriminated against. Soon the term "biphobia" will become as commonly known as "homophobia."
Within the homosexual community, bisexuals have historically been seen as confused or not strong enough to claim their homosexuality. Playing both sides of the fence was seen as a cop-out and a good reason for gays to avoid association with bisexuals. Bisexual men and women were made to feel like they didn't belong in either the straight or gay camp, but things are changing.
The Kinsey Scale, which was developed in 1948, was revolutionary in that it stated that many people do not fit into a homosexual box or a heterosexual box. Many of us are somewhere in-between, and people's "thoughts and feelings towards the same or opposite sex was not always consistent across time."
For the first time, men who could love men or women could look at research that helped explain their existence. The research was important in helping bisexuals understand they were not wrong or abhorrent; they are simply at different places on the human sexuality scale.
Many bisexual men never dared to explore both sides of their sexuality and chose to take the more accepted route of marrying a woman and starting a family. For some married bisexual men, it can be difficult to discover a same-sex attraction and ignore it. There are men in every state who make love to their wives and also have a male lover on the side.
It's easy to assume the man in this example is really gay and is not able or ready to accept it but that may be far from the truth. If he is in fact a bisexual, he may be perfectly happy to have both men and women in his sexual life. The problem, of course, is it is probably not okay with his wife.
Most of the bisexual men I have encountered have not revealed their same-sex affairs with their wives. In some cases, the fear of societal rejection kept them closeted, while others felt they had good marriages and did not want to risk losing their wives by revealing their sexual encounters.
For most of these men, it's about sex, not about love. The problem is there are consequences when we keep a major part of our lives hidden. It may not result in the loss of marriage but it can result in the loss of self-esteem and personal integrity. In fact, researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health found that rates of depression and anxiety are common in men who conceal their same-sex affairs.
Science and the study of human sexuality will continue to help us better understand why we are the way we are. The bisexual stigma of being confused or too afraid to "come out" will no doubt change with conversation and sexual education.
*If you are struggling with your sexual orientation and would like to gain clarity and confidence, Coming Out Coaching may be just what you need. Contact me for a free 30 minute consultation.