As a bisexual man, one of the biggest issues I face is people assuming bisexual means I’m in the middle of my coming out process as a gay man. This couldn’t be more false.
There is nothing wrong with being gay, but we wouldn’t accept people constantly trying to convince a gay man that he’s straight and we shouldn’t accept people trying to convince bisexual men they are gay.
It opens up a world of problems, one which was so severe it inspired me to start standing up for bisexual men. It wasn’t until I met my current girlfriend that I started to see just how biphobic both gay and straight people can be. My girlfriend was getting straight people asking her: “How are you the one dating the gay guy?”
Meanwhile, gay people were saying to her: “Honey, take it from me, being bisexual is a phase, he’s gay. Don’t let him make you look silly.”
I know how difficult being LGBT+ can be and I don’t want my girlfriend to receive that kind of discrimination on account of dating me. She shouldn’t have to become a victim because of who she is dating.
Something I rarely talk about is the effect it had on me. It’s much the same as a gay person feeling anxiety coming out to a straight person. I was hiding my sexuality from gay and straight people for fear they would attack me and tell me to stop lying.
The sad part is they can make a good argument. Look at the celebrities who’ve come out as bisexual only to come out as gay a few years later. Plus, everyone seems to know someone personally who said they were bisexual, then came out as gay.
And where are all the bisexual men in the media? You wouldn’t struggle to name 10 famous gay men but try naming 10 famous bisexual men.
Personally, I feel like you would know if you were gay or bisexual. I’m bisexual and I know that beyond a shadow of a doubt. From the little things such as I’ll be on the Tube and think OMG she’s hot and two seconds later I’ll be like OMG he’s hot. I was in a two-and-a-half-year relationship with a guy. I was in love; besotted. If I was gay, I’d be gay – hell it might even be easier. But I can’t pretend to be gay to give other people peace of mind.
I decided to talk to some of my gay friends who had come out as bi first. I asked them, “at the time did you honestly believe you were bisexual?” A lot of them responded along the lines of: “I think I wanted to be but to be honest, I think I always knew I was gay but it was just easier to come out as bisexual.”
This made no sense to me – I mean, who really wants to come out twice?
It was difficult for me to realise many of my gay friends were guilty of coming out as bisexual to ease people into the idea of them being gay. They were responsible for creating this stigma of bisexuality being a phase. In all honesty, the situation still makes me mad. While you can never judge anyone for the way they felt they had to come out, I – and every other bisexual male – am paying the price for gay men who come out as bisexual first.
Gay men have created a stereotype that they themselves then believe and straight people are observing and believing it too. In the big LGBT+ happy family we are supposed to be in, how can I be expected to fight alongside gay men for equality when they are the source of one of bisexual men’s biggest problems?
I think one of the major issues is that there is not a good term (not one that’s widely used, at least) to describe the years of sexual exploration. There is so much pressure to “choose a side” before we’ve actually had a chance to discover what we like. I wouldn’t have defined myself as bisexual until I was about 20. I needed time to explore and to discover what relationships and sex were like with both sexes before I was confident that I understood my sexuality. That meant I had to deal with the titles people put on me: gay, confused, slut.
It’s imperative we end this stigma – this nonsense that they are confused – that surrrounds bisexual men.
Words by – Lewis Oakley