Love is Blind is the new Netflix show where single men and women look for love and get engaged before meeting in person – what could go wrong?
Episode three saw Carlton, 34, and Diamond, 28, go on their first real date after getting engaged, before Carlton reveals that he has dated both men and women in the past.
The results were a disaster, as Diamond told Carlton he should have been open about his sexuality from the beginning, Carlton threw back the word 'b*tch', drinks went flying, and Diamond stormed off. Needless to say, that was the end of that engagement.
It must be pointed out that Carlton's own behaviour left much to be desired, and the ensuing fall-out was as much down to his demeanour as his sexuality, which Diamond said she was trying to process.
But whilst some might chalk this entire incident up to reality TV nonsense, the truth is it the incident highlighted a much larger issue in society that has gone undiscussed for far too long: the biphobia - overt or underlying - that bisexual men can face, often from straight women who would otherwise consider themselves supportive of the LGBTQ community.
Straight women seeing bisexual men as not 'man enough' or 'trustworthy' enough to be a potential love interest is an epidemic that needs to be addressed. Sadly, it isn't just the view of a minority of women.
Research shows that when asked, only 19% of women would date a man who identifies as bisexual. Meaning that for bisexual men, if you are open about about your sexuality with a straight female partner, there is an 81% chance she is going to end things.
This comes back to Diamond’s question of why Carlton didn’t tell her sooner. As a bisexual man, I think in the face of such odds and immediate judgement, it’s understandable that some men will want wait until a woman gets to know them as a person before dropping the 'B' bombshell.
Some may ask “what’s the problem?” Of course, women are free to find who they want to find attractive, and the truth is a bi man is not going to be every womans cup of tea. The distinction is in the reason why they're not interested in dating a bisexual man.
If you won’t date a bisexual man because for some primal reason it just doesn’t do it for you or if you’re passionate about donating blood (outdated legislation requires them to have not had sex with a bisexual man in the last three months) then that’s fine.
However, if you won’t date a bisexual man because you think he is secretly gay, will cheat on you with a man or that you might catch an STI – that's rooted in discrimination and prejudice.
I find it fascinating the number of women I’ve met who have singled out my bisexuality as the reason they would not date me. I wonder if they’d point out my biracial heritage and brown skin as a reason? To me, there is no difference. I can’t change my sexuality anymore than my race – and I wouldn’t want to.
Why do we live in a culture where women know turning you down solely on the colour of your skin is wrong, but have no issue with doing it because of your sexuality?
The truth is, this attitude has a massive impact on bisexual men, pansexual men and even straight men who got drunk that one time. Statistics indicate that the majority of bisexual men struggle with mental health issues. It also means the majority of them stay closeted – a whopping 88% of them to be exact.
One major issue I’ve noticed in my conversations with bisexual men is the feeling of inadequacy this situation creates. Bisexual men know that for a high portion of women their sexuality (the very thing that has led them to be attracted to this woman in the first place) is a deal-breaker.
Bisexual men internalise this rejection, often feeling like they are not ‘man enough’ to be with women. And, ultimately, feeling like you aren’t good enough for half of the people you are attracted to is going to way heavy on your psyche and could be argued contributes to mental health issues.
The way forward is for straight women to educate themselves. If they have an issue with the thought of dating a bisexual man the first point of call must be to ask themselves why.
Lewis Oakley is an LGBTQ and bisexual activist
Is it because you think they are secretly gay? Because Pew Social Trends found that 84% of bisexuals who are in a committed relationship are dating someone of the “opposite sex".
Is it because you think you need a ‘man's man’ to be fulfilled? Because the Deakin School of Health and Social Development found that women in relationships with bisexual men say their partners are better lovers and fathers than the straight men they had dated.
I’ve never understood why many straight women view male bisexuality as a negative, but ultimately that is their problem. My advice for bi men that will have to face this issue is good riddance, you deserve a partner that loves you for who you are.
If they have an issue with your sexuality, they really aren’t the one – but trust me, the one is out there, keep looking.