Sunday, July 14, 2019

Men, Sex And Bi-Phobia

  Lateral suspicion and hostility towards bi-men can be superficially viewed in the context of just one more example of how LGBT Inc will eat itself with the very identity politics our opponents accuse us of, and ridicule us for. Smarter groups and movements stress the importance of using identity politics judiciously - not as a default stance in bickering with our allies. We're seeing it with alarming frequency - most often as media "opinion pieces" from scribes who assume that all media exposure advances Queer goals. It doesn't. Media primarily exploits, and we're wise to know it.

For better or for worse, bi-men are remarkably absent from media - especially mass media. Remarkable because if you crunch the numbers they possibly comprise one of the largest demographics of Queerdom: men who have sex with other men. And it's sex which drives the phobia: the bisexual man isn't a sexless academic abstraction. His sexuality is part and parcel of his complete self. It's his unique masculine trait, rather than a reflection of somebody else's sexuality or their identity(ies). And his "acceptance" may be more threatened than he realizes, since acceptance of gay sex itself appears to be falling...the concept of LGBTIQ quickly becoming a notion of enforced asexuality.  And that directly contravenes a founding principle of Stonewall: we knew from the get-go that homophobia was all about our sex. And all subsequent reliable science and studies indicate that same-sex attraction has both epigenetic and sociological purpose, while homophobia is increasingly proving itself to be both unnatural and reactionary for no good reason.

So Why Would Gays Hate Bisexual Men?

   Male bisexuality is a conceptual knock-on afterthought to the relatively modern notion of male homosexuality as identity and pathology. Prior to that, our civilization for better or worse only acknowledged sexual acts between men within the broader "rules" of male sexuality, as policed by patriarchy. While Joe Kort is correct to point out that the time-worn trope of "You're not bi - you're just gay and in denial" is sloppy therapy and bad politics gone too far, his creation of the non-bisexual straight man who has sex with other men might also be therapy and bad politics gone too far.

Or a nifty new diagnosis for a therapist to net more clients. The here and now is all very well and good, but good ole Joe seems to have forgotten that like all transgendered people men who love and desire and have sex with other men are part of the backbone of mankind's formative myths, legends, beliefs and religions...things that are less easily dismissed than we imagine. That's their legitimate pedigree, and one not to be erased or dismissed by more recent religious beliefs, debunked psychiatry or poor psychology.

All of which should nevertheless eradicate any conflict between gay men and bi-men. Yet an apparently two-sided conflict remains...sometimes simmering, sometimes quite hostile. I've critiqued bisexual men's part in the conflict, and it would be remiss to not examine gay men's attitudes in more critical detail.

The genesis of gay men's negativity towards bi-sexual men probably arises within the paradoxes surrounding falling in love with straight men, and the sexual seduction - or otherwise - of same. While pursuing the romantic delusion of acquiring a non-gay man doesn't usually end well, pity help the non-gay who is seduced by a self-loathing gay man. His social status will be diminished, he will be called "she" and his to-be-expected reasonable sexual desires will be trashed by bottom-shaming. If it all sounds like projected self-dismissal at a very deep level it's because it is.

The bisexual man presents a significant challenge (or threat) to gay men who aren't as secure and authentic as we'd like to have folks believe. Most often that insecurity manifests itself in the belief that bisexual men are just casual sexual opportunists...paradoxically not unlike many gay men. Or more to the point: "Our little hearts might get broken if we can't railroad the guy into a relationship of dubious intent." In that scenario, neurosis has closed the door on the idea that a bisexual man may very well be open to a healthy, loving sexual relationship with another man. And how we ascertain that is best done with open and honest dialog which leaves both men feeling better about it all: our nominated identities may very well be cold and superficial and highly unlikely to sustain anything meaningful.

The personal can't help itself from becoming the political, and post-AIDS Queer initiatives ran into obstacles from old-school gays and lesbians who opposed bisexual inclusion in what became LGBT. And many still don't get the fact that sexual mavericks are sexual mavericks, and for that reason are part of something organically and historically shared, not things to be whimsically excluded or included.

The Bi-man: Cool Guy Or Pariah?

   We're told a lot of stories about porn, and most of it's bullshit. Realistically, so many lines have become so blurred across the reality/fantasy divide that pornography, sex work and sexuality itself have been been steered by technology into uncharted territories. Pornography isn't a public health crisis for gay men, and no amount of neo-Puritan blowback is going to make it so. It can't be reasonably assumed that otherwise applies to bi-men. Personally, you'll never know as much about a man as you think unless you know his pornography. As social study of men, it's oh-so-informative and getting to be more so.

Like many, I'd assumed that bisexual men in Western pornography had more in common with bisexual women in the industry than not. The differences however are stark enough to be delineated as non-acceptance versus (albeit fetishized) adoration. Whether it's industry prejudice or a reflection of consumer tastes isn't yet clear, but the sublime post-Queer Karley Sciortino ("Slutever") pushed the topic early in her 2019 TV series.

While chicks-with-dicks in porn go no more to validating trans people than women in porn go to validating women, the apparent lack of interest in bi-men must be noted. On balance, is he then most sexually undesirable, as evidenced by his relative invisibility?

As it is in porn, so apparently it is in that surreal life we call real life. Where and who are the bisexual men peopling our screens? The heartthrobs who do it and talk it and don't give a damn, and demand more roles for bisexuals while they do it? We need names. While bisexuality-with-elan has some history courtesy of recent rock'n'roll mythology, many contemporary men actually experience their bisexuality not as greater opportunities but as loneliness.

The innate value of a bi-man as man and person shouldn't be up for consideration as a worthy debate topic. By LGBT+ or anybody else. What should be considered is his status as a Queer, and specifically whether or not he's been unforgivably marginalized by queer "communities" - whatever form they take. As things stand now, he's probably being subjected to more marginalization from broader society than even he knows.

The good news is we can change that - to everyone's benefit.


  1. Ignore the fact that making a single individual invisible is a tragedy. Ignore the double standard of fetishized female bisexuality and unbelieved male bisexuality. We're marginalizing what may be the largest single marginalized group in the world.

    Kinsey chose to assign five of his seven categories to bisexuals. He evidently found a scientific basis for differentiating between a Kinsey Scale One, who may never have had a same-sex encounter, and a Kinsey Scale Six, who is exclusively gay. We encourage gay men and women to come out and to have healthy sex lives. Bisexual men are treated quite differently. There is no encouragement to share their stories, and the consequences are typically unfortunate at best.

    I was 49 before I realized I had a physical attraction to men, in addition to women. I've never been unfaithful to my wife of nearly 50 years, and have no intention of doing so. With a woman or a man. I've never acted on my attraction to men. Nonetheless, when I shared this with my wife, she accused me of lying. "Admit it, you're gay." The world is full of color, why are some limited to seeing only black and white?

    1. Yes it's certainly the broad double-standard of male vs female bisexuality across society which is most problematic. Don't forget that homophobia towards males is differentiated from homophobia towards females for different reasons...many of which are delineated along class lines and power structures.

      The problem with people only wanting to see in black & white is also symptomatic with the times we live in.

      Thanks for your terrific response, Mark!