IN THE SHADOWS

A Heartbreaking Look At Why So Many Bisexual Men Remain Closeted

bisexual-man-in-shadow

“I would never tell anyone,” a male participant in a recent study conducted by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. “I’ll go to my grave with this.”

The study, which was released earlier this summer, looked at roughly 200 closeted bisexual men with wives or girlfriends, and the findings were pretty heartbreaking.

Related: Why Are Bisexuals So Self-Destructive? This Study May Have The Answer.

Eric Schrimshaw, an associate professor of sociomedical sciences, helped lead the study and says it sheds even more light on some of the reasons why bi guys choose to remain closeted, even today, in the year 2016.

Many of the guys interviewed said they kept their true sexual orientations a secret out of the fear of criticism and ridicule by their peers. They worried their wives and girlfriends would have “extreme negative reactions,” and that their friends and family members would treat them differently.

And, honestly, they’re justified in feeling that way.

Think Progress points to a 2013 study by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health that found that many people, including many gay men and lesbians, have negative perceptions of bisexual people, labeling them “confused” and “experimental.”

Related: At What Point Does A Person Stop Being “Bi-curious” And Just Become Bisexual?

One man in his 40s told researchers at Columbia that he had briefly considered telling his long-term girlfriend about his sexuality. “I thought, if there was anyone I could tell, I could tell her,” he said. But he changed his mind after seeing how she reacted to learning a friend’s husband was gay.

A number of the guys also said they remained closeted because they didn’t want to be labeled as gay or have their attraction to women discounted, or because they feared becoming targets of violence. One participant revealed that when his cousin came out, his family beat him up then disowned him.

“Men link those stigmatizing reactions and that anticipation of stigmatizing reactions to the fact that they are from a particular culture or religion,” Schrimshaw says, “so it’s an extra factor that facilitates those negative reactions.”

So what’s the takeaway from all this?

Well, researchers say, people need to start recognizing that bisexual men really do exist. They aren’t confused or secretly gay or wish-washy. And they’re perfectly capable of being in monogamous heterosexual relationships. Or monogamous homosexual relations. Because, after all, that’s what being bisexual is all about.

Related: Is It Time To Start Being Nicer To Bisexuals?

h/t: Think Progress

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43 Comments

  • Mo Bro

    Heartbreaking, my ass.
    Being attracted to everyone is like appreciating all music, every food. It’s like being a Beatles fan while also a Stones fan, like loving Star Trek while worshiping Star Wars. It’s the best of both possible worlds. True, some people are better off not knowing your personal exploits, but how is that “heartbreaking”?

  • Sluggo2007

    @Mo Bro: Queerty used the word “heatbreaking” for dramatic effect. Aren’t you used to Queerty’s way of doing things yet?

  • Guy068

    I know of a lot of women who are cool with their gay and lesbian friends but drop guys like a hot potato if they’ve had a sexual relationship with a guy. I don’t blame bu guys for not sharing. Well, unless they’re cheating on the gals with guys or vice versa. If your partner is sharing you with a member of the opposite sex from them, they then have every right to know…

    • Kenney G

      And those women don’t have to worry about marrying a gay man or a lesbian. I don’t feel a thing for bi men they can’t have it both ways

  • film2212

    So certain men are given the name of closeted bisexual men and we should feel sorry for them

    ” because they kept their true sexual orientations a secret out of the fear of criticism and ridicule by their peers and their wives and girlfriends would have “extreme negative reactions,” and that their friends and family members would treat them differently”

    But other type of men are called on the down low, dl and are called pieces of shit

    • kent25

      They deserve to stay in the closet, They don’t want to be associated with gay men so let them stay in the closet, that’s where they belong.
      They have wives or girlfriends Why in the Hell are they worrying about men?
      They need to get into straight mode and shut the Hell up about wanting to be with a man

  • Paco

    @film2212: What world are you living in? Guys that call themselves bisexual are treated like garbage and have their sexuality invalidated by gay men, but the ones that call themselves “straight” are worshiped, lusted after and rewarded for their straightness while engaging in homosexual sex.

  • Baba Booey Fafa Fooey

    @Paco: You are true. Not above. Clicked the wrong poster.

  • Baba Booey Fafa Fooey

    @Mo Bro: I agree with only your first sentence. These guys would remain closeted anyways. If it’s “girlfriends” family or friends, it would be something else. Nothing “heartbreaking” here. Frustrating and pathetic.

  • DistingueTraces

    @Mo Bro: You’re right, there’s nothing heartbreaking about people being trapped in lives of secrecy and shame by the fear of stigma and violence.

  • Tobi

    “They worried their wives and girlfriends would have “extreme negative reactions,” and that their friends and family members would treat them differently.”

    Man. Up.

  • DarkZephyr

    I’d like to hear more about out and proud bisexual men who are in relationships with men. You almost never hear about that. You always hear about bisexual men who are with women. My guy is bisexual and we adore each other.

  • ErikO

    I’m bisexual and out and so are the majority of my bisexual friends who are men. I know one or two closeted bisexual men but they have not had sex with men and the one is married and monogamous with his wife, and the other one is bisexual but not sexually active at all with either women or men and is not looking for a relationship as he enjoys being single.

  • PRINCE OF SNARKNESS aka DIVKID

    I understand the reasons for dismissing bisexual “confusion” as a myth or slur, but the reality is that a significant percentage of bisexuals do indeed experience “confusion” (for want of a better term) in the sense of having to deal — on top of everything else in a homophobic/biphobic society — the extra internal burden of parsing a frustratingly unpredictable and capriciously fluctuating sexuality or “bi-cycle” and of not feeling in control of their own basic nature, which can be a major cause of psychological distress unique to this group and thus shouldn’t be discounted.

  • ErikO

    @Paco: That’s very true. A LOT of gay men need the fantasy of being with a hetero/straight guy or believe this silly biphobic/homophobic fantasy pipe dream.

  • Chris

    Funny (sad, really) how so many of us who insist that transexual folk, queer folk, questioning folk and all the rest gender-fluid folk have a right to defining themselves are unwilling to give our bisexual brothers and sisters the same consideration.

    As the genie told Aladdin: Beeeeeee yourself.

  • Brian

    Women find male bisexuality threatening. If a woman finds that her boyfriend has homosexual desires, she will often reject him even if he is sexually committed to her and has no intention of acting on his same-sex desires.

    Male bisexuality destroys girl power by taking away a woman’s ability to control men.

    • AYR

      Talking about people’s rights, as a straight woman I have the right to know where I am standing up in a relationship and also be able to be loved for who I am, a woman without extra accessories, its not about control its about don’t be selfish and respect others.

  • Brian

    Feminism has harmed male bisexuality. Here’s why: feminists teach women that “women are all powerful”. By “all powerful”, this means being able to use sexual consent to control male behavior. Feminists basically teach women that they should be able to manipulate men by only consenting to sex if he does as he is told by her on general issues to do with male behavior.

    Now, there is nothing wrong with a woman having the right to consent to sex – absolutely nothing wrong at all. But feminism teaches women that they can use consent to manipulate and control men. Big difference.

    Male bisexuality represents the opposite of this. It enables men to get around a woman’s unique ability to use consent to control male behavior. If she doesn’t consent, her man can always turn to a man. You’ll get no issues with consent when a man is courting a man for sex.

    Male-male attraction instantly leads to sex, and there is none of the consent games associated with male-female attractions. Feminists hate that men can do this, and thus seek to bad-mouth male bisexuality.

  • dwes09

    @Brian: You never do let reality interfere with your delusions do you?
    Feminism teaches women that they are entitled to the same levels of power as men. If that equates with “all powerful” in your mind…your mind needs to be examined a bit. What i see here is that feminism threatens your neurotic hatred for women, and women only seem tolerable to you if they act servile and quiet. If they insist on a reasonable level of respect, you probably have a panic attack and are haunted by delusions of the “vagina dentata” referred to by Freud.

    And by the way, in what world does male-male attraction “instantly lead to sex”? Maybe among the totally shallow or in cases of extreme horniness. Quite often it leads to dating and relationship. these days it even (and i am sure this horrifies you) leads to courtship and marriage. Mindless rutting is not the norm.

    You need to get out more.

  • Brian

    @dwes09: I think you’ve been pussy-whipped. Don’t worry – I don’t think you’re alone. There are tons of men – including gay-identifying men – who have been pussy-whipped.

    Here’s a clue: women use their sexuality as a marketing ploy. This includes pretending to be sexual and to be bi in order to gain a man’s attention. It’s a form of extreme selling.

    The women who pretend to be bi to attract men are usually the same women who are extremely homophobic about men who can swing both ways. These women sense that such men threaten their business model. Women do NOT like to compete with men for the attention of men as it reduces the amount and frequency of the reward for her.

    Feminism basically tells women it’s OK to sell themselves to men if it’s going to bring her a reward. This form of female behavior is at odds with male bisexuality for the business model reason I just mentioned.

    I would say that 90% of all homophobic laws introduced through history have been at the prompting of women, and for the purpose of suppressing the homosexual urges in all men.

  • Billy Budd

    The gay community simply MUST. I REPEAT MUST accept our bisexual friends into our large lgbt community with LOVE. Bisexuality is the NATURAL way of behaving. Bisexuality is beautiful. Bisexuality will become the norm again in the future when repression ceases to exist.

  • broadshoulder

    @ErikO: How do you know which are bisexual men? They don’t exactly advertise? Unless your lying?

  • gayhope1990

    Shut up Brian.You’re sick and tired of your rants against women.You’re insane.Most of bisexuals are closeted because of the society.The people can’t understand people can love men and women not just men or women.

  • Dave Downunder

    @DarkZephyr: I think you’ll find most guys who are in relationships with men but don’t mind the odd dalliance with the opposite sex still refer to themselves as gay. I have known a few and while they can function sexually with woman they still identify as gay.

    Funnily enough there are plenty of gay guys on hookup apps that call themselves bi despite never having had sex with a woman. Go figure.

  • ErikO

    @broadshoulder: Because they tell me that they’re gay and they have been out as gay for years or decades.

  • ErikO

    @broadshoulder: They’ve also made it quite clear that they are only attracted to men, and not to women at all, so they’re gay.

  • Heywood Jablowme

    @Dave Downunder: (you say) – Funnily enough there are plenty of gay guys on hookup apps that call themselves bi despite never having had sex with a woman.

    I always took that to be a sort of twisted ‘sales pitch’ because they think a lot of gay guys drool over bi (or fake bi) guys. Maybe they do. (I don’t get the attraction but to each his own.)

  • Dave Downunder

    @Heywood Jablowme: I agree. They do it to appear more desirable in the eyes of other gay like themselves who covet bi or married men as some kind if prize. Like you I don’t get it either.

  • cutterq

    I’m bisexual and feel like have the best of all worlds–professionally in my careers, confidence in myself and interaction with people of all sexual orientation. I did notice that when I told my gay friends that i was Bisexual, they called me liar and was gay not bi. I had to do a lot of education with them and they still won’t accept I’m by. I haven’t has any real problems of understanding with women and straight male friends. They have great curiosity of what being bisexual means and the great sex i enjoy with many different people. Self-loathing and suicidal I never was and is. Again, i have the best of all worlds.

  • JB-justsaying

    Heartbreaking BS ! Grow a pair already and stop forcing others, without their consent to live a part of your deception.
    I’m the youngest of 10 in a Irish Catholic family, do you think my coming out was a piece of cake?
    You are not special, it won’t be any more tragic than what others have already gone through so grow up already.

    Your coming out will make it that much easier for the children of today to never have to live a lie, so if you can’t do it for you do it for them.

  • Rustyadel

    Hi, I’m married and have thought about sex with other
    most of my life. Sure I have had the odd BJ and
    now go for a gay massage and even a bathhouse
    but have not gone the distance. It’s in is or it’s not!
    It’s now time to try but yes it would a huge impact
    to my family and career but just need to do it!
    My would not accept it!
    I actually try to chat other guys up but never have
    success but will continue to try!
    My
    Point is I don’t care if I’m called Bi or not it’s just very
    tiring hiding this hidden secret because I am considered
    Popular and have mixed with who I consider homophobic
    People!

  • besixdouze

    If I have negative perceptions of bisexual men, it’s only from personal experience. They never call themselves bi; they call themselves straight, have weird relationships with wives or girlfriends whom they’re cheating on, and toy with gay men on the side while doing zilch to improve the lives of LGBT people. If a guy actually identified as bisexual to me and showed through how he talked about himself that he had a strong sense of who he was, I’d be thrilled. Instead you get guys who’ll insist they’re straight even after sleeping with you. And some how other gay men find that confusion and self-loathing attractive, because they’ve internalized the idea that straight is better, even if straight is a huge effing mess.

  • besixdouze

    @Rustyadel: Um… it’s “time to try?” Are you talking about cheating on your wife?

  • Ksb1978

    This is what happens when you’re bi, but only inhabit straight spaces and surround yourself with cis straight people. Inhabit queer/bi spaces. And by that I don’t mean gay only spaces( because most gays treat bi folks like crap too)but spaces that welcome all queer people no matter who your current partner is.

  • Kenney G

    They made a choice to marry a woman so they need to stay in the close ,can bisexuals ever be happy? If you want to play straight married man so be it. you made your bed now lay your ass in and suck it up. No woman should have to worry about her man checking out other men.
    They are always bragging about liking both, be a man and love your wife

  • kent25

    No woman want a man that’s turned on by other men, So shut the hell up and stay in the closet

  • kent25

    Screw Bisexual men, They need to stay in the closet. They don’t want to be label as gay and have their attraction to women discounted, but it okay to have their attraction to men discounted. They are a bunch of cowards, And should suffer in the closet. They want the world to think they’re straight well be straight bitches and keep you freak in the closet where it belongs.
    If they want to have sex with a man buy a dildo and let your girl peg you.
    And she should NEVER let you watch gay porn. I don’t have any empathy for these cowards

  • kent25

    Bisexual men might as well stay in the closet, Male Bisexuality will NEVER BE ACCEPTED! That’s Nasty. Nobody want to know you like both men and women, Get yourself a woman and shut the Hell up

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