“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.
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.”
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.
h/t: Think Progress