Blast from the past

See what ‘Newsweek’ was writing about bisexuals back in 1995

Today is Bisexual Awareness Day! To all our beloved bisexual readers: We got you, boos! ;)

In anticipation of today, a July 1995 cover of Newsweek magazine has been making the rounds on social media this week. The hip feature story that week: Bisexuality.

“Not gay. Not straight. A new sexual identity emerges,” the cover reads.

With a teaser like that, we can only imagine what the actual article says!

Oh, wait! A digital version is available in Newsweeks‘ online archives. In it, the authors define bisexuality as “the hidden wild card of our erotic culture” that “suggests that nonmonogamy, or ‘polyamory,’ is an accepted part of life.”

Related: Bisexuals Answer Stupid Questions Commonly Asked By Gay People 

Here’s a fun little excerpt from the article:

[B]isexuality lurks as a rupture in the social structure, conjuring fears of promiscuity, secret lives and instability. It can make the knotty issues of human relationships–jealousy, fidelity, finances, parental roles, custody-even more complex. And with these uncertainties comes an increased threat of AIDS.

Also, this:

Nobody knows how many bisexuals there are in the country, or just how bisexuality should be defined. Its existence alone makes many people uncomfortable.

Of course, not all of it is quite so laughable. The article makes a few points that are sadly, still pretty relevant today, over 20 years later. Like, for instance, bisexuals saying they feel “left out” from society:

Many bis, though, still feel rejected on two fronts: by straights for being too gay, and by gays for not being gay enough. During the late ’80s, bisexual men–especially married men who stepped out with other men–were painted as stealth assassins bringing AIDS to their unsuspecting wives. As Cosmopolitan warned in 1989, “If a man’s eyes follow other men, be very cautious.”

Also, the myth that bisexuals are more promiscuous:

In practice promiscuity is not an article of faith for all bisexuals; it’s an option. Many bis are monogamous for all or parts of their lives. The sociologist Paula Rust, in the upcoming book “Bisexuality: The Psychology and Politics of an Invisible Minority,” explains the paradox this way: “Imagine concluding that a person who finds both blue and brown eyes attractive would require two lovers, one with each eye color, instead of concluding that this person would be happy with either a blue-eyed or a brown-eyed lover.”

So, yeah, we’ve definitely still got work to do when it comes to eliminating the stigma around bisexuality.

But perhaps the line that rings most true over 20 years later is this:

This remains the unresolved paradox of bisexuality: that in its most individuated moments, it is most indistinguishable from homosexuality or heterosexuality. Desire is desire.

Indeed, desire is desire.

Related: Bisexuals talk about the differences between dating men and women

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18 Comments

  • Donston

    “Bisexuality” as a term emerged way before 1995. I do think it’s interesting that some of the same debates are still raging on: what exactly is bisexuality? What exactly is orientation? Is it desire or sexual attraction or sexual enjoyment or sexual behavior or romantic interests or some combination of those things?

    I still don’t understand the “feeling left out” complaints, at least not in today’s environment. I know three men who live a very “bi lifestyle”, and they are hardly ever “left out” of anything. Most straight-leaning or hetero-dominant or mostly straight-living men simply don’t care about lgbt unless there are ulterior motives. While about half of homo-dominant or gay-leaning men who identify as bi are desperate to hold on to some sense of hetero-normalcy and often contend with internalized homophobia and/or gay-shame. That’s not really “society’s fault”. That’s an internal struggle. As most of the “bi struggle” seems to be shallow or mainly internal, which does make it a struggle nonetheless.

  • gaym50ish

    Instead of trying to classify sexuality as gay, straight or bi, we should understand that Kinsey had it right with his six-point scale from totally heterosexual to totally homosexual. Most people are close to one end of the scale or the other, but there are many in between, by varying degrees. I have been there myself, having been married twice to women and currently to a man. I don’t hesitate to call myself “gay,” but I am not a Kinsey 6 — and in fact I don’t know very many gay men who haven’t related to women sexually at some time in their lives.

    • dash_board1

      @gaym50ish, are you saying that you are sexually attracted to men and women? Because if that is so, can you please explain why you are identifying as gay, and not bisexual?

    • Donston

      The Kinsey scale focuses entirely on behavior and instincts and has proven many times since to be a sketchy way of determining orientation. It’s a convenient go-to. But it holds little weight after the studies and experiments done on about sexuality since. Sexuality is too varied and diverse for a basic scale. However, a recent New York Times article concluded that a bit under 2% of men are entirely homo, while almost 4% of men are homo-dominant, 5% of men are hetero-dominant and about half of 1% have close to equal attractions to men and women. (Non cis-gendered people were left out of the equation).

      I do agree that the focus on “labels” has stagnated honest conversation. And it often leads to people shielding themselves more than truly revealing themselves. Sexual arousal, sexual attraction, sexual pleasure, desire and sexual behavior are five distinctly different things. And we rarely talk about the differences between those things. Then there’s romantic instincts. Then there’s whatever situation your ego is comfortable in. (There are some people whose entire sexuality and romantic instincts go a certain direction, but their ego still won’t let them be comfortable in that direction).

      I’m just sick of the bi-whining, people using sexual identity and behavior for manipulation or attention or to indulge certain ego-driven instincts, and very gay-leaning or entirely gay people hiding behind identities and/or behavior to retain some sense of hetero-normalcy or to shield internalized homophobia.

    • Loki

      @Donston
      Got a link to this NYT article? Couldn’t find it after a bit of googling…

    • Donston

      It’s an over year-old and I only saw it myself through a scan. I was surprised that lgbt media didn’t pick it up or that it didn’t receive a lot more general press. They did a two-year study. Of course, none of these studies, polls and experiments are precise. In fact, sometimes they’re way off. But I thought the numbers were similar to my own estimations.

  • Loki

    “Imagine concluding that a person who finds both blue and brown eyes attractive would require two lovers…”

    LMFAOLOLOLOL!!!! Because possessing male or female genitalia is the same as having blue or brown eyes! Clits and coochie lips, foreskin and ball bags – seriously, what’s the difference?! Hahahahaha!!!

    *For the dimwits out there, I’m being sarcastic.

  • Jaxton

    Women look at male bisexuality and see a threat to girl power.

    Men look at female bisexuality and see a threesome fantasy.

    This is the defining hypocrisy of liberals: girl-girl “hot”, guy-guy “gross”. I call it the bisexual double standard.

    The double standard is mainly promoted by liberals – including feminists – who are obsessed with proving the idea that women are superior to men.
    Thus, their attitudes depend on the gender of the bisexual.

    Fact is, male bisexuality proves that men are superior to women because it removes from the woman her power of consent. Faced with a male partner who is unashamed about his attractions to men, she loses her ability to use sexual consent to control him.

    In the battle of the sexes, she loses.

    • dash_board1

      Mate, seriously, I don’t know what your issue with women is but, based on the comments I’ve seen from you, I would strongly urge that you get some form of counselling to work through your issues.

    • Brian

      You should get help.

    • CaliKyle

      Agree with what dash said, jaxton. Your opinions are warped by the obvious mental health issues you have pertaining to gender and sexuality.

  • Jaxton

    Heterosexuality has never accepted male bisexuality in the same way it accepts female bisexuality.

    There’s a survey which shows that men are 7 times more likely to accept female bisexuality than women are to accept male bisexuality.

  • Heywood Jablowme

    I’d rather read that “Cappuccino vs. Cowboys” article mentioned on the Newsweek cover!

    • Rex Huskey

      ha! agree with that!

  • Jaxton

    A lot of you won’t admit that women have negative attitudes to male bisexuality because it ruins your illusion that women are wonderful, accepting creatures.

    Again, there are remarkable statistics out there that don’t lie. They show that men are far more accepting of female bisexuality than women are of male bisexuality.

    • Heywood Jablowme

      Oh, I believe all that. But you usually go on with your bizarre paranoia about “liberal Hollywood” and “liberals” in general. It’s not just liberals. Conservative men are ALSO far more accepting of female bisexuality than conservative women are of male bisexuality.

      Yes, some liberals may have an “ick” factor about male bisexuality and male homosexuality, but do they act on it politically? They do not. They don’t try to punish the activity and legislate it out of existence they way Republicans almost always want to do.

  • radiooutmike

    Once again, a 22 year old article about alternate sexuality was outdated by at least ten years when published.

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