Have you ever felt unfairly judged for something you couldn’t control? Has that feeling of judgment impacted how comfortable you were being your authentic self? Everyone will be subjected to stigma at some point in their lives, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community are even more at risk.
Let’s take a focused look at the stigma faced by bisexual men. Then, we’ll discuss how everyone can help fight that stigma so that we can all feel more comfortable and safe being ourselves.
What Is Stigma?
Let’s start by defining the word stigma.
Stigma is discriminating against or holding onto negative beliefs about a person or group of people due to a personal trait or distinguishing characteristic. We see stigmas surrounding almost anything that makes someone “different” — mental illness, skin color, cultural identity, sexuality, etc.
Stigma can also be internalized, which is known as self-stigmatization. As we can’t control most of the factors we may be stigmatized for, the unconscious biases we pick up as we grow can create a feeling that we are somehow “wrong” or “bad” for being born a certain way. An excellent example of this can be seen in people who have grown up gay in a fundamentalist Christian household.
Unfortunately, pointing stigma inward (even unintentionally) can lead to self-hatred and mental health issues. This can eventually lead to crises later in life.
Stigma is real and can be very dangerous, whether pointed outward or inward. It is crucial to recognize and fight stigma in any area of your life (whether it directly applies to you or not).
What Do Bisexual Men Look Like?
Bisexual men are men who are sexually attracted to both men and women — although as gender and orientation have expanded in recent years, it can also be synonymous with pansexuality. Take a second and picture a bisexual man. What does he look like? What is he wearing? How does he act?
Likely, most of your answers are going to involve stereotypes. Unfortunately, those stereotypes can be persistent, as a study in the Journal of Bisexuality showed in 2019.
The study examined how bisexuals were perceived by straight women and gay men — romantically, sexually, and in their gender presentation. It was done by presenting them with fake dating site profiles where the only factor that changed was their sexuality.
The results may surprise you.
The biggest surprise is that straight women as a whole rated bisexual men as being less sexually and romantically attractive than straight men. They also reported that they were less likely to date or have sex with bisexual men and viewed them as more feminine.
While gay men didn’t have as much of a bias, the study also noted it was a very small survey size and likely not indicative of how the community as a whole thinks.
“The truth is that bisexual men don’t follow any specific stereotypes. Just as many bisexual men enter into monogamous relationships with men as they do with women. “
Some bi men strongly prefer men, and some feel far more sexual attraction to women. They can be tops or bottoms. None of these men are any more or less bi than any others.
Why Do Bisexual Men Face So Much Stigma?
So, why single out bisexual men to talk about stigma? Don’t they face the same stigma as gay men?
The answer is yes and no. While bisexual men face much of the same stigma as gay men from the outside community, they are also subjected to stigma from inside the community. Many people call this the “double closet” because bisexuals don’t feel comfortable coming out to gay or straight friends and family members.
For people outside the LGBTQIA+ community, there is often an inability to see nuance. For many outside community members, a person who identifies as a man and has sex with another man is just “gay.”
It’s hard for them to understand that sexuality exists on a continuum rather than binary absolutes. This stigma is true even in cases where bisexual men are in consensual, open relationships with cisgender women and have male partners.
Unfortunately, the stigma doesn’t stop inside their own community. A small portion of the gay community views bisexual men as not being gay enough, causing them to be unfairly outcasted from gay circles.
This stigma can make bisexual men hide their attraction to women to help them fit in more, essentially cutting themselves off from a crucial part of their sexuality. It can also cause them to not feel fully at home in a community important to them. This can make them feel like they have constantly watch what they say so they don’t get judged or kicked out of their social circles.
Dispelling Myths About Bisexual Men
Although we’ve already talked about the myths bisexual men face that can lead to stigma, let’s dispel a few more.
Myth: Bisexuality doesn’t exist
Truth: The number one most prevalent myth that bisexual men face is that people who call themselves bisexual just haven’t made up their minds yet, or are too scared to come out of the closet as gay.
Some people believe that being bi is a “phase” or that they’re confused, but none of that is true. While it’s true that there may be some people who change their sexual identities, bisexuality is its own distinct sexuality.
Myth: Bisexuals are all into threesomes
Truth: Another myth that bisexuals face is that they’re all ready to hop into bed with anyone who asks. Often referred to as being a unicorn, the idea is that bisexuals are all just ready to go at a moment’s notice. It may come back to the fact that people wrongly interpret people who are attracted to multiple genders as “easy,” which is no more true for bisexual men than for any other group.
Myth: Bisexuals are unfaithful
Truth: There is a persistent belief that bisexual men are unable to be faithful to their partners. A lot of this comes down to insecurity, as though having “twice” the options makes someone less faithful. There is no difference in the number of bisexual men who cheat on their partners than anyone else.
Myth: Bisexuals are unhappy
Truth: People who believe that happiness is only possible by finding your other half find it difficult to imagine that bisexuals can feel content. However, not only does happiness not involve another person, but it is also individual for everyone. Your sexuality has nothing to do with your ability to find happiness.
Myth: Bisexuals spread STIs more frequently
Truth: Again, because people assume that bisexuals sleep with twice as many people (which isn’t true), there is a myth that they are also more frequent spreaders of STIs. Bisexual-identified people aren’t any more or less likely to spread STIs than any other category of sexually active people.
How Does Stigma Affect Bisexual Men’s Health?
The stigma around coming out of the closet (and remaining out) as bisexual men impacts more than just their social lives.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the stigma surrounding men who are open about sex with other men can also negatively impact their physical health and well-being.
Reclaiming your sexuality starts with feeling comfortable discussing your sex life with your physician. Finding a primary care doctor who takes your insurance can feel daunting, let alone trying to figure out if they’re gay or bisexual-friendly.
Feeling judged, especially as a new patient, can stop people from seeking necessary care, even for treatable or preventable issues. That means waiting longer to address problems, potentially leading to chronic health care concerns.
Feeling like you have to hide who you are can also impact your mental health. Being “on guard” about your sexuality puts you under significant stress.
This can lead to depression and anxiety, potentially lowering your immune system. Statistics show that gay and bisexual men are six times more likely to self-report high levels of depression or suffer from generalized anxiety disorder.
Ultimately, for many bisexual men, coming out of the closet can lead to a sense of isolation and loneliness. Humans are social creatures, and not having support and community can impact every part of a person’s life.
Bisexual Men and Sex
How does being bi impact your sexual experience? It depends on what you like and who you are having sex with.
Many people say that bisexual men tend to be better in bed than gay or straight men because they have experienced what it's like on both sides. While there is no way to prove or disprove that, they have a good point!
Many straight men develop their sexual moves by watching porn and learning from their experiences. Yes, this can be beneficial, but it also is all second-hand (and unrealistic). On the other hand, men who have sex with other men know what has worked and what hasn’t worked and can apply that to their female partners.
If you’re a bisexual man in a relationship with a woman, you don’t have to adhere to strictly “heterosexual” stereotypes about sex. With the right partner and open communication, you can still have your needs met.
One thing you can do is try incorporating a prostate massager into the bedroom. You can also experiment with pegging, where your partner anally penetrates you.
Regardless of what gender you sleep with, take steps to ensure you’re always having safe sex. This means wearing condoms, especially if engaging in riskier activities like anal sex (giving or receiving).
In addition, if you include a prostate massager in your sexual activity, you must clean it afterward (even if you are just using it for solo play).
Cleaning your sexual aides after use helps to remove any bacteria, debris, or fecal matter from the surface, which reduces your risk of developing an infection or STI. Follow the instructions that came with your massager and always use non-abrasive cleaning products that match its material.
How Can We Fight The Stigma Bisexual Men Face?
The first step in fighting stigma is acknowledging the issue! Whether you are a member of the bisexual male community yourself, know someone who is, or are just an ally wanting to know more, you can’t fix something you don’t see as a problem. This may also require confronting some uncomfortable internal biases.
After that, talk about it! If you’re a bisexual man, feel ready, and are in a safe environment, consider coming out of the closet.
While there may be some uncomfortable conversations, you can put a face on a very serious issue for the people in your life. You never know; you may even open up some new sexual experiences with your partner (for instance, introducing your wife to using a prostate massager on you).
But perhaps the most important way to fight the stigma is to ensure you have plenty of social support. Social support can come from family, friends, or peers, and can help raise self-esteem and improve your mental health.
Check out groups in your area, or just make sure you’re telling the bisexual man in your life that you’re there for him no matter what. It means a lot to feel completely loved and understood,
The stigma faced by many bisexual men can impact their entire lives. It can impact their safety, their health, and even their place in the community. However, tackling that stigma head-on makes it possible to fight back and help ensure that bisexual men are validated just as much as any other sexual identity.
We all want the same thing — to be fully loved and accepted. GIDDI supports bisexual men and anyone seeking to learn more about themselves and keep themselves safe and healthy!