Before seeing clips from BIDEOLOGY, a documentary that asks women if they would date a bisexual man, I never considered how I would respond if a man I wanted to date revealed to me that he was a bisexual. I never really considered a man being bisexual at all–women, of course–but a man? Never! Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who thought that way.
A 2005 study by Northwestern University concluded, “with respect to sexual arousal and attraction, it remains to be shown that male bisexuality exists.” Fortunately, recent research did the trick and the existence of bisexual men is now scientifically proven! According to the New York Times, another Northwestern study, in a complete turnabout from their 2005 study, “found evidence that at least some men who identify themselves as bisexual are, in fact, sexually aroused by both women and men.” Anyway, all this inspired me to get my own answers about what’s up with this double-standard that says only women can be bisexual. Here’s what I heard:
Truth be told, when I asked myself, “would I date a man who openly acknowledges he’s sexually and/or emotionally attracted to both men and women?” the answer was “Hell to the No!” Why? Well, the only example of bisexual men I grew up exposed to were the “down low” African-American man, who sees himself as heterosexual, yet secretly has sex with men. And its been reported that this phenomenon may be a factor in the rise in AIDS-related deaths for African-American women ages 25–34. According to WomensHealth.gov, “African-American women are [now] more than 21 times as likely to die from HIV/AIDS as non-Hispanic white women.” So, to say the least, I’ve feared unknowingly being in a relationship with such a man. And I’ve never imagined one would be straight up and say to me: “Veralyn, I am attracted to you and want to be with you, but I also need to be with men.”
Personally, if someone asked me that, I’d still say “Hell No!” Not because he’s bisexual, but because I don’t want to share my man with anyone–man or woman. But there are some women who would, more than likely with a few rules attached. (eg. I have to be involved, it must be safe sex, etc). Of course being bisexual does not mean you can’t be monogamous, but I would assume if a man is on the “down low” it’s because he needs that other man in his life. So can “down low” men stop living on the down low and come out as bisexual or gay?
Well, it’s complicated. In a 2005 San Francisco Chronicle article called “Secret gay encounters of black men could be raising women’s infection rate,” Phil Wilson, executive director of the Black AIDS Institute in Los Angeles says:
Many down low men find it difficult to see themselves as gay because of the stigma attached to homosexuality in the black community… Being gay risks rejection by family and friends.
They don’t identify with gay culture, which they see as white and effeminate. And when they do venture into gay communities like San Francisco’s, which are predominantly white, they feel unwelcome, according to several studies of gay men of color.
At the end of the day, if I’m ever asked: Would you date a bisexual man? I will counter that question with: How will his bisexuality affect my relationship with him? And of course: how can I create a comfortable and open space where he will feel free to be honest about his bisexuality? Thoughts?
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