Not just a “layover on the way to Gaytown”—one bisexual man’s journey through life. Preconceived notions, the need for things to be easily defined and shades of grey.
BY MARK ARIEL
According to a recent survey participants who identified as gay or lesbian responded significantly less positively toward bisexuality than those identifying as bisexual, indicating that even within the sexual minority community, bisexuals face profound stigma.
The survey, presented at the American Public Health Association’s annual meeting in Boston, also found that male bisexuals likely suffer more stigma than female bisexuals.
Robert, 48, a bisexual man, has lived with his significant other, a bisexual woman, for the past five years, in a suburb of Los Angeles. “We are both not ‘out’ to the world—as we are both aware that the bisexual label could hurt our careers—which is funny because we have gay guys in my company who are totally accepted,” reveals Robert.
In an interview with THE FIGHT Robert talks about sexual fluidity, preconceived notions and feeling alone in the wilderness.
There comes a devastating, gut wrenching, lump-in-throat time in life when you suddenly realize that just because 99 percent of people in the world believe in something to be true—does not necessarily make it true. It’s not a joyful moment. It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah. It’s that moment in time when you reach the inevitable conclusion that from here on in—you’re on your own kid. No how-to guide, no coloring by numbers, no “we’re here, we’re queer, get used to it” rally, no light at the end of this tunnel, sorry folks. Welcome to “figure it out on your own,” good luck, namaste, God bless.
FREAK OF NATURE
I liked a girl. I liked a boy. I was 12 and life was filled with confusing, scary, don’t ask don’t tell emotions. I played doctor with Paul, I played house with Debbie, I played the thought over and over in my mind thousands of times, gay, not gay, boys, girls, who am I—for cryin’ out loud? I wasn’t about to actually ask anyone because I knew it wasn’t a good thing. I was an abomination, a freak of nature, a pervert.
One day I looked up “homosexuality” in a book my mother had accidentally left out on the coffee table—“Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask).” It was the bestseller of its time—in the seventies. The chapter on homosexuality was just 3 pages—and it was a doozy.
Without getting into major detail—the gist was that homos were incapable of true love and the only way they can satisfy their perverse urges is to meet men in public toilets, do their nasties, and slink back home in shame. I quickly closed the book, went to the encyclopedia my dad kept in his home office, and looked up the word “suicide” to find the most painless way to end it all… but I chickened out and simply forced myself to come to terms that I was a horrible, disgusting person for even thinking about boys. So right there and then I shoved those gay thoughts out of my mind and focused on girls. I liked girls as well, so really, my life didn’t have to be a disaster—or so I thought.
ALL THE QUIRKS
Whether you realize it or not—you’re probably a control freak. Life is tough—we need things to be easily defined, understood and categorized. You’re right or left, Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, religious or secular, straight or gay. Navigating all the quirks, the shades of grey, the exceptions to the rule, is too tedious, too tiresome and sometimes too frightening.
For me—the eventual realization that I was bisexual—forced me to abandon all the preconceptions that I grew up with, that society bestowed upon me—and let me tell you—it was a very alone in the wilderness time—and still is, to a certain degree.
THE SAD TRUTH
In college I met a girl and fell in love. It was all very romantic and exciting. She was sweet, kind, smart and beautiful. We were together for 2 years—and I thought I had finally put those pesky bisexual thoughts behind me. Then one day I met a guy on campus and my true self caught up with me. I was smitten—I couldn’t get him out of my head. I was hopelessly attracted to him. Yes, hopelessly. I got tongue tied and weak in the knees whenever I saw him. I was a mess. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep and fell into a major depression.
I finally told my girlfriend, and let’s just say—it didn’t go well. She eventually understood the concept of bisexuality—but she had plans of marriage—and just couldn’t be with someone like me. So we broke up—and I never approached the guy I was infatuated with—I’m pretty sure he was straight—and I more or less resigned myself to the sad truth that I would be loveless and alone for the rest of my days. It was the worst time of my life.
MY GAY CAP
As time went by I wondered if I just wasn’t plain ol’ garden variety gay. Maybe my attraction to women was something I had convinced myself of—to stay out of the gay. It seemed plausible enough. So I decided to put on my gay cap and wonder into bars and clubs and see what happens. I met a few people, made a few good friends, and found a boyfriend.
After a few months I told him I used to think I was bisexual—he laughed and said lots of gay guys think that in the beginning. I laughed—but deep down inside I wasn’t sure that I was 100 percent gay.
There’s a line from “Sex In The City,” an episode where Carrie finds out the guy she is dating is bi. She is having a rough time of it, and says “I’m not even sure bisexuality exists; I think it’s just a layover on the way to Gaytown.”
Samantha says she thinks it’s hot—and Miranda replies: “It’s not hot, it’s greedy. He’s double dipping.”
In my experience that’s what most people think. That bisexuals have a voracious sexual appetite—man, woman, coca cola bottle, anything to get off. That is so untrue. I don’t even like Coke.
EASY WAY OUT
It’s a blessing and a curse. Personally I feel that my life is richer than those who are just one thing—I am, however, aware that the reality of the situation is that bisexuals do not have the same social and political support that the gay community has acquired over the years.
Sure, we are the “B” in LGBT but most gay guys I meet are uncomfortable around bisexuals. Deep down inside they think that you’re a gay man afraid to fully come out of the closet.
Bisexuality is too confusing and too unsettling to deal with for most people. They just want you to pick one or the other—and no one gets hurt—we can all go home happy. It’s not that simple. But I understand the sentiment.
Honestly, I think bisexuality is more common than we think—both among those who define themselves as straight or gay. But most people are afraid to go there. Questioning your sexuality, especially after you think you know who you are, can create too much havoc in a world that desperately seeks the easy way out of dealing with life’s true complexities.