Can you help me find personal writing by bisexual men?
December 29, 2008 10:48 AM   Subscribe

As a bisexual woman I've been thinking lately about the strange status of bisexual men in my society (the USA). There are surely plenty of bi men around - I've met several and dated a couple, but I've read very little in depth writing from the point of view of men who date or sleep with both men and women.

Anyone who isn't straight has to deal with a lot of prejudice, assumptions, and certain types of invisibility, but bisexual men seem to have an especially hard time. All types of queer people are generally stereotypes in the media when we're shown at all, but bisexual men only seem to appear as lying, cheating HIV transmitters on the DL, plot devices rather than characters. I'm well aware of how homophobia plays into all this - there's the belief (which bisexual women have to deal with too) that if you have sex with men that's your "real" orientation, there's the idea that being "fucked" is a blow to your social status, and there's a whole bunch of other unpleasant things. It seems to me like an especially difficult social position to be in, and I'm interested in how folks navigate that. I'm interested too in the ways that men might experience dating or sex with men and women differently from the ways that I do.

So please help me find blogs, articles, books etc that can help correct this imbalance in my reading and understanding. Anything from funny, to erotic, to political is fine, but obviously I'm looking for personal writing, not some guy who happens to be bi's tech blog! The thoughts of any MeFites would also be very welcome, either here or through MeFi Mail.
posted by crabintheocean to Human Relations (15 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Novels and personal essays by Jonanthan Ames. Ames is one of my favorite contemporary writers, but in addition to being bisexual, he's also a neurotic New Yorker, so I don't know that he creates a good portrait of a "healthy" bisexual man. He's sort of like Woody Allen, if Allen were bi. However, his writing is very raw and honest, and it's hard to tell the difference between his fiction and non-fiction.

A couple of personal observations: I've met some bi men, but they've all been more into men than women. Is that the norm? (Is there a norm?) Are there a lot of guys who are bi but more into women than men? Where are they? Is there any reason why I would keep running into bi men that skew towards gay?

You're right that bi men have a harder time than straight or gay men. They get pressured to join one "side" or the other. However, all my life, I've heard people say, "Everyone is bisexual." So there's a weird dual relationship that people have with bisexuality. On the one hand they seem to think it's natural; on the other, they think people should proclaim themselves straight or gay, not something in-between. (Incidentally, it's NOT true that everyone is bisexual. I'm pretty sure I'm not repressing anything, yet I've never had ever a fleeting sexual fantasy about a man.)
posted by grumblebee at 12:02 PM on December 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

The only books I know of with in-depth personal writing by bisexual men are two collections of essays:

Bi Men: Coming Out Every Which Way edited by Ron Jackson Suresha and Pete Chvany (amazon listing)

Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World edited by Robyn Ochs and Sarah Rowley (amazon listing)

I also identify as bi and have dated and socialized with bi men as well, and I'm very happy to see books like this getting published. I have several books about bi women, but there isn't a whole lot of similar material written by bi men. I'll be watching this thread for further recommendations.
posted by velvet winter at 12:04 PM on December 29, 2008

It is a difficult social position to be in. And you're absolutely right that most people assume that, if you fuck dudes, you're gay--doubly so if you're a bottom. That assumption is so prevalent, and the social pressures so strong, that, years after coming out as bi, my gay friends convinced me that I must be gay, and I came out again. Imagine some of my friends' anger when, after a few trysts with men, I started dating women again. I'd betrayed their label--the same label that I'd insisted for years didn't fit.

You talk about invisibility. I'm totally and completely invisible as bi these days--I've gone and married a woman. It's assumed that I'm straight, across the board; straight folks just assume, and I don't ping anybody's gaydar. I don't have a parade, and I've been made to feel like an interloper at a number of pride functions I've attended. At best, I'm a straight supporter: the parade isn't for me.

Imagine straight people's disgust and anger when I mention that I have slept with men. If I were gay that would be par for the course, I could come out, and people would (mostly) shut up in earshot. Since I'm bi, though, people don't feel any social pressure not to offend me. It's okay to make hurtful jokes about what I do in the bedroom, to my face, since I'm obviously just a broken straight dude. I'm just as sensitive as any gay dude to homophobia, and yet most people don't think I "count". Frequently people don't even believe me:

"Man, I wish those faggots would party somewhere else."

"Excuse me, but I don't appreciate that kind of bigotry."

"What do you care? You're not gay."

"No, I'm bi."


As for being fucked tarnishing your social status... yeah, there's a lot of that, if you're talking about your social status with the straights. It's even in my head, to a certain degree. I'm a bottom, but I generally wind up selecting men whom I feel superior to in some way or whom I expect not to see socially. It's not so much the social status, since most people aren't going to know who took what even if they know I've fucked somebody; it's more that to put myself in a submissive position, I've got to feel like it's artificial, like it's totally a choice to be on that side of things. Especially because at some point, I'm going to go sleep with a woman, and more likely than not, she's going to want me to act assertive and toppy. It's an interesting psychological tightrope to walk: yes, I am a man who can hold you down, call you a slut, and fuck you savagely; but, sometimes, I flirt and wink and coquettishly hint, and then lie back and take it.

There's a lot of walking the line between gay and straight. I can't gay it up too much, or straight women start thinking that I'm pretty ridiculous as a potential sexual partner. However, if I'm too straight, most gay dudes won't make a pass, and many of them won't even recognize when I make a pass. As a result, I've learned to turn up the gay on demand. I can flounce, limpwrist, squeal, and emote just as well as any queer--but, I only do it at the gaybar when I'm cruising.
posted by Netzapper at 12:04 PM on December 29, 2008 [24 favorites]

I've known (though not in the biblical sense) guys who identify as gay, but happily have sex with girls. They wouldn't have a relationship with a girl, but hookups were okay. I feel like girls with a similar preference would idenify as bi. Maybe guys just find it easier to call themselves gay than bi and that's why bisexual men don't seem as prevalent?
posted by valadil at 12:12 PM on December 29, 2008

Maybe guys just find it easier to call themselves gay than bi

Well, that would certainly be true given the number of high-profile bigots like Dan Savage.
posted by rodgerd at 12:29 PM on December 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

A couple of personal observations: I've met some bi men, but they've all been more into men than women. Is that the norm? (Is there a norm?) Are there a lot of guys who are bi but more into women than men? Where are they? Is there any reason why I would keep running into bi men that skew towards gay?

Anecdotal response from bi guys I've known: It's obviously socially much easier to just be straight; as Netzapper points out, once you fuck a guy, you're gay. (It's a little like how once a girl sleeps with a guy, she can't just be a lesbian, right? but even stronger.) So a lot of guys who prefer girls but have bi tendencies don't act on them, or at least don't talk about it if they do - it's just easier that way.
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:30 PM on December 29, 2008

once you fuck a guy, you're gay. (It's a little like how once a girl sleeps with a guy, she can't just be a lesbian, right? but even stronger.)

It's much stronger, I assure you. Every single lesbian I know has had sex with a man at some point. For most it was before they came out, but some of them did it after. While you can certainly get thrown out of the pink mafia for dating a dude after coming out, in general it's accepted as normal that a lesbian will have slept with a man at some point--you know, before she realized what she really wanted. Likewise, a good half to three quarters of the gay men I know have slept with a woman.

The heterosexual relationship is socionormative. As a result, especially just a couple decades in the past, it's considered completely normal and acceptable for a homosexual to have had a heterosexual encounter in the past. It's just what happens when you're a teenager, horny, and don't understand why you're more attracted to the same sex.

However, the moment you willingly let another man put his penis in your ass, you "are" gay. It's not socionormative, and so you don't get a pass for "it's what I thought I was supposed to do".

People (like Dan Savage (whom I actually love reading)) will tell me to my face that bisexuality does not exist, that I'm gay, and that I'm lying to myself and my wife, and that while we may be happy together right now, at some point I'm going to leave her for a dude. Because, obviously, my entire psychology, persistent mental state, and future behavior can be inferred from the fact that I like to suck cock.

Also, I should mention another small, annoying part of the invisibility of bisexuality: not much porn. There's certainly male bisexual porn out there... but, they're few, far between, and tend to have significantly less attractive women in them than even the most niche straight porn.
posted by Netzapper at 12:52 PM on December 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

I had no idea Dan Savage denied the existence of bisexuality. How odd. Does anyone have any links or references?
posted by grumblebee at 2:27 PM on December 29, 2008

Response by poster: Grumblebee, whether or not he believes in their existence (it's unclear), Savage isn't exactly friendly to male bisexuals. See here, or here.
posted by crabintheocean at 2:38 PM on December 29, 2008

gumblebee: See also the cite of the infmaous-at-MeFi dodgy "male bisexulaity doesn't exist" study.

Savage's recent stuff (denial) is actually considerably more pleasant than his stuff of a year or two ago.
posted by rodgerd at 2:57 PM on December 29, 2008

Are there a lot of guys who are bi but more into women than men? Where are they? Is there any reason why I would keep running into bi men that skew towards gay?

Yes, I've met lots of bi guys who prefer women. There are plenty in the midwest; I'm sure the same is true for other parts of the US. Maybe the ones that prefer women don't talk to you because they're busy chatting up a woman.
posted by desjardins at 5:34 PM on December 29, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you so much to everyone who responded, especially to Netzapper and the guys who emailed me. What you wrote was quite hard to read in places, and I really, really appreciate it.

Netzapper - one of the reasons I thought to post this was actually that I was looking at some vast array of porn titles (long story), and realized I'd never seen any male bisexual porn before and that there were only a couple of titles in this supposedly exhaustive list.

I also found this interesting (it's by a gay guy, but very relevant).
posted by crabintheocean at 3:50 PM on December 31, 2008

(The latest position of Dan Savage is distrustful resignation: in 2008 he said he was willing to "admit" lifelong bisexuals exist... I believe in the same column in which he brought up [yet again] his comparison between pussies and canned hams dropped onto concrete. He's grown up some over the years, but he's still into playing provocateur.)
posted by kalapierson at 9:52 AM on January 2, 2009

I really got a lot out of Bisexuality and the Eroticism of Everyday Life as it is exhaustive. I would be curious to hear other recommendations, and I look forward to checking out the above. I think gumblegee gave a great answer, and it is pressure from both sides to get off the fence. Even from some bi women. Straight women (or those wishing they were more straight or something) can't relate, it seems, although they find it erotic. Other bi men either avoid the subject completely, or for them it is time to stop talking about it with another bi man and get down to business. These are perhaps over-generalizations. Ideally there would seem like there could be these tomboyish ladies that could find compatibility in a mutual agreement on the matter.
posted by antipasto42 at 11:38 PM on April 23, 2009

While there is plenty of hypocritical disrespect being dished out to guys who are bisexual (like myself), having the confidence and drive to be successful in this world requires the ability to think deeply and be driven to be confident. To me, its an amazing thing to have deep, romantic relationships with gorgeous women and incredible men. Just this knowledge alone makes it possible to accept what is a fact of life for me. And in truth, I have alot of close friends who know I'm bisexual and don't care so I don't feel the need to discuss my sex life publicly or subscribe to all the bullshit that goes on in the world and I define spirituality and morality by an advanced mental code that comes from a lifelong desire to learn and think. I'm satisfied with my lot in life and the hand I was dealt but it took me many years to understand bisexuality and how it relates to my life.
posted by Leper_Messiah at 8:55 PM on April 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

« Older How does Rock Band for Wii compare to Xbox 360?   |   J'ai ce travail à faire, Montréal Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.