Masculine bisexual men in fiction and popular culture?
May 3, 2014 5:19 PM   Subscribe

This season of Game of Thrones introduced what I think may be the first prominent out bisexual male character in popular culture who presents as traditionally masculine. There's also some closeted heteroflexibility in one episode of House of Cards (Spoiler), but aside from these two instances, I am having a difficult time coming up with examples of masculine bisexual men in contemporary fiction and pop culture. It seems like typically bisexuality in men is portrayed as automatically feminizing. Can anyone help me list or name other examples (including famous men and fictional characters) who are both openly bi and also have a presence that would be seen as masculine by traditional standards?
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch to Society & Culture (28 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
What about Tim Bayliss on Homicide? I can't remember if he later came out as gay, but he was pretty masculine.
posted by xingcat at 5:28 PM on May 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day).
posted by ApathyGirl at 5:30 PM on May 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

To be fair, Captain Jack isn't strictly bi so much as pan or omni-sexual.
posted by ApathyGirl at 5:31 PM on May 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Lou Reed
Marlon Brando
Frank Ocean
posted by ApathyGirl at 5:42 PM on May 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I feel like Lou Reed and Brando's bisexuality happened in this weird moment in the seventies where it was momentarily OK in a particular subculture, but then it quickly got forgotten, and likely forgotten on purpose.

But yeah, Lou's kind of a hero for that.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 5:48 PM on May 3, 2014

For a while I thought I was the only person who read them, but in Julian Barnes' detective novels that he wrote under a pseudonym, the main character is both very masculine PI (nose and door breaking etc) and also very bisexual.

Also, Dean Moriarty/Neal Cassady in On The Road/Real life.
posted by Hartster at 6:05 PM on May 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Depending on whether you think he's just playing head games with Silva in this scene or not, James Bond.
posted by MsMolly at 6:08 PM on May 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

Bioware games has a lot of bisexual characters: Sky in Jade Empire, Zevran in Dragon Age: Origins, Anders and Fenris in Dragon Age II and Kaidan in Mass Effect 3 (though he was slated to be bi in ME1 and it got cut). I don't think they read as super feminine-- Zevran and Fenris might, but I think that's just because they're elves, and because Fenris seems to have accidentally teleported into the DA universe from a Final Fantasy game with the ridiculous anime hair and the gigantic sword, but his behavior is pretty stereotypically masculine. Zevran is pretty much a stereotypical Depraved Bisexual.

Also it's not just Jack, almost the entire cast of Torchwood (at least the first few seasons) is either bi or they have expressed some attraction to both genders (I don't know how Ianto would identify).

Richard in Swordspoint is bisexual, though bisexuality seems to be sort of the norm for that universe. There are a fair few fictional worlds where bisexuality is the social norm: Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel universe is another one.

Also, a lot of bisexual men get read as gay-- I can't recall any specifics because I only follow celebrity news when it bleeds into queer activist stuff but a lot of the time a dude coming out as in a relationship with another dude gets reported as him coming out as gay, even if he's been in previous relationships with women. So there tend to be more famous bi men than we think out there, it's just that everyone keeps reporting them as gay.

And if you feel like looking at a ridiculously long list of bisexual people to see if it has any particular paragons of traditional masculinity that you recognize in it, Wikipedia has a rather fascinating list.
posted by NoraReed at 6:09 PM on May 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

John Constantine
posted by CarolynG at 6:15 PM on May 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Aral Vorkosigan is an extremely manly man-- lauded soldier, disgraced hero, eventually regent and Prime Minister, and very notably bisexual. (Link contains spoilers for Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan saga.)
posted by WidgetAlley at 6:36 PM on May 3, 2014 [7 favorites]

posted by bruce at 6:42 PM on May 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

king david for the bonus round.
posted by bruce at 6:53 PM on May 3, 2014

Nolan from Revenge isn't traditionally masculine, but I don't see him as feminized, either--he's more of a Mark Zuckerburg type character.
posted by chaiminda at 6:56 PM on May 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just how traditionally masculine does he have to be? It's worth considering Freddie Mercury, who performed a lot of macho hard-rock songs like "We Will Rock You" as the singer of Queen, even though I realize he's more often thought of as gay, and his persona was a mixture of macho, effeminate, and flamboyant elements.

You might find some ideas in this old AskMe about bisexual icons, even though it's much broader than your question.
posted by John Cohen at 6:57 PM on May 3, 2014

True Blood has a ton of very hot sex scenes featuring variously gendered combinations of characters, including many of the male vampires who have aggressive sex with both male and female (as well as both human and vampire) partners at different points in the show.
posted by decathecting at 7:11 PM on May 3, 2014

Though the movie was critically panned, Colin Farrell's portrayal of Alexander the Great in Oliver Stone's recent film was both pretty masculine by contemporary standards as well as frankly bisexual.
posted by trunk muffins at 7:33 PM on May 3, 2014

posted by grobstein at 8:03 PM on May 3, 2014

Brian and Maximilian in Cabaret

The dudes in Threesome
posted by dontjumplarry at 8:10 PM on May 3, 2014

Might I suggest Henry Fitzroy from Blood Ties? In the books he's a romance novelist, but other than that he's a vampire and macho enough to kill when he has to and is happy dating both a man and a woman at the same time.

The TV show version is a graphic novelist instead, and the boyfriend isn't on the show due to legal issues/him also being used in another series of the author's, so you don't really see Henry dating men there. Sigh.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:44 PM on May 3, 2014

Would Alexander the Great count? or is he more assumed to have been gay, rather than bisexual? He did take a wife I think, but not sure how much of that was just politics rather than preference.
posted by The otter lady at 10:00 PM on May 3, 2014

Tsar Peter the Great, or so I've heard.
posted by thug unicorn at 11:34 PM on May 3, 2014

Several Old Hollywood actors:
Montgomery Clift
James Dean
Sal Mineo
And plenty more, according to Scotty Bowers.
posted by SisterHavana at 11:48 PM on May 3, 2014

I think Christian Mann on the German soap Verbotene Liebe is bi.

(English Wikipedia lists both him and his sometime partner Olli Sabel as bi. I don't know that Olli is a) bi (German wiki thinks he's gay, which is what I thought) or b) meant to be portrayed as "traditionally masculine" (whatever that means). However, I haven't seen Verbotene Liebe in several years and reading the plot summaries on Wikipedia makes my head hurt.)
posted by hoyland at 6:20 AM on May 4, 2014

I haven't watched Verbotene Liebe for years either, but Christian had affairs with women long after he came out, which would suggest he's bisexual. As a boxer/trainer, he's also very traditionally masculine in presentation.

Elsewhere in German soaps, there's Deniz Öztürk on Alles was zählt. Deniz has one of the most realistic coming out arcs I've seen on a tv show: he finds himself attracted to a man, decides he's gay, finds himself attracted to a woman, decides he's straight, cheats on both of them with each other (because he's young and stupid), and ends up alone. Then he spends a couple of years dating women before finally getting back together with his first boyfriend. I don't know what the show ended up identifying him as, but I would call him bisexual.
posted by Georgina at 7:15 AM on May 4, 2014

Response by poster: One thing that seems very notable (and that I should probably not find surprising) is that the written word is a far more openminded format.

Thanks everybody. Lots to work with here.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 10:30 AM on May 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Cary Grant was bi. He also played the bisexual Cole Porter in Night and Day, though since it was 1946 the sexuality bits are only there if you know what to look for. The later film De-Lovely with Kevin Kline as Porter would also qualify, I think.

I guess his masculinity is perhaps debatable, but the early Anne Rice vampire novels (Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned) definitely feature bi action anti-hero Lestat. I wouldn't bother with anything after that.
posted by Athanassiel at 6:33 PM on May 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

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