Issue April 29, 2014

Advice: Savage Love

Bi and bi

I’ve heard your calls for bisexuals to come out to their friends and family, and I think it’s a great idea. Here’s my conundrum: I’m not sure I technically classify as “bisexual.” I’m a 40-year-old guy who strongly prefers sex with women to men (percentage-wise I’m 70/30). I’ve had sex with dudes in the past (five or six times) and loved it, though I’ve never had the same emotional attachment and attraction that I’ve had with women. Most people seem to think that bisexuals are equally attracted to both genders — sexually and emotionally — like they could decide by flipping a coin. So am I bisexual or just a juicy boner hobbyist?

Just Understanding Identity Causing Erotic Delirium

A: A quick word about my calls for bisexuals to come out to their friends and family:

Bisexuals complain about anti-bi stereotypes and misconceptions — about biphobia and bi-erasure — and quite rightly. It’s awful, it sucks, it’s gotta stop. But just as coming out has always been the most effective way for gays and lesbians to combat homophobia, coming out is the most effective way for bisexuals to combat biphobia. And while 77 percent of gay men and 71 percent of lesbians are out to “most of the important people in their lives,” according to a 2014 Pew Research survey of LGBT Americans, only 28 percent of bisexuals are.

Some argue that most bisexuals won’t feel safe enough to come out until straight and gay people get over their biphobia. That’s a bullshit argument. Yes, biphobia makes it more difficult for bisexuals to come out — in the same way that homophobia makes it difficult for gays and lesbians to come out. Someone could argue that the culture is less homophobic today, and they would be right. But that wouldn’t be the case if gay people hadn’t risked coming out when “insanely homophobic” was the near-universal default setting for “most of the important people in our lives,” i.e., friends, family, coworkers.

I’ve been accused of “blaming the victim” when I make this point. That’s absurd. I’m not blaming bisexuals for biphobia any more than I’m blaming gay people for homophobia. But biphobia will continue to thrive so long as the majority of bisexuals remain closeted. That’s just a fact. I’ve also been accused of being biphobic for making this point. That’s just nuts. (“That guy hates bisexual people so much, he wants there to be way more of them!”)

OK, JUICED, on to your question: I get letters like yours every day. Guys tell me that they enjoy fucking men and women but they fall in love only with women. They’re not interested in relationships with men — some aren’t even into kissing men (getting fucked by men, yes; swapping spit with men, no) — but they love them juicy boners. These guys invariably tell me that they’re confused about their sexual orientation. They know they’re not straight, and they’re pretty sure they can’t be gay, but they’re convinced they can’t be bisexual — aren’t bisexuals open to sex and relationships with both men and women? Isn’t that what everyone says?

These guys are bisexual, JUICED, and so are you. The reason so many guys like you are confused about their sexual identity — sorry, but “juicy boner hobbyist” is not a sexual identity — is because the popular definition of bisexuality, “someone who is equally attracted to men and women,” excludes guys like you. But there’s an improved definition making the rounds. It was coined by bisexual activist Robyn Ochs: “I call myself bisexual because I acknowledge that I have in myself the potential to be attracted — romantically and/or sexually — to people of more than one sex and/or gender, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree.”

You say you’re attracted to men and women, but not in the same way or to the same degree? Congratulations, you’re bisexual. But that may not be all you are …

“Of all of the bi guys I’ve known over the years,” gay journalist Charles Pulliam-Moore wrote in a post at Thought Catalog, “the majority of them have been what I would describe as bi-sexual but hetero-amorous. That is to say that while they’d certainly get into some sweaty bro-on-bro action, guys simply couldn’t provide the kind of emotional satisfaction necessary for a romantic relationship.”

So if identifying as bisexual feels dishonest — since many folks will assume it means you’re open to a relationship with a man — go ahead and say you’re “bi but heteroamorous,” and rest assured that you’re not the only bi guy like you out there.

On the “Lovecast”: How to answer the question “Honey, should I get breast implants?” at savagelovecast.com.