In 2009, I unknowingly fell in love with a bisexual man. He was my best friend, a dynamic community leader, and passionate about tackling social issues related to communities of color. His energy was infectious, re-inspiring my activism, and elevating my thoughts to the real potential of social change. Like an Audre Lorde quote, our friendship went from personal to political and I found myself reaching deep down and touching the terror of difference.
My best friend loved men and women. It didn’t cripple his masculinity or his character. He was still the same incredible human being, the same lovable, confidant, and truly, the best man that has ever graced my life. After a year of intense friendship and borderline dating, I returned from a 10-month trip abroad to ask if we ever would be more than friends. He finally came out and essentially stated that he didn’t think that I’d be comfortable enough with his bisexuality for us to date. He was right, I was uncomfortable, and downright angry that he took so long to tell me. For the first time, I saw prejudice and rage coexist within myself. And it led me on a long journey, even after we stopped being friends, to explore why his bisexuality was an impediment to us dating.
The majority of heterosexual women are informed of male bisexuality by the media. According to countless articles and TV shows on the down low phenomenon, bisexual men are adulterous, sexually confused, and spreading sexually transmitted diseases. What you don’t see, however, is the other side: bisexual men that are impeccable human beings and possessing none of the qualities above. And frankly, due to the misperceptions of same-sex relationships in general, you won’t find bisexual men, in real life, proclaiming their sexuality. But openly bisexual men do exist. They do date women and build healthy relationships. And they’re capable of being monogamous.
I learned about these men through digging past the down low meme and challenging myself to think of bisexuality beyond stereotypes. While every stereotype may have a hint of truth, regardless of its base in race, sexuality or gender, it is impossible for every bisexual man to be a mirror of the mainstream media. However, I cannot blame the majority of heterosexual women for being intolerant toward dating an openly bisexual man simply because we are a nation that does not think past what’s put in front of us.
Due to my research, the openly bisexual men with whom I’ve become friends, and the heterosexual women that I’ve encountered dating them, I decided to make a [web series] and full documentary to tell these alternative stories. There are openly bisexual men that love and honor women, that don’t cheat or spread diseases, and are ready to put an end to bi-phobia. As sexuality is not pristine and humanity simply isn’t straight or gay, this is a conversation that both straight and gay people need to embrace. It is detrimental to heterosexual and homosexual relationships to force bisexual people to shun their attraction to more than one gender. This is not to say that this attraction can’t exist within monogamy or committed relationships. But it is important that it can exist in a safe, nonjudgmental space.
Think about this.
If your partner were to come out as bisexual tomorrow, would you love them any differently? Would it change how they’ve treated you, their past and present commitment to you, or the beauty of your relationship? Even in terms of past partners, you have no idea who they’re dating now or if they’ve dated the same-sex in the past. It is impossible to control the sexual desires of the people you date. Why not judge people by their character and actions instead of the genders of their past partners?
Bisexual people are fully capable of telling their partners whether or not they can be in monogamous relationships. And frankly, if they are incapable, you shouldn’t feel slighted as if it’s a competition against other genders. Relationships aren’t about competing with the next man or woman. It’s about finding someone that shares your values on commitment.
It’s about time that we let openly bisexual men do the talking instead of making assumptions based on stories of adulterous, down low men. After engaging with the bisexual community instead of just the media, I found that the stereotypes simply aren’t the majority. Eventually, these voices must not only be heard, but also accepted.