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.

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  • B

    I apologize for the duplicate comments – my comments didn’t seem to show up when I posted. So, like a spaz, I hit refresh a few times. :)

  • Libby

    Call me what you want..if a man is bisexual he is not dating material for me. You can do what you want.

    • Why not? If you’re black, would you not date a guy who’s also attracted to asian women? What’s the difference between dating a guy who’s willing to be monogamous with you and has had 6 previous girlfriends or a guy who’s willing to be monogamous with you and has had 3 previous girlfriends and 3 previous boyfriends?

  • lizz

    I wrote a paper actually on the stereotypes of sexuality as seen in film noir… there is this assumption that in some films, especially with the code, there is inherent homosexuality presented… but if you look more closely at the films, it is the characters, whose sexuality you *can’t* identify, are singled out as untrustworthy. Once they choose their side of the fence, as it were, either gay or straight, they are restored to happy relationships, more wealth, more prestige (and usually more filmic space) in the story.

    I wrote this paper 6 years ago and was surprised that no one else had looked at this – in the divide between gay and straight, bisexuals are inherently mis/distrusted – it is amazing at the ‘rationale’ for this response. A friend of mine’s husband said, “There is no thing as bi. You are either gay or straight, or kidding your self” – and he was a pretty ‘progressive’ guy.

    So it is nice to hear that others are touting the awesomeness of bisexual folks, and helping to dispel the myths out there that seem to run rampant.

  • Ogre

    Well, you *almost* got it. You seem to genuinely have a bit of a clue, but your entire post comes across as non-sex-positive.

    Why is monogamy such a big hangup? I’m a happily married, very out, bi man. My wife is also bi. And we have an ethically non-monogamous marriage. It works very well for both of us – in a few weeks we’ll be celebrating 18 years together and 16 years married.

    And, for what it’s worth, I’m pretty promiscuous (this is within the bounds of our agreements) by most people’s standards. But I’ve never, ever had an STD, and I get tested every three months or so. So how do I fit into your “ideal bisexual man” construction?

    You’re right – I don’t. And your article suggests that people like me don’t even exist, or that if they do, they are untrustworthy, etc.

    So, yet again, I am rendered invisible.

    Thanks.

  • Matthew

    What I found is people get caught up on the word “bisexual” alone. Many many of my straight friends and straight men I met over the years came out to me as having the same feelings or even having had mansex or wanting it. The truth is if I were dishonest I would get many more dates with women. And women tend to not only maintain the delusion that “straight” men are totally “straight” they even demand that if their dating a man that has these feelings to keep it hidden and closeted. No I don’t think that straight women are ALL prejudice because they won’t date bi men. But I do believe most of it is biphobia. In all my relationships with both women and men I was monogomous, loving, caring, highly sexual but the “bi” issue has come up in many instances – I am to identify as straight or gay. I think most bi men are closeted because they fear what women will think. Gay men have their prejudices, but I found many who don’t. But straight women seem to living in the 1950’s in their attitude towards male sexuality in general. Openly bi men are punished for their honesty. Eventually I found a biwoman to be with. And we are monogomous. And what a relief to not live under such pressure to conform! But I do want perceptions to change – so that not only bi men can be themselves, but so that the many straight men can too. For straight men their own internalized homophobia and biphobia has affected them to such a degree that they fear being close to men in general. Most don’t want to go there and actually have sex, their hetero feelings are stronger. But they are living lives of quiet desperation unable to even hug another man that they feel close to.