When a gay or a bisexual man gives me advice about my situation, he most frequently says something like, "Forget about your wife, go find a man."
Others have been more diplomatic. They say, "I hope you find happiness no matter what happens."
Then there is one man who stands alone, Ian. He has essentially told me, "You must pursue any and every option that could result in reconciliation with your wife." I get the feeling that he won't be satisfied until he gets a signed letter from the Pope stating that we are beyond help. (Actually, I wonder if even that would be enough.)
I sometimes get frustrated by Ian's unrelenting focus on reconciliation. He really is tough on me. But, in the end, I greatly respect him. It's not often that a man will stand up and doggedly fight for what he believes, especially when that is contrary to his own lifestyle.
Ian continues to amaze me and something he said recently really got my attention. He said, "Your being gay (if that's what you are) doesn't seem to stop you from being in love with her or wanting to have an exclusive sexual relationship with her."
Wow. Is he saying that I don't know my own sexual identity?
That possibility is somewhat astounding. I mean, I came out to myself at 13 and I've been very comfortable with the gay label (in my own head, at least) since I was 15. I've never wavered when it comes to calling myself gay, even after 20 years of marriage, and even after many years of practicing heterosexual monogamy. When Ian said that I really had to stop and wonder, am I a bisexual in denial??
It didn't take long for the dark clouds of doubt to clear and for my inner voice to reassure me that I haven't been in denial for all these years. I really am gay and not bisexual.
The process of questioning myself made me wonder: why am I so convinced I'm gay? I mean, he's right. I do love my wife and I have had a long-term exclusive sexual relationship with her. More than that, I am willing to give up men completely if she will fully commit to me.
The reason I'm certain I'm gay, is because it all comes down to pursuit.
On the one hand, it's true that if I was single I wouldn't reject a decent looking woman who VERY aggressively pursued me. On the other hand, I know that if I was left on my own I'd make no effort to ever have sex with a woman again - and I wouldn't particularly miss it. Men are an entirely different story. Even if I was sexually monogamous with my wife, I'd still be thinking about hot, sexy men whenever she wasn't around.
I have this feeling that the standard I use to define my sexuality, pursuit, is NOT the standard most "bisexual" men use. And that's what this post is about. I'd like to be enlightened. If you consider yourself to be bisexual, how do you KNOW that label is honest and accurate, especially compared to identifying yourself as gay? I would especially like to hear from men who have regular sex with men and have no or very little sex with women. I keep thinking that that lopsided reality must be difficult to reconcile with a "bisexual" identity.
A related issue that I wonder about, because I never experienced it myself, is the whole transition from straight to bi to gay. It's a cliche that bi is a stepping stone to gay, yet, that seems to be a very common occurrence. I can understand "confused" or "curious" or "uncertain" for a period of time, and maybe that's what "bisexual" means to some men, but it's weird to me that someone's actual sexuality would change several times. Can anyone enlighten me?
As I've pondered these questions about bisexuality, I asked myself to define what *I* think a bisexual is. So here's my opinion: a 'pure' bisexual is someone who literally cannot decide who they'd rather have sex with when offered two equally attractive options of each gender. In that situation, a pure bisexual would be frustrated that they were forced to make a choice. And, faced with two equally attractive specimen, the only way they'd feel comfortable choosing one would be to interact with them. Personality then becomes the deciding factor, not attractiveness, not gender.
I don't think many 'pure' bisexuals exist, but certainly there are some out there. I think the more common self-defined bisexual is someone who prefers sex with one gender but is not opposed to sex with the other. I find this definition to be lacking - it's too theoretical. I mean, I'm not opposed to learning to play a musical instrument, but I don't play one. Does that make me a quasi-musician? No. And the reason is because the possibility is not the reality. They're entirely different. So when someone says they are bisexual but they only pursue one gender I really find that puzzling. Possibility and reality don't match.
If I was going to set criteria for defining one's sexuality I would be very practical about it - I'd make you take a test.
In my test you would be shuttled to a room with 20 very attractive men and 20 very attractive women. Your job would be to choose which person with whom you'd like to have sex with first. Whatever the gender is of the person you choose first, that's your primary. The reason for this is that when all the options are equal you chose a woman over men , or vice versa.
But that's not the end of the test. You have to keep choosing.
I'm not sure where I'd draw the lines between "primarily straight", "bisexual" and "primarily gay." I mean, if you're a man and the first 10 people you choose are all women, that would seem to indicate that you're pretty straight, so 10 seems like enough to be primarily straight. But I wonder if men who choose 10 men first would say that is not enough to define them as primarily gay? It's funny how 'straight' is likely to have a much lower threshold than 'gay.'
In the end I think many people, especially bisexuals, would say that labels don't matter. But here's where hard-core reality smashes arm-chair theory. If labels don't matter and if a married man seldom or never has sex with his wife but he has regular sex with men, why will he absolutely, positively, angrily and vehemently insist he is NOT gay when his wife confronts him about the dozens of incriminating emails she's found? It happens all the time. Labels don't matter and they like sex with both genders (although actions suggest otherwise) but they are unquestionably NOT gay. If labels don't matter wouldn't it be most accurate to say "I CAN be attracted to either but I PREFER men?" But married men won't say that when they're confronted. They say they're bisexual.
I sometimes wonder if accountability causes bisexuality. The logic goes like this: if a married man sincerely believes he is bisexual but he is only having sex with men, then his marriage and his life are not lies. But, the minute he accepts himself as gay, then he becomes accountable for a fucked-up marriage and a fucked-up life. I can see how avoiding that realization would make the bisexual label vastly more appealing.
Finally, I wonder how many men define themselves as bisexual because they have very narrow perceptions of what a gay man is. Limp-wristed? Feminine? Lisps? Wears women's clothes? Calls his male friends 'girlfriend'? There is a logic there. If those sorts of things define 'gay' to you and you are not those things, then how can you be gay? You're not. You're bisexual. It's a flawed logic, but I get it.
Well now I'm starting to ramble. I started this post with the intention of asking a question. But I see I have attempted to answer my own question. I guess what I should do is wait for a few bisexual men to set me 'straight'.
Is bisexuality about pursuit or theoretical sexual connections? Is the term 'bisexual' so loosely defined that it's easy to claim as your identity no matter what you do? How many bisexuals choose that definition because they think that being gay would require a major lifestyle change? And how many man are bisexuals simply because they don't see themselves as 'gay'?
Let me know your opinions and educate me, please.