Friday, May 20, 2011

Understanding Closeted Bisexuals

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.

10 comments:

  1. "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."

    Cameron, when could you set this up for me? I'm interested in trying it RIGHT AWAY!


    Hahahahaaah. Jack.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I believe that there are people who are legitimately bisexual. I also think that many bisexual people are actually gay, but claim bisexual (even to themselves) because it is less threatening and possibly more accepted by society (or easier to hide).

    Bi, Gay, Straight is not about sex. It is not about what you DO. It is about how you FEEL. A gay man who forces himself to have to sex with women to better fit in is still gay.

    ReplyDelete
  3. A gay man who forces himself to have to sex with women to better fit in is still gay.

    Maybe so, but imo a guy who claims to be gay but still wants to have regular sex with his wife isn't gay. A strictly homosexual guy doesn't want sex with gals.

    Bisexuality can be a complex condition, depending on how complex you want it to be. Suffice it to say, a bisexual can have sexual attractions to varying degrees towards both sexes. Those attractions can vary over time with the person being more interested in one sex or another during different periods of their life.

    I've heard from many guys and girls who have related being interested more in one sex over another for a year or so, then switching to the other sex. It's often the result of attraction to certain individuals rather than the male of female sex as a whole.

    I myself have leaned one way or the other my whole life, although my homosexual desires in my 20s were tempered by peer and societal pressures. Back then I often jacked off thinking about girls but, when I'd get to drinking, I'd often think about mansex.

    Then, about 15 to 20 years ago (I'm 55) I started thinking about men when jacking off to the point where men became my exclusive focus. I figured I'd made the transition to pure homosexual. Then again, a few weeks ago I actually jacked off think about sex with a gal.

    Sexuality is a very fluid thing with many bisexuals I've found.

    ReplyDelete
  4. When it comes down to it, its your life, and you make the decisions. All anyone else can do is give you advice which may not work for you, or tell their own story that may have some relevance to your situation.

    Personally there are things in my life that I am never going to tell another living soul. Then there are things I tell some people but not others, and some things I tell my wife, and no one else.

    I'm never going to willingly tell my wife about any encounter between me and another guy. You could say that what she doesn't know won't hurt her, but it might, that is the risk that I take. People have sex with different people for their own reasons, and this is where the rubber hits the road. What is the reason.

    In my case the reason is to exert myself being a guy with other guys. I don't see myself ever falling for a guy in a romantic way, its just a physical connection between two people. Maybe I should take up wrestling, then there would be spandex and people keeping the private parts from making sexual contact.

    Its about how you see yourself in the mirror, not necessary about who you interact with in a sexual manner.

    Labels are necessary in society for us to be able to interact with others, but at the same time, a label should never be the definitive definition of who a person is. You may be gay, you may be bi, but your a father, son, husband, the list can go on and on.

    It is society that tell us that having sex with a man makes you a certain way. When your alone with another person, there is no society, you don't have to broadcast to the world that you've slept with a guy, and now your gay, its between two people and not the world.

    ReplyDelete
  5. From my perspective, getting out of the marriage isn't about being gay or bi or anything other than this: your marriage is dysfunctional and it's harming your mental health. Your wife is psychologically abusing you, and you seem to be in the classic "it's my fault" mode that most abuse victims fall into at some point; in this case, you're using your sexuality to justify that fault, but really it's a secondary issue.

    If you were completely straight and loyal, Charlie would probably still be there.

    Yes, it's your choice what you do, and you'll do what you want to do.

    ReplyDelete
  6. What Jim said is closely describes to my experience. I trained myself w/help of shrink to be able to respond to women. I didn't particularly want to have sex with them, but I did want the percs of being hetero, etc. I could pick out a tune, but couldn't read the music.

    I think Fred's view that a strictly homo guy doesn't want to have sex with women really doesn't contradict Fred; but many (not all) can.

    BTW, I prefer the term homosexual to gay; don't know why!

    ReplyDelete
  7. BTW, I prefer the term homosexual to gay; don't know why!

    I do, too. I think it's because "gay" sounds so... GAY!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm the guy referred to as Ian in this post. I'm posting after having read Cameron's next post.

    What has always distinguished Cameron from other gay/bi married bloggers in my mind is that *he* is the one who wants an honest-to-goodness marriage with sex and emotional bonding and *she* is the one whose attentions are focused elsewhere.

    I have never thought that Cameron must do anything and everything to reconcile with his wife. I have thought that he should do *one* thing, namely insist that they go to marriage counseling and make an honest-to-goodness attempt at working things out. Why? Because he loves her. If she loves him in the way he wants to be loved, she will do it. If not, then he might as well make a clean break and move out (or have her move out).

    I am overjoyed that Cameron has *finally* given Gabbie an ultimatum and means to stick with it. I hope Cameron gets what he wants (a true reconciliation with his wife), but if he doesn't, at least he (and we) will know that he gave it his best shot.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Cameron, I just read your blog "Understanding Bisexuals" and found it interesting and entertaining.

    I've been bisexual all my life. I've been happily married for 70% of my life and sexually active with other guys for 45% of my life. I've come to recognize my bisexuality and I've come to accept it; but after living it rather fully for many years, I'm not sure I'd say I understand it.

    I don't really think, it can be understood any more than I can understand why I was born caucasian. It just is.

    I don't have any argument with anything your thoughts. I don't share some of your opinions; but I just happen to have other opinions. It doesn't make me right and you wrong.

    I did want to point out one flaw in your thoughts on being a musician. To liken being a musician to being a bisexual person you can't just say there is the possibility you could learn to play a musical instrument.

    To liken musicianship to bisexuality you would have to have a passion for a musical instrument, even if you didn't play one. You would find it beautiful and appealing. It would call to you even though you were not a musician. And ultimately, perhaps, the call would become irresistible and you would learn to play the instrument and for the first time you would feel you were complete. The rest of your life, the other parts of your life, would remain important to you as ever, but you would find yourself complete for the first time having learned to play the instrument that had called to you all those years.

    The other possibility, is perhaps the instrument calls to you. It fascinates you to look at it and to hear others play it. It is almost irresistible to you. You want to pick it up and learn to play it, but you just can't figure out how to fit it into your life. Others would not understand "you" as a musician. Perhaps if you became a musician, it would overshadow other parts of your life that are very important to you and as much as the musical instrument calls to you, you just don't want to risk taking it up.

    In broad terms, those are the common ways in which bisexuality expresses itself in a guys life.

    Jack Scott

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'm thankful for this site. I'm 53 and gay, haven't interacted with another man for 27 years. I don't get much interest, second looks or offers. At work a very nice man about 37 and married for at least 8 years (I'm guessing) seems to spend a lot of time passing by my work area and I've seem him looking at me from many yards away. When I look up he quickly looks away. The only reason I would observe a man like this is if I found him very attractive. I'm very unsure about this. I'm torn because I've always said I'd never "see" a married man. Potentially I'm facing having half a relationship with a man or the alternative, none at all. I'd be lucky indeed for a younger man to fancy me, women seem to love that. That doesn't happen often. If it sounds like I'm "jumping the gun" on this, I like to think through several possible outcomes, & decide what I would say or do in the event of each of them occurring. I'd appreciate any thoughts any of you may have on this.

    ReplyDelete