Thursday, January 23, 2014

Bisexuality: "just a layover on the way to gay town"

From "Sex and the City", Season 3, Episode 4:
Carrie: You know, I'm not even sure bi-sexuality exists. I think it's just a layover on the way to gay town.
Miranda: Isn't that right next to Ricky Martinville?
Many people, both straight and gay, agree with Carrie.  In their eyes, "bi" is a label of convenience, not a label of fact. Bisexuals are gays who can't (or won't) admit the truth.  They're in denial - and that's their biggest problem - not their sexuality.

What's so bad about denial?

The argument is that if you're actually gay, not bi, and can't admit it, you can never be genuinely happy. Instead you live a life of permanent dissatisfaction.  Sometimes you're pissed off for reasons you can't explain.  Other times you're depressed and lonely, even when you're surrounded by the people you love.

Speaking of loved ones... they're the innocent victims of denial.  Unhappiness has a way of spreading, like a disease.  You might not kick the dog or yell at the kids because you're in denial, but everyone instinctively knows you're an unhappy person.  That affects the way they interact with you, and the way you interact with them.

Straight spouses bear the burden of denial more than anyone else.  If you can never be happy, how can she?  Can you express authentic love and desire for her, or, do you unintentionally make her feel like last week's leftovers?  Even during the best of times, many straight spouses know something isn't quite right.

Being forever unfulfilled might be sad...or frustrating...or silently hurtful to others...but what people fear most about denial is that it's a temporary stage.  Inevitably, it's assumed, there will come a day when the truth is revealed...

...and when it is...

the shit will hit the fan.

Shit hitting the fan - that, in a nutshell, is why denial is assumed to be bad.

In my previous post, I wrote about a straight wife who believes her husband's bi polar disorder caused him to have gay fantasies.  Her proof is that the gay fantasies disappeared once the bi-polar condition was treated.

That sounds like wishful thinking to me. While I can believe that being depressed might cause normally repressed gay fantasies to surface, I don't believe same sex attractions are actually caused by being bi polar.

I think this woman is in denial.  I think she wants to believe her husband is entirely straight, even though he obviously is not.

Here's the thing though - does it matter?  If she desperately WANTS to believe her husband is straight, why is that a problem?  Other than herself, who is she at risk of hurting?

I also wonder if those of us "in the know" have a moral responsibility to tell others when we think they're in denial.  For example, if a straight wife says, "My husband used to masturbate to gay porn and he even hooked with a guy in the past, but I *KNOW* he only did those things because he was lonely and depressed," are we helping her if we tell her she's delusional?

I'm asking this because it seems pretty obvious to me that straight men, authentically straight men at least, do not watch gay porn and they certainly don't hook-up with other men, ever.  Therefore, if a straight wife refuses to believe such blatant behaviors aren't good enough proof that her husband is turned on by men, is there anything a stranger could say that would convince her otherwise?  I don't think there is.  And really, I wonder if there's any good that could come from trying.

Do you agree?  Should straight spouses be left to their fantasies until harsh reality bites them in the ass?  Or, is their blind loyalty so well-intentioned that when it happens, others need to step in and make them aware of what they're setting themselves up for? 

Please share your thoughts below.


  1. I think the best thing you can do in that situation is to plant the seed. You can support them in trying to make a go of their marriage and let them know that if it doesn't work, it's not because of anything they lack. Some things one has to see for themselves. So I would tell them that it's unlikely that a guy who has sex with other guys is entirely straight but, who knows, maybe they're the couple that CAN make things work.

    Remember the Kubler-Ross stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. If you had a friend diagnosed with a disease that YOU knew to be invariably fatal, you'd never (at least I hope not) tell them the week they're diagnosed that they had practically NO chance of being alive in 6 months. Even if you know the odds. You give them time to get their head around the diagnosis first. The sad reality announces itself before too long anyway.

    So, my advice is not to lie but there is no sense rubbing someone's nose in a harsh reality before they've had time to accept the shocking new

  2. I have found that everybody has different preferences and appetites, sexually and in every other way. This post is so typical of people trying to pigeonhole everyone by sticking a label on them. Sorry, it just doesn't work. That's the "reality".

  3. To continue Adon's concept, "straight" and "gay" are largely hypothetical concepts that don't really exist. They're labels of convenience rather than accurate descriptions, and trying to conform reality to labels is bass-ackwards (as my mother would say).

    The general scientific consensus is:
    Do bisexual people exist? Yes. Most people are, to some extent, bisexual, though not all are.
    Does functional bisexuality exist? Yes, but it's pretty rare. Even though most people are bisexual to some degree, they also generally prefer one sex over the other almost exclusively for long-term relationships.

    To answer the specific question, though: the assumption is that, at some point, the spouse is going to be mistreated or hurt. The notion of "saving them from the delusion" is actually pretty repulsive, in that you're judging the potentially-bisexual person guilty before s/he has done anything wrong.

    There's an alternative to leaving the spouse delusional or convincing them the other person is really gay: just having them recognize reality as it is.

    I have a friend who is fairly "bi" even if he doesn't call himself that. He's got a long-time girlfriend (2+ years at this point). He's also, in the past, expressed a fair amount of enjoyment in exchanging oral sex with men. I'm reasonably sure (indirect evidence) that he still watches gay porn periodically. I'm also reasonably sure that he has never cheated on his girlfriend and never plans to.

    Now, I think I've only met her once or twice, but I doubt she knows about his leanings. Would I be in any way "in the right" to try and insist he's "really" gay or that their relationship is doomed? I don't think so. I *do* think it's important for people in relationships to share fantasies and preferences, simply because it's part of being in a relationship and generally healthier, but having a fantasy or even a history doesn't mean someone is going to cheat.

    Acknowledging that people are complex, sexuality is fluid, and fantasies are just that - fantasies - is a perfectly reasonable "third way". It doesn't have to be delusion or destruction.

  4. I have had four meaningful relationships. Two were with men. Two were with women. I am more attracted sexually to men. I am more attracted affectionally to women. Yes, the best sex I have ever had was with a man. When I have sex with my wife though I feel connection, tenderness and love in a way that I have never experienced with a man. I feel genuinely blessed to be with her.

    And, when she is not around, I do long for a man. When I was in a five -year relationship with a man, I missed the deep emotional connection that I had previously with a woman.

    Everyone wants to put me in a category. I feel that the word, bisexual, is the closest one to who I am.

    The only thing that I would disagree with you about is,"it seems pretty obvious to me that straight men, authentically straight men at least, do not watch gay porn and they certainly don't hook-up with other men, ever." It seems too confining. Sexuality is strange in that sometimes a straight man finds the man whom he has feelings for. It is an aberration in his life experience. John Lennon, though straight, had deep love for Brian Epstein, his gay manager. He loved him so much that he offered sex with Brian. Though Brian loved John, he refused to have sex with John because he knew that John was straight and that John was acting out of sacrificial love and not out of passion.

    When I was in college a straight friend started blushing and not making eye contact when we were alone together. Eventually I realized that he had a crush on me. Was he gay or bisexual? I don't think so. I think that he had an emotional connection with someone of the same sex and fantasized about it. He wasn't gay or bisexual, he was human. He was open to experiencing the fulness of another person. One or a few gay experiences does not make one gay. It only means that one is human.

    Going back to your point, do we have the obligation to tell others about their possible delusions? Absolutely! Do not expect our honesty to be appreciated though. I do not know if I could have written the reply that you gave for fear of crushing her delusions. The truth hurts and it also hurts when a sensitive person tells a painful truth.

    Your blog is read probably by closeted men all over the world and their wives. It is more important to write the truth as you perceive it than to maintain them in their delusions. Little real progress can be achieved by denying reality. A painful truth is better than a happy delusion. I can only grow from the truth.

    At this point you are probably wanting to write back to me, "You need therapy."

  5. As a straight woman, I periodically read these blogs because I've come to the realization a while ago that there are more bi men out there than I thought. I so appreciate the honesty that some men display when they let a prospective love interest know of their sexual orientation. There is a part of me that understands why some hesitate to do so, but honesty will save both parties heartbreak and stress.

    I believe straight women should shed myths and innuendos and give a bisexual man a chance. I don't see dismissing a guy who is driven, honest, attractive , funny, and loving just because he's had relationships with men. I would screen him just as I would a straight guy.

    I believe it's about the type of relationship. That's the focal point for me. Would he want to have sex with other people? Can he be trusted? etc.... same questions I'd get answers for from a straight guy.

    What I would struggle with is him stating that he is with me for the emotional connection. Many people want a strong emotional connection with's valid and it matters...but I would seriously struggle with my guy not feeling passion towards me....he'd only feel that towards his same sex attractions.....for me that would be an enormous hurdle.

    I want to see my man look at me with love and passion and fire and I don't think that's selfish...if a bi guy can give that to me, awesome....if he can only offer emotional connection and he loves me and thinks of me fondly, he and I would be in each others lives forever as the best of friends... the last thing i would want to do is impede him from getting what he needs and I need to make room in my life for someone who can be both passionate lover and friend

  6. I think the answer is, "it depends." Bi is most definitely a stage of denial for many men who are truly gay. I have to believe that there are some guys who truly are bi, but I think bi guys tend to lean gay. If someone wants to call themselves bi, who cares? It's a personal thing.

  7. I think that the labels are important as they pertain to honest disclosure with a partner or prospective partner. If you in your head believe yourself to be strait and you occasionally masturbate while thinking about a member of the same sex, then that may never present a problem to your prospective partner. Perhaps you tell them you are strait but occasionally beat off to same-sex porn. Again, may or may not present a problem. Occasionally seek out same sex interactions: that becomes increasingly problematic.

    The labels aren't important for the sake of having a labels. Labels create a general expectation for the behavior of a prospective or relational partner.

    As to telling a friend to face reality, I say speak the honest truth to the extent that you are capable of seeing it. This may not always be seen as kind by your friend but I think it is the truly loving choice. If the relationship is stable and solvent otherwise, then a discussion about the the ambiguous behavior will not make or break that connection. If it rocks the relationship and the couple endures then you have been the catalyst for a deeper more authentic relationship. Perhaps the relationship had other tragic flaws and this will be a pretense for the end or it is possible that it was in fact doomed and you are ushering in an ear of facing a painful truth. Either way, I am a fan of full and forthright honesty!