When I saw #BisexualMenExist recently trending on Twitter, I audibly gasped with joy. We’re finally having our long overdue moment! I thought. All too often, bi people are ignored by the larger queer community, and when I do see content about bi folks, it’s often about bi women being overtly sexualized and fetishized. (Side note: Stop fetishizing bi women!) I don’t see nearly as many articles written about bi guys and the struggles we face, one of which is people believing that we simply don’t exist.
But my initial excitement quickly dwindled when I realized why exactly this hashtag was trending. It means that in 2020, people still don’t believe bi men exist. If they did, it wouldn’t be a topic of discussion. It would be like saying #straightmenexist. Yes, obviously.
What gives? I asked myself. It also doesn’t help that over the last half decade, I’ve written more than 300 articles about bisexuality. In fact, I became so known for my bi content that The Daily News called me a “bisexual mega influencer.”
The thing is, unless I have a man wrapped around one arm and a woman around the other, no one ever assumes I’m bisexual. When monogamous, you can’t be in a “bisexual relationship,” so to speak. You’re a bisexual person dating one other person. For me, when that person is a man, I’m perceived as gay. When it’s a woman, I’m perceived as straight.
There are nearly 8 billion people in the world, and we all have different experiences with our sexuality.
I hate being perceived as straight. At least when I’m perceived as gay, I’m still part of the LGBTQ community — my community. It’s why I find myself dressing “queerer” when I date a woman. I hope that as a result of wearing more mesh, crop tops, and glitter people will think I’m queer. Instead, they often think I’m the gay BBF.
But at the same time, I hate correcting people constantly to reaffirm my bisexuality. I also don’t want every conversation I have with someone I meet to be about my sexuality. (This is often the case when I reveal I’m bi. No one is ever like, “Oh, cool,” and then we start talking about the weather.) What’s more, when I say I’m bi, the discussion turns extremely personal. I’m often hit with a ton of questions asking me to justify my bisexuality: “When’s the last time you were with a woman?” “Who do you like dating more?” “Do you see yourself with a man or a woman down the line?” You get the idea.
It’s not just the personal nature of these questions that bothers me. It’s also that I’m immediately put on the defensive. The conversation isn’t a matter of curiosity — even if that’s what the other person claims. It’s antagonistic. They believe I’m not actually bi, since in their minds, bi men don’t exist. Perhaps worse, people respond with things like, “interesting.” Being bi shouldn’t be interesting, just like being straight or gay isn’t interesting. It’s weird and uncomfortable when people say that.
That’s the root of the conundrum. I want people to see me for who I am — bisexual — but at the same time, I don’t want to constantly tell people I’m bi. I also don’t want to have to then convince people I’m bi, because as they say all too often, “I’ve never met a real bisexual man.”
Unless I have a man wrapped around one arm and a woman around the other, no one ever assumes I’m bisexual.
Yes, you have! Bi men often don’t claim the label or reveal they’re bi because they don’t want to have the goddamn conversation we’re having right now. And just because you, a gay man, identified as bi in college before coming out as gay doesn’t mean that bisexuality doesn’t exist. That’s insane! You are one person with one experience. There are nearly 8 billion people in the world, and we all have different experiences with our sexuality.
I’ve been dealing with this dilemma by learning where to seek out external validation for my sexuality. I wish I could say, “I don’t care what anybody else thinks; I know I’m bi and that’s enough.” But that’s just not true. I need people to believe that my sexuality — a core part of who I am as a person — exists. But I don’t need some random dude at a bar or a friend of a friend to affirm me.
I’ve worked hard to surround myself with a core group of friends and love interests who know bisexuality exists, would never for a second question my attraction to all genders, and emotionally feed me by validating my sexuality. Would I like it if everyone believed bisexuality existed? Yes, obviously. It’s why I think #BisexualMenExist is such an important hashtag. But I can’t let my overall wellbeing or the way I view myself be negatively impacted by skeptical (or downright hostile) strangers.
At the end of the day I’m bi, regardless of what others think. I can correct them, if I so choose, or I can smile, nod, and let them think what they want of me. Either way, I know who I am, and my chosen family does, too.