Hi, Bi Guy: Debunking Myths
There are an awful lot of misconceptions and myths surrounding bisexuality. You probably don’t need us to tell you that.
Bisexual people of all genders have been, are and will be subject to these myths. There are also some particular, or especially applied, to bisexual men.
For example, one 2014 study showed that people considered bi men to be more confused, more untrustworthy, less inclined towards monogamy, not as able to maintain a long-term relationship, and more open to new experiences.
Obviously, these views don’t hold up to reality. Not only that, but they can be seriously offensive, ignorant, and hurtful, too. But there are an awful lot of myths and stereotypes that many people believe – even bi guys themselves.
With so many pervasive myths out there, it’s always a good time to tackle them head-on and debunk them once and for all. Here are seven pervasive but false beliefs about bisexual men.
Sometimes, these things might be true for a particular bisexual man. Like anybody else, a bisexual man can cheat, for example, but they won’t cheat because they’re bisexual. The beliefs here just aren’t true for most bi guys.
Bi guys need to have sex with men
Men of all sexual identities are often characterized as being hypersexual or ‘sex-mad’, and when it comes to bi guys there’s often a belief that we need — not want, need — to have sex with men and won’t be fulfilled if we’re in a monogamous relationship with a woman, or vice-versa, but that’s not necessarily the case.
A bi guy can go through life never having sex with a man, or never having sex with a woman for that matter, and it wouldn’t make him any less bisexual.
If you don’t tell your partner you’re bi straight away you’re cheating or hiding something
Coming out as queer can be difficult, regardless of your particular identity. There’s still a lot of stigma surrounding bisexuality, and it’s not always easy to come out. A bisexual man might be hesitant to tell their partner about their sexuality regardless of their partner’s gender, particularly if they believe any of the myths here. If you’re bombarded with the notion that bi guys are more likely to be unfaithful, or less able to maintain a long-term relationship, it’s not surprising that you might find it difficult to come out.
If your partner is bisexual but didn’t tell you to begin with, you might feel hurt - and that’s both okay and understandable, particularly if you believe any of these myths. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that your partner has cheated, or is otherwise hiding something. They simply might not have been ready to come out yet, and that’s okay. You may yourself have things that you haven’t told them yet about yourself or your life because you haven’t felt ready, too.
Male attraction to other men is exclusively sexual
Often, people think of men as being focused on sex, first and foremost, above any sort of romantic or other kind of intimacy or connection. Similarly, male attraction to other men is sometimes thought of as being inherently or even only ever sexual, but that’s not always the case.
Men – be they gay, bisexual, pansexual, or otherwise – can experience romantic and other kinds of social and emotional connections just like people of any other gender.
Coming out will end or change a relationship
There’s no reason that coming out should change or end a relationship. After all, being bi doesn’t change your prior attraction to somebody.
In some cases, it might. Unfortunately, biphobia does exist, and some people might not want to be in a relationship with someone who’s bi. The myths we’re discussing here are rooted in biphobia themselves. However much we might disagree with their views, they’re entitled to end a relationship for any reason.
But plenty of people in relationships will come out as bi to their partner and go on to continue enjoying a happy relationship. In fact, coming out as bi to your partner may actually help to build trust between the two of you. Rather than harming the relationship, it could potentially help to deepen it further, and make it stronger.
They’re actually gay, or using bisexuality to come out as gay gradually
All too often, bi guys are treated as if they’re actually gay but haven’t ‘fully’ come out or come to terms with being gay yet, while bi women are treated as if they’re actually straight but – as if they’re treating bisexuality as a trend. In both cases, attraction to men is seen as the default.
Obviously, this couldn’t all be further from the truth.
This is the main stereotype, says Vaneet Mehta, author of Bisexual Men Exist: “This comes from monosexism and phallocentrism. Monosexism says that monosexual identities (gay/straight) are the only ones that are seen as valid or legitimate. This is what leads to the societal erasure of bisexual people, as well as people of other sexualities.
“Phallocentrism is the idea that your identity is defined by your attraction to the penis, your sexual experiences with it. This is a very cisnormative concept. What this results in is bisexual men are seen as closeted gay men. Our attraction to men, to the penis, defines our orientation. And since bisexuality is said to not exist, we are seen as gay.”
Bi guys are more feminine than straight guys
Some bi guys might present in a more femme manner, and some might have interests that are considered more feminine. However, there’s no correlation between male sexuality and femininity. It’s as simple as that. Here, it’s worth noting that being femme isn’t just about presenting that way internally – and some men, bi or otherwise, won’t feel safe presenting femme anyway,
Bi guys will cheat
There are going to be bi guys out there who aren’t monogamous, and bi guys who will cheat. Just like there will be straight guys, straight women, bi women – we could go on – who aren’t, or who will. But there’s no correlation.
Plenty of bisexual people, regardless of gender, are in happy and committed relationships with partners of all genders. And even when bisexual people are in nonmonogamous relationships that are consensual, the belief that bi guys ‘need’ nonmonogamy is rooted in the myth that bi guys are hypersexual and ‘need’ sex with men.
Everybody is different. It’s thought that there are around nine million LGBT Americans, so we can expect that there are over one million bisexual men in the US – and then of course many more across the world. Some will be monogamous, some won’t. Some might have hobbies or interests society deem to be more feminine, some won’t. Some might be upfront about their sexuality with their partner, some might not.
We’re all different, and the myths around bisexual men simply don’t hold up to reality. But due to their prevalence being bisexual as a man can be a minefield - it can be difficult to fit in.
So, what we can do? Biphobia isn’t going to disappear overnight, as much as we’d like it to. But, we can give more resources to the bi community, says Mehta. “There is a huge bi community of activists and organizations but they are often grassroots and severely underfunded,” – and Scarleteen is one such organization that supports and is made of the queer community, including bisexual people.
“Giving these organizations space, money, materials, and so on to assist them with their work can go a long way. It is not good enough to just give money to general LGBTQIA+ community organizations as they often aren't working to fix the bi-specific issues. We need funding given to bi organizations to assist them with their vital work of creating and spreading awareness, educating people, creating materials and support networks for those struggling, and more.”