It hit me when I was planning out an article about how not all bi men are indecisive, slutty, and suckers for the sweet allure of heterosexual privileged bliss, that that was beside the point. Yeah, we’re not all like that, but what about those of us who are? And so, in the name of expanding the conversation, I present to you the bisexual man of your worst nightmares: me!
I grew up assuming I was straight, like most folks do. Some of us figure out later that that’s not true, but it’s not exactly unusual to just accept it as the default. I had crushes on other boys when I was young but I explained them away: “I just envied his alien-drawing skills,” or, “He joined me in Pokemon-playing solitude.” As to why I explained them away, well, that leads into my explanation for why I thought I was gay: I fell hard for my best lady friend in high school.
Normally falling for a woman doesn’t convince a man that he’s gay, but when you happen to be a trans man who hasn’t caught on to his gender yet, it’s easy to think you’re a lesbian. And there was no more biphobic group around me at the time than the lesbians I knew.
Well, dammit, I’d finally found a community and I was going to stick with it, come hell or high water, and since the women in that community couldn’t be attracted to men, then I couldn’t either. Or at least, that’s what I told myself, until I realized that I had absolutely nothing in common with those women besides the fact that we found ladies hot. So off to Wikipedia I went to figure out where I did belong. After web surfing and soul searching I finally came out to myself as a man. Overnight my attraction to women became straight.
I managed to switch sexual orientations multiple times without any indecisiveness at all. Blank slate to attraction to recontextualization. The only real change came when I watched Casino Royale and my heart melted at the sight of Daniel Craig in a tux. (That man is fine.) What assumptions of heterosexuality I had vanished when he won the poker game.
The fact that I’ve had more than one sexual partner would be enough to throw me headfirst into this category for some folks (or that I’ve had any at all), but the real kicker is that I’ve had more than one simultaneously. Up until recently I was dating—and sleeping with—two people who also happened to be doing the same with each other. It was quite a nice little triangle that ended quietly and peacefully when one party moved away. In the past I have even dated a man and a woman simultaneously—the Holy Grail of male bisexual expectations.
I’m not quite living up to expectations though, since I didn’t ask to open up the relationship I have with my partner. In fact, she’s the one who insisted on it. She’s poly and feels anxious when she can only be with one person. While her nonmonogamy has been a serious strain on our relationship, we’ve found ways around it. I’ve done some exploring of my own and determined that I’m some sort of mono-flexible: I get along just fine with one relationship but don’t mind having another. I don’t identify as poly (and actually have a low sex drive), but I’m guilty as charged when it comes to fulfilling the multiple relationships stereotype.
Even with all the crazy sex-capades my wild bisexual self has been getting up to I’ve only had a relationship with one man. Your average observer could easily mistake me for straight. In fact, my very female partner and I are in the initial stages of planning out a commitment ceremony. I’m ducking all the downsides that would have hit me straight on had I been gay, while reaping all the advantages of calling myself queer.
However, I live in a small city. And no, that doesn’t mean that I’m hiding same-gender attraction to avoid drawing attention to myself—it means that I have a tiny male dating pool. To make matters worse, all but one of the gay and bi men I know either have nothing in common with me or are my fraternity brothers, and that one is taken. Date someone incompatible or date your sibling? Opening up my relationship with my partner couldn’t conjure young bachelors from thin air.
Until said eligible hunks appear I’m doing what I can to keep my sexuality visible. I come out whenever it’s appropriate; freely compliment and hit on other men; engage in activism; and protest my state’s unequal marriage opportunities by having an unofficial ceremony with my partner. I may hold hands with a woman when I walk down the street, but it’s because I love her, not because I’m hiding.
So life is complicated. I had to experiment a little bit, but less than you’d think; I’m in an open relationship, but not because I need it; my partner is a woman, but only because I’m a fussy fish in a small dating pool. I may be a walking, talking stereotype, but I’m a walking, talking stereotype with a story.
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