Different for guys?: A look at male bisexuality

 

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“When it comes to being bi, there are double standards according to gender”

Just how distinct is a bi man’s experience from a bi woman’s?

I suppose it’s something of an irony that when it comes to being bisexual, whatever that means, there are double standards when it comes to gender. Obviously, Biscuit is primarily concerned with the female experience but that experience necessarily involves men (if only theoretically). What I’d like to suggest is that when it comes to being bi, it’s most definitely different for boys.

It wasn’t long ago that I wrote a riposte to Barbara Ellen’s misconceived article in the Guardian, which explored the idea that men are less likely to act on bi-curious feelings than women.

It is perhaps worth reminding ourselves that, as a friend recently remarked during a discussion of sexual politics, what is deemed OK in contemporary culture is what turns on a straight (white) male. It is, she pointed out, for this reason that “lesbian group sex fantasies” are so common amongst men, self-defeating though they may be. Sorry for pointing out the obvious, but lesbians have one flaw as your partners in a threesome, guys… they ain’t gonna be interested in you. When it comes to bi girls, there seems to be something of a blind spot for some men, as the same friend was told by a date: “You’re not really bi, because you’re into me.” He was, needless to say, wrong on both counts. Now here’s the rub. Straight guys don’t really believe in bisexuality, because it’s really all about them, right? The upshot of this is simple, really. For a straight guy, a man who self-identifies as bisexual is a) actually gay and b) fancies his ass…

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“There isn’t a male changing room in the world that doesn’t have divisive gender-politics at work”

I first thought about guys in a sexual sense when I was 17. It was almost 25 years before I acted upon that impulse. Why so long? It’s a good question, and the only real answer is embarrassment. I felt embarrassed, and not a little confused, that I sometimes fancied a guy, and often indulged in, to put it bluntly, cock-based fantasies. Now I knew full well I wasn’t gay, but even so, my main social groups were very male, and very male social groups are renowned for their overt homophobia. The culture of the changing room is very testosterone-fuelled, to the point where letting on that you were bisexual would lead to a very palpable shift in the atmosphere, and a sort of isolation from the pack. There isn’t a male changing room in the world that doesn’t have divisive gender-politics at work. I was once virtually accused of being a “card-carrying, red-blooded heterosexual” during a changing-room discussion (which wasn’t about sex or gender politics so far as I recall), by a guy whose sexual preference is utterly unknown to me. He was so defensive I wondered for a moment whether he was gay. I didn’t ask, but I didn’t disabuse him of his assessment, either. Why not? I suppose it was simply too costly an admission to make.

I was going to work through the responses to a bit of market research I carried out, polling a few guys I knew (empirically) to be, or at least who appeared to be, bi. There were many interesting points made, but there were two that really stood out. He first was that, to a man, they denied that indulging in same-sex relations compromised their masculinity in any sense. This in itself is not surprising. I could quite easily make trite comments regarding homophobia (literally: irrational fear of being the same) as indicating some manner of self-chastisement for thoughts of exactly this nature, but I’ll merely repeat what was once said of me (before I climbed into the half-closet): “Now that’s the shirt of a man confident of his sexuality.” For me, admitting, and acting upon, my desires merely enhances my sense of masculinity. I don’t think I can define masculinity, but I think a fairly hefty part of it is being open-minded and strong enough to not worry about what other people think.

And there’s the second rub. Each of my sample (including me) said that their bisexuality, whether they described it as that or not (two identified as straight but were happy to play with guys in a group situation) as extremely private. Basically, they were happy to play, but not admit to playing. Surely some mismatch, no?

Well, yes and no. A lot of guys indulge in what is effectively sport bisexualism – it’s something that allows for more options during group sex. They don’t actually fancy men, but are happy to play with them in the right circumstances. They don’t self-identify as bi without adding the codacil “with a strong preference for women”. They won’t tell their straight male friends because they’d find it “shocking”, and “weird”, though it appears the possibility they, too, might be bi escapes them.

The simple fact of the matter is that bisexual men are viewed in a very negative light in straight circles, even, it appears, in swingers’ clubs where girl-on-girl play is practically mandatory bi guys are looked on with suspicion.

From my point of view there was one comment that stood out: “It makes me laugh! I know that deep down most men have had the thought ‘I know how I like a blowjob so I wonder what it will be like to give someone the pleasure I enjoy!'”

It’s quite telling that I have yet to mention emotion… Where does sex end and intimacy begin for the bisexual male? I don’t know about the latter, but in the case of the former, it it not only invariably begins at home, but stays there too.

 

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