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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Case Closed: Bisexual Men Exist!

Posted by on Tue, Aug 16, 2011 at 2:00 PM

I get in big trouble when I say things like this:

Some men who have had sexual experiences with both men and women identify as bisexual. However, there is a long history of skepticism about whether these men also have substantial sexual attraction toward both sexes (Krafft-Ebing, 1886; Freund, 1974). In part, this uncertainty exists because it is common for self-identified homosexual men to have first identified as bisexual, despite later professing they were never genuinely attracted to women (Rosario et al., 2006). Similarly, some bisexual men appear to have exclusively homosexual attractions, but identify as bisexual for reasons of perceived social acceptability (Stokes et al., 1997).

I'm one of those "self-identified homosexual men" who once identified as bisexual—in my teens, very briefly—and consequently I feel a certain degree of skepticism (usually unexpressed) when I meet a bi-identified teenage boy. (Which makes me Gaydolph Hitler, according to some bisexual activists lurking in the comments thread on my piece in this year's Queer Issue.) And when gay guys bitch about men who demonstrate "exclusively homosexual attractions" but who nevertheless identify as bi (because it makes them feel superior and/or more masculine)—even if the gay guys doing the bitching are careful not to cite these halfclosetedcases as evidence that there's no such thing as legit bisexual men—bisexual activists screams bloody murder. Because the failure to accept without question the professed sexual identities of all bi guys everywhere—even if this bi guy is still a kid, even if that bi guy doesn't seem to be interested in women at all—is bigoted and biphobic.

Sex researchers have contributed to the skepticism about the existence of male bisexuality. More than one study found that while guys who self-identified as bi might claim to be aroused by erotic images of both gay and straight sex, their dicks told different stories. Bi guys in labs told researchers that they were equally aroused while they watched gay and straight porn but it was gay porn—and only gay porn—that made their dicks hard. (And, yes, they wired up their dicks and measured 'em during these experiments.) Pointing to these men's exclusively gay "genital arousal patterns," researchers theorized that male bisexuality, unlike female bisexuality, was rare and/or nonexistent.

But here's the lovely thing about science: what science gets wrong, more science sets right. It turns out that previous studies of bi guys didn't adequately control for the young-and-temporarily-bi-identified or the gay-and-kidding-themselves-about-being-bi. Back to the brand new study that I quoted from earlier in this post:

Past research not finding bisexual genital arousal patterns among bisexual men may have been affected by recruitment techniques. For example, bisexual men in those studies needed only to identify as bisexual and to self-report bisexual attractions (e.g., Rieger et al., 2005). Thus, the bisexual samples of previous studies may have been populated by men who had never or rarely behaved bisexually and perhaps identified as bisexual for reasons other than strong arousal to both sexes.... Additionally, bisexual participants in past studies were partly or exclusively recruited from the gay community. For example, the bisexual sample of Tollison et al. (1979) was recruited from a university gay student union. Thus, past studies may have unintentionally oversampled bisexual-identified men with homosexual arousal patterns.

More than half the bi-identified guys recruited for this study were turned away because—I'm reading between the lines here—researchers didn't believe these guys when they claimed to be bi:

Another important difference between our study and past studies is that ours recruited bisexual men from a source likely to be frequented by men with bisexual erotic interests. Despite our relatively stringent inclusion criteria, about half (53.2%) of the bisexual men who approached us were eligible for inclusion.

How's this for irony: once researchers controlled for the young-and-temporarily-bi-identified and the gay-and-kidding-themselves-about-being-bi—once researchers refused to accept without question the professed sexual identities of the bi-identified men they recruited, once researchers acted like biphobes and bigots—they were able to demonstrate that "bisexual arousal patterns" actually exist:

On average, the bisexual men in our sample had distinctly bisexual patterns of both genital and subjective arousal.... It appears that some men may identify as bisexual because they are sexually aroused by both sexes, even if they experience considerably more arousal to one sex than the other. Alternatively, men with bisexual arousal patterns may experience temporal fluctuations in their attractions and arousal to men and to women. Thus, a bisexual man may be more aroused by male stimuli at one time point but by female stimuli at another time point. Further, his arousal to his less arousing sex may vary in magnitude depending on fluctuations in his attractions to that sex at any given time.

The current study establishes that some bisexual men have bisexual arousal patterns. Accepting the centrality of sexual arousal patterns in understanding male sexual orientation (Bailey, 2009), this suggests that indeed, some men have a bisexual orientation.

You can download a PDF of this study by clicking here. Print free to print out a copy and wave it in the faces of any gays or straights who claims that bi guys don't exist and any bi guys who insist that it's a crime against humanity to point out that some bi-identified guys are lying.

Another interesting note: the author of one of those studies that cast doubt on the existence of bisexual men—Northwestern University's Michael Bailey—co-authored this study. Bailey is essentially debunking Bailey here. And that, my friends, is the difference between science and faith. In the words of Tim Minchin: "Science adjusts its beliefs based on what’s observed. Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."

 

Comments (114) RSS

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Absurdist1968 1
Bad link for the PDF.
Posted by Absurdist1968 on August 16, 2011 at 2:14 PM · Report this
2
Hurray! I exist! It's kind of hard to imagine that bi-activists would crawl down your throat for saying that some people lie about being bi. That's pretty silly. If you want to prove to someone that you're bi then suck a dick and then eat a pussy. Case closed.
Posted by bassplayerguy on August 16, 2011 at 2:16 PM · Report this
3
This is what I've always tried to caution you about when you rail against bisexuality:

In the same way that your straight peers or religious finger wagers would like to tell you "Well that's nice, but no, you don't know your sexuality, *i* DO. Homosexuality is a choice." or other things that others tell us.

So, in this same way, who are you, in fact, how dare you claim to know about somebody elses' desires or non-desires. It was really really strangely hypocritical of you.

I'm glad to see that you aren't as steadfast in your assertions of what is and isn't real for people who potentially really feel those things.
Posted by six five on August 16, 2011 at 2:18 PM · Report this
4
Did Tim Minchin use the wrong form of "it's" in his actual quote, or did you just fail?
Posted by ohemgeeskittles on August 16, 2011 at 2:20 PM · Report this
5
@3 I've been reading Dan for a LONG time and he's never railed against bisexuality. He's railed against how some bi people conduct themselves but it's not the same thing.
Posted by bassplayerguy on August 16, 2011 at 2:21 PM · Report this
6
5: bad choice in words I guess.

His skepticism over bisexuality has always been a little hypocritical IMO
Posted by six five on August 16, 2011 at 2:24 PM · Report this
Salmon 7
Another good thing about being an advocate of science: Even though to me, this study merely confirms what I've felt within myself (as a bi guy), I'm glad that it is something under scientific scrutiny so that the human race at large can strive for empirical evidence, rather than if I just evangelized about my internal experiences to the point of exasperation.

Obviously in the absence of research on a topic such as this, I prefer people to give the benefit of the doubt (Even if one is skeptical of the aforementioned cases of mistaken bi identity, what harm does it do? Why get angry at someone who says they're bi but they're just kidding themselves? They're already identifying themselves within a minority sexuality. The only avenue for anger that I can see as at all legit would be if a guy claimed to be bi, seemed to favor men, but only ever entered long term relationships with women. That would indicate PERHAPS self-loathing about sexuality, but not definitely)

Rant over!
Posted by Salmon http://salmon-leap.blogspot.com on August 16, 2011 at 2:27 PM · Report this
8
I haven't really noticed much skepticism either (maybe waaaaaaaaaaaaay back when, I don't remember) but most "skepticism" was always coupled with something along the lines of "so real bisexuals need to come out of the closet/stop being half closet head cases" etc.
Posted by bassplayerguy on August 16, 2011 at 2:29 PM · Report this
9
Good point 8: I shouldn't go throwing around the word hypocrite. Dan is amazing and does encourage truly bi guys to come out.

Just seems like he generalizes his own experience and that of youngsters to the much bigger population, and it is nice to see that he is still negotiating that with actual evidence. yay
Posted by six five on August 16, 2011 at 2:32 PM · Report this
Kevin_BGFH 10
Does anyone else find it a little creepy that a researcher could do a study where they attach eletronic sensors to guys' penises? How does that pass the ethics review panels? And where can I sign up.

Also, the last paragraph really hits on an extraordinarily important point.

In the words of Tim Minchin: "Science adjusts it’s beliefs based on what’s observed. Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."
Posted by Kevin_BGFH http://biggayfrathouse.typepad.com/blog/ on August 16, 2011 at 2:32 PM · Report this
11
@3: So... Larry Craig says he's straight. Believe him?

@4: I copy and pasted that from a lyrics website. Their error, my mistake.
Posted by Dan Savage on August 16, 2011 at 2:34 PM · Report this
12
HA! Awesome. Everybody wins!
Posted by UNPAID COMMENTER on August 16, 2011 at 2:42 PM · Report this
balderdash 13
All together now:

A-DUUUHHH.
Posted by balderdash http://introverse.blogspot.com on August 16, 2011 at 2:54 PM · Report this
14
@10 You could argue that it's not moral depending on your community and its beliefs, but ethical? Hells yeah it is :)

I need to stop being a pedant on the internet and go outside and play, I think.
Posted by Sifu http://www.sifumark.com on August 16, 2011 at 2:56 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 15
Uhhhhhh...okay.

So, a bi-guy can suddenly go all gay, right?

Therefore you could have a bi-guy going all....straight, as well?

So Dan Savage and Michele Bachmann agree (?!)
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://www.you-read-it-here-first.com on August 16, 2011 at 3:02 PM · Report this
16
I wonder how many straight identified men in that study freaked out because they watched some gay porn and "it moved."
Posted by Reg on August 16, 2011 at 3:03 PM · Report this
17
@15 are you retarded? No seriously, are you?

Here, let me break it down:

"Bi Guy dating women" DOES NOT EQUAL "Gay gay dating women". There's a complete lack of attraction in the latter instance. You fucking moron.
Posted by UNPAID COMMENTER on August 16, 2011 at 3:11 PM · Report this
BritishRichard 18
Fuck yeah!

GO SCIENCE!!!

Finally some good news from Dan today.

Posted by BritishRichard on August 16, 2011 at 3:12 PM · Report this
19
@ 16, I'm still giggling about the mental images that created.
Posted by JrzWrld on August 16, 2011 at 3:13 PM · Report this
20
Given that bisexual men do exist, it is not a matter of science to accept, at least ab initio, a man's claim that he is bi---it's a matter of simple, polite, consideration.

>"despite later professing they were never genuinely attracted to women"
Memory is funny in normal people: when they suffer a strong reversal of opinion about something, they often claim to have always felt that way when they very palpably didn't---one more reason for the autistic to prefer animals, much less confusing...but I digress. The number of people who will claim never to have liked someone who did them wrong, a style of clothing now out-of-fashion, or a piece of music at which all their friends would laugh is large.

We tell ourselves lots of stories, all of them (from my point-of-view) essentially malign because they hide the actual world, and chief of these is: 'I am I.' Any mere fact that would tend to distract one from that dubious proposition barely stands a chance.
Posted by Gerald Fnord on August 16, 2011 at 3:16 PM · Report this
Eva Hopkins 21
@15 - Cute. Many people wrestle with their sexual orientation as they get older. When one is younger, you can be stigmatized for being gay, so being bi in college happens a lot. *shrug* If a bi guy "goes" gay, then he is a gay guy who took awhile to realize it. Ditto for his "going" straight. That doesn't jive w/ Bachmann, who says a GAY guy can become straight. & I mean - I guess they can LIVE as a straight man & do, sometimes, but that's living a lie. It's crappy for the person doing it & for the people he does it to/near.

& then, some guys are truly bisexual. & so are some women. Like me.

Dan: as a longtime reader, I, too, been of the opinion that what has been perceived as biphobia from you, was actually just your reactions to the first bi folks you met/dealt with (flaky! Though the guy was hot). & so I'm doubly pleased to see your views mature & become more rounded.

..."Science!"
Posted by Eva Hopkins http://www.lunamusestudios.com on August 16, 2011 at 3:17 PM · Report this
22
@10,"Does anyone else find it a little creepy that a researcher could do a study where they attach eletronic sensors to guys' penises? How does that pass the ethics review panels? And where can I sign up."

Rather than sensors, I think they should just measure how big a cum wad the guy blows, and how far he shoots. Generally speaking, the more intense the experience, whether it's with a man, woman or transsexual, the more distance and volume of my wad.
Posted by Smell on August 16, 2011 at 3:19 PM · Report this
23
There are, no doubt, many bisexual men who identify as heterosexual, and bisexual men who claim to be "cured of homosexuality" due to actually being not quite completely homosexual. Yes, we need out and proud bisexuals to speak out and inform all of us.
Posted by mr pinky on August 16, 2011 at 3:26 PM · Report this
24
@10: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plethysmogr…

It's not near as fun as it should be.
Posted by astearns on August 16, 2011 at 3:36 PM · Report this
25
@ 22 - I don't think that's an objective criterion. My wad is pretty abundant and forceful in any situation (although less and less with age, thankfully - I no longer kill that many trees [for tissues] or stain that many walls).
Posted by Ricardo on August 16, 2011 at 3:37 PM · Report this
26
@7 "Even if one is skeptical of the aforementioned cases of mistaken bi identity, what harm does it do? Why get angry at someone who says they're bi but they're just kidding themselves?"

In my experience of the world, the reason Science wants to know if men can be bi is because if bi men were all lying, that knowledge would help save women from marrying a "bi" man who turns out to be gay. (Women often find gay men cute & funny. This pisses off straight nerdy scientists, who think that if women understand that all the bi guys are really gay, that will lead more women to fall for nerdy scientists.)

Posted by EricaP on August 16, 2011 at 3:37 PM · Report this
Ophian 27
Well then. Glad that's settled.
Posted by Ophian on August 16, 2011 at 3:46 PM · Report this
28
me @26, meant to say "Women often find gay and bi men cute & funny"
Posted by EricaP on August 16, 2011 at 3:47 PM · Report this
anarchy burger 29
@26 "Women often find gay men cute & funny. This pisses off straight nerdy scientists..."

huh? why would straight nerdy scientists be annoyed by women being attracted to gay men?

OH RIGHT...because straight nerdy scientists are ALL MEN. Silly me! They don't let ladies do science!!!

P.S. nice analysis, Dan! thanks for the link.
Posted by anarchy burger on August 16, 2011 at 3:59 PM · Report this
30
@ 29 - Maybe lady scientists just aren't nerdy.
Posted by Ricardo on August 16, 2011 at 4:07 PM · Report this
31
The study's introduction supports Dan's point that lots of men have a bisexual identification without a bisexual arousal pattern, which is why the Bailey 2009 study found no true bisexuals, even though this study proves that they do exist.

The part about only 53.2% qualifying, however, does not support Dan's point. The study recruited candidates who placed internet ads seeking to have sex with both partners in a heterosexual couple. All the candidates are likely the "real" bisexuals that we now know exist. The reason 47% were rejected is primarily because they had never had a serious relationship with one or both sexes, which the authors arbitrarily required in order to weed out the more dubious bisexuals who confounded Bailey's last study in 2009.
Posted by not_too_creative on August 16, 2011 at 4:10 PM · Report this
32
@29, 30 -- Insofar as nerdy scientists are annoyed by women marrying cute bi guys, and want to prove that those guys will all turn out to be gay and break their wives' adorable hearts... it doesn't matter if the nerdy scientists are straight men or gay/bi women.

If it turns out to be all straight women scientists working on this issue, I'll have to revise my theory to fit the new facts.
Posted by EricaP on August 16, 2011 at 4:42 PM · Report this
33
@ 32 - Who cares, really? What matters is that you made the funniest comment on this thread IMNSHO.
Posted by Ricardo on August 16, 2011 at 4:53 PM · Report this
Gus 34
I still don't believe Dan Savage exists though.

He's spent far too long saying that bisexual men don't exist for this bisexual man to believe that he exists, even with his more recent backpedaling on the issue.
Posted by Gus on August 16, 2011 at 5:09 PM · Report this
35
@23, I'm a proud bisexual, who actually enjoys the company of men, women and transsexuals. I identify as such not to be less gay, but this is who I really am. I love being squirted on by both pussies and penises.
Posted by Smell on August 16, 2011 at 5:31 PM · Report this
36
*sigh* Dan, I love a lot of what you write, but your defensiveness on this issue (and on many other issues) is getting wearisome. You spent a lot more time defending stuff you've already said (and said and said and said, and defended and defended and defended) and ridiculing your well-meaning critics than you do saying anything new or developing your existing ideas.

My opinion: Telling a bi-identified guy that you don't believe he's really bi - telling anyone you don't believe what they say about their sexual orientation - isn't a crime against humanity. But it IS rude, disrespectful, condescending, and utterly POINTLESS. It can even make them more resistant to considering other possibilities. Who does it serve to tell somebody you don't believe their sexual identity? (answer: your own ego.) As long as they're not being like Marcus Bachmann and trying to harm people of other identities, it's completely pointless to express your skepticism to them. You can have your private opinion, and you might turn out to be right, but jesus, mind your own business. Keep your trap shut, be polite and supportive, and let them come around in their own time, on their own terms. This is what I've done for years, and it usually results in people coming to me very quickly when they are ready to admit the truth. You know why? Because they can trust that they'll get a respectful ear and not have to hear "I told you so."
Posted by Skipper Jo on August 16, 2011 at 5:42 PM · Report this
37
So sometimes those arousal patterns change and the bisexual men are more attracted to one sex than the other? Meaning someone who is bisexual could have a gay arousal pattern during the test, despite his honest and sincere and real bisexuality?

This post glosses over that point, disappointingly.
Posted by Zuulabelle http://www.mellophant.com on August 16, 2011 at 5:46 PM · Report this
38
31: yes, that. It's perfectly reasonable (and not at all "biphobic" or "bigoted") to use some kind of measure to establish that a subject is bisexual before including him in the study. This doesn't mean the researchers would be skeptical of other men's claims to be bisexual. It just means they wanted particular evidence to identify the subjects of interest for their study. Sure, Dan is right that some people who think they are bisexual may turn out to change their minds or come to a different understanding later. But what's the point of being skeptical of their claims, when they may well be completely accurate?
Posted by Suzy on August 16, 2011 at 6:05 PM · Report this
39
It seems to me that there are men (and women) out there who love getting off in all different kinds of ways. They fuck women, they fuck men. I'm not talking about feelings here, I'm talking about fucking. Some guys get off on the fact that they are open to getting off in wonderfully experimental ways. But here's my question: Would you call those kinds of people bisexual? If you're built to love one particular gender over another, but enjoy fucking them both, what are you?
Posted by Soo on August 16, 2011 at 6:16 PM · Report this
40
@4, @11 - is this an American vs. British thing? In the English that I speak, pronouns don't take the apostrophe to indicate the possessive. Thus "its", "hers" and "his". Minchin is a colonial, right?
Posted by teamcanada on August 16, 2011 at 6:16 PM · Report this
anarchy burger 41
@32 well, your narrative of this study's backstory is definitely the most original interpretation I've seen here. I think the boring old pursuit of knowledge is a simpler and more likely explanation for this totally reasonable study documenting bisexual arousal.

I've already spent too much time tilting at windmills this evening, or I'd look up the authors for you. But there are only three, so here's what you do. The corresponding author is easy, just go to his/her institution and department, and look up the faculty web page. The other two will be trickier, but if they aren't from the same website, the journal's web site might give their institutional affiliation. Good luck.

Uh oh, what if the authors are gay men/happily married/not nerdy?? We won't be able to tell! We might never figure this out!!
Posted by anarchy burger on August 16, 2011 at 6:26 PM · Report this
anarchy burger 42
er, I meant if they aren't from the same *department.*
Posted by anarchy burger on August 16, 2011 at 6:27 PM · Report this
43
@20 and @36 For the win.
Posted by codairem on August 16, 2011 at 6:33 PM · Report this
44
@39, some people define bisexuality as being attracted to both sexes or being able to get off with both sexes, regardless of emotional considerations. Other people don't call themselves bisexual unless their emotions are also in play. Both definitions are valid, and there are plenty more in between. Bisexuality doesn't have a one-size-fits-all definition that we can clearly define for other people; it's an identity they get to construct for themselves.

For me it's basically about the sex. I've loved people of both sexes, but I'm one of those folks who tends to separate sex from love, so I self-identify based on who I want to bang. I know people who say it's more about the feelings for them, which they're entitled to do, it's their identity, but I personally find it a little silly to conflate one's *sexual* orientation with one's *emotional* makeup.

But I guess it would make sense to do so, if you're a person who experiences sex and love as inextricably connected.
Posted by Skipper Jo on August 16, 2011 at 6:45 PM · Report this
45
@ 36 - But from all I've read that he's said about the subject, Dan's made it clear that he won't tell a bi-identified kid that he doesn't believe him. He just reserves himself the right not to believe them (until proven wrong), for reasons that have been quite clearly explained and that come from his own personal experience.

If you insist on thinking otherwise, I'd say you're the one who's overly defensive. And that says a lot more about you than about him.
Posted by Ricardo on August 16, 2011 at 7:07 PM · Report this
46
Thanks Mr. Savage. You did the right thing. And it will help a lot of people. There was a risk that such a study would not get the same attention as one that confirms stereotype (like the 2005 Bailey study commented in the New York Times). You are helping avoiding that, and for that, everyone should be grateful (except the biphobic).
Posted by prurq on August 16, 2011 at 7:33 PM · Report this
Confluence 47
@19 Me too!

@16 wins the thread.
Posted by Confluence on August 16, 2011 at 8:22 PM · Report this
48
I don't blame people like Dan for doubt about bisexuality, I blame the liars/fakers.
Posted by niko4ever on August 17, 2011 at 1:34 AM · Report this
49
Tim Minchin: "Science adjusts its beliefs based on what’s observed. Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."

Indeed.

There are of course bad scientists who don't do that and yet try to pose as if they did. But there's a lot more of such poseurs in the 'pop-science' media (responsible among other things for the brouhaha about evolutionary psychology) whose main endeavor is to get more readers, not to be truthful to science and its methods.
Posted by ankylosaur on August 17, 2011 at 4:01 AM · Report this
50
I suspect that I would fail to register as bi in a test that depends on penile sensors and images of men. There are very few types of men that I'm attracted to. Some make my heart go pitter-patter, but don't give me an erection. I need to at least be in his presence, or better yet get to know him, in order to become sexually interested.

Kinsey was wise to base his scale on experience rather than professed interest or other esoterica. Sex is very complicated so it's best to stick to the facts: Who have you fucked in your lifetime?
Posted by Mr. J on August 17, 2011 at 5:44 AM · Report this
51
@45, what do you think I'm defensive about? Up until your comment, I wasn't aware I was being accused of anything. Being a woman, I'm fortunate that I haven't had to deal with nearly as much patronizing skepticism as bi guys hear on a regular basis.

I don't know what Dan has said or would say to a bi-identified boy (or man) in a direct one-on-one exchange. I presume he wouldn't attack their claim outright because he gives great advice about how not to be idiotic in social situations. But he also devotes a lot of influential blog and column space to doubting people who profess their bisexuality. I don't call that reserving the right to his private opinion. I call it excessive use of a public platform to continually say something unhelpful and pointless.

Yes, people lie, they get confused about who they are, they deny who they are, they tell themselves stories to make life transitions easier. People do this for all sorts of reasons, not just their sexuality. It's not news. I'd like to see this become less of a focus in conversations about bisexuality. There are more interesting, more important (to actual bi people, anyway) issues at hand.
Posted by Skipper Jo on August 17, 2011 at 8:16 AM · Report this
52
Thank you for clearing that up, Dan.
Posted by Marrena on August 17, 2011 at 8:45 AM · Report this
53
@39: Sexual and romantic attraction are two different things: someone can be bisexual but hetero- or homo- romantic.

@40: No, this is not an American vs. British thing. Possessive pronouns never ever take apostrophes in any dialect of English. Dan originally copied and pasted "it's" but then corrected to "its" (see #11).

@29: "nerdy" is a specifically gendered insult (like "bitch"). It specifically refers to an unattractive male.
Posted by BlackRose on August 17, 2011 at 10:10 AM · Report this
milemarker 54
@22. It's obvious you're not older than 40.
Posted by milemarker on August 17, 2011 at 10:21 AM · Report this
55
@ 45 - The mere fact that you came up with "ridiculing your well-meaning critics" when his critics on this issue have generally quite obviously not read or understood what he said (and therefore cannot be well-meaning, as that only shows their insecurity, not their logic or desire to help) demonstrates that you judge him before knowing the facts (or knowing the fact but choosing to see it as some sort of anti-bi persecution nonetheless), which is a typically overly defensive attitude.
Posted by Ricardo on August 17, 2011 at 10:29 AM · Report this
56
@53 part C: typically, yes. But then again: http://tinyurl.com/shessuchageek
Posted by EricaP on August 17, 2011 at 10:31 AM · Report this
57
I don't doubt the existence of bisexuality, but I wonder if measuring someone's "genital arousal patterns" is a completely accurate measure of their sexual orientation. I'm a lesbian and sometimes watch straight porn and it turns me on. However, I have never actually been attracted to one in real life and don't think I would ever sleep with one. I am very much gay, but a test like this might say that I am bi.
Posted by mlj11-0 on August 17, 2011 at 10:59 AM · Report this
58
@3 six five-Well said. Dan has been against bisexuals and has practiced bisexual erasure and biphobic for decades.

@5 bassplayer-Bullshit. You haven't been paying attention to Dan then otherwise you'd see how yes he is biphobic and does practice bisexual erasure.

@36 Well said Skipper Jo. Dan Savage is a hypocrite since he loves to trash bisexuals and for decades he claimed that we don't exist and he also likes to claim that if someone is a teenager or young adult and identifies as bisexual that they're somehow not really bisexual and are going to come out as being gay or lesbian. He also blames bisexuals for the shortcomings of closeted gay men and lesbians.

Too bad it's taken Biphobic Dan Savage decades to realize that bisexuals exist, and he actually defended Bailey's first 2005 study and said how it was actually valid and true that bisexuality doesn't exist in men, when everyone else knew that it was junk science. Dan wrote this in an advice column and in the bisexual documentary "Bi the way" he said it on camera.

Most gay men are not biphobic and do not practice bisexual erasure like Dan Savage did for decades and still does when he wrote about how bisexual identified teenagers and young adults are going to eventually just come out as gay or lesbian.

See here: http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/bisex…

Here are some quotes from Dan Savage that show his biphobia through the decades:

“Avoiding bi guys is a good rule of thumb for gay men looking for long-term relationships. Outside of San Francisco's alternate-universe bisexual community, there aren't many bi guys who want or wind up in long-term, same-sex relationships -- monogamous or not.”

“I'm not saying bi guys are bad people, or they don't make great one-night stands. Bushes, bathhouses, and sleazy gay bars are crawling with bi guys.”

“There are definitely some people who should fool around with bisexual men: OTHER BISEXUAL MEN! Jesus Christ, bisexuals -- if straights and gays treat you unfairly, then why not turn to each other for love and comfort? Judging from my mail of late, there's an unlimited supply of easily offended, extremely verbose, highly ethical bisexuals out there looking for love. Fuck each other!”

"Bisexuals all disappear into heterosexual relationships!"

One person wrote in asking about bisexuality and he told them how bisexuality exists in women but somehow it does not in men and he claimed the false porn study done by Dr. Michael J. Bailey at Northwestern that's a joke of a study.
More...
Posted by JamesT42 on August 17, 2011 at 12:00 PM · Report this
59
This is kind of off topic but it seems to me that there's a flawed assumption in these studies - that what you find it arousing to watch is the same as what you find it arousing to participate in. For instance lots of lesbians like gay dude porn more than gay girl porn - that doesn't make them closeted gay men. How would this study differentiate between a bi-sexual man and a gay or straight man who just who just generally likes porn regardless of the gender of the people involved?
Posted by PBSR on August 17, 2011 at 12:09 PM · Report this
60
16 "I wonder how many straight identified men in that study freaked out because they watched some gay porn and "it moved."

i feel like this study is flawed because just because the fact it's taboo could get some guys hard but it doesn't mean they have any interest in gay sex. when watching hetero sex you are still focusing on the penises so you make some kind of association with it getting you aroused. a lot of "straight" identified people are the biggest purchasers of so called "shemale" porn
Posted by yuck on August 17, 2011 at 1:13 PM · Report this
61
@58 Ah, so you're one of those annoying twits that Dan's always talking about. You know that none of those quotes you provided equals "bisexual erasure." Not even close. And you know, the fact that Dan posted a link to a study that specifically shows that bisexuals exist then it's the exact opposite of what you're claiming.
Posted by bassplayerguy on August 17, 2011 at 2:59 PM · Report this
62
I would like to see several more studies, rigidly controlled and independently audited. One study didn't convince me that there are no bisexual men, another study, alone, won't convince me that there are bisexual men.

I've followed Dan's comments on bisexuality for some time now and I don't recall ever reading or hearing him be disrespectful on the subject. If I have understood him correctly, his position was that there are a tremendous number of gay men who, for whatever reason, prefer to 'weaken' their gayness by saying they are bisexual. Nothing more.

Personally, I think the more relevant question is why, of all my gay acquaintances and friends, not one, not one single one has ever had a relationship with a bisexual man end in anything but tears - for the gay man.
Posted by fierce urgency of whenever on August 17, 2011 at 3:10 PM · Report this
63
@62
"not one single one has ever had a relationship with a bisexual man end in anything but tears"

For the bi guy too perhaps? Oh, right, how would you know since the gay guys are your friends, not the bi guys.

And what of every other relationship for the gay man with another gay man? Surely all your gay friends aren't happily married. Don't all the non-marriage-resulting gay-gay relationships end in tears for at least one gay guy?
Posted by Mr. J on August 17, 2011 at 3:25 PM · Report this
64
I know I'm not making a new point here, but I think the binary notion of sexuality is tired, and I can't wait for it to finally go extinct. Gay, Bi, Straight, Questioning, are all valid in our current situation, but I look forward with great anticipation to the day when the person I love is simply Sue, or Jake, or whoever, and not their genitals. I've never identified as Bi, and judging by my sexual history, I definitely fall on the straight side, simply because I've dated (and fantasized about, etc.) women, 98% of the time. That said, I'm frequently attracted to men, and have had sex with men before. The fact is, I'm not convinced of the accuracy of terms like "straight" or "gay" any more than "bi". People are simply into who they're into. I know it sounds like open-mic Kinseyism, but it seems so much less freighted (and confining) than the three camps everyone seems to divide themselves into. I also understand that the pitfall of my point of view is that it leaves open the claim that straight bigots might make ("all she needs is a good dicking" etc.), and I don't want to take away a central part of someone's identity. I guess I'm just waiting for our culture to get sane enough that Dan Savage can be the "generous, raunchy, love and sex columnist", rather than "the GAY, generous, raunchy, love and sex columnist".
Posted by TXJewboy on August 17, 2011 at 4:54 PM · Report this
65
@64: But Dan writes about his own sexual experiences and opinions. He writes from his own perspective and it is relevant that he is gay. I don't see anything wrong with describing him as such, along with all the other adjectives.

It's totally cool that you're, say, 1-2 on the Kinsey scale and care more about the person than their gender or sex, but for some people the genitals, or the gender identity, or the gender performance of their partner really are important. For some of us, there really is something magical about the half (or so) of the population that attracts us that's just missing in the other half.
Posted by BlackRose on August 17, 2011 at 7:32 PM · Report this
66
For those of you who like to play around with statistics as if they didn't, ultimately, somewhere down the line, signify living, breathing men and women who are every bit as smart and sophisticated and "knowing" and literate as you, I'd like to suggest that you're not half as clever, or as humane, as you apparently think you are.

You'll never know what it was like to have been so brutally sexually abused as a child that you spent most of your childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood, hating your body, loathing your very physical presence in the world with a revulsion so intense and all-consuming that there aren't words to describe it.

Your choice was simple. You either learned to live with this extreme self-disgust or you learned to overcome the fear of death and take your own life. As you're likely aware, the prognosis for people who were severely sexually abused as children isn't very good.

Some of us, somehow, make it to adulthood. Maybe it's just blind luck. Maybe it's just genetics. I don't think it has anything to do with any kind of superhuman will for survival. For some of us, it just happens. We survive into adulthood.

I don't think I've spent a single second of my life wondering if anyone, male or female, thought of me as physically or sexually attractive. I just don't, or can't, think of my body in that way.

What has happened is that normal garden-variety human loneliness has made me seek out what I guess you'd call "romantic" relationships with others. Male or female were never of much consequence to me. What I wanted. The only thing I wanted. I wanted someone to hold me and touch me and kiss me without degrading me or hurting me or in any other way making me feel less than human. That's all I wanted. And I wanted, especially, for some reason, for someone to kiss my face. And to hold me gently. The sex. Whatever it was. It didn't really matter all that much. I enjoyed it. But I think I enjoyed it because I so much enjoyed simply being held in someone's arms.

So you talk in your blithe, breezy way about "bisexual" and "homosexual arousal" and all sorts of "interesting" studies that measure how erect some guy's penis did or didn't get. You have fun "speculating" as to whether "bisexuals" exist and you laugh at all the amusing ways people disguise and befuddle their sexuality or sexual preferences.

But I'm here to tell you that you're arrogant.

You don't know half as much about the world, or about people, as you pretend to know.

You make nice careers for yourselves as "outrageous" and "provocative" pundits and columnists and talk-show guests and you bounce around opinions just for the sake of having opinions, just for the sake of keeping your audience titillated and amused.

You'll never know who we are. We already have a pretty solid apprehension of just what you think of us and of your sniggering "acceptance." (Congratulations on locating some weakly designed science, and even shoddier analysis, that permitted you, however equivocally, to acknowledge that human desire wasn't as simplistic and tidy as you'd assumed.)

Please keep in mind that you're neither as nice nor as funny nor as humane nor as "broad-minded" nor as smart as you'd like to think you are.

There's got be a reason, after all, that the world's great religions all consider pride to be a very serious sin.

More...
Posted by The Gate of Lost Moments on August 17, 2011 at 7:48 PM · Report this
67
Mr J - I appreciate your point, but please don't side with those bisexual people and Ms Winfrey who feel entitled to tell those gay people who express a certain particular fear that they aren't entitled to dread being dumped if not specifically for societal approval then at least with that in the mix as more hurtful than relationships ending for more inherent or internal reasons. People who call others out for erasure shouldn't employ it.

Mr Tex - Will society ever really be there? Not only could this only happen after advances against prejudice that don't seem possible, there'd likely be too many unintended consequences. For an example, some bookstores cited positive reasons for disbanding thier same-sex sections. They claimed that the books in those sections belonged in the general population due to advancing assimilation. But it was murder ever trying to find a new author by browsing in such a bookstore.
Posted by vennominon on August 17, 2011 at 8:34 PM · Report this
68
Of course bi guys exist. The thing that makes me skeptical though is the method of research. People can have all manner of physical reactions to visual stimuli based on their 'taboo' or 'unusual' factor. Surely a 'question and answer' kind of thing is far more reliable. Anything can turn us on, suddenly and without warning - but that doesn't necessarily colour our sexuality to the same extent that the whole tactile, chemical, intellectual stimulation that is provided by an interesting, sexually attractive person - who's very good at what they do. To me the best measure of bisexuality - is someone being open and honest about their their desire and willingness to fuck either sex. It's not that complicated really.
Rose Cooper. www.insiderose.com
Posted by Rosiepants on August 17, 2011 at 9:49 PM · Report this
69
Of course bi guys exist. The thing that makes me skeptical though is the method of research. People can have all manner of physical reactions to visual stimuli based on their penchant for certain 'taboos' or merely because they possess an 'unusual' factor. Anyone can be aroused by same sex porn and not necessarily want to be sexually intimate with the same sex. Fantasy accounts for so much sexual arousal it's almost ridiculous. Surely a 'question and answer' kind of thing is far more reliable. Anything can turn us on, suddenly and without warning - but that doesn't necessarily colour our sexuality to the same extent that the whole tactile, chemical, intellectual stimulation that is provided by an interesting, sexually attractive person - who's very good at what they do. To me the best measure of bisexuality - is someone being open and honest about their their desire and willingness to fuck either sex. It's not that complicated really.
Rose Cooper. read a girls own bi story here: www.insiderose.com
Posted by Rosiepants on August 17, 2011 at 10:00 PM · Report this
70
While the study is interesting, does anyone else feel insulted by the question itself? I know many queer folks (including myself) who have been told that "it's just a phase", etc. Does anyone deny that there are, in fact, some people for whom it *is* just a phase? Does that make it any less insulting to be told so when you come out?

How about this: when someone comes out to you--as whatever--be accepting and don't turn their personal experience into a dissertation on all the different possible psychological explanations you can think of for it.
Posted by A Cooper on August 17, 2011 at 11:31 PM · Report this
badstone 71
I always suspected something was up. Science clashed with my personal experience. Case and point: after the end of a (miserable, monogamous, year-long) relationship, I went to get back in touch with an old fuckbuddy and found out that in the course of about 18 months he had married his girlfriend and fathered a set of Irish twins. I used to get into kinky, kinky shit with this guy too, and spent a while trying to wrap my head around it. Even Oscar Wilde was able to impregnate his wife on more than one occasion. Clearly there's some flexibility out there.
Posted by badstone on August 18, 2011 at 9:00 AM · Report this
72
Gosh, what about the idea that while many or most or SOME of us lean one way or another in terms of a defined sexual orientation, it's STILL definitely not the end of the story. As a gay guy myself, a faggot, who never identified as bi early on and did not and has not had sex with a woman, I certainly do possess a deep curiosity and interest in having sex with women, or A woman, in my life. Why? Because I think women are beautiful - because the beauty I see in men and am "naturally" drawn to MUST, logically in my mind and heart -- in a just universe -- this beauty MUST also exist in women, but was perhaps previously invisible to me because I was simply not hard wired that way from my early childhood, and as such never thought about or had a chance to investigate sex with women. Many of us gays were never allowed the chance because we are raised to believe that we are either way or another. But if we can allow these walls to come down, if we can possibly find, however seemingly impossible, the space to open up to social and sexual play and attraction with women -- with women doing the same and being open to it from us -- perhaps some kind of new/magical/hot/horny . . . and fun . . . sexual play could happen, and this rigid sexual "orientation" we always thought we had would become a unimportant. Irrelevant. Unevolved. Why not? Circumstance and chance and proximity always play big roles in our lives and the shaping of our individual destinies. Maybe a little faith in open exploration can change everything. I am certainly not afraid of this. I love the idea of being the faggot and queen I've always been, but then meeting a woman who likes me for those same qualities, and fucking going for it -- and perhaps finding our way to a sexual place that isn't at all defined by being in the middle of some spectrum, but is just about feeling good - feeling right.
More...
Posted by Neil down on August 18, 2011 at 9:13 AM · Report this
73
Gosh, what about the idea that while many or most or SOME of us lean one way or another in terms of a defined sexual orientation, it's STILL definitely not the end of the story. As a gay guy myself, a faggot who never identified as bi early on and so far only had sex with men, I certainly do possess a deep curiosity and interest in having sex with women, or A woman, in my life. Why? Because I think women are beautiful - because the beauty I see in men and am "naturally" drawn to MUST, logically in my mind and heart -- in a just universe -- this beauty MUST also exist in women, but was perhaps previously invisible to me because I was simply not hard wired that way from my early childhood, and as such never thought about or had a chance to investigate sex with women. Many of us gays were never allowed the chance because we are raised to believe that we are either way or another -- and we conform to everything that indicates we are living life as a gay. But if we can allow these walls to come down, if we can possibly find, however seemingly impossible, the space to open up to social and sexual play and attraction with women -- with women doing the same and being open to it from us -- perhaps some kind of new/magical/hot/horny . . . and fun . . . sexual play could happen, and this rigid sexual "orientation" we always thought we had would become a unimportant. Irrelevant. Unevolved. Why not? Circumstance and chance and proximity always play big roles in our lives and the shaping of our individual destinies. Maybe a little faith in open exploration can change everything. I am certainly not afraid of this. I love the idea of being the faggot and queen I've always been, but then meeting a woman who likes me for those same qualities, and fucking going for it -- and perhaps finding our way to a sexual place that isn't at all about being in the middle of some spectrum of sexuality, but is just about feeling good - feeling right. This certainly goes on anyway, everywhere in the world already, so why not?
More...
Posted by Neil down on August 18, 2011 at 9:20 AM · Report this
74
A little fuel for the fire regarding the "Is Dan Savage biphobic" debate:

Here's a column from 1995, regarding the earlier study:
http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/Savag…

Here's a column from 1999, discussing reactions to a previous column in which Dan advised a gay man not to mess around with married bisexual men:
http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/Conte…

Here's a column from 2002, in which one of Dan's replies begins this way:

"I'm all for people identifying as bisexual if that sexual identity works for them. The problem with the bisexual identity, JIM, is that it doesn't work very well for very many people."
-- http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/Savag…

A column from 2009, in which Dan mentions a "bisexual" ex-boyfriend:
http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/Conte…

Compare the preceding with Savage's recent article about bisexuality:

http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/bisex…

I think Dan's views on bisexuality have evolved.
Posted by My Name Here on August 18, 2011 at 11:44 AM · Report this
75
@64 - I'm totally with you. It's about the person, not the genitals. I might have physical preferences, but they'
re not the be-all and end-all, especially not once you get to know someone.

@66 - I'm sorry you've come to such a bitter point in your life, but not all bisexuals have been abused (hi there! ) and most of us out here enjoy chatting about an endlessly fun and entertaining activity. If you don't enjoy reading and theorizing about sex 'cause it's too painful for you - may I suggest going to another website? Maybe go look at some LOLcats.
Posted by janus on August 18, 2011 at 2:34 PM · Report this
76
@74: yes, definitely, as have his views on asexuality! :)
Posted by BlackRose on August 18, 2011 at 4:56 PM · Report this
77
I am a bisexual. I deeply love my legally married wife, and we have awesome sex. I deeply love my would-legally-marry-if-I-could male partner, and we also have awesome sex.

I don't need a fucking scientist to prove that I exist.
Posted by DexX http://www.bi-alliance.org/ on August 18, 2011 at 5:47 PM · Report this
78
@74 [My Name Here] - My default position these days is that Dan Savage is still biphobic, in that he doubts the reality of bisexuality and also harbours a personal dislike for it - but he knows he's wrong and is trying to change. He's a bit like a racist old grandmother who tries really hard to be nice to her granddaughter's Asian boyfriend.

And hey, I can applaud that, but just because he has been making an effort doesn't mean he's beyond criticism. Like it or not, Dan has set himself as an advocate of acceptance by launching It Gets Better. This means his behaviour and beliefs are now under closer scrutiny than ever before.

Suggesting that any bisexuals who criticise him when his "nice grandma" facade slips and exposes the prejudice beneath are extremists or blindly hateful is disingenuous, bitchy, and frankly childish. Dan might not like it, but he's not just an advice columnist and writer any more; he's the co-founder of a public movement to counter prejudice and bigotry. When his prejudice shows, even when he makes a genuine effort to do the right thing, then yeah, he's going to cop more criticism than before.

Instead of being snarky about it and belittling his critics, what he really should be doing is promising to do better in future.
Posted by DexX http://www.bi-alliance.org/ on August 18, 2011 at 5:58 PM · Report this
79
Get a grip, DexX. I wasn't being snarky or belittling his critics. Heck, I am one of his critics on several issues. You read what you wanted to into my comments, and your response to them says more about you than it does about me.
Posted by My Name Here on August 18, 2011 at 7:15 PM · Report this
80
@79: I think you misread DexX, who said that Dan should stop being snarky and belittling his critics, not that you should.
Posted by BlackRose on August 18, 2011 at 10:18 PM · Report this
81
@79 - Uh... I was agreeing with you... Well, I thought I was anyway...
Posted by DexX http://www.bi-alliance.org/ on August 19, 2011 at 3:18 AM · Report this
82
http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archive…

It's a short blog entry. It is about removing biased language from your writing.
Posted by terriaminute on August 19, 2011 at 4:35 AM · Report this
83
Ah, DexX, my apologies. Skimming gets me in real trouble sometimes.

I believe the people who send Dan scathing emails every time he mentions male bisexuality aren't doing themselves any favors. I think he's the type to dig in his heels when faced with a wall of criticism. If I'm right, the way to get through to him is to say, "My experiences don't fit your preconceptions," and outline those experiences.
Posted by My Name Here on August 19, 2011 at 5:45 AM · Report this
84
A (female) bisexual psychologist (and ex-researcher nerd) writes:It's not that scientist don't believe some of the guys who said they were bi - they were simply trying to create the best research design in order to make sure that whatever results they obtained were valid. This has nothing to do with judgement and everything to do with research methodology and good research design. This is something the previous researchers didn't do, which is why their findings were so easy to invalidate. The group of, for instance, teenagers identifying as bi, could have contained a statistically significant number of those who identify as bi temporarily while coming to terms with being gay (yes, we do know they exist, so no need to say we deny that). This would have contaminated the sample and nullified the results. You see, when conducting research in a laboratory, it's easy to have a pure sample, but not in real life. It is therefore necessary to reject groups wholesale, in a kind of throwing the baby out with the bathwater way, in order to ensure that the group is truly homogeneous. If you don't do that, you are introducing other unquantified factors into the equation, and they could be causing the results without you being aware of it.

Oh, and by the way, attaching all sorts of equipment to your junk is standard in research of arousal. It's not done against people's wills, it doesn't hurt, and they get to watch porn for free.
Posted by Ronete Cohen on August 19, 2011 at 9:12 AM · Report this
85
@84, thanks for the scientist's perspective, Ronete Cohen. What do you say about the issues raised @59 & 60, that people may get aroused watching things that they really don't want to experience in real life? If I get aroused watching barnyard animals screwing, does that mean I have an interest in screwing animals, or just that thinking about any kind of sex can be arousing?

Posted by EricaP on August 19, 2011 at 10:42 AM · Report this
86
A (female) bisexual psychologist (and ex-researcher nerd) writes:It's not that scientist don't believe some of the guys who said they were bi - they were simply trying to create the best research design in order to make sure that whatever results they obtained were valid. This has nothing to do with judgement and everything to do with research methodology and good research design. This is something the previous researchers didn't do, which is why their findings were so easy to invalidate. The group of, for instance, teenagers identifying as bi, could have contained a statistically significant number of those who identify as bi temporarily while coming to terms with being gay (yes, we do know they exist, so no need to say we all deny that). This would have contaminated the sample and nullified the results. You see, when conducting research in a laboratory, it's easy to have a pure sample, but not in real life. It is therefore necessary to reject groups wholesale, in a kind of throwing the baby out with the bathwater way, in order to ensure that the group is truly homogeneous. If you don't do that, you are introducing other unquantified and unidentified factors into the equation, and they could be causing the results without you being aware of it.

Oh, and by the way, attaching all sorts of equipment to your junk is standard in research of arousal. It's not done against people's wills, it doesn't hurt, and they get to watch porn for free.
Posted by Ronete Cohen on August 19, 2011 at 12:30 PM · Report this
87
@85: Right, it's an imperfect measure of what people actually want to experience in real life, but it's a good measure of what people are actually aroused by, which is more what we're concerned with. For instance, a lot of people have fantasies about rape or little kids, but obviously most of them don't want to actually experience that in real life.
Posted by BlackRose on August 20, 2011 at 4:06 PM · Report this
88
The thing is, there's no tangible way to peer into somebody's brain and determine which gender(s) he or she prefers sexually. I'm not sure I'd want to live in a world where that'd be possible, and anyway, I believe it's a spectrum, not a series of boxes on a checklist. In general (please note I'm not referring to most Dan Savage Readers), people prefer to view human sexuality as black and white, but there's a heck of a lot of gray involved.
Posted by My Name Here on August 21, 2011 at 8:43 AM · Report this
89
@87 - it's only a good measure of what people are aroused by visually. Maybe a particular guy is only aroused by the sight of penises, not breasts... But when he touches a woman's breasts and ass, he gets aroused. Tell me again why we care which people are aroused by which particular visual images?

Posted by EricaP on August 22, 2011 at 9:46 AM · Report this
90
@89: In an experimental setting, it's probably the closest and easiest proxy there is to attraction in general. It's not like they're gonna bring in naked people and have the subjects grope them while they measure arousal. As awesome as that would be.

And the idea of different modalities of attraction intrigues me. I wonder if there are people who are, say, visually hetero, auditorally gay, and tactily bi, and so forth. And same with smell and taste. We could make some very complex attraction models with this: I hadn't thought of that before!
Posted by BlackRose on August 22, 2011 at 3:03 PM · Report this
91
@90 - right, scientists study what is easiest to study, not what is most useful to humanity to find out.
Posted by EricaP on August 22, 2011 at 3:21 PM · Report this
92
@78 Let's be honest here, Dan Savage only started his whole "It gets better" project not to help GLBT teens/young adults all while telling bisexual teens and young adults that they don't exist and still keep trashing Trans people-Hypocrite much? but for fame, media attention since Dan Savage is a media whore, money, self promotion, and an MTV reality TV show.

@61-Read about what Dan has said about bisexuals in the past and where he actually defended the Bailey study the first time around. Watch the documentary that was mentioned where Dan says on camera how he believes that it's impossible for a man to be bisexual.

Even recently Dan wrote about how he's OK with telling bisexual teens and young adults that they don't exist and that they're going to eventually come out as gay men or lesbian women. That's all bisexual erasure.

Dan's postion/opinions on Bisexuality have not "evolved" at all. He still tells bisexual young adults/teens that they don't exist and likes to blame bisexuals for the fact that there are closeted gays and lesbians who stay closeted and refuse to come out.

Yes Dan has been biphobic in the past and he's practiced bisexual erasure in the past and still does it. Case closed.
Posted by JamesG1961PDX on August 22, 2011 at 9:40 PM · Report this
93
@91: No, that's an extremely false statement. Scientists study what they can study given funding and research limitations, as well as the Puritan limitations of this society, which make a lot of sexual studies infeasible.

And it's best to start with simpler experiments before delving into the intricacies of a complex, poorly-understood subject like attraction. Once we gain some understanding of the visual stuff, we can try to fully explore the additional complexities you raise. Visual imagery is how we get most of our information about the world, and many people are highly aroused by visual stimuli, so it makes sense to start there, since it's much more practical to test. That is not to say it's all there is to attraction; it's just a start.
Posted by BlackRose on August 23, 2011 at 6:49 AM · Report this
94
Seems to me that if people want to have sex with same sex partners, opposite sex partners or any combination thereof, it doesn't need to be given a label to tell them what they "are." What they "are" is a complex thinking, feeling, physical being - and every single self-aware being is capable of changing its mind, changing its emotional patterns and changing its attachments to its own thoughts at any time...or not. To deny someone the freedom to change, to experiment, to think, to feel, to grow - and to claim that what they are is unalterably genetic - is to deny the truth of the evolution of human consciousness. Which is every bit as bad as denying the existence of the power of genetics to form our preferences! We're both/and creatures - genetically driven AND intellectually/emotionally driven - not one or the other.

So the real problem here isn't whether or not it's genetic to "be" a certain way or not; it's that we're socially JUDGING certain ways 'better' or 'worse' than others based on our own experience of how we ourselves are choosing (or have discovered ourselves) to be, and then demanding those others whose behavior we're classifying as 'worse' than ours change to match OUR understanding of how everyone else "should be" - which is, most of the time, "more like me."

Let's get over that. Let's accept and allow ALL consensual adult behavior to manifest for what it is - people uniquely self-expressing at whatever stage of self-awareness AND/OR genetic motivation they are in. Some of us may truly BE hardwired to only want one thing. GREAT. Let those individuals discover that, however they need to do so! Some of us may discover we want only one thing (for any number of reasons) at one age, but that we don't want only that one thing later on. GREAT. Find out the truth for yourself and be happy about it. Some of us may discover we want the freedom to continue to explore and self-express in a variety of ways throughout our lives, because it feels really good to do so. GREAT. Enjoy - have fun, and love yourself in the process.

Sheesh. It's only hard because we persist in labeling everyone else so we can pretend we understand what is, at heart, ineffable. LIFE. It's uniqueness, diversity and infinite creativity cannot be mechanized so we can "explain it." Get over it.
More...
Posted by eileenla on August 23, 2011 at 7:18 AM · Report this
95
Seems to me that if people want to have sex with same sex partners, opposite sex partners or any combination thereof, it doesn't need to be given a label to tell them what they "are." What they "are" is a complex thinking, feeling, physical being - and every single self-aware being is capable of changing its mind, changing its emotional patterns and changing its attachments to its own thoughts at any time...or not. To deny someone the freedom to change, to experiment, to think, to feel, to grow - and to claim that what they are is unalterably genetic - is to deny the truth of the evolution of human consciousness. Which is every bit as bad as denying the existence of the power of genetics to form our preferences! We're both/and creatures - genetically driven AND intellectually/emotionally driven - not one or the other.

So the real problem here isn't whether or not it's genetic to "be" a certain way or not; it's that we're socially JUDGING certain ways 'better' or 'worse' than others based on our own experience of how we ourselves are choosing (or have discovered ourselves) to be, and then demanding those others whose behavior we're classifying as 'worse' than ours change to match OUR understanding of how everyone else "should be" - which is, most of the time, "more like me."

Let's get over that. Let's accept and allow ALL consensual adult behavior to manifest for what it is - people uniquely self-expressing at whatever stage of self-awareness AND/OR genetic motivation they are in. Some of us may truly BE hardwired to only want one thing. GREAT. Let those individuals discover that, however they need to do so! Some of us may discover we want only one thing (for any number of reasons) at one age, but that we don't want only that one thing later on. GREAT. Find out the truth for yourself and be happy about it. Some of us may discover we want the freedom to continue to explore and self-express in a variety of ways throughout our lives, because it feels really good to do so. GREAT. Enjoy - have fun, and love yourself in the process.

Sheesh. It's only hard because we persist in labeling everyone else so we can pretend we understand what is, at heart, ineffable. LIFE. It's uniqueness, diversity and infinite creativity cannot be mechanized so we can "explain it." Get over it.
More...
Posted by eileenla on August 23, 2011 at 7:21 AM · Report this
96
@93, I just don't find the studies as interesting as you do. When Sex at Dawn tells me that women get aroused watching any kind of sex... it just makes me shake my head and remember why I don't want scientists prodding my wobbly bits. It's easy to make me wet, and yet relatively hard for me to find sex enjoyable or have an orgasm with new people. So what does it help me to know that I get wet at all kinds of images? I know that already, from living in my body.

If scientists paid more attention to female orgasm (squirting and non-squirting), and to mapping the different parts of the clitoris -- that would be more worthwhile, in my opinion. Or if they helped figure out the balance between kegels and squats, for optimal pelvic floor functionality...
Posted by EricaP on August 23, 2011 at 8:51 AM · Report this
97
@96: People frequently overgeneralize from their own experience. The whole point of a study like that is to see if it's true for most people, not just you, and to collect more data to examine the phenomenon closely. There's debate and ongoing research over what's going on with the observed disconnect between genital arousal and psychological arousal in many women. It could be that getting wet is just an involuntary reaction that has nothing to do with how you feel, or it could be that there's a disconnect between the mind and the body, and that body awareness can change it. (As I understand things, the first now seems much more likely.)

Also, I know you're interested in your own sexuality and your own life, and making sex better with new people, which is awesome! :) But, that's not really the way these studies are going: they're more like basic research in arousal as opposed to studies of people's real-life sexual experiences. They're interesting and they may prove helpful in the future, but they aren't really intended to relate to real-life sex now.

I agree completely that we need more research on female orgasms and clitoral structure. That would be very worthwhile. Again, unfortunately, sexism and our Puritan anti-sex culture makes research on female pleasure very difficult to do.

I remember the kegel/squat discussion from earlier and I still think the whole thing is silly. Yes, of course, if you were to exclusively work one muscle and none of the surrounding ones, there could theoretically be a problem with muscle imbalance. But you'd have to do ridiculous numbers of kegels for that to be a problem. It's just a non-issue. It's sort of like worrying that always masturbating with the same hand will work the muscles on that side more and make your body imbalanced.
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Posted by BlackRose on August 23, 2011 at 9:20 AM · Report this
Darklady 98
What a relief to the many, many bisexual men I know who have worried, until now, about whether they actually exist.

If I assumed my sexual path somehow represented everyone else's sexual path, I'd be constantly convinced that hardly anyone else existed, cuz mine has been pretty flippin' unique... and included some very heterosexual activity with men who definitely enjoyed the intimate company of men, as well.
Posted by Darklady http://www.darklady.com on August 23, 2011 at 3:17 PM · Report this
99
I dropped the bisexual label within weeks of having a bi pride symbol tattooed on my forearm. As soon as I fully claimed it, I realized that I didn't actually want the baggage other people associate with the term. So my new black-ink declarative brand quickly transformed into a mark of my passage from an old way of thinking about my sexual identity into a new, more mature way.

I mean, really: why would I tell the hypothetical you "I'm bisexual?" I've got no idea what that term means to you. If we're interacting on any sort of meaningful level, and past relationships or encounters come up in our conversation, most of those stories will be about women, and some of them will be about men. I'm not going to pack all of those stories into a four-syllable word and then have to deal with and correct what *you* think it means in order to bring it into alignment with who I actually am. It's shorthand that just doesn't work.

I like Dan a lot, I really do. I've learned many things from him. And it's true: bisexuality is a waystation for many people, a shield for others. But it's not that way for everyone, and it's not that way for me. I'm 39. I've got a pretty good handle on who I am at this point in my life. I'm not straight. I'm not gay. I'm not lying. I know exactly who I am. And for every gay guy out there who's done the eye-rolling, "Oh, me *too*" reaction when confronted with declared male bisexuality: has anyone ever said to you, "Oh, it's just a phase!" or "You just haven't found the right woman yet!" Remember how that felt, as you were struggling to define yourself? Well, yeah, you just did *that* to someone. Nice going.

I used to see buttons and shirts at Pride marches: "How DARE you presume I'm straight?" And I used to get my back up about that sort of thing. But you know what? Presumptions are useless. I'm worth knowing. If you're the sort of person that I consider worth knowing, you won't be trying to fit me into one of the three boxes our culture has deigned to provide for us. And I'm certainly not going to bring a box along with me for you to use.
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Posted by iWood on August 23, 2011 at 3:24 PM · Report this
100
@99: Is there that much baggage associated with the word 'bisexual'? I just think of bi as a description meaning someone who is attracted to men as well as women, and that description applies to you. And I don't see the description as replacing the stories you would tell about your partners, just being a brief way of summarizing them. I just don't see how it's a 'box' when it's an accurate description that doesn't actually limit you (or does it?).

A lot of people aren't bi, and make a specific sex- or gender-based distinction between people they are capable of attraction with and people they aren't. This distinction is pretty fundamental to the way I see and live in the world, and I think it's useful to have a word that means you don't make that distinction.
Posted by BlackRose on August 23, 2011 at 4:29 PM · Report this
101
@97 - you can talk about "basic research" as if this is high-minded Science, but a lot more money goes into research which will make a profit (hair drugs for men; ED drugs for men), and a lot less goes for research which will improve women's lives at low or no cost (how to help women learn about their bodies, their fertility, and their sexual pleasure). You can blame "the Puritan limitations of this society" but we're not too Puritanical to attach sensors to penises or address ED. Just too Puritanical to focus on women's bodies. Forgive me for not accepting this study as the best science can offer.

@99 "And I'm certainly not going to bring a box along with me for you to use. " Well said!
Posted by EricaP on August 23, 2011 at 4:30 PM · Report this
102
@101: yes, that's exactly what I said. Our Puritanism makes women's pleasure taboo.

I agree that we need more and better studies, especially on women's pleasure; I disagree with you that studies on visual stimuli are completely useless. We are learning things from them, including the limitations of visual stimuli, and ideas for further research. For science to work, basic stuff needs to be thoroughly established through repeated controlled studies. It's not enough to just look at what some people say about their experiences.

Posted by BlackRose on August 23, 2011 at 9:21 PM · Report this
103
@BlackRose: yes, there really is. This thread is full various examples of it, in varying degrees. I mean, look at James T42--he's loaded with baggage, and is striving mightily to counter it (and that's not a criticism of you at all, James, I know exactly where you're coming from, I'm with you, I'm just not as angry about it at this point in my life. You are, and that's a fine and valid thing. Rock on.)

The "baggage" for males is this: we're confused, we're on the fence, we're just sensualists, we can't have real relationships with gay men, we can't be monogamous with men *or* women, we can hide in safe heterosexual relationships whenever we choose, and on and on. The issue is that the word "bisexual" has become charged with identity politics. It's not merely descriptive. It's not a dictionary term. It's freighted with assumptions. Maybe not for you--and yay! That's a grand thing, good on ya--but it is for a lot of people, particularly those who are bound up with sexual identity politics. I've gotten more shit from gay men than from straight men or women about my proclivities, and I define "shit" as "skepticism about my self-definition." I don't need that nonsense, so I reject the term.

So yeah, it does limit me--or it would, if I let it. I choose not to. Less than a month ago I was flirting heavily at a Pride pre-party with a who I thought was a nice Ecuadorian fellow who nonetheless visibly recoiled when I mentioned that I'd had an 8-year relationship with a woman. Who told his friend, "Oh, he *says* he's not gay," as though it was a joke.

The difference for women? Straight males get off on bi women. The culture of the Male Gaze well supports the fluidity of female sexuality. Polyamory sites are full of couples looking for the unicorn-like HBB--the Hot Bi Babe--to join their triad. Very few are seeking a man to complete their tripod. Chelsea Handler jokes that anybody who's anybody has had a threesome, with two women and a man, because "one set of balls is enough." La-di-fucking-da. Some of us would like an additional set of balls to go with the vulva, you know? But it's not really supported in this culture.

Anyway. I could (obviously) go on and on about this, but there, BlackRose, is your answer: yeah, there's baggage. It's cool that you don't see it, but it's there.
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Posted by iWood on August 23, 2011 at 10:07 PM · Report this
104
"Because the failure to accept without question the professed sexual identities of all bi guys everywhere—even if this bi guy is still a kid, even if that bi guy doesn't seem to be interested in women at all—is bigoted and biphobic."

...Yes...yes in fact it is...to make assumptions without consideration for ANY persons feelings or identities, regardless of their reasons for identifying as such, and to belittle a person without any circumstantial knowledge or expertise within a specific area is a very bigoted mindset, and to deny someone the right to claim bisexuality, again REGARDLESS of the reason for identifying as such, is, mater-o'-factly, biphobic. Your binary definitions are probably the reasons for scrutiny from others. I would consider, among MANY other things, being more open to a fluid sexual mindset instead of a one-way street approach.
Posted by Queer-Tastic Opinion on September 28, 2011 at 9:55 AM · Report this
105
I am an out and bi male for a long time (about 24 years) and These last 6 years have been the weirdest in forms of discrimination, harassment, and misperseptions due to one stupid scientific study. It is a bit outrageaous to have your sexual orientation on trial and up to public debate. I endured it but after a series of harassment I became clinically depressed, though feel better now. I think the misinformation out there about bisexual men is not only damaging but keeps men firmly in the closet which is horrible. I have a guess that many closeted bisexuals don't necessarily go on the down low but I think constantly conforming and hiding oneself contributes to mental health issues or alcohol abuse if a person is ashamed of one whole side of himself. For me the biggest disappointment has been hearing my gay peers negative opinions. But I have always had really good gay and straight friends. I think there is a lot of healing to do on this issue for many people.
Posted by Hermes on October 22, 2011 at 9:02 PM · Report this
106
It has been difficult being bisexual - I don't like the loaded word either, most bisexuals I know get married and become invisible and I know 2 in same sex partnerships. But I have lived a life of alternating from women to men, not because I am fickle I work hard making relationships work. One thing is for me interest in the "other sex" is minimal in either same sex or opposite sex relationships - in the form of boy crushes or girl crushes - where as most people think bisexual means you gotta have both for me it has meant versatility in my affections more than incontrollable lust. I prefer girls for several reasons: I love vaginal sex and I romantically bond better but I have met two very very feme gay men that I had strong feelings for and went for it (in otherwords it was more than sex). I only wish more bisexual men were out of the closet so I had support. I stopped hanging in gay crowds because I felt "other" unless I was dating a guy - because they would disrespect my girlfriends, but straight guys don't get it either I have had to tell my friend the guy I was dating was not an experiment. My hope is that this all changes - I knew I was bisexual at around 14 - young bisexual men need support and I am doing what I can to help.
Posted by Hermes on November 4, 2011 at 6:10 PM · Report this
107
Back again. I am now volunteering for an LGBT center and they are having me speak to young bisexual men. "young" means 28 - bi guys usually take a little longer, I came out early out of late 1980's naïveté but don't regret it, actually if a guy is confident they will have no problem finding dates with girls or boys in your 20's, but more recently it has been a struggle for me because I really wanted to find the right partner, I found a bisexual woman my age, who doesn't mind a more polyamorous relationship from time to time. I think bisexual men and women should do more to create community because it creates a dating pool (at least) but we also need to help each other and get things like legal advocacy. I and other men and women (but men especially) have experienced serious discrimination and yet it is largely unknown. I told an x boyfriend that the first Bailey study has been like a mini Stonewall for bisexual men. As a result 3 new bisexual organisations have started in my area, and finally I am meeting men and women who are out or at least comfortable with themselves. Come girls and guys let's all come out and create the lives we are meant to live.
Posted by Hermes on November 22, 2011 at 4:26 AM · Report this
108
I was a bi activist and community organiser for some years. One point that never gets mentioned is the frequency with which it works the other way. In other words the number of times I and groups I've been involved with have supported men and women who have identified as gay or lesbian for years and find themselves realising or coming to terms with the fact that they are actually bisexual. It happens, more often than you'd think, particularly in a city with a large and well-established gay community. And what those people struggle with in terms of losing friends, community, support network, is considerable. The biphobia of sections of the gay community plays a huge part, and the particular kind of biphobia gay-friendly straight folks sometimes learn from their gay friends plays a role too. I also take issue with Dan's injunction on bisexuals to stay vigorously out of the closet, or stop whinging about invisibility, to be callous in the extreme given the suffering being out has caused for many people I know, myself included over the years. I myself have disappeared into a same sex relationship after a long and draining period of service to bisexual activism, support and visibility, and I can testify that monosexual privilege either way is less stressful. I'm open when the subject comes up but apart from that I skate by. Attitudes like Dan's are a big part of that; it's the semi-enlightened could-be-allies whose words hurt the most.
Posted by kauri on January 17, 2012 at 1:48 PM · Report this
109
OH I hate this stuff. I examined sexuality to a point where I don't care anymore. What if you came out of the closet when you were 15, have always identified as gay, are still gay, but are getting to an age where you really don't care anymore. What if straight porn turns you on, unless its gay amateur porn...because the guys in the gay videos are modeling too much. What if, as a gay man you don't want to be marketed to and your burnt out on the pushy activist scene. I could pull a Christopher Guest and marry a woman as long as she knew I was gay. I really just want pot legalized at this age and I want good art and fun back.
Posted by dchipps on February 20, 2012 at 9:13 PM · Report this
110
A male friend with a high sex drive considers himself mostly oriented toward women, but absolutely willing to go with guys if that is what is available. He has told me his first sexual experience as a teen was with a man, and his reaction was, "Wow, that felt great! Imagine how amazing that would be with a girl!"

All his relationships have been with women, and most of his casual messing around too. But during some periods of his life he has been in mostly male social circles, and then he took advantage of what was on offer. So yeah, I believe a guy can be bisexual leaning straight, as well as other places on the sexual orientation spectrum.

I should add, my friend, who jokingly refers to himself as "heteroflexible," is generally pretty open about his range of sexual experiences, respectful of people of all gender orientations and all gender identities, and speaks out against homophobia and transphobia whenever he comes across it. I'd say that goes to show that it isn't cowardice or a desire for heterosexual privilege that motivates him.
Posted by Perhaps on February 24, 2012 at 9:19 PM · Report this
111
Perhaps we should all STOP policing each others professed identities and desires and just support each other. Perhaps some men lie, who cares if they do. I know I fit a stereotype of the promiscuous bisexual BUT I have had safe sex with 25 female partners and 19 male partners including LTRs with both women and men and still I have many people doubt my identity or that it was "just a phase" etc. the most painful thing is to have my long term hetero relationships seen as a lie or sham or phase, or my same sex relationships seen as an experiment. I have even outlined my entire sexual history and it is seen by some educated gay men as humanly impossible. There are many bisexual men in history Keruoac, Rauschenberg, Twombly, Olivier, Wilde, Julien Beck, but all of this is dismissed. Julien Beck is one of the most interesting because he did whatever he wanted and had a wife and a 2 male lovers openly even though such an arrangement was frowned upon by the 1950's art world who wanted to see the world in completely gay and straight terms.
Posted by Hermes on March 4, 2012 at 4:52 PM · Report this
112
Well, I'm glad Dan is trying to change- I applaud the effort. I'm lesbian, and though I know some men who have claimed to be bi and then turned out to be gay, I also know men who really are bi and are in long term relationships with other men. Either way, I don't see why anyone should reserve themselves the privilege to outright tell bi men and women that they're wrong about their own sexuality- how could anyone possibly look inside another person's head and tell exactly what they're attraced to? That's ridiculous. As someone said earlier, it's just like when anyone of my relatives told me that "it's just a phase", "you haven't found the right man yet", etc. That hurt, a lot, and I don't ever want to inflict that pain on someone else whether they turn out to be bi, gay, or straight.

Seriously, it baffles me how people seem incapable of imagining that there could not be any other sexualities than straight/gay. Heck, even asexuals seem to have a hard time getting accepted as "real". People really should learn to meet each other as individuals, take others seriously and suspend their own prejudices, rather than pretend they can know what every person is like based on a general idea of the group that person represents.

Yes, maybe a lot of bisexuals disappear into heterosexual marriages (it's not uncommon that gays get married in heterosexual relationships as well before coming out, for that matter), but whatever- that's their business, not mine, and I'm not gonna hate them for that or anything. I still have bi friends in long-term same-sex relationships that want to get married, to get their relationship (and sexuality) socially accepted, etc. I support them, and they support me.
Posted by Joanna.san on May 25, 2012 at 7:34 PM · Report this
113
Can't believe how utterly crass and disrespectful this article is. Dan, just because you've had bad experiences with bi guys doesn't mean you have to use your media visibility to bash them and say they don't exist until "science proves it". Grow the fuck up. Also, if monosexual men can't get it up, does that make them asexual? This article is a load of crap.
Posted by nat on December 3, 2012 at 5:06 PM · Report this
114
I'm not gay, so I don't know what it feels like to be completely alien to the culture around you. I totally understand being defensive and even cruel, because social stigma is so strong to us as a species.

But I want to bring up two things in response.

First, I think we can agree here's a conversation that needs to stop happening:

Is so-and-so gay?
No, he likes pussy.

variation:

Are you gay?
No. I like pussy.

Second: Gay/straight is a binary that obviously appeals to people, the same way Christian/heathen does, or natural/unnatural. Bisexuals don't have it incredibly easy just because we can blend in. And I'm sorry to go all caps but this is where gays start to show their own homophobia. YOU CAN'T BLEND WHO YOU NATURALLY ARE. My whole life growing up was one heartbreak after another. Aladdin never kissed Jafaar. Why do I miss my friend so much? Why do the other boys punch me when we wrestle? My own sexuality never even registered on my mind.

Do you see how hard it can be to figure shit out when whatever you want to call this phobia is is the standard? Here's a simple exercise. Find a map of where professional wrestling is popular in the US and compare it with where bans on gay marriage have happened. Considering all types of legal status, Google insights shows a dramatic correlation.

You're right we should take it on ourselves and come out, just for our own defense. I applaud that. After I came out to my friend, he stopped believing homosexuality was a slight against nature. But it's really unfair to put it just on maturity.

We are not morons. We are not the enemy.
Posted by LewisT on December 3, 2012 at 10:08 PM · Report this

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