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Monday, December 19, 2011

SL Letter of the Day: A Change of View

Posted by on Mon, Dec 19, 2011 at 4:29 PM

Background: male, raised in a caring family, no issues there. Molested for six years starting at age six, family knows. Have fallen in love with women repeatedly.

This is the part that confuses me: I find gay porn hot as hell. I like male/female porn but images and video of hot guys naked and/or having sex turns me on. I have been drawn to hot guys for a long time. I have had experiences with guys as an adult. I was always drunk when I did. I would meet them on gay sites. I always was careful, condoms used. It was a total turn on until I came and then I felt like shit and couldn't wait to get out and home. I don't like kissing guys. I will suck cock and get fucked but anything else isn't of interest. I don't want to date or even know much about them. They have to be in better than average shape. I still find women attractive. I want to date and be with them, kissing and that sort of thing. I have dated women. I have never hooked up with a guy while I was involved with a woman. I still find women incredibly attractive.

I don't know if I am gay and in denial or bisexual or straight and just really fucked up from the abuse. I have gay friends and do not consider myself homophobic and think being gay is not the end of the world.

This is really weighing heavily on me. I want to move on with life, and get married, but I don't want to marry a woman if I am gay and confused.

I wonder if you may have an idea what the hell is going on with my sexuality.

Thanks For Reading

My response—and TFR's response to my response—after the jump...

··················

It sounds like you're bisexual—but bi in a way that some people don't feel comfortable discussing, lest the conversation draw accusations of biphobia, but bi in a way that I've personally encountered more than once in my short life, TFR: You're into men, you're into hot bodies, you're into cocks, you're into fucking and sucking with other dudes. But you're not into other men romantically.

Not. At. All.

There are lots of bisexual folks out there who swan around saying shit like, "I don't see gender, love is love, I fall in love with a person, not just a set of genitalia that happens to be configured in a certain way." That philosophy—which I once labeled "bi-supremacism," but these days I just call "general dumbfuckery" (your partner is a person, mine is a penis?)—doesn't allow for the existence of bi guys like you, TFR. And there are lots and lots of you out there: guys who like fucking around with other guys but don't have romantic feelings for other men. None, zip, zero. One trait bi guys like you tend to share? No interest in kissing their male sex partners. Kissing, for many, is an act that signals romance and intimacy—you're pressing your lips together, you're sticking your tongues in each others' mouths, you're tasting his spit—in a way that fucking and sucking cock do not. Go figure.

Now let's try a thought experiment, FTR: let's imagine that you were never abused. Set your history of sexual abuse aside—a lot to ask, I realize, but go with me here—and just for a moment try to view your sexuality not through the prism of your history of sexual abuse, but as a stand-alone phenomenon. Like I said, TFR, I know and, ahem, have known (and liked!) guys who are just like you, guys with the exact same sexual interests and limitations, but who were NOT sexually abused as children. They saw themselves as bisexual but with a strong preference for women. They saw themselves as capable of having sex with men, capable of truly liking the guys they messed around with (and able to spend time with them sober), just not capable of falling in love with other men.

They saw themselves as bi. Not fucked up, not damaged, just bisexual in their own particular way. They didn't see their bisexuality as the only kind of bisexuality—some bi folks see no gender (and more power to them), some bi guys can fuck women but only fall in love with other men, etc.—but just as entitled to identify as bi as any other bisexual.

You can't undo the past, TFR, but you can accept your sexuality for what it is. And so long as you're expressing it in a healthy way—and it sounds like you are in some ways (using condoms, not cheating on people) and not in others (having to get drunk to get with other dudes, bolting as soon as it's over)—you're good. Now you just have to try to relax and embrace your sexuality. Work on ramping up the healthy and dialing down the shame, okay? Remember: there are lots of bi guys like you out there, some were abused as kids, most weren't. Your history of sexual abuse could just be... a coincidence.

Viewing your history of sexual abuse and your sexual identity as two separate and distinct issues would most likely help, TFR, and it's most likely true. So why not err on the side of seeing it that way?—Dan

··················

I am stunned, in a good way. Thank you for not only reading my email but replying as well!

What you wrote makes so much sense I feel a little dense for not realizing it on my own. I try and set the abuse stuff aside and overall have done very well doing so. Thank God for therapy. I didn't think that experience had much to do with my own sexuality but didn't want to omit it or try and claim it didn't effect me, thus I included it.

I appreciate reading your comments and it has already made some things easier for me. I have a ton of things I can add but won't. Thank you again, this has really made a difference and positive impact on me.—TFR

 

Comments (70) RSS

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1
One of these days, somebody is going to nominate Dan for the Nobel Peace Prize for the all the good work he has done.
Posted by Modern Classic on December 19, 2011 at 4:53 PM · Report this
2
I always appreciate Dan's supportive and compassionate responses. But I also want to say that I think skipping over the abuse as an issue involved in his sexual behavior might be a disservice to our friend. I am a psychologist and I have also encountered folks like our writer whose sexual abuse affected their adult sexual behavior in the ways he describes ( shame and erotic strongly tied together, at odds with his other sexual preferences, and somewhat compulsive). If he hasn't done it, he may want to consider going back to therapy to specifically explore if the stuff that happened to him in the abuse is replicated in these encounters. IF so, it's possible that this is a trauma reaction which can be healed. I'm not saying he can't be Bi. Of course that's possible. But if this is an abuse based sexual compulsion, I think he will be much happier healing the core issue rather than just accepting it as is, and may find the desire for the behavior changes. (I've seen this happen). Or he may not, but the behavior will be clearer to him. It just seems like an important perspective to add.
Posted by Kathy23 on December 19, 2011 at 4:55 PM · Report this
aardvark 3
you should get paid for this one, good work.
Posted by aardvark on December 19, 2011 at 5:00 PM · Report this
kim in portland 4
You sound like you're bisexual, TFR. You're okay. Maybe consider getting some conseling to deal with the abuse if it chews at you? Be the best man you can be.
Posted by kim in portland http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2010/11/fast-paced_video_provides_a_fu.html on December 19, 2011 at 5:00 PM · Report this
5
I, too, get annoyed by those who seem disgusted by the notion that gender has anything to do with love.

It doesn't for you? That's great. Gotta say I'm a bit jealous. Lucky soul. However- if you tell it to me like it's something to feel superior about and that I'm stupid for considering gender at all - and these people tend to convey their thoughts like this more often than not- then I get to tell you to fuck off.

More power to those who are gender-blind. Just avoid treating those who aren't with condescension.
Posted by Aedan Robinson on December 19, 2011 at 5:06 PM · Report this
6
@2: I directed TFR to the thread, and posted his letter, in hopes that someone would make the point you do in your comment, Kathy23. I'm glad he's going to see it.
Posted by Dan Savage on December 19, 2011 at 5:08 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 7
that "swan about" comment is EXACTLY what a bisexual woman said to me. in 1989.
Posted by Max Solomon on December 19, 2011 at 5:09 PM · Report this
8
My heart goes out to him. Best of luck.
Posted by gloomy gus on December 19, 2011 at 5:11 PM · Report this
9
So here's my question for bisexuals in general... a question that I've never seen fully addressed, asked, or answered. If this man (the LW) gradually becomes comfortable with his bi-ness and learns to enjoy sex with men without being drunk or feeling guilty, then how does this play into his desire to meet and fall in love with a woman? Does his bi-ness give him a pass in the fidelity department? Does he look for a bi female and set up an open relationship? Is he allowed to cheat on his wife with guys (because he's bi), or does he go through life married to a woman never to suck cock again?
I guess what I'm asking is, are the rules different?
Posted by cxg on December 19, 2011 at 5:13 PM · Report this
seandr 10
@2: By the sound of it, LW has been through plenty of therapy and it was helpful for him.

As for his sexual preference, I'd say challenging his preferences in talk therapy as you've suggested is the last thing this guy needs. Most men have no idea where their preferences, orientations, fetishes, and turn-ons came from, and they are for the most part involuntary and immutable.

Just like all the closeted gay men out there, or the guys with fetishes they are ashamed of, you can't talk these things away any more than you can pray them away. This guy just needs to accept who he is and get on with enjoying his sex life free of doubt and shame.
Posted by seandr on December 19, 2011 at 5:16 PM · Report this
gg_mikey 11
Dan, you bring tears to my eyes sometimes. That was beautiful.
Posted by gg_mikey http://gaygamer.net on December 19, 2011 at 5:16 PM · Report this
gg_mikey 12
I have to also say that there is a lot more man on man action happening out there which the vast majority of people (including the participants) do not acknowledge nor talk about.
Posted by gg_mikey http://gaygamer.net on December 19, 2011 at 5:20 PM · Report this
13
@9 - I guess that's up to him/them isn't it? The same way it is for everyone? No one gets a free pass to be a douche, but it doesn't look like he's on that path. No different rules. Just, hopefully, honesty. Up front and before problems arise.
Posted by gnot on December 19, 2011 at 5:20 PM · Report this
14
your gay , deal with it . your dick gets hard for a man you are gay G A Y !
Posted by whatsbeckgottadowithit on December 19, 2011 at 5:20 PM · Report this
15
Straight people, Gay people and Bi people have intimacy differentials if you will and what you're into depends on you...it's neither about penis or potential...it's simply the personal. I think Dan's answer shows some growth in understanding what bisexuality is and can be. TFR is like so many folks out there, and I'm glad he reached out for some additional support. The best definition of bisexuality I've ever found embraces TFR along with anyone else with the capacity for same and/or opposite attraction. "I call myself bisexual because I acknowledge that I have in myself the potential to be attracted - romantically and/or sexually - to people of more than one sex and/or gender, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree." http://www.robynochs.com/writing/writing…
Posted by Faith Cheltenham on December 19, 2011 at 5:22 PM · Report this
16
To me, this is different from lacking a romantic interest in men, this is about a fear of intimacy with men. The LW wants men sexually, but can't even handle that kind of intimacy unless he's wasted, and certainly can't handle anything remotely resembling a romantic form of intimacy. He takes control by pushing men away as soon as his sexual needs are met, a pre-emptive way of assuring that a man can't hurt him.

This is kinda fucked up.
Posted by JudT on December 19, 2011 at 5:23 PM · Report this
17
gg mikey - do tell. I've been arguing this with my various straight friends (male and female) for years and they all say no way. The guys especially. But really. C'mon. Gay friends all say yes. I say yes. How could there not be? If you feel like sharing any stories I'll make 'em read 'em.
Posted by gnot on December 19, 2011 at 5:24 PM · Report this
seandr 18
@12: Do tell!
Posted by seandr on December 19, 2011 at 5:26 PM · Report this
balderdash 19
TFR sounds just like me, in terms of orientation. I was never abused, though. I just like sex with men, but I'm only romantically into women and also slightly more into them sexually. I appreciate your commment, Kathy23, but I think I'm with Dan on this one.

@9, it's no different than if you marry a woman and then find other women attractive. You're expected to either be in an open relationship, or ignore your outside cravings and be monogamous. You're an adult - take responsibility for creating a situation that works for you.
Posted by balderdash http://introverse.blogspot.com on December 19, 2011 at 5:29 PM · Report this
20
@17... gg mikey is correct. There ARE a lot of middle-aged married men out there playing around with other dudes on the DL. Should anyone have any doubts, sign up for an account on Adam4Adam as a "versatile/btm" and see how many times a MWM or MBM hits you up on a given night. I live in a small city (about 120,000) and roughly 1/3 of the hits I get are from married men, and most of them are white, middle-aged, and middle class. Go figure.
Posted by cxg on December 19, 2011 at 5:34 PM · Report this
21
Perfect, Dan. Just perfect.
Posted by NotYourStrawMan on December 19, 2011 at 5:39 PM · Report this
22
I envy his future wife those MMF threeeways.
Posted by blah on December 19, 2011 at 5:48 PM · Report this
23
I think it's a bit unkind of Dan to allow everyone their own philosophy of their sexual orientation except for bisexuals. It seems like more of the biphobia (or even 'general dumbfuckery' if you will) that bisexuals have to put up with from homo- and heterosexuals all the time.

Sure, there are individuals of every stripe who are condescending to others -- I've known many lesbians who have bragged to me of their sexual purity for never having been with a man ('gold-medal dyke' was a popular term, like it's a contest that they've won). But you shouldn't deny a philosophy of experience as valid just because someone's being an asshole about it.

As a bisexual woman my personal experience has indeed been that I fall for 'people', regardless of genitalia. But that doesn't mean that I think that gay men and het women just love cocks and lesbians and het men just love pussies. Because both kinds of bodies are attractive to bisexuals, it ends up cancelling out as a factor -- whereas a gay man, say, might fall emotionally in love with a woman but her physical sex might mean he could only see her as a friend. (Or not -- I personally know a lifelong-identified gay man and lesbian couple who fell in love and are now married. Things happen!) So perhaps homo/heterosexuals can't imagine falling for someone regardless of their physical sex any more than bisexuals can imagine it being a deal-breaker for them. The point is, it's not supremacist -- it's just how we feel.

So can everyone please stop slamming the bisexuals? We get enough shit from both sides as it is, thanks.
Posted by wldsda on December 19, 2011 at 5:51 PM · Report this
24
Oh god #14, what a doofus you are. I only suck cock when my wife is watching and it get her hot which get s me hot. I would never date or fall in love with a guy without the cuckold thing going on. I am not gay,m but i love sucking cock with her and for her fun. Of course, i do get to see her with girls and other guys as a result of my being GGG to her. But if you need to call me gay, well how many three and foru ways ahve you been in the last year? How many group sex parties have you been to? Am I gloating? FUCK YEAH!!!
Posted by wine-o on December 19, 2011 at 5:52 PM · Report this
25
Danny,

did you see that MSNBC has apologized
for the slanderous piece of shit Romney/KKK piece you vomited up on Slog?

Will you be apologizing?

Asshole.

>>>MSNBC has apologized to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign for airing a segment that connected Romney's use of the expression "Keep America American" to the Klu Klux Klan.
"During the 11AM hour on MSNBC, we reported on a blog item that compared a phrase used by the Romney campaign to one used by the KKK in the 1920s," Chris Matthews said on Wednesday. "It was irresponsible and incendiary of us to do this and showed an appalling lack of judgment. We apologize, we really do, to the Romney campaign."
Posted by Danny is a Credulous Steaming Pile of Shit on December 19, 2011 at 5:53 PM · Report this
26
BTW Dan, thank you! My wife read a lot of Dan Savage and Tristan Taromino during her opening up! Now were just a couple of married sluts loving a lot of other folk.
Posted by wine-o on December 19, 2011 at 5:54 PM · Report this
27
There is a term for this, actually. A lot of people have started splitting homo/hetero/bisexual into -sexual and -romantic labels - so, the man who wrote this letter is bisexual but heteroromantic. The bisexuals that irritate Dan are bisexual and biromantic, or may identify as pansexual or omnisexual or something like that. (Although I'd like to note that plenty of people identify/conduct their love lives the same way without being dicks about it, Dan probably just spends less time listening to them go on about their sexuality, in the same way that he doesn't normally hear from a lot of functional nonmonogamous people.) Straight people who have intense intimate platonic friendships with others of the same gender as them could even be described as heterosexual but biromantic, although they normally don't identify as such unless they have another reason for being closely involved in the queer community.

It is a bit cumbersome to add yet another term to your self-identification list (and I think most people don't bring it up unless the conversation goes down this path), but I'm pretty sure that's what the word "queer" is for.
Posted by bliumchik on December 19, 2011 at 5:56 PM · Report this
venomlash 28
Yup, agree 100%. TFR is a bi guy who is sexually attracted to both genders but only romantically attracted to women. Open-and-shut case.
Posted by venomlash on December 19, 2011 at 5:56 PM · Report this
29
Yeah, sounds like the LW is bisexual. I think there's a possibility that he'll form emotional attachments to men in the future, especially if he has any lingering internalized homophobia (as many compassionate, proud gay and bi men do) that may eventually fade. But if that shift doesn't happen, he doesn't have to view himself as defective. He can still claim bisexuality if he wants.

It bugs me no end when people feel the need to excuse my orientation, which needs no excuse, by saying something like this: "Oh, you are? I think that's fine, because isn't it all about love anyway? You can't help who you love!" (It almost feels like passive-aggressive slut-shaming. They'd probably judge me if they knew how many women and men I've fucked without feeling the least emotional attachment.) Well thanks, but no, it's not all about love. My sexual orientation is primarily about SEX. That's why the word "sex" appears in "bisexual." That's why straight and gay people don't automatically want to bang their friends whom they love platonically. It's why many of them are able to enjoy sex with people they don't want to date.

@9/cxq: No, the rules aren't different. If your partner doesn't want a nonmonogamous relationship, you don't get a free pass to cheat on them just because you're bisexual. Some bi people want nonmonogamous relationships (some have a primary partner of one sex, plus secondaries of the other, OR secondary partners of both sexes, depending on how the relationship is negotiated). Other bi people want monogamous commitments - and keep them. And some bi people want monogamous relationships, but they still end up cheating (but not necessarily with somebody who's the opposite sex of their partner), just like lots of straight and gay people do. Being bisexual doesn't necessarily you suffer miserably if you don't get regular sex with men and women.
More...
Posted by Skipper Jo on December 19, 2011 at 5:58 PM · Report this
30
@9 cxg,

I am a man who is married, and is surrounded by a world filled with other prospective sex partners, but I have never gone after any of them. The gender(s) you are attracted to, and whether you are monogamous, are separate issues.

Peace.
Posted by Married in MA on December 19, 2011 at 6:02 PM · Report this
31
@cxg #9, what are these "rules" you're referring to? I'm not aware of any master rulebook for sex and relationships. It's the LW's responsibility to decide what he wants out of life and the relative weight of his priorities and then to communicate that to his partners / potential partners and negotiate boundaries.

Being bi doesn't give anyone a "pass in the fidelity department" unless they find a partner who is willing to negotiate a specific type of non-monogamous relationship. Anyone can do that, regardless of sexual orientation. Our Bisexual male LW could find that with a straight woman, too (not just a bi woman, as you suggest), for example a straight woman who is into hooking up with other bi guys with her bi male long-term partner. And, as for getting married and never sucking cock again, well, if he meets a woman he's crazy about who demands this, that's something he'll have a hard decision to make.

And, cheating (i.e., nonconsensual nonmonogamy) is always an option for everyone: gay, bi, or straight. It doesn't make you a criminal (usually, anymore), it just makes you a douchebag.

Posted by elisd42 on December 19, 2011 at 6:04 PM · Report this
32
@23, I believe you when you describe your experience. I think it's probably the same for many other bi people.

For me, though, gender doesn't "cancel out as a factor." I'm still very aware of people's gender expression, and it's a big part of what attracts me to them. For example, I'm attracted to certain types of masculinity, but not others, and the same is true for femininity. Furthermore, I'm attracted to certain personality types in men, and not the same personality types in women. (Maybe it's my mommy issues, I dunno.) Because gender is a spectrum rather than a choice between option A and option B, there are lots of bisexuals like me for whom gender does matter - just not in the conventional sense.

So yeah, I agree with you that we shouldn't slam bisexuals who experience love and attraction the way you do, but I also agree that people with experiences like yours shouldn't lord it over the rest of us, or act as if that's the only way to be really and ethically bisexual. You don't sound like you're lording - you're the exception, not the rule. (It's that passive-aggressive slut-shaming thing again.)
Posted by Skipper Jo on December 19, 2011 at 6:14 PM · Report this
33
2

Danny refuses to acknowledge the connection between abuse and later homosexuality.
It is a touchy subject to him....
Posted by surely you understand, Doctor.... on December 19, 2011 at 6:22 PM · Report this
Corylea 34
Some people are born straight, some are born gay, and some are born bisexual. Some people in every one of those categories will be sexually abused as children, and the ones in the non-straight categories often wonder if it was their abuse that made them non-straight. But sexual abuse is really prevalent, and it happens to gay and bisexual people in addition to straight ones. In most cases, the abuse doesn't change your sexual orientation, though it may affect how you feel about your sexuality and how you choose to express it.

Also, people often think that anything that's the result of their abuse is automatically bad. The abuse itself was bad -- no question about that. But people cope with abuse in all kinds of ways, and some of the ways that people find to cope are not bad.

People who become artists because they have so much to express -- is the creativity bad, because it's fueled by the abuse? No. The ABUSE was bad, but the creativity that people use to manage it is not. People often become extremely adept at reading non-verbal behavior if they're subjected to repeated abuse -- I knew one guy who was so good at this that he could practically read minds. Is the skill a bad thing? Nope. The abuse that caused the skill to be developed is a bad thing, but the skill itself is a good, useful thing.

So even if your bisexuality were caused by your abuse -- and it probably was not -- that wouldn't mean that your bisexuality had to be negative.

Posted by Corylea http://corylea.com/ on December 19, 2011 at 6:33 PM · Report this
35
I am a bi woman and I am attracted to very different qualities in women than in men. I feel different parts of myself actuated around women than around men...and while I have a good marriage to a man, I do desire relating with women, to turn me on in a way my husband doesn't.
Posted by Violet415 on December 19, 2011 at 6:49 PM · Report this
36
@23 I'm not sure anybody was saying that bisexuals aren't allowed their own philosophy of sexuality; just that when someone says to you "I fall in love with *people*, not *genitalia*" in a way that makes it sound as if gay and straight people are somehow sexually closed-minded rather than just different, it's annoying. As a lesbian I have also encountered the gold-star lesbians, and I find them annoying too. (Hey, I've never slept with a man either, because I had no interest in doing so! You know what else I've never done because I had no interest in it? Bricklaying! Am I a gold-star non-bricklayer? Oh, that's not how it works, is it? Huh. Interesting.) Because they say annoying things. Which are annoying.

Bisexuality is an orientation like any other, and it is as complex and wonderful as any other orientation. But it doesn't make you morally or sexually superior any more than it makes lesbians who've never slept with a guy better than other lesbians, and when people say otherwise, well, that's annoying. Not bi-supremacist or anything like that. Annoying. Annoying like my sister is annoying when she slams my taste in music because she's a professional singer and therefore has more valid preferences than I do, somehow. It is a specific attitude which is present in some people and not others; it's not symptomatic of their sexual orientation or gender or hair colour. But where it is present, it's...well, I'm pretty sure you can fill in the blanks by now.
Posted by Rei on December 19, 2011 at 7:00 PM · Report this
fannerz 37
@9: I am a bisexual woman and am *currently* in an open relationship with another bisexual; however, I have had long-term successful monogamous relationships. It isn't cheating if it's agreed upon, yet one should commit to any commitments made. If I am with a dude and he wants a closed relationship, I just tend to watch a bit more lesbian porn than I do when single/with a girl.
Posted by fannerz on December 19, 2011 at 7:12 PM · Report this
38
For those of you who have already read today's SLLOTD...

The word "never" was accidentally deleted from this sentence when I was formatting TFR's letter: "I have never hooked up with a guy while I was involved with a woman."

As you can see... that's a significant omission. My apologies to TFR.
Posted by Dan Savage on December 19, 2011 at 7:29 PM · Report this
39
@32, thanks for the response!

You mention 'gender expression', eg masculinity and femininity. I certainly agree that that's just one of the factors in the mysterious mosaic of factors that we find attracted to or not, but I was talking more about physical sex, since the person that Dan referenced mentioned 'genitalia'.

Perhaps 'cancel out' wasn't the best term, but what I meant is that for people who are attracted to both types of bodies, male and female, physical sex (regardless of gender expression and personality) doesn't play a deciding factor in the whole affair, as it probably would for a gay man finding himself attracted to a woman, or a het man to another man, etc, etc. There's no "oh my god, I'm totally into this person but could I actually sleep someone of the same/opposite sex??" moment, just, "oh yeah, s/he's cute!".

(Personally, I find both male and female genitalia pretty unattractive physically just on their own -- but as soon as I find myself attracted to a particular person, their individual set is fine by me.)

And to emphasize for everyone reading this again, please don't judge all bisexual people by the loud, slightly obnoxious minority you may have met. (Just like I don't think all gay men hate women going by the remarks that some have made to me about our "disgusting" bodies.) I think I'm more the "rule" than you might think; it's just that a lot of us have been conditioned to stay in the closet and not talk about such things with non-bi people -- because sometimes people think we're lording things over them when we're just trying to describe how we feel, or of course run through the litany of reasons to why we're not "real" queer people, etc.

Trust me, it's really not such a ball being bisexual, between the (some, not all!) homosexuals who accuse of us of being cheating sluts and afraid to commit to being gay and the (some, not all!) heterosexuals think we're sexual deviants who'll jump into bed with them anytime they get us drunk. It's demoralizing to see "no bisexuals" in lesbian classified ads, and insulting to have drunken het guys try to persuade me into a threesome with their girlfriends. And above all, it sucks to always be invisible -- whoever I'm currently with, that's "what I am" to people, unless I can "prove" it to them somehow (and why should I have to?).

I know, world's tiniest violin, right? Anyway, just wanted to point out another instance (as I saw it) of bisexuals getting short shrift again, and wanted to ask Dan (and everyone else here) to please separate a few individuals' assholery about their sexual orientation from the monolith of bisexual experiences and philosophy that doesn't actually exist.
More...
Posted by wldsda on December 19, 2011 at 7:30 PM · Report this
40
This sort of bisexuality will inflict a very particular cruelty on some women. Be extremely careful when looking for a female love interest.
Posted by Marrena on December 19, 2011 at 7:51 PM · Report this
41
38 damn you're a pathetic hack
Posted by damn you're a pathetic hack on December 19, 2011 at 7:51 PM · Report this
42
This sounds exactly like me, and I wasn't ever abused. When I was about 14, I went from fantasizing about the sexy mom I babysat for to fantasizing about three-ways with her and her husband. I beat off thinking about sucking his cock and getting fucked by him, but was horrified by the idea of kissing him; and that remained more or less true as I got older, in both my M4M fantasies and real-life experiences. I felt terribly guilty the first few times I got my cock sucked by a dude, despite how mind-blowingly awesome the sensation was. And when I finally let another man kiss me (mostly just because he was kind of inconsiderately, desperately aggressive), it wasn't a lot of fun.

But then: I had a fantastic hookup with a guy I met on craigslist. He was friendly and attractive and very comfortable with his sexuality. (He was openly gay in a big city; most of the other guys in my past had been either gay in the repressed Midwest, or cruisers prowling the adult bookstore video booths, or, in one uncomfortable instance for me, very obviously married with a family.) Around that time I had started to genuinely accept myself as bi as well. And I found kissing him really, really, really hot. No small part of that was that I was violating something that had been terribly taboo to me for years; he was also just a really good kisser. But a good deal of it was also just that I was way more comfortable than I'd been before with another man.

I still can't see myself romantically involved with a man, and none of this is to say that the LW will ever want to kiss another guy. But I can vouch for the validity of Dan's advice: Once I relaxed and learned to enjoy my sexuality without judging myself, I had a way better time.
Posted by jmoneymail on December 19, 2011 at 8:42 PM · Report this
43
In my mind, this reads a lot like a woman who has been raped trying to wrestle with BDSM / rape fantasies. Obviously being bi is not nearly as fundamental as a kink, but the answer is the same: it's just the way you are. Lots of people will say that sexual violence in their past makes them attracted to violent scenes as a means of processing it, or that being spanked as a kid makes them into BDSM, or that being molested makes them into ageplay, or whatever correlation we can make up. But there's just as many people out there who didn't have those hardships who are into those things. So it's just as likely that it's a coincidence, and the shame probably comes from the molestation rather than the attraction. And, more importantly--and absolutely crucially--who cares? You are who you are. What turns you on, turns you on. Roll with it and see a therapist if it's causing you problems, or to help you process whatever has happened to you, but letting it rule what goes on in your bedroom will only make you miserable.
Posted by hazakaza on December 19, 2011 at 8:59 PM · Report this
44
Good response, except for one thing that bothered me...the way I read it, Dan assumed that the abuse was perpetrated by a male. I'm aware that this is usually the case, and I suspect that this guy would have pointed out if it wasn't, but still, I don't think that's an assumption we should be making right off the bat.
Posted by Pemster on December 19, 2011 at 11:20 PM · Report this
45
How many times do we have to go over this.

IT'S ONLY GAY IF YOU KISS!
Posted by Doot http://serbia-sucks.blogspot.com on December 20, 2011 at 12:12 AM · Report this
46
I'm bi and I've always had the same thoughts about the "I date people not genders" type of preachiness. Besides what you pointed out about how it makes it as though bisexuals are somehow superior (which is taken up to eleven by the pansexuals, who need to feel superior to their fellow bis, too!) it's silly because even bi people have our own intrinsic, unchanging preferences in things OTHER than gender. I'm only ever attracted to smart people, but I wouldn't say that that means I'm dating their IQ.

The other reason is stupid is that even a lot of us near-50/50 bisexuals (I have a slight preference for men romantically but it's not strong enough that I'd describe myself as heteroromantic) find the "don't see gender" stuff inaccurate, because you can like men and women and like DIFFERENT things in them. For example, I find femininity attractive in both genders, but masculinity only in men. I have little to no attraction to butch women. I have no idea why. I also tend to care more about personality in men, and looks more in women. Again, I don't know why!

Pointing this out, in many respects, makes you more bi-affirming than a lot of the bisexuals who criticize you are. As much as bi sites go out of their way in their FAQ sections to point out that one does not have to be an on-the-dot Kinsey 3 to be bi, they're not always the best at making people feel comfortable who don't fit into their "don't see gender" narrative.
Posted by Whoop Di Doo on December 20, 2011 at 12:21 AM · Report this
47
There are lots of us out there! I'm a straight guy, I really like girls, but every now and then I enjoy being with a guy. I don't see them romantically, I don't want to go out with them, I just want to fool around every now and then.

Don't be ashamed of it, enjoy it!
Posted by funguy01 on December 20, 2011 at 2:21 AM · Report this
48
I don't know, Dan - telling people their sexual feelings are not fucked up & that they are OK? That just is not right! If you were raised correctly you would know that any sexual feelings are just plain wrong. Straight? Well, OK just don't enjoy it & fell dirty afterwards. Bi? Gay? Confused? Oh hell no! That means you are really fucked up & lower than whale shit.

Taking your advice could lead to people freed of guilt, enjoying life and all its facets. That just won't do buster.
Posted by frankdawg on December 20, 2011 at 5:12 AM · Report this
49
Sounds like the exact kind of bi woman I am -- attracted to women physically, but not at all romantically (though I don't mind kissing women). I always wondered if that counted as "real bi" or if that was just being romantically interested in both sexes. Not that the label really matters, but I'm so thankful to have Slog to tell me I'm not alone.
Posted by krista1203 on December 20, 2011 at 5:35 AM · Report this
50
To be fair, @9 is asking whether being bisexual means that a person has a need for both homo and hetero sex in the same way that a gay or straight person needs sex at all. In other words, would a bisexual person feel somehow celibate without regular sex of both orientations.

Speaking for myself I would say no. Therefore the "rules" are the same as for anyone else. The choice of open versus closed relationship is totally separate from gender.
Posted by Mr. J on December 20, 2011 at 6:49 AM · Report this
51
Ms Rei - I sort of share your sentiment re the "gold star" mentality, but bricklaying doesn't seem the fairest comparison - unless, of course, you resisted overwhelming societal pressure to go about laying bricks. There could also be some aspect of letting down the fight against patriarchy that resonates particularly for lesbians; I couldn't say. Most of the gold star set remind me of the Prodigal Son's elder brother.

I do remember, though, I must admit, being fairly newly out and discovering to my surprise that, of all my friends, only three or four of us had abstained from women entirely. At the time, there were a good many straight-chasers around, and we did lament (more in humour than serious annoyance) once or twice that there wasn't even a niche market for us.
Posted by vennominon on December 20, 2011 at 6:58 AM · Report this
52
I've been wanting to blow my straight neighbor for quite some time. He's an electrician and he accidently (I'm pretty sure) ground his cock into my hand one day when I was steadying a ladder he was climbing to install some outdoor lighting on my patio. I felt a jolt of electricity in my crotch over that innocent accident and we didn't make conversation of it. I did not say, "oops" and he did not say, "watch it, fag." He did, however, leave immediately, as if I had just finished him off.

He came back moments later with electrical tape to finish the work on the lighting and behaved as if he were some kind of profession electrician determined to do a professional job regardless of what might have been going on in his head after pressing his remarkable crotch into my ladder-gripping hand that I bagged with a tee-shirt bag from Von's Market to preserve the aroma of crotch for later use.

I did not find it necessary to divorce my husband because of that incident. I have, instead, used it as fuel for quality time alone with my good left hand. If I am turned on by straight men I only want to blow without having to kiss them, does that make me a bi-homo?
Posted by Ray_Harwick on December 20, 2011 at 8:48 AM · Report this
53
Mr Harwick - Ask your husband.
Posted by vennominon on December 20, 2011 at 8:55 AM · Report this
nocutename 54
@52: Can your neighbor come over here? My rain gutter needs repairing. I can get a ladder.
Posted by nocutename on December 20, 2011 at 9:07 AM · Report this
55
@53. My husband has stated he would like to have additional lighting installed; preferably of the type that requires a ladder to get to. He went off into remembering a similar such incident that happened to him wherein an air conditioning installer appeared on the site of the new house my husband was building one Saturday, coincidentally that being the day of rest for the remainder of the construction crew.

The installer was a married, part-time minister, who to his misforture was given to being uncomfortable with wearing a shirt while his head was stuck into attic spaces. Until this Saturday, this man's suffering with that problem had not been known by my husband or the construction crew, probably because of the installer's great sense of modesty. However, he asked my husband if he would mind it if he removed his shirt.

My husband, also one to rush to the aid of a workman who needed his ladder steadied, had a similar experience to the one I had with my electrician neighbor; similiar, yet far, far more rewarding than my own experience since the attic access was in the master bedroom.

Drawing upon both of our experiences, my husband finds himself as confused about his sexual-orientation as I do. We do agree that our foresight into acquiring not one, but four ladders of varying heights over the years is an expression of our naturally intuitive resourcefulness and that the ladder industry is an oft over-looked point of light.
Posted by Ray_Harwick on December 20, 2011 at 9:51 AM · Report this
56
@ 54. Although he can surely repair a rain gutter, he'll bill you at the electrician rate. Just letting you know what you'd be expected to sacrifice in the event that lightning struck again.
Posted by Ray_Harwick on December 20, 2011 at 10:00 AM · Report this
57
To 9, as my bi acquaintances would say being bi doesn't mean you can't be monogamous. Just because you are attracted to both sexes doesn't mean you have to have sex with them. There's no quota to meet. You don't get your bi card revoked if you don't have sex with both genders.

As for giving up cock well doesn't the same apply to every monogamous relationship? In the end he's the only who can decide if he's willing to give it up for his partner, or if he decides to go a different route.
Posted by msanonymous on December 20, 2011 at 10:09 AM · Report this
Posted by Dan Savage on December 20, 2011 at 10:12 AM · Report this
59
@58-@25. No good turn goes unpunished. You can warn Romney that he's using a KKK slogan but if he doesn't want to heed the warning, well, the good turn was in vain. It's like trying to warn someone who texts while driving: they have to take the warning seriously before they rear-end a car load of kids going to soccer practice.
Posted by Ray_Harwick on December 20, 2011 at 10:57 AM · Report this
BEG 60
I get so fucking sick of the sort of assumptions that keep getting made about bisexuals, a la @9. YOu're a person, you can work it out. Fuck, you can even word the question the same fucking way without switching the genders around and get the same answer: it depends on the person. Some men are incapable of forming a relationship with any single women, being too interested in fucking different women. Some men are more than happy to be with one single woman even if they find other women attractive.

I'm sure you're smart enough to turn around and answer your question with that reminder. Some people are faithful. Some people are not. That's orthoganal to one's sexual orientation.

As for the rest of it, I have encountered bisexual people who seemed to be perfectly happy in romantic relationships with either sex, and others who were perfectly happy having sex with either men or women, but who had romantic relationships with only one or the other. It seems to be a continuum like anything else, and frankly, I find the kinsey scale a useful way of viewing that -- our LW above is not a 3 (someone who forms romantic attachments equally well with either) but more like a 4.

Posted by BEG http://twitter.com/#!/browneyedgirl65 on December 20, 2011 at 11:03 AM · Report this
61
I suppose the basic conclusion we can get from the back and forth in this comment thread is that some people are assholes about how much better their sexual orientation is than other people's, while others aren't, and are quite capable of conversing meaningfully with people of other orientations without putting on airs of superiority. So that it is possible to be against the holier-than-thou (shouldn't it be holier-than-thee, by the way?) crowd without presupposing that every person with the sexual orientation of a given holier-than-thou person shares the same annoying attitude.

Right?
Posted by ankylosaur on December 20, 2011 at 1:11 PM · Report this
62
Yeah, I have the same kind of attraction toward other women. I think women are beautiful -- more physically attractive than men, really -- but I wouldn't want to be in a relationship with another woman. I want to be the woman in the relationship, and I wouldn't want to share that role with anyone else, or date a butch woman, since I'm only attracted to feminine women.
Posted by Amanda on December 20, 2011 at 2:36 PM · Report this
63
@61: The same way sloggers bend over backwards to acknowledge that not all christians/republicans are like that?
Posted by ChiTodd on December 20, 2011 at 3:56 PM · Report this
64
@ 2. Would agree that anyone who is confused about their sexuality or acting out should seek therapy. However, it seems like there are 3 separate issues with TFR that have to be differentiated. First, he's confused about his attraction to men. Next, he may possibly be having indiscriminate, high-risk sexual encounters with multiple from craig's list. However, he didn't say if he frequently has casual sex or if it's only an occasional indulgence due to repressed bisexuality- from what he says in his letter, we can't assume for sure that he's sexually compulsive. He may simply be struggling with his sexual identity as a bisexual man. Finally, he has a history of childhood sexual abuse that may or may not be related to his present circumstances. Without talking to him in a clinical setting there's no way to really know that he's sexually compulsive or otherwise experiencing significant pathology. I feel like there's a tendency to over-pathologize and stigmatize survivors of abuse. He could be a relatively functional person who just needs to get a few things out of his system.
Posted by researcher bias on December 20, 2011 at 9:22 PM · Report this
65
Mr Harwick - Cutely described.

I suspect, though, that you and your husband may soon find yourselves Exhibit 42 in a calendar of Why Not to Stay Together for the Sake of the Grandchildren.
Posted by vennominon on December 20, 2011 at 9:54 PM · Report this
66
@51 You're right, I did miss out the part where there is a certain amount of resisting societal pressure involved in never sleeping with a man if you're a woman that isn't present in choosing whether or not to lay bricks; I couldn't figure out a neat way to include it, but I probably should've.

How about this, then? I grew up in a society that thinks everybody ought to study mathematics, and all my life I've been faced with encouragements to pursue it through school, high school and university. But I love languages. So in the face of lifelong pressure to study mathematics, I've never taken it as a serious subject, in spite of the fact that I respect the discipline and think it an interesting thing to study in its own right; it's not for me, my passion is for languages, and I've stuck to my guns. Am I a gold-star linguist?

I understand these self-congratulatory titles, in a way. People who aren't straight or in conventional relationships are so often denigrated for what and who they like that it's natural to put the best spin on it you can, to have something to fling back at the abuse. But while - for example - you did something brave and good if you resisted societal pressure to sleep with a man when you only wanted to pursue women romantically (as is the case with many lesbians, especially those of older generations) and you deserve sympathy and perhaps recognition of what you've done, it does not make you *morally superior*. You're not better than other lesbians because you've never slept with a man, because that implies that lesbians who *have* are somehow weak (for having succumbed to that pressure, if they did) or weird (for being curious) or not really lesbians (for having met a man they actually wanted to sleep with, in spite of their normal preferences). I understand where it comes from, but that doesn't stop it from hacking me off.
More...
Posted by Rei on December 21, 2011 at 2:00 AM · Report this
thecheesegirl 67
@61: No, "thou" is correct, as English only uses cases for pronouns, and "thee" is a subject of a sentence and "thou" is an object; as "I'm holier than thou".

...I think. I dunno, we talked about this in Russian class, where learning archaic English was not what we were doing.
Posted by thecheesegirl on December 21, 2011 at 2:29 AM · Report this
68
I really meant to comment on this yesterday but the day got away from me and I wasn't able to; I really wanted to say how wonderful Dan's advice is - I'm one of those bi guys - I don't really find men (even 'hot' ones) very attractive and I am generally mesmerized by the female form, fall in lust, infatuation and love with women, and I have that same post-orgasm "gay sex hangover". When I was where you are - wondering if I'm really just in the closet/denial to myself - it was that hangover thing in particular that persuaded me that I'm really not gay...that and the struggle to stop staring at women's asses.

Cut out the high risk stuff - accept that you like the physical activity and just enjoy it. If you can't enjoy it sober, then you need to stop. I found a gay buddy over a decade ago who was more than happy to scratch that itch for me, and we have safer (condoms) sane (sober) connections from time to time. I still can't stand to cuddle afterwards, but we have become good friends in every other way and just hang out and talk about "guy stuff" (even watching NFL sometimes!) - cars, camping, etc.

I too think this is way more common than most realize; it's probably as fluid for men as it is for women, but just highly repressed culturally.
Posted by sometimes_msm on December 21, 2011 at 6:53 AM · Report this
69
@67 thou is subject (old nominative case), and thee is object. But "holier than thou" is still correct, because the old syntax of than is that, when what follows is the subject of a sentence, it goes in the nominative. (This is still the rule in, for example, Dutch - you'd say the equivalent of "you're a better man than I", not "than me".)

Another way to think of it is that "holier than thou" stands for "holier than thou art".
Posted by codairem on December 22, 2011 at 12:52 PM · Report this
70
@69: It's still the rule in English, too. "You're a better man than me" is wrong; all the people who say it should be saying, "You're a better man than I [am]."
Posted by jmoneymail on December 23, 2011 at 4:53 PM · Report this

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