The Bi(g) Elephant In The Room
Scottie considers the prejudice against bisexual men in the wake of a friend’s dating troubles.
“He asked me if I was bi, and when I said I was, he just replied with ‘oh’!”
My heart sank as I read my friend’s message. He was quite hopeful about the guy he had just been on a date with … until that question reared its head. Now, it seemed that all hope had been dashed with a simple, monosyllabic message.
Sadly, the bi guy is a strange no-man’s land in the world of gay dating, one which we can’t bring ourselves to talk about. Some completely avoid him, while others approach with extreme caution. Moving to Chernobyl would seem less dangerous in the eyes of some folk, and yet we never give it the name it deserves.
Bi people – and I mean genuinely bi people, not ‘bi now, gay later’ – are attracted to the person much more than just to the body. That doesn’t mean that they’re asexual beings, but rather that they look for different things in different people when they’re dating. They are able to be just as faithful as gay or straight people, but despite that, they provoke this paralysing worry in potential suitors. For a gay guy, for example, the idea of dating a bi guy plays on their inferiority complex; why date a guy who could easily assimilate into ‘normal’ society by dating a girl? They worry about the possibility of only being the bi guy’s gay bit on the side, until he finds a girl to settle down with and play Happy Hetro Families. I’ve often wondered if lesbians feel similar with bi girls, but the topic has never come up with my gay girlfriends. The only bi girlfriend I have is actually dating another bi girl, so I guess they both understand each other perfectly when it comes to any social issues around dating bisexuals.
To be honest, I just felt a shiver down my spine as I wrote the last part of that sentence. “Social issues.” They’re not really “social” issues, but just misconceptions – besides, since when were gay men the shining examples of fidelity and monogamy? If I’m allowed to generalise for a moment, gay men probably cheat about as much as their straight counterparts, so how would a bi guy be any worse/different/better? The simple answer is that he wouldn’t, but somehow, we project our own insecurities onto them and demonise them for it.
I wrote back to my friend, telling him not only what he needed to hear, but what was the truth. If his date wasn’t bothered to give him a chance, then he wasn’t worth my friend’s time or energy. My advice was to move on to a more deserving guy, but I knew it wasn’t much of a comfort to him. This was his first time to step out of his comfort zone and try to chat up a guy, and the result of it had knocked his already-frail confidence. He got a date out of it, which meant that his flirting skills clearly weren’t too bad, but sadly his luck ran out there. I tried to remind him of what he had achieved by testing his self-confidence, even if I knew the reward was bittersweet.
The worst part of it all was that we both knew such a reaction was not rare. That wasn’t the only time he would experience such a negative reaction to who he was, but I’m confident enough that his skin will thicken in time before it happens again. It’s just a pity that we still live in a world where we need a thick skin.
[To read the previous instalment of Scott’s column, click here.]
‘Scottie’ Illustrations by Stephen Charlick