Bisexuals come in all incarnations, some have a preference for gender and some don’t, some have slept with men and women and some are virgins. It’s a spectrum, of attractions and experience.
However, bisexuals are not immune from feeling inadequate. Last week I met a bisexual guy who shared his worry about women not taking him seriously because he’d only ever dated and had sex with men. It’s a story I’ve heard countless times before.
We live in a world that has an issue with bisexuality, with many feeling it’s a phase or simply doesn’t exist. Research shows just 8% of LGBT adults feel there is a lot of social acceptance of bisexual men. The truth is many, and sometimes without knowing, are looking to disprove bisexuality. And if they meet a bisexual who has only slept with one gender, it’s like Christmas has come early.
Outsiders have an impact on how bisexuals see themselves
What we so rarely talk about is the impact outsiders’ opinions are having on the ways bisexuals view themselves. When your sexuality is always up for scrutiny, there is a cost. Bisexuals are not by nature beings beyond the realm of criticism, who brim with so much self-confidence they can’t hear your insults. They are normal people prone to having their insecurities exploited by those who don’t have their best interests at heart.
For those who don’t understand, for bisexual men it’s an unbelievable negative emotion to be going out there and not having the self-belief that you can attract people to you. That most women are going to look at you and think you’re gay and laugh at the idea you are a viable sexual partner. That you aren’t ‘man enough.’ Added to the fact those around you are watching in hysterics because it’s so clear to everyone but you that you’re a gay man and should be embarrassed that you’re putting yourself through this.
I’ve often wondered how many bisexual men just can’t deal with fighting the stigma from the whole world and just accept the gay label. Regardless, the impact of this treatment is undeniable.
Reports show bisexual people have above-average mental health problems, including higher rates of depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicide – which could be attributable to biphobia and exists both in the UK and internationally.
Why bisexuals need support
Bisexuals themselves have done a good job over the years of making sure bi youth know that you don’t have to have sex with more than one gender or date more than one to identify as bisexual. Your attractions not your actions are what’s valid.
I want bisexuals to believe in themselves and not feel like they have to tick boxes or have a quota for how many partners they need to have had. The world needs to understand that we don’t have to live up to their version of bisexuality, we will live to our own definition.
If you are a bisexual and do find yourself in this situation, here are a few things I want you to know.
You are not alone
I’m amongst one of the most profiled bisexual men on the planet – men reach out to me from all around the world with this very issue – you are not alone.
I’m sometimes surprised at how many men reach out to me that came out as gay when they realised their same sex attractions but now understand they are bisexual. They find themselves in a situation where they are having to relabel themselves and no one is buying it. It’s a tough situation but it will pass and you will find out who your friends really are and which prospective partners are actually worth it.
You’re on your own journey
Stop worrying about the experience others have or how many sexual partners they’ve encountered. This is about you, this is the way your story is unfolding. This is the only movie you are the star in so you might as well give it your best shot.
If you feel you’d like to have an experience with someone you haven’t before that’s a wonderful goal. But don’t start with the mindset that you’re an under achiever and it won’t work. New is scary and that’s okay, believe in yourself.
Lewis Oakley is a weekly bisexual correspondent on Gay Star News. Follow him on Twitter.