Where Are All The Bisexual Men? (And why do you hate us?)
Most bisexual men will tell you that there is not very much representation for us, either in the media or in other social contexts. And where there are examples, many are tropes and stereotypes that actually perpetuate harm. This lack of representation is another symptom of the pervasive problem of bi-erasure that is literally killing bisexual folks. So where does this come from? Why is there such disdain for bisexual men?
Before we get into that, however, I want to make one thing very clear: I am not suggesting that bisexual men have it worse than bisexual women and non-binary folks. First, we do not compete in the suffering Olympics where some “beat” others. Second, bisexual women and non-binary folks live at the intersection of both bi-phobia, queer-phobia, and sexism. They face devastatingly significant risks both mentally and physically. This piece is not about pitting any one group against another, but rather simply exploring a very real issue within a specific group of people, bisexual men.
Perhaps the easiest historical link to anti-bisexual male sentiment comes at what is often referred to as “the height of the AIDS crisis”. As ignorance and fear of HIV stirred mistrust and hatred towards gay men, the emergence of the virus among straight women created a panic. Almost immediately bisexual men were cited as the cause, carrying the virus into the straight community after contracting it through “illicit sex” with other men. Immediately, bisexual men were seen as more repugnant than the already derided gay men.
In reality, while the transmission of HIV to straight women by bisexual men did happen, it was one of the smallest contributors to that dynamic. Instead, it was largely transmitted through blood transfusions and drug use. Despite this fact, bisexual men remained a scapegoat with the stigma still persisting today in different “clothes”.
That fear of contamination, while not related to HIV/AIDS, remains for many. In studies, high percentages of straight women expressed concern/disdain for the idea of sex with bisexual men. There was fear of contamination by STDs and even strong feelings of disgust associated with idea that the man had been with other men.