Bisexual Fear & Loathing in America

A national opinion survey conducted by the University of California Davis and published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Sex Research found that American heterosexuals dislike bisexuals more than they dislike gays and lesbians and most religious, ethnic or racial groups.

Psychology professor Gregory Herek directed one of the first scientific studies to focus specifically on heterosexuals’ attitudes toward bisexual people.

Herek found bisexual men and women were perceived as substantially inferior to other groups, including whites, Catholics, blacks, Jews, and people with AIDS. The only group rated more negatively than bisexual men and women was people who inject illegal drugs. The survey was based on phone interviews with 1,335 people.

Herek found that male respondents rated bisexual and gay men more negatively than they rated bisexual and lesbian women. However, women respondents felt significantly less positive toward bisexual men and women alike than toward gay men or lesbians.

“This is an interesting difference between heterosexual men and women,” Herek observed. “Women’s feelings toward a person seem to be more strongly influenced by whether the individual is bisexual or homosexual. But men’s attitudes are more affected by whether the person is male or female.”

Gay men and lesbians ranked only slightly higher that bisexuals in the survey. Unsurprisingly, highly religious people and self-identified political conservatives expressed more negative feelings than less-religious respondents and political moderates and liberals.