Bisexual Men Tweet
I don’t remember how it came to my attention, but in mid-July I became aware of a new hashtag doing the rounds on Twitter, #BisexualMenSpeak.
This caught my attention because when I was but a Baby-Bi there was nothing like this as a means of support, information or inspiration. Section 28 was still very much a thing, as was the unequal age of consent for men who have sex with men.
Reading through the tweets, I was incredibly moved and felt compelled to add my voice. The reception has been staggering, as of writing the thread has more likes and retweets than anything I have ever posted on Twitter.
Before I go any further, two points need raising. First, a clarification is necessary as I omitted a word from my first tweet: I first came out as Bisexual over twenty years ago. Secondly, what follows recounts my experiences and feelings, these should in no way be taken as true of the experiences and feelings of all bisexual/pansexual men.
I have found that tolerance and acceptance of bisexual men is rather poor outside of the bisexual+ community. It has, of course, improved immensely over the last two decades as a part of the growing acceptance of LGBTQ+ rights but it remains lacking. What really strikes me is how, despite the overall improvement we have seen, many of the terms surrounding male bisexuality have remained the same. It is still “disgusting”, “wrong”, “sick” and more. Within the last decade I have had a bisexual woman tell me that male bisexuality is gross and that I should just pick a team. It took a while for me to retrieve my jaw from the floor after that.
Bisexual men are coded by many as gay men. If you have had sex with another person with a penis then you are no longer “man enough”, you are tainted by The Gay and that is that. As I am sure the reader will realise, that is a classic example of toxic masculinity. This pervasive idea existed when I was in college in the late 1990s and still exists today.
Two decades ago at college, an incredibly negative reaction to my bisexuality and the view of others that sleeping with men made me gay, led me to present as a gay man for nearly a decade. I jumped into what I now call the Rainbow Closet. These days at work, despite me being openly bisexual for over a decade, I am constantly correcting colleagues who label me as gay because of past partners. I’ve often heard “Oh, you’ve gone straight now?” when I have a date with a woman.
The Rainbow Closet can be a deeply unpleasant place. For me, it was enormously damaging. On a deep level I knew that I was bisexual but I constantly tried to convince myself that I was gay and just hadn’t fully accepted that yet. It never happened but still I tried. In time I grew to hate the fact that I was a gay man but still attracted to women. More than that, I grew to hate myself.
Research over the decades has confirmed what we all know – homosexuals hiding their sexuality, pretending to be heterosexual, is incredibly damaging to their health. It causes massive harm and we know this.
Seldom asked though, is how pretending to be gay or straight affects someone who’s sexual orientation falls outside of those two. For me this led to massive self-loathing and the beginnings of a spiral towards depression. Unlike many, I was lucky. I had two or three friends who had been around me since college, who knew and accepted the truth. With their help, I was able to accept myself and come out openly as bisexual once more. I am so thankful to my friends, they saved me from that spiral I was staring at.
I know that this has been a somewhat grim piece and for that I apologise. To remedy that, we shall return to the first paragraph. #BisexualMenSpeak came at me out of the blue and I realised that, beyond the bisexual group that I co-organise (the Sheffield Bisexual and Pansexual Social Group), I had an opportunity to give voice to these things and to explain why I stopped hiding. An opportunity to say that it’s time we raise our voices. In the last few years I have become increasingly involved in activism as a way to give back to my community.
The whole bisexual community faces great issues and I have come to realise that, for our sake and especially for any Baby-Bi’s out there who are feeling like I did as a teenager, that I have to do whatever I can, something which has been very healing, and I encourage others to do the same. A tweet is a small thing, but if it helps even one person realise that they are not alone, then it is truly priceless.
Footnote: when the tweets were made Cee identified as male but has since come out as non-binary.