Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan M.

August 13, 2013

Bisexuals are the largest group of LGBTs, but they are strikingly closeted.

Pew Research issued a report in June on opinions and attitudes within the LGBT world. Pew Reports are the gold standard for social-survey research. Among the interesting findings: bisexuals, who don't get much public attention, make up the largest group under the L, G, B and T umbrella. But they are much less out to the people around them than lesbians and gays are.

Bisexuals account for the most self-identified LGBTs...
...but they are much less out than gays and lesbians.

This is significant to the poly world because roughly a third to a half of all self-identified polys say they are bi, and vice versa. That compares to just 3% of people in the general population who call themselves bisexual.

Here's the full Pew report: A Survey of LGBT Americans (June 13, 2013).

Most of it is about other topics. But here is a Los Angeles Times article, which came out more than a month later, about the study's bisexual findings:

Pew study: Majority of bisexuals still in the closet

At a time when gay rights have made stunning strides, and gays and lesbians have become far more willing to come out, the vast majority of bisexuals remains closeted, according to a Pew Research Center survey last month.

By Emily Alpert

LOS ANGELES — In the middle of the rainbowy revelers at the pride parade in West Hollywood, Jeremy Stacy was questioned: Are you really bisexual?

“One guy came up to me and said, ‘You’re really gay,’ ” said Stacy, who was standing under a sign reading, “Ask a Bisexual.”

“I told him I had a long line of ex-girlfriends who would vehemently disagree. And he said, ‘That doesn’t matter, because I know you’re gay.’ ”

Stacy had gotten the question before. From a friend who said anyone who had slept with men must be gay — even if he had also slept with women. From women who assumed he would cheat on them. From a boyfriend who insisted Stacy was really “bi now, gay later” — and dumped him when he countered he was “bi now, bi always.”

Such attitudes appear to have kept many bisexuals in the closet. At a time when gay rights have made stunning strides, and gays and lesbians have become far more willing to come out, the vast majority of bisexuals remains closeted, a Pew Research Center survey revealed last month.

Only 28 percent of bisexuals said most or all of the important people in their lives knew about their sexual orientation, compared to 71 percent of lesbians and 77 percent of gay men, Pew found. The numbers were especially small among bisexual men: Only 12 percent said they were out to that degree, compared to one-third of bisexual women who said the same.

Closeted bisexuals told the Los Angeles Times that they had avoided coming out because they didn’t want to deal with misconceptions that bisexuals were indecisive or incapable of monogamy — stereotypes that exist among straights, gays and lesbians alike.

The stereotypes make some reluctant to use the word, even after they come out. Laura McGinnis, communications director for the Trevor Project, an LGBT-youth suicide-prevention group, said she was 29 or 30 before she would readily share that she was bisexual or actively correct someone who thought otherwise.

“I hated the label because the assumption is that you’re sleeping around,” said McGinnis, now raising a child with her wife....

....“Bisexuals are thought to be confused, opportunistic and unable to make commitments — and those aren’t the kinds of things you want to see in an employee,” said Denise Penn, vice president of the American Institute of Bisexuality, a nonprofit that funds research.

LGBT community reacts

Inside the gay community, bisexual people are often seen as more privileged than gays and lesbians, able to duck discrimination by entering into straight relationships.

Far more bisexuals are in relationships with people of the opposite sex than the same sex, Pew found. They are less likely than gay men and lesbians to have weathered slurs or attacks, been rejected by friends or family or treated unfairly at work, its survey showed....

...A Kent State University study of bisexual women found that they were more likely than straight or lesbian women to harm themselves or endure suicidal thoughts. Other studies have also cited higher risks for bisexual men.

“I think these problems are coming from two places,” said Northwestern University human sexuality researcher Allen Rosenthal. “The absence of a bisexual community and the psychological stress of being in the closet.”

Activists say bisexuals have two closets — a straight and a gay one....

Read on (July 21, 2013).


Edge magazine now explores why:

"If there’s no strong bisexual community and culture to be supported by, it’s hard to come out," said Kyle Schickner, a filmmaker and outspoken bisexual activist of 20 years. "If you’re a gay teenager and you move to a metropolitan area, it becomes easier to come out because there are so many of you - you have less to lose. Some bisexuals might be in a relationship with the same gender and just find it easier to say they’re gay."...

Whole article (August 8, 2013).


While we're on the subject: here are Autostraddle's 37 Books By, For, or About Bisexual or Otherwise Non-Monosexual People, with 202 comments from readers about these selections and others.

Update: White House to Hold Roundtable on Bisexual Issues on September 23. This is certainly a first. The invitation to LGBT people for this was dated August 16th. I wonder if someone in the White House noticed the Pew report and realized there were voters being unreached?


Labels: ,


Blogger liminalD said...

I think most bisexual people can relate to this. I led a university LGBT support/advocacy group for four years and no matter how many times I identified myself as bisexual - to people in the group and other student association executives - people always just called me gay, like they got to say who I REALLY am, my own choice of words be damned. It got really frustrating. And I felt I always had to apologize for being bisexual and polyamorous, like I was 'letting the side down', because there are all those assumptions that bisexual people CAN'T be monogamous. I have been monogamous in past relationships - frequently, in fact, in most of my relationships. But because I no longer choose to be, other LGBT people I have met see that as evidence that bisexuals are INCAPABLE of monogamy, because it 'clearly' didn't work in my case. I've experienced more judgement and condemnation from gay men than I ever did from my religious family. I got so sick of the whole thing that now I have next to nothing to do with the gay community. There's no solidarity anymore, the gay and lesbian community is happy to pay lip-service to us B's and T's when it's convenient or politically expedient, but they don't give a damn about us the rest of the time. Of course, that's just my experience here in New Zealand, I can't speak for anyone else.

August 13, 2013 11:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've had much the same experience. I'm a bisexual woman, but since I married a man, it's almost like I'm no longer welcome in the community. My old lesbian friends look at me like I "took the easy way out," and at some point I'll regret turning my back on all womankind. Funny, I didn't see myself as rejecting women; merely falling in love with a man. Others assume I'll either weaken or come to my senses (however you want to look at it), end my marriage and take off with another woman. It's like they don't realize it's possible to always love/lust both genders, even as you choose one specific person to be your mate.

It's even more frustrating because this assumption that bisexuals can't choose, be honest, or commit feeds right into the stereotypes about polyamory. Never mind the fact that you have to be REALLY good at choosing partners, commitment and honesty to do polyamory right! I'm monogamous, and even I get that, but none of my "more evolved" former friends do. Talk about being damned if you do, damned if you don't!

August 14, 2013 12:51 AM  
Blogger liminalD said...

I hear ya ;)

Kia kaha (stay strong)


August 14, 2013 5:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure most male bisexuals stay closeted. To a large percentage of the population, if you go down on men, you're gay. Not bisexual.

May 13, 2014 2:51 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home