Bisexuality: It’s Your Thing

proud to be bisexualAs an English teacher and a writer, I am in favor of the precise use of language in order to ensure that our messages are clearly sent and received.  It’s true that we can’t always guarantee either the former or the latter, but it’s important to try.  In support of clarity, I’m normally behind the use of labels as a point of reference.  Yes, many times definitions-especially that of the wordbisexual-are open to debate, but we need to know what we’re debating.  I also feel it’s important to be clear about what we stand for and to own it, notwithstanding the capacity for changing our minds.

A few weeks ago I was encouraged by my colleagues here at Bi Social Network to take a test at kleingridonline.com.  The test uses the Klein Sexual Orientation Grid, developed by Dr Fritz Klein in 1993.  Based on Kinsey’s scale, the Klein Grid is supposed to provide a spectrum on which to measure sexual orientation rather than on discreet points.   The Klein Grid asks you to rate yourself based on sexual attraction, sexual behavior, sexual fantasies, emotional preference, social preference, lifestyle preference and self identification.  At the end of the test you get to see “how straight” and “how gay” you are.  These are the exact terms the site uses.

Then while relaxing over the Thanksgiving weekend, I did a little channel surfing and found myself watching part of a repeat of Bi the Way, the documentary that came out a couple of years ago featuring two young women crossing the USA in search of bisexuals.  I had tuned in just at the moment where Mike Szymanski was commenting on the reluctance of twenty-somethings to identify themselves as bisexual, preferring instead to avoid labels.

Finally, I ran across my copy of researcher Lisa Diamond’s Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love and Desire a few days later.  I flipped through the first two chapters again to get a sense of how she attempted to come to a definition of straight, lesbian and bisexual.  Her own literature review seemed to find no consistent definitions of the terms and she herself came up with the phrase female same-sex sexuality to use throughout her work.  After all, as a researcher she needed an operational definition to use.

Usually, I have normally been very adamant about not just using but embracing the term bisexual.  I use it because I want to be very clear about my attractions to women and men, and I want to be clear about how I see and approach the world.  It will probably be no surprise to you that I was initially less than thrilled to encounter people who did not want to label or identify themselves.  I will admit that I saw a certain failure to own an important yet often trivialized part of their persons.

But things began to shift for me when I ran across Diamond’s book again.  On first reading, I was annoyed about what I thought was her inability to use a set definition of terms for sexual orientation.  On second and more readings, I see that Diamond really had nothing solid to go on.  She was lost in a sea of linguistic imprecision that her predecessors had also gotten stuck in.  There are no easy definitions of lesbian, gay and bisexual.  Trying to find one for each seems as easy a grabbing an eel in the ocean.

Even kleingridonline.com summarizes the test results using a percentage of gay and straight, which to me defeats the whole purpose of using words like bisexual.

Something seemed to be missing and I was having trouble putting my finger on it.  Perhaps I have been trying to put clarity on a situation that is far from clear.  I may have been looking for definitions that do not yet exist.  I have trying to force something essentially non-dual into the dualistic thinking and terms that we are all-too-used to.   In fact, I now think the twenty-somethings have it right when they avoiding calling themselves bisexual because the word brings no clarity especially in a world where most people want 0 or 1, yes or no.  I can understand how people would be confused.

Instead I’m going to use the word coined by our own creative director, Adrienne Williams, bisexualist.  To me bisexualists are people who while being ethical do their own thing emotionally and sexually.  Bisexualists are open to the all the possibilities for love and human intimacy.  Bisexualists stand for integration and inclusion in personal relationships.  Being a bisexualist is a state of mind.  It doesn’t matter to bisexualists either how many men or how many women they’ve gone out with.  That’s not the point.  It’s about how we engage with the world and how we embrace the world.

Being a bisexualist has nothing to do with the color of your skin, your gender, your income, your profession or even your taste in music.  Forget the definitions of who you’re supposed to love and how:  Think and feel for yourselves.  Explore responsibly wherever your heart is taking you. In the words of the Isley Brothers’ classic,

“It’s your thing, do what you wanna do, 
I can’t tell you 
Who to sock it to.”

New Year’s Letter on Bisexality

Dear Readers,

As 2009 draws to a close and 2010 dawns, we are surrounded by a myriad of holidays: Hanukah, Ras as-Sana, Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa and Ashura.  We are immersed in rebirth, miracle and thanksgiving.  I, for one, could not be happier for that.

fire in the skyWhile there is also suffering and bad news just as at any time of the year, tears and laughter are very much a part of life and how we chose to approach both shows a great deal about who we are.

So I am happy and grateful for a time of year that reminds me about the possibility of new beginnings, the nearness of wonder, and the importance of being appreciative.  I find it very important as the new year approaches to take time to evaluate what has happened over the past year to see what I have learned and what the big picture is.

I fully admit to being resolutely optimistic, something born of having been through the ringer more than a few times.  There are moments I have found where the choice is either to throw in the towel or keep on.  I have chosen to keep on.

In particular, I am grateful for the opportunity that writing this column has afforded me to reach out to other bisexuals, especially other bi men.  I have to admit though that I have been challenged by having to discuss myself in such a public way.  Don’t get me wrong, I fancy myself a raconteur.  However, opening myself up to a worldwide audience was not the first thing I had on my mind.  If I had thought about it too much, I might have been intimidated.  Well, I said that bisexual men needed to be more visible and I certainly won’t ask someone else to do what I won’t.  Voila, I found a vehicle to talk about the life of one bisexual man.

Further, I marvel at how my bisexuality has changed me.  I went from a state of confusion, curiosity and despair in my teens and early twenties to the present state of confidence I have, a confidence hard won.  First I was caught in the grip of heteronormativity, knowing there was something different about me.  Then I realized that really did like women too.  I felt as if I was at a tennis match-and I was the ball!  Let’s not forget that it often felt easier to join the Free Masons than to find other bisexuals.  There was a time that not much could be found in terms of information on bisexuality.    Yet, I knew who I was and I felt I had to be true to that in spite of what I heard in general and what was said to me specifically.

Bisexuality has also awakened me and made me go deeper into myself for answers.  For example, I have had to look at the various issues that I bring into relationships with women and men.  Since I don’t have the ability to say, “Well, I really don’t like men” or “Maybe, I really don’t like women,” I need to look at the heart of the matters that come up in relationships, something I used to be good at avoiding.  In my case, I have had to work on trust and intimacy.  This work has made me a new man through the exercise of honesty with myself.

As we move into the new year, I hope you will take some time to look back over the past year.  May you find something to marvel at and something to be thankful for.    May 2010 be a time of renewal and hope for you.  May you find new ways to embrace yourself and your bisexuality more fully.

Thank you for joining me on this journey,

Peter

Bisexuality and the Nature of Relationships

couple_packageOne thing is sure: when we bisexuals meet someone, there is a wide range of possibilities for where a relationship can go.

Have you ever considered the possible ways we can relate to each other: family, friend, colleague, partner, lover or acquaintance?   Some of these categories can overlap, either dovetailing nicely or conflicting grossly.  Now, the interesting thing about being bisexual is that it doesn’t place any constraints on who can be a partner.  There are other issues that count more than gender such as common interests, personality, perhaps even age and status.  Even whether one is monogamous, asexual or polyamorous plays into the equation.

As I look back over the years, I see that I often have a penchant for becoming friends with folks before becoming their lover.  This was certainly the case with Tina and Tanya, not their real names.  The time lapse for my becoming romantically involved might seem interminable to some.  In fact, I met Tina while I was in graduate school but it wasn’t until I had returned from Europe and my involvement with Tanya that Tina and I became an item.   In both cases, my partners and I started out as colleagues-Tina was a fellow student and Tanya a fellow academic-before progressing to friendship and beyond.  Even when the ‘beyond’ ended, I’m happy to report that the friendship remained.  There is still a sense of intimacy that remains.  You know the kind, where you can read someone and be there for them because so much has gone before.

Unfortunately, such is not the case for Armand and Steve, again not their real names.  I actually met Armand online—this in only my particular experience by the way—and we began seeing each other with the goal of romance.  Armand, like me, was in education, but I think our political views, among other things, were too divergent.  Armand was rather reserved and I am rather forthright, to say the least.  Going out with Armand was a lesson in the fact that opposites do not attract.  If you’re going to build a fire, you need the right kind of wood and a spark.  We were simply two acquaintances trying to make more out of nothing.

Finally, there is Steve, my conundrum.  I think my relationship with Steve is a case of too much over the line.  He and I met several years ago because of common political interests.  From there, we began to talk about our personal lives, especially when I was really down and out, and then we decided to proceed further.  Now, I see that it would have been better for me if the relationship had remained at the level of friendship.

Yet all of this is supposed to be covered by the single English word love.  Perhaps we bisexuals need to bring back the five Greek words for love that covered everything from the love of parents, to fraternal love, love of friends and passionate love, just to name some of the possibilities.  We need to be able to articulate how we feel about others with precision because nothing is a given, especially how relationships will turn out, and we can’t afford to be suspended in chaos.  Out of the range of possibilities for a relationship, eventually something must solidify.

 

Beyond Bisexuality

sunriseI assume that, like me, you have been following the news lately.  It seems that the past two weeks have brought a slew of major tragedy and change.  First there was the devastating earthquake in Haiti, then major civil unrest in central Nigeria.  Closer to home, there was what turned into an upset senatorial election in Massachusetts.

Because I have friends who are Haitian-American, the earthquake has turned into something that is far from merely images of the screen.  Likewise as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who had been stationed in West Africa, I have been following the tensions in Nigeria for years.  Needless to say, as Massachusetts resident, I was deep into the special election that many across the United States had thought was a shoe-in for the Democrats.

What was not particularly on mind was being bisexual.  In fact, over the past fourteen days, that part of my life has really taken a back seat because of issues that were more pressing as far as I was concerned.

Of course there are BLGT people in Haiti and Nigeria and the election results in Massachusetts are not what the BLGT community as whole is enthusiastic about.  But the events in question affect everyone in whole societies.  Yes, the BGLT community has special concerns that are often overlooked, but these events did not single it out in particular.  Death and injury visited Haiti and Nigeria without concern for sexual orientation.  Senator-elect Brown’s victory has people on both sides of the aisle asking, “What next for the country?”

Whether election, earthquake or civil unrest, these circumstances require collective reflection and collective action.  It is the human dimension that matters most, not individuals or smaller groups.  The question becomes how we can come together to improve conditions, rebuild and move forward.  In the case of the election, there are implications for how lawmaking will go forward, but go forward it must.

For me, this has been a good time to see how I fit into the larger picture and how I can act to make things better beyond my own little world.  I suggest that this is something that we bisexuals can do as well.  There is work to be done that relates to us all.  All Haitians need roofs over their heads and food to eat.  All the Nigerians of Plateau State need peace and stability.  All of us in the United States need to figure our how to move our nation forward.

Naturally, there will be a moment when we have to press forward on the bisexual community’s interests.  There will also be work to do to support BGLT Haitians and Nigerians.  However right now seems the moment to think about the whole and maybe we will keep the bigger picture in mind as we move forward.

Wisdom From My Female Partners

wisdom from partnerIt almost seems we bisexual guys spend a lot of time trying to convince people that we really like both men and women.  In fact we bi men may spend so much time trying to do just that, we end up getting lost in what amounts to a theoretical argument and we forget we’re actually living the experience.

Having taken a break over the past two weeks from being what you might call a professional bisexual(see my previous column), I’ve had some time to mull over my past relationships and what I have learned from them.

As if on cue, NPR’s Talk of the Nation broadcast a show last Thursday, February 3, that was just what I needed to get my creative juices flowing.  The program focused on the recent phenomenon of wives now earning more than their husbands and what that means in light of changing gender roles in our society.

What I took away from the program was how women are embodying both masculine and feminine traits–blending the yin and the yang as it were–while men still remain restricted in their outlook and behaviors.  In fact for boys, attitudes towards gender roles are more restrictive than when I was in middle school over thirty years ago.

This is very much in line with what I have experienced in my relationships.  If I take the three major intimate relationships I have had with women and compare them to those I’ve had with men, I have to say that in general women have displayed more flexibility, compassion and decisiveness than the men I have dated.

By flexibility, I refer to what I have observed as women’s facility for taking people where they are with their good points and their myriad imperfections.  There is an ability to deal with what is rather that what should be and an understanding that we all have talents and things we are terrible at.  Yes, it takes compassion to deal with people’s imperfections, but with that trait I was thinking more along the lines of women’s capacity and willingness to support others in their pain and need.  Finally, I have observed the women in my life take charge and forge ahead with their lives with a clear sense of what they want and what their world view is.

Now, I would be remiss if I did not make clear that I am to a certain extent referencing myself in the above.  After all, relationships are two-way streets.  I have to admit that I am a character–if you have not already guessed that from reading my columns.  I can be charming and witty, yet also prone to moods that are somber to put it politely.  It takes a mighty strong person to put up with me at times, but since I’m no shrinking violet it’s better they’re not either.  When it’s been necessary to tell me to set me straight–pardon the pun–it has happened.  That’s OK because I needed to hear it and life doesn’t owe me anything.

It occurs to me that my female partners got that message loud and clear themselves at some point, which is why they can approach the world with flexibility, compassion and decisiveness.  In fact, these are qualities that we humans could all afford to learn because very often life is not what we think it is or ought to be.  If women can embody masculine and feminine traits, so can we men.  Indeed, it is the very thing that will make our intimate experiences with both men and women deeper, richer and healthier.  And that can only be good for us all.

Shall We Dance?

danceI guess it was inevitable.  I bought the pickup truck almost a year ago.  I baptized ‘him’ Lyle, my six-cylinder beau.  At the same time, I began listening in earnest to WUMB, the local folk station–which has plenty of country music as well–so the next step had to be dancing.  This past Saturday, that’s exactly what it was.

I had gotten an email from a friend a few days beforehand asking me if I liked to dance and wanted to go out to an event put on by Gays for Patsy, a Boston-based BLGT Country/Western dance association.  Well, I’ve always wanted to learn to dance so this seemed like the opportune moment to go beyond disco-floor freestyle and that waltz I learned in high school so I could competent at weddings.

I had no idea what to expect and I was a little fried from having put in a whole day of work, which actually meant I went in with a completely open mind and had no energy to worry about whether I had two left feet or not.  Happily, there was a lesson before the dance began and I was able to grasp the rudiments of the two-step for the evening’s festivities.

You may be wondering who danced with whom and indeed the floor was filled with same-sex couples as well with some mixed-sex pairings.  When the two-step was being taught, the instructor referred to the positions of the dancers as the “lead” and the “follow”.  At this soiree anyone could lead, follow or do both.  In fact we all had name tags on, writing our names in blue ink if we were leads, red if we were follows or a combination of the two if we did both.

Is this bisexual heaven, or what!

I had the pleasure both to lead and follow some very charming men and women around the dance floor.  If dances were like this when I was younger, I would have signed up for lessons years ago!  I can’t tell you how much I ate it up.

It was liberating to be on the floor without cumbersome and useless gender-role expectations being heaped upon the enjoyment of tripping the light fantastic.  It’s like a little mirror of life: sometimes we lead, sometimes we follow, and the experience teaches us different things.  Hopefully we feel safe in either case and have fun along the way.

It was also freeing to be in an environment where choice of partner was irrelevant.  It was all about music, dancing and community.  You know, the things that really matter in life.  And once you’re concentrating on what matters, you never know what will happen be it on the dance floor or in life.

I am now looking forward to the next dance.  Maybe I’ll even try a line dance.  Who knows, one of these days I may even get cowboy boots–to go with the truck of course!

By the way, if you’re interested in trying Country/Western dancing yourself, follow this link for more information and groups near you.

Bisexuals Get Colds Too

get coldsYou know those days when give yourself a fright?  You look in the mirror and go, “Who the hell are you and what did you do with me?”

Today is one of those days for me. I woke up with runny nose and I’ve been sneezing more than your average Disney dwarf.  If things continue like this, stock in tissue manufacturers will surely go up!

While I certainly look worse than I feel–OK, except for my raw nose–I have to admit that I’m in one of those moods in which I really don’t have any desire to mull over my bisexuality.  I just want to curl up with a hot cup of tea, the novel I’m reading and the two-hundred count box of tissues I’m quite sure will be finished by morning.  I quite frankly don’t want to think about anything else right now.  Actually, I would prefer to give my brain a rest at the moment.

This is certainly not the worst I’ve ever felt by a long shot, but it does allow me to touch on the other moments when I’ve fretted about what to write and what I had to say to all of you.  It’s actually in those moments when I wonder why I opted to become what can only be described as a professional bisexual because I don’t necessarily feel distinct from others.

Lest I be accused of being an ingrate and a whiner, let me state that I enjoy very much working with my colleagues and that I am thankful for having been brought on by our creative director.  I also know full well that writing about life from a bisexual man’s perspective–plain and simple–is something that I had wanted to do for a long time.

Besides, most of us have to get down to work whether we are ill or not.  Responsibilities of all sorts do not wait for us to be on our proverbial game.  Head cold, headache or simple head trip, we have to get out there and do our work, completing what needs completing.

Today–as has been true for several other days since I began writing for you–I have nothing more profound to say to you than we bisexuals put our trousers on one leg at a time just like everyone else and we get late-winter colds just like everyone else.  Today, I feel no particular specialness is being bi, which I actually see as a positive.

With my running and sneezing nose, I am well aware that in many respects I’m no different from anyone else.  Perhaps even this small cold is a good thing because it finally made me tell you about those uneventful occasions when I am just being myself and my bisexuality fades into the background.

Naturally, I hope that those of you bisexuals reading this blog are proud to be bi.  I also hope that you have moments–by all means without colds and flu–in which your bisexuality fades into the background and you can just be yourselves.  As the quotation attributed to Sigmund Freud goes, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to warm my tea, find more tissues and get to my next project.

Making Bisexuals Count – Moving Beyond Opposites

making bisexualAs I was perusing titles for a look into the ways the US government has counted race and ethnicity since 1790, I came across Hybrids: Bisexuals, Multiracials, and Other Misfits under American Law by Ruth Colker, Esq, presently professor of law at the Ohio State University.  I didn’t quite know what to expect but I was sure I had to examine the book and with a click it went into inter library loan request.

As soon as I got it, I dove right into the tome and devoured the sections on bisexuality in a flash.  Colker maintains that bisexual invisibility forces us into one of two fixed categories, in this case “gay” or “straight”.  In Chapter Two she writes, “Ignoring bisexuality allows society to perpetuate the stereotype that sexuality is rigidly dichotomous.”

Unfortunately the Western worldview tends to categorize things in pairs of binary and immutable opposites, which is not a terribly helpful enterprise.   Understanding this position helps to explain people who deny bisexuality such as Michael Musto and Dan Savage.  It certainly explains why the law–from municipal domestic partnership legislation to state statues to military regulations–doesn’t broach the subject.  In fact as of 1996–the book’s publication date–“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was the only law that specifically mentioned bisexuality and I could find no others in my own research.

The consequences of making bisexuals invisible through a focus on bipolar categories can be serious however.  Colker mentions how lesbian friends refused to vacation with her after she married a man and how a feminist activist erased her experiences with women by referring to her as a ‘hasbian’.  Certainly in this column, you have read about my struggles with being a bi man.  Colker goes far deeper though by discussing the ways bisexual invisibility has hampered efforts to combat AIDS in the African-American community by not addressing actual sexual practices, regardless of labels.

Colker asserts that sexuality is complex, nuanced and not easily pegged as either “gay” or “straight.”  She also  reports on work proposing that certain communities understand that people engage in both same-sex and opposite sex relationships, while perhaps not naming such behavior as bisexual.  Yet she still goes on to say, “Naming bisexuality can broaden people’s understanding of human sexual experiences by acknowledging the existence of a fluid spectrum rather than rigid bipolar categories.” According to Colker, using a bisexual perspective permits us to ask about our attractions and their origins.   It permits us to tell a story.

What Colker calls for is a “bisexual jurisprudence,” one that takes into account the fluidity of human experience on many levels as it applies to the legal system.

As far as I am concerned any recognition at all requires that we tell our stories, recount our own experiences as often as is feasible.  It matters precious little how many men and women we have had relationships with.  What matters is speaking our truth and bearing witness to the fluidity of attraction as we live it and the quality of our relationships.  It is our presence and our personal disclosure that will put an end to bisexual invisibility and broaden people’s understanding of human sexual experience.  It is speaking up in ways large and small, as organizations and individuals that will make sure bisexuals count.

Yoga for Bisexuals

yogaStop.  Take a breath, exhale through your mouth.  Do that again deepening your inhale and exhale.  Now do it a third time deepening your breath even more.  Raise your shoulders up, then bring them down and back.  Do that one again too.  Now close your eyes for a few moments and take in the sensation.

Feel better?  Good, I thought you might

There are many ways to approach yoga.  One view I embrace is of yoga as a method for integrating the mind, emotions and physical body.  I try to use it as a way to remain centered and peaceful, even in the midst of chaos and upheaval.  In fact, my favorite version of The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali translates the second sutra as, “Yoga is the settling of the mind into silence.”

Silence.  Peace.  Centeredness.  Integration.  How in the world do we move towards those states?

There are certainly enough things that can throw us off balance. First of all there are the multiple problems faced by the BLGT community as a whole.  Check out of the news on any given day; biphobia and homophobia are rearing their rather ugly heads with what seems like the wildest of abandon.  From “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” to being denied the opportunity to attend a prom, the situation is tense and surreal.

Of course, there are those issues that bisexuals face in particular: denial of bisexuality and invisibility.  The demon of dichotomous thinking strikes again.

Ah, but wait.  The asanas–or postures–of yoga are there for building more than just physical strength and flexibility.  They also help us cultivate stamina and flexibility for dealing with what life hands us.

For example forward folding has been a real issue for me.  Every time I get on the mat, I have to work various ways to come deeper into any position that requires bending.  After years of practice, I’m a farther along than I was when I started.

So it is with bisexuality.  I’ve found I have to contemplate what it means for me in various ways, coming at it from different angles.  I’ve had to look at how I deal with relationships with women and men and with how I approach the various kinds of intimacy with each.  Years later, I’m a little farther along than when I embarked on the adventure.

Yoga isn’t easy either.  I have a friend who is fond of reminding her classes that, “Yoga is not a pleasure cruise.”  It is work that takes discipline to accomplish.  I’ve lost count of the days when I haven’t wanted to step onto my mat.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fallen out of poses like my major tumble from handstand a couple of weeks ago.  After I go my breath back, I tried going upside again.  I keep at it anyway and feel better for it at the end.

It’s the same again bisexuality.  How many times have any of us had to deal with a question about what bisexuality is?  How many times have we been told that we have “to choose one or the other”?  How many times have we had to explain how biphobia hurts?  These are all things we clearly don’t want to do yet we do them anyway, even those times when we aren’t particularly articulate or when we know that what we say makes no difference.   Nonetheless I know that I feel better for having spoken up and I hope you do to.

Silence.  Peace.  Centeredness.  Integration.  We arrive at them when we fully accept who and what we are.  We arrive at them with work and discipline, with failure and carrying on.  We arrive at them as bi folk when we understand and accept that bisexuality is beautiful thing.  In fact I tend to see bisexuality itself as a form of integration, a way to unite and express all the ways we can love our fellow human beings.  For this, I feel gratitude.

Bisexual, the Antidote to Retrosexual

bi-raduApparently there’s a crisis sweeping the nation, one that even merited the airtime of CNN International last Friday.  In case you’ve haven’t heard the news, masculinity has taken a battering and it’s time to bring back the lost of masculinity.  Hipsters and metrosexuals be damned!  The evil feminists have destroyed men, who no longer occupy their rightful place.  Men have become too soft and lazy, reduced to mere objects of ridicule.

Give me a break!

At what point did we catapult into the post-feminist, post-biphobic, post-homophobic world?

We haven’t and that’s the point.  While certain people are waxing poetic about supposedly manly virtues, some have already pointed out that the gig is up.  I can only hope the phenomenon of the retrosexual vanishes before it has a chance to take hold.

Yes my friends, you read right – retrosexual.  Thanks to shows like Mad Men and the efforts of bloggers, we can now all learn how to be real men again and take pride in doing so.  We can learn to lionize ‘great’ men like Teddy Roosevelt and John Wayne. We can dress like real men dress, read what real men read, and take up manly hobbies.  Perhaps we can learn to duel in order to preserve our honor.  Maybe you feel like you lost out on a particularly gruesome male initiation ritual.

Well I think there is a crisis in masculinity–it’s very existence.

Women got it right.  Feminism has razed the bulwark of femininity to the ground thus opening the doors of possibility wide open.

We men, on the other hand, are often still caught in the vice grip of masculinity and the dead hand of male gender roles.  Look around and you see all the advertising pandering to male insecurities.  Trying to be a real man seems to be the most important obsession for the male of the species.

It makes me think of the song “Real Men” from Joe Jackson’s 1982 album, Night and Day.  The song asks “What’s a man now?/What’s a man mean?/Is he rough or is he rugged/Cultural and clean?/Now it’s all changed/It’s got to change more/We thinks it’s getting better/But nobody’s really sure.”

By the time I heard this song, I had already discovered that being attracted to other men meant my ‘guy quotient’ tanked.  I discovered soon after that being attracted to both genders put me in a no man’s land–pun intended.  I had a choice: play to a script or live my life.  I chose to live my life.

I’m not saying it’s been easy but it’s been authentic.  Along the way, I’ve come across plenty of other men just living their lives without obsessing about manliness.  What I have found is that bisexual men tend to have a good handle on the theater of the absurd that masculinity is.  Hold the door open for a woman and you’re either a gentleman or a dinosaur.  Hold the door open for another man–well why would you?  Or just hold the door open for other people and be polite.

How about this:  some of us are human beings who happen to be male.  We’re neither smarter or more stupid, tougher or more tender than those who are female.  I’m still not sure we know what a real man is, but does it really matter?