Being bisexual offers a number of challenges apart from those of gay or lesbian people, says Daniel Emba, a bisexual man, on Bi.org, an information resource for bisexual people.
Emba, 21, is from Mexico City in Mexico. It meant he had a conservative upbringing and often felt compelled to act ‘masculine’ in a way that wasn’t natural to him.
‘Attraction to men is seen as feminine, so this meant hiding my “gay” side. I was not worried about being mislabelled as gay.
‘I knew I was bi, and I was comfortable with that fact.
‘Rather, I was worried about being perceived as “not manly.”
‘It’s ok to be as intimate with another guy as you could want in Mexican culture, as long as it never goes to the level of romance or sex.
‘Even in that regard, there’s a kind of “it’s only gay if you take it” mentality.
‘I had opportunities to fool around with guys. I was afraid I might like it too much, want something else, something more – and then I’d be mocked for being too “girly.”
While he was in Mexico, Emba only dated girls. He was able to be more open after moving to Oregon, in the US.
This hasn’t solved all his problems. Bisexual people face many of the same – and some different – stigmas.
‘Today, having lived in the United States for about five years, I have begun to notice that U.S. culture has many similarities to Mexican culture.
‘In the U.S. many heterosexual men see bisexual men as less “masculine,” and many gay men look at bi men as more “masculine.” In many instances, straight and gay people see bisexuality as a phase that will pass; they call us liars or pretenders or promiscuous.
‘We bi people are the most stigmatized of the LGBT community.
‘Bisexual men are considered sexually promiscuous, so incapable of containing their libido that “they also need men to satisfy their sexual hunger.”
‘Bi men, thus, are seen as so hyper masculine that “any hole will do,” as long as you are the one doing the penetration. On the other hand, if you like to receive penetration, you are seen as too feminine.’
He believes women face stigma of a different sort. ‘Bi women, too, are seen as promiscuous. They are regarded as “sluts” who are addicted to sex.
‘This is because bisexuality is considered “a choice” and not a sexual orientation.’
How can bisexual people be made to feel less like outsiders?