But in the eyes of many Americans, bisexuality — despite occasional and exaggerated media reports of its chicness — remains a bewildering and potentially invented orientation favored by men in denial about their homosexuality and by women who will inevitably settle down with men. Studies have found that straight-identified people have more negative attitudes about bisexuals (especially bisexual men) than they do about gays and lesbians, but A.I.B.’s (The American Institute of Bisexuality) board members insist that some of the worst discrimination and minimization comes from the gay community.
“It’s exhausting trying to keep up with all the ignorance that people spew about bisexuality,” Lawrence told me.
A.I.B., which was founded in 1998 by Fritz Klein, who was a wealthy bisexual psychiatrist, is countering that “ignorance” with a nearly $17 million endowment and a belief in the persuasive value of academic and scientific research. In the last few years, A.I.B. has supported the work of about 40 researchers, including those looking at bisexual behavior and mental health; sexual-arousal patterns of bisexual men; bisexual youth; and “mostly straight” men.
“We’re making great progress where there was little hard science,” said Sylla, who insisted that research “now completely validates that bisexual people exist.” A.I.B., he added, has moved on to more nuanced questions: “Can we see differences in the brains of bisexual people using f.M.R.I. technology? How many bisexual people are there — regardless of how they identify — and what range of relationships and life experiences do they have? And how can we help non-bi people understand and better accept bi people?”
Really fascinating article. Of additional interest is that the writer participated in a couple of the studies, the results of which surprised him. Much of this has been said before, but until now, I haven’t read much about this research, just about social perceptions.
Reading this was very reaffirming for me. Something that really struck a cord was a line towards the end:
Sylla added that it was important — both for his own sense of authenticity and for bisexual visibility — to continue to publicly identify as bisexual. “The world needs more out bi people so that bisexuals can find support and community, just like gay people have when they come out,” he said. “Many bisexuals just end up saying they’re gay if they’re with a same-sex person or straight if they’re with an opposite-sex person. It’s easier to do that — you don’t have to constantly correct people or deal with people’s stereotypes about bisexuality and fidelity.”
Yes. I am very public about my sexuality; I identify as pansexual, because I don’t believe in the gender binary, and I’m sure people are sick of hearing me talk about it. But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten messages from other bi/pan folks who are thankful that I am so outspoken about it, because it means they know someone else besides themselves who identifies the way they do. We all need to feel like we’re not alone in the world.