In the face of longstanding bi-erasure and widespread scepticism, a new study has proven that male bisexuality is indeed a real and measurable fact.
Researchers led by author and Northwestern University psychology professor J Michael Bailey reviewed eight earlier sexual orientation studies and examined the extent to which men who self-report bisexual orientation exhibit bisexual genital and self-reported arousal.
“The current study found very strong and consistent evidence that bisexual men do in fact tend to have bisexual arousal patterns,” Bailey told HealthDay. “There is no longer reasonable doubt.”
He explained that some scientists and laypersons have doubted whether men who identify as bisexual are actually bisexual.
This, said Bailey, is because of the common belief that men who claim to be bisexual “are actually either heterosexual or homosexual, and that their claim to be bisexual is based on self-misunderstanding, perhaps due to social pressure not to admit exclusive homosexuality.”
The researchers focused only on male sexual orientation in this report because the question of whether bisexual arousal patterns exist has been less controversial when it comes to women.
The studies that were analysed involved more than 600 men in the US, Canada and the UK who underwent a genital arousal test. This involved measuring the arousal of the penis when the men were shown erotic videos or images.
Unsurprisingly, those who identified as bisexual showed more genital arousal when viewing erotic visuals of both men and women, compared to self-identified exclusively gay or heterosexual men.
The findings support the view of iconic American academic Alfred Kinsey who stated that men can be placed along a scale of sexual orientation. “Males do not represent two discrete populations, heterosexual and homosexual. The world is not to be divided into sheep and goats. Not all things are black nor all things white,” he said in 1948.
OUT’s 2016 Love Not Hate report on hate crimes against LGBT people in South Africa, found that 12.3% of this community self-identify as bisexual, but this is likely to be a considerable under-representation of bisexuality. In fact, US research suggests that bisexual people are the largest single segment of the LGBTQ+ community (52%).
It’s also been found that bisexual people report higher levels of physical and mental health disparities, sexual and domestic violence, and poverty than gays and lesbians.
They experience “bisexual erasure or invisibility” and are seen by many, in both heterosexual and LGBQ communities, as suspicious, confused, untrustworthy or simply unwilling to come out as gay.
The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.