Help Me Bisexual Guys - printed on Nerve, Summer 2005
Help me, Bisexual Men, you are our only hope.
Bi by proxy
When I was a teen and bored in suburbia, I had this very clear daydream that I was on a mattress in a large loft space. Next to me was a man, sleeping, and next to him was a woman, also asleep with long curly black Argentinian hair. I liked thinking that this was a vision of my future self, involved in some intertwined arrangement that made everyone comfortable enough to sleep. Years later, moving to New York, the impossibility of a large loft space turned this vision into more of a fantasy. I grew to identify myself as gay and was installed in its circuitry. Now, twenty or so years into my life as an out gay guy, I keep thinking of that daydream, and wondering if it’s possible. Because right now, I feel like my identity is just as limiting as if I had stayed in the closet.
Let me tell you what just happened: I dated Boy X very briefly last summer. X is vague and pretty and very young. We never had sex, but we circled each other long enough for me to get frustrated and vent about him to my friends, including Friend B. After a month or two of angst, I realized that X was too young and unfocused to really be worth any mental anguish. Friend B, a kind of sexual know-it-all, agreed: “You should think of him like a peach,” he said, “He’s young and fresh. You eat, enjoy, digest, and then move on.” Soon after this, another friend, Friend C, met X and started dating him. Their relationship was more serious, but Boy X eventually drifted off vaguely from him as well. OK, fast forward to last week, a year or so later. Friend B calls and tells me how he and his boyfriend (let’s call him aB) had some kind of ménage a quatre with Boy X and his friend, yX. Friend B exonerated himself from any guilt for this act by saying he didn’t know that Boy X was Boy X until after their little four-way roundelay. That weekend Friend B had a party. I found myself on a rooftop with X, B, C, aB and yX. Jealous, freaked out and insane, I tried to employ the attentions of F, xG, and D(V-x) to retaliate. My life that night became a large calculus equation that I would never be able to solve.
Rarely is it this craven and ridiculous, but in my gay scene, it is very easy to suddenly become part of a huge complicated tapestry of male desire. If I don’t do something soon to ground myself, I’m afraid I will end up in an endless Greek labrynth of men, lost in corridors, with no final resting place. Paired with this fear is the full-on realization I AM ONE OF THESE MEN.
In opposition to this madness is the ideal of a monogamous relationship, which would be nice, but, to me, a little naive. If and when I get into a long term relationship, I can’t imagine denying someone I love their desires to explore themselves. And I guess I have to admit that denying myself that freedom freaks me out as well. But at the same time I would be driven insane if my “husband” was macking on every guy around (see above). I am trying to open myself to sexual freedom, but I just want to put up a little border or gate around it so I don’t get emotionally mauled by baboons.
Stuck in this mental pickle, I remembered my vivid daydream from long ago. Maybe that man on the bed with me was the bisexual one, who was sleeping soundly after boinking me and this Argentinian woman. And, suddenly, it dawned on me, the answer to my problems. I need a bisexual guy! A man who stays faithful to me, but can get his rocks off with any woman he wants. I could get a guy to focus on me yet still keep his appetite satisfied. A kind of “Gender Monogamy.” It’s brilliant!
I don’t think this would be anti-woman. It seems like every night, one of my girlfriends tells me she’s horny and just wants a good screw. I would be happy to have a man in my life who could bring pleasure and relief to the female species. I love women, I love their bodies, and I worship my lady friends and everything about them, but I can’t move further past kissing a woman, to those second and third bases or whatever. If I had to eat out a woman (which I’ve heard is a really good way to give them orgasms) I would be so bad at it. I would act like a young fumbling farmboy trying to help a horse birth a gelding – maybe too amazed and freaked out at being that close to the wet hearth of human life. It’s almost as if I wish to be bi by proxy.
I started asking around. I have found quite a number of men who have nurturing relationships with women and talk about playing with men on the side, but it’s been difficult to find a proclaimed bisexual guy who treats their male partner as something more than a snack food.
“I do think I can be faithful to one gender and free to sleep with the other,” said one friendster-of-a-friend of mine, “What I think would be best for me is having a relationship with a girl and being free to sleep with men once in a while. If I could find someone who could deal with that, then that would be great.”
He admitted his past love life has been stabilized by the female species. “My past relationships have mostly been with women (long-term-wise: 1 guy, 3 girls). Not because of lack of trying to have relationships with men. I just think girls are more relationship orientated... I know that's a generalization.”
In his hilarious and candid comic Deadpan, artist David Heatley gives a painfully honest frame-by-frame account of his sexual history, which includes lots of boy-play as a child, and a few male trysts along the way to adulthood, but he eventually marries a tolerant, smart woman who seems to provide him stability.
Then there is the other side of the coin – the faggy-minded guy who likes to make out with women. Like my cute dancer friend. “I consider myself bisexual,” he says “I dated a drag queen recently, and went on a couple of dates with a female-to-male transsexual. He was really, really cute.” He smiles, enjoying the memory. A sweet, fluid little buttercup in his twenties with flopsy hair and rose petal lips, his bisexuality seems more a declaration of a phase of experimentation and adventure. Then there is this one guy I vaguely know who is a proclaimed bisexual who hangs out mostly with a set of gay men. He seems to enjoy having a lot of sex, but does not seem like relationship material. In fact, he verges on having that bug-eyed sneery face that you see on many straight male porn stars, for whom sex has become something you crave like guacamole.
It seems like I would be more successful finding a unicorn than a male-centered, monogamous-minded bi guy. Recent scientific studies support this disappointing conclusion. As reported in the Science section of the New York Times last week, a recent study was conducted by Northwest University and the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto in which researchers recruited 101 young adult men, evenly divided among those who considered themselves bisexual, homo and hetero. The researchers seated them in a laboratory and monitored their sexual arousal while showing them a series of erotic movies. The straight guys were, of course, hot for images of women, and the gay guys got aroused when shown erotic pictures of men. The “bisexual” ones, though, weren’t as sexually non-partisan as they claimed they were. Instead, three quarters of the “bisexual” ones shared the same arousal patterns to those of the gays, while the other quarter were turned on like straight guys – not one of them was cleanly, evenly passionate toward both sexes.
I have a lot of straight men friends who have bisexual-ish urges. In fact, all of my straight guy friends are like this because they aren’t assholes and aren’t afraid to tell you they love you and like dancing. For the most part, the furthest these guys go is kissing you when they are drunk or on ecstasy. Maybe they do pick up guys every weekend, but I haven’t gone any further with them. Most of them go out with really good friends of mine so I would rather not rock the boat, and also clawing after some “straight” guy like a desperate Tennessee Williams character seems so undignified. But being affectionate with them is fun at parties and karaoke bars.
One of my straight-ish guy friends, a super hot artist dude, says: “Why does being a bi-sexual have to be so cut and dry? I mean, can't someone love pussy and occasionally like a deep dicking or to suck off some strange guy?...I desire what I desire and that’s it. No politics. No quilts. No protest march.” I’m with him, but, let me just point out, once again, the “occasionally like a deep dicking” qualification. Once again, men become the side project.
Am I being bi-phobic? I know I sound limited and dim. And this is when I need my more rebelliously sexual friends to slap me on the head and show me how colorfully broad sexuality can be. Maybe these male-centered bisexual guys are out there. I hope that after this is posted, a number of bisexual will make themselves known and tell us how they live. As Neal Medlyn so articulately explained in his essay in Nerve last month, bisexuality is still slippery. Unlike straights and gays, bisexuals enjoy a kind of ambiguity that still hasn’t been co-opted by our marketplace. In the meantime, I am sent back to the very well-worn gay rubric of bars, internet dates and set-ups.
At my most utopian, there is a society or system where love flourishes, and relationships of all types are nurtured. It’s some place where monogamy is recognized as a noble effort but people are realistic about it’s rarity. It’s also a place where sexual freedom is encouraged, but baseless rampant sexual encounters are seen as just kind of skeevy.
I feel like Princess Leia desperately calling out to the bisexuals of the world. You may be our only hope at creating new, free, yet lovingly focused relationships. Hurry, bisexuals, you are our only hope.