Different For Bis? The Latest in Bi Research
This month’s first set of new bi statistics come from the USA where researchers at Columbia University have been pondering why bisexual men might stay in the closet.
203 behaviourally bi men were interviewed, all over 18 and living in the New York area. All reported having had male and female sexual partners within the previous twelve months.
Many BCN readers will be able to guess and often empathise with the reasons they gave for not being out to all the people in their lives.
Previous negative reactions to coming out
Negative attitudes to homosexuality / bisexuality expressed by family, friends and partners
(Similarly) negative attitudes in the cultural or religious backgrounds of those people
Expected negative responses: coming out will only cause trouble
Anticipated impact on relationships
This last reason was found to be mainly relationships with female partners, however since bi people are statistically likely to be in mixed-gender relationships, it’s not clear if that is simply due to the pattern of relationships among people being interviewed.
Interestingly among respondents – and against the “confused bisexual” stereotype – it wasn’t about being uncertain of their real attractions or having a strong belief in being ‘heterosexual really’.
Researcher Eric W Schrimshaw commented that “Our results clearly identify the need for public education campaigns to dispel myths about bisexual men—that bisexual men are not gay, do not have HIV, and are not necessarily non-monogamous.”
Schrimshaw’s previous research has suggested that bi men’s higher levels of poor mental health may be a result of keeping their sexual orientation private and the emotional energy spent doing that. He observes, “the current findings provide new insights into why non-disclosure could result in greater emotional distress.”
Full research paper: psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/2012-34986-001/
Meanwhile the dating app Her polled 3,000 users about Pride festivals. With three quarters saying there was a local Pride in their area and nine out of ten thinking the events are important, more than half had no intention of attending.
While a little over a third of the sample said they didn’t feel like they were welcome at Pride, or that they didn’t feel they were represented at Pride, that rose to 47% of queer-identifying and 57% of bi-identifying women.
This is US research again. Lots of bi groups run stalls or wave banners at pride events around the UK. Does that mean we’re foolish to take bi presences into prides, or that doing so helps change them for people who have not yet been put off?
And analysis of the US’s National Health Interview Survey showed bi people have worse health than gay or straight people. The JAMA Internal Medicine journal looked at 67,150 respondents comments – with a little over 500 apiece of those identifying as gay, straight and bi.
17% of the heterosexual men had at least moderate psychological distress, which rose to 26% of gay men and 40% of bisexual men. For female respondents that went from 22% straight to 28% of lesbians, but 46% of bi women.
Nashville-based researcher Gilbert Gonzales told Reuters Health that the health disparities were most likely due to the stress of being a minority, in turn among bisexual people, who may not be accepted by gay or ‘LGBT’ communities and spaces.
With the growth in bi visibility and reduction in legal discrimination through things like same-sex marriage we can hope for the gap to slowly reduce.