Once Ridiculed, Male Bisexuals Are for Real
By Susan Donaldson James
Aug. 25, 2011, ABC News
First, there was the time that Kenneth Minick was turned away from a nightclub when word got out that he was bisexual. Then, a co-worker, assuming he was gay, jeered, “I hear you’re coming out of the closet.”
His gay friends were just as bad. They, too, were baffled, making him feel as if something was wrong with him because he couldn’t “pick a team” — Minick was attracted to both men and women.
Now, Minick, a 36-year-old heating and air conditioning specialist from Laguna Niguel, Calif., is an advocate as part of the It Gets Better Campaign, and said he feels vindicated.
Just this week, the journal of Biological Psychology published a Northwestern University study that contradicted 2005 research questioning whether male bisexuality even existed. It was the second of two such papers that finds that it does.
“Bisexuality is an orientation among men, just like heterosexuality and homosexuality,” said Allen Rosenthal, a doctoral student in the university’s psychology department and lead author of the study.
The study included 100 men who were bisexuals, heterosexuals and homosexuals.
An estimated 1.8 percent of all Americans are bisexual, according to the Williams Institute of the University of California Los Angeles Law School, which focuses on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.
An estimated 8.2 percent of Americans report that they have engaged in same-sex sexual behavior, and nearly 11 percent acknowledge at least some same-sex sexual attraction, according to its 2011 report.
Ron J. Suresha, a bisexual and senior editor of the 2006 anthology Bi Men Coming Out, said there is much variation in the bisexual community.
“People come to bisexuality from both the homosexual and heterosexual perspective,” said Suresha, 52, of New Milford, Conn. “I am married to a man and primarily gay in terms of my sexual orientation, but I identify as bisexual.”
Suresha said he had made out with girls in high school and still has fantasies about women, though he does not act on them. Like Minick, he believes he’s been misunderstood by the gay community.
“So many gay men I knew were misogynistic and never understood this,” he said.
“I had always felt attraction to both sexes, but primarily to other men,” he said. “I was involved in gay life from a fairly early age, basically from puberty on. I was always had a very strong, not just sexual urge, but curiosity.”
“But I heard from everybody as I grew up that you really can only be gay or straight — you can’t be both things.”
Many like Suresha, who is a former board member of the Bisexual Resource Center of Boston, worried that there are few resources and support for bisexuals.
This new study is a step forward, he said.
In the 2005 study, participants were recruited through ads in gay and lesbian publications. But the new study relied on Craig’s List ads for men who sought a “threesome” with another couple, the assumption being that they were bisexuals.
The study also required that participants had sexual experiences with at least two people of each sex and a romantic relationship that lasted at least three months with at least one of each sex.
But not all advocacy groups were happy about the study. “This unfortunately reduces sexuality and relationships to just sexual stimulation,” Ellyn Ruthstrom, president of the Bisexual Resource Center in Boston, told the New York Times.
“Researchers want to fit bi attraction into a little box — you have to be exactly the same, attracted to men and women, and you’re bisexual. That’s nonsense. What I love is that people express their bisexuality in so many different ways.”
But Minick, who is writing a book on the topic, titled “I Am the Fence,” believes the research validates his own experience.
“From the beginning, we understood that we are not to ignore our sexuality,” said Minick. “We are in a polyamorous relationship, but we are not swingers. … It’s hard to find other bisexual people that are open and out and we can get along with.”
Still, Minick said he cannot speak for other bisexuals, and believes many can be monogamous. As for having a preference for male or female, he said, “I prefer both — the beauty of being bisexual is I don’t have to choose.”