Bisexual: discrimination both ways
Bisexual men and women have to deal with discrimination from both homosexual and heterosexual people, a large US study found.
‘He’s gay, but still in denial – he’ll stop dating women when he comes out of the closet.’ ‘She’s just promiscuous and will have sex with anyone, man or woman.’ Unfortunately, when it comes to people’s views on bisexuality, opinions like these are not uncommon.
What are your thoughts on sexual orientation? Maybe you see bisexuality as falling somewhere in the middle of a continuum with heterosexuality on one end and homosexuality on the other. On the other hand, you could be more inclined to think of sexual attraction are being clear cut, one thing or the other, gay or straight.
People’s opinions on bisexuality were exactly what the survey of 1500 adults wanted to find out. Based on earlier research that asked university students to think up words they associated with being bisexual, like ‘different’ or ‘experimental’, researchers then created an online survey to see just how open adults were when it came to bisexuality.
Fifteen percent of the people in the survey said they thought bisexuality wasn’t legit as a sexual orientation. Many were negative about people who are sexually attracted to both men and women, the study found.
There were major differences when it came to who was stigmatizing bisexual people. Heterosexual men were three times more likely to think that bisexuality wasn’t a real sexual orientation, something which could be related to the fact that bisexual men may face more stigma than bisexual women.
And even though gay and lesbian participants were generally more open-minded than heterosexual ones, within the LGBT group, they were less positive than bisexual men and women, the results showed.
Isolated and depressed
Being on the receiving end of prejudice and discrimination from both ends of the sexual orientation spectrum can be tough for someone who sees themselves as bisexual. Feeling that the people in their life – their classmates, friends, and family – don’t think their sexual orientation is legit, can understandably cause someone to want to keep it a secret.
What’s more, not being able to share that side of your life can actually be bad for your health. When people feel they need to hide their sexual orientation, they can become socially isolated and depressed. It can also lead someone down the path of risky sexual behaviour, substance abuse, and not getting tested for HIV, research has shown.