Written by Sean P. Smith
Many bisexuals don’t come out to themselves until much later—meaning, later than many other people in the LG-TQI community. See, when you’re attracted to the opposite gender as well, and society shoehorns you into heteronormativity, the easiest thing is to disregard any wayward feelings. It’s a privilege, in a way, because you don’t always have to fight for your sexual identity. You just respond to the half of it that doesn’t draw out the bigots.
One of those bigots, of course, being yourself. And I do wonder about the male experience in particular here. No matter who you’re surrounded by, your politics or religious beliefs, there is something about even the most broad-minded masculinity that announces very definite boundaries: Be gay or be straight, either is fine, but goddammit be a man and choose!
These things (we all know) are anything but a choice. But it’s notable that, even amongst my many queer friends in Hong Kong and around the world, I have not met a single avowedly bisexual man. I’ve met quite a few women, however, who either identify as bisexual or are open about having been with other women. By some further contingency of the male gaze, female same-sex relations can be eroticized into a kind of social permissibility—or dismissed under the banner of ‘experimentation’—while same-sex relations among men who don’t identify outright as gay threaten to upend the whole system. Fragile masculinities indeed.
Maybe the men just aren’t talking about it. And I get that: I’m uncertain about embracing the ‘bi’ label publicly. For one, it does not seem necessary. I appear in society as a heteronormative man married to a woman; projecting queerness from my relative safety might steal the wind out of another person’s sails, someone who has endured far more struggle to unfurl them. As one gay man told me recently, ‘you can’t have your cake and fuck it too’. Maybe. But it may also be important to show that masculinity isn’t singularly defined—that some of us can proudly be attracted to both women and men, and act upon those attractions.
Research shows that most people are somewhere on a sexual spectrum, that there aren’t so many all-gay or all-straight individuals. So what’s holding us back? It may be that, in decades or centuries to come, we won’t have to fool around with labels; there are happy indications that the generation coming of age now has much less baggage than, well, mine does. But right now we need bisexual visibility, if for no other reason than to trouble this most noxious of social constructs, masculinity. Boys, kiss the boys. It’s just fine, and feels great.