I never went out specifically looking for bisexual boyfriends. But most of the guys I ended up dating just happened to be bisexual. Almost everyone has a type—the bad boy, the lumberjack, the math nerd. For me, I have always liked bi guys.
Maybe it’s because I grew up in the ‘90s, a strange time when gender variance suddenly became cool. Kurt Cobain was bi, Billy Joe Armstrong was too—there was a certain punk rock chic to it. And as if magically timed to correspond with a ‘90s nostalgia trip, bisexual men have been in the news a lot lately, thanks to a recent study from Northwestern University proving that bi men do exist, after all. Also I’ve recently been spending way too much time watching “gay chicken” videos on YouTube — a game in which two straight guys make out and whoever pulls away first is the chicken. Mmmm.
Growing up, I was intrigued by the relationships my boyfriends had with their guy friends. I was crazy about my own female best friends, sleeping in their beds, writing strangely poetic letters to them. And I noted there was a similar passion among dude friends, just expressed in totally different ways.
My boyfriends would run up and bro-hug their friends, or they’d hump them from behind — as though it was the wittiest thing anyone had ever thought of, even though they all had stumbled upon this “joke.” Two guys I knew in high school even watched porn together! I watched these guys interact carefully, aware that I felt a little tingly about my girl friends. I was curious watching the same dynamics play out between male friends. That, and I just wanted to push them together like a couple of Ken dolls—encouraging them to go further. Still, they were all quick to shout, “no homo.” Until Simon.
Simon was my first boyfriend to use the word ‘bisexual.’ Simon waffled on his sexual identity, usually saying he was straight—but every time he came back from an AFI concert or Vans tour, he would totally be bi. For weeks after, he’d wear eyeliner and fishnet tops (our unfortunate idea of being edgy.) And I’d also begin to flirt with the bisexual label, fantasizing about lady musician lovers–Brody Dalle of the Distillers, Tobi Vail of Bikini Kill, Theo of the Lunachicks.
But then Simon would remember, being bi in a small town wasn’t allowed. He would revert back to just being a boy from Gallup County, Illinois, who hung out with guy friends on four-wheelers and oxycontin. And I’d feel confused again.
By the time I’d moved away to college, I had cornered out a space for myself in the closet—I was straight, I told myself. But my first boyfriend at college, Dave, was completely open about being bi. He told stories about making out with his bandmates only wearing jeans in a hot tub. (I still don’t really understand the logistics of that one.) At the time, I felt a little jealous, and interjected to talk about my own straightness. There’s nothing like hearing about someone else’s sexuality that puts the spotlight on your own. Now, I understand that jealousy was me dealing with my own burgeoning bisexuality.
Levi was my first f**k buddy. He was a “male slut”—as we said in college. He slept with dozens of girls and I would learn, some of the guys too. “So what happened? What would you do with them?” I’d ask. Levi’s manner was always banal, so bored with life. He’d sigh at me. “He came over and we watched a movie, and he went down on me, then I went down on him.” Wait, wait, slower! I’d think. I had so many questions. Soon the initial jealousy I had felt with Dave started to lift. Now I was realizing, I wanted to experiment with bisexuality too.
Later, when I owned the ‘bisexual’ label, I checked in with Dave about it. I was surprised to learn he no longer identified as bi. I was saddened, when he explained why. He felt like that was a time when he could do whatever he wanted, but now being bisexual seemed like something one didn’t do as an adult. Yet here I was, an adult, finally and fully out. I felt the stab of the double standard plunge sharply into me—that bisexual women can be hot, but bisexual men, forget it.
By the time I met my husband, I thought “of course you are bi” when he disclosed this information to me. He, of course, had the same hunch about me. I’d watch him at parties, casually explaining his sexuality to other guys when it came up. (Strangely, around drunk guys, it often does—all it takes it one ‘you faggot’ or political stoner talking about gay rights.) I’d feel proud of how comfortable he was in bisexuality, and a little tingly at the idea of him flirting with boys.
And yet bisexual men are too often seen as creepy in our culture—why? Maybe most women don’t know that bi guys are great—that they’ve gotta be pretty darn self aware to embrace the label. Bisexual guys know who they are sexually and what they like, which I find goes hand in hand with being “good in bed.” Perhaps if more women celebrated bi men, more of them would come out. And come on, who is going to argue that there shouldn’t be more videos of gay chicken?