What is it like to be a bisexual man and what is the relationship, if any, between bisexual orientation, social trauma and mental illness? It is not easy for bisexuals to deal with their gay side. A study by Susan Cochran, (November 2002 issue of The American Psychologist), indicated that gay men have significantly higher rates of major and recurrent depression, generalized anxiety, mood disorders and higher rates of suicidal thoughts. The occurrence of mental issues is even higher for bisexual men. In my experience, gay men, particularly feminine gay men, seem to experience greater levels of social anxiety, which coupled with their feminine enhanced psychological makeup, makes them particularly vulnerable to rejection during childhood, particularly by fathers and older brothers and by potential male friends at school and in the community. How does a five year old child deal with the rejection from a father or older brothers, or the children in his kindergarten class? How does a young man, struggling to arrive at a sense of self-identity, deal with rejection from women and peers? Most gay men that I have known come to terms with their sexuality sometime during their adult life but others, particularly bisexual gay men, continue to have anxieties that may last a lifetime.
How does a married man with children deal with compulsive drives that compel him to engage in behaviours that he knows will destroy his marriage? Bisexual men have to deal with the issues of their gay sexuality. Most bisexuals that I have interviewed do not allow themselves the privilege of open and carefree gay sex. They avoid gay relationships because intimate friendships may interfere with their heterosexual lives. They seek out places for anonymous encounters, such as parks and bathhouses, where they may engage in multiple sexual acts on any given night. They make anonymous contacts through gay dating services and pick-up gay bars. They do not care if these encounters result in intimacy or relationship. They just need gay sex as a release valve for their suppressed gay desires. Based on my observations, many bisexual men continue to lead this life until they reach a crisis point brought on by discovery of their lifestyle by their spouse, or by reaching a point where they crash and have to make the decision to accept their gay orientation and seek a relationship with another man.
In my experience, the bisexual person not only has to deal with typical gay issues, but he also has to face the mental issues brought on by repression and denial. In extreme cases, this repression can lead to a gender identity disorder which involves only a specific segment of the bisexual population. I believe the term ‘sexual identity disorder’ does not exist in isolation; it has to be included as part of a personality disorder where a person denies their own identity with their own wants and needs. The sexual orientation then becomes an impossible complication to their already fragile identity. My observations suggest that this person frequently has no self-identity or has two conflicting identities. He tends to use his gay orientation as a means of self-abuse, self-punishment and self-destruction. Because he cannot face his true sexual identity, his sexual drive may become a compulsion which is based on fear and the subconscious emotional pain from denial and repression. This may lead to an addiction where there is only one stimulus available that can break through the hopeless feelings of self-imposed withdrawal, and that is to seek out another gay sexual rush. This compulsion, if unchecked, will eventually lead to sexual addiction, with a cycle of stimulation, action and then withdrawal, which can eventually lead to a mental collapse and suicidal.
So how do bisexual men come to terms with this sexual and mental dilemma. Stay tuned. We will begin this discussion on the next blog.