Bisexuality and Transformation

SHIRT & TIE [small] (final)As bisexuals, we are often robbed of our ability to enjoy our sexual experiences by the feelings of worthlessness, shame, or guilt that follow. These feelings seem to come from an empty space within our mind and soul.  We need to fill this empty space before we can live wholesome lives. This may require a transformation.

At the root of most of our sorrows is usually the lack of attunement, which is the transfer of a positive life force from the mother to the child. The mother figure may love the child but does not demonstrate it through physical contact, focused attention, and especially eye to eye contact. It  is necessary for the child to “feel” loved in the womb and during the first year of life.  It is through this love connection that the child becomes empowered to go out and conquer her world.

Lack of attunement sets the stage for most of the lingering difficulties experienced in life. When this empty space is not filled, there is a constant underlying sense of anxiety. Lack of attunement and the resulting anxiety is  the root of most personality disorders, and it is the personality disorder that is often the cause of a person not being able to form and keep wholesome and lasting relationships. These broken relationships then add fuel to the fire of  worthlessness and expand that empty space in the heart. But it is not a life-time sentence. Even personality disorders and painful experiences can be overcome by the power of the human spirit.

The key is to change the beliefs of the mind and the ego, which means changing the neural pathways in the brain that were formed before memory, concept development, and the ability to reason. That means we have to rewire the old brain, not by changing thought and behavior patterns, but by changing our feelings..

The process of transformation has to be carried out with the combined participation of body, ego, heart, and spirit. One must make sure the body is rested and has proper nutrition and exercise, thereby restoring the immune system and keeping the brain chemically balanced. Next, one must make a conscious ego-commitment to becoming a more complete, more powerful person. One must also keep the energy levels of the spirit up by taking time during meditation for awareness, experiencing, and responding. With the will power of the ego, the energy of the body, and the power of the spirit one is ready to heal the heart.

To do this we have to bypass the thought processing part of our brain and get into the feelings.  The best way to do this is through visualization. During meditation, we create a visual image of the feeling attached to the emptiness or the pain. We then ask the body to reveal the experience behind the feeling.  We then simply acknowledge the people involved in the image and thank them for the good gifts they have brought into our lives, even if it is just that their actions have given us an opportunity for spiritual growth. In some way, we have to be able to see a positive side of the negative, the yin that exists with the yang. Then we take the negative influences they still have on us and call on the fire of passion from the spirit to burn them up and blow them away. We can visualize the negative vapours dispersing into the gentle summer winds that blows continuously in a  spiritual garden that we can create outside our bodies.

In my opinion, there seems to be two sides to each relationship, the negative and the positive. I feel we have to recognize that both are gifts, even the negative. When we allow our emotions of love to mingle with the emotions of rejection and abandonment, we can reroute the fears of the ego into the positive feelings of acceptance and gratitude from the heart. We need to visualize the burning of negative constructs as an act of kindness, a gift to ourselves and to the people involved, because it frees our souls from the negative energies we have created.

 

Bisexuality, the Heart, and Gift Giving

2016-03-26_0931It is very difficult to live a thriving spiritual and emotional bisexual life with a wounded soul.  Yes, we can try to stay in the moment, but our ego-minds keep dragging us back to past wounds and fears. To live a victorious life we have to come to terms with the ego part of our soul. This means trusting the heart and using its love power to heal the bisexual mind.

I searched my soul and began to trust the feelings from my heart. I knew these feeling would lead me to the true path where I could find peace and understanding. But to get to that place, I would have to retrace my steps one more time, but this time with the creative powers of self-love in stead of the destructive powers of self-hate. This meant going back into my core relationships and into the heart of my wounded inner child. It also meant going right back to my biological make-up, my sense of identity, and my bisexual orientation, and reconnecting these thoughts and feelings through unconditional positive regard for my Self..

 

During my two years in Costa Rica, surrounded by peace and beauty, I stopped hating myself and began the healing process which immediately focused on my past relationships. I came across this image of gift giving. I did not want to destroy the thoughts, images, and feelings connected to the people I had loved; I just wanted the pain part to go away. I still wanted to give them the gift of my love and receive the gift of their love. I needed to separate the good parts from the bad; I had to destroy the connections to pain.

 

One of the most powerful tools of healing is imagery. Imagery bypasses the thought processing part of the brain and gets us directly in touch with our feelings. One of the best strategies of imagery that I have found is gift giving. Most of our struggles are related to past and present relationships.  I believe we can best rewire negative social patterns to positive ones by accepting the contributions people have made to life as it is and by thanking them for their gifts and by giving them gifts in return.

In my opinion, there seems to be two sides to each relationship, the negative and the positive. I feel we have to recognize that both are gifts, even the negative. When we allow our feelings of love to mingle with the emotions of rejection and abandonment, we can reroute the fears and hurts of the ego into the positive feelings of acceptance and gratitude from the heart. We simply acknowledge the people involved and thank them for the good gifts they have brought into our lives. Then we examine the negative influences they still have on us, wrap them up into a second gift, and place it on an altar we have prepared just outside the spiritual room we can visualize and create in our soul. We then call on the fire of passion from the heart to burn it up and blow it away. We can visualize the negative vapors dispersing into the gentle summer wind that blows continuously in the spiritual garden just outside the inner room. We need to visualize the burning of negative constructs as an act of kindness, a gift to the people involved, because it frees their souls from the negative bonds we have created.

As we do this a miracle takes place. We begin to become conscious of the fact that we had done our best under the circumstances.  We begin to see patterns of behavior that we had established to survive.  Then we begin to understand that these patterns involved others who may have unintentionally wounded us, especially during the early childhood developmental years when we were innocent and vulnerable. We become more understanding, patient, and even loving with our Self.  We give ourselves credit for having done a remarkable job just to survive.

After giving gifts to some people with whom I had had more intense, intimate relationships, I could almost sense a release of their pain and confusion. I realized that I too had given them gifts, some good gifts from my heart and some bad gifts from my wounded ego. As my ex-wife said to me ten years later, the break-up and dealing with the truths of my secrecy and deception had made her a stronger person.  At that moment, I stopped feeling guilt and shame.  I realized that we were just two souls trying to thrive and grow and that for thirty-three years we had helped each other become powerful human beings. I also realized that our parting, painful as it was, was also a necessary part in that path to self-awareness and Self -actualization, which for me meant accepting and cherishing the gay part of my bisexual orientation. We are now friends once again and we have  rededicated ourselves to working together to make the lives of our adult children and our grandchildren just a little bit easier and a little bit better.

 

Bisexuality, the Heart, and Transgression

2016-03-26_0931There is a dilemma, in fact, almost a paradigm shift, in sexuality that needs to be addressed, especially in how it affects bisexual men and women. In years gone by relationship would lead to sex; in today’s generation, sex seems to lead to relationship.  In days gone by, we seem to have been guided by thoughts of transgression which prevented us from engaging in sex in a care-free manner in spite of the powerful desires of our bodies. Today, many of us engage in sexual acts without any feelings of transgression. Is this healthy?   This is a question that no one wants to ask today in fear of somehow offending the rights and freedoms of the modern generation.  Perhaps it is, but it does need to be viewed on a conscious level.  We must not throw out the baby (used to be literally) with the bath water.

Today’s women particularly seem to be exploring bisexuality as a natural flow of their sexuality.  As we have seen in a previous blog, close to 50% have experienced some form or bisexual desire and behavior.    According to the same set of studies, 95% of men tend to believe and act upon the belief that one should be either gay or heterosexual and most of them choose to be heterosexual. There is little room for accepting bisexuality. This brings us into the field of transgression.  Fifty percent of women and over ninety percent of men choose not to be involved in bisexual exploration, many of whom believe bisexuality to be a transgression which is a polite word for perversion. For us bisexuals, what others believe should not be important unless, of course, we are living a secretive life and have to deal with these people on a daily basis. The real question is what do “we” believe, and if this belief system needs to change in order for us to thrive mentally and spiritually.

Let’s look at transgression from a body, mind and soul perspective.  The body hormone system, once turned on by the brain,seeks sexual gratification and pleasure according to its sexual orientation, which for most of us bisexual men and women is same sex copulation or other sexual gratifications. There is no judgment here, therefore, no transgression. However, the mind or ego operates according to rules and regulations, and therefore is influenced by its environment and sets of moral and physical experiences. It produces thoughts which can be the source of  transgression. On the other hand the heart or soul seeks love in all its forms.  It is the heart that must choose between the desires of the body and pleasure seeking center of the brain, and the moral concerns of the ego. This is where the concept of transgression becomes just a feeling, and needs to be clarified before we can thrive as bisexual men and women.

Bisexual women tend to look for connection with other women and seek skin on skin with some degree of emotional involvement.  As long as they can detach from or train their egos to accept this behavior as  normal and satisfying, they can enjoy the eroticism on this level.  There is a danger here in that the act can become satisfying for its own sake and does not lead to the deeper emotional connection of love and compassion for their sexual partner.  They may shut down their feelings of transgression from the heart.  Over time, these feelings can become magnified and lead to disillusionment and possible dissatisfaction with life. This may be the cause of an extremely high number of suicides and suicide attempts among bisexual women.

Bisexual men on the other hand can detach the sexual act from any sense of connection, to the self or to others.  We can seek glory holes in Adult Stores (common in the USA), or bath houses, or paths in the dark in wooded parks, where we are not even aware of the person’s face.  In my opinion, this is very destructive and can lead to deep feelings of transgression even to the body and brain that seeks deeper sensations of skin on skin.  We can also seek dating services where we can find skin on skin with no strings attached.  This allows for deeper physical connection but totally shuts down the heart.  Again, as with women, we can enjoy the pleasure of these experiences if we can convince  the mind that wants some system of understanding, and, of course, the heart that seeks deeper emotional connection.  Over time, we may experience deep feelings of discontentment and emptiness which may lead to depression, drug and alcohol abuse, and possible suicide.

The question on transgression then becomes whether or not we are being true, not to the voices of others, not to the voice of our mind or ego, but to our own inner voice.  If we feel that our behavior is somehow a transgression of our inner values, then we must not silence that voice, because that voice is trying to lead us on to deeper truths and feelings.  These feelings can only come through deeper connections within the self and with others, and, of course, we call this feeling “love”. Love is the root of genuine positive feelings for the Self, our self-concept, and our self-esteem. It leads to a higher state of being where we thrive instead of just survive. In my opinion, the shutting down of this voice leads to meaningless sexual acts that numbs the mind and soul to sexual experiences that are meant to be full body-mind-soul experiences, and therefore, much deeper and healthier. Can we still be bisexual and experience these sensations with both men and women? Of course, but  we have to be selective in the kinds of acts in which we engage, and we have to let our heart lead us to the kind of people where we can share on a body, mind and soul level.

The key to thriving in all aspects of life is to learn to listen to the heart, to trust our inner feelings, while silencing the corrupted thoughts from our wounded egos. This includes our sexuality. This is different from the “if it feels good, do it” from the body and the pleasure center of the brain.  A better statement from the heart would be. “If it feel right, do it.”

The Bisexual Heart

2016-03-26_0931(Before we start this blog, a brief explanation: self refers to the ego self, whereas Self with a “capital S” refers to the soul Self.)

With this knowledge of the ego and the mental issues we face as bisexuals behind us, we can now look at the solutions and beyond to how we can not only survive but actually thrive as bisexuals. That means we leave the ego and all its issues behind and enter into the realm of the heart. I believe that the soul is more than just a function of the body, the brain, and the ego. The functions of the ego can be explained by brain structure and neural pathways, but our desires, feelings, and behaviors related to those feelings, seem to go beyond the basic foundations of the mind. That takes us to the heart. The heart is that part of the soul that lets us sense and create a higher view of life, reality, and truth. The heart appears to be the inner sense of being which operates by feelings rather than thoughts. Feelings are different than thoughts and emotions. Emotions arise from our thoughts, basic drives, and the anxieties of the ego, but feelings are the unspoken words of the soul.

The ego and the gut direct the self towards self-actualization with the emphasis on the self. The gut seeks pleasure, and the ego seeks harmony, peace and self-centered happiness.  Normally, these are great things and lead to purpose and contentment.  However, as bisexuals, we often live double lives that make it very difficult to find peace and harmony thereby throwing the ego into a state of anxiety. On the other hand, the heart seeks mutual unconditional joy and love with others. Through the guiding power of love, the heart creates heart-values which are the unconditional worth we place on living things, ideas, and people. The bisexual heart needs to function in connection with others and the seeking of a greater good. Guided by the heart, the bisexual soul creates dreams and goals that it hopes will lead to good feelings and the path of love.  By experiencing love from life and others, it is able to increase its love for Self, leading to ever greater levels of Self-fulfillment. It is these acts of love that are the ultimate expression of the bisexual soul which keeps us rooted as whole human beings rather than just seekers of sex from our bodies and anxieties from our ego.  As bisexuals, we must let our heart guide our thoughts, emotions, feelings, and actions, and leave behind the struggles with sexuality.  That is the only way we will and learn to accept ourselves just the way we are.

But to do that we have to first heal the heart. The mental issues we face are more than a disease of the mind; they are diseases of the heart. They are based on the failure of the heart to love itself. As the soul struggles to understand and repair itself, it does not have this resource to endure the hurts of the present because of its brokenness from the past. The healing has to occur in the heart. The heart has to learn how to love itself.

 

In the next blog we will look at the nature of the broken heart and why it is necessary to be broken before we can enter into mindfulness, consciousness and Self-love.

 

Ego Disorder

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To help you understand the role of the ego in a bisexual man with a personality disorder with confusions in gender identification, we will turn to a case study.  Me.  Most of us bisexuals have some of these issues but experience them in different degrees.

My body was working against me. It wanted to avoid the pain; it wanted to explore all the pleasures of my senses, especially gay, erotic pleasures. It was working overtime trying to prevent me from gaining access to my mind and inner soul. Because of all the abuse and pain of my religious background, it was trying to deny the existence of the soul. It was saying, ‘”Baby, this is it. That is all there is! This is all we have to work with!” It was trying to say that everything erotic was “Okay!” It was saying, “Enjoy or die!”

I tried to justify my body-driven behaviour, but another part of my soul would not let me accept that this was the best I could do. It wanted me to move on from eroticism and find love again. Unfortunately, my ego had a personality disorder; it could not feel or give real love. My fragile inner child was lost, and alone, and tortured by feelings of detachment, rejection, and abandonment. I had to somehow dismantle these constructs, but I had nothing to replace them. I had no true foundation of my own. I lacked the one component that would allow my ego to thrive: unconditional love of the self, by the self, for the self.

My faulty beliefs were the foundation of my insecure ego. I had no self-concept; I never believed in my abilities. Anything I had accomplished, short of perfection, I viewed as failure. I did not believe I had any right to respect, because I could not respect myself. I did not believe that happiness was attainable, because every moment of happiness was linked to a foundation of pain. I ignored the feelings and desperation of my soul. I allowed my ego to be the only expression of who I was and who I thought I wanted to be. I focused on other things to believe in like family, career, and church rather than on my own wants and needs. When I crashed and these crutches were taken away, I could no longer stand up and face the world.

After my crash, I could no longer hide behind the beliefs I had borrowed; I had to build my own personal, true set of beliefs. Of course, this rebuilding process was a ludicrous proposition, because all the tools I had, by their very nature, were borrowed and conditional. I had no guiding compass of my own to guide my ship of fate through the mother of all storms.

I had never had a true social picture of myself that would allow me to relate confidently with others. I was vulnerable to their words and opinions. When I crashed, I turned to my ex-wife, friends, and church members for emotional support. I found out that I was alone. In my communication with them, and in the things I heard being said about me, it seemed that some people that I had tried to love were downright mean and nasty. They felt they had to take sides and support my ex-wife by hating me. They actually seemed to be enjoying the pain I was in.  It was the turning point, isolating me from everyone else, leaving me with the most intense pain I have ever felt. I am thankful for their cruelty, because I was able to use it to turn self-hate into righteous anger. I was able to use this anger to separate myself from my relationships. It was really my first opportunity to actually get to know and be true to my inner self.

 

What I Used to Believe

 

And what do I believe,

Now that the closet door has been smashed down,

And the tiny room has been inspected and purified,

And the ghosts that used to dwell there

Have been set loose to wander the halls of time,

Alone,

Moaning and groaning,

And bearing the cold iron chains of shame.

 

Those secret confining walls are gone,

The self-dignity built brick on brick in achievement,

That never allowed itself to hear the praises of others,

The security of a religion of rules and earned mercy

Given stingily by a god I had created,

The comfort of conditional love evaporated

With the careless madness of a moment of honesty.

These walls have all crashed around me

Leaving me exposed and naked.

The secret room is gone.

There is no comfort of darkness,

No support for what was not,

Just me and my sadness,

And a terrifying endless string

Of moments,

Upon moments,

Upon moments,

Without love.

 

Bisexuality – Emotions and Mental Health

2016-03-26_0931For people with mental disorders, and for us bisexuals who struggle with our bisexuality, most problems can be traced back to the emotions. Emotions are good things.  They protect us and urge us on to seek satisfaction and pleasure. However, the ego tags emotions to memories involving unresolved issues.  We need to take back our emotions and use them to protect and enhance the inner Self.

Emotions involve powerful, neural pathways including sensations, feelings, memories, and body hormones.  They are also associated with the broader concept of sexual attraction or arousal.  If it involves memories, arousal then becomes infatuation or perhaps love. Sexual attraction creates a dopamine drive system activating the pleasure center of the brain.  If these perceptions and memories appear to be harmful, the control center (ego) of the frontal cortex goes to work to resolve the problem. When the problems cannot be resolved, they are often repressed but the sympathetic system remains active. The key in controlling these responses is to bring our emotions to the conscious level.

To do that, we can once again use the power of visualization which allows us to dig deeply into matters of the body and soul connection, and the emotional factors that guide and govern our individuality, our belief systems, our spiritual sense of who we are, and our ability to connect to ourselves and others. We need to activate the passion center of our physical/mental being, the center of all those emotions, and use them to experience contentment and love, first for ourselves, and then in our connection to others.

Again, to maintain a healthy emotional center, we can use visualization to restore our drive and pleasure centers to health and wellness.  If there is a struggle to restore we call upon the emotions to lead us to the source of pain. We can again employ visualization to trace the neural pathway until we sense body tension and anxiety.  We then ask the body to reveal the events causing the tension.  Then we allow the emotion to burst out and do the work it is intended to do.  If it is anger, we direct the anger away from the self and towards the person or cause of the pain while giving our self permission to defend itself.  If it is fear, we face it and walk through it to the other side, dealing with it within the safety of the wisdom and power of the conscious Self. If it is sadness, we allow the tears to flow until there are no more tears.   The final step is to touch the emotions, gently, thanking them for their diligence in protecting the Self.  By doing this we connect these emotions to the positive vibrations of Self-acceptance and thankfulness. Once in a conscious state we can decide whether or not we need to take steps to address the issues behind the emotions, or to simply thank the universe for allowing us to grow as spiritual beings by the influence of these people and events.

Another visualization practice is to view the body/soul as the aura.  By being aware of aura colors we become aware of the mood or emotions we are experiencing at that time, and their positive or negative influence on our well being. We can change the dull, or over-expanded aura to a healthy, clear, brilliant, and compact shape and color. By doing this we take negative emotions and transform them to positive ones. The key is to recognize the color, look for negative signs like over expansion and dullness and then restore it to power and clarity.  If there is difficulty restoring the aura, one can again ask the body to reveal the cause of the problem and then follow the same procedure of using the emotion signified by the color to restore the neural pathways. Is this real? Perhaps.  Many wonderful people, including my wife, claim to be able to see and read auras. Even if you do not believe in them, they can still be used as a visualization strategy where you recreate your own emotional reality. Again, it gives your body and soul a chance to talk to you and let you know what needs have to be addressed.

The key in these visual strategies is to not get caught up with words, excuses and lies, but to allow the body to speak its truth through images and feelings.  You will know when you have put these emotions and events to rest because you will see a healthy image in your mind’s eye or feel a sense of peace or power whenever these memories are reactivated in your mind.

 

 

Bisexuality – Finding Mental Health

Two weeks ago we looked at mental health for bisexuals through statistics, and of course, it was a downer. The statistics for depression and suicide and attempted suicide are staggering. As much as we put on the brave face, and tell the world the glories of bisexuality, there is another part of our community (and truthfully, a part of ourselves) that remains confused and ready to wallow in the old pain body at the next trigger. So what can we do about it? Lots. In the next series of blogs I am going to deal with Real Mental Health, the keys to maintaining and even thriving in spite of life’s ups and downs. Today we will start with my story.

After coming out to my wife and my subsequent divorce in a marriage that had held me together for thirty-three years, I was suicidal. I admitted myself to an eighteen week, five days a week, five hours a day program at the Mental Health Ward at the University of Alberta, Edmonton. I was diagnosed with Acute Generalized Anxiety, Clinical Depression, Avoidance Personality Disorder, and Borderline Personality Disorder with Sexual Identity Disorder. With therapy and heavy medication, I was able I get my “act” together and return to work as a psychologist for the next two years. I had new mental strategies and a functioning chemically-balanced brain, but nothing inside my mind or my soul had been healed.

I collapsed into a second bout of generalized anxiety and clinical depression, I was suicidal again. During my darkest days, that voice inside me urged me to remember the miracles of the past and believe that I was worthy of one more. I had witnessed and experienced happenings in my life which had no physical or human-brain-power explanations. When my dear French Canadian grandmother was on her death bed dying of cancer, the family gathered together for her last Christmas. She asked to be propped up on pillows in the living room so she could be a part of the gathering. When she heard the fiddle music of her French soul, she got up, and with one hand on the table, she danced the jig. When the song ended, she collapsed on the floor. They put her back in her bed and she never got up again. Like my grandmother, I decided to dance just one more time.

I gave up looking for answers through my mind and just tried to survive the best I could. In the process of avoiding the pain of my mind and soul, I created a time and space vacuum that needed to be filled. I sold or gave away everything I had except what would fit into two suitcases, took an early retirement, and headed for a mountain village in Costa Rica. For the next two years, I searched for moments where I could shut down my mind and just experience peace and contentment. These moments led to a sense of awareness of the beauty surrounding me that was available through my senses. I was able to find inner peace and gradually took myself off all medications. And then, the greatest miracle of all happened; I was able to get in touch with my inner spirit, the “I”, that part of “me” that is aware, conscious and eternal. With the help of a rejuvenated spirit, I was ready to start the healing process of my soul which has stretched on over the past twelve years.

I believe the natural state of man is the Self (or the soul), whole and complete. In my view, the trial of living, especially in our western world, and especially if we are bisexual, fragments us and destroys the harmony of the Self. I believe that living in the spirit is the key to restoring this harmony which can in turn lead to true mental health. I have come to the conclusion that there is a definite, powerful, spiritual energy which is available to all of us, that comes through the heart in the form of feelings. These feelings can guide and empower our thoughts and our actions. Therefore, the focus for healing and maintaining mental health, must be is on these feelings, not the twisted neural pathways of the mind.

In my bisexual journey, I have explored and tried various spiritual practices. For the most part, I have found them to be useful sources of imagery to assist my soul in visualizing the amazing spiritual world in which I live. I have attempted to narrow down my spiritual beliefs and visualization practices to those that have been tested and found true consistently throughout the trials of my life. Next week we will roll up our sleeves and get down to business.

Dance with Death

And having given all, having left nothing in the arena,
I stand exhausted, panting for breath,
Waiting for my heart to stop,
Letting my struggling mind slip into unconsciousness,
Releasing my tortured soul to give up its will to survive.

Having only the desire to raise the sword one last time,
I reject the rhythm of the unknown drummer;
I reject the solitude and the silence of the dark;
I refuse to close my mind to its fear and striving;
I refuse to seal up my soul and run away and hide.
I choose to dance the dance of my own soul;
I choose to let my feet flow
With the rhythm of my own music.

The dance comes on the wings of violence.
It begins with the girding up of loins,
By taking up the sword of truth,
By facing the monsters of the mind,
Matching blow for blow, breath for breath,
Smashing disillusionment, laughing at Fear,
Meeting Self-Hatred with righteous anger,
Disarming the Black Knight of Nothingness.

Then the dance seeks its own rhythm.
There, in the moment of defeat and surrender,
I dance, and I dance, and I dance
To the rhythm of the beating of my heart.
There, in the moment of defeat and surrender,
I dance, and I dance, and I dance,
Moving my feet to the eternal beat,
That guides my soul along the golden path of life.

The whole story can be purchased at: http://www.friesenpress.com/bookstore/title/119734000021128517/Lawrence-J.W.-Cooper-Bi

Bisexuality and Health and Wellness

I have recently been appointed to the LGBTQ sub-committee of the Saanich Health and Wellness Committee in Greater Victoria, British Columbia. I am attempting to assist bisexual men and women in fitting in with our community. One of the things I have discovered is that we are not very vocal and not as well organized as the gay, lesbian, and transgender groups. There are a few scattered bisexual groups in the Greater Victoria area but there does not appear to be any concerted effort to identify problems and support one another with solutions (by my brief survey of other communities this appears to hold true around the world). What representation there is comes mostly from bisexual women. Men are clearly not visible, but then again that should come as no surprise. Yet, we do have major problems that should be addressed by the community.

Tari Hanneman, Deputy Director of the Health and Aging Program at the HRC Foundation, has stated, “Bisexual people are the largest single group within the LGBT community, but we’re not addressing their specific healthcare needs,”1 Hanneman’s study shows that bisexuals face elevated rates of poor health outcomes ranging from cancer and heart disease, to obesity, (all stress related) sexually-transmitted infections, and mental health issues. In addition:

 Bisexual adults have double the rate of depression than heterosexual adults, higher rates of binge drinking, and are more likely to engage in self-harming behavior, including attempting suicide;

 Bisexual women have higher rates of cancer than the general population of women, higher rates of heart disease and obesity than heterosexual women, and are more likely than all other women to suffer from mental and emotional stress;

 Bisexual men are less likely than gay or heterosexual men to get tested for HIV, leading them to be disproportionately affected by the infection; and bisexual people are less likely to be screened for the human papilloma virus (HPV), which can increase the risk of cancer in both men and women.

In her conclusion, she stated that the reality is that bisexual people face discrimination not only outside of the community, but also from within, and that the community often discourages bisexuals from engaging in and benefiting from the work that LGBT advocates are doing to address mental, physical, and sexual health. “Bisexual people often face outright discrimination when they come out in healthcare settings,” Hanneman said; “That can lead bisexual people to delay or avoid seeking care, or not disclose their identities to their providers. This can mean that medical professionals are not getting an accurate picture of what that patient’s sexual health needs are, or the mental or physical health concerns for which they may face heightened risk.”

The greatest risk to bisexual men, I believe, is in the area of mental health and suicide. It is very difficult to find information on bisexual men alone for obvious reasons; they do not like to disclose or take part in any scientific surveys; moreover, any attempts at suicide will not be attributed to their orientation. In a study by Paul et al, 2002, involving approximately three thousand gay and bisexual men, they discovered that twenty-one percent had made a suicide plan; 12% had attempted suicide (almost half of those 12% were multiple attempters). Most who attempted suicide made their first attempt before age 25. They concluded, “Gay and bisexual men are at elevated risk for suicide attempts, with such risk clustered earlier in life. Some risk factors were specific to being gay or bisexual in a hostile environment.”2 My personal belief is that bisexual men probably exceed these statistics by an additional two to five percent due to nondisclosure.

The saddest statistics are the ones that do not exist. We seldom talk about our problems and usually do not seek counselling from our friends and families, religious institutions, or community mental health institutions. The stresses build and build until we seek the final solution. Bisexual men are withdrawing into the shadows exposing their bodies to disease and their minds to stress and breakdown, and their lives to the hands of the dark executioner – their own tortured self. Time to stand up, I think, and be counted.

1. Lifter from http://www.bi-alliance.org Read More: http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.92.8.1338

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2. Jay P. Paul, Joseph Catania, Lance Pollack, Judith Moskowitz, Jesse Canchola, Thomas Mills, Diane Binson, and Ron Stall. Suicide Attempts Among Gay and Bisexual Men: Lifetime Prevalence and Antecedents. American Journal of Public Health: August 2002, Vol. 92, No. 8, pp. 1338-1345.
doi: 10.2105/AJPH.92.8.1338