Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Rachel Kramer Bussel - How Male Bisexuality Got Cool

OK, seriously, I didn't know male bisexuality was cool. Most guys are down with woman on woman action, but how many men are comfortable with men loving men?

Maybe it's because I live in a very conservative part of the world, despite a pretty large gay and lesbian community here, but from what I see male bisexuality is far from accepted, let alone cool. Too bad, too, since most men fall somewhere along a spectrum in between gay and straight. Even a little more acceptance of this fact might free some men from the closets they live within.

How Male Bisexuality Got Cool

by Rachel Kramer Bussel


In addition to these tongue-in-cheek, sometimes tortured expressions of straightish-male love are indications that some men—non-celebrity civilians—are embracing a nuanced version of bisexuality as well. Benoit Denizet-Lewis profiled a bisexual bodybuilder named Todd in his book America Anonymous, which was released in January. Todd’s clients are mostly gay men, but some just like watching him “flex and show off.” These are men who say they’re bi or straight—and Todd believes them. “It’s just a fetish for them,” he says. “Over time, I’ve seen them have successful marriages with their wives. They seem to be very happy, from what I can tell.”

Gay men have long fetishized straight guys, but what’s happening now goes beyond that. It’s not just about being seduced into a same-sex encounter, but about men claiming bisexuality or bicuriosity on their own terms. Hence, it makes sense that, according to Humpday director Shelton, her film, even with the gay sex, is “about being straight. But specifically, it’s about the limitations of straightness and it’s about how absurd the extremities of straightness can be, basically.”

Somewhat surprisingly, women, too, are increasingly open to dating—and are sometimes specifically attracted to—bisexual guys. In December, blogger Jocelyn Nubel wrote about dating a bi guy: “To be honest, I’d never before considered it a turn-on to picture a guy I’m into making out with another guy, but there’s just something about this one. He gets me so worked up, so sexually excited, and I guarantee if I saw that in action, it’d get me all hot and bothered.” That’s a far cry from Carrie Bradshaw’s reaction to the bisexual man she dated in an episode of Sex and the City nine years ago. In that episode, she goes to a spin-the-bottle party with him as the token straight girl, and even makes out with Alanis Morissette, but only so as not to seem like an “old fart.” Throughout the episode, Carrie and her friends make it clear that she finds the world of bisexual men to be disorienting and unreal. “I was Alice in Confused Sexual Orientation Land,” she muses, ultimately deciding she just can’t date someone who can’t pick a side.

A friend of mine dated a guy who called himself straight, but often wound up doing things that belied his bisexuality (like drunkenly making out with men in bars). While he never owned up to it, she found this side of him sexy. “He wasn’t the typical macho straight guy. Even though he wasn’t totally truthful with me, I got off on it.” Alexis Tirado, a Web editor at Martha Stewart Living Radio, is quoted in Guy Garcia’s book The Decline of Men as saying, “It almost seems like the more feminine a guy is, the cooler he is in terms of what’s cool now.” She goes on to praise guys like Justin Timberlake, who she says is “in touch with his feminine side” (perhaps evidenced by his leotard-clad stint on SNL).

Designer Tom Ford has suggested that everyone try bisexuality, just to see what it’s like. “There’s one indulgence every man should try in his lifetime,” Ford suggested to Details a few months ago. “If you’re straight, sleep with a man at least once, and if you’re gay, don’t go through life without sleeping with a woman.” Most men will never take it this far, and there’s still immense pressure to pick a side—witness last year’s frantic is-she-or-isn’t-she tabloid headlines about Lindsay Lohan—but at least now men can hold hands without making each other’s palms sweat.

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