Bisexual men exist according to study by researcher who once said they don’t exist

A man holding a pin with the bisexual pride flag on it
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A new meta-analysis of studies shows that “there is no longer reasonable doubt” that some men experience “bisexual arousal patterns,” according to the study’s author. The researcher had previously denied that bisexual men actually existed.

Psychologist J. Michael Bailey and other researchers at Northwestern University published an analysis of eight studies conducted over the last two decades that, they said, shows that bisexual men exist.

Related: Bisexual and rural LGBTQ people face highest rates of depression

Over 600 men participated in the studies in total, and they described themselves as gay, bi, straight, and “mostly straight” and “mostly gay,” the researchers described in the paper that was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this month

They were then given a test that measured tumescence while viewing porn that involved either men or women. The participants who identified as bisexual showed more arousal for men than straight men did, more arousal for women than gay men did, and closer levels of arousal for men and women than monosexuals did.

“The current study found very strong and consistent evidence that bisexual men do in fact tend to have bisexual arousal patterns,” Bailey wrote.

But many of the bi men were more attracted to one sex. “Our results suggest that even most men who say they are equally attracted to men and women have some preference for one or the other sex.”

This shouldn’t be that big of a deal, but as Bailey explained in the new paper: “There has long been a controversy whether men who identify as bisexual are actually bisexual.”

“However, some others – including some scientists and lay persons – have doubted this,” he said.

While he used the passive voice, part of the reason there was a “controversy” at all was due to Bailey himself.

“I’m not denying that bisexual behavior exists, but I am saying that in men there’s no hint that true bisexual arousal exists, and that for men arousal is orientation,” he famously told the New York Times in their 2005 article “Gay, Straight, or Lying? Bisexuality Revisited.”

The article was about another study Bailey was involved in that had 33 bisexual male participants and measured their arousal with a tumescence test while showing them porn with either men or women in it. The bi men in that study were reportedly aroused by either men or by women, not both.

The article was controversial at the time, partly because it claimed that a crude study with a small sample size could disprove the lived experiences of bisexual men.

“These findings are important, since research routinely shows higher mental health risks and experiences of rejection for bisexual youth and adults related to stigma,” Caitlin Ryan of the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University told HealthDay Reporter.

“People who identify as bisexual – especially men – are often viewed with suspicion, and this includes a perception that they won’t commit to being gay,” she said. “They are often discriminated against and stigmatized.”

Bailey has been involved in other controversies related to his research on LGBTQ people, most notably for his book The Man Who Would Be Queen, which theorized that transgender women are actually either very gay men or “autogynephiles,” that is, straight men who are sexually aroused by the thought of being women. The book has been completely debunked.


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