Many bisexual men are afraid to reveal their sexual orientation to female partners, relatives and friends, a new study says.
Fear of stigma and damage to their relationships keeps many bisexual men in the closet, report researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, in New York City.
“Our results clearly identify the need for public education campaigns to dispel myths about bisexual men — that bisexual men are not gay, do not have HIV, and are not necessarily non-monogamous,” Eric Schrimshaw, associate professor of sociomedical sciences, said in a school news release.
The researchers interviewed 203 bisexual men, 18 and older, in New York City.
Participants consistently said they believed they would face stigma for having sex with men. They also specified other reasons for not revealing their bisexuality to people close to them, including: negative emotional reactions; harm to relationships with wives or girlfriends, and previous negative reactions to disclosure.
Schrimshaw said the anticipated negative reactions from female partners indicate bisexual men need strategies to help them disclose their sexual history in ways that minimize negative reactions and preserve the couple’s relationship.
The findings also suggest that bisexual men may be more likely than gay men to fear negative reactions from others after disclosure, but more research is required to confirm that, according to the researchers.
The study was recently published online in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers resources for gay and bisexual men.