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Bisexual adults less likely than gay men and lesbians to be ‘out’

Only 19% of those who identify as bisexual say all or most of the important people in their lives are aware of their sexual orientation.

Photo by Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum from

Bisexual people, believed to account for about four-in-10 LGBT adults, are much less likely than gays and lesbians to be “out” to the important people in their lives. This is according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of survey data from Stanford University.

In “How Couples Meet and Stay Together 2017”, coming out of Stanford University Libraries in Stanford, CA and written by Rosenfeld, Michael J., Reuben J. Thomas, and Sonia Hausen, it was noted that only 19% of those who identify as bisexual say all or most of the important people in their lives are aware of their sexual orientation.

In contrast, 75% of gay and lesbian adults say the same. About one-quarter of bisexual adults (26%) are not “out” to any of the important people in their lives, compared with 4% of gay and lesbian adults. Roughly half of those who are bisexual (54%) are out to some or only a few people.

Coming out is – obviously – a complex experience.

But as early as 2013, in Pew Research Center’s survey of LGBT adults, many bisexuals already stated that they haven’t come out to their parents because they didn’t feel it was important to tell them or the subject never came up. And among those who did come out, bisexual adults reported somewhat different experiences from gays and lesbians.

Around four-in-10 adults who describe themselves as bisexual (43%) say they are sexually attracted to men and women equally. Around the same number (40%) say they are attracted mostly to the opposite gender, and 4% report feeling attracted only to the opposite gender. Twelve percent and 1%, respectively, say they are attracted mostly or only to their own gender.

Among those with partners, many more bisexual adults are married or in a relationship with someone of the opposite sex than with someone of the same sex (88%).

The earlier, 2013 survey also found that LGBT adults said that bisexual men faced less social acceptance than bisexual women, gay men and lesbians. Only 8% of LGBT adults felt that there was “a lot of social acceptance of bisexual men”, while 46% said there was only “a little or no social acceptance” for the same group. Among bisexuals, 40% reported in 2013 that they had ever been subjected to slurs or jokes, while 31% said they had been rejected by a friend or family member because of their bisexuality.

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