The existence of male bisexuality continues to be contested, with skeptics claiming that men who self-identify as bisexual are actually either homosexual or heterosexual. But a study – “Robust evidence for bisexual orientation among men” by Jeremy Jabbour, J. Michael Bailey, Gerulf Rieger et al, and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – suggests that evidence of sexual arousal patterns in men that are consistent with bisexuality.
According to the researchers, although most bisexual-identified men report that they are attracted to both men and women, those around them often question this.
“The question whether some men have a bisexual orientation — that is, whether they are substantially sexually aroused and attracted to both sexes — has remained controversial among both scientists and laypersons. Skeptics believe that male sexual orientation can only be homosexual or heterosexual, and that bisexual identification reflects nonsexual concerns, such as a desire to deemphasize homosexuality,” stated the researchers.
For the researchers, patterns of physiological (genital) arousal to male and female erotic stimuli can provide compelling evidence for male sexual orientation. So they sought out to investigate whether men who self-report bisexual feelings tend to produce bisexual arousal patterns.
The findings support the view that male sexual orientation contains a range, from heterosexuality, to bisexuality, to homosexuality.
So Bailey and his colleagues reviewed eight previous sexual orientation researches completed at Northwestern University; Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto; University of Essex in Colchester, UK; and Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. These researches particularly looked at Kinsey scores (a measure of self-reported sexual orientation used by many researchers), and measures of genital and self-reported arousal to erotic stimuli from 588 men, around 29 years of age. Two-thirds were White, 12% were Black and nearly 6% were Hispanic. All were cisgender males.
Among those considered, 178 men described themselves as “exclusively heterosexual”, 102 were “mostly” straight, 139 were “exclusively homosexual,” and 70 were “mostly” gay. The remaining 117 men said they were bisexual – i.e. 46 claimed to be bisexual but leaned straight; 37 were bisexual but leaned gay; and 34 were simply bisexual.
The 117 men were then classified as falling in the “bisexual range” of the seven-point Kinsey scale, an orientation measure developed by Alfred Kinsey. This meant they registered as a 2, 3 or 4, with 0 meaning exclusively straight and 6 meaning exclusively gay.
The men were then considered via a genital arousal test (i.e. involving placing a circumference gauge around the penis to allow the researchers to measure arousal patterns as participants viewed erotic video clips or still images involving either men or women. None of the studies involved mixed-gender stimulation).
And according to the researchers: “Highly robust results showed that bisexual-identified men’s genital and subjective arousal patterns were more bisexual than were those who identified as exclusively heterosexual or homosexual. These findings support the view that male sexual orientation contains a range, from heterosexuality, to bisexuality, to homosexuality.”
Worth noting: According to Bailey, as quoted by HealthDay, the results “did not necessarily mean that such men were equally attracted to both men and women”. In fact, “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”.
In the end, and this is what’s worth highlighting, “the findings suggest that bisexual-identifying men exhibit genital and subjective arousal patterns consistent with their self-reported orientation and that there is a continuum of male sexual orientations.”