Debate About Revealing a Partner’s Bisexuality

I assumed that it was 100% public knowledge that Jay was bisexual. When we first met, he told me he’s very open about it. I assumed that meant it didn’t matter if I told other people about it, but apparently I was wrong, and we got into a little tiff about this. Here’s how it happened…

A few weeks ago, a guy that Jay used to date invited us to this ‘event’ at a club (lets call this guy Brad). At first I thought it was just clubbing, so I was planning to invite a bunch of my other friends. But the more they discussed the event, it sounded like something beyond ‘just clubbing’. I wasn’t entirely sure what it was, but I managed to gather that there would be men dressed in women’s clothing, so I thought to myself, “Hm, I better not invite all my conservative friends, and possibly freak them out, since I don’t know what this is.”

We went to the event, and it was really fun. People were dressed kinda crazy, but overall, nothing unreasonable was going on. I figured that I’d bring some of my friends next time. In the mean time, the group I was with all took pictures of ourselves having tons of fun, and put them up on Facebook. 

The next morning, one of my best girl friends, Leslie, texted me, saying, “Blah blah blah, why didn’t you invite me last night? Blah blah blah I always invite you…” Yeah. She was pissed. Apparently that venue was somewhere she goes to all the time and loves, and she was really mad that I went there without inviting her. I know. I’m the worst person in the world. Whatever.

I figured I would try to explain that I didn’t plan the outing, and also why I didn’t invite her: Brad, Jay’s ex, this little gay dude, planned it and I didn’t know what it was until I got there.

The problem is Leslie doesn’t know Jay is bi. So that makes explaining his gay ex a little hard. I could have crafted a way around those details, but I figured the story would be easier to tell if I just explained the whole thing.

So I texted Jay and asked if I could tell Leslie he was bi. At first he said, “Yeah, sure.”

Then he added something like, “As long as she wont think I’m actually gay.”

I told him that she would more likely think he was actually straight… I don’t remember the details, but that lead to a discussion of whether she would believe he was bi or not. I admitted I wasn’t sure what she would think, and then Jay said, “Never mind, I don’t want you to tell her.”

“Why not? You tell strangers.”

“Because this is different. It’s your best friend-“ (Jay was wrong about this, Nora is my best friend, but that’s not important to this story…) “And she’s going to try to convince you that guys can’t be bisexual, and that I’m going to end up gay.”

I didn’t see the problem with that. Leslie has tried to convince me of a lot stupider things before (like that putting a caramel apple in a Ferragamo handbag would not ruin the bag [or the apple] if it was only in there for a few minutes). I have no problem fully disregarding advice that Leslie gives me.

However, Jay explained that Lesley’s opinion of his sexuality was not the problem. “The problem,” he said. “Is why you are telling her.”

I was confused. As far as I knew, I was telling her to get her off my back about not inviting her to some stupid club. But Jay thought differently.

“You are telling her,” he said, “For the same reason you told Max and your mom; because you weren’t sure about dating me, and you wanted their advice. And you’re still not sure, so you’re asking Leslie to help you decide whether it’s a good idea.”

I literally rolled my eyes at this. “Listen,” I said. “I never ask my mom for advice; that’s why we aren’t close. And as for Max, he has the good sense not to try to tell me what to do, which is why we are close. I can assure you that telling them about your sexuality had nothing to do with trying to get advice on whether to date a bisexual guy.”

Eventually Jay admitted that he believed me. He explained that he’s had issues in the past with girls blacklisting him because of his sexuality. Fine. Fair enough. Whatever.

But he also explained that I should not have just assumed it was okay to disclose his sexuality. This was very personal information, he explained.

“But its on your facebook,” I argued.

“Well then people can look at my facebook and ask me about it. But you can’t just assume you can go around telling people.”

“Well how am I suppose to know all these rules?” I said.

“I don’t know.”

“There’s no handbook of bisexual men. There’s no ten commandments for dating bi guys,” I said. “How am I supposed to know what I can tell people and what’s a secret? I can’t know what’s socially appropriate when it comes to bisexuality.”

“It’s the same as being gay. You can’t just go around telling people someone is gay.”

“No,” I said. “It’s not. If we were a gay couple, everyone would know just by looking at us, and there would be no need to tell my friends. It is different.”

“I don’t know,” Jay finally said.

********

So here is my question to all you readers out there; what are the rules for disclosing someone’s bisexuality? Is it a faux pas to ‘out’ them? Or does keeping it a secret mean you are ashamed? 

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17 Comments

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17 responses to “Debate About Revealing a Partner’s Bisexuality

  1. You never out someone who isn’t already out to a lot of people (read that as people you both know). My lady and I are both bisexual and we’re both out – but we don’t blab it to people we don’t want to be privy to that info – there are some people you just don’t share stuff like that with. And I certainly wouldn’t tell one of my friends that she is without her permission!

    No, keeping it a secret isn’t an indication of shame but, as Jay pointed out, there are too many people who’d want to pin the gay label on him and, personally, I don’t really blame him for being gun-shy on that one because I can’t stand it when someone suggests that “I’m really gay.” You hear that enough, you get sick of hearing it.

    You did the right thing to ask his permission to tell Leslie and the why, on the surface, is to explain why she didn’t get invited to a shindig that you didn’t know she always went to. Duh. Now, if he thought you had another reason to tell her, I can’t say… but I’m thinking that he thought you did.

    • Thanks for sharing your perspective. its always helpful to hear other peoples view on these sorts of things. I have to remember that you guys must get really tired of people assuming you are gay. I can imagine that gets old after a while!

      To me it seems obvious that of course I don’t think Jay is gay; but from his perspective there may be a tiny part of him that worries someone might convince me he’s really gay.

      • That and he worries about being outed as gay… even when you and he both know he isn’t. People will take one look at you – and I’m assuming that you’re gorgeous – and think, “If he’s with her, why is he messing with dudes… unless he’s really gay?”

        Yeah, it can be that simple for people not to accept the fact that Jay’s really bi – then spread the word that he’s gay but in denial. I’ve seen this happen too many times.

        It does get old, Sydney and, after a while, you just snort, shake your head sadly, and otherwise indicate that the person who said it is a moron.

  2. My wife and I always “check in” before disclosing anything. It could be just my perception from living in an ultra conservative town, but it seems like it’s more socially acceptable for women to be bi than it is for men. That might add confusion to the “rules”.

    • Yeah I think that does add confusion to the rules. Truthfully the fact that he put it on facebook was the most confusing thing for me; I felt like “well its out there on facebook for the whole world to see..”

      Thanks for your input; checking in is probably the way to go

  3. Elle

    His sexuality and how he expresses it and in what forum he reveals it is his business and yours as lovers, beyond that it is up to him to control that information. I think in these days of social media people lose the preciousness of privacy, and the need and value to control personal information. I do agree that it sends mixed messages to have his sexuality on facebook – seems a little self-destructive – if he cares so much about people misjudging him or labeling him a particular way. But if he wants to take that chance, it is his choice in the end. As far as letting your friend know about – why you went out without inviting her – I don’t see how your boyfriend’s sexuality is relevant. All I would have done is say – “Jay and his friend hadn’t seen each other in a while, and this was the first time I met his friend, so we just wanted to keep it small. ” If you were so concerned about friends being miffed about not being invited, then perhaps you should have kept the pix off facebook? This is the thing about sharing everything in social media – people are given the opportunity to “weigh in” on your life, in whatever way they feel like – and not always in good ways.

  4. bisexualboy

    Hi! I found your blog, and was so fascinated, I had to create an account to write you.
    I totally agree with everything you said. I’m bisexual and male. I had a girlfriend who I came out to. We were getting serious and I wanted to be honest and upfront with her about my sexuality.
    It didn’t go as well as I hoped. She freaked out. I assured her that being attracted to both genders didn’t mean I was going to cheat or be unfaithful. It just meant that I found beauty and arousal in both sexes. A few weeks later, she broke up with me, and common friends we had, stopped talking to me as well. Anyway, I’m so happy for your and your bf. I’m glad you’re open-minded, and accepting. HUGS

    • I’m sorry about how things worked out for you :-/ That sucks.
      Unfortunately the only exposure to bi guys that a lot of girls get is seeing weird craigslist posts from married dudes trying to hook up with other men. The bi guys who who are minding their own business and not cruising craigslist just don’t get as much attention because… well, they’re minding their own business and not cruising craigslist.

      It sounds like you are a normal, dateable guy, so its really unfortunate that your girlfriend freaked out.

  5. I don’t think someones sexuality is anyone elses business outside of the relationship. Always ask permission. I would tell strangers and cyber friends (some, not all) about my sexuality, but I’d never tell my partners friends. Think of it this way: Would you want your guy telling all his friends that you like anal sex or getting screwed by multiple men?

  6. As a Bisexual man, it is my personal opinion that you check with him first. Most of my friends know and many people in my Doctoral program know. My family and my wife’s family and most of her friends do not. It is never simple to know when or with whom you can or want to be open with. Just my two cents.

    • Thank you for your comment. It’s actually super helpful when other bi dudes tell me what they think. Obviously every bi guy is different, but… you know, its still a good starting point.

      • Your welcome. I have to say that I find it refreshing to find a person that is not so freaked out by her boyfriends bisexuality. Life for most (I think) bi-men is one that is deeply hidden. They keep it from a majority of the people they know with good reasons. Our society is still very binary in its view towards sexuality and in many ways Homosexual/Lesbian people are still treated very badly. I don’t imagine this is a good indication that the Bisexual ladies or men are going to be meet with any better reception. At any rate, I am glad you are posting….I find it gratifying.

  7. interested party

    This is a very interesting conversation. I consider myself a bisexual man who has always had relationships with women and enjoy sex and fall in love with women but I have an undeniable attraction to men. My sexuality is somewhat complex and fluid however.

    At any rate, the reason anyone discloses their sexuality to anyone else is for their own mental health, and not anyone else’s business. That is one of the more painful things about male bisexuality (to me), is that people consider you fake and a liar if you disclose either side of it, and you lose credibility with everyone.

    For me my closest friends know. I don’t try and hide it from people (now, although for many years I did). I don’t think anyone should disclose it to anyone else without my permission.

    The generation after me (I am 35) seems to be much more cool with sexual flexibility and less hung up on the idea of melding into another person (a crazy idea to me), but my generation and the ones before me were quite cruel about non-traditional sexuality and due to my negative experiences I remain very gun shy about disclosing anything to anyone. Of course, I grew up in conservative Texas i n the 1980s whre there was both a one-drop rule about gayness and gayness was considered pretty contemptuous or at best a big joke.

    Anyway, great blog. I really like how honest you are here with some great humor. Gives me hope that one day I might find some love in life.

    • Thank you so much for sharing this. I feel like there is a slightly different etiquette about revealing that someone is bi, as opposed to gay. It’s always really helpful to hear from bi guys in order to sort out what that etiquette is.

      Thanks for your insights!

  8. Tom

    As bi guy in his twenties, I would always expect a partner to ask me before telling someone that I was bi but, in truth, I would never be that upset about someone finding out.
    I can see why you got confused by the whole facebook info thing but I totally understand Jay – if someone asks me outright what my sexuality is then I’ll happily tell them, but I don’t really like the idea of people finding out from people other than me unless that person has my permission to tell them – just something about people talking about me I guess. The fact its on his facebook means people can effectively ‘ask him’ by checking his info page (because lets be honest what else is the info page looked at for :P). Its still effectively Jay telling them rather than someone else.

    By the way, love the blog (I even recommended it to my current girlfriend!)

    • Thanks for sharing. I didn’t really think about the fact that looking at a facebook post is similar to asking the person directly, and minimizes the feeling that people are talking behind your back. You raise a really good point. Thanks!

  9. Ah, man, Facebook ‘reveals’! If someone puts on Facebook that they’re bi, of course, they’re telling everyone they’re connected to that they are… but that mean it’s okay for that person’s partner to let the cat out of the bag to those who may not be Facebook friends? I’d say no to that unless the bi person tells their partner that it’s okay to tell other people not connected to Facebook like that because there are still some people who don’t need to know this so, in a case like this, it’s probably better to ask permission than to beg for forgiveness.

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