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British Bisexual Men & Their Intimate Partners: Identities, Relationships & Prejudice

13 December 2023

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13 December 2023

About the seminar

Description: Bisexual men stand at an interesting intersection of masculinities, identities, and prejudices. Bisexual men are often stereotyped as unfaithful partners, being rated lower than bisexual women, lesbians and gay men in large scale attitudinal surveys. Furthermore, bisexual people in general often experience ‘double discrimination’ from both the gay and lesbian communities as well as from the wider heteronormative norms of societies and their institutions. This research focussed on bisexual men’s relationships with their intimate partners in the context of this societal prejudice and discrimination against bisexual men. 17 interviews with bisexual men and their partners were conducted, some were joint interviews some were sole interviews with bisexual men. The qualitative data generated was analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. The findings of the research revealed that bisexual identities emerged in contested epistemological spaces, and with remarkable heterogeneity: many participants refuted that ‘bi’sexuality was binaristic, some articulated that gender was a factor in attraction, whilst others discussed bisexuality in concordance with pansexuality (or other labels such as queer) and viewed their attraction as regardless of gender. Despite no overt questions being asked about prejudice, virtually all participants reported experiencing biphobia, which was distinct from homophobia. Participants relationships with their intimate partners were marked by security and identity development: they offered a reflexive space for bi men to comfortably negotiate their identity with partners who were often also bisexual themselves. Relationship with family was marked by a burden to have to educate them on matters relating to bisexuality, which does not have the same cultural understandings attached to it as lesbian and gay identity. Despite families’ familiarity with LGBTQ issues generally, there were often more misconceptions which had to be countered by the participants when coming out. The researcher will reflect on these themes and their own positionality as a bi man.  

The guest speaker

Sam Lawton is an ESRC-funded PhD researcher in Sociology and Tutor at the University of Glasgow. His research interests include the sociology of sexuality and gender, queer politics, political sociology and the digital social world. Sam teaches sociology and research methods, has authored papers for Psychology of Sexualities Review, and is currently managing the ISRF project Bisexuality Today: Understanding Attitudes, Protective Factors, and Risk Factors for an Often Invisible Sexual Minority. He is also currently working on a paper on migrant working men’s masculinities with Dr Panos Theodoropoulos. 

Hosted by Minerva - Laboratory on diversity and gender inequality at Sapienza University of Rome, this is the last event of the CIVIS gender studies network (CGSN) seminars.