It is clear that some people identify themselves as bisexual, otherwise the concept would perhaps not exist, but many people within both straight and LGBT communities question or deny that a person can actually be bisexual. Two articles recently published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior took on the task of establishing the reality (or possible lack thereof) of bisexuality. In one, bisexual and straight men and women rated the sexual attractiveness of photos of male and female swimsuit models1. In the other, gay men, lesbians, and bisexual men and women rated their feelings of sexual attraction toward pictures of swimsuit and lingerie ads, half featuring men and half featuring women2. In both studies, bisexual men and women both showed no preference for either men or women1,2. When compared to straight people, the bisexual participants’ ratings were similar for opposite-sex models; logically, the ratings on same-sex models were quite different1.. Conversely, when compared to gay people, the bisexual participants’ ratings were similar for same-sex models and very different for opposite-sex models2. It’s possible to think that these studies only show that people are good at pretending to be bisexual, as they reported their own feelings of attractiveness toward photos of both genders. However, another study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior recruited gay, straight, and bisexual male participants and measured their genital arousal – which is arguably very difficult to fake – and had them self-report feelings of arousal to sexual film clips3. Bisexual men showed no difference in genital arousal or feelings of arousal between men and women. Interestingly, they showed increased genital arousal and feelings of arousal to clips including two men and a woman – bisexual clips3. A growing body of research shows that female genital arousal is partially unrelated to sexual preferences, so a similar study could not be conducted for women. Thus, the physical response in bisexual men coupled with the subjective response in both men and women provide plenty of evidence that bisexuality is a reality.
1Lippa, R. A. (2013). Men and women with bisexual identities show bisexual patterns of sexual attraction to male and female “swimsuit models”. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 42, 187-196.
2Rullo, J. E., Strassberg, D. S., & Miner, M. H. (2015). Gender-specificity in sexual interest in bisexual men and women. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 44, 1449-1457.
3Rosenthal, A. M., Sylvia, D., Safron, A., & Bailey, J. M. (2012). The male bisexuality debate revisited: Some bisexual men have bisexual arousal patterns. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 41, 35-147.