A study of 787 people (73% straight, 27% lesbian or gay) suggests that sexual orientation plays no part in the erasure of male bisexuality.
Participants in the study were shown a series of fake online dating profiles of men and women who identified as bisexual. Participants were then asked a series of questions to ascertain how much they believed the person was attracted to people of both sexes.
The study found that bisexual men are commonly viewed as being more attracted to men than to women, while bisexual women were considered to be equally attracted to both sexes.
The participants were also more likely to endorse statements erasing male bisexuality than statements erasing female bisexuality. In other words, agreement with statements such as “Most ‘bisexual’ men just haven’t come out as gay yet” was more common than agreement with statements such as “Most ‘bisexual’ women will end up in a heterosexual marriage.”
Dr Thekla Morgenroth of the University of Exeter, the author of the study which was published in the European Journal for Social Psychology, commented, “My research interests usually come from something I observe in real life and that was the case here, too. I’m part of the LGBTQ+ community myself and so are a lot of my friends and one thing I noticed often was that people often don’t believe that bisexual people are actually bisexual.
“There is also research to back this up, showing that bisexual people are stereotyped as confused or that bisexuality is not a real sexual identity. What I found particularly interesting, however, was that this denial of bisexual identities seemed to take different forms for women and men. (I should say here that there are of course also non-binary bisexual people but for the purpose of this study, we just focused on women and men.)
“When women identify as bisexual, others often seemed to think that they were actually just straight, maybe experimenting a little bit or doing it for male attention, but when men identify as bisexual, others seemed to think that he was actually just gay and hadn’t come out yet. So in both cases, people seemed to think that bisexual people are actually more attracted to men. That seemed worth investigating.”
Dr Morgenroth continued, “To me, our key finding is that heterosexual but also lesbian and gay individuals have the same bias: they believe that bisexual men are more attracted to men than women even when there is absolutely zero indicators of that and even if the person explicitly states that they are bisexual.”
The study, “Bisexual Erasure: Perceived Attraction Patterns of Bisexual Women and Men“, was authored by Thekla Morgenroth, Teri A. Kirby, Maisie J. Cuthbert, Jacob Evje, and Arielle E. Anderson.
More here on bi erasure from Lois Shearing.