The “down low” hysteria of the late 1990s had more than one lasting effect, according to Feminista Jones at Ebony, including the idea that men were identifying as bisexual because they were afraid of identifying as homosexual, not because they were truly attracted to both sexes. But those ideas are changing.
Discussions of sexuality, especially in Black communities, are nuanced and require further examination into what influences our acceptance of self, and the hows and whys of our disclosure choices. Our connection to religion, for example, heavily influences our ideas and behaviors related to our sexuality. Black men especially can find themselves struggling with reconciling notions of “masculinity” in a society that’s emasculated them for centuries.
When same sex attraction is often equated with weakness among Black men, it can prove difficult for a man to even acknowledge his desires, much less openly express and act upon them. For more insight and perspective, I spoke with three Black men who identify as bisexual.
When it comes to the outright denial of bisexuality in men, D.J.* doesn’t think people understand sexuality as a whole, and that most limit themselves to societal norms, choosing not to even try to understand sexuality beyond that with which they’re comfortable. Robert agrees, admitting discouragement when people would say that bisexual men didn’t exist; he knew he was one. It wasn’t until he became comfortable with his attractions did he find strength to ignore the dismissals of who he was. Alex says he used to get defensive, but like D.J., realized that people simply lack the knowledge about sexuality to accept him as a bisexual man.
Read Feminista Jones’ entire piece at Ebony.
The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.