Model and TV star Amber Rose once told Complex, “I’m extremely open with my sexuality. I can be in love with a woman. I can be in love with a man … I definitely find beauty in everybody whether they’re heavy-set, super skinny, if they’re white, black, Indian, Asian, Spanish.”
But apparently she draws a hard line at bisexual guys.
The revelation that Rose, herself bisexual, would not consider dating a bi man— first highlighted by radio.com on Thursday—came toward the tail end of a new episode of the revamped Loveline radio show, a long-running relationship and dating advice program made famous by former host and reality TV star Dr. Drew Pinsky.
“Would you ever date a bisexual guy?” was the discussion question, submitted to Rose via Facebook Live.
“No,” Rose responded, almost immediately. “Personally—no judgment—I wouldn’t be comfortable. I just wouldn’t be comfortable with it and I don’t know why.”
Her co-host, sex therapist Dr. Chris Donaghue, was genuinely shocked at Rose’s answer and prompted her to “go further,” suggesting that she might be under the impression there would be more “competition” for a man’s affections if he were bisexual. (As Donaghue later reminded her, the sheer number of people on the planet means that there is more than enough “competition” for anyone, regardless of orientation.)
“Maybe! Maybe that’s it,” Rose replied. But after Donaghue prodded her for a few more minutes—prompting Rose to reveal that she has been rejected by men because of her own bisexuality—she finally opened up: “Maybe I’m not secure enough to be with a man that likes other men because I would feel like when he’s out with his boys, it’s just more of a moment.”
The painfully honest conversation perfectly illustrated the stigma that bisexual men still face in the dating world, with Donaghue challenging Rose to explain what, exactly, she meant by the term “uncomfortable.” Rose struggled to piece together a clear answer and promised to revisit the subject in next week’s episode of Loveline, saying that she “can’t fully articulate it right now.”
One member of the Facebook audience, in particular, elicited a strong reaction from the hosts by writing, “This is a problem with people accepting bisexuality in women and not men.” And although it would be a stretch to claim that bisexual women are socially accepted, the commenter was certainly onto something: bisexual men are especially disliked. An October nationally-representative study of social attitudes from researchers at Indiana University found that “all participants’ attitudes were generally more positive toward bisexual women than bisexual men.” Even though attitudes toward bisexual people as a whole were in the negative-to-neutral range, that gendered difference was still statistically significant.
Given that disheartening data, you’d expect to find bisexual men at or near the bottom of the dating world’s pecking order. And that’s exactly where they seem to be. Less scientific studies have borne out this conclusion. In early 2016, for example, Glamour surveyed 1,015 women ages 18 to 44 and found that, although 47 percent of women said they had been attracted to another woman, nearly two-thirds—63 percent—said they “wouldn’t date a man who has had sex with another man.”
Those numbers suggest at least some overlap between women who have bisexual patterns of attraction themselves and women who would not date a man who has had sex with another man. Rose, who said on Loveline that she is indeed “attracted to women or [she] has been in the past,” would fit squarely in the middle of that Venn diagram.
But this phenomenon isn’t so much a simple case of “do as I say, not as I do” hypocrisy as it is a byproduct of the unique stereotypes and stigmas that surround bisexual men. As bisexual writer and activist Eliel Cruz wrote for Mic, there is a “deeply ingrained cultural misconception that a man can’t date another man and still be sexually interested in women as well.” In other words, many people question whether or not men can even be bisexual.
Rose, for her part, said on Loveline that she “think[s] it’s amazing when a guy is bisexual,” suggesting that she doesn’t necessarily doubt that men can be attracted to more than one gender at a time but she did admit that she “would just think about it too much” if she dated a bisexual guy and that “it would bother [her] in a way.” That begs the question: What, precisely, is she thinking about and why, precisely, would it bother her? What nagging feeling would she find herself unable to shake off?
Popular media could contain some clues. Television, for one, has reinforced the notion that bisexual men are simply closeted gay guys who should be automatically disqualified from a woman’s dating pool. After going on a date with bisexual man, Carrie Bradshaw famously opined in an episode of Sex and the City, “I’m not even sure bisexuality exists. I think it’s just a layover on the way to Gaytown.” 30 Rock’s Liz Lemon followed suit in 2009, telling a woman with a bisexual boyfriend, “There’s no such thing as bisexual. That’s just something they invented in the 90s to sell hair products.”
And a 2013 episode of the Zooey Deschanel-led sitcom New Girl featured Jess instantly ending a conversation with a man at a bar after he came out as bisexual. (Three years later, the same show shamed a male character for being uncomfortable with the fact that his fiancée had once hooked up with another woman.)
On Loveline, Rose did express some concern that a bisexual male partner would naturally gravitate toward sex with men and, therefore, have trouble remaining loyal. When Donaghue asked her what she would do if her current boyfriend came out as bisexual, Rose speculated that she might ask him if he was “going to see other men behind [her] back.”
There’s not much distance between that reaction and the “layover on the way to Gaytown” theory of bisexuality. It also seems to be tied to one of the stereotypes Cruz highlighted, namely that bisexual people are “inherently promiscuous, or they’re cheaters who are unable to be monogamous.” (As health researcher Sean Cahill noted in a report for the National LGBTQ Task Force, that stereotype is a myth: “Most bisexuals describe themselves as monogamous in their committed relationships.”)
Ultimately, though, Rose’s sex life has been publicly dissected enough, whether it’s a tabloid calling her a “freak” for dating a transgender man, ex-husband Wiz Khalifa publicly airing details about their relationship, or Kanye West slut-shaming her on Twitter. What she does in her bed is her business.
But if more women took the time to do some rigorous self-examination about their aversion to being with bisexual men—on a radio show or otherwise—the dating world might get a little more tolerable for a struggling sexual minority.