A high proportion of self-identified gay men exhibit aspects of bisexuality during their lives. Some identify as bisexual before later identifying as gay; this has been called transitional bisexuality. Although many gay men report no attraction to women—or even sexual disgust toward them—others report some slight attraction to women. The latter have been studied as mostly homosexual men. We studied men with and without a history of transitional bisexuality, as well as mostly homosexual (i.e., those with Kinsey scores of 5) and completely homosexual (i.e., those with Kinsey scores of 6) men with respect to their sexual history with women, their current self-reported sexual arousal and disgust toward women and men, and their patterns of genital sexual arousal to female and male stimuli. Gay men with a history of transitional bisexuality generally lacked current sexual attraction and sexual arousal to women, compared with other gay men. Thus, transitional bisexuality among future gay men is mostly a matter of transitional bisexual identification. In contrast, mostly homosexual men showed statistically significant increases in genital arousal to female stimuli, compared with completely homosexual men.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Bailey, J. M. (2009). What is sexual orientation and do women have one? In D. Hope (Ed.), Contemporary perspectives on lesbian, gay, and bisexual identities (pp. 43–63). New York: Springer.
Bailey, J. M., Finkel, E. J., Blackwelder, K., & Bailey, T. (1995). Masculinity, femininity, and sexual orientation. Unpublished manuscript.
Bailey, J. M., & Zucker, K. J. (1995). Childhood sex-typed behavior and sexual orientation: A conceptual analysis and quantitative review. Developmental Psychology, 31, 43–55.
BIOPAC Systems, Inc. (2007). AcqKnowledge (Version 3.7.3) [Computer software]. Goleta, CA: Author.
Chivers, M. L., Rieger, G., Latty, E., & Bailey, J. M. (2004). A sex difference in the specificity of sexual arousal. Psychological Science, 15, 736–744.
Fast, J., & Wells, H. (1975). Bisexual living. New York, NY: Pocket Books.
Freund, K., Langevin, R., Chamberlayne, R., Deosoran, A., & Zajac, Y. (1974a). The phobic theory of male homosexuality. Archives of General Psychiatry, 31, 495–499.
Freund, K., Langevin, R., Cibiri, S., & Zajac, Y. (1973). Heterosexual aversion in homosexual males. British Journal of Psychiatry, 122, 163–169.
Freund, K., Langevin, R., & Zajac, Y. (1974b). Heterosexual aversion in homosexual males: A second experiment. British Journal of Psychiatry, 125, 177–180.
Guittar, A. E. (2013). The queer apologetic: Explaining the use of bisexuality as a transitional identity. Journal of Bisexuality, 13, 166–190.
Harwell, J. L. (1976). Bisexuality: Persistent lifestyle or transitional state? (Doctoral dissertation, United States International University). Retrieved from Dissertation Abstracts International, 37, 2449A.
Hunt, M. (1974). Sexual behavior in the 1970s. Chicago, IL: Playboy Press.
Israel, E., & Strassberg, D. S. (2009). Viewing time as an objective measure of sexual interest in heterosexual men and women. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38, 551–558.
Kinsey, A. C., Pomeroy, W. B., & Martin, C. E. (1948). Sexual behavior in the human male. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders.
Klein, F. (1978). The bisexual option: A concept of one hundred percent intimacy. New York, NY: Arbor House.
Klein, F. (1993). The bisexual option: A concept of one hundred percent intimacy (2nd ed.). Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press.
Lever, J. (1994, August 23). Sexual revelations: The 1994 Advocate survey of sexuality and relationships: The men. The Advocate, pp. 18–24.
Rieger, G., Linsenmeier, J. A., Gygax, L., & Bailey, J. M. (2008). Sexual orientation and childhood gender nonconformity: Evidence from home videos. Developmental Psychology, 44, 46–58.
Rieger, G., & Savin-Williams, R. C. (2012). The eyes have it: Sex and sexual orientation differences in pupil dilation patterns. PLoS ONE, 7, e40256.
Rosario, M., Schrimshaw, E. W., Hunter, J., & Braun, L. (2006). Sexual identity development among lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths: Consistency and change over time. Journal of Sex Research, 43, 46–58.
Rosenthal, A. M., Sylva, D., Safron, A., & Bailey, J. M. (2012). The male bisexuality debate revisited: Some bisexual men have bisexual arousal patterns. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 41, 135–147.
Ross, M. W. (1979). Heterosexual marriage of homosexual males: Some associated factors. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 5, 142–150.
Ross, M. W. (1991). A taxonomy of global behavior. In R. A. P. Tielman, M. Carballo, & A. C. Hendriks (Eds.), Bisexuality and HIV/AIDS: A global perspective (pp. 21–26). Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books.
Safron, A., Barch, B., Bailey, J. M., Gitelman, D. R., Parrish, T. B., & Reber, P. J. (2007). Neural correlates of sexual arousal in homosexual and heterosexual men. Behavioral Neuroscience, 121, 237–248.
Savin-Williams, R. C., Joyner, K., & Rieger, G. (2012). Prevalence and stability of self-reported sexual orientation identity during young adulthood. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 41, 103–110.
Savin-Williams, R. C., Rieger, G., & Rosenthal, A. (2013). Physiological evidence for a mostly heterosexual orientation among men. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 42, 697–699.
Savin-Williams, R. C., & Vrangalova, Z. (2013). Mostly heterosexual as a distinct sexual orientation group: A systematic review of the empirical evidence. Developmental Review, 33, 58–88.
Stokes, J. P., Damon, W., & McKirnan, D. J. (1997). Predictors of movement toward homosexuality: A longitudinal study of bisexual men. Journal of Sex Research, 34, 304–312.
Vrangalova, Z., & Savin-Williams, R. C. (2012). Mostly heterosexual and mostly gay/lesbian: Evidence for new sexual orientation identities. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 41, 85–101.
This research was funded by a grant from the American Institute of Bisexuality (0108-023).
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no potential conflicts of interests related to the study.
All research methods and recruitment strategies were approved in accordance with the ethical standards of Northwestern University’s Institutional Review Board for research involving human participants.
Informed consent was obtained from all participants included in the study.
Appendix: Sexual Arousal and Disgust to Women and Men
Appendix: Sexual Arousal and Disgust to Women and Men
For each of the following items, please rate how sexually arousing you find the activity. Please also rate how disgusting you find each activity.
Rights and permissions
About this article
Cite this article
Semon, T.L., Hsu, K.J., Rosenthal, A.M. et al. Bisexual Phenomena Among Gay-Identified Men. Arch Sex Behav 46, 237–245 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-016-0849-5
- Sexual aversion
- Sexual arousal patterns
- Penile plethysmography
- Mostly homosexual
- Sexual orientation