Sexual Self-Identification Among Behaviorally Bisexual Men in the Midwestern United States

Aleta Baldwin, Brian Dodge, Vanessa Schick, Randolph D. Hubach, Jessamyn Bowling, David Malebranche, Gabriel Goncalves, Phillip W. Schnarrs, Michael Reece, J. Dennis Fortenberry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Previous social and behavioral research on identity among bisexual men, when not subsumed within the category of men who have sex with men (MSM), has primarily focused on samples of self-identified bisexual men. Little is known about sexual self-identification among men who are behaviorally bisexual, regardless of sexual identity. Using qualitative data from 77 in-depth interviews with a diverse sample of behaviorally bisexual men (i.e., men who have had sex with at least one woman and at least one man in the past six months) from a large city in the Midwestern United States, we analyzed responses from a domain focusing on sexual self-identity and related issues. Overall, participants’ sexual self-identification was exceptionally diverse. Three primary themes emerged: (1) a resistance to, or rejection of, using sexual self-identity labels; (2) concurrent use of multiple identity categories and the strategic deployment of multiple sexual identity labels; and (3) a variety of trajectories to current sexual self-identification. Based on our findings, we offer insights into the unique lived experiences of behaviorally bisexual men, as well as broader considerations for the study of men’s sexuality. We also explore identity-related information useful for the design of HIV/STI prevention and other sexual health programs directed toward behaviorally bisexual men, which will ideally be variable and flexible in accordance with the wide range of diversity found in this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2015-2026
Number of pages12
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Issue number7
StatePublished - 7 Oct 2015


  • Bisexual men
  • Bisexuality
  • Identities
  • Men who have sex with both men and women (MSMW)
  • Sexual identity


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