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“Honestly, When I’m With One Gender, I Just Start to Miss the Anatomy of the Other.”

Four testimonials from bisexuals—who are always having to explain themselves.


“You’re either gay, straight, or lying” is the response most bisexuals get when trying to make their way out of the bi closet. (“Everybody likes to dump on bisexuals,” Cynthia Nixon complained in her own, awkward bi coming-out.) It was only last August that an academic study finally suggested that men who claimed attraction to both genders might not be hedging their bets or fooling themselves. Bisexuals might even outnumber gays and lesbians combined.

Illustrations by Kareena Zerefos  

Janice Duenas
39, in a relationship with a man.

The first time I had sex with a woman, it was horrible. This was five years ago, and we met through work. She was a sweet girl, and it seemed like there was so much chemistry between us. But then we took off our clothes, and it was so awkward. I had been fantasizing about it for years, but with her I wasn’t getting any feedback. She told me she was just normally quiet. I decided I should try again, though, to make sure it wasn’t just her. So I met another woman, and that’s when I discovered it was just her.

Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve been curious about being with women, but I only really started to explore my desire for women in my early thirties. My biggest regret is not responding to a woman who approached me in high school. She transferred from another school and walked into my English class one day, and my jaw dropped to the floor. I couldn’t believe how beautiful she was. Eventually, she invited me over to her house and started talking about another friend she had and how they would kiss. I got very nervous and I left, and she never invited me to her house again.

In my mid-twenties, I started to ask boyfriends to have threesomes with women, but it never happened. Finally, after I ended an engagement, I said that I needed to be with a woman. I needed to see if it was a curiosity thing or a part of my life.

Sometimes, if I’m with a man, I’ll miss the emotional connection and nurturing that I’ve found women are more likely to offer. Or if I’m with a woman, I can miss the way a man can take charge. But honestly, I think I just start to miss the anatomy of the other sex. I like breasts, I love the way a woman’s vagina tastes. I love penis. I don’t know if I could give up either.

Ike Schambelan
72, Married to a woman.

In my life, I have tended to have more deep relationships with women than with men. They’re more open about their feelings and less macho as a rule. At one point, I was very much in love with a man, though. It was while I was at Yale Drama School. I had two roommates and was in love with one of them. And then he had an affair with the other roommate, so I’d have to lie there and listen to them have sex through the wall. He knew I was in love with him, and eventually we tried a little sex. It wasn’t even terrible, but we just totally miscommunicated.

When I was growing up, if I slept with a guy, I would try to sleep with a woman soon after, to clear the taint. At the time, I felt it was better to be with a woman than a man. I certainly knew it would be easier. I think it’s quite possible that if times had been different, I would have become a gay man, but I’m very happy that I’m not. That would have been a limitation for me. I like sex with both men and women, and I feel emotionally connected to both men and women.

In 1965, I began seeing a therapist, and he thought I should choose being straight or gay and that life would be better if I were straight. There was a period where a guy would be into me and I’d tell him, “I’m trying to give that up.” I now regret that enormously.

Oddly, sex has improved as I’ve gotten older. After I started living with the woman who became my wife, sex got better and better because we practiced, and I think that would have been true whether I ended up with a man or a woman.

My wife and I have now been living together 40 years and married for 31. She knows I’m bi and says it makes me more interesting. I met her in 1970 on Fire Island, though not the Pines or Cherry Grove. It was in Ocean Ridge, a community near Davis Park. After Joan and I got together, I didn’t think, Now I’m safe. The guilt I felt only lessened as we went through the seventies and everybody loosened up about what you could do sexually. I’m really very lucky that I don’t have to hide anymore. Though occasionally I meet a guy and say I’m bi and he says, “No, you’re not. You’re gay.”


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