A volunteer sample of 835 self-identified bisexual women and men was surveyed using a self-report questionnaire in order to investigate the factors involved in the formation of bisexual identities. Significant gender and age cohort group differences were found for developmental milestone events in four areas: awareness of homosexuality and bisexuality; sexual attractions, fantasies, behavior, and relationships; sexual orientation self-identification; and sexual orientation self-disclosure.
Several results stand out. For most women, homosexual attractions and behavior took place after their first heterosexual attractions and behavior. In contrast, a greater proportion of men than women experienced their first homosexual attractions and behavior before their first heterosexual behavior. Although men first questioned their sexual orientation earlier than women, both women and men first self-identified as bisexual at about the same ages. While many respondents moved to a bisexual identity from a heterosexual identity, about one-third first self-identified as lesbian or gay, suggesting that sexual identity is not as immutable for all individuals as many theorists and researchers have assumed. Greater proportions of both men and women had disclosed their bisexuality to friends and relationship partners than to family members, helping professionals, or to people at work or school. Significant age cohort group differences were found for all milestone events, suggesting that the process of coming out bisexual is occurring earlier for younger bisexual women and men than was the case for older individuals.
The results confirm both similarities and differences in bisexual and homosexual identity development. Bisexual men and women resemble lesbians and gay men in their need to acknowledge and receive support for their homosexual attractions and behavior. Bisexual women and men, however, need to acknowledge and gain support for their homosexual and heterosexual attractions, whether or not they actualize either or both in terms of sexual behavior or relationships during any particular period of time. The results of this research establish a more comprehensive base of information about the factors involved in the formation of bisexual identities that can serve as a resource for further examination and understanding of bisexuality and bisexual identity development.
|School:||California Institute of Integral Studies|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-B 55/12, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Psychotherapy, Developmental psychology, Social psychology|
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