Though a number of famous women have said they’re bisexual (including Drew Barrymore, Anna Paquin, Megan Fox and Azealia Banks), few big-name men have followed suit. And because Davis was 80, it would be difficult for skeptics to dismiss his declaration as one of a confused young man who would surely grow out of his bisexual phase, as the gay writer Andrew Sullivan suggested months later about the 19-year-old British diver Tom Daley. Daley had said in a YouTube video that he was happily dating a man but was still interested in women.
Sullivan predicted that Daley would “never have a sexual relationship with a woman again, because his assertion that he still fancies girls is a classic bridging mechanism to ease the transition to his real sexual identity. I know this because I did it, too.”
Sullivan’s logic is particularly frustrating to Sylla and other bisexual activists. Though they agree that many gay men use bisexuality as a transition identity—sometimes as a way to soften the blow of coming out to parents—“gay men seem to have a hard time fathoming that someone might have an honestly different trajectory,” Sylla said.
Andrew got a lot of grief for this post. But last night Tom Daley confirmed that Andrew was right: Daley is not bisexual. He's gay. That Tom Daley isn't (and wasn't) bisexual when he said he "still fancied girls" isn't proof that there's no such thing as bisexual men, it's not proof that all men who claim to be bisexual are lying, it's not proof or disproof of anything. But many, many out gay men did use bisexual as a "transition identity"—Delay did, Sullivan did, I did, Mika did—and that fact does fuel biphobic assumptions. There are a lot of gay men out there who insist that all bi guys are lying because they were lying when they claimed to be bisexual. As I wrote in the chapter on bisexuality in American Savage...
I can see now why this is all so enormously frustrating for bisexual men. Many gay men think all bisexual guys are lying because a lot of men who claim to be bisexual are lying. But it’s not bisexual guys who lie about being bisexual. It’s gay men like me … who lie about being bi. And what do we do after we stop lying about being bi? We insist that all bisexual guys are liars because we were liars.
But that "transition identity" thing happens. And asking people to pretend something that commonly happens doesn't happen—asking them to ignore their own experience, asking them not to recognize themselves in others—isn't the answer.
And, hey, apropos of nothing whatsoever: I took a call yesterday from a guy who is convinced that he's gay and wanted my advice about coming out. After listening to his sexual history, and after asking him all sorts of questions about his current sexual interests and desires, after discussing his adolescence and his romantic history, I said this to him: "Dude, you're bisexual."
UPDATE: Andrew—who first suggested we check back in on Daley "in a few years' time," and then amended that to a decade's time after getting "raked over the coals" by angry readers—spike the ball this morning:
Five months later, ta-da! Tom Daley confirms he is totally gay. As I predicted. As I—and any gay man not saturated with pomo nonsense—knew. Again: this doesn’t mean that there aren’t bisexual men out there. But it does mean there’s gaydar. And Ann Friedman ain’t got none.
Looks like this guy came the closest to calling it:
To all the people saying "Actually, he came out as bisexual," I'll see you in six months when he drops that whole bit.
— Richard Lawson (@rilaws) December 2, 2013