Despite the general lack of studies, it is known that there are differences in the mental health of bisexual and gay men. Bisexual men are more likely to have poorer mental health, even though gay men are more likely to report discrimination, rejection, and experiences of victimization. This new study looked at patterns of concealment and disclosure of same-sex sexual behavior for an explanation. Concealment refers to the active hiding of one’s behavior, whereas disclosure is explicitly teling others about one’s behavior.
Participants were roughly 200 men who did not identify as gay, and who had sex with both men and women. The sample was diverse in age, race, education and income. None of the participants had disclosed to their female partners that they had sex with men. Nearly 38% of the participants did not disclose to anyone that they had sex with men. 51% felt that their sexual behavior was too embarrassing to disclose, and 63% indicated they would lie if asked.
The researchers found that concealment of same-sex sexual behavior was associated with depressive and anxious symptoms. However, disclosure was not significantly associated with mental health. In other words, “coming out” may not improve the mental health of bisexual men. They also found that concealment was indirectly associated with internalized homophobia. Perhaps reducing internalized homophobia is a better psychotherapeutic treatment than encouraging disclosure?
I look at this study from the public health perspective as well; if 38% of bisexual men aren’t disclosing, do they disclose to their doctors? Do they protect themselves from STDs/STIs? Do they get screenings? What health risks are they at simply by not disclosing? I don’t know, but I think it’s important to find out.
The study’s abstract is publicly available. As always, if you want some of the details from the study, just ask!