Many men aren’t 100 per cent straight. So why are we quiet about bisexuality?

Comedian and writer Sam Bowden says dating when you’re attracted to both men and women can be as fun as it is fascinating. Here, the 29-year-old tells Dilvin Yasa why he practises sexual fluidity.

I realised I was attracted to men and women by the time I was at the tail end of primary school. Although I felt a level of religious guilt about it (I went to a religious school and grew up in a very Christian household), I assumed it had to do with the confusion of puberty. I remember thinking, “This is just a phase,” and that I would eventually grow out of it.

Sam Bowden says men don’t talk enough about being bisexual.

Fast forward to age 23, and I had to acknowledge that “this is a long f—ing phase” – so then I just came to terms with the fact that this whole queer thing might be legit.

I prefer the term “queer”: not only is it the perfect catch-all for sexuality, which, by its very nature, is fluid, but also because “bisexual” can invite plenty of misconceptions. The biggest problem is that it enforces this 50/50 mentality, which isn’t a fair reflection of the complexity of sexuality. I go months where I feel incredibly straight, and then I go months where I feel super-gay. It chops and changes all the time, and I just go with the flow depending on who I’m attracted to and what I’m feeling.

You don’t often see a solid representation of men like me in the Australian landscape. I mean, there are plenty of white dudes, and even gay white dudes, but I present as a typically heteronormative bloke. I love sports, I play soccer and enjoy a beer, but I’m gay as hell, and putting that combination together can freak people out.

Obviously I’m not a neuroscientist, but I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that humans work better with clear and labelled boxes and categories that say, “Gay means this” and “Straight means that”. I get it, in a way. I don’t meet a lot of gay men who are maybe as straight-presenting as I am. But we are out here. Hiding in plain sight. Like a glitter ninja.

As a queer man, it’s been my experience that a vast majority of men don’t sit anywhere near the 100 per cent straight line. Back when I was doing comedy material about sexuality, I sometimes had guys come up to me and say, “I’m straight but I find some men attractive, and I’m not sure how to process that. Thank you for putting into words how I was feeling, you truly are a poet of the highest order. What a comedian. Surely you’ve won awards, surely you’re a household name.”

Sam Bowden.

It is nice to see that men of my generation and younger are more physically intimate with one another and have a laissez-faire attitude towards gender fluidity. You want to kiss a guy, kiss a girl and then kiss another guy? No one cares.

Dating when you’re into both men and women can be an interesting proposition. I find men fun and,
while I can certainly appreciate their interest in instant gratification, I’ve yet to meet a man that I find as emotionally engaging as the women I’ve been in relationships with. I’m not saying I wouldn’t be open to enjoying a long-lasting, serious relationship with a man, but that “you give me all the emotional fulfilment I need; let’s build a future together” moment hasn’t happened for me as yet. That isn’t necessarily a true reflection of the gay dating world, it has just been my experience to date.

In the grand scheme of things, I’ll probably end up building a life with a woman, but there would have to be a fair bit of flexibility within the relationship. I don’t mean I’m going to come in and say, “Well, we can share a life together, but I’m going to sleep with all these guys on the side,” but there needs to be plenty of healthy discussion, and a willingness to understand the complexities of human sexuality. Up until now, I’ve only ever had one relationship where my partner had an issue with the fact that I was also into dudes, but every other woman has found it hot. I tend to date queer women anyway, because they’re the coolest. So it’s definitely a win/win kind of situation.

If I were to give advice to others who are dating at the moment, I would say: look at humans on a case-by-case basis and consider the connection you have with them rather than focusing on a particular gender. If you’re a bloke and you happen to find yourself on the end of a dick, that doesn’t mean your whole life has to change. Just enjoy it for what it is.

Sam Bowden appears in the new season of The Swiping Game, available on SBS On Demand. You can also listen to Sam (along with fellow comedian, Aleks Milinkovic) on their podcast, Whoa, Free Lunch!?

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