Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 79–87 | Cite as

Introduction to the Special Section on Bisexual Health: Can You See Us Now?

  • Wendy B. BostwickEmail author
  • Brian Dodge
Special Section: Bisexual Health


Despite comprising the largest proportion of the “lesbian, gay, and bisexual” population, research focusing on the unique health concerns and needs of bisexual individuals is relatively scarce. While health disparities are increasingly well documented among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals relative to their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts, gaps remain in our basic understanding of how health status, behaviors, and outcomes vary within these groups, especially bisexual individuals. The lack of specified research on bisexual health is even more curious given that, when separated from both heterosexual and gay/lesbian individuals, bisexual individuals consistently report higher rates of a wide range of negative health outcomes, including mood and anxiety disorders, substance use, suicidality, as well as disparities related to healthcare access and utilization. Indeed, in scientific research, mass media, and in public health interventions, bisexual individuals remain relatively invisible. This Special Section represents an effort to shed light on a new generation of quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods research studies that examine health-related concerns, outcomes, and intervention opportunities specifically among diverse samples of bisexual individuals from a variety of social and cultural contexts. The research herein focuses on intersections of multiple identities, the development of new measures, the use of large national data sets, and diverse groups of self-identified bisexual men (who tend to be least visible in health research). Findings from these studies will significantly advance our knowledge of factors associated with health disparities, as well as health and well-being more generally, among bisexual individuals and will help to inform directions for future health promotion research and intervention efforts.


Bisexuality Bisexual health Sexual orientation Sexual identity LGBT Sexual and gender minority (SGM) 



We would like to express our deepest appreciation to the journal Editor, Dr. Kenneth J. Zucker, for his wisdom and guidance throughout the guest editing process. Indeed, this endeavor could not have happened without his support and the platform of Archives of Sexual Behavior to propel this line of inquiry forward into the next generation of bisexual health research studies. Lastly, we would like to acknowledge (once more) the fundamental role that Dr. Judith Bradford, and our colleagues from the Bisexual Research Collaborative on Health (BiRCH), played in bringing us together.


During the writing of this manuscript, Drs. Bostwick and Dodge were supported by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities Grant R21 MD012319 (Wendy Bostwick/Brian Dodge, Co-Principal Investigator). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.


  1. Alexander, R., Parker, K., & Schwetz, T. (2016). Sexual and gender minority health research at the National Institutes of Health. LGBT Health, 3(1), 7–10. Scholar
  2. Angelides, S. (2001). A history of bisexuality. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bartelt, E., Bowling, J., Dodge, B., & Bostwick, W. (2017). Bisexual identity in the context of parenthood: An exploratory qualitative study of self-identified bisexual parents in the United States. Journal of Bisexuality, 17(4), 378–399. Scholar
  4. Bisexual Chic: Anyone Goes. (1974). New York Times (p. 83).Google Scholar
  5. Bostwick, W. B., Boyd, C. J., Hughes, T. L., & McCabe, S. E. (2010). Dimensions of sexual orientation and the prevalence of mood and anxiety disorders in the United States. American Journal of Public Health, 100(3), 468–475. Scholar
  6. Bostwick, W., & Hequembourg, A. (2014). ‘Just a little hint’: Bisexual-specific microaggressions and their connection to epistemic injustices. Culture, Health & Sexuaity, 16(5), 488–503. Scholar
  7. Brewster, M. E., & Moradi, B. (2010). Perceived experiences of anti-bisexual prejudice: Instrument development and evaluation. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 57(4), 451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Browder, B. S., & Hunter, K. (2005). On the up and up: A survival guide for women living with men on the down low. New York, NY: Dafina Books.Google Scholar
  9. Brown, A. (2017). Five key findings about LGBT Americans. Retrieved November 27, 2018 from
  10. Cantarella, E. (1992). Bisexuality in the ancient world. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Carey, B. (2005). Straight, gay or lying: Bisexuality revisited. New York Times (p. 5). Retrieved November 16, 2018 from
  12. Chivers, M. L. (2017). The specificity of women’s sexual response and its relationship with sexual orientations: A review and ten hypotheses. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 46(5), 1161–1179. Scholar
  13. Conron, K. J., Mimiaga, M. J., & Landers, S. J. (2010). A population-based study of sexual orientation identity and gender differences in adult health. American Journal of Public Health, 100(10), 1953–1960. Scholar
  14. Denizet-Lewis, B. (2014). The scientific quest to prove that bisexuality exists. New York Times Magazine. Retrieved November 16, 2018 from
  15. Diamond, L. M. (2000). Sexual identity, attractions, and behavior among young sexual-minority women over a 2-year period. Developmental Psychology, 36(2), 241–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Diamond, L. M. (2008). Female bisexuality from adolescence to adulthood: Results from a 10-year longitudinal study. Developmental Psychology, 44(1), 5–14. Scholar
  17. Diamond, L. M., Dickenson, J. A., & Blair, K. L. (2017). Stability of sexual attractions across different timescales: The roles of bisexuality and gender. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 46(1), 193–204. Scholar
  18. Dodge, B., Herbenick, D., Friedman, M. R., Schick, V., Fu, T. C. J., Bostwick, W., & Sandfort, T. G. (2016). Attitudes toward bisexual men and women among a nationally representative probability sample of adults in the United States. PLoS ONE, 11(10), e0164430. Scholar
  19. Dodge, B., Jeffries, W. L., & Sandfort, T. G. M. (2008). Beyond the down low: Sexual risk, protection, and disclosure among at-risk Black men who have sex with both men and women (MSMW). Archives of Sexual Behavior, 37(5), 683–696. Scholar
  20. Dodge, B., Rosenberger, J. G., Schick, V., Reece, M., Herbenick, D., & Novak, D. S. (2012). Beyond “risk”: Exploring sexuality among diverse typologies of bisexual men in the United States. Journal of Bisexuality, 12(1), 13–34. Scholar
  21. Doll, L., Myers, T., Kennedy, M., & Allman, D. (1997). Bisexuality and HIV risk: Experiences in Canada and the United States. Annual Review of Sex Research, 8, 102–147.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Dworkin, S. L. (2005). Who is epidemiologically fathomable in the HIV/AIDS epidemic? Gender, sexuality, and intersectionality in public health. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 7(6), 615–623. Scholar
  23. Feinstein, B. A., & Dyar, C. (2017). Bisexuality, minority stress, and health. Current Sexual Health Reports, 9(1), 42–49. Scholar
  24. Friedman, M. R., Dodge, B., Schick, V., Herbenick, D., Hubach, R., Bowling, J., & Reece, M. (2014). From bias to bisexual health disparities: Attitudes toward bisexual men and women in the United States. LGBT Health, 1(4), 309–318. Scholar
  25. Fu, T. C. J., Herbenick, D., Dodge, B., Owens, C. R., Sanders, S. A., Reece, M., & Fortenberry, J. D. (2018). Relationships among sexual identity, sexual attraction, and sexual behavior: Results from a nationally representative probability sample of adults in the United States. Archives of Sexual Behavior. Scholar
  26. Gates, G. (2010). Sexual minorities in the 2008 General Social Survey: Coming out and demographic characteristics. Retrieved November 16, 2018 from
  27. Ghabrial, M. A., & Ross, L. E. (2018). Representation and erasure of bisexual people of color: A content analysis of quantitative bisexual mental health research. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 5(2), 132–142. Scholar
  28. Helms, J. L., & Waters, A. M. (2016). Attitudes toward bisexual men and women. Journal of Bisexuality, 16(4), 454–467. Scholar
  29. Herbenick, D., Reece, M., Schick, V., Sanders, S. A., Dodge, B., & Fortenberry, J. D. (2010). Sexual behavior in the United States: Results from a national probability sample of men and women ages 14–94. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 7(Suppl. 5), 255–265. Scholar
  30. Herek, G. M. (2002). Heterosexuals attitudes toward bisexual men and women in the United States. Journal of Sex Research, 39(4), 264–274. Scholar
  31. Herek, G. M., Norton, A. T., Allen, T. J., & Sims, C. L. (2010). Demographic, psychological, and social characteristics of self-identified lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults in a US probability sample. Sexuality Research & Social Policy, 7(3), 176–200. Scholar
  32. Institute of Medicine. (2011). The health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people: Building a foundation for better understanding. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  33. James, S. E., Herman, J. L., Rankin, S., Keisling, M., Mottet, L., & Anafi, M. (2016). The report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. Retrieved November 19, 2018 from
  34. Jeffries, W. L., Dodge, B., & Sandfort, T. G. (2008). Religion and spirituality among bisexual Black men in the USA. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 10(5), 463–477. Scholar
  35. Kan, L. M., Maulbeck, B. F., & Wallace, A. (2018). 2016 tracking report: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer grantmaking by US foundations. Retrieved November 26, 2018 from
  36. King, J. L. (2004). On the down low: A journey into the lives of “straight” Black men who sleep with men. New York: Broadway Books.Google Scholar
  37. Kinsey, A. C., Pomeroy, W. B., & Martin, C. E. (1948). Sexual behavior in the human male. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders Co.Google Scholar
  38. Kinsey, A. C., Pomeroy, W. B., Martin, C. E., & Gebhard, P. H. (1953). Sexual behavior in the human female. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders Co.Google Scholar
  39. Laumann, E. O., Gagnon, J. H., Michael, R. T., & Michaels, S. (1994). The social organization of sexuality: Sexual practices in the United States. Chicago: University of Chicago press.Google Scholar
  40. Leland, J. (1995). Bisexuality–not gay, not straight: A new sexuality emerges. Newsweek, 126(3), 44–50.Google Scholar
  41. Lembeck, M. (Writer). (1996). Phoebe buffay-bisexuals. In Friends.
  42. Malebranche, D. J. (2008). Bisexually active Black men in the United States and HIV: Acknowledging more than the “down low”. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 37(5), 810–816. Scholar
  43. McCormack, M., & Savin-Williams, R. (2018). Young men’s rationales for non-exclusive gay sexualities. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 20(8), 929–944. Scholar
  44. McKirnan, D. J., Stokes, J. P., Doll, L., & Burzette, R. G. (1995). Bisexually active men: Social characteristics and sexual behavior. Journal of Sex Research, 32(1), 65–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Meyer, I. H., Brown, T. N., Herman, J. L., Reisner, S. L., & Bockting, W. O. (2017). Demographic characteristics and health status of transgender adults in select US regions: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2014. American Journal of Public Health, 107(4), 582–589. Scholar
  46. Moritz, D., & Roberts, J. E. (2018). Self-other agreement and metaperception accuracy across the Big Five: Examining the roles of depression and self-esteem. Journal of Personality, 86(2), 296–307. Scholar
  47. Movement Advancement Project. (2016). Invisible majority: The disparities facing bisexual people and how to remedy them. Retrieved November 27, 2018 from
  48. Ongley, H. (2018). Janelle Monáe identifies as a pansexual ‘free-ass motherfucker’. Retrieved November 16, 2018 from
  49. Rieger, G., Rosenthal, A. M., Cash, B. M., Linsenmeier, J. A., Bailey, J. M., & Savin-Williams, R. C. (2013). Male bisexual arousal: A matter of curiosity? Biological Psychology, 94(3), 479–489. Scholar
  50. Roberts, T. S., Horne, S. G., & Hoyt, W. T. (2015). Between a gay and a straight place: Bisexual individuals’ experiences with monosexism. Journal of Bisexuality, 15(4), 554–569. Scholar
  51. Rosenthal, A. M., Sylva, D., Safron, A., & Bailey, J. M. (2012). The male bisexuality debate revisited: Some bisexual men have bisexual arousal patterns. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 41(1), 135–147. Scholar
  52. Rust, P. C. (2000). Bisexuality in the United States: A social science reader. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  53. Sandfort, T. G., & Dodge, B. (2008). “And then there was the down low”: Introduction to Black and Latino male bisexualities. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 37(5), 675–682. Scholar
  54. Savin-Williams, R. (2017). Mostly straight: Sexual fluidity among men. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Steinman, E. (2000). Interpreting the invisibility of male bisexuality. Journal of Bisexuality, 1(2–3), 15–45. Scholar
  56. Vrangalova, Z., & Savin-Williams, R. C. (2012). Mostly heterosexual and mostly gay/lesbian: Evidence for new sexual orientation identities. Archives of Sexual Behaviors, 41(1), 85–101. Scholar
  57. Walters, M. L., Chen, J., & Breiding, M. J. (2013). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 findings on victimization by sexual orientation. Retrieved November 19, 2018 from
  58. Young, R. M., & Meyer, I. H. (2005). The trouble with “MSM” and “WSW”: Erasure of the sexual-minority person in public health discourse. American Journal of Public Health, 95(7), 1144–1149. Scholar
  59. Zou, C., & Andersen, J. P. (2015). Comparing the rates of early childhood victimization across sexual orientations: Heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and mostly heterosexual. PLoS ONE, 10(10), e0139198–e0139198. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Health Systems Science, College of NursingUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Center for Sexual Health PromotionIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations