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Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. Although bisexual men are known to be less likely to disclose their sexual orientation to others than gay men, the reasons why bisexual men choose or feel unable to disclose have received minimal research attention.

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To examine the reasons behaviorally-bisexual men offer for not disclosing to their friends, family, and female partners, in-depth interviews were conducted with an ethnically-diverse sample of men who had not disclosed their same-sex behavior to their female sexual partners in New York City. Men were recruited from multiple venues and online sources using a targeted sampling approach. Transcripts were thematically analyzed using Atlas. These findings provide insights into the reasons why many behaviorally-bisexual men choose not to disclose, potential reasons why bisexual and gay men differ in the extent to which they disclose, and potential reasons why some bisexual men report greater emotional distress than gay men.

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Further, they suggest that greater attention needs to be placed on addressing the stigmatizing contexts that confront bisexual men and providing them with strategies to manage stigma. Non-disclosure by behaviorally-bisexual men is also associated with poorer mental health Schrimshaw et al.

Thus, the current study sought to understand the factors that contribute to non-disclosure among behaviorally-bisexual men.

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From this theoretical perspective, non-disclosure is a result of individuals continuing to experience identity uncertainty. Indeed, to the extent that some behaviorally-bisexual men continue to think of themselves as heterosexual or are uncertain about their sexual identity, they might view disclosure as premature or unnecessary. Behaviorally-bisexual men who view their same-sex behaviors as temporary may likewise view disclosure as unnecessary.

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Therefore, individuals who recognize they may be stigmatized for revealing their sexual orientation might engage in defensive strategies such as information control, covering, and passing to avoid stigmatization Goffman, This suggests that non-disclosure may be a stigma management strategy to avoid negative reactions. However, given the relative lack of research on the reasons for non-disclosure especially among bisexual menit remains unclear whether this occurs because men are in the process of identity development or whether they seek to avoid the potentially negative consequences to disclosure.

Although these demographic correlates are important for understanding which groups of behaviorally-bisexual men are least likely to disclose, they provide little insight into the motives and reasons why bisexual men choose not to disclose. The existing qualitative research on behaviorally-bisexual men has begun to offer some insights into the potential reasons for their decision to not disclose to friends, family, or female partners. However, other reasons for non-disclosure depart from those anticipated by stigma management theory.

For example, consistent with Alaska craigslist gay sex identity development perspective, some men have reported not disclosing because they do not identify as bisexual or are uncertain about their sexual identity Baldwin et al. Other studies have found that some behaviorally-bisexual men report they conceal their sexual orientation because they feel others have no right to know this personal information, even their female sexual partners if they consistently use condoms Malebranche et al.

Furthermore, some research has suggested that prevalence and reasons for non-disclosure vary by the person to whom the men may disclose Baldwin et al. Despite these insights, however, the lack of consensus among the available studies makes clear the need for a more nuanced and in-depth understanding of this issue.

The lack of agreement among the findings from existing qualitative studies may be due to a of ificant limitations of this past research. First, many of these studies did not seek to address reasons for non-disclosure, but rather examined related issues of identity formation Baldwin et al.

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As such, there remains a need for an in-depth analysis of the factors that contribute to non-disclosure among behaviorally-bisexual men. Although the research literature has found that African American and Latino bisexual men are ificantly less likely to disclose than White men e. However, without including White or Asian men as a comparison group, the existing studies on African American and Latino men cannot determine whether these reasons for non-disclosure e. Given the importance in understanding why some behaviorally-bisexual men feel unable or choose not to disclose their sexual orientation, the current study examined the reasons they offered for non-disclosure in a larger and more ethnically-diverse sample than has been ly available.

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Such insights are critical to determine whether non-disclosure is due to a lack of comfort and certainty with their identity or whether it is a response to expectations of stigmatizing reactions. Furthermore, building on earlier insights that disclosure varies by the potential person to whom men disclose Dodge et al.

An ethnically diverse sample of behaviorally-bisexual men in New York City participated in the study. To be eligible, men had to: 1 be 18 years of age or older; 2 not self-identify as gay; 3 report anal or oral sex with a man in the past year; 4 report vaginal, anal, or oral sex in the past year with a woman to whom at the time they were married or had a relationship lasting three months or longer; 5 have not disclosed their same-sex behavior to any past-year female Alaska craigslist gay sex partners; and 6 reside in the New York City area.

Sample characteristics are presented in Table 1. The study sought to examine a subgroup of behaviorally-bisexual men who did not disclose their sexual orientation to female partners. Thus, the decision was made to focus on men who were in a relationship or had recently been in one with a woman and who had not disclosed to their female partners of the past year.

No constraints were placed on the level of emotional commitment of this relationship; thus, in addition to wives and girlfriends, men were also included if they reported a regular sexual but not necessarily romantic relationship with a woman.

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Quota sampling was employed to obtain approximately equal s of Black, Latino, and White men, and as many Asian and Native American men as possible. Venues included gay bars, mixed-sexuality clubs, cruising parks, bathhouses, adult video stores, LGB organizations, and community-based HIV organizations.

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For venue recruitment, an ethnically diverse team of male recruiters approached every man who entered a venue and handed them a card containing study information. Targeting all men in a venue helped to eliminate recruiter bias and the perception that individuals were singled out for the study.

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For Internet recruitment, study information was posted in several sections of Craigslist. Recruitment on various other websites was also attempted e. Advertisements were also placed in a free, daily newspaper with a general readership distributed throughout New York City.

Recruitment materials stated that we were looking to interview men who had sex with both men and women and whose female partners did not know about their sex with men. Where possible, we provided the study website address for more information and a telephone for participants to call to be screened for eligibility.

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Because Craigslist prohibits the posting of telephone s or web addresses, participants were asked to the researchers in order to obtain the telephone and website address. This resulted in a final sample of eligible men for analysis. All men were interviewed by an ethnically diverse team of four interviewers, all of whom were experienced conducting qualitative interviewers about sexual behavior.

As part of the semi-structured interviews, men were asked several questions about the extent to which they had disclosed their sexual orientation. Follow-up questions separately assessed the reasons for non-disclosure of sexual orientation to specific key individuals i. Although men were asked about disclosure to male sexual partners, the reasons offered differed greatly and will therefore be reported in a separate paper.

All recruitment and data collection procedures described above were approved by the university Institutional Review Board. Interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed for analysis.

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Based on the topics addressed in the interview guide, as well as having conducted many of the interviews themselves, two senior researchers created a codebook detailing the specific topics discussed in the interviews. After training and supervision by the senior researchers, three additional research team members read all of the interviews and labelled the sections of text that represented each of these topic codes. Additional codes were added throughout the coding process. Next, a research assistant extracted all sections of the coded text regarding reasons for non-disclosure.

The authors then analyzed the extracted sections to identify the principal themes related to reasons for non-disclosure. Unanimous agreement among the authors was obtained regarding which reasons for non-disclosure were most prevalent. This was done through two methods. As required by the eligibility criteria, no participants reported having told any of their past-year female sexual partners about their same-sex behavior. Men offered a of reasons why they had not told, and in many instances, intended to never tell their friends, family or female partners about their sexual orientation.

Below we describe the primary reasons offered by the men.

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One of the most common reasons offered by the men for not disclosing their sexual orientation to others, particularly their wives and girlfriends, was the belief that these women would have strong negative emotional reactions. Men clearly wanted to avoid the emotional confrontations that they felt certain would result from disclosure.

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For example, a year-old, White, bisexually-identified man told us:. Interviewer I : So, now is there anyone who you wouldn't want to know or you would never tell at this point in your life? Respondent R : Yeah. Still, uhh, the woman I'm seeing. I don't - I don't think she could handle that.

INTRODUCTION

I know it. R: Oh, God. It would just be something straight out of a television show. She's a nervous breakdown right before your eyes.

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The screaming and crying, and the whole thing. I: Alright.

INTRODUCTION

So what do you think your female partners would say or do if they found out? They would go crazy. They would just, they would feel--I think they'd be shocked, really. They'd be really shocked. Like they wouldn't believe it, you know, they'd just be like, are you fucking serious? No fucking way.

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Hell, no. Several men also discussed that they anticipated that female partners would experience a strong sense of betrayal due to the sexual infidelity. Some expected that their wives and girlfriends would be more upset by infidelity with another woman while others reported their female partners would feel be more upset to learn of their sexual relationships with men.

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For example, a year-old, heterosexually-identified Black participant remarked:. R: Betrayed. Same way I would feel if I found out she was fooling around. Disappointed, betrayed.

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R: Because she, she would feel that she should, if, you know, she should be able to trust me and tell her what, if I was having any kind of outside relationship. I: Oh, so you think she would feel, but do you think she would feel betrayed because you had an outside relationship, or is it because you had, you had an outside relationship with a man? In addition to wives and girlfriends, many men also reported that they would not tell their parents or other family members due to the negative emotional reactions they anticipated from them.

In this example, a year-old, heterosexually-identified Black participant expressed fear at the potential reactions of family members and friends:. In contrast to the highly negative emotional reactions that most men anticipated from their wives, girlfriends, and some family members, most were less certain about how their friends would react to disclosure. However, many men did anticipate negative emotional reactions e. For example, when asked if there was anyone else he would never tell about this sexual orientation, this year-old, heterosexually-identified Latino participant remarked:. I: Alright, so um, with your friends, what do you think your friends would say or do if they found out?

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R: Uh, I think some of them would accept it, some of them would uh, make fun of me, judge me, harass me. In addition to the negative emotional reactions, many men also reported that they believed disclosure would result in profound changes in their relationships with others. ZIP:

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