Humanizing an Invisible Population in India: Voices from Bisexual Men Concerning Identity, Life Experiences, and Sexual Health

Research examining the sexual identities, behaviors, and experiences of bisexual men outside of Western contexts (including in India) is limited. Individuals who self-identify as bisexual due to their orientation toward partners of more than one gender face distinct psychosocial challenges relative to exclusively heterosexual, gay/lesbian, or other individuals. We conducted four focus group discussions (n = 22) and in-depth interviews (n = 50) with self-identified bisexual men (age 18 years and older) who were recruited from the metropolitan area of Mumbai, India, between June and August 2013. We triangulated and analyzed focus group and interview data using standard qualitative research techniques. Findings from our study suggest that multiple factors influence the sexual experiences of self-identified bisexual men in Mumbai, including contexts of sexual interactions, sexual positioning, and the gender of sexual partners. Participants described cultural meaning systems and psychosocial dynamics that regulate bisexual identity development, disclosure, and sexual decision making with male, female, and other partners. Secrecy, discretion, and sexual pleasure also influenced sexual behaviors and relationships. Although Western sexual identity categories are not necessarily equivalent in the Indian context, it is interesting and important to note that a number of individuals in India continue to use the identity label of "bisexual." Before developing interventions to meet unique sexual health needs of bisexual men, it is crucial to understand how these men perceive themselves, reconcile the ordinary aspects of their lives with their sexuality, and structure their relationships with partners.

Publication Date:
Dec 03 2018
Date Submitted:
Jul 01 2019
Archives of Sexual Behavior
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 Record created 2019-07-01, last modified 2019-07-24

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