NY Times Magazine Prints Sensitive Cover Story on 'Using Science' to Bring 'Legitimacy' to Bisexuals

Beware liberals when they start employing “science” around their sexual revolution. The same people who are very quick to denounce (and now outlaw) “ex-gay therapy” are trying to use science to prove that bisexuality is a legitimate sexual orientation – when even gays and lesbians mock them for just being gay, but too ashamed to admit it.

The New York Times Magazine promoted a cover story Sunday on bisexuals seeking “legitimacy” and “How a new breed of activists is using science to prove that there’s something real between straight and gay.” This came just days after the Times promoted the legitimacy and enhanced visibility of transgender activists.

As he promoted a Los Angeles-based group called the American Institute of Bisexuality, Times Magazine writer Benoit Denizet-Lewis exquisitely felt the bisexual activists’ pain:

Spend any time hanging around bisexual activists, and you’ll hear a great deal about biphobia. You’ll also hear about bi erasure, the idea that bisexuality is systematically minimized and dismissed. This is especially vexing to bisexual activists, who point to a 2011 report by the Williams Institute — a policy center specializing in L.G.B.T. demographics — that reviewed 11 surveys and found that “among adults who identify as L.G.B., bisexuals comprise a slight majority.” In one of the larger surveys reviewed by the institute (a 2009 study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine), 3.1 percent of American adults identified as bisexual, while 2.5 percent identified as gay or lesbian. (In most surveys, the institute found that women were “substantially more likely than men to identify as bisexual.”)

...Bisexuals are so unlikely to be out about their orientation — in a 2013 Pew Research Survey, only 28 percent of people who identified as bisexual said they were open about it — that the San Francisco Human Rights Commission recently called them “an invisible majority” in need of resources and support.

The Times routinely announces that they are in the journalism business to provide “resources and support” to marginalized communities – if they’re marginalized by corporations or by people with religious values. So where does the “science” kick in? And how do the experiments of bisexual leftists have more legitimacy than religious righties?

First Denizet-Lewis explored studies where people at Northwestern University watched gay and straight pornography as the scientists used a "penile-strain gauge” (which measures the changing circumference of the penis). This experiment identified the Times writer as quite gay. Then a different experiment in pupil dilation at Cornell suggested Denizet-Lewis was quite bisexual, which not only made him nervous about his sexual identity, but caused him to obsess over how this could be “catnip to the Christian Right” and their dubious science:

At Cornell, my eyes told a different story. In the small eye-tracking testing room, I watched a series of clips of men and women masturbating. [Cornell's Gerulf] Rieger told me that for most men, their pupil dilation is a strong predictor of their sexual identity. But my professed identity (mostly gay) didn’t match my pupil response. “You dilated almost twice as much as a regular gay man and almost as much as a regular straight man to women,” Rieger told me. “Your pupils actually tell me that you’re more bi than gay.”


...Rieger’s suggestion did throw me for a momentary loop. Might I actually be bisexual? Have I been so wedded to my gay identity — one I adopted in college and announced with great fanfare to family and friends — that I haven’t allowed myself to experience another part of myself? In some ways, even asking those questions is anathema to many gays and lesbians. That kind of publicly shared uncertainty is catnip to the Christian Right and to the scientifically dubious, psychologically damaging ex-gay movement it helped spawn. As out gay men and lesbians, after all, we’re supposed to be sure — we’re supposed to be “born this way.” It’s a politically important position (one that’s helping us achieve marriage equality and other rights), but it leaves little space for out gay men to muddy the waters with talk of Kinsey 4s and 5s.

[Apparently, the sex researcher Alfred Kinsey constructed a 1 to 6 scale from straight to gay.]

In a New York Times blog post related to the article, Benizet-Lewis confessed he didn’t think this “science” was convincing:

Q. Considering that you got split results from eye tests versus arousal tests, do you think that the science is prone to error, or that the difference between gay and bisexual is less clear than we might think?

A. That’s a great question, and I don’t really know the answer. To me, these kinds of tests have numerous potential drawbacks. For one thing, some people simply don’t get aroused in a lab setting. I was surprised, frankly, that I did. (Before going into the lab at Northwestern, I’d told the researcher that “you can’t just show me a video of any two guys having sex and expect me to be aroused,” especially in a lab with something attached to my privates.)

So much for the “legitimacy” of science proving that bisexuals deserve society’s “resources and support.”

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis