THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY
BISEXUALS: IS HE or ISN'T HE ?
EACH NEW STUDY, IT SEEMS, FORCES OBSERVERS
to discard one more supposition about
sexual practices in this country.
Public-health officials and private AIDS physicians around the country are struck by the presence of three different clinical subpopulations:
married gay men who do not want their spouses to know when they learn they are antibody-positive;
and single, active bisexuals.
Health officials who deal with sexually transmitted diseases have long been aware of the frequency of homosexuality among Catholic priests.
In the words of one such official,
"I and most of the public-health directors I've talked to about this subject estimate that in our communities at least a third of Catholic priests under forty-five are homosexuals, and most are sexually active.
They almost always engage in anonymous encounters, the highest-risk sex of all, and when they want help they don't come to clinics.
I've met with priests in some of the strangest places."
A county health department worker tells of going to a bathouse to conduct syphilis testing and catching sight of the priest who had given prenuptial counseling to him and his fiancee.
"He was slapping on a towel when I walked in,"
the man says.
"I pretended not to see him, and I think he did the same. Later I discussed it with my wife. To my surprise she didn't seem that upset. To her it seemed less like a violation of his vows than if he'd been having an affair with a woman in the parish.
Bathhouse sex wasn't going to lead to a relationship."
Even as the Church is toughening its stance on homosexuality, more and more priests are dying of AIDS. The official ticks off the most recent AIDS casualties that he has heard of among priests - one in New York, two in San Francisco, two in his own city, and a bishop in a nearby community; the obituary usually attributes the cause of death to some other illness, generally cancer. It seems only a matter of time before the situation will compel some acknowledgment from the Church of a reality it has chosen to ignore.
The potential role of bisexuals in heterosexual transmission of AIDS has been gravely underestimated. In the San Francisco AIDS Foundation survey of 400 heterosexuals, seven percent of the women thought that their primary partner had had sex with another man within the past five years, and twelve percent of the men thought that their female partners had had sex with a gay or bisexual man with in the past five years. In a separate survey of gay and bisexual men in San Francisco, six percent of the respondents said that they had had sex with women within the past six months. In a study of 1, 200 gay men in the Bay area, 23 percent of the respondents reported that they had had sex with women within the past five years.