Avoiding Stigma by Doing Sexuality: A Qualitative Study of Self-identified Bisexual Men and Women




Esquibel, Jimmy J.

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Bisexual individuals face challenges when disclosing their sexuality to others. Few sociological studies have addressed how, why, and when bisexual individuals "come out" about their sexuality. In particular, little research has explored how bisexual men and women use gender to convey messages of sexual orientation to avoid stigma or questioning of their sexuality. This study adds to the current literature on bisexuality by examining the connection between gender and sexual orientation perception. Drawing primarily on the symbolic interactionist theory of Erving Goffman and the framework by David Orzechowicz, this qualitative project looks at the ways in which bisexual individuals “do sexuality.” I interviewed fifteen self-identified bisexual individuals. I found that participants “do sexuality” not only through the use of gender but also by controlling who they came out to, communication styles, disclosure of sexuality in relationships, handling stereotypes, navigating sexuality borderlands, and paying close attention to how others react to their sexual orientation.



bisexuals, stigma, social psychology


Esquibel, J. J. (2011). Avoiding stigma by doing sexuality: A qualitative study of self-identified bisexual men and women (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.


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