Gay, straight, or Bailey

J. Michael Bailey's very personal crusade against bisexuality

J. Michael Bailey, former Psychology Department Chair at Northwestern University, is fond of repeating the phrase "gay, straight, or lying" as a way to claim male bisexuals are liars.

Why is this concept so important to him?

His 2003 book The Man Who Would Be Queen uses the saying several times (pp. 96, 133), and it was used in promotional materials for his book. His publicist Robin Pinnel even used it as the title of the book's 21 March 2003 press release:

"Gay straight, or lying? Science has the answer."

Below are some selected quotations from Bailey's book that outline his views on bisexuality:

Men are quite specific about the kind of erotic categories (i.e., male versus female) they respond to; we call this pattern “category specificity.” In contrast, women of all sexual orientations tend to be aroused by video clips showing men and by those showing women. (94)

Although there are clearly men who call themselves “bisexual” and who have sex with both men and women, both scientists and laypeople have long been skeptical that men with bisexual arousal patterns exist. Kurt Freund, who invented penile plethysmography, related that he was never able to find a subset of men who appeared to be bisexual in the lab. Although their data are less scientific, gay men share Freund’s skepticism. They have a saying: “You’re either gay, straight, or lying.” In contrast, many women are bisexual, at least in their sexual arousal patterns. (95-96)

In one of these pairs, the other twin considered himself bisexual and had had sexual relationships with men, although he was currently involved with a woman. If gay men are correct in their skepticism that male bisexuality exists, this second twin is probably gay. (107)

A couple of heterosexually married subjects did reveal they were “bisexual” without their wives knowing. (108)

If bisexuality—meaning indifference to the choice between male and female sex partners—were in them, then it should have been easy for them to conform to the heterosexual norm. But it wasn’t. Recall gay men’s skepticism about men who claim to be bisexual. (“You’re either gay, straight, or lying.”) My lab has been trying to find bisexual men by studying men’s erections to male versus female sexual stimuli. A truly bisexual man should be come substantially aroused to both sexes. Out of approximately 30 men who claim to be bisexual, only 2 have sexual arousal patterns that might be classified as bisexual. Most of the rest had a gay arousal pattern; a few had a straight pattern. (133)

["Transgender homosexual men"] have high levels of interest in having sex with men, and their partners tend to be homosexual or bisexual, rather than gay men. (136)

Cher has a history that is characteristic of many heterosexual transsexuals. However, she has had sexual fantasies about both men and women, and has had sex with both. She is bisexual. (159)

Blanchard made a good case that “heterosexual,” “bisexual,” and “asexual” transsexuals were more like each other than like homosexual transsexuals, and he suspected they were subtypes of a more general condition. (163)

Bailey and Rieger on bisexuality

Bailey and his protege Gerulf Rieger have been claiming for several years that "true bisexuality" does not exist in males, using plethysmograph quackery as evidence:

We were most interested in figuring out whether putative bisexual men do really get aroused to both men and women. There has been a long-lasting skepticism as to whether bisexual men are really what they say they are. Some people suggested that they are closet gay men. Others said that they are confused heterosexual men. So what are they? We invited all heterosexual, gay, and bisexual men into our lab, and measured their sexual arousal with help of a penile strain gauge while showing them movies of naked men or of naked women. We found no obvious bisexual arousal trends for the bisexual men. Most of them showed arousal like gay men, and a few got aroused like heterosexual men. Here you will find a link to the poster, which was presented at the IASR conference in Hamburg in the Summer of 2002. (Rieger 2004)

To date, Rieger's greatest media triumph has been a 5 July 2005 article by Benedict Carey in the New York Times. Titled "Straight, Gay, or Lying? Bisexuality Revisited," it was one of the most widely emailed stories on the Times website in the week following publication. The article was timed to coincide with the opening of the International Academy of Sex Research conference, where the study had been presented three years earlier. The only apparent difference is the sample size.

Carey's report drew widespread criticism from media watchdog groups and GLBT rights groups. See the Clearinghouse by Lynn Conway for a collection of responses to this article.

John Money vs. J. Michael Bailey

Takes one to know one, they say.

John Money was an ethically-challenged sexologist at Johns Hopkins whose work led to the woes of untold intersex people around the world until his "science" was debunked and his academic misconduct exposed.

Mike Bailey is an ethically-challenged sexologist at Northwestern whose work nearly led to the woes of untold transgender people around the world until his "science" was debunked and his academic misconduct exposed.

John Money put out a book in May 1990 with the title:

Gay, Straight, and In-Between

Mike Bailey's publisher did an article in March 2003 titled:

Gay, Straight or Lying? Science has the answer

The similarities in titles certainly beg a comparison, as do the remarkable similarities in the lives of the two well-known sexologists.

Why would Bailey and friends replace "in-between" with "lying"? Below is a very interesting passage from John Money’s Gay, Straight, and In-Between, with especially interesting comments in blue.

"Gender Crosscoding"

Among adolescents who circumvent homosexual activity or who quit in panic, there are some who coerce themselves into heterosexuality, only to find as husbands and fathers (or wives and mothers, in the case of females) that the lid on Pandora’s box springs open. These are the people who, when young adulthood advances into midlife, begin the homosexual stage of sequential bisexuality. For some the transition is to homosexual relations exclusively, whereas for others heterosexual relations also may continue. The transition may take place autonomously, or it may be a sequel to the divorce or death of the spouse or to sexual apathy in the marriage. When the youngest child leaves home, there may be a degree of freedom hitherto unavailable. The bisexualism of a parent is not transmitted to the offspring, and is not contagious. However, to avoid offending a heterosexual child, a bisexual parent may be self-coerced into suppressing homosexual expression.

The late expression of homosexuality in sequential bisexuality may be associated with recovery from illness and debilitation (e.g., recovery from alcoholism) that had masked the homosexual potential. Hypothetically, it might, conversely, be associated with premature illness and deterioration from brain injury or disease, as in temporal lobe trauma and Alzheimer’s disease. However, although brain pathology may release the expression of sexuality formerly strictly self-prohibited as indecent or immoral, it is not especially associated with releasing bisexuality.

In sequential bisexuality, the transition from homosexual to heterosexual expression is also known to occur autonomously in adulthood. Since this transition is socially approved and not registered as pathological, it is not likely to be recorded. If the individual were at the time in some type of treatment, the transition might be wrongly construed as a therapeutic triumph.

More than sequential bisexuality, concurrent bisexuality may be jocularly considered as having the best of two possible worlds. But it has a dark and sinister potential also. Its most malignant expression is in those individuals in whom it takes the form of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The split applies not simply to heterosexuality and homosexuality, but to good and evil, licit and illicit, as well. The two names are not gender-coded as male and female as they are in the two names of the tranvsvestophile, nor are the two personalities and the two wardrobes. Instead, the two names, wardrobes, and personalities are both male (or in the less likely case of women, female), but one, the given name with its wardrobe and personality, is for the heterosexual, and the other, an alias or a nickname, for the homosexual. The heterosexual personality is the servant of righteousness and the acolyte of a vengeful God. The homosexual personality is the servant of transgression and a fallen angel in the legions of Lucifer. The heterosexual personality has the pontificating mission of a sadistic grand inquisitor, bent on the exorcism of those possessed of homosexuality, himself included. The homosexual personality has the absolving mission of officiating indulgences in the place of masochistic penances for homosexuality, but only for himself and nobody else.

The absolute antithesis of homophobia and homophilia in this malignant form of bisexuality takes its toll in self-sabotage and the sabotage of others. Self-sabotage is an ever-present threat that materializes if there is a leakage of information from those in one antithetical world to those in the other. The greater danger is, of course, that knowledge of the illicit homosexual existence will leak out to the society that knows only of the heterosexual existence. The ensuing societal abuse and deprivation, legal and social, may be extreme.

The sabotage of others is carried out professionally by some individuals with the syndrome of malignant bisexualism. Their internal homophobic war against their own homosexuality becomes externalized into a war against homosexuality in others. The malignant bisexual becomes a secret agent, living in his own private and secret homosexual world, while spying on its inhabitants, entrapping them, assaulting and killing them, or, with less overt violence, preaching against them, legislating against them, or judicially depriving them of the right to exist.

The malignant bisexual is the perfect recruit for the position of homosexual entrapment officer or decoy in the employ of the police vice squad. Supported by clandestine operations, blackmail, and threats of exposure, in espionage or in the secret police of government surveillance, he may achieve legendary power, such as that attributed to J. Edgar Hoover of mythical FBI fame.

People in high places may have the power to keep under cover for a lifetime, with the homosexual manifestations of their bisexuality never exposed. Others have their career blown, as did the bisexual former U.S. congressman from Maryland, Robert E. Bauman, a fanatical homophobic ultraconservative of the religious new right, who subsequently published a biography of his own downfall (Bauman 1986).

Bauman was exposed by a combination of surveillance and the testimony of a paid informant and blackmailer. Nowadays there is a hitherto nonexistent way of being suspected or exposed, namely by dying of AIDS. This is what happened to Roy Cohn (New York Times, August 3, 1986), the malignantly bisexual legal counsel for the homosexual witch hunter from Wisconsin, U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy, himself suspected of malignant bisexuality. Together, they destroyed the lives of many American citizens, simply by publicly accusing them of being homosexual, falsely or otherwise.

Scratch the surface of the self-righteous and find the devil. This is a maxim of widespread acceptability, not only to the self-righteous in high places of homophobic power, influence, and authority, but also to the homophobic, gay-bashing hoodlums who, as in the case with which this section began, pick up or are picked up by a gay man, have sex with him, and then exorcise their own homosexual guilt by assaulting and maybe killing him. Both versions of homophobia are manifestations of malignant bisexuality that, in an interview with the journalist, Doug Ireland, for New York Magazine (July 24, 1978), I called the exorcist syndrome.

There must be a very widespread prevalence of lesser degrees of the exorcist syndrome in the population at large. If it were not so, otherwise-decent people would not persecute their homosexual fellow citizens nor tolerate their persecution. Instead they would live and let live those who are destined to have a different way of being human in love and sex. They would tolerate them as they do the left-handed. Tolerance would remove those very pressures that progressively coerce increasing numbers of our children and grandchildren to grow up blighted with the curse of malignant bisexuality.

Money (1990), pp. 108-110.

"Academic McCarthyism"

Bailey attempted to defend himself in 2005. When he lashed out at those whose ideas he hates, he invoked the man Money described above as "the homosexual witch hunter from Wisconsin, U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy, himself suspected of malignant bisexuality." I had accused Bailey of "scientific McCarthyism" in a 2004 essay titled "A defining moment in our history."

So, why is Bailey so keen on proving certain gender and sexual identities do not exist? Why is Bailey so set on proving those who disagree with him are liars? The reasons seem to go far beyond a simple scientific curiosity.


Bailey JM (2003). The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism. Joseph Henry Press.

Bailey JM. Academic McCarthyism. Northwestern Chronicle, 9 October 2005.

Carey B (2005). Straight, gay or lying? Bisexuality revisited. New York Times, 5 July 2005.

Conway L (2005). Clearinghouse on J. Michael Bailey's bisexual "science." via

Money J (1990). Gay, Straight, and In-Between: The Sexology of Exotic Orientation. Oxford University Press.

Pinnel R (2003). Gay, straight, or lying? Science has the answer. Joseph Henry Press sales materials for The Man Who Would Be Queen.