Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Sharon S. Rostosky


The relationship experiences of bisexual-identifying men of color have been neglected in psychological studies of race, gender, and sexuality. Few studies, if any, have examined the relationship experiences of Asian bisexual men, even though this population’s multiple marginalized and stigmatized social identities increase their health risks (Bryant-Davis, 2007; Carter, 2007; Ching et al., 2018). Bisexuality is commonly defined by an individual’s intimate partner attraction and/or behavior (e.g., Swan & Habibi, 2018), making relationship experiences fundamental to bisexual identity. More generally, intimate relationships can contribute to and/or pose challenges to psychological well-being (Feinstein, et al., 2016; Whitton et al., 2018), yet relatively few studies on bisexual health and well-being have focused on this central life domain. I approached the current study from an intersectional perspective that considers the symbiotic, interactive, and socially constructed experiences of bisexual identity, gender identity, and Asian identity as it influences relationship experiences. The purpose of the current study was to explore bisexual-identifying Asian men’s (BIAM) relationship experiences with same and different gender partners.

Participants who self-identified as bisexual, Asian men, who were at least 23 years of age, and were either permanent residents or citizens of North America, were recruited using social media and listservs and then screened for inclusion using a Qualtrics Survey (Qualtrics, Provo, UT) of demographic information. A final sample of 15 participants of diverse gender identities and diverse Asian identities was selected for in-depth interviews. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using a Constructivist Grounded Theory Approach (Charmaz, 2014). Each transcript underwent initial coding, focused coding, and memo-ing. Consolidation of focused codes under two major topics a) the influence of gender on relationship dynamics and, b) the experience of bisexual stigma and its influence on relationship experiences captured BIAM’s relationship experiences with same and different gender partners. When describing the influence of gender on their romantic relationships, participants highlighted compatibility and specific relationship dynamics that were often shaped by masculine gender norms. They also described their experiences of bisexual stigma on their choice of partners, their disclosure and concealment decisions, and their fears and experiences of rejection in their relationships with same and different gender partners. Participants also shared their perceptions of how cultural norms related to their race, religion, and/or ethnic background shaped experiences of gender and bisexual stigma in their relationships. BIAM create and maintain their intimate relationships in a social context of bi erasure, bi invisibility, racism, and gendered expectations. The challenge of coping with socially constructed binaries across identity intersections will be discussed along with the implications for relational health and individual psychological health and well-being.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

This study was supported by University of Kentucky’s Office of LGBTQ Resources in 2019.