Whether it be record breaking pro-skateboarding, professional mixed martial arts, hosting an award-winning national radio show, authoring books, or podcasting, Jason Ellis has always approached his endeavors boldly and unapologetically. When it comes to getting personal, Ellis isn’t the tepid type either. On his radio show and in his first two books, Ellis has long been open and unfiltered about his mental health, addiction struggles, and sex life, as well as toxic masculinity, fatherhood, and more.
Now, in his latest book published this December, Still Awesome: The Trials and Tribulations of an Egotistical Maniac, Ellis gets real about being a bisexual guy and having sexual experiences with men and people along the gender spectrum — with and without his stunning wife, Katie. He’s been fairly open about his bisexuality for several years, but after venturing into podcasting, he has grown an audience that wants to learn more and frequently reaches out to him for information. There are listeners who have found catharsis in hearing a bald, brawling, head-to-toe tatted “tough guy” in a typically heteronormative space challenging notions of biphobia, homophobia, and sexual shame, and celebrating his queerness and sexuality.
Ellis spoke to O.school about the emotional responses he has received, mostly from bisexual and pansexual men grappling with their sexual identities, after opening up about his own. Ellis says, “They’re depressed about hiding themselves, and I feel like they’re doing a lot of damage to themselves — if not just straight up saying that they’re thinking about killing themselves.”
Despite the strides we’ve made in the previous decade for LGBTQ+ rights and visibility, bisexual people still face unique stigma and discrimination from straight people and gay communities alike. This is proven to be linked to disparities in socioeconomic status, physical health, and mental health, including a higher risk of depression, anxiety, and isolation.
Bi and pansexual men, in particular, are 50 percent more likely to live in poverty than gay men and are most likely to remain in the closet about their sexuality — more than gay men, lesbian women, bi women, and nonbinary people.
As Zachary Zane, bisexual influencer and writer for Men’s Health, tells O.school, “It’s a vicious cycle. Because of discrimination, and fear of isolation and not being part of a community, bi men often don't come out, perpetuating the myth that bi men don't exist — then preventing more bi men from coming out.”
Much of this stigma towards bisexual men translates into dating spaces as well. Ellis recalls an experience from when he was younger, in which he’d privately disclosed his previous sexual experiences with men to the woman he was dating at the time. He tells O.school, “She told all of our friends that I was a f-------t. That right there pushed me back in the closet about my bisexuality for another solid decade.”
In 2016, Glamour ran a survey of over 1,000 participants, where 63 percent of women said they wouldn’t date a man who had previously had sex with another man, despite over 30% of them having disclosed a previous same-sex experience of their own. And while we may have tried our mightiest to turn 2019 into #20BiTeen, a study published earlier this year found that dating discrimination against bisexual men by heterosexual (and even bisexual) women on dating apps remains high, as heterosexual women were significantly more likely to rate men listed as bisexual as less romantically and sexually attractive. They were also found to be less likely to date or sleep with bisexual men.
Ellis shared more of his experiences of biphobia with O.school, mentioning that many people, gay and straight, have assumed he’s just “in the closet,” even now, despite being married to a woman — and proceed to invalidate his loving relationship, referring to his wife as a “beard.” This is a common experience for bi people in heterosexual relationships, who then feel isolated by the queer community and unwelcome in queer spaces, or feel that they have to prove their queerness.
It comes as no surprise that Ellis’s refreshing candidness with his large following has prompted several hundreds of people to reach out to him and express the personal impact of his visibility. “I’m married to a woman, and I’m very happy with that, but I’m also attracted to men, and not many people will say that if they’re in my position,” he explains
It’s true. Positive media representation of bi and pansexuality is scarce compared to gay and lesbian content, both in movies and television. When there is bisexual media representation, it mostly depicts bi and pansexual women — and most of them out and proud bisexual celebrities are also women. Our society and culture are starved for bi guy visibility, and as Zane puts it, “Visibility is the first step in fighting discrimination. For bi men, it's showing, ’Hey, we do exist, and you need to respect [our] identity.’”
For Ellis, recognizing his bisexuality and no longer hiding it has proven how true that statement is: “I’m better off being open about [it], I feel better about myself and I’m better for it,” he says. “For a while, I was too scared to talk about what I was. Now, I’m in a situation where I can help people that really need my help, so that trumps whether or not I make a few people uncomfortable along the way,” Ellis continues. “I haven’t lost anyone who wasn’t a true friend in the first place, and I want to continue helping people. I thought I could help maybe a few people — I had no idea just how many people were struggling with this.”
You can purchase Jason Ellis’s book Still Awesome: The Trials and Tribulations of an Egotistical Maniac at his website, and follow him on Instagram at @WolfMate. Listen to his podcast High & Dry (formerly Ellistronics) here!