[Editor’s note: For the next two Fridays, Flavorwire will be counting down our 20 most popular features of 2010. This post, which originally ran on June 24, 2010, comes in at position number 19.] You know what they say about male bisexuals: They don’t exist, men just don’t work like that, bisexual is only a transitional point on the pathway to gay… Anyway, we don’t believe it. So, just in time for the final week of LGBT pride month (which, in our opinion, always tends to favor the “L”s and “G”s over the “B”s and “T”s), we’re celebrating famous dudes who go both ways. For this list, we’ve tried to features guys who don’t make a huge deal about their left-of-center sexual orientation. Because, come on: We know all about the notches on David Bowie’s belt. Since unsubstantiated rumors abound, we’ve only listed men whose bisexuality has been confirmed by a publication we trust. The resulting top ten includes everyone from a legendary civil rights leader to a wildly controversial contemporary essayist — and many other surprises.
Christopher Hitchens Controversy-courting writer, pundit, hater of God, and believer that women aren’t funny “We must also make what we will of his claim to have slept with two unnamed young men at Oxford who later joined Thatcher’s government. Hitchens was exuberantly bisexual in his younger days – until his looks ‘declined to the point where only women would go to bed with me’ – and is quite candid on the matter, so his refusal to name the future ministers looks at best coy and at worst like teasing up a bit of publicity for the book.” — Guardian, 2010
Nicholas Ray Mid-century filmmaker responsible for such masterpieces as Rebel Without a Cause and In a Lonely Place “Ray… always felt an outsider. He was bisexual and an artist and someone who never felt comfortable in Wisconsin and then finally found his way East and then to Hollywood. His films are usually about underdogs and outsiders.” — Jim Healy in conversation with Jonathan Lethem about Ray’s Bigger Than Life, Cinema Scope, Issue 40
Malcolm X Game-changing civil rights activist “Malcolm X’s bisexuality is more than just a question of truth and historical fact. There has never been any black person of similar global prominence and recognition who has been publicly known to be gay or bisexual. Young black lesbian, gay and bisexual people can, like their white counterparts, often feel isolated, guilty and insecure about their sexuality. They could benefit from positive, high-achieving role models, to give them confidence and inspiration. Who better than Malcolm X?” — Guardian , 2009
Michael Chabon Author of books including The Mysteries of Pittsburgh and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay “I had slept with one man whom I loved, and learned to love another man so much that it would never have occurred to me to want to sleep with him.” — Chabon in a 2005 New York Review of Books article, as quoted by Queerty
Billie Joe Armstrong Green Day frontman “I think I’ve always been bisexual… I mean, it’s something that I’ve always been interested in. I think everybody kind of fantasizes about the same sex. I think people are born bisexual, and it’s just that our parents and society kind of veer us off into this feeling of Oh, I can’t. They say it’s taboo. It’s ingrained in our heads that it’s bad, when it’s not bad at all. It’s a very beautiful thing.” — Armstrong in an interview with The Advocate , 1995
Marlon Brando Legendary actor “Brando was bisexual and voracious. The roles he lived off-screen were even more provocative than those he created in films.” — Darwin Porter, Sunday Times of London , 2006
Image via nemone on Flickr
Pete Shelley Buzzcocks singer and guitarist “Meanwhile, young punks who may have balked at Shelley’s bisexuality or lines like ‘I’m in distress, I need a caress’, found themselves seduced by the gorgeous tunes that lay beneath the chainsaw guitars.” — The Quietus, 2009
Leonard Bernstein Composer, conductor, pianist “According to biographers, Bernstein knew that he was bisexual by the time he arrived at Harvard and lived in an era when homosexuality was socially unacceptable.” — Harvard Crimson , 2006
Cary Grant Iconic leading man After years of rumors and speculation, it seems Betty White outed the silver-screen legend on an episode of The Joy Behar Show. Watch the video at Perez Hilton.
Pete Townshend Guitarist and songwriter, The Who “We’ve known Pete Townshend is bisexual. The rock legend acknowledged as much a few years ago. But he’s never been exactly eager to go into detail. So imagine the surprise of a VH1 camera crew when Townshend casually tossed in a juicy same-sex valentine to, of all people, Mick Jagger.” — The Advocate, Feb. 16, 1999 (Of course, Townshend’s going to have to fight Bowie for him…)