When worlds collide: The romantic relationship experiences of bisexual-identifying Asian American men

Cheryl Baierl-Kwok, Sharon S. Rostosky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Relationships, their processes, and outcomes are shaped by sociocultural norms and practices. The specialty of counseling psychology emphasizes the importance of a holistic understanding of the social context of lived experience as it affects health and well-being. We used a queer paradigm and an intersectional approach to inquire about the romantic relationship experiences of 15 bisexual-identifying Asian American men (BIAAM) who were at least 23 years old. In-depth interviews were transcribed and analyzed using a constructivist grounded theory approach. A recursive process of coding resulted in findings that focused on the influence of gender and bisexual stigma on romantic relationship experiences. Relationship experiences were constructed in the context of White hegemonic masculinity norms requiring the performance of dominance and emotional restriction. Experiences of bisexual stigma included fears of rejection from gay and Asian communities that shaped the choice of partners and disclosure and concealment decisions. BIAAM create and maintain their romantic relationships in a social context that challenges them to straddle socially constructed binaries and hierarchies for performing gender, sexuality, and race. We discuss the implications of the findings for culturally competent and effective intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)731-755
Number of pages25
JournalPersonal Relationships
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research article was based on the first author's dissertation project under the supervision of the second author. Dr. Baierl‐Kwok is currently a Counselling Psychologist with East London NHS Foundation Trust, Tower Hamlets Psychological Therapies Service. A preliminary version of the findings was presented at the 2021 American Psychological Association meeting. We want to thank the men who donated their time and shared their journeys with us as they navigated their bisexual, Asian American, and masculine identities. Sharing one's romantic partner experiences and the social and cultural influences on them can sometimes be painful and overwhelming, especially during global pandemics. We are grateful to each of the men who trusted us with their narratives and allowed us to share their lived experiences. We are humbled by their strength, humility, and zest for life. We also want to thank the University of Kentucky's Office of LGBTQ Resources and the American Institute of Bisexuality for providing funding for this project.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 International Association for Relationship Research.


  • Asian American
  • bisexual
  • intersectionality
  • men
  • qualitative methods
  • romantic relationships
  • sexual orientation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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