Bisexuality appears to be too complicated for popular culture.
So many books, TV shows, films and more show ‘straight’ characters turning ‘gay’ or even ‘gays and lesbians’ going straight.
It never seems to cross the creators’ minds all these people may be bisexual to start off with.
Why is that? Is it because pop culture is supposed to be simple, easier to deal with concepts like black or white, male or female, gay or straight?
Or is it that they just don’t get bisexuals exist?
Doing so erases bisexuals from our culture. And it falsely makes it look like being gay or lesbian is a choice.
So let’s start Bisexual Visibility Day with some naming and shaming – not an attack but a plea for change and inclusion.
DISCLAIMER: This is all up for interpretation and absolutely all views are welcomed. This article should not be seen as a factual representation of what the creators of these TV, film and books intended.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Buffy The Vampire Slayer is one of the greatest things ever created by humans. This is not hyperbole. But still, it is perhaps the textbook example when it comes to bisexual erasure in pop culture.
For the first three seasons, Willow is clearly attracted to men. Her relationship with the werewolf Oz is one of the biggest romances in the show. But then, when she gets into a relationship with the witch Tara, she calls herself gay. (Admittedly, when she met her vampire doppelganger, she did describe her as ‘kinda gay’.)
This is a problem with the writing. If they wanted to make Willow a lesbian from the beginning, they could have done something to make her relationships with men feel disingenuous or her ‘trying to fit in’. But they didn’t. And the word bisexual isn’t even mentioned as a possibility, it’s ‘kinda gay’.
Chasing Amy is a movie about a lesbian that falls in love with a man. In the film, bisexuals are told they are confused. Told it was a phase. Pick a side.
In the first half of the film, Alyssa is identifies as lesbian. And then the second half she’s straight. It’s implied she considers it easier to deny her attraction to men than deal with being bisexual.
Gigli is the companion to Chasing Amy, mainly because it’s a similar plot and both star Ben Affleck as the ‘cure’ to lesbianism.
The film is Jennifer Lopez, who plays Ricki, and identifies as a ‘lesbian’. This is even though she has enjoyably been with men in the past and she falls for Affleck.
The Kids Are All Right
You might be thinking, ‘Well, Chasing Amy and Gigli were hardly loved by the masses, were they?’ And you’d be right. But one film, which starred amazing actresses and a well-meaning director, is a little different.
Loved by the critics and awarded by several, The Kids Are All Right was not alright by the standards of some – mainly lesbians and bisexual women.
In the film, a ‘gay’ mom played by Julianne Moore has sex with a guy. If they had made it clear Moore had been attracted to men before, or if the word ‘bisexual’ crossed their lips once, people might have been a little more forgiving.
Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult
Thought books would be better as they are more complicated, more astute at human relationships? Nope. It may have the backing of Ellen DeGeneres, but this book is very odd when it comes to erasing the word bisexuality from existence.
The book is about a woman married to a man, who loses a baby in late pregnancy, who then falls in love with a woman.
While it is a lovely book when it comes to the idea of lesbian parents and raising children in rainbow families, once again the main character Zoe is painted as having ‘turned gay’.
For years, Marcus Dent – played by gay actor Charlie Condou – in the British soap opera was gay and only had relationships with men.
But then, randomly, he turned ‘straight’. Well, the producers defended their actions by saying the character identified as a gay man who fell in love with a woman. Does that happen in real life? Of course. But it still means you don’t fall on the extremes of the Kinsey scale, the theory that puts sexuality on a spectrum.
Queer As Folk