Hello My Imaginary Friends,
“Political Correctness has Gone MAD!” is a phrase I’ve heard in various ways a lot in the past ten years. I might have heard it before, but I hadn’t noticed. It’s a nice easy way to identify someone who feels slighted by diversity and angry about not being able to mock certain groups of people.
I’m bisexual, I’m attracted to people no matter what their gender. I don’t talk a lot about this question because I’m married to a woman and that means I have a certain level of privilege.
However, you’ll notice that a large portion of my protagonists are bisexual. I also try to include other sexualities, genders, races, etc. It’s harder to get it right when writing something that isn’t me. I’ve gotten some criticism for one of my protagonists who was trans, while getting praise from others about the same character.
So I sat down to write this post and wracked my brain for bisexual representation in movies, TV, and books from when I was young. The bisexuals I remember are in 2 categories, villains/monsters and exceptions.
I grew up with Sarah Michelle Gellar in Cruel Intentions, the alien from Species, Frankenfurter from Rocky Horror, and countless “alternate universe” evil doppelgangers in Star Trek DS9, Buffy, Stargate etc. I’m sure there were more, but it was mostly the trope of the Sexy Seductress evil girl that was bi. Men were gay or straight.
Then there were the confused women like Willow, who wasn’t bi according to the show but always a lesbian, or Dax from Star Trek DS9 that had a lesbian kiss, but only because the woman was the lover of a previous host. She breaks Dax’s heart and we never see anything outside the mirror universe to show that she’s bi.
The first positive character I remember seeing or reading about that was openly bi was Angela Montenegro from Bones. It wasn’t a big thing, except to have her love interest be a little awkward about it. She was shown as flaky, but that was pretty normal for all the characters in Bones.
The next character was Jack Harkness from Doctor Who. I’m not happy with the fact that they made him into a joke in the early seasons with Tennant and I’m still pissed with the way he interacts with Donna, but overall he was pretty awesome. It was the first time I saw a male character who wasn’t mocked, killed, or turned out to be a closeted gay. (Yeah, like it’s any easier to be bi)
Now we have a lot more representation and I think it still doesn’t come close to reflecting real life. Statscan says 1.7% of people say they’re Gay or Lesbian and 1.3% say they are Bi. Considering this doesn’t take into account the rest of the rainbow, that means that 3% will admit on a census that they are LGB. I’m sure it’s higher considering there are still quite a few negative reactions to being out and if you add it the rest of the Queer rainbow you’ll find, I’m sure, that we represent a quarter or more of the population.
If you think that representation has gone mad and there are too many Queer people on television and in books keep this in mind; In 2020-21 scripted TV had 9.1% openly Queer people. That means that despite being nearly a quarter of the population there are only a tenth that are shown on TV.
Some genres are better both in film/TV and books, but it’s still not a big difference from when I was a confused kid who thought his attraction was unnatural and monstrous.
Be kind and be safe,