By Emma Simpson,
The Gay Agenda
The LGBTQ community is often perceived by others as one enormous united front, providing support and acceptance for anyone and everyone. While we certainly can embody these things, LGBTQ people are just that: people.
There has been (and still is) some tension surrounding certain issues, and there are some fundamental differences in opinion within this community that can often seem so united. Most people are familiar with the word “homophobia,” which is prejudice held against people who experience same-sex attraction, but another concept which has recently gained quite a lot of acknowledgment and that I think it is very important to bring awareness to is “biphobia,” which is prejudice held against people who identify as bisexual (or people who are attracted to more than one gender).
Bisexual people often experience prejudice and preconceptions from both the LGBTQ community and people who are straight and cisgender. Some queer people perceive bisexual people as somehow not “queer enough,” while straight cisgender people perceive them as “too queer.” Either way, there is an assertion from people of all walks of sexuality that bisexual people need to “pick a side,” which implies that anyone who identifies as bisexual is actually, deep down, either gay or straight.
This is simply untrue, and it is unfair that bisexual people’s identities are perceived as invalid. A lot of bisexual people hear things from friends, family, and strangers alike such as “it’s just a phase” and “you’ll figure it out eventually.” This can be really hurtful, because for many people, claiming a bisexual identity is them already having “figured it out.” Being attracted to more than one gender is not an in-between. It is a state of being in itself.
Queer representation in the media has been something the community has struggled with. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve said to a queer friend, “Hey, you should totally watch this show. It has gay people in it!” Bisexual people have had an even rougher go of it in this department. In most media, a character’s attraction to more than one gender is often painted as “experimenting,” or the character will say that they “don’t want/need a label.”
Not wanting to label yourself is perfectly acceptable and valid but the fact of the matter is, there are many people who use the label of bisexual, and rarely does a television show or movie use the word. This has been changing, albeit very, very slowly, but finding a character who openly identifies as bisexual should not be so difficult given that there are many bisexual people in existence.
Recently, a show called “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” starring and produced by comedic mastermind Rachel Bloom, included a character who is bisexual, and he even got his own song about it where he aggressively asserted his bisexuality (and played the saxophone so like, what’s not to love?).
But sadly, this is one very rare exception. Most often, TV shows make like “The 100” and leave a main character’s bisexuality into an ambiguous queerbait (they fell into the “kill-your-gays” trope and killed off a main gay character for no good reason, but I digress).
To further illustrate what I’m trying to say, I’d like to talk for a minute about The Babadook. “A weird fictional demon brought to us by the cinematography of Australia?” you might ask. “What’s he got to do with being queer?”
Well, you see, The Babadook was recently turned into a popular Internet meme because folks realized that the movie had been mistakenly categorized on Netflix as an “LGBT Movie.” LGBTQ folks were instantly making jokes about the Babadook’s sexuality, claiming him as a “gay icon” and drawing him in rainbow garb (very appropriate for Pride month).
You probably couldn’t do a Google search of The Babadook and not pull up images of this fictional demon in rainbow suspenders, which I happen to think is hilarious. But one trend I noticed within this meme is that people were repeatedly joking that the “B” in “LGBT” stands for “Babadook.”
These people were more readily including a fictional Australian demon in the acronym than they were willing to acknowledge bisexual people, and this largely came from within our own community.
Bisexuality is its own identity. If someone who chooses to identify as bisexual eventually ends up finding a lifelong partner, wonderful! It doesn’t make them any less bisexual because they’ve found someone of one gender to love. If someone identifies as bisexual and later realizes “oops, I think I’m actually gay/straight,” that’s fine, too. Finding out who you are should never be limited to one set of labels. Being bisexual is a real identity and everyone (not just straight cisgender people) should be more accepting of this identity.
If you want to check out the song from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (which I would highly recommend) you can watch the scene here.
Tori Tucker and Emma Simpson write the column The Gay Agenda together for InDepthNH.org and Manchester Ink Link.
Tori Tucker was born and raised in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She graduated recently from Keene State College with a major in English-Writing, with minors in music and German.
Emma Simpson is a Women’s and Gender Studies major at Keene State College. She is the vice president of her campus a cappella group and involved with Planned Parenthood as a volunteer.
InDepthNH.org and Manchester Ink Link co-publish The Gay Agenda.