I have been coming across some comments, rumors, and general posts about the current situation. Here is my take.
Queer identities are gaining more and more ground in written and visual media. While this is splendid, portrayals often seem limited to gay people. Bisexuality is, in many ways, still an “invisible” queer identity. Way too often, I hear people who don’t know what it is, doubt its existence, or just plain don’t consider it when telling a story.
About the author: I am a bisexual woman in my mid-twenties who has studied gender and queer theory non-professionally for a few years. I’m by no means an expert on anything, but I do have an interest in seeing my sexuality represented well.
Let me start with a disclaimer: There is no one way to be bisexual. This doesn’t describe everyone by a longshot. The best way of learning is to go out there, listen, ask and listen some more. This article is just a starting point for knowledge and questions.
With that in mind, let’s start!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is bisexuality?
Being bisexual means you are able to be sexually, romantically and/or emotionally attracted to more than one gender. Some people make a distinction between being attracted to both genders (bisexual) or being attracted to all genders (pansexual), but for most intents and purposes, bisexual is the term you want.
For some bisexuals, gender is a factor in the attraction, some are genderblind, some fluctuate between genders, some have a preference, etc. Point is, there are many different ways to be bisexual. The one thing they all have in common is the sexual attraction to more than one gender.
Isn’t it just a phase?
While it’s true that some gay people identify as bi before coming fully out, and that some straight people identify temporarily as bi, bisexuality is a completely legitimate orientation. Bi adults tend to stay bi.
Part of the “phase” idea comes from the fact that most bisexuals indeed settle down with a person of a specific gender. This doesn’t make them non-bisexual though. It just means that their perfect match happened to be male/female/whatever.
How and when does a bisexual person know that they are bi?
That differs a lot. Some have known all their lives, some figure it out through experimenting, some only realize when BAM they’re in love with someone unexpected. Personally, up until my early twenties I just figured everyone was a little gay until I realized that hey, maybe it’s just me.
How do bisexuals choose?
The same way as everyone else. We meet someone fantastic, and we decide that we want a relationship with them.
Aren’t you just greedy?
No, no and also no. Bisexuals are not attracted to everyone. We can be attracted to anyone regardless of gender, but we still have taste and standards. The specific standards depend on the bi individual, just like libido, faithfulness, etc. - all things that have nothing to do with the orientation and everything to do with the individual.
Writing a Bisexual Character
The top 6 most important things to remember while writing a bisexual character are as follows:
“Bisexual” is not a personality trait, nor does it say anything distinctive about the character apart from their shipping potential. Sexuality informs personality, sure, but just like you can’t base a character around their hair color, you can’t base a character solely around their sexuality. Flesh ‘em out.
Bisexual people face discrimination from both straight and gay communities. Bi girls are seen as flaky teases or “drunken straight girls”. Bi guys are seen as equally flaky, unable to settle down, or as gays in denial. All bi people are seen as more promiscuous and less trustworthy. Many people will avoid serious relationships with bi people because of this.
Since bisexuals are regarded as more sexual, bi characters (especially female) can skirt the line of Mr./Ms. Fanservice. It’s not fair, but know that a same-sex couple kissing will often be seen as shocking and/or pandering.
Most (Western) bisexuals live happy, well-adjusted lives at peace with our sexuality. The media has a tendency to depict queer characters in a very dramatic and traumatised light, and there is some truth to this (e.g. the suicide rate among bisexual teens is higher than for both straight and gay teens), but the angst is currently overexposed in media. The angsty queer story needs some spotlight, but it isn’t groundbreaking or edgy anymore.
Related to this, be careful about killing off one half of a same-sex couple. It has been done. A LOT. I’m not saying it can’t be done well, but it leaves me a bad taste in the mouth to see just how many storytellers don’t believe I deserve a happy ending.
If your bisexual character is the only non-monosexual person in the story, be prepared for extra scrutiny and criticism (as this character will stand as ambassador for your view on bisexual people). Avoid this by having a broader selection of LGBT+ characters.
How to Out a Bisexual Character
It can be tricky to out bisexual characters, especially if they’re uncoupled by the time of writing. Here are some easy ways:
Casual outing. Mention same-sex partners/exes in passing. “Yeah, my ex always did so-and-so. S/he was crazy!”. Date stories are also good fuel here. This is the most casual way of coming out.
Sexy outing. Let the character join in on “that person is so hot!” conversations, or have them hit on someone of the same gender. This type of outing may be at little ambiguous, at least to the other characters, and it emphasizes the sexual aspect of the identity. But it can be a fun way.
Explicit outing. Let the character explicitly and directly out themselves. This may be in response to some bigoted speech (“whoa dude, you know it’s me you’re talking about, right?”), during a relevant conversation point (“Actually, since I’m bi, I know so-and-so”), or it might be a bigger gesture (“Since you’re my friend, you deserve to know”). There are lots of reasons one might bring it up.
Forced/accidental outing. Someone else outs the character. This might be an enemy throwing it in your character’s face, a friend who slips up and mentions it, someone who comes across old love letters, etc. Depending on setting and other characters, this can be quite the drama fuel.
In real life, most bi people are acutely aware of how we mention our dating lives. We have made active decisions about whether we’re out or not, and who we’re out to. Very few bi people are careless about this.
That said, please out your bi character to, if no one else, then at least to the reader. Representation only matters if it is, you know… represented.
Tropes and Caricatures To Avoid
There are lots of weird and harmful tropes and stereotypes regarding bisexuals. Namely:
The sex fiend. Yes, some people like sex a lot, and sometimes those sex lovers are bisexual. But there’s nothing inherently promiscuous about bisexuality, and the world doesn’t need any more sex-crazed bi characters.
The straight-then-gay. A person who has genuinely enjoyed sexual relations with the opposite gender, then starts dating someone of the same gender, is probably bi. Don’t erase their identity, and the genuineness of their previous relationships, by proclaiming them suddenly gay. Or vice versa.
Crushing on the straight person. While this can make a compelling story, and it certainly happens in real life, it has been done to death. It also tends to cast queer love as inherently more tragic than straight love. Maybe not avoid outright, but certainly tread with caution.
Too Good For This World. While it is a nice gesture, killing off your queer character to make a point about the world’s cruelty has been done. To death, if you’ll pardon the pun.
The Tease. Especially common with female characters. It’s a bisexual person, often very sexy, but her orientation is never stated outright. It’s played with, alluded to, flirted with, but she never crosses the line of plausible deniability. Almost always overlaps with the sex fiend or Ms. Fanservice. Just… just don’t.
The most important part is: It’s not hard! As long as you build an interesting, three-dimensional person not relying on stereotypes (the way all characters should be written), you can’t mess it up. And the world sorely needs good bi characters, so you will be doing both the queer and the writing community a solid by including us.
Also: Please remember that there are as many ways to be bisexual as there are bisexuals on this planet. Sexuality is fluid, and complex, and just a small part of one’s identity.
If you’re interested in reading more, here are some good starting points:
Diversity Cross-Check, a tumblr introducing writers to marginalised people that they can ask questions (find the “bisexual” tag)
I will also be delighted to answer questions through my own blog or this post’s notes.
Now go forth, and write great bisexual characters!
if you want to ask a bisexual or asexual person about their sexual history to verify that they’re queer, but you don’t want them to take it the wrong way, try this useful communication technique:
give them twenty dollars and go away.
WHY BIG SUPERHERO MUSCLES AREN’T ‘THE SAME THING’ AS SEXY CURVES
As a man who reads superhero comics, I confess that I share a commonly-held prurient interest in big-chested, long-legged heroes in skin-baring costumes that barely cover their naughty bits — or as I like to call him, Namor.
Sadly, Namor is pretty much alone in his category. Contrary to the perception that male heroes in comics are frequently sexually objectified, it’s my experience that even Namor is only rarely presented as someone to lust over. Yet I’m fortunate that my tastes run towards the Hemsworth end of the scale. Like many straight men, I admire the kind of buff dudes that are the staple of superhero comics, even though they are rarely sexualized. If I shared the tastes of most of the women I know, I think I’d find superhero comics an even more frustratingly sexless wasteland.
Big muscles are a male fantasy. That’s not to say that women aren’t ever into them, but let’s face facts; women have never been the primary target audience for superhero comics, and male heroes are drawn with big muscles anyway. Make no mistake; women are there. But those big muscles are not there for women. They’re there for men; straight men who find male power exhilarating. If women didn’t exist, superheroes would be drawn just as buff as they are today — because as far as most superhero comics are concerned, women as consumers do not exist.
Yet I’ve seen it said more times than I can count that male heroes are objectified, sexualized, idealized, just the same as the women — because they’re big and ripped and dressed in tight costumes. It’s an idea that’s completely tied up in the narcissistic notion that androphile women are attracted to the same qualities that men find appealing.
Talk to a few women, and you’ll find that’s broadly untrue.
I realized at some point in a long history of being around guys who call every attractive dude they see “gay”, an unsettling number of straight dudes feel super uncomfortable around what is clearly supposed to be a sexually appealing man. Even if there’s a complete absence of evidence that he’s even gay at all and he’s completely minding his own business and not interacting with them in any way, it’s like if someone is attractive enough that this particular subsect of straight dudes are aware that he is desirable they freak out with insecurity at the fact that he’s handsome and they noticed.
Best example of it I can think of was this one time sitting in a restaurant with some friends and this group of dudes who looked like Russian models or something in white tank tops and jeans walked past us and sat down at a table on the other side of the room. There was kind of a moment of silence while they were passing, and as soon as they got out of earshot a lot of guffawing like “Ha ha they’re SO GAY am I right?” followed. And it was just like… Why? Because they’re so hot that your brain unwittingly acknowledged them as sexually appealing people? That sounds like a personal problem dude, I dunno. But that kind of behaviour is so normalized and so totally accepted in at least North American culture that companies will bend over backwards to accommodate these guys. I have no idea what market share “straight dudes who are super squicked out by sexy men” make up, but I can’t imagine they’re as much of a driving economic force as they’re given credit for.
So like… People can argue about the physiques being equally idealistic up and down the block, catering to that audience that freaks the fuck out out like they just saw a big gross bug when they see an attractive man presented in an alluring way are always going to push this false equivalency angle instead of acknowledging that if men in comics were on average actually as sexualized as women in comics regularly are, everything at your LCS would look like a Glen Hanson pinup
ALL OF THIS.
some kid in my class wrote an essay about how it never explicitly says Beowulf isn’t a robot
do you ever think about how little Michelangelo cared
All right, everyone, grab a chair and sit back because I’m going to share with you what I learned about Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel in my Art History Class.
The man NEVER wanted to paint the damn thing. But the pope at the time “forced him to” According to my teacher. Michelangelo hated this man, I MEAN REALLY HATED HIM. So did a majority of people. The pope’s nickname translated literally means “Terrible pope”.
And the working conditions were awful. He had to work on his back with all that paint, which is filled with some toxic shit that gave Michelangelo a limp for the rest of his life.
(Also, our teacher made us get on our backs and try drawing with both hands JUST to prove how bad and uncomfortable it is.)
At the time, the ceiling was so high, you could barely see it. You need binoculars to get a good look at what’s up there, by the time people could see the paintings, there was a lot of weird symbolism that Michelangelo hid up there.
This one? The creation of the sun and moon? God is mooning you. And the pope and all others after him prayed under that without knowing.
This one? At the time, dissecting was sacrilegious and everyone found out how behind God was what looked like half a brain. blah blah, science, science, that pissed everyone off.
And also, ALLLLLLL the men and women in the Sistine Chapel are all on fucking steroids. My teacher described the women’s bodies as "Men bodies with boobs slapped on."
And then there is this:
Now this is the back wall. Michelangelo actually wanted to paint this one after he finished the ceiling. (and there was a different pope too, I believe.) However, originally, EVERYONE in that painting was naked. And they didn’t like it. Adam and Eve naked? That’s cool. But Jesus? Now you crossed the line. So the pope at the time hired someone else to censor it and give the important figures clothes. He worked on it for 6 or 9 months before he died.
And then the symbolism in this one is great. Somewhere in the right, there are homosexuals in heaven. (No matter what, the Vatican will say “Those straight men are happy” I’ll get to that in a second), Michelangelo painted himself near Jesus, and the terrible pope is in hell with a snake biting his balls.
And if you were to point ANY of this out to the Vatican, they will deny all of it and claim Michelangelo was a catholic hero. In fact, when they discovered the symbolism around the 60s or 70s, the guy who told the Vatican was kicked out of the Vatican for life.
TL;DR: Michelangelo hated the pope and made the best “fuck you” of all time.
Dude Michelangelo was a BAMF who gave zero fucks
This is fantastic!! :D
Also, when I say “reformer”, I just mean he didn’t agree with the Church hierarchy and it’s dogma, not that he was a Lutheran or anything; in ref to the history of the period, “protestant” and “reformer” are rather general terms covering a wide variety of different religious non-conformists, including(though this didn’t apply to Mich) atheists, since Christian writers of all types consistently refused to acknowledge coherent non-belief even existed for centuries(and plenty of Christians, of course, continue this delusion in modern times, as ridiculous as that is), and often lumped them in with genuinely Christian “heretics” and “apostates”.
This may have been one big reason why he felt like he needed to take Vatican jobs; many of his co-religionists and correspondents had already been “suppressed”, and the Spirituali weren’t really all that clandestine in the first place(they even ran a candidate for Pope. Once (:( ), meaning the hierarchy of the day knew of his views. They may have used the threat of similar treatment(I’m talking about public humiliation, torture, imprisonment, dispossession, and public execution here) to induce him to take jobs he’d have preferred to reject. He certainly managed to find clever ways to stick it to those bastards after the fact though, didn’t he :)
I want a movie about a kid who just so happens to be born a Classic Gothic Hero, but in modern day. His name would be like Byron Dangerfield or something.
Whenever he has EMOTIONS, there are claps of thunder and lightning. Every time he leans against a piece of furniture, it turns out to open a secret passageway leading to some dark secret, until eventually he’s just like “REALLY, GUYS?” All bad dreams are prophetic, even if it’s just that Starbucks will be out of pumpkin spice syrup the next day. Every girl he talks to swoons a lot and has a tyrannical heavy-browed father who are all played by the same actor. Ravens flock around him.
There are inexplicably paintings with moving eyes and moving suits of armor everywhere he goes, even McDonalds. Every time he moves to a new apartment, there is ALWAYS a screaming woman chained up in the room above his, and she invariably sets the place on fire. He’s so over it.
He has never stood upon a moor(on, on; he has to remember to stop using that preposition, it is archaic and it morbs people out) that was not windswept and dreary. After he lost that fifth coat to strong winds he just gave up on North England entirely.
He has never seen a full moon; not entirely. Whenever he tries, he sees but a bit of it through a veil of brooding clouds and the scraggly branches of leafless trees, clawing at the gloom towards its alabaster glow. They are so much like hands, he thinks; the gnarled, withered fingers of man, that fallen, ragged vagabond, reaching -tremblingly, achingly- for a redemption he shall never reach. He also wishes he could stop thinking up all these ridiculous rambling metaphors and similes about everything he sees or does I mean CHRIST it’s embarrassing just having all this purple prose in his head why him? Why is he tormented so?? Why has God chosen to Afflict him thus??? What crime could be so great tha-
He has to remember the exercises his therapist taught him. Deep Breaths… iiiinnn… ooouut…
He tries not to dwell on the injustice of it all. Dwelling just leads to rants. His natural talent for soliloquy and monologue certainly served him well in the theater(he had to give up on acting though; all those sordid love-triangles, jealousy-fueled murder-suicides, and mysterious disappearances that seemed to follow him from company to company[even to a dinner-theater troupe in Cleavland!] got to be too stressful), but it has sent more than a few friends and lovers backing slowly and wide-eyed for the exit. Apparently, flying into 30 minutes of self-pitying heroic couplet when the plumbing breaks is not considered an acceptable reaction by most people but in his defense how was he supposed to know that?!? Besides, broken pipes are serious business; all this wet could give him consumption! He’s supposed to take that in stride??!!?? Byron is also, unfortunately, rather immune to scientific explanations on such matters |:/
It was a fact as inescapable as the fickleness of God and the faithlessness of humanity; Byron Dangerfield of Ravenwood Manor simply could not catch a break u_u
if you’re here for the gross fanservice and dismiss the other and better parts of the series for the sake of said fanservice you need to leave and never come back
Full Size & Source: