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I am going to at all times bear in mind the night time of December 5, 2017. It holds an extremely particular place in my coronary heart as a result of that is the unique air date for the 99th episode of Brooklyn 9-9 — the episode through which Rosa Diaz comes out as bisexual. It may not seem to be an enormous deal, however Stephanie Beatriz, the bisexual actress who performs Diaz on the present, will get proper to the guts of why it issues, telling Vulture: “The principle factor for me was that the character mentioned ‘bisexual’ and that she mentioned it so many instances.” And she or he’s proper — what number of characters have been in a position to title their bisexuality with out being the villain of the story or having their sexual promiscuity turn out to be a significant plot level?
The reply is . . . not many.
In GLAAD’s annual The place We Are on TV Report, they be aware that there are 95 common LGBTQ+ characters on authentic streaming scripted collection, and 46 LGBTQ+ recurring characters. Bisexual characters “make up 28 p.c of all LGBTQ characters on all three platforms.” When you do the maths, that signifies that in your favourite exhibits from Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix, there are solely roughly 20 bisexual characters. Take into consideration your favourite exhibits that got here out lately. Bridgerton? Zero bisexual characters. Ted Lasso? The phrase “bisexual” was by no means uttered. The Queen’s Gambit? Beth Harmon wakes up in mattress with a girl after an evening of heavy consuming, however we’re left to take a position about her sexuality.
Sadly, bisexual followers of tv exhibits should craft their very own theories and headcanons about their favourite characters — is Marissa from The OC really bi, or was that only a ploy for rankings? Bones‘s Angela Montenegro was in a critical relationship earlier than she married Jack Hodgins, however does that imply she was bisexual, or simply determining her id? Certainly one of my favourite tv exhibits, The Good Place, exhibits Kristen Bell’s character, Eleanor Shellstrop, lusting after each women and men. However with out naming her bisexuality, these scenes at all times felt like a girl hitting on different ladies was a punchline and never an precise exploration of her character’s sexuality.
Simply to be clear, implied bisexuality shouldn’t be illustration — it is simply cowardly. When showrunners, producers, and writers do not outright state character is bisexual, it permits folks to dismiss that it is even implied to start with. We turn out to be invisible as soon as once more.
It is laborious to consider we have really come a great distance by way of bisexual illustration on TV. In 2005, LGBTQ+ characters represented lower than two p.c of all characters on broadcast networks — and sometimes, bisexuality was handled both as a throwaway joke, like 30 Rock calling bisexuality “simply one thing they invented within the ’90s to promote hair merchandise,” or as one thing sexually deviant. (Keep in mind The L Phrase calling bisexuality “gross” in 2006?) In 2000, Samantha on Intercourse and the Metropolis referred to as bisexuality a “layover on the best way to homosexual city.” I am sorry, however my bisexuality is not a part — it is not a pit cease earlier than I turn out to be an actualized lesbian, it is not a part earlier than I cool down with a male companion. It is my actual, long-lasting id.
Even exhibits which were praised for his or her LGBTQ+ illustration have a tough time becoming the phrase “bisexual” into their episodes. Orange Is the New Black, for instance, exhibits one of many important characters, Piper Chapman, relationship women and men. When confronted with questions on her sexuality, the present dodges actual solutions with solutions like, “I like scorching ladies. And I like scorching boys. I like scorching folks.” In season 4, Brook Soso begins relationship Poussey, and later reveals that she’s “interested in folks, not genders.” The precise phrase “bisexual” is not uttered till the present’s fifth season, when Piper’s mom corrects herself after calling Piper a lesbian, after which confides to her daughter that she would not know the way Piper might be interested in each genders: “It sounds exhausting. I already fear when your father’s spending time with a girl. I believe I would go loopy if I needed to fear each time he went out with a person too.” This type of considering performs right into a well-worn stereotype that bisexual individuals are promiscuous cheaters who cannot be trusted to be devoted in relationships. How can we hope for acceptance in actual life when most portrayals on tv set requirements like this?
That is to not say there aren’t glimmers of hope on tv. Schitt’s Creek, some of the well-liked tv exhibits of 2020, launched David Rose’s pansexuality in the direction of the top of season one. Loopy Ex-Girlfriend had Daryl Whitefeather come out with the literal musical quantity (and my private anthem throughout Pleasure Month), Gettin’ Bi. Different characters on tv, like Jane the Virgin‘s Petra Solano, The way to Get Away With Homicide‘s Annaliese Keating, and Legends of Tomorrow‘s Sara Lance, have named their bisexuality via the course of their respective exhibits.
However what I actually wish to see is that this: Extra characters naming their queerness. No extra hints, no extra queer-baiting. Bob’s Burgers exhibits Bob Belcher’s attraction to males, Archer‘s Pam Poovey has slept with practically each character on the present. Why cannot they only say the phrase bisexual as soon as? Why do I’ve to hope and speculate to see folks like myself on tv? It is 2021, and it is time for Hollywood to appreciate that folks like me exist, and need to have actual, correct, and trustworthy portrayals on display. Till then, I am going to at all times have Rosa Diaz.
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