By Jenise Jackson
Blog Content Contributor
In recent years, we have seen an improvement in representation for gay and lesbian individuals in mainstream media. Countless television shows and movies have done a decent job at allowing gays and lesbians a chance at seeing themselves in characters. While this has been a great feat, I can’t help but notice that it is extremely rare for there to be an occurrence of bisexual representation. I’m no genius, but I think that this is linked to the fact that bisexuality is still considered to be a taboo in the LGBTQ+ community.
Bisexuality is still a very misunderstood sexual orientation. There are people who have a hard time believing that someone can be attracted to both males and females and say that bisexuals are just experimenting or confused. There are also stereotypes against bisexuals, like the implication that they are only interested in threesomes or polygamy. These misconceptions and many more all contribute to the problem of bi-erasure, the denial of the existence or legitimacy of bisexuality. And bi-erasure could be the reason why we don’t see a lot of bisexual representation in mainstream media.
What some might find surprising is that studies have shown that bisexuals make up the largest share of LGBT Americans. Yet when looking at the current representation of bisexuals in mainstream media, you not only notice a lack of, but also a recurrence, of the same type of characters. First of all, if characters are bisexual in a movie or television show, it is usually never stated but rather implied. Also, these characters are almost always women and over-sexualized. This has more of a negative effect than people might think. Not only does the current bisexual representation feed into stereotypes, but it doesn’t depict enough accuracy. For instance, I personally don’t like how we rarely see bisexual men characters. There is this belief that men can’t be attracted to men and still have interest in women because that makes him less of a man. Also, bisexual representation enforces this idea that bisexuality is just voluntary and casual promiscuous. You will see bisexual characters being portrayed as more of punchlines or sexual fantasies even though they are much more than that. Fixing these issues, along with others in bisexual representation, is the first step towards bringing diversity and allowing bisexual individuals to see themselves when they watch different movies or shows. It also starts conversation and gets people to have a better understand the sexual orientation.
I have to commend the movies and shows that do get bisexual representation right. Characters like Rosa Diaz (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) and Darryl Whitefeather (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) raise bisexual voices. There just aren’t enough characters like them. Visibility of gay and lesbian characters has been a contributing factor in a positive cultural shift. It’s simply time for bisexuals to get the same treatment.
Featured photo by Jenise Jackson.