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    It's Time To Talk About The Way We Portray Bisexuality On TV

    Cuff your jeans and grab a beverage, because I have a lot of thoughts.

    There's been an increase in bisexual representation on TV over the years and it's great. Some TV shows really get bisexuality right and make people feel seen!

    ABC

    But sometimes, shows just kind of miss the mark when it comes to bisexual representation. They might use harmful tropes, refuse to explicitly use the word "bisexual," or have characters straight-up claim bisexuality isn't real.

    Sex in the City: "I'm not even sure that bisexuality exists, I think it's just a layover on the way to Gay Town"
    HBO

    I have to ask, though...where is Gay Town and how does one visit it?

    Since today is Bisexual Visibility Day, let's talk about how TV gets bisexuality wrong — and how we can do better!

    Getty Images

    Before we dive in, let's just clear up what bisexuality actually means. People's definitions may vary, but generally, bisexuality just means attraction to more than one gender! This can include (but is not limited to) men, women, and non-binary people. Bisexual people may have preferences for one gender or feel attracted to different genders in different ways. It's also not dependent on who you're dating!

    Warner Bros. / Via reddit.com

    Not too hard of a concept to understand, right? So then, what's up with so many shows portraying bisexuality as a "phase" or "experiment"?

    Julie on "The O.C." tells Marissa she experimented too at her age, that it's just a phase
    FOX

    I know this was back in 2005, but let's be honest: We still hear lots of this.

    And why are so many bisexual characters portrayed as evil or manipulative? Don't get me wrong, I love me some villains...but when that's all you see?

    Netflix, E4, BBC

    A lot of bisexual characters are also portrayed as hypersexual, unfaithful, or "greedy" — whatever the hell that means.

    There's also an issue on many TV shows that I don't think we discuss enough: casual anti-bi remarks said by both straight characters and queer characters. A lot of the time, it will even come from a character's significant other! Too often, we excuse hurtful dialogue because the character was "insecure" or "jealous." That's got to stop.

    Kurt on "Glee" tells Blaine that bisexual is "a term that gay guys use when they want to hold hands with girls and feel like they're normal for a change"
    FOX

    Yeah, Blaine didn't turn out to actually be bisexual, but it doesn't make this kind of rhetoric any less harmful — especially for a show that was supposed to be LGBTQ friendly.

    One of my absolute favorite bisexual characters, Miles Hollingsworth from Degrassi, is a really good example of this. He actually does call himself bisexual, and he doesn't really care what anyone else thinks of him.

    Netflix

    The problem, though? Miles' boyfriend Tristan constantly invalidates his bisexuality, and he never once gets called out for it. That's messed up — and it kind of ruins everything for me. This isn't a problem unique to Degrassi, either. Bi erasure is a real thing and it's way too common!

    Tristan: "decisive my ass, you can't even decide if you like boys or girls" and "Miles is firmly on boys now"
    Netflix

    Now, bisexual representation on TV has definitely gotten a lot better. We've seen more BIPOC bisexual characters, more representation for bisexual men, and we've even had bisexuals characters call themselves bisexual (gasp)! And then there's my favorite, courtesy of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend:

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    So, why does any of this matter? Well, for starters, bisexual people make up the largest group of the LGBTQ community. So, it's really important to have good representation in media! It's always good for everyone to feel seen — there's nothing quite like watching a show and going, "Hey, that's ME!"

    FOX

    Additionally, bisexual people often face discrimination from both outside and within the LGBTQ community. It's not fun to be told you're faking it for attention or just "half-gay" or "half-straight." Being an ally means supporting everyone in the community, and that includes bisexual people!

    FOX

    At the end of the day, I just want to HAVE more bisexual representation on TV! Give me bisexual characters who call themselves bisexual. Give me bisexual characters who date the same gender, another gender, or both! Give me bisexual characters who call themselves bisexual even when they're not dating anybody. Give me bisexual characters who are complex, and interesting, and flawed like anyone else.

    So here's to progress, and here's to doing even better in the future! Happy Bisexual Visibility Day!

    Netflix