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!
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.
Since today is Bisexual Visibility Day, let's talk about how TV gets bisexuality wrong — and how we can do better!
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!
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"?
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?
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.
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.
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!
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:
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!"
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!
So here's to progress, and here's to doing even better in the future! Happy Bisexual Visibility Day!