Bi Bi Bi
Can’t Talk welcomes back our fabulous contributor Justin for some real talk about bisexuality and representation! Spoilers for The 100 ahoy.
Well, it’s finally time to admit something about myself. Granted, this thing isn’t really a shock if you look at my Twitter and Tumblr every now and again, but for those that don’t this may be a surprise. I’ve had enough of hiding this from people who know me in real life, damn the consequences.
I…am left handed. Wait, sorry, wrong thing. I meant to say I’m bisexual. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for the past year or two, when I was aware that I was definitely not at all straight. I was unsure for a while because making gay jokes about myself was fairly typical for me in high school and that sort of thing can stew in your head for a while. It’s one of those things that you really aren’t prepped for; you don’t just wake up one day and go “I like ladies and dudes now”, it’s something that requires some self evaluation, doubting yourself, feeling a bit broken, and then just accepting it.
I bring this up because last week was actually kind of a huge deal for bisexual people in the media, who don’t really get the spotlight that lesbian or gay people do. Famous people who come out as bisexual are typically labelled as one of those two sexualities, or at worst get their sexuality swept under the rug and their partners labeled something wholesome like “gal pal” or “bro.” There’s a common joke about bisexuals not existing and being able to do whatever they want because society doesn’t acknowledge them, but it’s starting to feel more like truth when the media will say that Kristen Stewart is just hanging out with her BFF as opposed to just saying straight up that she’s bi.
First up is The 100, a show on the CW about a group of teenagers sent to Earth after humanity abandoned the radioactive planet to live in space for the past century. Our main protagonist is 17-year-old Clarke, de facto leader of the 100 when they first arrive on Earth. Eventually they meet the Grounders and their teenage leader, Lexa.
The most recent episode had a Pretty Big Thing in it, which is to say that Lexa kisses Clarke. It isn’t one of those kisses you’d get in porn, but it also isn’t a kiss that friends give each other. It’s a very emotionally fueled one, and for people who’ve wanted to see something happen between the two of them this is like their Christmas. It’s probably one of the more well done same-gender kisses and possible relationships on TV; not only is it treated with dignity by the actors and director, but it’s clear that this could actually become something more when Clarke says “I’m not ready to be with anyone…not yet.” This isn’t pandering, but an honest truth when you remember what she’s had to go through over the past few episodes–killing Finn, the missile, worrying about Bellamy being discovered by the Mountain Men. However the show ends this season. I’m hoping that Clarke and Lexa get some downtime to see where this goes.
Second on our list is Catwoman, cat burglar turned crime boss of the Calabrese crime family. Being a crime boss is a full time job, so Selina shelves the Catwoman persona until the daughter of the Yakuza crime family, Eiko Hasigaway, takes her place. Their relationship starts off rocky, but they eventually they see each other as allies and grow closer. In issue 39, Eiko warns Selina that other crime families, her father included, are going to declare war on the Calabreses and begs her to be careful. Selina pulls her close and then kisses her. And shortly thereafter, the writer Genevieve Valentine confirmed that yes, Selina Kyle is indeed bisexual.
I’ll be honest and say that in regards to Catwoman, this isn’t shocking so much as it is “wait, what?” I’ve always been under the impression that Selina was bisexual, but it was just something no one felt the need to bring up because it was just obvious. Valentine herself said that this isn’t “a revelation so much as a confirmation.” There’s no telling what the relationship between Selina and Eiko will be during this crime family war, or even after, but it’s nice that this was written with DC’s full approval and is one of the main emotional arcs from the very start of story planning by Valentine.
Between these two and opening the year with Legend of Korra making Korra and Asami a thing (and in case you were still wondering, they are indeed a thing) , this is shaping up to be a pretty good year to be bi….if you’re a lady. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to have some validation, and I can definitely see why this is an easier sell than dudes. Aside from bisexuality being seen as “sexier” if a girl says it, guys just have a very hard and rigid (heh) set of rules on sexuality–so rigid that we won’t even compliment another’s looks without adding “no homo,” –while all the while drawing dicks on the chalkboard. This was something I was back and forth on, because while I was secure enough in being straight that I could freely admit when a dude was handsome, I was also still seeing bisexuality as a primarily feminine thing–after all, that’s what media tells us.
Which brings me to everyone’s “favorite” hive of social justice, random bursts of stupidity, and home for romanticizing basically everything, Tumblr. One of the unspoken rules of Tumblr across all the various fandoms seems to be that making a canonically straight character queer is a-ok because diversity! And while I’m totally in favor of this because it reflects who I associate myself with–I honestly don’t think I regularly talk to more than like, 10 of my friends who are definitively straight–that unspoken rule only seems to have a certain reach. Might as well stop beating about the bush; it only seems to apply to white gay dudes. Bisexuals and people of color are often ignored.
I’ve noticed over the past few weeks that Tumblr has a very nasty (read: goddamn fucking grating) habit of loving the idea of two white dudes fucking each other so much that they’ll do anything to make it happen. If the characters have canonical girlfriends, they’ll write those women as huge bitches that leave them, or the women just don’t exist period. This is why I don’t entirely like the website’s mentality of “don’t kill queer people without mentioning they’re queer”, because while the intent is nice, that suddenly puts the character’s sexuality to the forefront. It borders on fetishizing when they take scenes completely out of context to suit their ship or just pull literally whatever they can out of their ass to make this ship seem valid. Tumblr’s love for gay white dudes is so blatant and counteractive to its “everyone is equal” mentality that they want Sterek on Teen Wolf to become canon. Lemme remind you that this ship involves a canonically teenage boy getting a dick up the butt by someone who looks like they’re in their 30s and whose now friendly relationship bordered on outright abusive in the show’s past (Derek literally slams Stiles’ head against the dashboard of his jeep at one point), all the while basically ignoring Danny, the actual gay kid (and person of color, played by Keahu Kahuanui) on the show.
For a place that says it’s welcoming and doesn’t contradict itself, Tumblr seems to be focused on one demographic of equality. This could be forgiven, since it’s a social media site with people who have wildly differing opinions, but it feels weird when a website that slams shows for queerbaiting (although at this point, that word is basically used like “SJW” as a placeholder for “things I don’t like”) and says all queer sexualities matter, will do basically anything it can to avoid accepting bisexuality.
And really, that annoys me more than anything else. There is fan art that completely takes the sails out of Korrasami being canon, and the people who go, “oh, well this is obviously meant to appeal to horny boys” or “this wrecks my Bruce/Selina ship!!” at the news of Catwoman kissing a lady. Counterpoint, assholes–if this was meant to appeal to the horny boys, why didn’t this make news months ahead of time like Superman and Wonder Woman dating or new Thor being a woman? How does this specifically ruin your “ship” of Bruce and Selina, despite the fact that he has more notches on his belt, plus an actual fucking kid to boot? If you don’t like this, fine, but don’t be an asshole and try to undermine this for us.
Bisexuals are about as visible to the rest of the world as people of color at the Academy Awards, and it’s straight up insulting to lump us in or cast us aside. I mean let’s face it, whether by the creators of something or the fans, anything not lesbian or gay may as well be shoved in the closet where they’re keeping Hayden Christensen’s career.
(image: Screenshot of The 100 on the CW.)