By: Audrey Mosdell
When you hear the word bisexual, what do you think of? Do you think of a friend? Some kid just going through an experimental phase in college? Maybe you think of yourself, a sibling, someone you look up to. Maybe you think it just doesn’t exist. To you it may mean nothing, but to someone else it probably means everything.
It is okay to have been living your life and not really knowing what bisexuality is. Your ignorance is shared by many , including at some point me, a bisexual woman. Growing up, you hear about homosexuality as a joke, “Haha gaaaaaaaay,” kids would throw around. Or maybe you hear it as something wrong in Church. Believe me, I’ve seen that first hand. From the Westboro Baptist Church picketing outside my high school, to being forced to read Sodom & Gomorrah from the Bible in Catholic Youth Group. These were combated with NOH8 campaigns and commercials getting the hottest celebrities of the 2000s to tell everyone that’s wrong and that “God loves gays.” But these instances just had to do with “gay” and homosexuality.
I watched the movie Dodgeball at too young of an age, not getting all of the jokes of course. One of the last scenes ended with the female love interest kissing a last-minute entrance girlfriend before kissing the male love interest tagging along the joke, “I’m not lesbian, I’m bisexual.” That scene was the first time I heard that word and the only time I ever heard it in a movie. When I saw that, I had no idea that she was talking about being interested in both men and women. I thought it meant something about being unfaithful or immoral. This scene perpetuates a bad stereotype that many believe about bisexuals: that we’re promiscuous (feel free to insert those nasty words in there) and we’re unfaithful.
It sounds crazy to think that I am a bisexual woman and had at one point no idea that bisexuality existed. This all boils down to being uneducated and little to no exposure. My experience with Dodgeball was no help.
Artists like Lady Gaga really helped me come into understanding with my sexuality. The release of “Pokerface” saw her step into the spotlight and it was everywhere. I was so into it as someone interested in pop music. At this point, I had figured I was lesbian. I knew I liked women, so I figured that must be it. But then I read an article of an interview with Lady Gaga and found out that song was about wanting to be with a woman, while also being with a man, which confused me. Obviously, it takes a more promiscuous context, but I was confused and intrigued. I began to realize that Gaga allowed her sexuality to influence her artistry. Previously I’d only seen males in love interest roles with women, but everything seemed to change that year.
In 2010, Lady Gaga came out as bisexual. I was in middle school then and my sexuality was really starting to impact my life. Around this time an actress I love, Amber Heard, came out as well. When she got into a male/female relationship, everything finally started to make sense to me.
But still, throughout my journey, only having two people to turn to is not a good example. I would not be surprised to know if other people’s journeys into bisexuality were similar to mine – but that should not be the case. Better representation is a necessity. Bisexual erasure and biphobia are all too common, not just to straight people, but amongst non-bi queer individuals as well. These myths I touched on earlier are key to our stories being covered up.
Fictional bisexual characters have their sexuality taken out of the story all together. This was seen with the paleo-vet in Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom, Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok, and Steve Rogers in every movie with Captain America.
“Oh yeah, they’re bisexual,” just isn’t a good enough response. We need to be shown in a positive light in the media – not just shown as individuals who like to have sex. We need to see more bisexual men in media, which hopefully we will see happening in the upcoming Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. We need more stories of powerful and influential bisexual people: male, female, and non-binary to be told. It is time for Hollywood to stop worrying about whether or not there is an audience for these stories because we’re loud, we’re proud, and we won’t be erased from history.