Tuesday, September 23

Bisexual Awareness Day

When I first became aware of Bisexual Awareness Day and the bisexual flag (blue, lavender, and pink), my first reaction was "Really? We need an awareness day all to ourselves?" There was already an LGBT awareness MONTH and an LGBT flag. Why did bisexuals need something special?

Then someone made an off-handed comment to me. I honesty don't remember what it was, just that I was taken aback that anybody could be so...forgive me, but stupid when it came bisexuality, and did they not know they were talking to a bi woman?!  

No. Apparently they didn't. Most people assume that because I'm married to a man that I'm bisexual. (I'm guilty of the same thing; I've made that assumption plenty of times, although I don't follow it up with a gobsmacked look and saying something dumb like, "But I thought you were happily married!" which, yes, I've heard--and yes, I am.) 

A person doesn't give up or change their sexual orientation when they put a wedding ring on, or even when they get into a relationship. Being happily married doesn't change the fact that I still notice other people--and by "other people" I mean both men AND women. (Even grandma used to say that you don't put on a pair of blinders when you get married and if someone ever says they never look anymore, they're either lying or there's something seriously wrong with them.) 

And unfortunately, I still see and hear all kinds of weird things being said about bisexuals. It comes from both the straight AND gay community. (At one point, a gay man told me I wasn't a part of the LGBT community. Um, excuse me, I'm bi, you know that's what the "B" stands for, right? "Yeah, but you have a husband. That makes you straight." Seriously? What's with sh*t like that?) 

Pride, whether it's Gay Pride or Bi Pride, or Black Pride or Latino Pride or Irish Pride, or InsertSomethingHERE Pride, isn't about asking for a special day or special colors or special privileges. Pride is about coming out of the dark, out of the close, out of the margins of society. The reason we've never needed a Straight Pride Day is because most people *are* straight. Being straight, like being white in the Western world, comes with automatic privileges--the kind most people don't think about. Most people on television look like you. Well, okay, they have personal trainers and dietitians and make artists and hairdressers, but you know what I mean. Most people in most shows on most networks are straight, white, and pretty/handsome. Up until recently, most gay characters were comedy relief, the peculiar uncle, or old maid aunt. That's changed in the last decade (along with getting more people of different ethnicities into main-character roles).  

But even now, bisexual characters are nearly non-existent on television (although to be fair, I only watch so much of it.) The two that spring immediately to mind are Bo, from Lost Girl and "Thirteen" from House, MD, and of course my favorite omnisexual Captain, Jack Harkness from Doctor Who and Torchwood. (The case could be made for his handsome teaboy, as well.) A quick Google search revealed a few others, characters from Skin, and Orange is the New Black, and even Orphan Black, which I do watch, just not regularly. Of the ones I know, Thirteen is probably my favorite for being an accurate representation of a bisexual woman (I love Jack, but he was never meant to be "realistic"--in his own words, he's a modern fifty first century guy!)  

Finding mainstream movies with strong, accurate bisexual characters is a bit more difficult, though some do exist. My favorite (though not mainstream) is The Velocity of Gary, perhaps in part because I have a bit of a fan girl crush on Vincent D'Onofrio (although really, it's a great movie, full of poignant, bittersweet moments.)

One of my favorite literary bisexuals is my friend Shira Anthony's Aiden Lind (from Aria). What I love is the handling of Aiden's sexuality. It's a part of the whole person, nothing more and nothing less. It's not used as a device to drive angst into the story, but it's not downplayed because Aria is a gay romance novel, either. 

It's like real life. I'm bisexual, but that's only a small fraction of who I am. I'm also a wife and a mother, a writer, and volunteer, and someone who loves to cook. I'm happy with my sexual orientation (although that took some time and soul searching when I was younger) and not about to pretend to be straight even though, yes, that would probably make my life easier. What I want is to make it easier for the bisexual men and women who come after me--that means stepping out of the closet and speaking up for myself as a bisexual woman. It means waving my flag and drawing some heat--but it also means discovering that I'm not alone because there are a lot of you out there standing up, too. 


Earlier in the month, I promised a giveaway, and here it is:

  • Name your favorite bisexual character from film, comic books, literature, or TV in the comments below (and please be kind enough to list the book/show/movie so I can check it out, too!)
  • OR Name your favorite openly bisexual actor/actress/celebrity on the comments below
  • On Saturday (when the next chapter of T&C goes up), I'll draw one winner for a $10 Dreamspinner Press Gift Certificate. (Caveat: to use it, you'll have to have or be willing to create a Dreamspinner account--it's easy, painless, and you don't get any spam from them!) 
  • Please make sure you leave your email address so I can contact you. It used to be easy to track down email addys with Blogger (if you have a Blogger account) but the last time I tried, Google had "updated" something and nothing was where it used to be!  (I swear, I can't keep up.) 


West Thornhill said...

I have to say my favorite bisexual character in a book is Suya from Seasons 1-3 of The Ravens Crossing (which is YA but it's LGBT YA). Yes, he is one of my characters from this world, but that doesn't make him any less special. In the first three seasons (books), he had both a boyfriend and girlfriend, and briefly they were all three together. He's also always been in love with his best friend, Darci, but she's in love with someone else.

Anyway, I just wanted to share Suya. I don't need to be entered into the contest. :)

Anonymous said...

The first one who made an impression on me was Jerome in Peter Greenaway's THE PILLOW BOOK (played by a particularly delectable Ewan McGregor at his long-haired and voluptuous best). I remember the stir the movie made for its nonstop nudity, but found it actually rather sex-negative in many ways. Jerome seemed to be the only character who was honest about his sexuality, and could enjoy it without an ulterior motive. (Spoiler alert: both his gay and straight lover use him as a pawn in a power struggle, which really bothered me, and things do not end well for him.) It's like a whole other movie when he's in it (at least to that upsetting point). I felt the same way about Billy Crudup as the real-life Shakespeare-era actor Ned Kynaston in STAGE BEAUTY...I wished Ned could have lived in our time (sure, he would have had to put up with some of the same garbage, but he might have felt less misunderstood).

Books have been happier in that regard, thankfully. Tara Lain's m/m/f Genetic Attraction series is just wonderful: no power games or head trips, just menage the way it should be. DECEPTIVE ATTRACTION is especially thought-provoking because it deals with gray areas of gender: a man who always considered himself exclusively gay falls hard for an androgynous woman *and* and androgynous man. They really care about each other, and the sex is just incendiary...

Trix, vitajex(at)aol(Dot)com

Lynn said...

I like Alan Cumming quite a lot, and not just because he has a quirky name. I've been out bi since college (mostly since I knew that what I was had a name!) but I was flat out told by the President of my college's Gay Student Alliance that bi's didn't exist, or were lying, or just scared to be out, so I never had much of a support group for it.

Lynn said...

(oh, and you can reach me at tisfan (at) gmail (dot) com