Visi(bi)lity: Good-bi, Friends!

Carrie Nelson
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Carrie is a writer and documentary filmmaker living in NYC.

A Bi Pride flag ripples in the breeze. There is a wide pink strip on top, a wide blue strip on the bottom, and a thin purple strip in the middle. Trees and sunlight are visible in the background.It has been a privilege and pleasure to write for Bitch for the last eight weeks. Thanks to Kelsey and Kjerstin for all of their support, and thank you to everyone who read, commented on, and shared my posts. As a long-time Bitch fan, I’ve felt honored to share this space with you and participate in much-needed conversations about the state of bisexual visibility in the media.

When I embarked on this series, I felt confident that I understood the problems that exist in bisexual representation. Specifically, I thought about texts like Basic Instinct, which depicts bisexual women as dangerous and deceitful; Glee, which depicts bisexual men as non-existent plot devices who lack personal agency; and Queer as Folk and The L Word, which depict gay communities as insensitive (if not directly hostile) to their bi compatriots. While portrayals such as these are certainly not anomalies, and while they honestly reflect the lack of understanding our society has about bisexuality, I now see that these images are symptomatic of a much larger issue: in general, bisexuals tend to be depicted in relation to how they are perceived by straight and gay people. We don’t see nearly as many images of bi people from bi perspectives, which means critical conversations tend to be overlooked. I see that beginning to change, with Skins taking such a straightforward approach to sexual fluidity and Rose By Any Other Name (one of the few examples of bi-produced media that I covered) chronicling a bisexual coming-out process sensitively and realistically. Though we should continue to speak out against stereotypes and slanderous representations, we need to push harder for bi stories framed around the bi folks themselves. Only then will the community truly become visible.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve loved having the opportunity to hear from readers about bi-centric media that I didn’t already know about. I wish I had been able to review all of the recommendations I received and and discuss them in depth, but eight weeks is a surprisingly short amount of time. Most notably, many people have suggested I check out Lost Girl, a Canadian drama (recently picked up by Syfy) with a bisexual protagonist, and though I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, it’s high on my list of Must-See TV. I’m less enthusiastic about Smash, NBC’s new series that is apparently filled with biphobic fail, but my weakness for musical theater means that I will surely not keep away much longer. I’m also anxiously awaiting the release of The Superhighs, a comic book that will follow lesbian and bisexual superheroes (how cool is that?!). For better or worse, bisexuality really is omnipresent in the media right now; though this space will no longer be active, I can only hope we’ll find other places to continue this dialogue as more representations are encountered.

So, truly, thank you again for indulging me in my analysis of bisexuality and the media. This has been a wonderful experience for me, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it, too.

Previously: How Did I Get Here? (or: What Chasing Amy Taught Me About Media and Identity), Toward a Visible Movement

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1 Comment Has Been Posted

Merci à toi !

I've been reading some of your posts as a French living in France.
On top of being very interesting, they gave me more motivation to fight bi-invisility and bi-phobia here too, and to work somehow for more representations of bi-identity (even though the concept of "identity" and, even more, "community" is quite different in France compared to what it seems to be in the US).

Thank you for everything !


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