In honor of Bisexual Awareness Week and Bi Visibility Day, today I would like to talk about my favorite canon bi characters. Unfortunately, bi characters are so difficult to find, and even when you do, most of them fall under the same harmful stereotypes, not to mention that the word bisexual isn’t even used in the vast majority of cases, making it harder for people find and identify or identify with the characters. So, with that in mind, I also want to share some of my dreams for better bi representation.
A couple weeks ago, when I found myself in another Batman craze, I decided, what the hell? Let’s give Gotham’s second season a watch. I had heard from other people that Season 2 was better than Season 1, but to be honest, I had no expectations going into it. After all, literally anything could be better than Season 1. Gotham’s first season felt long, drawn out, and boring—it didn’t help that it had no direction whatsoever and relied on offensive tropes with its characterizations. I am thankful to say, though, that Season 2 was much better, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I actually binge-watched the whole thing in two days and now find myself somewhat excited for a third season. That said, being enjoyable is far from being good, and Gotham still has a ways to go.
Spoilers for all the previous Rick Riordan books from here on out, y’all.
It’s been years since I looked forward to a book as much as I looked forward to the new Rick Riordan book The Hidden Oracle. It’s the debut novel of a new series in Riordan’s mythology-themed universe called The Trials of Apollo, and as soon as it was announced I was immediately hyped. This wasn’t just because a new book in my favorite ongoing universe was out, although that played a part. It was because the most notable son of Apollo at Camp Half-Blood, Will Solace, is gay, and I was certain he would be the protagonist. Apollo was cast out of Olympus at the end of the last series, and I figured the Trials in question would be Will and his boyfriend and their friends going on a quest to redeem him.
I was totally wrong on that count, but I quickly overcame the disappointment of not having Will and my all-time favorite character Nico front and center. You see, it turns out that after Apollo was thrown out from Olympus and godhood, he’s stuck, sans powers and most of his memories, into the form of a mortal sixteen-year-old boy, and he is the protagonist of this book. And since Riordan followed mythology’s lead and kept Apollo interested in men and women, that meant that The Hidden Oracle, a book aimed at upper middle grade readers, has a bisexual protagonist.
“Do you honestly think he hasn’t figured it out by now?”
Karkat looks pointedly at Egbert, who’s talking animatedly to Roxy on the other side of the clearing. With the light filtering prettily through the leaves, they look a picture of heterosexual bliss. It’s the final shot of dozens of Karkat’s terrible Rom-coms, a textbook “happily ever after” pose with the couple giggling contentedly at each other’s jokes. Knowing those two they’re probably dirty jokes, shit you’d never say in polite company, but somehow that’s even more perfect. You want that. You want to sit with Karkat’s head in your lap and talk about bullshit until the sun sets, but you can’t because you’re a fucking coward.
It’s been a week since the dust of creation finally settled over your new paradise, and you still haven’t had ‘the talk’ with John. The ‘I like dudes as well as ladies, and that information is kinda pretty relevant since I’ve been dating Karkat over a year’ talk. A part of you wishes Egbert had the social skills to put two and two together and come up with the bright-red number four that’s been under his nose this whole time, but he obviously hasn’t. Even though you practically haven’t let Karkat out of your sight for the whole time you’ve been here, he just. Doesn’t. Get it.
“Are you kidding me?” You reply, flopping backward in a show of frustration. “Unless we start making out right in front of him, he’s not gonna notice a damn thing. He honest to God gave me a noogie yesterday and was all:
‘Jimeny jillikers, Dave! It’s great that you and Karkat are such awesome pals! I’m sorry I’ve been spending so much time with Roxy, but I’ll come hang out with you guys soon and we can have a bropalfriendfest and build a pillow fort’ or some equally dumb charming bullshit.”
You sigh, brushing your fringe out of your eyes and wondering how long the stupid victory message is going to be branded onto the sky.
“I have no idea how he’d feel if he knew what kind of shenanigans usually go down in one of our pillow forts, but I sincerely doubt he’d want to join in.”
When I went looking for a Homestuck fic to write about this week, I was just hoping to find something good. I wasn’t expecting to find one that hit me quite as personally as this one did.
“Eliza is engaged and Angelica has written me extensively about a gentleman who is trying to court her, but I have never heard you speak about any man before. Surely there must be someone.”
Her smiles falls instantaneously and she snatches her hand away much more harshly than she had meant to. Of course, it was only a matter of time before she would have to go through this charade again.
“There is no one yet.” And in an ideal world there never will be, she wants to say, but she silences those words with a forced smile.
When Alexander is about to speak again, Peggy is saved by the opening of the door. Catherine steps inside, balancing a large tray in her hands that she politely sets on the table in front of them. As she methodically empties the tray, setting one floral teacup in front of each of them, her eyes meets Peggy’s and the two smile in tandem.
In that moment, Alexander sits forgotten, Catherine’s attention focused solely on Peggy even as she pours tea into Alexander’s cup. Catherine drops two sugar cubes into Peggy’s tea before setting the porcelain container in front of Alexander, allowing him to sweeten his own tea.
Alexander stays quiet during the silent exchange but he’s watching, witnessing everything, especially the way Catherine reaches out for Peggy’s hand for no apparent reason and holds it for just a moment too long before finally picking up the now empty tray and carrying out. She glances at Peggy over her shoulder once more before the door shuts behind her, leaving Alexander and Peggy alone once again.
“I imagine your father doesn’t know.” His voice seems more somber now, far more serious than before, but there’s a mischievous half smile on his lips that contradicts his tone.
Her heart skips a beat but she forces herself to remain impassive. “I don’t know what you mean.”
While I’ve namedropped and alluded to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical Hamilton in a variety of other posts, I haven’t actually written anything about it yet. I blame it on the fact that I got sucked into its fandom right as we went on winter break, and it seems a little weird to me to write at length about something that I haven’t actually seen yet. That said, none of that has stopped me from flying headfirst into the realm of fanfiction.
Geek culture likes to consider itself pretty progressive. In general that’s a fair assessment: people who feel different or ostracized tend to sympathize with each other, and in this regard geeks and marginalized groups have something in common. In spite of this, however, problems and prejudices that exist in society on the whole do tend to endure in some form even amongst geeks, and biphobia is one such problem.
Biphobia is a constant struggle for bisexual people of any gender in ways that are superficially different, but which stem from one underlying idea: society’s obsession with wieners. Let me explain. In popular opinion, women who are bisexual are assumed to be straight and using their sexuality as a performance to gain male attention. Men who are bisexual are assumed to be gay but afraid to properly come out of the closet. Either way, the presumed be-all end-all is thirst for the mighty D, and geek culture is often guilty of this assumption as well.
Recently there’s been an article going around about reading non-white, non-male authors for a year, just to see how one’s worldview might change, and while there has been some pushback, most people (at least in my experience) have recognized it as a worthwhile challenge. At the very least, it’s certainly a teachable moment for people who wouldn’t have considered this otherwise. But, if you’re playing along at home, how should you go about finding these books? The good thing is, there are a number of sites that already cater to diversity: Diversity in YA and Disability in Kidlit are just a couple. Now there’s another one: Bisexual Books.
For anyone who doesn’t watch The 100, the CW made great strides toward representation when it revealed that its leading character is bisexual. Initially, Clarke came across as the generic cishet white girl we now commonly follow in dystopian societies, and I got on The 100’s case about that a while back. I have never been happier to be wrong. The 100 started off rather campy, but it has really grown into its potential, and it is most certainly one of the better shows on TV right now. The reveal of Clarke’s bisexuality and Lexa’s queerness only added more layers to two already well developed characters—but the writers are also taking another step to show why their sexualities should matter to us.
The epic high fantasy genre has not historically been a sterling example of inclusiveness. The touchstone of the genre—the Lord of the Rings—has a gender ratio of 1 female character to every 4 male characters, with no mention at all of persons of other genders or sexualities. High fantasy staples such as Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain, Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story, and Terry Goodkind’s The Sword of Truth series overwhelmingly feature straight male main characters and virtually none feature explicitly LGBTQ+ characters, even in minor roles. In the case of Lord of the Rings specifically, the social climate in which the books were written can be partly blamed for this: the series was written in the 1940’s and 50’s by a devoutly Christian English man. However, even in an era where more appropriate inclusiveness in fiction is becoming the norm, high fantasy is trailing behind.
As I have mentioned before, I am a longtime fan and close follower of R.A. Salvatore’s twenty-six-part ongoing fantasy epic The Legend of Drizzt, part of the well-known Forgotten Realms franchise. Like many of its high fantasy brethren, The Legend of Drizzt is hardly a good example of inclusiveness in media. The main character and most of his supporting cast are male, the main character marries the only female character on the team, and the only matriarchal society is entirely, heinously evil. Though the first book of the series was published in 1988, the first explicitly homosexual character did not appear until the book Charon’s Claw, published in 2012. Even in that instance, the character’s previous lover was dead, mentioned rather briefly, and never actually appeared in the series. The only homosexual activity mentioned in any part of the series was some steamy girl-on-girl making out as part of a ritual for Lolth, an evil spider deity. Neither of those characters played a role in the series outside of this scene.
Warning for quoted slurs after the jump.
In The Flesh is very important to me (you can read an introductory review of Season 1 by Ace here), and Kieren Walker, in particular, is very important to me. He’s an artist. He doesn’t want to stand out but at the same time he stands up for the mistreated. He spends a lot of time wanting to run away from everything but when it counts he decides to stay. He has a history of depression. He is also a LGBTQ+ character, which is one of his defining characteristics but not the defining character feature. The way Kieren’s sexuality is portrayed on the show and talked about by the creators isn’t perfect, but it is also extraordinarily positive in quite a few ways.
Trigger warnings for brief mentions of suicide and depression below. Also mild spoilers concerning Kieren’s character development and relationships.