Seven times the media was awesome for bisexual representation

// 23 February 2017

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two women

Emily Chudy is an LGBT journalist, food blogger, and intersectional feminist living in Paris. Follow her on Twitter @EmilyChudy

You can probably think of at least five friends, family members or celebrities that identify as bisexual but cast your mind over your Netflix queue and I bet you’ll find it difficult to remember a TV series or film that included a really brilliant bi character… without falling into a few offensive stereotypes.

Rather annoyingly, the media seems to be a bit behind when it comes to representing this community.

A spokesperson for LGBT+ charity Stonewall said:

Bi erasure and biphobia are still commonplace in UK media. Bi characters are often portrayed as ‘greedy’ or ‘confused’, perpetuating damaging myths that bi activists have been trying to dispel for decades.

Visible role models help ensure that all people see themselves represented in the media, and this is particularly important for marginalised groups like the bi community. We must see the industry hire more bi writers and directors, as well as actors, to get this right for film and television.

In a quest to seek realistic, three-dimensional, non-stereotyped bisexual characters on screen, I took a break from binge-watching Freaks and Geeks and sought out these wonderful characters.

Black Mirror S3E4: San Junipero (2016)

You may have heard people raving about Black Mirror’s San Junipero this year, and for good reason. The hour-long episode depicts a gorgeous, nuanced relationship between two women named Yorkie and Kelly, as well as touching upon themes of loneliness, death and sci-fi.

The episode – one of six stand-alone episodes in the series – is utterly mesmeric and touching, and (without giving away many spoilers) Kelly’s character and relationships both with men and women are discussed with true weight and compassion.

Best enjoyed if you fancy a good happy-cry over some cracking ‘80s outfits.

Appropriate Behaviour (2014)

Appropriate Behaviour tells the tale of Shirin, a young, witty, bisexual Iranian-American woman who has trouble navigating both her tangled love life and cultural identity in Brooklyn.

The film balances silly humour and poignant sincerity very well — Shirin is presented as both a deeply flawed and highly relatable character who the audience grow fonder of as the plot goes along.

This gem is best watched on a movie night with friends or when mourning a break-up with gallons of ice cream.

Grey’s Anatomy (2005 – present)

Callie Torres is a bisexual icon and she’s vocal and proud of it on Grey’s Anatomy.

The awesome quote below is from series 11 episode five but the whole show is brilliant so it’s worth watching the entire thing.

I’m bisexual. So what? It’s a thing! And it’s real… It’s called LGBTQ for a reason. There’s a B in there and it doesn’t mean badass. Okay, it kinda does, but it also means bi.

Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971)

Sunday Bloody Sunday was, incredibly, the first British film ever to show two men kissing, so be sure to watch this if you’re in the mood for an inspiring piece of history.

The BAFTA-winning movie tells the story of a bisexual male artist who starts two simultaneous relationships with both a man and a woman. Considering that same-sex relationships were barely legal at the time this film is a wonderfully positive portrayal of bisexuality.

The Color Purple (1985)

Okay, so it’s a little long, but The Color Purple is a complete classic and well worth settling into your sofa for a whole evening to watch.

The film tells the story of a young African American girl, Celie, and explores the problems women faced during the early 20th century, including domestic violence, incest, poverty, racism, and sexism.

The relationship between Celie and Shug Avery is much clearer in Alice Walker’s novel but the film is still a gorgeous and heartbreaking adaptation you should definitely see.

The Comedian (2012)

The Comedian is a gritty, touching, and vastly underrated British film that follows the life of Ed, a horribly insecure aspiring comedian.

The main character – in a sweet and beautifully crafted scene – falls for a man he met on a night bus after a dreadful gig, before realising that he might have complicated feelings for his flatmate.

This film is a must-watch if you’re going through a mid-20s career crisis and are looking for something arty to capture your predicament.

Kinsey (2004)

This film is the true story of Professor Alfred Kinsey, the scientist who researched the sexual histories of hundreds of thousands of Americans and developed what we now know as the Kinsey scale. The film explores his work as well as his personal life and sexuality.

As well as being an important part of the history of the bisexual community, Kinsey is a beautifully touching and really fascinating film that is well worth a watch on a rainy Sunday evening.

LGBT History Month runs throughout February in the UK. This year’s theme is Citizenship, PSHE and Law.

Image by Tracy Thomas, by Unsplash. Used under Creative Commons Zero licence.

Image is of a stack of vintage televisions, cassette tapes, and speakers.

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