Disclaimer: I am not, in any way, homophobic. I support the efforts of the LGBT community to gain equality and recognition. Now, onto the post.
I’m warning you now, this is going to be a deeply personal post. More personal than anything I’ve written here before. I’ll just start simple and throw myself in headfirst.
I am bisexual.
Okay. The easiest part is done. Now I’m going to talk about bisexual erasure.
What is Bisexual Erasure? Well, basically, it’s the tendency that media has to ignore, remove, or deny the existence of bisexuals in a work. You’ll usually see this in an adaption; where a character in the source material will have relationships with people of both sexes, but the adaptation focuses only on the relationship they have with one sex. Most of the time, this sort of thing will be done in a work that caters to a heterosexual audience. This is “justified” by the thought that heterosexuals (usually of the white male variety) won’t be able to identify with a character who is attracted to both sexes. But, that’s a different post.
I’m talking about works catering to an LGBT audience. This makes a lot less sense, after all, the B in LGBT stands for bisexual. The best example of this I can think of is Glee. Yes, Glee does have a bisexual character in Brittany S. Pierce. But it’s the way she’s portrayed that is the issue.
Brittany has slept with nearly everyone at McKinley High (by her own admission), and for a while she was involved with Santana, a lesbian character, whom she eventually dumps in favor of a man. I know what you’re thinking “Well, they aren’t denying the existence of bisexuals.” No, in essence, they aren’t. But all of the things I mentioned above are a result of her bisexuality, and are also stereotypical complaints about bisexual people. Brittany can’t make up her mind, and as a result causes Santana emotional distress.
Santana is portrayed as a far more sympathetic character; she is more well rounded and has, overall, a more interesting story arc.
If that example isn’t a good enough illustration of the concept, there is a much more blatant one.
In the season 2 episode “Blame it on the Alcohol” Blaine (Kurt’s boyfriend) shares a drunken kiss with Rachel during a game of spin the bottle. This causes him to question his sexuality and wonder if he could possibly be bisexual. By the end of the episode, he realizes that his doubts were unfounded. What struck me most about the episode was Kurt’s attitude toward the whole situation. Naturally, he harbors some jealousy over the kiss, and feels as though Blaine might abandon him. However, when Blaine comes to him for advice, Kurt balks:
“Bisexual is a term that gay guys in high school use when they want to hold hands with girls and feel like a normal person for a change.”
When I heard this, I couldn’t believe my ears. Glee is a show that claims to be “all-inclusive” but, at the same time, has the character based heavily on Ryan Murphy himself say something like this. And it’s clear from the way the episode handles the situation that Kurt is supposed to be in the right for saying it. The idea that male bisexuality doesn’t exist is, for lack of a better term, bullshit. This is an example of bisexual erasure at its worst.
And Glee isn’t the only show that did this. The explosively popular Showtime show The L Word did it too, starting with three bisexual characters in its main cast and ending with a whopping zero. They also mad a running joke out of bisexuality as a whole on the show, with characters in early seasons telling the bisexual Alice to “make up her mind”. Guess what? She does, and eventually speaks of her experience identifying as bisexual with disdain.
That (extremely long) segue, brings me to my main point. Bisexual erasure, and outright biphobia, in LGBT works is pure hypocrisy. Again, the B in LGBT stands for bisexual. Yet, still to this day, bisexuals are misunderstood an antagonized by the very people who should respect them as equals. It is only whenever someone outside of the LGBT community attacks bisexuality that they do anything about it. Otherwise, they themselves refer to bisexuals (male and female) as “fence-sitters”, indecisive and selfish.
This kind of hypocrisy is what makes me wary of getting involved in the LGBT “community”.