So I’ll say right off the top that this post has come from a place of discussion and interest as well as one of anger and concern. Not long ago I was talking over Twitter DMs with a very good friend of mine about an actor we both happen to fangirl over and I happened to say “I wouldn’t be surprised if he came out as bi”. It feels awkward to admit this here, outside of the safety of one to one messages with someone who knows me so well, but it’s not the first time I’ve found myself looking at an individual I admire and coding them as bisexual, pansexual, demisexual, or ace whether their actions or stated identification says otherwise. This feels awkward because from a psychological point of view the vast majority (or even all) of these instances are at least in part my own projection.
I mentally code them as not-heterosexual because there isn’t exactly a wealth of visible, public individuals with the power and access that comes with celebrity who fall outside of the hetero/homo dichotomy. Even now as I try to think of “celebrities” that have spoken openly about being bisexual (as it is the most visible of the multitude of non-hetero/homo sexualities currently) I can think of three off the top of my head. Three people, all of which are women, all of which have in more than one piece I’ve read regarding their sexuality been written about to draw attention not for their openness and visibility, but to titillate and shock readers.
As a cis-gendered female who identifies as pansexual (and to be honest, more often one who is content to simply say bisexual to avoid discussion the difference with uniformed individuals), I’ve found myself building a significant part of my identity on sexual coding and hope that representation will come. As a geek, I find myself longing for out geeks with media pull to talk openly about their sexuality; to see not only healthy representations of queer culture but queer culture within the huge and ever-present geek kingdom where it seems that the large numbers of queer fans looking for representation get none. Note, I understand and acknowledge that I’m not entitled to have anyone come out – that no person is ever obligated to come out for any reason – but as a queer geek who knows for a fact that I am far from alone in this huge cultural pool, the fact that there aren’t more out queer geeks in our beloved media saddens me.
Even in our popular geeky media, queerness is still written in code that us “select few” are left to decipher if it’s not clear cut homosexual/heterosexual. We’re in a position where those of us not content with the fact that more homosexual characters are appearing in our fandoms are still left with the queerness we create in our shipping and head canons. It may show my age, but in reality our media of now – of 2016 – hasn’t come much further than it was in my teen years and Willow on Buffy the Vampire Slayer became a lesbian and then was straight again with no mention of the dreaded ‘b’ word because “love is love, we don’t need a label do we”. Sexuality continues to be boiled down to being either straight or gay depending on who you’re currently interested in with only rare mentions of bisexuality as something that actually exists beyond vague implications of fluid sexuality and experimentation.
Unfortunately, those mentions are usually in reference to the tired old bisexual tropes, the non-monosexual individual as evil or insane or simply seeking attention. Can you name a single character on television or in the movies today, let alone an actor or actress, who is openly identified as bisexual (not “fluid”, not “experimenting” not “curious” or “a people person”) and treated with respect and dignity, you know… like the normal people that we are? I’m not as media savvy as most, but I sure can’t.
And so I circle back around to my own not-so-secret reading of famous people as potentially not monosexual, my own vain attempts to find representation where there has been so little. It’s awkward to admit, but yeah – I wish at least one of my “faves” was not only outside of the binary hetero or homo only scale that people seem to cling to, but also open about this. I long for the day when one of the nerdy actors I follow casually drops that they happen to bi or happen to identify as asexual and it’s no big deal. I deeply desire normalization, representation, and acknowledgement of identities that the media for the most part is silent on.