After years of underrepresentation, bisexual individuals are finally starting to get some spotlight.
While gay and lesbian folks have gone mainstream with the help of Will & Grace and Ellen DeGeneres, bisexuality has often been pushed aside and stigmatized. Identifying as bi has often been considered a pit stop on the way to coming out as gay and was rarely recognized as an identity in its own right.
But now more than ever that’s beginning to change. Of course, there have been a few bisexual TV characters before (The Good Wife‘s Kalinda Sharma, The OC‘s Marissa Cooper, SATC‘s Samantha Jones) and trailblazer celebs who have led the way (Anna Paquin) but it was always just one or two here and there. Not to mention that bi TV characters were mostly white women who were merely treated as sex objects and not complex people.
As of late, bi TV characters are not only included but focused on. The CW has actually done an amazing job of showcasing bi characters across their programming with Crazy Ex-Girlfriend/Darryl Whitefeather, Jane the Virgin/Adam, and Riverdale/Toni Topaz.
On Jane the Virgin, Jane had to deal with her conflicting feelings after discovering that her new boyfriend Adam (well, now ex-boyfriend) is openly bi. Showrunner Jennie Snyder Urman put a lot of thought into Adam’s character and told Variety,
“I feel like you see a lot of bisexual women on TV because men think it’s sexy when women make out — so that’s become a little more seen on TV, and we felt like we hadn’t had a romantic hero who’s also bisexual.”
As with Riverdale, the show recently introduced bisexual character Toni Topaz and already has plans to explore that side of her more. And Crazy Ex-Girlfriend featured an entire storyline where Darryl started questioning his sexuality and eventually discovered that he was attracted to both men and women. There’s even an entire song dedicated to his revelation called “Gettin’ Bi,” which is awesome.
Offscreen, there have been more celebs than ever coming out as bi with Amber Heard, Demi Lovato, Lauren Jauregui, Evan Rachel Wood, Aubrey Plaza, and Kristen Stewart among some of the women who are out and proud.
But representation on TV and IRL is still relatively limited to white, and now Latina, women. Asian and black women who are bi are few and far between and out men are even more scarce.
This is, of course, not shocking. TV, in particular, has often started with white LGBTQ individuals before opening the door to all. And real life culture still stigmatizes bi and gay folks, especially in the black community.
We still have so much work to do before the entire bi community gets full visibility. But if the last year is any indication, we’re finally on our way.
Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, and Tiger Beat. Her favorite Housewife is Bethenny Frankel (by far!), but when she’s not watching RHONY, you can probably find her hanging with her kitty Tom or tweeting at Sen. Chuck Schumer.