Bisexuality, LGBT, Opinion

Life of Bi: But you don’t fit any gay stereotypes!

“What did do this weekend?” He asked.
“I’ve just started watching Sex and the City, never seen it” was my reply.
“What? You’re not fitting any gay stereotypes”.
He laughs.
“That’s because I’m not gay” I chuckle.

 

The above is about the exact words used in a very innocent exchange between myself and a guy I know. Now, as a bi man, my immediate instinct after this was to clarify my sexuality. But in the moment I was on my way out of the room and it caught me off guard. Somehow in the last few months I’ve managed to avoid anyone making any remarks like this to me (possible related to being tied to work and not going out, but who can say). As such I wasn’t ready with my clarification: the “i’m bi, by the way” response.

This moment was actually the second in which I’d been singled out as a non-straight person. Now for the first I am assuming that the person thought I was gay, but they didn’t actually say it, and so for the sake of speculation it didn’t bother me as much. But this exchange did and it has been playing over and over in my head.

As someone who is very aware of bi erasure and the importance of bi visibility, I have wanted to go back to this guy and let him know that I’m bisexual. Either by reminding him of the incident and asking if he thinks I’m gay or mentioning that I’m bi as a matter of clarity. However, that feels like pushing my agenda for my own personal sense of place.

But is that wrong? Should I be leaving people with the assumption? I don’t want to.

Gay until proven Straight

My sexuality is an important part of who I am, because it affects, in larger and smaller ways, every interaction in my life. For straight men in particular, I feel there is a lack of awareness and understanding about bisexual men (not to mention HUGE issues and assumptions about how they feel about bi women).

Often there is an unwritten rule that if you don’t immediately flirt with a women in their presence or have a touch of the camp about you – I’ve been known to add flourishes for fun – then you must be gay. It stems from the cultural awareness of gay men that has saturated the media, particularly white gay men. The shadow of which hides a number of different orientations, identities and races from the view of the straight world, along with the spectrum of gay men.

Bisexuals are one of the most misunderstood and misrepresented part of the rainbow community, and thought to be one of the smallest sections of the LGBT+ when really we are one of the biggest. Our visibility is diminished significantly by a lack of acceptance and fear that means we hide behind gay and straight labels.

They’ll miss what they don’t have

While this has all been mulling over in my mind, I have been watching more Sex and the City. It’s an entertaining, if not hugely flawed and dated show. During one of its most dating moments, that is also disturbingly not uncommon enough in modern portrayals of bi people, Carrie dates a man who happens to be bisexual. Her friends advise her, mostly, to ditch him because he’ll either end up being gay or won’t be able to settle. Only Samantha actually advises that having a man who is more versatile in his sexuality might be a bonus.

It all ends with Carrie leaving a party without telling him because she is so horrified by not only the bisexual man being okay with his own bisexuality, but also that he has bisexual friends who are ALSO comfortable with their own bisexuality.

I find that what concerns me most about Carrie and her friends’ conversation is that I’m sure its the same talk that people who I would want to date will be having too. I’m a bi man and I’m trying to date but then the question becomes: how soon do I need to be making my bisexuality known?

I’ve had times where conversations have ended because the guy thinks I’m not being true to myself. I’ve had women tell me I didn’t really like them or that I’m a gay man who likes boobs (whatever that is supposed to infer). At the end of the day, I’m faced with “you’re not fitting any gay stereotypes” as the best case scenario. That or I try to only date bisexual people, assuming I can find someone who feels safe enough to admit it!

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Bisexuality, LGBT, Review, Television

How To Get Away With A Season 2 Premiere (HTGAWM): Sexuality & A New Murder

When How To Get Away With Murder (HTGAWM) premiered last year (2014) I was instantaneously hooked. A mystery drama with pace, intrigue and a fierce lead in Viola Davis, the recipe was made all the sweeter thanks to a diverse cast and range of characters – something that’s been upped this year with the season two premiere.

If you haven’t watched the first episode of season two then stop reading now! This will get spoilery.

In season one we were introduced to Connor Walsh, a wise cracking and unashamed m seeking m future lawyer. His less than monogomous sexual style was treated in much the same way that a straight counterpart would be if this show was on even ten years ago. The dissection of what Jack Falahee’s portrayal of Connor means for the queer community is out there, but what is even more interesting is the dialogue that the actor has created. Tired of hearing the same limiting, expected questions, Falahee has questioned the interviewer reasoning behind asking actors who play gay characters if they are gay themselves, when we don’t ask actors playing heterosexual characters the same.

With season two, the LGBT+ spectrum has gained more representation on HTGAWM through Emmy winner, Viola Davis. Portraying Annalise Keating, a law school professor who has her own firm, Annalise was already been shown in two romantic relationships – her husband and her lover. While her husband was killed off by the end of season one, her lover lives on but hates her more than cats hate being thrown head first into water.

Viola has always given a gravitas to her role as Annalise, adding layers of complexity that shine in brilliant scenes with such natural ease. Her demanding, unyielding lawyer side takes no prisoners. She’s very smart and quick, accounting for variables but controlling outcomes both inside and outside of the courtroom. Her emotions can be hidden below the surface, used if the situation demands it, yet, she is often raw and exposed with those she loves. Her honesty and her lies are both equally convincing and that is what pushes her lovers away.

Joining the cast of season two, alongside The Guild alumni Amy Okuda, is *drum roll* Jean Famke Janssen! Cast as death row lawyer Eve Rothlow, she power walked into the first episode to a gasp from me. While her entrance was a shock; I don’t do spoilers, her brilliance was not.

Eve is an old friend of Annalise from her days at Harvard and it is immediately clear that she knows her well. While Eve puts up a strong front and looks to be putting Annalise in her place regarding people manipulation, she ends up being the one Annalise can still turn to. Their difficult past is brought to light at the episode’s close, when Annalise goes to her home. Eve casually mentions that she’s moved on from their relationship before Annalise kisses her and she takes it all back.

Now, labels being what they are, I’d love to call this bisexuality but we may have to wait to see if Annalise ever entertains the idea of naming it herself. In a way this is a big twist, as non-heterosexuality so often if, but its not dealt with in a soap opera way with dun dun duns. Instead, the swell of emotion is passionate, full of need. As with Connor’s sexuality, its another dimension and, certainly, representation for the bisexual community. I can only hope that we get to explore this relationship, though I have my doubts about whether we’ll get questions and answers re: bi people.

Except if the student team finds out. Then we’ll have Asher’s fratboy ideas to deal with which will be hilarious and illuminating. Who knows, maybe he’s bi but it hasn’t been shown yet.

HTGAWM has screamed modern and up to date drama through the choices made regarding the show, proved by Viola Davis becoming the first black woman to win the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress. Shockingly, we are only NOW living in a time where that has happened.

Within the show, we’re going to see Connor and Oliver tackle not only Oliver’s HIV+ status but also PrEP. The relatively new HIV preventative drug is now being discussed within the LGBT+ community regarding how it should be used. Like those in Connor’s situation, many people see it as a get out of HIV free card, assuming it will stop them from contracting HIV. However, this could set a precedent, at least in the public sphere, for condom-less sex. What many have warned is that preventing HIV is one thing, but there are numerous other sexually transmitted diseases that condoms help prevent.

Add in the drama of a new murder and the time jump to Annalise getting shot, possibly by her student (and lover?) Wes, whats not to love about How To Get Away With Murder?!

If you have read this but aren’t watching the show, try season one now! Basically no spoilers for that and then you’ll be all caught up for the goodness gracious season two to continue.

I love this show.

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