This year has not been a great one for bisexual visibility. Time and time again, both straight and gay people have ignored or dismissed bisexuals. In news stories, in interviews with celebrities, and in movies and TV shows, bisexuals were hard to find.
Even though several studies indicate that bisexuals make up the largest portion of the LGBT population, they have some of the worst representation. Here are some of the most glaring examples of bi invisibility in 2014.
Early this year, The New York Times questioned whether bisexuals exist. In “The Scientific Quest to Prove Bisexuality Exists,” the Times questioned the legitimacy of bisexuality due to the “lack of” science-based evidence.
After the Times' bi-erasing piece, Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern (left) continued the erasure by penning an article asking if bisexual culture even exists (without actually ever engaging the bisexual community). ThinkProgress’s Zack Ford (right) responded to him by showing that such erasure contributed to the higher rates of depression and suicide among bisexuals.
Slate’s Dear Prudence has given some bad advice in the past. Her answer to a bisexual woman, encouraging her to stay in the closet, brought an uproar from LGBT activists. GLAAD condemned the advice, calling it "disappointing." Eventually Prudence came around, giving slightly better advice to another bisexual reader.
A few A-list celebrities came out as bisexual, then changed their tune a bit later. First Tom Daley (above) appeared to come out as bisexual, only to say a few months later he was actually gay. Jessie J called her bisexuality a “phase,” and Mel B discounted a five-year relationship she had with a woman. It’s not unusual for some to come out as bisexual first, but it does play into a “bi now, gay later” fallacy that makes life harder for actual bisexuals who want to come out. Calling bisexuality a “phase” is hurtful and only adds to erasure of bisexual people.
The reality TV show's star, Patti Stanger (above), added to erasure by claiming bi men don’t exist. Stanger said she wouldn’t marry a bi guy: "Uh, never! Never. Never. And if they're bisexual, they're gay!" Then, on the second season of her own show, Stanger told a client that bisexual women “are not the women you want to be the mother of your children,” reported Out. Stanger loves the gays but is no friend to bisexuals.
When the CW announced its TV adaptation of comic book Hellblazer, fans were excited about seeing the demon-slaying hero John Constantine on-screen. But excitement turned to criticism when producers hinted at straight-washing the canon bisexual character. The criticisms made producer David Goyer defensive as he tried to minimize the need to portray an honest bisexual male character. The hashtag #BiBlazer blazed with criticisms from lifelong fans and a petition garnered more than 3,000 signatures before the show even aired. So far — the show will return in 2015 after a hiatus — the character has seemed to solely identify as straight.
Everyone’s favorite Netflix show has become a phenomenon by depicting trans and lesbian storylines with an authenticity missing from other TV representations. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the bisexual character Piper. The word “bi” comes up just once in the two seasons of the show, and Piper is even referred to as a “former lesbian.”
Orashia Edwards (above), who faced persecution in his home country of Jamaica, was denied asylum in the U.K. this year, as a judge claimed Edwards was “dishonest” about his bisexuality. Edwards is just one of many LGBT people who have been denied asylum by the U.K. — something LGBT activists claim is no coincidence. Edwards’s case is ongoing and has received international attention.
During the annual Bisexual Awareness Week in September, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force chose to run a “controversial” blog post trying to erase bisexual people. The post argued that bisexuality was binary and erasing of trans and genderqueer people. After a response from a bisexual trans person and an op-ed published in The Advocate (by the author of this year in review) seeking an apology, the organization removed the blog post and issued the apology. It has changed its name to the National LGBTQ Task Force.
Yet another LGBT group contributing to bisexual erasure: NYC Pride iced out bisexuals in its grand marshal selections. It picked three grand marshals, one gay, one lesbian, and one transgender; a bisexual grand marshal was noticeably absent. After some conversations, bisexual leaders and NYC Pride officials reached an understanding that is expected to result in more bi representation in future pride parades.
Our favorite fairy, Anna Paquin, sat down with famed TV host to talk about the end of HBO’s True Blood. During the interview, King asked Paquin about her tweets on being a proud bisexual mother, wondering if she was a “nonpracticing bisexual.” Paquin masterfully broke down the misconception that your sexuality is defined by sexual activity.