By Avery Keller
I can feel invisible sometimes. Being a bisexual man comes with a severe lack of media representation that makes the journey all the more difficult. For a long time when I looked at the screen, I did not see people who shared the same experience as I did. Finally I found what I was searching for, in the form of John Constantine on the CW show “Legends of Tomorrow.” He was a warlock, a superhero, and a positively portrayed bisexual man. Until this moment, watching a ridiculous and campy comic book TV show, I had never seen a heroic bisexual man on the screen.
Bisexual representation in media has grown from the past, but it still often fades into the background in favor of the straight-gay binary. Most movie and television characters are either straight or gay with a lack of recognition of any other identity. Sexual identity in media is most often presented by who a character’s love interest is, rather than something that is openly discussed as a distinct element of identity. This binary assumption not only affects the characters on our screens but also the people who exist around us. Bi erasure is the idea that bisexual identity often gets erased by society when a bi person settles into a serious relationship. Depending on the gender of their partner, they may often get labeled as straight or gay, and their capacity to be attracted to more than one gender is not recognized. Even within the LGBTQ+ community, bi erasure is pervasive. Bi people will often get lumped into groups that they do not fully identify with. Because of the disregard for bisexuality, many people can feel invalidated with their own identity.
I struggled for a long time to feel valid in my identity. I knew that I had feelings for both men and women around my junior year of high school, yet it took me longer to come around. Oftentimes, I would still tell people I was straight, as I was not able to figure myself out. Even when I began to admit to people that I had some essence of bisexuality, I would tell them that I was ‘mostly straight.’ Nobody ever made it clear to me through my life or the media that being bisexual was a valid identity. For a long time, I also thought being bisexual meant that I had to have an equal attraction to men and women, but that myth has been dispelled as well. After entering college, I had a better understanding and the ability to accept myself as who I was. I officially took on the bi label and opened up to people about my identity freely. My relationship with my bisexuality is a healthy one now, rather than something I would choose to hide from. While I still work to find the courage to tell my family, I have made a lot of progress and I want the world to know who I am.
In this venture, I strive to create art and writing that represents my identity. I now write for film with this in mind, and my goal is to bring more powerful bi characters to the page and screen. As bi people, we need to let the world know that we’re here, that we are visible. This means more representation and better representation. Bisexuals can exist in committed relationships, they can be single, they can be anything they want to be. If young people can see positive and strong bisexual characters on screen, perhaps that will make their journey just a little bit easier.