Story By: Katie Malin
Art imitates life as Hollywood portrays greater acceptance of lesbian, gay and transgender individuals in television and film. With shows such as "Jessica Jones" and “Sense 8," LGTQ stories are being aired at a greater volume than a decade ago. But we're missing the “B."
Why do we balk at bisexuality?
Even in shows that are applauded for their forward thinking, bisexuality gets erased. In “Orange is the New Black,” Piper, the leading lady, has relationships with both men and women. However, instead of understanding that she's bisexual, her lovers worry that she will flip her sexuality to being straight or gay and thus leave them. Somehow sexuality becomes binary. Gay or straight.
Bisexuality is considered a pit stop that indecisive people waffle in before choosing to be straight or homosexual. They're right according to some scientific studies.
A 2005 study published in "Psychological Science" focused on men who identified as straight, gay or bisexual. They were presented with images of sexual intercourse while having their genitals measured and it was found that the men would have only a physical response to either heterosexual or homosexual images but not both. Therefore, the study appears to disprove bisexuality. However, there is a flaw with this conclusion. There are physical and emotional responses in any relationship and without measuring the emotional response from these men it is not only unfair but rather inappropriate to say that bisexual people aren't aware of their sexual desires.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Survey of Family Growth published a report in 2011 that shows 21 percent of women 2024 years old and 7 percent of men in those ages said that they were somewhere in the middle.
There have been recordings of bisexual behavior going as far back to Greek times. Roman soldiers were encouraged to become involved with other soldiers in hopes that it would strengthen their bond to the war efforts. Yet in the centuries that have passed, bisexuality has become taboo. A Google search of the phrase “gay men who married women” results in thousands of articles citing “gay” men who have had healthy, longterm relationships with women at some point in their lives.
Reporting tends to skew on the side of "shock" and "betrayal." It is not considered that these men might be bisexual.
However, some show runners are getting it right. Take for instance the third season of “House of Cards.” (You should stop reading this and watch now if you haven't yet.) Not only is this season more suspenseful and better than the previous two, it furthers the plot line on Frank Underwood’s bisexuality.
While hints of Frank's sexuality came into question after a scene showing his porn habits and again during an unexpected threesome with his bodyguard Meechum, Season Three includes a story arc that explicitly develops his bisexuality.
Creating spaces where people can see bisexual people’s lives is important to furthering and protecting their civil liberties. Hopefully, as these shows gain traction they will inspire studios to green light sexual diversity, rather than just play it straight.