Summer BiMedia (2004)

Issue 69

Originally appeared in issue 69 of BCN

Autumn 2004

Well, it’s been the silly season, so while most journalists have been naffing off on holiday, there’s not been an awful lot of bisexuality, or indeed of anything else substantial, in the media over the summer.

There have been bits and pieces – Big Brother finished, and no, it doesn’t seem that any of ‘em were actually bisexual. Nadia winning has been seen as another great stride for queer acceptability, and although the win has possibly given the viewing public a better insight into the lives of some transpeople, her very apolitical, feminine and ‘straight’ persona may have helped strongly in gaining the public’s sympathy:

‘She seems much happier [rather than discussing trans politics] speculating about her future ‘Prince Charming’ – either a Hugh Grant type (‘that gentlemanly English thing’) or ‘Vin Diesel: A manly man, with a big physique, so he can give me a hug and I feel protected in his embrace.’’(The Observer, August 22nd 2004).

In any case, there is also the strong possibility that Big Brother is simply becoming more and more of a ‘freakshow’ than ever before. If this is the case, then the Nadia win gets us no further than before. Maybe instead it takes us further away from LGBT acceptability, and also raises questions of what kind of person is going to win in BB 2010?

Possibly because it’s silly season (or am I just getting cynical in my old age?), the latest issue of Diva is full of (sort of) bisexuals, including a front page splash of Bjork proclaiming, ‘Everyone is bisexual’: “I’ve always had as many powerful, creative ladies in my life as I have men, and you could probably describe some of those relationships as romantic. I think everyone’s bisexual to some degree or another; it’s just a question of whether or not you choose to recognise it and embrace it. Personally, I think choosing between men and women is like choosing between cake and ice cream. You’d be daft not to try both when there are so many different flavours.” (Diva, October 2004)

Julie Burchill also popped up in Diva, flogging, sorry, being interviewed about, her latest book, Sugar Rush, a ‘teen lesbian novel’ and confusing her interviewer no end: ‘Charlotte Raven, with whom she had a passionate affair for six months nine years ago. It ended when she started a clandestine relationship with Raven’s younger brother, Daniel – 13 years her junior – who Burchill married recently. How did it end with Charlotte?

“There’s no nice way of putting it. I was seeing both of them at the same time; I got caught and that was that.” Charlotte seems to have been incredibly cool about it. Didn’t it affect her relationship with her younger sibling? “One imagines so,” Julie retorts, giving nothing away, “but she didn’t show anything, which is why I love her so much.” But what about Christmas dinner? How does that work these days? “Well, we had it last year, and this year I went to her wedding, and she came to mine.”’ (Diva, October 2004). Or, more straightforwardly in the Mail on Sunday (5th September): “I came to Brighton nine years ago in pursuit of Daniel and I stayed. At the time I was going out with his sister Charlotte. I guess you could have called me bisexual but I don’t like that word, it sounds too much like a vehicle.”

Less positively, Gay Times’ medical columnist, Dr Sean Cummings writes in, ‘Caught in the Middle’ about bisexual men, “if they exist at all” and their alleged tendency to have unprotected sex with men, and then with women, suggesting finally that bi men are really gay men with psychological problems. (Gay Times, September 2004)

Finally, there has also been the appropriate hype and suchlike about the UK airing (on cable channel UK living) of US ‘lesbian drama’ The L-Word. Seemingly pitched somewhere around Friends or Sex and the City, but with added WGOGA, the series includes an out bisexual character. Played (of course) by the only out lesbian member of the cast, Leisha Hailey, as she discussed in September’s issue of G3:
G3 – “How ironic is it to play a bi-sexual character – the taboo in both the lesbian and straight world?”
LH – “It’s pretty wild. I used to wonder how the whole bi-sexual thing works but since working on the show I’ve realised it really is possible”

So lesbians worry about what bisexuals do in bed?!? Help!

Seeing as the media is about to come back to life, with series such as The L-Word now airing on UK TV, this seems like an opportune moment to blatantly appeal to your more charitable, or perhaps bitter, twisted and ranty side.

At the moment, there are a few people regularly contributing to the BiMedia group, and we could really do with some more people helping us out. This can take the form of pointing us at any coverage you’ve seen in the news or the rest of the media, including fictional areas such as television drama and films; or if you’ve seen something that you really feel the need to rant about. If so, then please join the email group (details below), or feel free to post material, clippings, reviews and rants to us c/o the main BCN postbox.

Sound Bites

“Married warrant officer Leslie Skinner”, a “bisexual dad” pleaded guilty to five counts of indecent assault at Deepcut Army barracks “after bungling top brass gave the convicted pervert a job at the base” Daily Star 8-Sep. The Express 8-Sep headline the “bisexual bully” as a “gay pervert”

“…we both tolerate infidelity”…”he was having affairs and I was finding out about them. Rather than walk out, I picked up a handsome boy in a pub and embarked on an affair of my own. John was gorgeous and bisexual. We saw each other for five years, on and off. After that, my marriage was better.” Catherine O’Brien interviews Joan Wyndham, 82, a former restaurateur and food critic in The Times 8-Sep

“several ‘petticoat duellists’ emerged, one of the most famous being Julie d’Aubigny, better known as opera singer La Maupin (1670-1707) though, as a notorious bisexual, she rarely wore a petticoat.” Stephen Gregory, Perth answers a query on woman duellists in the Daily Mail 7-Sep

“I came to Brighton nine years ago in pursuit of Daniel and I stayed. At the time I was going out with his sister Charlotte I guess you could have called me bisexual but I don’t like that word, it sounds too much like a vehicle.” Julie Burchill in Mail on Sunday 5-Sep

THE day after Dame Muriel Spark anointed him as one of her favourite young writers, Toby Litt read from his reality TV-inspired novel, Finding Myself. Litt’s heroine describes the sort of characters she wants: “A quartet of single bisexuals, an egotist or two, the odd drama queen someone eccentric, someone older.” The Sunday Herald 29-Aug

“Sexy dad-of-two Johnny Depp is the latest star said to be smooching a male co-star – in the name of art, naturally. The Oscar-nominated actor plays 17th-century poet John Wilmot, rumoured to have been bisexual, in The Libertine.” The Sunday Mirror 29-Aug

I did that classic thing that a lot of gay men do. First, you are in denial. Then, ‘maybe I am going through a phase’. Then ‘maybe I am bisexual’. And then you are gay. That is just a natural progression. I still hear people saying, ‘I don’t fall in love with men or women, I just fall in love with people’, and I think, ‘Oh, you’re so gay!'” TV comedian Graham Norton interviewed by Andrew Billen in The Times 14-Aug

“Andrew Roberts claims in his biographical study that Mountbatten wasn’t bisexual. But never mind – Edwina was.” Mary Kenny on Lord Dickie Mountbatten and wife Edwina Ashley in The Guardian 28-Aug

“[Erica Jong’s] eighth novel, Sappho’s Leap, is an imagined narrative of the life of the Greek poetess who was writing her own (mostly bisexual) lexicon of love in verse 600 years before the birth of Christ.” The Independent 28-Aug

“eight uniformed servicemen from the RAF will parade on a float as part of the homosexual and bisexual procession” Daily Star 27-Aug on Manchester Pride

“I’m a dab hand at it now,” she says. “In fact I’d get more worried about kissing a bloke on the screen. I just kiss girls.” “It’s funny, you’d think film crews have seen everything but they still get excited about girls kissing girls.” “it is probably a bit easier than kissing a guy because women look at things differently. You talk it through and really it’s not remotely sexy at all.” Actress Danielle Brent in Sunday Mirror 22-Aug