BiMediaWatch Feb 2018: Dirk Gently, The Good Place & more
Last time BiMediaWatch was full of TV soap suds, so let’s start this month with bis in the (printed) press. Over in the Indian Express, Ranveer Singh talked about pushing boundaries in his recent role in the Bollywood film Padmaavat.
Asked how he felt about showing the bisexual relationship between Sultan Alauddin Khilji and Malik Kafur (Jim Sarbh), he told the paper, “People from whom I seek advice were very apprehensive about it. Their logic was that the majority of audience still have a very traditional mindset.
“This is a big risk to take, especially since no one had done this before in mainstream Hindi films. I’m a very liberal person and did not have issues with it, as I thought it made the character more layered.”
Rolling back to one we missed in November, the Sun ran a headline of “Gay couple who added a girlfriend to their relationship say ‘throuple’ sex is the best they’ve ever had”.
Yes, it’s a bi erasing headline but the story does better: “Chris, 38 and Matt Brandt, 28, had been together for eight years and were exploring an open relationship when Chris met Cait Earnest, 28, on a dating app,” things begin. And there the language picks up: “While Chris and Cait are both bisexual, Matt identifies as homoflexible. He said: ‘I’m homoflexible so I like guys and I’m open, flexible to women – I prefer men.’”
There’s talk of jealousy and of the joy of getting extra birthday presents in the New York throuple’s relationship and a smattering of photos which mix a general air of contentment with both boy-in-the-middle and girl-in-the-middle kissing trios.
The three live in a one-bedroom flat. I’m surprised no-one has started advocating throuple relationships as an alternative to giving up lunch as a way to save up enough for a mortgage.
Elsewhere Dan Savage, who spent a lot of time in the 90s and 00s making bisexuals roll our eyes in despair at his bi-erasure and biphobia, has been quietly improving. On TheStranger.com’s problem page in February he helps a straight woman who is looking to date two men along with pointing out that her aims of finding a pair of eager gay men to date might be made a little easier if she targeted a couple of bi guys instead. He also stops to point out that her explanation of why two gay men would want to date her – because some gay men have crushes on straight guys so would surely connect with her as a straight woman – has a logical hole big enough to park a fleet of buses in.
Still in the USA the Desert Sun talked to Palm Springs City Council’s Christy Holstege. Palm Springs has a peculiarly all-LGBTQ council, of which poverty and community law attorney Christy is the B. Astonishingly the eight trans candidates who were elected across the US last November outnumber the elected bi public officials in the country.
Why so few? “It’s incredibly difficult, even with LGBTQ groups and spaces. But non-straight identifying people are part of our community, too. I think that’s the expansive work that we have to do. It’s a radical act to be a bi candidate.”
It’s a great report interweaving bi stats with discussion (like bis being the majority of LGB people) and highlights bi erasure in gay space through Christy’s own story: she came out as bi in response to being loudly praised as a ‘straight ally’ as a result of assumptions made because she was married to a man.
She says being out helped in her career though: “Being bisexual helps in work with community law and social justice law… I will often disclose to my clients that I am a sexual assault survivor. I’m coming from a place of authenticity and understanding and empathy.”
She might get a sigh from some BCN readers as she distances herself from the label. “I don’t like the term bi because it indicates a binary where I don’t think one exists,” she opines.
Over to New Zealand for our next story. The internet – and the tabloids – have at last taken a bisexual polyamorist to their heart. It took a few clinching factors though. First, he’s dead. Second, he lived a surprisingly long life. Third he had long-term stable relationships and helped his partners raise a host of children – more than seventy. Fourth, and perhaps most important, he was a goose. If he wasn’t, the papers would be spitting feathers about all that child benefit.
Not just any polyamorous goose either but upwardly mobile in his love life – as he spent half his life with two swans.
North Island resident Thomas lived to around forty (getting on for twice the lifespan of the average goose). His sight deteriorated from an early age and he was blind most of his life, and inseparable from a black swan, Henry. When they turned 25 and Henry met a female swan, Henrietta, along came the cygnets – a total of 68 – but it wasn’t the end for Thomas and Henry.
Henry died aged 30 and it seems less clear whether Thomas and Henrietta were really an item, as she abandoned him and found a new swan to love. The last decade of Thomas’ life brought love and goslings with a female goose – but she left him for another guy.
If he were still alive we could ask – was it the bisexuality or being non-monoga-goose that accounted for his long lifespan?
Back to the UK. Sometimes bi representation in the media is a mixed blessing. A local fan of Stevenage FC talked to local paper the Stevenage Comet about his experience as an out bi person on the terraces. His name kept private for obvious reasons he told the paper, “Do you know how hard it is to deal with it constantly on your own, without a mate in the world and living your life, or trying to, in secret?
“I’ve had stuff whispered, and even shouted, to me, and multiple threats have frightened me, especially considering I go to a lot of games on my own. I have run in fear after a game’s finished.”
The pressure of homophobic / biphobic abuse and intimidation has taken its toll and it would be natural to stop attending game. “I don’t want that,” he told the paper. “Why should I not be able to support my team because some aren’t happy with the way my life is?”
A spokesman for the club said they were “shocked and disgusted” by the reports.
A quick hop over to the telly before I wrap up and Netflix gave us a bisexual character in the second season of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. Fans of the books will find this show is “in the spirit of” rather than “faithfully retelling”.
Let’s say the bisexual in question may not challenge the cliches of bis as unreliable, sketchy kind of characters – but in the case of this programme, that doesn’t mark them out as so very different from anyone else.
And the ghost of BiMediaWatch future visited us over Christmas to say that clever afterlife comedy The Good Place has been picked up for a third season. Eleanor (Kristen Bell) has commented on how attractive both Vicky and Tahani are, and (spoilers) lived through several iterations of a relationship with Chidi. Can we say bisexual yet?