BiMediaWatch: June 2018

Forty Years On

Hugh Grant gave a convincing performance as Jeremy Thorpe in the BBC’s story of the rise and fall of the MP and his battle to avoid being outed by former boyfriend in the 1970s, A Very English Scandal.
Thorpe had relationships with both men and women – but at a time of much wider social homophobia and biphobia, and with his early experiences of sex with men coming before the 1967 Act, this would sow the seeds of his downfall. He went from Liberal leader most tipped to become Prime Minister since Lloyd George’s day to facing trial at the Old Bailey on charges of conspiracy to murder ex-boyfriend Norman Scott (played by Ben Wishaw).

As a drama rather than a thorough exploration of the story, there were aspects of the tale (inasmuch as anyone knows the real story) missing but it made for compelling and convincing telly. Naturally, most of the coverage both in the papers and from the BBC itself talked about twice-married Thorpe solely as being gay, though his marriage survived the scandal and remained intact until his wife’s death in 2014.

One of the reasons Thorpe avoids public embarrassment for so long is that all around him are other politicians with secret lives they need to have kept private too. It’s a reminder of how far we have come since the years of Thorpe’s political career: having an ex-boyfriend loses few votes for male MPs today, but shooting dogs is still not a likely vote-winner.

Rejection

A singer in New Zealand has turned down her nomination for an LGBT Ally Award for the best of reasons – she’s not an ally, she’s bi!

Lizzie Marvelly posted on her Instagram:

“While I feel really honoured that someone nominated me… it’s important that I acknowledge that I’m actually a member of the rainbow community.
“I know its 2018 and it shouldn’t be a big deal, but honestly, it hasn’t been easy. I didn’t know I was bi until my early 20s.”

How Bi Is Bi Enough?

American singer Aaron Carter drew attention for “going back in” this spring – declaring that he regretted coming out as bisexual and his words were misinterpreted.

Carter’s career in the UK peaked with a couple of top-ten singles at the end of the 1990s, “Crush on you” and “Crazy Little Party Girl”. He’s still trotting out records and touring though.

In summer of 2017 he had tweeted saying that “when I was around 13-years-old I started to find boys and girls attractive. There were years that went by that I thought about it, but it wasn’t until I was 17-years-old, after a few relationships with girls, I had an experience with a male that I had an attraction to”.

Woohoo! Out bi man in the – slightly – public eye! We don’t have enough of those.

But this March in a Hollywood Life interview he explained that he had never had a relationship with a man and didn’t imagine one happening: “I can find men and women attractive, but when it comes down to it, I think it was a little misconstrued. I see myself being with a woman and having kids. I want to have a family.”

Cue condemnation in corners of the queer press that he’s gone from claiming the bisexual label proudly on stage to rejecting it.

And I wonder about that. It might be that his attractions have shifted somewhat but that first coming out sounds like he may always have been more interested in women, but not exclusively so. But I notice that in any of the quotes he never says ‘I’m not bisexual’. ‘Misconstrued’ isn’t quite a synonym for “I’m straight”: it reads to me quite possibly that people have put ideas on top of the B word which aren’t quite right.

Some of us are open to sex and/or relationships regardless of gender. Others only see relationships as happening with certain kinds of people, but have a wider pool of people we might have a one-night-stand with or the like. If you’d get sexual with people of more than one gender, but not date them, is that bi enough? For me it is – just as a gay person who doesn’t want to find a relationship but still goes out on the pull on a Saturday night or spends plenty of time on Grindr is still gay.

I guess it’s about the sign on the entrance to the queer ride at the funfair saying you must be “this queer” to ride. It feels like the arrow is being set a little higher for bis.

Teaser

The first trailer for the Freddie Mercury biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody, has at last appeared online. The film has been dogged by production problems but looks set to finally appear this year. The legendary singer was bisexual, and there are suggestions the film downplays that side of his character. However these are based solely on the short trailer. We’ll see!

Dumped!

It has been renewal-or-not season for TV programmes in the USA and for a while we were set to lose a lot of Bi TV. Just about every TV show ends some time, though most of it not as quickly as the Roseanne reboot vanished from the air. That reboot was doing interesting things with gender but was yet to give us a bi twist to mirror the bisexual plotline of its 1990s run, though the running references to Darlene (Sara Gilbert)’s sexuality were surely going somewhere before Roseanne Barr’s racist online outburst got the show canned.

Lucifer got pulled after three seasons, only to be picked up by Netflix a few days later. Lucifer has given us bi representation all the way through, while comedy police drama Brooklyn Nine Nine brought its bi story just a few months ago and was handed its notice by Fox after five seasons. Fairly quickly NBC picked it up albeit for a shorter thirteen-episode run. In the same batch of news about television contract renewals the bi-heavy Gotham was confirmed for a fifth but final season.

 

Read more about bis on TV, film and in the papers in our bimediawatch section.