BiMediaWatch: February 2019
We may be in 2019 now but I to start with the payoff from the end of ‘bi season’ as Autumn 2018 saw so much bi TV. In particular, last issue as The Bi Life, The Bisexual and Sally4Ever jostled for our attention it looked like the latter show would be the lightweight bit of fluff of the season. How wrong we were: that show went to some quite, er, niche places. Probably not the best one to show to a nervous partner or parent to help them understand your sexuality.
Elsewhere The Good Place has been making its bi characters gratuitous from the start for anyone with a little bi-dar, Kristin Bell’s character Eleanor making it clear to all and sundry both how attractive she finds Tahani (Jameela Jamil) and her more responsive love interest Chidid (William Jackson Harper), and protesting about how more men “should be bisexual”. The show has been streaming on Netflix for a while and has now hit regular television on E4.
In an interview in January for the Conan show Kristin confirmed what was hiding in plain sight: “We’ve certainly alluded to it a lot of times. Attracted Eleanor is to Tahani […] why do we have to define what Eleanor is attracted to, maybe Eleanor is just kind of attracted to who she is attracted to …I think Eleanor is kind of bi and that’s fine with me”. Jamil chipped in that if it had come up in the script, “we would have been down, just to be clear”.
E4 will also be home to the last season of Gotham this spring. Barbara Kean and Tabitha Galavan will be in season five – so we’ve a brace of bisexuals to enjoy in the final run of the show, as well as a further chance to try and work out whether the Penguin is gay or bi.
Into the new year and Netflix’s fun high school-ish drama Sex Education starred Gillian Anderson. Sure enough the plot had a little dash of bisexuality, though not from the direction we might have expected. Anderson is being touted to play Margaret Thatcher later this year: I feel bad puns about the biron lady coming my way.
Against the Tide
Eastenders is rumoured to be introducing a new drinkerie to Albert Square, reported everywhere as a ‘gay bar’ but we imagine a broader LGBT venue. That seems likely to help with a setting for future queer stories. It just feels counterfactual in a city where the commercial gay scene is shrinking.
Pro-wrestling champ Anthony Bowens is no longer on our team. He came out as bisexual two years ago, but in January in a short YouTube video explained that these days he feels gay to be a more appropriate label after a journey from being only interested sexually in women as a teen and later being attracted to ‘both genders’.
It’s the kind of news story to make you sigh, as it feeds the “bi is a phase” notion that many of us have been clobbered with. “I was bi too, til I came out fully,” has only too often greeted declarations of bisexuality.
But take heart. Bowens spent enough time defending his bi identity in an era where bisexuality is being taken more seriously and where it’s easier to find support and advice – so his coming out as gay came complete with a rejoinder that bisexuality is real and this is about his sexuality shifting over time rather than finally being honest about it.
“There’s gonna be the bi now gay later people,” he sighs in his video. “But the term bisexual felt less and less me as time went on. I still advocate for bisexuality 100%… everyone has their own way of figuring themselves out. Please don’t be a hypocrite, people who identify as LGBT who get judged by a lot of people about our lifestyle and judge others in the same community. I don’t understand why that happens and how but it does and I think you’re a part of the problem if you’re one of those people. ”
US gay magazine Out talked to him about it and he explained “I spoke a lot about the ‘bi today, gay tomorrow’ stereotype because I saw that mentioned a lot over the last two years and how it affected people that I know who identify as bisexual who aren’t as thick-skinned as I am”. Think of it less as losing a bi and more as gaining a well-informed ally.