For a long time, I’ve wanted to understand why we erase things we don’t understand instead of trying to understand them. So let’s talk about the erasure of bisexuality, and of everything that makes people living in the normative spaces of life want to erase anything that seems different.
Bisexuality erasure is rooted in the fear of uncertainty. Is she or isn’t she? Willow from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was sincerely attracted to men for several seasons, but once she falls for a woman, the character calls herself gay. Why ignore the attractions that the character previously felt? She was either straight or gay.
It has been scientifically proven that uncertainty causes more stress than the knowledge of a negative outcome. This means that you would be less stressed knowing that someone was going to slap you than wondering if someone was going to slap you. Apply that to sexuality.
We become emotionally invested in characters and their stories. We want what is best for them and when a show ends, we want to see them end up happily ever after. While that realistically won’t always be the case, we want an ending that fits. Something that makes the eight-season marathon worth it. When a character has been with both men and women, the audience is left with the questions: is he or isn’t he?
There’s a point in Glee where Blaine kisses Rachel, likes it, and considers the possibility of being bi. Glossing over Kurt’s response (since this is how a lot of people in the LGBTQ community react to bisexuality, and maybe that’s what they were trying to show) of “bisexual’s a term that gay guys in high school use when they wanna hold hands with girls and feel like a normal person for a change,” Blaine eventually comes to the conclusion that he is, in fact, gay and not bisexual. The creator of the show, Ryan Murphy, defended his decision by saying that the “kids need to know he’s one of them.”
Is the implication that bisexual kids don’t exist? That gay kids are more important than bi kids?
I’m more concerned with him saying that the kids need to know Blaine is one of them. They need to know. There’s that fear of uncertainty again. What if the kids, safe to say the gay kids, since he’s not concerned about a bisexual male audience, had to deal with Blaine being bisexual? They’d get to know a character who likes kissing both boys and girls? They’d explore yet another layer of sexuality? What exactly was he afraid of? The unknown.
I can sympathize with a fear of the unknown in our culture and I can see the how the dots connect and lead to the erasure of an entire sexuality, but we can’t nod our heads and stop there. What people are forgetting is that bisexuals, and anyone who doesn’t fall into normative standards, have to deal with their own uncertainty. While straight and gay people are unsure if an imaginary character is gay or straight, bisexuals are unsure if people are okay with their existence. They wonder if their stories matter, if people would watch or read them if they were ever told. They wonder who they can talk to when both the straight and gay communities side glance them. While people’s uncertainty is understandable, it doesn’t make it okay to latch on to it as an excuse to not do better, to not explore stories outside their own and make this a society open to the gray areas.
Gem Blackthorn is QMT's Sex Columnist, and the author/curator of Lust Thrust Thursdays. Send her your submissions and questions at sexsexsex [at] queenmobs.com