In the last decade, American TV shows and movies have begun to showcase more LGBT characters than ever before. Bisexual viewers, though, may still find representations of their life experiences onscreen rare. Even as complex homosexual television characters multiply, giving viewers The LA Complex’s Tariq, United States of Tara’s Marshall Gregson, and Dexter’s Isaak Sirko, bisexual characters remain more elusive. GLAAD’s annual “Where We Are on TV” report reveals that in the 2013-2014 TV season, there are just 24 bisexual recurring or regular characters on all of primetime TV, and 18 of them are women. Look closer, and it becomes clear that even in that small group, portrayals of bisexuality tend to be unrealistic.
The fact that television lacks bisexual characters, especially bisexual men, is well documented: As Josh Eidelson pointed out in The Daily Kos in 2011, it wasn’t easy then to find a bisexual male television character at all. And in early 2012, a Bitch magazine piece by Carrie Nelson highlighted the fact that even when they exist, portrayals of bisexuality are often deeply flawed. (Glee ignored the perspective of high-school glee-club star Blaine Anderson, she wrote, in favor of a plot that saw him get tossed back and forth between his gay and straight love interests.) And most recently, Slate’s June Thomas covered the increase in bisexual women on television, mentioning that in shows like House of Lies—where “being bisexual is mostly about being hot and uninhibited”—many bisexual women are still portrayed as performers, and their audience is considered straight men.
It has been over five years since I logged onto Facebook and publicly announced my sexual orientation. “I can no longer stay silent, friends,” I wrote. “I am gay and have been for a lifetime. I recognize that this may be a shock to some of you but I would be remiss to only share half of me.” Coming out was both liberating and constricting, for me. It was beautiful although the consequences were occasionally ugly. I am glad I came out. But what about those people who aren’t?
In October 1988, National Coming Out Day (NCOD) was founded to celebrate individuals who publicly identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender. This October 11 will again be a day cheering authenticity and bravery. And it’s an event I have mixed feelings about.
On the one hand, it takes courage to publicly identify as LGBT. Who wouldn’t commend individuals who openly share their internal selves with the external world knowing they can receive backlash? But while I, too, applaud the authenticity inherent in the act of coming out, the experience is not for everyone. The danger in over-emphasizing coming out is that the act, at least in the short term, benefits the group sometimes more than the individual.
Read more. [Image: Jonathan Erst/Reuters]
In an edition of the Venice Film Festival notable for the prevalence of works grappling with global and societal woes (unemployment, terrorism, pollution, war) perhaps no film has blended the personal and the political as strikingly as Abdellah Taia’s L’Armée du salut (Salvation Army).
A promising directorial debut presented in the independent “Critics’ Week” category on Wednesday, the movie is adapted from Taia’s autobiographical novel about growing up gay in Morocco.
Today, the 40-year-old Taia is the only openly homosexual Moroccan writer-filmmaker. He is based in Paris, where he moved in 2000 to pursue a graduate degree in 18th century French literature.
Salvation Army observes the adolescent protagonist’s sexual awakening, as he meets with men in shadowy alleys and empty lots, careful not to be discovered in a country where homosexuality is a crime punishable by prison time.
Read more. [Image: AP/Domenico Stinellis]
On the eve of Martin Luther King Day in January 2008, Senator Barack Obama took the lectern at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King had served as a pastor nearly half a century earlier.
As one might expect, Obama echoed the words of the civil-rights icon who had helped pave the way for his own career.
“‘Unity is the great need of the hour,’ is what King said,’” noted Obama, who was in the middle of a primary showdown with Senator Hillary Clinton and John Edwards. But instead of serving up a plate full of feel-good gospel to the faithful before him, he challenged the audience later in his speech.
“If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll acknowledge that our own community has not always been true to King’s vision of a beloved community,” Obama said. “We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them. The scourge of anti-Semitism has, at times, revealed itself in our community. For too long, some of us have seen immigrants as competitors for jobs instead of companions in the fight for opportunity.”
Read more. [Image: Jason Reed/Reuters]
I didn’t know I was skinny-fat until my Russian boyfriend told me so. Actually, I didn’t even know that was a thing until he told me so.
I did, however, suspect something was wrong with my body the first night I stayed over his house.
I went to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, and ran into his roommate, Julio. I don’t remember what he said, but I remember where he looked. He seemed to direct his entire conversation—and disgust—at my exposed midsection.
Also known as my love handles.
Julio (gay) and my boyfriend both possess the envious V-shape: broad shoulders narrowing down to a waist that hasn’t smelled a carb in years. Their arms are huge, their chests are cut, their abs are visibly defined.
Read more. [Image: phlubdr/Flickr]
For most gay Americans in the 20th century, the church was a place of pain. It cast them out and called them evil. It cleaved them from their families. It condemned their love and denied their souls. In 2004, a president was elected when religious voters surged from their pews to vote against the legal recognition of gay relationships. When it came to gay rights, religion was the enemy.
A decade later, the story is very different. Congregations across the country increasingly accept, nurture, and even marry their gay brethren. Polls show majorities of major Christian denominations — including American Catholics, despite their church’s staunch opposition — support legal gay marriage. Leaders of some of the most conservative sects, like the Southern Baptists, have moved away from the vitriolic rhetoric of yesteryear and toward a more compassionate tone. Mormons march in gay-pride parades. A sitting Republican senator, a Methodist from the heartland state of Ohio, says the question was settled for him by “the Bible’s overarching themes of love and compassion and my belief that we are all children of God.” A new pope says, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
Read more. [Image: Stacy Bengs/Associated Press]
Evan Wolfson, Freedom to Marry’s founder and president, said it’s important to keep up the momentum in favor of same-sex marriage. “The only thing I come close to worrying about is that people think it’s going to take care of itself,” Wolfson, a veteran activist and litigator who has been working for gay marriage for three decades, told me. “I am very confident we’re going to get there, but it just doesn’t do itself. We have to do the work.”
Three states voted to legalize gay marriage in November 2012 — Maine, Maryland, and Washington — while another, Minnesota, voted against a proposed constitutional amendment that would have banned gay marriage in the state. It was the first time such an initiative had been voted down; the Supreme Court recently invalidated California’s ban, known as Proposition 8, but 29 states still have constitutional bans on gay marriage.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
The Supreme Court made history this morning. Celebrate by reading Jonathan Rauch’s ‘Denial’, a stirring memoir about self-discovery.