(This is a very personal and specific post about my cisgender bisexual experiences as a woman only. pls don’t get mad that I’m not discussing all the issues about LGBT+ representation in society because I’d be here forever and I’d rather let others have their say on the matters that impact on them and I’m not qualified for that role.)
So, I know that I’m not going to say anything revolutionary in this post and I am basically reiterating all the tweets and discussions that already exist about this but oh well it’s still something I want to weigh in on as someone who didn’t discover her own sexuality, in every sense of the term, until she was in her late teens.
Now I’m not completely ignoring the existence of previous representations of couples or relationships in media sources that are anything other than straight, but I’m just saying most of the films primarily about bisexual/lesbian experiences aren’t very good.
The most recent conversation around this is the need for a good wlw – woman loving woman couple just like we have had in Love Simon (which is a good gay film) and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (which is a good romcom). Previous wlw films are incredibly sexualised and usually include cheating, which just adds to some of the awful fetishisation but also a negative view of these kinds of relationships. A few examples are Blue is The Warmest Colour, Below Her Mouth, The Guest House etc which can be found on the LGBTQ section of Netflix. It is so important to move away from the narrative that women who kiss other women simply do so for men or because they’re greedy and can’t pick a side. Ugh. And threesomes or cheating is a thing that some humans do, no matter their sexuality; the chances are not increased just because someone is bi. Please keep your ugly biphobic stereotypes away from me and let me love whoever I want to love in whatever way I want to love them.
I’m not saying that every film about an LGBT+ couple needs to be all rainbows and sunshine and unicorns but at least give us SOMETHING because they are few and far between. We as species are incredibly influenced by what we watch on TV or in films and by simply just letting the audience see these types of relationships occur, just like they do in the normal world, will do so much good and pretty much no harm, except to the awful people who still think we aren’t real.
Now don’t get me wrong I did know that I liked girls from a young age without outside influences. I remember fancying female teachers and girls in films or cartoon characters or thinking how pretty childhood girlfriends were but I never realised what it meant. Maybe societal pressures made me regress these thoughts or there were other life things I became focused on when I started high school. But primary school me knew I had the capacity to love women and it unfortunately took me years to realise it again.
However, I’m very fortunate to have “come out” into a safe open minded environment with an accepting family and I know that’s a privilege to have. Also I never felt forced to come out and didn’t find it a difficult process. I have so many friends who have come out as gay, lesbian, bi, trans, non binary, queer, pansexual etc and sometimes it wasn’t a big celebration or a massive announcement. It could’ve just been a conversation between two people where they tell me they like more than one gender or if I pick up on someone’s pronouns or if all of sudden they have a boyfriend or girlfriend (this is the approach I took aged 15). It’s not a massive part of someone’s life story or their personality so it should be the same in films. I get that films have a time limit on how many dimensions they can truly give a character but just try a little harder, please.
It’s probably a lot easier now for me to talk about LGBT+ characters and representation in media than it ever has been in the past which is definitely a good thing, I’m not denying the existence of representation but there’s nothing wrong with a little more seeing as there’s over a million of us (who identify as LGB) in the UK alone.
One example of this was in Deadpool 2 with Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Yukio, a same sex couple who just existed like many straight couples have done in movies previously. Or in Scott Pilgrim Vs the World where Ramona corrects Scott every time he says “evil ex-boyfriends” to “evil exes”. V for Vendetta has a short story about a girl called Valerie and although it’s not the main plot line there’s a comment about falling in love with her first girlfriend because of her wrists that stuck in my head years later. Another example, of a recent TV show that’s doing an okay job of having some LGBT representation is Riverdale and there have been episodes about their experiences but they are also multidimensional characters whose label doesn’t define them. Other popular TV shows like American Horror Story, The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, Brooklyn 99, Orange Is The New Black and various soap operas have included LGB characters and storylines. So there is proof we are moving in the right direction.
I just think that if I had seen more very casual, normalised representations of women dating other women in films and TV shows then maybe I would have realised sooner that that’s something I want as well. Instead, I was unknowingly trapped in the closet by a heteronormative society that didn’t portray most people as anything other than cisgender and straight. Hopefully it’s changed slightly in recent times so more people can feel comfortable with whom they are by the many examples I’ve listed above. I’m just still waiting for a decent wlw rom com without all the negative stereotypes because it just reinforces peoples biphobia and we really don’t want that.
(Also go watch The Bi Life because it’s a dating show with only bisexuals and it’s as great as you can imagine #notspon)