My First Bi+ Role Model

Nov 1, 2018 | 2018 Fall - Pop Culture, Articles

By Gloria Jackson-Nefertiti

My first bi+ role model was someone who didn’t necessarily identify as bisexual. Let me explain.

It was the character Emma Peel, a fictional spy played by Diana Rigg, from the British 1960s TV show The Avengers. She was a martial artist, fencer, chemistry genius, and fashion icon who would regularly wear “mod” miniskirts. (She would also frequently wear catsuits, which I loved, especially the leather and PVC ones.)

Emma Peel was very much a feminist role model, as well as an icon of British pop culture. In fact, she was what the millennials and younger people of today would refer to as a “badass.”

Neither the character, Emma Peel, nor the actress who played her, Diana Rigg, identified as bisexual, as far as I know. So why would I consider her character to be my first bi+ role model? It’s because Emma Peel happened to be my very first female crush, and there were many more to follow! She personified strength (physical and emotional), as well as confidence. Sure, I looked up to her and admired her greatly. But I was also in love with her.

What I especially find interesting is that even though I developed crushes on people of all genders (still do, though not as frequently as I did during childhood), it never occurred to me that I was anything but straight. That may have been because I was in the process of becoming a fundamentalist Christian, and bisexuality would NOT have been okay. Besides, I was also in a bit of denial, which certainly didn’t help!

But you know what? More than 50 years have passed since I watched my first episode of The Avengers, and became such a devoted fangirl of Emma Peel. Though I consider her to be my first bi+ role model, I have yet to follow in her footsteps (by taking martial arts lessons, for example). But hey, would anyone at least like to buy me a catsuit?

Gloria Jackson-Nefertiti is a bisexual activist and polyamory educator living in Seattle, WA, who is available for trainings, podcasts, panel discussions, and public speaking opportunities on various topics, including shame, bisexuality, polyamory, religion, and sex. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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