So far pop culture hasn’t done anything to make me feel better as a bisexual woman. What it has done is disappoint me by misrepresenting bisexual individuals or completely ignoring our community. After coming out as bisexual, I started looking for role models to look up to, no matter if fictional or real. Sadly I didn’t find the representation I was looking for. Whenever I came across some bi representation in TV shows, movies, books, etc., they all fell victim to the same portrayal: sexually driven, manipulative, egoistic bad people. Or they were killed off.
My hopes to see bisexual individuals leading normal lives, struggling with relationships, coming out, etc., were destroyed. Every single time I came across a bisexual character I got my hopes up, and was plagued with anxiety about how they would play it out. I’ve been disappointed over and over again. I know this is changing slowly and I appreciate it, but the false representation of bisexual characters has done a lot of damage. It helps to strengthen the harmful clichés that are still haunting us of being constant cheaters, manipulators, creepy power hungry jackasses, in short the villains of sexual orientations.
And even pieces about our own LGBTQ+ history like When We Rise have forgotten us. When bi activists and other people mentioned the lack of bi representation to Dustin Lance Black, he said that the term “bisexual” hadn’t been used in the 70’s. Well, it took one Wikipedia article on the matter to correct the false statement. So this felt like another letdown to me.
I also found it difficult to find any bi heroes among media personalities. They live completely different lives than I do and so different are our struggles. So how could I look up to them and put my hopes for better representation on them? It’s not always useful to idealize a person who can handle discrimination or false representation through channels unavailable to everyday people. And often I got the feeling that they were using bisexuality and exploiting our community to further their own fame.
After dealing with so much disappointment, a thought occurred to me: why can’t I be my own role model? Why should I strive for an ideal in another person when I can do it for myself becoming the best person in general and bisexual terms possible? My actions shape others’ perceptions of me. Why can’t every single one of us be the source of inspiration for each other? With the backlash we often still receive from the straight and LGBTQ+ world, we could grow stronger as a community if we encourage each other and serve as role models ourselves. Looking up to strangers whose lives have very little or nothing in common with ours presents the danger of being let down.
If I look up to someone, it’s to everyone who fights for our rights and recognition, is courageous enough to call out biphobia and bi-erasure and is dedicated to defend our rightful existence in the LGBTQ+ community.
I wish we, and this includes every member of our very diverse community, could be role models and idols for each other. I believe we can inspire each other through our actions and tireless efforts to make our voices heard, be seen and to overcome the false narratives we’ve been—and are still—confronted with. I truly hope our voices and our presence will be strong and loud enough that we can serve as role models and heroes to look up to not only for young bi people but for everyone around us.
NekoFirefoxy, 38, lives in Zurich, Switzerland. She identifies as bisexual and never hid it cause how you love isn’t a threat to anyone else.