Bisexual Erasure In Media Needs To Stop

Bisexual Erasure In Media Needs To Stop

Movies aren't black and white anymore, and neither is sexuality.
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During my first watch-through of the 90’s cult classic television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I found myself overjoyed at Willow’s romance with Tara, one of the first instances I had seen of a same-sex couple on television despite watching the series around 2012. I was so excited to see a strong female character not be defined by her sexuality or used solely as a stereotype character, having had relationships with both men and women.

As the series went on, though, something about the portrayal of Willow’s sexuality began to bother me. She never became a stereotype, but she began to identify as a lesbian with no interest in men. Even under a spell that attracts all women to a young man, she suggests using her Wicca mojo to turn him into a woman in order to be with him. Willow becomes repulsed at the idea of being with a man. While it is important to respect that some women may experience a change in their sexuality as they age and choose to identify as either gay or straight even if they have had meaningful relationships with multiple sexes, I see this as an instance of a bigger issue in the media: bisexual erasure.

Bisexual erasure occurs when sexuality is painted as being a black or white issue; everyone is assumed to be gay or straight without any identities in between. In the media, it is not as uncommon or taboo to see a homosexual character as it once was with a representation of queer characters overall on the rise and improving, but bisexual characters remain obscure. For instance, based on GLAAD’s 2014 Where We Are on TV report, only 4 percent of regular characters on broadcast television are LGBT, but of the 65 regular or recurring queer characters on broadcast networks, only 12 or 18 percent are bisexual. Based on the percentage of Americans self-identifying as bisexual in Center for Disease Control and Prevention poll from that same year, there is an order of magnitude difference in bisexual representation on television compared to the 0.7 percent Americans actively identifying as bisexual. Even shows that represent multiple sexualities can fall into the trap of bi erasure. We can see young men and women come into their sexual identities on Glee, but despite the seeing multiple characters experiment with both same-sex and heterosexual relationships, only one character choices to identify as bisexual.

While comic books tend to fare better in terms of diversity with new characters and changes to old ones, mainstream media still seems unaccepting of bisexual or omnisexual characters when comics are adapted for television or the big screen. Take, for instance, Constantine’s adaptation to both film and television. The character is openly bisexual in the comics, seen getting out of bed with men in some panels. However, in both the 2014 NBC adaptation and the earlier 2005 film version, the character is not portrayed as anything other than heterosexual with the issue of sexuality particularly downplayed by NBC. Even in the Deadpool movie which was hyped to have the first openly queer superhero, we do not see any indication that Wade Wilson is or has ever been attracted to men, letting the director’s promise of his pansexuality fall flat. Those not well versed in the comics would not be able to catch on to subtle hints that the protagonist is not heterosexual. Both of these characters being more openly bisexual in their film adaptations would have represented not only the bi community but also bisexual males that are depicted even less frequently than their female counterparts.

Erasing bisexual characters is leading to real life issues for adolescents that fall somewhere along the vast spectrum of sexualities. Seeing this strict dichotomy only serves to reinforce the idea that bisexuals lack a legitimate identity. They are left to feel too queer for the straight community and not queer enough for the LGBTQ+ community (despite literally having a letter in the initialism). Stereotypes that bisexuals are merely experimenting or testing their sexuality are reinforced when a television character, whether it be Willow on Buffy or Quinn or Santana on Glee, decides to ultimately stick to one end of the spectrum and dismiss any relations they had that do not fit with their current identity. Only seeing gay or straight characters in the media reinforces the idea that they need to “pick a side;” many may force themselves into using one label or the other with much discomfort and guilt in still finding attraction to multiple sexes even if they show a preference for one side or another. If Willow can pick a side, why can’t they?

The answer to this question is fairly obvious: they cannot pick a side because they do not belong to one side or another. Sexuality falls along a gradient of many shades, not just black or white. The sooner the media starts showing more fluidity in sexuality, the better it will be for those still forming their identities.

Cover Image Credit: Pride

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5 Perks Of Having A Long-Distance Best Friend

The best kind of long-distance relationship.
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Sometimes, people get annoyed when girls refer to multiple people as their "best friend," but they don't understand. We have different types of best friends. There's the going out together best friend, the see each other everyday best friend and the constant, low maintenance best friend.

While I'm lucky enough to have two out of the three at the same school as me, my "low maintenance" best friend goes to college six hours from Baton Rouge.

This type of friend is special because no matter how long you go without talking or seeing each other, you're always insanely close. Even though I miss her daily, having a long-distance best friend has its perks. Here are just a few of them...

1. Getting to see each other is a special event.

Sometimes when you see someone all the time, you take that person and their friendship for granted. When you don't get to see one of your favorite people very often, the times when you're together are truly appreciated.

2. You always have someone to give unbiased advice.

This person knows you best, but they probably don't know the people you're telling them about, so they can give you better advice than anyone else.

3. You always have someone to text and FaceTime.

While there may be hundreds of miles between you, they're also just a phone call away. You know they'll always be there for you even when they can't physically be there.

4. You can plan fun trips to visit each other.

When you can visit each other, you get to meet the people you've heard so much about and experience all the places they love. You get to have your own college experience and, sometimes, theirs, too.

5. You know they will always be a part of your life.

If you can survive going to school in different states, you've both proven that your friendship will last forever. You both care enough to make time for the other in the midst of exams, social events, and homework.

The long-distance best friend is a forever friend. While I wish I could see mine more, I wouldn't trade her for anything.

Cover Image Credit: Just For Laughs-Chicago

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I Won't Forgive The Anti-Semitic Students Of Spain Park, Not Yet

Maybe it isn't time for an apology.

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I am Jewish. It is something I have never been afraid of and something I value as much in life as I do with my family and friends. Throughout my life, though I have witnessed hate of the Jewish people and jokes made about Jewish people.

In high school, I had to listen to jokes about Jews and the gas chambers and was asked because I was Jewish if I could do someone else's math homework.

To say I had to deal with anti-Semitism in the South does not come close to describing what I had to go through. As time went by the jokes stopped and I thought I would not have to deal with instances of prejudice or bigotry but I was wrong. Growing up as one of the only Jewish people in my friend group and in high school it made me consider myself strong and ready for college but in my freshman year I had to go through other jokes about my religion and even in sophomore year had to witness someone I thought was my friend make a joke about my religion because "he thought it was funny."

I let the instances of anti-Semitism serve as times when I could prove people wrong I learned to forgive and forget.

But I had to witness other acts of hate towards Judaism while in college. From swastikas on a fraternity house, a synagogue shooting, the BDS movement and more hate speech, the hate towards Jews have seemed to grow and I do not understand why. I get hurt each time I hear of an instance but it has not allowed me to view my Judaism any differently. However, there was an occurrence that has affected me in a different way.

It happened in my home state and it has not sat well with me.

On Monday a video surfaced of multiple high school students making anti-Semitic and anti-Black comments. The video featured a guy turning around the camera multiple times to show he was laughing and thought it was funny while others made comments about concentration camps, what would happen if Jews ruled the world and asking what the world would be like without the Holocaust. The students were from Spain Park in Birmingham and have gathered quite a reputation online.

To say I am filled with anger, disappointment, and embarrassment is an understatement.

This is my home state and these students are not only disrespecting the Jewish and Black people in the state of Alabama but throughout the US and possibly even in the world. I am hurt by this instance but I am not ready to forgive these students just yet.

After the video was leaked online some of the students sent messages to the person who uploaded the video apologizing. That I took as a mature gesture until I read the apology from the girl in the video. The apology asked if the user could remove the video because it would ruin her life and reputation. It was later found out that the female student is the daughter of the manager of the Toyota dealership in Hoover after the manager posted an apology.

Any remorse I had going for these students was now gone.

They were not sorry. They were sorry that they got caught and were facing consequences. They gave the apology that your parents made you say when you did not want to apologize. They did not care about who they had harmed or what they had said, they cared because they had to face consequences and they know that this mistake would follow them for the rest of their life.

I'm at a loss for words.

I don't know how to feel. I know someone will tell me I am overreacting but how am I supposed to approach this? What they said was wrong and there is no proper way to express frustration for it. I know people get offended by certain things but some things are not meant to be a joke. So I hope what you said was worth it and was fun to say because it will follow you for the rest of your life. Some lessons are best-learned overtime and it looks like you will have a chance to reflect on these events.

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