4 Ways Roger The Alien Taught Me to be Bi Better

1/15/2017

By all accounts, Roger the Alien from American Dad! should offend the bi activist in me. He’s blatantly sociopathic, narcissistic, greedy, and does not care about anyone beside himself. He’s the type to steal ice cream from a baby because he can. He does what he wants when he wants, and nothing can stop him.

However, Roger doesn’t upset me in the slightest. Despite being an offensive, over-the-top loud-mouth bi alien, I love him. In fact, I think of him as a bi and genderqueer icon and here’s why.

1. He is unabashedly himself without an ounce of shame or remorse.

Even now, after three years of being out, I still feel pressured to pull up my “resume” of all the men, women, and genderqueer folk I’ve dated, slept with, or had crushes on to “prove” that I’m bi. Of course, I know that you don’t have to date or sleep with people of various genders in order to be bi. Bi folks in monogamous relationships are still bi. I also always try to say something along the lines of “It doesn’t matter with whom I’m currently intimate, I’m still bi,” when people skeptically ask, “Who’s the last girl you’ve slept with?”

Roger blatantly does not give a damn. He has never tried to justify his bisexuality. He’s also never tried to hide his sexual kinks (of which he has plenty). He’s not ashamed to like what he likes and be who he is. As a bi individual, I can say that’s something I really do admire.

2. He can laugh at himself.

Often, when engaging in bisexual activism, I get too caught up in some of the more serious aspects of bisexuality, like looking at ways to decrease some of the severe health disparities bi people face. I’m always ready to jump on someone who says “gay marriage” instead of “same-sex marriage.” Gay marriage erases bi people (and shouldn’t we be calling it just “marriage” now, anyway?) And don’t even get me started when people start gay-or straight-washing prominent bi figures. Nevertheless, bisexuality, in itself, doesn’t need to be serious all the time. We can and should be able to poke fun at ourselves. Roger does just that. It’s one joke after the next with him.

3. His bisexuality doesn’t define him, nor is it a personality trait.

Oftentimes, bisexuality is depicted as a personality trait rather than an orientation. TV producers often depict bi people as villainous, where sexual fluidity equates to moral fluidity. Bisexuality is just another characteristic to illustrate that a character is untrustworthy or unethical in these sadly common mischaracterizations. That’s not the case for Roger. His sexuality does play a role in his behavior and is crucial to his story. But at the same time, it’s not his whole identity. His whole character isn’t all about being bisexual. Just like our lives aren’t all about being bi. Our bisexuality is part of our identity, along with many other things.

4. His family still loves him.

So this one has more to do with his family, the Smiths. They really make no issue of his sexuality, and they love him for it. They take issue with his reckless behavior, his alcoholism, his drug addictions, his kleptomania, and his affinity for assault, but his bisexuality? No, not at all. That’s just who he is. There’s something really beautiful about seeing a family demonstrate unconditional support and love for an adopted bi individual in their home. Frankly, it gives me some hope for future generations of bi folks.

Roger may not be the average person (or alien) you would tell your kid to aspire to be. Nevertheless, there’s something in his pride, his confidence in his sexuality, and his brutal honesty that is inspiring to me. He, without a doubt, is one of the most visible and proud bi individuals of the 21st century.

So thank you Roger (and the creator and voice of Roger, Seth MacFarlane) for being so unabashedly you.

Zachary Zane
Zachary Zane a Brooklyn-based freelance writer, speaker, YouTuber, and activist whose work focuses on (bi)sexuality, gender, identity politics, relationships, and culture. He's a contributing editor at The Advocate Magazine, a columnist at Bi.org, and currently writes for The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Out Magazine, and PRIDE.