Antoni, a Co-host on “Queer Eye,” Doesn’t Know What Bisexual Means

4/30/2018

You would think someone on a show called Queer Eye would know what the word bisexual means.

But then again, you would also think that on a show called Queer Eye, there would be at least someone who identifies as queer (or bi or transgender). But out of the five co-hosts, aka the “Fab Five,” not one of the men identifies as queer. Karamo, aka the “culture vulture,” told Marc Malkin on Facebook Live that all of the show’s hosts identify as gay.

Maybe it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Antoni Porowski, the “food and wine” expert, doesn’t know what the definition of bi is.

Here’s exactly what Antoni said on to the Gay Times for their May issue:

“I’ve always considered myself a little more fluid along the spectrum. So even being called bi… I remember in my early twenties I was like, ‘But bi means I can only like girls and guys, what if I like something else?’ Maybe it’s just my rebellious nature. I’m me, I’m Antoni, and I’m all these things. Some people want to define themselves, and they should as it’s part of their identity. For me personally, I’ve never really had a label for myself. Today I’m gay, I’m in a gay relationship, and that’s where I am. That’s good enough for me.”

Ooph. A few things to say about this. First, I will yet again give the definition that most bi individuals use, stemming from the renown bi activist Robyn Ochs:

“I call myself bi because I acknowledge that I have in myself the potential to be attracted – romantically and/or sexually – to people of more than one sex and/or gender, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree.”

Thus, as bi activists have said time and time again, bisexuality doesn’t perpetuate gender stereotypes. It is inclusive of transgender, genderqueer, agender, and all other genders.

A couple of things really bother me about what Antoni said. For one, his ignorance, when he has a huge voice in the gay and supposedly queer community. I mean for the love of God, you’re on a show called Queer Eye — currently the most popular show about LGBT life — and you don’t even know what the B in LGBT stands for? In fact, you’re perpetuating the particularly harmful notion about bi people that they believe gender is binary. That’s really embarrassing. The Fab Five should have received a 101 crash course in queer culture before sending them off as some sort of gay or “queer” experts.

But what bothers me even more than his ignorance, is his belief that being without a label is somehow “cooler” or “hipper” than proudly identifying with a label. What he said specifically is “Maybe it’s just my rebellious nature” for not identifying with a label.

For those of you who don’t know Antoni and his brand — he’s the sexy, cool one. He’s handsome, down to Earth, almost painfully masculine when compared to his co-host Jonathan Van Ness (who I am still 100% obsessed with), and a heartthrob. In fact in February, GQ did a Q&A with Antoni titled, “Queer Eye’s Antoni Porowski Knows You’re Thinking About Him.”

One thing I know I personally struggle with is when people think less of me for proudly identifying as bi. These are the people who proudly identify as radically queer or “no labels.” They view the word bi as being from a different (aka older and less socially conscious and intersectional) generation. Hence these naysayers believe that bisexuality doesn’t encapsulate the intricacies of modern queer life, when it 100% totally does.

It’s also not “hip,” so to speak, which is good. I don’t want to have an identity simply because it’s hip. When I first came out, people told me that being bi was hip. Now people are telling me that everyone my age identifies as queer or pansexual or some other term that they haven’t heard of.

It’s like, okay, great. Why exactly do you feel compelled to tell me this? Why are you comparing me to them?

That’s partly why Antoni’s interview rubbed me the wrong way… my own insecurities. I’m rebellious AF. Can I not be rebellious and identify as bi? I don’t see bi as being a restrictive label; I view it as the opposite, which is in large part why I identify as such!

So the whole, “I’m too cool to identify as something” bit just doesn’t sit well with me.

I guess at the end of the day, I’ll simply say “do better.” Not because you don’t want to identify as bi — that’s your own prerogative and I would never judge someone for choosing a different identity label they feel better suits them. I’m saying do better because you’re an emerging voice in the queer community. Your words impact people. If you’re going to be a voice in the queer community, be a positive one. Or at the very least, don’t spread incorrect information about members of your own community.

 

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.