Hooray For Bi Representation. Now Say the Word!
As a bi person I don’t commonly see myself reflected on television and in the movies. So when, on that rare occasion, a show or movie does showcase a bi character, it is a treat. Happily it’s a treat that is becoming familiar recently.
Such is the case recently on the Netflix streaming show Black Mirror. In this fourth season, in the episode “Hang the DJ,” we meet Frank and Amy. I’m not going to spoil too much in this article (there will be some spoilers), but I’ll just say that they are two lovable hopeless romantics looking for “the one” via a dating app called The System. The way the app works is you meet your potential mate at a specific booth in a restaurant and together you press on your app to reveal the duration the app allows you to stay together, or “expiry date” as they call it. It can be anywhere from a year, six months, to even just six hours. In Frank and Amy’s case it was only for twelve hours and they spend their time together nervously laying fully clothed in bed. There’s an obvious connection between the couple and the chemistry the two actors have onscreen and the humor they share together while in contact with each other throughout the episode is intoxicating and thrilling.
After their time allotted with each other is up, the two embark on other relationships via the app, only to be drawn back to one another at times within their world. Shortly after their meeting, Frank is given a relationship with an absolutely incompatible and irritable woman for a year, whereas Amy is paired up for nine months with a handsome, strapping young man and the best sex, even though this new relationship comes with some annoying idiosyncrasies.
Their relationships end, Amy’s before Frank’s, and we see her almost instantly set up on a string of one-night stands, one after another for 36 hour increments. Then we see Amy and Frank reunited again. In a nutshell, their relationship ends again and Amy is given many more short dates. During this sequence it is revealed that not only does she date men but one of her dates is a woman. It’s quick and it’s darkly lit, but it’s there at 42:02. Bisexuality onscreen!
I was so excited to see that. It’s the little things for us bi folk, it seems.
LGBT people may be a small percentage of the world in total, but bi+ people make up the majority of the LGB community, and yet we are rarely portrayed in popular media (even more rarely are we portrayed positively). Things have definitely improved over the last few years with many more bi characters appearing on our screens. Let’s hope that this trend continues.
In fact, just last year in season three of Black Mirror, in the episode “San Junipero,” we meet lovers Kelly and Yorkie who are in a simulation of the titular party town when they cross paths. Kelly is beautiful, confident, and unabashedly upfront, extroverted, and fun, while Yorkie is mousy, shy, and inexperienced in the ways of love. Kelly, who we find out is bi, tells us she was married for years to a man who eventually died.
She actually says when asked when she first knew that she liked women “I like men, too.” and then playfully singsongs with a fist up: “~Equal rights!~” at 21:57.
Rarely do we ever hear someone admit to liking more than one gender in the media, except in some salacious way or in a scandalous news report. So, it was refreshing and soul-fulfilling to hear her say that she liked more than just women and that admission was used in such a positive and affirming way. Black Mirror assured us that they see we exist and that they have our backs. I have to commend the writers of Black Mirror for that. Next year, let’s see if they are brave enough to have a bi male lead, a bi trans lead, or perhaps a bi nonbinary lead.
And even better would be to hear the actually call one of these excellent characters bi.
Sure, we know they’re bi. It’s obvious that they’re bi. But there’s a magic to it for every bi person out there when they hear their sexuality acknowledged onscreen. Two simple words: “I’m bi” can bring comfort to the large community of bi folk who almost never hear those two words onscreen. It can remind the world that yes, we really do exist. It can ease the minds of those struggling with their sexuality to hear acceptance of a word that has been banished on various social media websites of late, because of “wholesome” society’s pornographic connotations with the word.
Recently, on the show Brooklyn 99 we did hear it. Stephanie Beatriz’ character Rosa Diaz came out bi and announced those two words to her fellow cohort, forever dispelling the notion that she might be either lesbian or straight. I must commend the writers on the show and actor Beatriz who has said she helped collaborate on bringing her character’s bisexuality to light on the show, and having it done in such a respectful way is a highlight of the past year.
It’s the little things now, but little things grow. I look forward to seeing more and more characters saying those two little words in 2018. “I’m bi.”