Valkyrie Is Not “Just A Lesbian In College”

11/1/2017

“Well if yet another lesbian in college style stereotype is enough to make you happy. Pull on your ugh boots and have a pumpkin spice latte and enjoy the moment.” —Anonymous commenter.

The above quote was taken from a comments sections from the announcement that Valkyrie in the new Thor: Ragnarok movie is canonically bi, per American actress, Tessa Thompson, who is playing her in the new film.

There’s not many things that I hate more than being erased as a bi person and to hear some man explain away female bisexuality as a lesbian phase in college irked me to the core. I had to respond and I did.

Now this wasn’t some standard straight man relaying archaic notions of a dichotomy of human sexuality that only recognizes straight or gay. This was a gay man saying this. A big, burly-looking gay man typing this with his bear claws.

It’s one thing to have someone in the straight community erase us but when someone in our queer community does it, the sting is worse. They should know better. Our people in the past spent years fighting to get where we are now, gay, lesbian, and bi alike. Would this man consider such renowned Stonewall-era trans activists such as Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera “lesbians in college”? Would this man crown the “Mother of Pride” Brenda Howard a “lesbian in college”? These women were bi women. Their bi-ness was etched into the very fabric of their being. I can’t imagine someone describing them any other way than as bi.

But, in a sense, that gay man did. He erased historical people’s bisexuality by claiming that bi women are “yet another lesbian in college style stereotype” because that is what bisexuality is to him, in his own mind.

Bisexual women are real. Not just “lesbians in college.”

Is this what some gay men think whenever a woman comes out as bi? When Mara Wilson came out as bi on twitter following the tragic event at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, did this man jump at the chance to tell her no, she’s just a lesbian in college stereotype? When Angelina Jolie told the world years ago that she was bi, creating an environment that helped a myriad of bi women out of the closet, was that his knee-jerk reaction to stand up and say, “No, dear. No you’re not. You’re just a lesbian in college stereotype.” Amber Heard. Anna Paquin. Evan Rachel Wood. All prominent bi actors in Hollywood who are great examples of speaking publicly about their bisexuality. But not to this man. To him, apparently, they are just still in a phase of being a lesbian in college.

Grow up, man. Bisexuality is real. When you dance your pretty little (giant?) heart out to Grace Jones, or Demi Lovato, or Lady Gaga, you aren’t dancing to the music of “lesbians in college”. You’re dancing to music created by some of the greatest bi singers to walk this earth. They aren’t allies either. They’re in our community. Full-fledged members of the LGBT community.

Valkyrie, in Marvel comics, is a bi woman. Whether or not that will be revealed in the film Thor: Ragnarok is unknown, but Tessa Thompson has spoken out and said she played the character as bi, staying true to the comics incarnation of the beloved Asgardian. This is joyous news!

It’s not that often that we get blatantly bi comic book characters in media such as on television and in films, but in recent years, thanks to tv stations such as the CW, with shows like Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow showcasing a bi character (Sara Lance/Black Canary/White Canary played by Caity Lotz), we are finally getting some of our family onscreen.

In fact, the CW has been great for bisexuality in general when they made history in 2015 by creating the first lead bi character on American television (on a major Big 5 network) with their series The 100‘s Clarke Griffin (played by Eliza Taylor). Clarke is no lesbian in college. Other television shows have followed suit, such as ABC’s How To Get Away With Murder and it’s lead character, Annalise Keating (played by Viola Davis). Annalise is also not a lesbian in college. And FOX’s Scream Queens, with one of their lead characters, Chanel #3 (played by Billie Lourd), coming to terms with her bisexuality in the first season. Although the character is in college, Chanel #3 is not just a lesbian in college stereotype. She’s bi in college.

And now male bi leads are popping up on television, too, with show’s such as Netflix’s House of Cards and its lead character Frank Underwood (played by Kevin Spacey), AMC’s Halt And Catch Fire, with its lead character Joe MacMillan (played by Lee Pace), Starz’ Black Sails lead Captain James Flint (played by Toby Stephens), and (another Big 5 network) FOX’s Lucifer and its title character, Lucifer Morningstar (played by Tom Ellis).

These aren’t all comic book characters, but important all the same. These characters represent the multitude of bi women and men in the world who are still attracted to genders of all types. These women and men remain bi. They’re not just lesbians or gays in college.

Of course there are lesbians that did find their sexuality in college and they are out as lesbians to this day, and that there are lesbians who were out in college who are back in the closet to this day. I’m not denying that some women come out in college. I’m ragging on the stereotype that bisexual women in same-sex relationships during their college days were only doing it to experiment, or to make men horny, or for some other reason. Bi women are valid. Bi women have experiences in college that are valid. Lesbians, too. Let’s not discount those experiences and let’s not erase these women’s sexualities.

I have to praise Tessa Thompson for staying true to the spirit of her film character Valkyrie’s comic book counterpart. What a great ally for the bi community. She recognizes the importance of bi folk seeing bi representation in film. I commend her for keeping Valkyrie bi. And I can’t wait to catch the movie.

As for the commenter that inspired me to write this article? We just need to keep speaking out and standing up for who we are as bi people. Let them know you exist. Don’t back down. He won’t about his own sexuality, so why should you? We’re as much as an important part of this world as anyone is. Always keep that in mind.

Greg Ward

Gregory Ward was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona where he resides today. He spends his time bringing awareness to the local scene and helping bi folk. He loves movies, astronomy, and the Irish language. He founded Fluid Arizona which is an active bi+ community that can be found on Facebook and Twitter, and is a big proponent of the #stillbisexual campaign.