How Mainstream Artists are Fighting Against Bisexual Erasure in 2018


For maybe the primary time in fashionable popular culture historical past, bisexual people are lastly getting a modicum of the popularity they deserve. More and extra celebrities have begun to return out as one thing apart from straight or homosexual, bisexual characters are being seen increasingly on tv, and there was a big uptick in music and different artwork that offers with the complexities of the bisexual spectrum.

But even with extra illustration, bisexuality nonetheless faces an unhealthy stigma in our society. For bisexual, pansexual and sexually fluid people the world over, a part of popping out is coping with and making an attempt to struggle in opposition to the myriad stereotypes which are current from the beginning. Ask a bisexual particular person, and so they’ll let you know tales the place pals, household and strangers -- each LGBTQ and never -- used a sequence of acquainted instruments to delegitimize their emotions. “It’s only a section,” “Bi now, homosexual later” and “You’re simply figuring issues out” are among the many commonest phrases bi individuals hear when popping out.

This phenomenon is sometimes called “bi-erasure” by these within the LGBTQ neighborhood. LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD defines bisexual erasure as “a pervasive downside wherein the existence or legitimacy of bisexuality (both normally or in regard to a person) is questioned or denied outright.”

For a very long time, bisexual erasure has permeated all through each a part of our tradition, together with and particularly popular culture. Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl" is an oft-cited instance of bi-erasure because of the stereotypes concerning the promiscuity and validity of the bisexual id portrayed within the music's lyrics. But in 2018, a variety of queer artists have come ahead to make it unequivocally clear that bisexuality, pansexuality and fluidity will not be solely legitimate, however lovely in and of themselves.

Since her rise to fame in 2015, pop star Halsey has been outspoken about her bisexual id, continuously confirming and reaffirming it inside public view. But this yr, the “Bad at Love” singer was confronted but once more with these telling her that her sexual orientation was a fluke.

The drama got here when the singer launched her video for “Strangers,” a pop banger about getting out of and coming to phrases with a poisonous relationship, that includes fellow bisexual star Lauren Jauregui. The video exhibits Halsey boxing her former feminine lover, Rosa, in a hoop, earlier than finally rising triumphant and falling into the arms of her boyfriend, Solis.

Some followers of the star criticized the video for being “not queer sufficient,” saying that Halsey made it extra palatable for a mainstream viewers. Where many singers would have stayed quiet, Halsey as an alternative determined to talk up, letting her followers know male-female relationship being depicted in a video doesn’t make it any much less queer.

“It actually IS a bisexual story,” she mentioned in response to the critics. “Luna has romantic relationships with each Rosa and Solis. Her relationship with a person doesn’t nullify her bisexuality. Not in an imaginary music video universe and never in actual life both.”

This isn’t the primary time Halsey has publicly identified the toxicity of bi-erasure. In 2016, a Buzzfeed article titled “What Does A Queer Pop Star Look Like In 2016?” claimed that regardless of her openness about her bisexuality on-line and in interviews, a lot of the singer’s music did nothing to spotlight her sexuality. Taking to Twitter as soon as once more, Halsey strongly defended herself in a now-deleted string of tweets, saying “Sorry I'm not homosexual sufficient for you … [the article] is a part of a mentality so engrained [sic] within the erasure of bisexual 'credibility' even throughout the lgbt neighborhood."

Even easy, public recognition of the bisexual id could be terribly useful in dismantling erasure. Earlier this yr, singer/songwriter Jason Mraz penned a poem to the LGBTQ neighborhood for Billboard. After thanking the neighborhood for continuously supporting and provoking him, he ended his notice by saying “But know I'm bi your aspect. All methods.”

The particular reference despatched followers right into a speculative tailspin, with a number of shops and Twitter customers overtly questioning if the artist’s letter was his official popping out as bi. In a later interview with Billboard, Mraz confirmed that the letter did successfully function his official popping out. “I’ve had experiences with males, even whereas I used to be courting the girl who turned my spouse,” he mentioned. “It was like, ‘Wow, does that imply I'm homosexual?’ And my spouse laid it out for me. She calls it ‘two spirit,’ which is what the Native Americans name somebody who can love each man and lady. I actually like that.”

Had Mraz merely come out as bi, that may have been an exquisite second for himself and his followers to share in. But in his interview, Mraz did extra: he opened up concerning the strategy of figuring out his sexuality, particularly stating that because of the way in which our society frames the sexual binary, he was initially conditioned to assume he was homosexual. His sincere account of coming to phrases with himself not solely serves as a wonderful private story, however as a illustration of what the precise popping out course of for bisexual individuals can really feel like in a society that doesn’t speak about bisexuality.

Even although the observe is often known as bisexual erasure, the act of delegitimizing an individual’s sexuality shouldn't be contained to particularly bisexual individuals. Those who determine as pansexual, omnisexual, sexually fluid and the numerous different arrays of sexuality falling below the “bisexual umbrella” are affected by the stigma each day.

A couple of stars have already helped create extra visibility and understanding for a few of these even much less talked-about identities. In a canopy story for Rolling Stone, funk icon Janelle Monáe got here out as queer, particularly highlighting pansexuality as an id that she discovered her id in. “I examine pansexuality and was like, ‘Oh, these are issues that I determine with too,’” she mentioned. “I’m open to studying extra about who I'm.”

What adopted her gorgeous admission was undoubtedly her finest (and queerest) album to this point, Dirty Computer. The album is laced with themes and overt references to her sexuality, with Monáe lastly liberating herself to an viewers that had lengthy speculated about her sexual orientation. Through her flirtatious music “Make Me Feel” and its subsequent video, Monáe had penned a real bisexual anthem.

Panic! on the Disco frontman Brendon Urie was one other artist who many had lengthy puzzled about. Through songs like “Girls/Girls/Boys,” followers overtly theorized if the married star recognized as bisexual. The star had mentioned in earlier interviews that he recognized himself as straight -- however hat modified in 2018.

In an interview with Paper, Urie mentioned that he got here to the realization that his marriage to a lady didn’t negate his sexuality. “I'm married to a lady and I'm very a lot in love together with her however I'm not against a person as a result of to me, I like an individual,” he informed the journal. “Yeah I assume you may qualify me as pansexual as a result of I actually don't care … I assume that is me popping out as pansexual."

Both Monáe and Urie’s public acknowledgment of their pansexuality did extra than simply appease fanbases desirous to know extra. After Monáe’s popping out in Rolling Stone, the phrase “pansexual” turned the most-searched time period on the Merriam-Webster dictionary’s web site, growing by 11,000 %. Urie’s admission had the same impact, prompting one other bump for on-line searches of the time period, and leading to a number of on-line articles explaining to worldwide audiences what pansexuality meant.

Even when artists had been known as out for adverse portrayals of queerness in 2018, some nonetheless managed to additional promote the trigger. Rita Ora’s single “Girls,” launched in May of this yr, was criticized for causes much like Perry’s "I Kissed a Girl." The music trilized bisexuality and sexual experimentation by equating it with the drunken antics of women who simply wish to have enjoyable. Lyrics like “Sometimes, I simply wanna kiss women, women, women/Red wine, I simply wanna kiss women, women, women” contributed to the controversy.

But within the wake of the music, a variety of artists concerned -- together with Bebe Rexha, Cardi B and Ora herself -- got here ahead to say that they every had sexual experiences with girls. While not one of the girls used the phrases “bisexual” or “pansexual,” Rexha referred to her sexuality as “fluid” in a subsequent interview with Entertainment Weekly.

Artists with smaller platforms than these listed above additionally had a hand in breaking down bi-erasure this yr. Indie star Lucy & La Mer publicly got here out as bi in an interview with Billboard in May, and spoke particularly concerning the difficulties of popping out within the face of adverse stereotypes. London-based singer-songwriter Rina Sawayama got here out as pansexual and mentioned the problem of internalized biphobia on her single “Cherry” earlier this month. And simply this week, Rapper Lady Leshurr got here out as pansexual, claiming that pop star Kehlani launched her to the thought. 

Let’s make one factor clear: bisexual erasure is way from over. Only 14 % of the queer-inclusive movies among the many greatest movies of 2017 featured bisexual characters based on GLAAD. Songs like “Girls” and “I Kissed a Girl” nonetheless do hurt to these locally frequently by equating bisexuality with straight experimentation. Bisexual persons are going through and nonetheless will face stereotypes supposed to undermine their identities.

But these artists serve for instance of the place we could possibly be headed as a tradition. Their unflinching representations of the bisexual spectrum have helped, even when in a small manner, to confront these dangerous stereotypes head-on. And perhaps, with their assist and the assistance of others like them, we'll finally have the ability to erase the longstanding penalties of bisexual erasure.