My day-to-day at GLAAD involves working alongside the industry as a resource to ensure that LGBTQ stories are being featured in fair, accurate, and inclusive ways. I know how much representation matters, both from seeing fans who reach out to us around projects they love and from the personal experience of growing up in a very small Midwest town with no queer people around except for who I saw each week on TV. It was heartening to see that number of queer people on television continue to grow as the years went on, and to witness this first-hand at GLAAD. However, bisexual+ people make up the majority of the LGBTQ community (52%), but only 26% of all LGBTQ characters on television in our most recent Where We Are on TV study. This is why it is so important for us as bi people to be out, visible, and celebrating each other and our community.
So, for this year’s #BiWeek, I wanted to shine a spotlight on four bisexual characters who have been favorites of mine personally. Maybe some will be new favorites of yours as well. Let us know who your favorite bi+ characters are below!
Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez) / Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)
Callie Torres was the first TV character I ever saw specifically use the word “bisexual,” and do so with pride. Growing up in that small town, my exposure to queer people was almost exclusively through television, and pop culture at the time did not treat bisexuality well; it was often presented as a phase for girls during college or as a means to get attention from men. It was not until I was in college myself (not going though a phase, thank you very much), when I happened to catch an episode of Grey’s at a club event and saw Callie for the first time. As she later said, “It’s called LGBTQ for a reason. There is a B in there and it does not mean badass. Okay, it does, but it also means bi.” It wasn’t until I heard that character voice this sentiment that I realized the truth of it, and the fact that I hadn’t had my own identity validated this way before in media. Here was a woman successfully (or at least as successully as one can on a show like Grey’s Anatomy) balancing a career, marriage, and family, and doing it all while standing strong in who she was. It was a revolutionary moment for me to see this as a possibility for my own future – and I think for every bi woman around my age, as Callie is absolutely the most sited formative character by every bi+ person I have ever met. Callie was also the longest-running out queer woman character in TV history, her wedding episode drew in over 10 million viewers, and she remains one of few characters (still!) to actually use the word “bisexual.” We truly have no choice but to stan. Though Callie’s story wrapped in 2016, the impact of her character will endure, and actor Sara Ramirez continues to represent the community as an outspoken bi+ advocate in real life.
Waverly Earp (Dominique Provost-Chalkley) / Wynonna Earp (Syfy)
The idea of found family is at the center of Syfy’s Wynonna Earp, and Waverly Earp is the glue that holds that family together, though she has a hard time seeing that herself. Her story over the series’ three and a half seasons has been rooted in dealing with her feelings of being less talented or important than her sister. Ultimately, Waverly has begun to settle in, and realize that she does not need to fight so hard to prove herself because the people in her life truly love and value her without having to earn it. It has been a personal joy seeing Waverly grow in confidence over the years, and her relationships with her girlfriend Nicole and sister Wynonna. Especially in this time when so much feels scary, overwhelming, and out of our own control, it can be easy to be frustrated or disengaged. I aspire to have the same optimism, perseverance, and true kindness for others as Waverly has modeled, and I recommend anyone try the show. You can also check out a conversation between me, Provost-Chalkley, and her co-star Kat Barrell on GLAAD’s YouTube now.
Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz) / Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX)
Rosa’s season five coming out was unique in that out bi actress Stephanie Beatriz was given the freedom to work with the series writers to help shape Rosa’s narrative. Rosa is the series’ resident sarcastic badass and very private about her life. Her coming out and friction with her parents gave new insight into Rosa’s personality, and why she has been so emotionally distant, in an amazing performance by Beatriz, playing the role with heart and nuance. It should also be noted that Rosa’s coming out was the main focus of the series’ 99 and 100th episodes, a statement on how committed the show was to giving this development in Rosa’s story the weight it deserved. In the seasons that followed, the audience has gotten other small peeks into Rosa’s history and life outside of work. This growth and glimpses behind the strong front we typically see Rosa present has been some of the best moments of the show, and the most rewarding and relatable as someone who also takes a minute to warm up to new people. I hope to see any future seasons give her more of that development, and to see new layers of Rosa beyond Detective Diaz.
Nico Minoru (Lyrica Okano) / Marvel’s Runaways (Hulu)
Marvel’s Runaways perfectly hit two of my favorite genres, teen dramas and superhero shenanigans, and took both to the most heightened degree, which sometimes worked amazingly and sometimes fell apart under the weight of its own storytelling devices. But the show was its best when it focused in on the romance between sorceress Nico and her girlfriend Karolina. Over the series three seasons, Nico had to cope with the loss of her sister, the reveal of the group’s parents as evil killers, and going on the run while trying to save each other and the world, as they know it. You know, just teen things. Nico had distanced herself from her friends, and it is not until she and Karolina begin to fall for each other that the audience begins to see her start to heal and more of who she is past the anger and grief she held related to her sister’s passing. Over the remaining two seasons, the show unfolds a very sweet love story that helps Nico process and deal with her fear and doubts of whether she is worthy of being trusted with the dark power she wields. Though the show has since ended, it is absolutely worth a watch for anyone who loves over-the-top superheroes, is interested in a queer romance with a hero who literally glows rainbow, or is curious about an emotional support dinosaur.
Annually, from September 16-23, join GLAAD, the Bisexual Resource Center, and Still Bisexual in recognizing the bisexual+ community for Bisexual Awareness Week, culminating in Celebrate Bisexuality+ Day on September 23.
Co-founded by GLAAD, Bisexual+ Awareness Week seeks to accelerate acceptance of the bi+ (bisexual, pansexual, fluid, no label, queer, etc.) community. #BiWeek draws attention to the experiences, while also celebrating the resiliency of, the bisexual+ community.
Throughout #BiWeek, allies and bi+ people learn about the history, culture, community, and current policy priorities of bi+ communities.