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Why I Write Bisexual Characters

2016-07-22_164456

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a little over a year now, but I find that whenever I start to think about bisexuality my thoughts shoot out in a thousand different directions and I can’t seem to focus on any one point. I have a lot of feelings, I guess is the thing.

Whenever I see lesbians bashing bisexuals in public forums, I’m filled with something akin to rage. I’m not an angry person by nature. In fact, for the most part, it’s incredibly difficult to upset me. But there are topics that light me up from the inside and make me want to blow things up. Sexism. Homophobia. Racism. Any instance of a human being feeling superior to another human being or bringing them down for being who they are—that sort of thing turns me into a raging lunatic.

I don’t believe in fighting negativity with negativity. You will not find me on forums yelling at people, or calling them names, or telling them that they are wrong—no matter how badly I want to. I honestly believe that negativity yields more negativity. I don’t believe that’s how you change things for the better. At least, that’s not how I want to change things for the better.

Here’s a story

The first girl I was ever in love with was bisexual. Proudly so. At the time I was just coming out and I knew nothing about stereotypes or other people’s experiences or how the community felt about any particular thing. I knew only this: I was in love with a girl. And she was awesome.

The girl who was my girlfriend before her (a lesbian) found me online one day a few months after we’d broken up (because she cheated on me) and said, “So, you’re with C. now? You know she’s just going to leave you for a guy.” I was like, “What are you talking about?” She said, “She’s not really gay and you’re being stupid for thinking that she loves you.” I blocked her.

About a year and a half after my girlfriend and I got together—after I’d moved to New Jersey to be with her—we spotted a flyer on campus that announced a meeting of the university’s lesbian/bisexual women’s group. The topic? Bisexuality. My girlfriend was very excited and even though in those days I was too shy/intimidated to go to gay events, I agreed to go with her.

We expected the meeting to discuss the issues facing the bisexual community and what could be done to increase visibility – that sort of thing. After all, this was the lesbian and bisexual activist group.

Instead, a few girls in the group took turns ranting about how horrible bisexuals were and how maybe they should be excluded from group activities and how basically they were everything that was wrong with the fight for lesbian rights.

I was horrified.

My girlfriend was so upset she walked out of the meeting. I ran out after her. She was angry and I had no idea what to even say. I took her hand and we walked back to the dorm.

That night, I couldn’t sleep. I was angry. I was so angry that all I could do was replay that meeting over and over in my head.  I was angry and I was ashamed. I was ashamed to be a lesbian. I was ashamed that I hadn’t stood up and insulted them – in English and Spanish—and told them all to go to Hell. I desperately wanted to be that person.

I was not that person. I am still not that person. I’m a pacifist. I hate conflict. I hate fighting. I hate being angry. I hate hate. Also, aside from getting my ass kicked, I don’t see what my yelling at them and insulting them would’ve accomplished.

I forced myself to think about the meeting in a different way. There had been a lot of girls there and only about four or five had been actively speaking. The rest had said nothing. At the time I thought their silence meant that they agreed. But I started to realize that some of them were probably as horrified as I was and simply hadn’t known how to speak up.

Instead of angry, I felt sad. What were we doing? Why were we fighting against each other? How was that going to help anything? I had no answers. I was 18. I’d just come out. My parents dropped me off at college a few months earlier and their parting gift was to tell me I was shameful for being gay and that I couldn’t possibly know what love was.

I had no answers. I was as confused as the next lesbian. But I knew what love was. I knew little else, but I knew that much.

By the end of my freshman year, I was in charge of the LGBT section in my dorm. By the end of my senior year, I was in charge of that same lesbian/bisexual women’s activist group that had caused my girlfriend to walk out. I had no answers, but I knew that I wanted to fight for LGBT rights. I didn’t want to see people feeling bad about themselves.

I hate labels

I call myself a lesbian because that’s easy enough for me to do. If you define a lesbian as a woman who’s only attracted to women and only dates women and only falls in love with women, well, that’s me. But I’m also more than that. We are all far more complex than any one word can possibly allow. And that’s why labels get us in trouble.

When I was writing Kris (from TBSOL) the second time around, I struggled with what to label her because I wanted not to. I wanted her to be free of labels. And I think she’ll probably grow up to be the sort of person who says, “Screw labels. I’m just me.”

There were about 800+ people reading the beta version of v2.

A few people said, “I’m so happy you made her bisexual!”

A couple of people said, “Why did you make her bisexual? It’s going to piss off a lot of lesbians. We don’t like that.”

But most people said absolutely nothing about it. They just enjoyed the book.

It was pointed out to me that I’d already written a bisexual character –Karen – and that I didn’t need to have two. From the beginning of the novel, my intention was to represent both sides of bisexuality. Karen spends the whole book dating a guy. Kris ends up with a girl and she’s not about to let her go any time soon.

I didn’t want Kris to be a lesbian. I feel like it’s the expected thing; a character realizes she has feelings for a girl and suddenly she’s 100% gay. As a lesbian, it makes me selfishly happy when that happens (because that’s what happened to me), but that’s not what happens most of the time.

It’s okay to have feelings for boys and girls. It’s okay to be attracted to both. It’s okay to be attracted to both and have more feelings for one. It’s okay to not be sure. It’s okay to be confused. It’s okay to think you’re one thing and then realize you’re another. You should be told that it’s okay. You should be shown that it’s okay.

Honestly, I don’t know that many people who are 100% anything. Even some of the lesbians I know who call themselves lesbians are really more bisexual than anything else. But we still cling to these labels like they’re life vests. We get angry when people change the rules on us, like we have any right at all to tell another person how to feel.

We cannot cry out for equal rights and be selfish in our actions and reactions.

So why do I write bisexual characters?

Because there are still people who tell me not to, and I don’t think that’s okay. Because some people warn me that it might piss off my fellow lesbians, and I don’t think that’s okay. Because my bisexual friends feel under-represented in fiction, and I don’t think that’s okay.

I believe in equality. True equality – not just the sort that affects me directly. I believe in visibility – not just the sort that represents me completely. Bisexuals’ problems are my problems. As are gay men’s problems also my problem. As are women’s. And transgenders’ and queers’ and minorities’ and everyone else out there screaming for someone to reach out and say, “I see you. You’re not alone.”

I write bisexual characters for the same reason I write lesbian characters and male gay characters and Hispanic characters and whatever else other characters I end up writing: Because we’re all in this together.

 

Note: My blog is a safe space for LGBTQ peeps and allies. Should you harbor negative feelings about anything I write here, feel free to email them to me privately. Any public bashing will be deleted from the blog and replaced with pictures of unicorns, bunnies and rainbows.

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46 comments… add one
  • camila

    hi! i read TBSoL ‘ike twice every version in spanish and english.. i really love the books.. i like the 2nd version more because kris seems to be more independent.. anyway, i think this post is just amazing, it describes how i feel about it (labels and that stuff).. and somehow it made me realize that i’m not that crazy that other people think just like me. as i read this i remembered that when i came out as lesbian to my dad he told me to not say it out loud because if i ended up falling in love with a boy and he heard of it then maybe they wouldn’t date me.. and i thought that why everyone is putting so much effort on trying to convince me that i’m not gay, if i’m end up not being gay that’s ok, that if the guy thought that i wouldn’t be in love with him. wait i forgot what i wanted to say with this.. oh yes, i think that everyone is thinking about labels and how they will affect your life when the only difference should be that you’re dating instead of men women, or the other way round, or both of them. society has created labels and stereotypes and when you don’t fit on any of that or don’t believe in that they freak out. i still don’t understand why everything has to be categorized, maybe it’s easier for people to understand, i don’t know. but somehow this days, labels and stereotypes had become more important that a human being and how they feel. anyway you really inspired me, and i send this to a friend who was feeling bad because she was confused, and i really think that you helped. so thanks, for being an inspiration.. and i apologize for my rambling and if i have any grammar mistake or something..

  • I love this post! It’s so beautiful. Thank you for sharing it <3

  • THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.

    I found an excerpt of this post on my tumblr dashboard and was filled with appreciation for you. I haven’t read your books yet, but you can best believe I’ll be purchasing them soon. I’m writing a young adult novel about a girl who’s confused and doesn’t necessarily feel the need to label herself, and it’s so refreshing to hear from someone else that it’s okay to not cling to a label, and it’s okay to not fit a label. Thank you for putting these words out there.

  • Arely

    Just enter to this page for the first time and just read this amazing post. I recently wrote a short novel about two girls, one of them was dating a girl and then got involved with a guy after she broke up with the firt one. Some of my friends asked why I had written something like that, that it would be such a shame for lesbian public and if my character was actually bisexual. My answer was that I had created a character but as babies my character had grown up by herself. I never think about her as lesbian, and I don’t think about her as bisexual or straight, just as a person who loves with all the heart. At first that idea kept me awake at night, I felt like I needed to give this girl a label, to define her as a character. Now, I think that is what makes her so special, because that’s world after all. We can love whoever we want and that’s nobody’s business.

  • Hannahsnook

    Great post! I don’t like labels either. 

  • Thank you so much for this post! I really needed to read that it is ok, no matter who I love. I have felt so alone. I am just glad I stumbled upon your post :)

    -B

  • wiebke

    Wow, Ingrid!
    What an amazing post! I wasn’t on your blog for a long time…it’s great to be here again and read things like that ;) thanks

  • gina

    i’m tempted to write something mean here just to see a unicorn. :)
    hi dreams!

  • Thank you so much for writing this.

  • Kate

    I saw this on twitter from @bivisibility. I was intrigued by the title and I’m so glad I read this. Being bisexual myself, I know that bisexuals are underrepresented in all media, especially in books. So I just wanted to thank you for your kind words and for writing bisexual characters.

    • Hi, Kate. Thanks for dropping by. My partner is bisexual, so the topic is one we discuss very often. There definitely needs to be more visibility. Books are especially lacking when it comes to positive representations of bisexuals (when they bother to represent them at all). So tired of encountering the same tired stereotypes over and over.

  • kim

    thank you for writing about us bisexuals. this means so much. :)

  • Sara

    Este post es MARAVILLOSO. Agree 100% with everything you said. Me enfado tantísimo cuando veo que las lesbianas juzgan a las mujeres bisexuales… Es como, “WTF? Estáis haciendo lo mismo que os ha hecho tanto daño a vosotras!”

    Gracias, Ingrid!

    • Gracias, Sara! Siempre me sorprende encontrar tanto odio en sitios donde espero encontrar amor y apoyo. Nos estamos haciendo daño a nosotras mismas.

  • Kailo

    Mmmm, puedes poner las fotos de naya rivera + unicornios y no pongas dragones que me da miedito :D jajajaja….

    You are AWESOME…. you change the world with your post… I told you so. Wow

    En ingles y español me dejaste mas bien Speechless

    • Gracias, Kailo! No te preocupes que no voy a poner fotos de dragones. ;)

  • Chris

    Precioso articulo, y si, es triste que dentro de nosotr@s mismos (LGBT) tengamos semejantes diferencias a veces, la misma basura de odio y miedo a lo distinto que se ve en tantas formas en el mundo. En cuanto al personaje de Kris en TBSOL me gusto mas en la segunda versión, y sin embargo no te puedo decir que me haya puesto a pensar mucho en si había tenido q ver con su novio o no como en la primera versión, solo es eso… me gusto mas, como en general me gusta mas la segunda versión, la cual iba siguiendo en tu blog hasta cierto capitulo cuando de pronto ya no estaba en linea, entiendo que porq la estas editando para publicarla como libro cosa q me da mucho gusto aunque tb tengo el problema de a ver como le hago para hacerme con un ejemplar desde México donde vivo.
    un saludo
    Chris

    • Saludos, Chris! Gracias por comentar. Voy hacer todo lo posible para que el libro este disponible en todos lados. Y tambien en español. Gracias por leerme. :)

      • Chris

        Hola de nuevo! jeje
        Solo como observación, me gusta mas la versión en ingles, cuando Kris habla en español en medio de todo ese ingles le da un sabor tan distintivo al personaje que me encanta ;)

  • ana maria

    bueno yo escribo desde colombia, en este pais la cultura en general es demasiado machista aun, las personas q tienen tendencias sexuales diferentes son tildados de “raritos” como escoria de la humanidad, de enfermos sexuales, simplemente por el hecho de q todo lo miran desde el lado morboso y no se detienen a tan siquiera indagar o datarse acerca de lo q dicen sino q simplemente los juzgan de esta u otra manera, debido a esto pienso q las personas se ocultan por temor, temor a todo como si lo q los demas dicen fuera verdad, ocultándose a si mismos su verdad y negandose la oportunidad de ser ellos mismos, sin entender q el amor simplemente es, independientemente de a quien lo entreguemos.
    en este país aun falta mucho para cambiar esta cultura hipócrita y sinica q esconde bajo sus perjuicios sus mas bajas miserias.

    • Si, la verdad es que hay muchos paises que estan peores que otros con respecto al tema de la homosexualidad y no hay una solucion ni facil ni ligera. Pero por eso digo que estamos todos juntos en esta batalla y hay que seguir luchando.

  • Ethan Kincaid

    On behalf of my bisexual wife and my bisexual self, and as a fellow writer, thank you. Please keep being your awesome self and doing what you do. Much love.

  • First of all, I want to say how moving I found this post. I’ve retweeted it, put it up on Facebook, the works. As far as I’m concerned, everyone should read it, regardless of their sexual orientation. I love what you say about labels and especially love the paragraph which starts: “It’s okay to have feelings for boys and girls.” It is all so true. I will likely quote you in the future (and of course give you credit!)
    No one should be discriminated for who they’re attracted to. As humans we’re always growing and changing. Who’s to say that what we like at one stage of our lives will remain the same later on? Just think of food or music you liked as a child that you don’t like now. Or even friends you used to get along with and now you don’t. Why should it be any different when it comes to sexual partners? People should be with the people they are mutually attracted to, regardless of gender and especially labels.
    As you said, we are all in this together, everyone. No one likes being excluded. We need to accept people for who they are, not what they are.
    Thank you for writing such a wonderful post. Even though it took you a long time, now was obviously the right time for it to “come out”. ;)

    • Thanks for spreading the word, Alexandra! I appreciate it.

      I think we’re all just trying to figure ourselves out. I don’t see why we have to make it so hard for one another. Mostly, I think there’s a lot of fear out there that tends to manifest itself in negative ways. That’s why I think positive role-models and positive visibility is so important.

  • wrldpece84

    “Grrrr, Rabble Rabble Rabble!!!” <—– Please replace with a picture of Naya Rivera. :-D

    • wrldpece84

      GRACIAS! :-D

      • That’ll teach you to rabble-rabble here! ;)

  • I love her to Jay! She is awesome :)

  • Lexi

    Thank you so much for writing a post like this! There seem to be many people in and out of the LGBTQ community that need to read this. I’m glad to have found your site and I can’t wait to read more from you.

    • Hi Lexi! Thank you for stopping by. Sometimes this stuff just needs to be said. :)

  • Azo

    *sniffle* <3

    • Aww — You’re totally in my top 5 of favorite bisexuals. ;)

  • That is such an amazing post, Ingrid. Big kudos.

  • yovanu

    Debo confesar que cuando leí tu versión beta de TBSOL ni siquiera me puse a pensar que Kris era bisexual, es más, no me detuve en ese detalle hasta ahora que leo este post. No sé, me enganché con su historia, como se enamoraba y tal, en ningún momento me puse a pensar si era bisexual, si Karen era tal cosa, me dejé llevar por la historia, y sino hubiera sido por lo que leo ahora, no hubiera reparado en ese “detalle”.

    Comparto la ira que te provoca cualquier ataque a una minoría, yo también me enciendo con esos temas, trato de respirar profundo y dejar que pase un poco la furia inicial, pero aún así muchas veces me resulta inevitable responder. No creas que después te sentís mejor, ni tampoco cambió el mundo jaja, cada una reacciona como le nace, pero sí, siempre que haya alguien diciéndole a otro que lo suyo no está del todo bien, deberíamos indignarnos todos, seamos gays, lesbianas, bisexuales, trans, heterosexuales o como sea que nos identifiquemos, si es que lo hacemos.

    Como siempre, un placer leerte.
    Saludos!

    • Gracias, Yovanu! Es dificil no responderle a esas cosas. Un par de veces me he metido ahi a pelear con el resto de la gente, pero ultimamente trato de no hacerlo. Encuentro que termino mas molesta que cuando empece. jeje.

  • I love you.

  • Olé :D, nunca he entendido el mal rollito que tienen algunas lesbianas hacia la gente bisexual. Es muy triste que siempre hablemos de discriminación y demás y luego seamos las primeras en hacer diferencias y ver por encima del hombro a la de al lado.

    Así que me encanta que en tus libros las personas sean solo eso :) es lo que los hace tan geniales y sin duda es una razón más para comprarlos :D.

    • Gracias, Rogue! :) Siempre he apreciado mucho tu apoyo.

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