Bi representation in media is not as great as it can and should be — let’s say that right off the bat. I’ve been lucky enough to review queer media for nearly four years now, and I will be the first to tell you that. And I’m clearly not the only one who feels that way. Day after day, in bi support groups and queer discussion forums, I come across folks from all across the bisexual diaspora clamoring for and asking for great examples of themselves on page and screen. And they all deserve that! And while there has definitely been an uptick in good queer content in recent years, we are still experiencing a dearth, particularly in bi male stories.
But fear not, my friends! Not all is lost. The genre is growing, and because I want to inspire instead of having my bi male buddies despair, I decided to put together a quick collection of some of my favorite, full-flavored examples of male bisexuality in media. (Am I also doing this because I get a little tired of trying to rattle off great examples every day? Maaaaaaaybe.)
So here I’ve curated ten examples — across genres, media, and history itself. Please note, though, that there are quite a few other great stories out there (about two dozen examples of which I’ve already covered!) But this is a great sample flight for those who are new to looking for representation or just want to see a variety to pick from. I’ve worked hard to make sure there isn’t any queer baiting or contains any #KillYourGays tragedies (otherwise, you know I would have brought up Oberyn Martell, The Red Viper, Jack Twist, and Ennis Del Mar.)
So without further ado, let’s get to our list!
1) Gael, Good Trouble
Gael is one of the first and best examples of nuanced, male bi representation I usually offer people, and with good reason. In this Freeform drama focused on (and for) young adults, Gael is a bi man of color, played by a man of color who has proudly had bi experiences, uses the term “bisexual” quickly and easily to describe himself — and still has lots of storylines that don’t focus on his sexuality. We get to see him having romances with people of multiple genders, sure, but he also is a fully-fleshed-out character who has hopes, fears, and experiences while he strives to become an established artist. This is basically a 10/10 for me as far as great bi male representation.
This darling and goofy supporting character of the CW musical comedy gave us a bi anthem for the ages (and, despite its Huey Lewis and the News inclinations, totally slaps). We get to see Darryl be a loving and doting father, a too-supportive friend, and still get his own queer storyline with White Josh, a gay partner who never discounts his fluid sexuality (which, sadly, can be all-too-rare in the real world.) Plus, way to rock a mustache to the point that even brooms impersonate his hirsute choices.
3) Shang, Mulan
Pardon me? Disney drew a #bicon into existence? Yes. Yes, they did. Shang clearly admires Mulan even back when she was attempting to pass as a male soldier, Ping, and that attraction doesn’t abate when the ruse is up and she, you know, saves China from being overrun by the Huns. Still, doubt me? Even B.D. Wong, who voiced Shang in the 1998 film, agrees that the character was sexually fluid. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll continue to grumble about Shang’s absence from the 2020 live-action remake.
Both novel and film of the same name go to great lengths to explore and explain that both main characters, Elio and Oliver, are queer. In the book, there are explicit passages of description of sex with multiple genders as well as the attractions and feelings those elicit. I know that, much like with Brokeback, the gay community likes to try to claim these characters as gay, but damn it, they are not! Stop gaywashing my precious babies and let them explore their queerness in the Italian countryside while extolling on the experiences with Proust-like eloquence in peace!
5) Jesper, Crooked Kingdom
But maybe you think it’s easy for me to grab examples from the world of TV and film. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t seen some fabulous representation in YA fantasy novels! To this, I submit for the approval of the Midnight Society Jesper, the wise-cracking sharpshooter who is part of the main gang centering the Leigh Bardugo duology. Jesper loves to flirt almost as much as he likes to show off his skills with his revolvers. And while he definitely likes to flirt with some of the female members of the crew, he harbors crushes on the main man, Kaz, and eventually pairs up with the youngest guy to join their party, Waylan. (Keep an eye out for this type of representation as well this year, as Bardugo’s works are getting adapted into a Netflix series from her Grishaverse.)
Bisexuality ain’t nothin’ new, friends. As much as the pearl-clutchers like to make hay about recent queer representation, Whitman is the O.G. bi poet with his epic poem delivering multiple sexual passages with both men and women during the Victorian era. Considered a seminal work, Whitman explores his attractions as he muses on the nature of life, sex, and youth. Also, his work shows that sometimes self-publishing can end up changing the trajectory of American literature. So take that, close-minded naysayers who have little grasp of queer history!
I don’t want any of my male bi babies to die or get reduced to their sexuality. But that doesn’t mean they don’t get to be messy and weird! Jay is a perfect example of that. While he strangely explores his sexuality at first by practicing with (sentient?) pillows, as oddball as he becomes, he never lets others erase or dismiss his bisexuality, demonstrating a level of self-assuredness about his identity, which is rare for a character in junior high, two-dimensional or otherwise. Also, now I want to create a municipality called Biami and have only queer citizens.
8) Frank Ocean, “Chanel”
Sure, we’ve covered books, TV, film, and poetry. But what about music? Got you covered, fam! Frank Ocean famously discussed and celebrated his bisexuality in one of his breakout songs, “Chanel”. This modern hip-hop classic earned praise from the genre’s royalty, and Ocean has been happily out since its release. In a genre that has sadly known many chapters of homophobia, “Chanel” is a triumph — and a helluva song, to boot.
Did you know that a major reason Bill Finger, the true creator of Batman, finally got his due was because of people recognizing and validating the queerness of his son, Fred? I don’t want to get too deep into the details of this because I do want to keep some areas spoiler-free, but I wanted to bring about that there is also representation in the non-fiction fields as well. Fred and his queer life helped bring justice to those that deserve it. In case you needed some real-life examples of greatness on this list.
10) Charles M. Blow, Fire Shut Up In My Bones
Closing out this list is another great real-life example of bisexuality, Blow’s personal memoir about growing up as a bi Black man in the poor, rural South. The narrative is about so much more than that, of course, covering the multiple intersections of identity that underpinned his coming of age, but one of the main emotional thrusts centers on this NYT columnist (and now national TV news anchor) coming to terms with his bisexuality. It’s searing, raw, and thorough in documenting his questioning, joy, and acceptance of his identity, and may bring some deep solace to those who may identify with his journey. (Please note, though — it comes with every trigger warning you can imagine. A heavy read, but a stirring one nonetheless.)
And there we have it! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading up on the fruits of my reviewing labor. Please know, again, that this is not a definitive list (there are plenty of others I’ve covered over the years you can read about, plug plug). And maybe this article will be the first in a series highlighting this often-overlooked demographic of our bi community. But for now, here’s hoping that, especially if you’re a bi man or boy reading this list, it made you feel seen and celebrated rather than alone. Regardless, I’ll continue to make sure to watch/read/listen and review works on male queerness and bringing them to your attention because your story deserves to be told, too.