They lack representation in media and sometimes, their very existence is denied. Invisibility shouldn’t be bisexuals’ only superpower.
Recently, I came across a Twitter hashtag #bisexualSteveRogers. Steve Rogers, obviously, refers to the Marvel Comics character, Captain America. The Twitter campaign is a (only slightly) tongue-in-cheek demand for better representation in the superhero genre. I’ve written about this before: every child deserves to see himself/herself reflected in a hero.
The LGBT* movement in the United States is making great strides towards equality in many areas. In comic books, queer characters have either been created or storylines of existing characters have been adapted. As far as prominent DC Comics characters: Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern, Bunker of the Teen Titans, and Batwoman are all gay. In Marvel Comics: Hulkling and Wiccan of the Young Avengers are gay, and Xavin of Runaways is a gender-changing shapeshifter (if you can count that as transgender. I’m not sure I would).
Note: I’m sure I’m missing lots of prominent LGBT* superheroes (especially indie comics). Please let me know in the comments. I’m always looking for good comics with diverse casts.
So few characters in comic books are bisexual, and I can’t think of any bisexual lead characters in comic book movies, which have a much larger audience these days. (John Constantine is bisexual in the comic books, but that aspect of him was completely ignored for the 2005 film).
So, the bisexual Steve Rogers hashtag was born. Some of the people using this tag feel that Steve Rogers’ bisexuality is implied, usually through his relationship with Bucky Barnes. I don’t quite agree with this reading of the movie, but I won’t say that it’s wrong. I think the prevalence of bisexual invisibility means that the writers of the Captain America movies— largely what this is focused on— never once considered that Steve and Bucky could have a romantic or sexual relationship.
Others want Steve Rogers to be written in the future as a bisexual character to increase the representation of bisexual heroes.
You can witness bisexual invisibility and denial whenever any public figure comes out as bisexual. The narrative becomes that bisexual men are actually gay and bisexual women are lesbians (or they’re just straight and “experimenting”). Bisexuality is treated like some kind of ecstasy-addled, free-loving stopover on the way to your actual sexuality.
How do you think it feels to a kid sitting in front of his/her television, watching love stories unfold but never seeing one that he/she quite understands? Every child deserves to feel like a hero.
If the character of Steve Rogers was supposed to be bisexual and the writers are being wimps about it then, by all means, turn the volume up on the man-love. However, if he’s not supposed to be queer, I’d be more in favor of some of the established bisexual characters getting their moments on the silver screen.
With that in mind, I tried to compile a list of bisexual comic book characters who could be adapted into Hollywood leads. My personal favorites are Catman for a solo film (he leads a cat cult for goodness’ sake— he‘s perfect for internet fandom) or Ayla Ranzz in a Legion of Superheroes film.
List of Bisexual Superheroes from DC and Marvel:*
Savant (Suicide Squad)
Doop(All New Doop)
Element Lad(Legion of Super-Heroes)
Hercules(Various Marvel Comics)
Tefe Holland (Swamp Thing vol. 4)
Jennifer Kale(Marvel Zombies)
Moondragon(Various Marvel Comics)
Julie Power(Avengers Academy)
Ayla Ranzz(Legion of Superheroes)
*This list was created by scanning Wikipedia. I tried to limit those listed to current or recent characters who are still alive. This list is almost definitely incomplete. Please help me out in the comments.
**It should be noted that Catman’s bisexuality was affirmed by the writer Gail Simone but never appeared in the comic book due to cancellation.
Share and re-tweet this article with the hashtag #BisexualSteveRogers. Also, this does not, in any way, diminish the need for other queer characters, characters of different ethnicities, characters of different abilities, and characters of other diverse aspects. This is not a zero sum game in which representation is limited so it’s only gifted to a few at a time. We must all put our shoulders to the wheel to make this thing move.
Photo— Flickr/ Andy Roth