Time to Stop Getting Out the Erasers by Angel Martinez

There’s a reason the LGBTQI community uses rainbow images. Well, all right, several, but one is that the rainbow is a continual spectrum, one color slowly blending into another. There is no black and white. There are gradations rather than sharp delineations of color. We know that. We know that some of us are asexual, gender fluid, gender queer, trans*, but an odd thing still happens within the community that I find particularly puzzling.

Bi-erasure. Wikipedia defines it as “the tendency to ignore, remove, falsify, or reexplain evidence of bisexuality” and it’s something we would expect from certain sectors outside the LGBTQI spectrum, but sadly, it’s alive and well within the community. I’ve heard it too many times myself—and while I recognize that’s anecdotal, there are enough instances gathered out there to know that what I’ve heard is neither unique nor uncommon. “No one’s really bi.” “Bisexuals don’t exist.” “He was really gay. See? He’s with a man now.” “She was just experimenting.”

Bisexuals do not “get lucky” more often because they “have more choices.” An individual’s number of partners or success with same has no more to do with bisexuality than it does shoe size. Bisexuality is not a “phase” or a “cop out” because you don’t want to admit you’re gay. It means that the potential is there for attraction to either gender, and the potential that one might end up with either gender as a life partner. Life partner. Not one night stand. Not marrying a woman until one finds the right man.

The tendency is to slot the individual into whatever comfortable nook fits the current situation. She married a woman, therefore, she’s a lesbian. He married a woman, oh, he finally decided he was straight. Sadder still is that there’s a tendency to perpetuate the myths and the erasure in our romances. The categorization of “gay for you,” while certainly possible, (a largely straight individual falls for that one special person of the same gender) is often a misnomer for a story in which a bisexual person happens to fall in love with someone of the same gender. Some readers and writers just don’t want to say it. There isn’t even a Listopia listing for bisexual characters in books on Goodreads (a YA category, yes, but not one for adult romance.)

tequila mockingbirdIt’s possible, partly, that this just wasn’t something most of us were thinking about, simply being unaware that what we were doing was bi-erasure. Sometimes, I think it’s quite willful. I will say that I have started seeing more bi characters portrayed as bi characters in the last year, which is encouraging. Books like Rhys Ford’s Tequila Mockingbird portray bi characters as unambiguously bi and not simply as greedy, promiscuous or confused. Most of the fae in my Endangered Fae books are bi. They don’t even consider that some humans might find it odd.

Say it with me, folks. Bisexuals are real, not mythical beasts, and are no more promiscuous, confused, or “sitting on the fence” than any other part of the rainbow. When a bi woman marries a man, she isn’t suddenly straight. When a bi man marries a man, he isn’t suddenly gay. Bisexual. Just another color gradient on the rainbow.

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About Angel Martinez

Angel Martinez is the erotic fiction pen name of a writer of several genres who writes mainly Science Fiction and Fantasy with gay heroes. Currently living part time in the hectic sprawl of northern Delaware, (and full time inside the author’s head) Angel has one husband, one son, two cats, a changing variety of other furred and scaled companions, a love of all things beautiful and a terrible addiction to the consumption of both knowledge and chocolate.

About Finn

finnLost and starving, Finn wakes to a poisoned world, but a man comes to him, a white light in the darkness—can a centuries old pooka find what he needs with a heartbroken, modern man?

When Diego rescues a naked man from the rail of the Brooklyn Bridge, he just wants to get the poor man out of traffic and to social services. He gets more than he bargained for when he discovers Finn is an ailing pooka, poisoned by the city’s pollution. To help him recover, Diego takes him to New Brunswick where Finn inadvertently wakes an ancient, evil spirit: the wendigo.

While they struggle to find a way to destroy the wendigo before it can possess Diego or kill nearby innocents, Diego wrestles with his growing feelings for Finn. Kill the monster and navigate a relationship between a modern man and a centuries old pooka. Piece of cake.

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21 CommentsLeave a comment

  • As a bi woman who was married to a man, later had a loving relationship with a woman, and is now not partnered, I couldn’t agree more! Even people who know me well seem not to be able to understand. So frustrating!

  • The one thing I’ve noticed, when a character is openly bi in a book, they are usually portrayed as sluts and people who cannot be in a committed relationship. It’s one of the reasons I’m sometimes (only sometimes) put off books with bi MC’s. Saying that, I also hate when a book with a bi character is labelled as GFY, even though the character has admitted to being attracted to guys and being with them in some cases. One book comes to mind when I think of that happening. It drives me nuts and makes me want scream and shout “THIS ISN’T GFY, THE CHARACTER IS BI!”

      • Yes! I’ve seen that too, Angel. And it frustrates me. I know it must frustrate authors. Especially when readers expect a GFY story and they realize it’s actually a story with a bi MC.

          • That could be it. But I also know a really famous fantasy series where one of the MC’s (a Warlock) is bi and has been with men and women in the past. But then I read reviews, and almost everyone describes him as gay. And then people argue over it in the comments. It’s so strange, and I doubt I’ll ever understand why people have such an issue with describing someone (real or fictional) as bi. It’s not an insult!

  • Great post, about a subject that is finally getting at least a little of the attention it deserves. I’ve never understood bi-erasure, as to me, the idea of sexuality and sexual orientation as a spectrum makes far more sense than the idea of hard lines & walls, little boxes & everything black & white. I mean, to me, pretty much everything in life is a spectrum of one kind or another, if you think about it, why should this be any different?

    I kind of wonder if the resistance to the idea of things like bisexuality, pansexuality or sexual fluidity is that all humans, regardless of sexual orientation, have a fear of the uncertain and the unknown, and it just feels safer to be able to lock things down & make them wholly known & predictable. Thing is, that just is not reality. And really, I don’t think people actually want it to be, if they really thought about it. It might seem safer, but it would be boring & restrictive. It may be a platitude, but how much more beautiful is a rainbow of every color than one with only two colors, black and white?

    • *hugs* I couldn’t agree more – we’re all just a mess of wonderful gradations! But yes, we’re encouraged from a very early age to put things in boxes, into dualities. You’re either a boy or a girl. Chocolate or vanilla. Studies or sports. We’re actively encouraged by all the signals, subtle and intentional, to make choices between X and Y.

      That’s difficult for a lot of people to get past and I think causes a lot of confusion because it’s so hardwired by the time we’re adults.

  • Great post on bi-erasure. As a bisexual man, I’ve encountered this type of attitude more times than I can count, especially from people who are in the LGBT community. Unfortunately, it seems common for even people within the community to assign neat boxes and exclude anyone who does not fit into them perfectly, hence bi-erasure and transphobia (the transphobia on Grindr is out of this world).

    I will say that I don’t find the idea of “GFY” completely impossible, it’s just the way it is presented in most fiction that makes it a problem. I’ve rarely seen a case where a character realizes “hey, maybe I AM attracted to men in addition to women”, and usually they just denounce women altogether and wax on about how sex with women was always too vanilla and boring after never having felt that way before. That bugs me a lot.

    However, I will say that I do think it’s possible for a man or a woman who identifies as heterosexual to develop emotional attraction or physical attraction to a member of the same sex, and only have it be for that ONE person because of whatever deep connection they have. Maybe it’s rare, but I have seen it happen. The problem is that it is not typically explored in terms of a deep connection in fiction, and it is typically a lust at first sight scenario which makes it less believable, likely because it’s easier to skip the development and jump straight to the banging.

    • Absolutely – I’m a firm believer that there could be one special person of your non-preferred gender who attracts you, even if you’re quite firmly gay or straight. I’d like to see a deep friendship first, a meeting of minds from which this attraction grows – and that’s so rare in a GFY.

      And I agree with you so very much about the revelation – stop it. You loved women all these years and now it was all garbage? No. Not buying it.

      You loved women all these years and you’re finally admitting you’re attracted to men, too? Yep. That makes more sense to me.

  • As a mother of a bi daughter who married a man I am loving the posts about bisexuals being real and not any hearing many negatives about them is a wonderful change. Thanks Angel for a very succinct and informative post. I especially love the image of all humans just being gradients on the scale of rainbow sexuality 😀

    • *hugs* Thank you, Ilona! My own son is bi as well and has endured all the fence-sitting, this is just a phase arguments. *smh* I’m so glad this is something we’re starting to talk about in the larger community.

  • Yep, a symptom of the larger problem, Callie. (sorry it won’t let me reply directly right now *side eyes comments*) One of my favorite characters, ever, is Henry Fitzroy the vampire from Tanya Huff’s Blood series. He’s bi, and perhaps close to omnisexual and I think the variety of situations he finds himself in helps the reader really see his sexuality as a whole. It would be very difficult to point to Henry and say “oh, he’s gay” when he clearly loves the female hero, and then it’s just as difficult to say “oh he’s straight” when he also becomes attached to his male sidekick, Tony.

  • Thank you so much for writing this. Bi erasure is something that needs to be talked about in romance as a whole I think. I personally know how hostile the m/m community can be about bisexual characters. My one m/m book with an obviously bisexual main character has gotten several reviews from people who were made uncomfortable by his bisexuality and wished I hadn’t put it in at all. Likewise I’ve felt a certain amount of discomfort and tension within f/f when it comes to bisexual character, especially when they appear in non-f/f/m books. I would assume that f/m romance isn’t particularly open to bisexual leads either.

    Over all I think this needs to change and the more that we talk about it the more it will change.

  • Great post! I think labels and forgetting the fact that the Kinsey scale exists really does a number on bisexuality. People like neat labels so that they “know how to act” or “what to expect”; it shouldn’t matter where you are on the scale, people are people and should be allowed to be themselves and love the ones they love. No one should be erased because it’s confusing to someone else, nor should they be demonized. Bisexuality is real, and no different.


  • Great post! I find it so frustrating when a book I’m reading is labeled GFY when it’s obvious the character is bisexual. I’ve never understood why some people do this. Thank you for sharing!

  • Hello, love!

    You know, it never even entered my mind that Connor wasn’t bisexual on some scale. *grins* Or Damie who had partners of both/all genders. I figure, people are people and hey, sometimes the packaging isn’t what a character expects but it’s good to portray that exploration and journey.

    Smooches and hugs… and you write damn it! WRITE! Because you rock.

  • My sister in law is bisexual and was with her female partner, who is a lesbian, for 20 years and they adopted 3 children. Sadly their relationship fell apart for reasons quite separate from gender. My sister in law is now very happily married to a man. My in laws are Dutch and Holland is a much more tolerant nation per se we attended both of her ceremonies and neither held more importance than the other. They were both ceremonies of commitment between two people. It is a worry if you have members of a rainbow trying to erase a colour.

  • I’ve noticed this resistance to calling a character bi ever since my fandom days. Some people would object that you can’t possibly write slash for a male character if they’d only been seen with female romantic partners on the show. If you suggested the characters could be bi they were totally not having it. And then at the other end, there were slash writers who refused to accept the idea the characters were bi either, they were totally one hundred percent gay and any women they had been with on the show were just beards, or someone the character was with to disguise his sexuality. (Some of those characters must have been disguising it really really hard!) So yeah, for a lot of readers and writers there does seem to be this strange stigma attached to being bi and they won’t believe it in a character.

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