Ever since news came out that we might not be getting a bisexual Constantine I’ve been getting into arguments with people about why it matters. The arguments tend to be the same ones repeated over and over again and, quite frankly, it’s tiring having to repeat myself. Since the same arguments come up over and over again I’ve had to force myself and step back and consider that maybe people just don’t understand. While some people may be intentionally malicious, perhaps a lot of people just don’t know what it’s like to not have their sexuality addressed in media. I’m hoping to address the common arguments I’ve had with so many people over these past few days and hopefully change some minds.
In the comics…
First of all, let me stop you right there. I hate any argument that starts with “in the [source material].” It’s a superior and elitist way to start an argument and it often leads to the other side shutting you down entirely. I’m being a tad hypocritical because I tend to reference the A Song of Ice and Fire books a lot when talking about the show, but I always treat people who only watch the show with respect. While I don’t always like the differences between the source material, I recognize that they are two different pieces of media. Besides, when it comes to representation, Game of Thrones has actually stepped up their game. They made Renly and Loras’s relationship even more explicit, which is a difference that actually matters. Then again, this show was on HBO and they aren’t exactly afraid of pushing the envelope. The differences that bother me the most are mostly plot related. Representation and plot are two very different things to argue about.
So before using the source material as your defense, consider how it sounds and consider what you are fighting against. But for the sake of argument, let’s continue with this common argument and address it in full.
In the comics his sexual attraction towards men is barely addressed.
You’re right. Most of the relationships he’s shown in are with women. But being bisexual doesn’t mean that everything is always a 50/50 split. The image to the right shows how his bisexuality was introduced and it would be just as easy to slip something like this into show in a completely non-obtrusive casual way. We don’t need him waiving around a bisexual pride flag and having sex with both men and women right off the bat.
I don’t think I’ve really seen anyone pushing for something more than what was in the comics though, as with the case of Renly and Loras form Game of Thrones, it’d definitely be appreciated for the LGBT community. We are simply asking for his attraction to both men and women to, at the very least, be mentioned. Hand waiving it away with various excuses is the very definition of bierasure. You are taking a character who represents a sexual minority and changing it to a sexual majority.
It was a long time in the comics before his sexuality was addressed. Have patience.
Frankly, the queer community is tired of waiting. And we’re tired of being baited and strung along by certain shows that we might possibly get queer representation. Maybe. We’ve been given hints of other characters possibly being bisexual and given false hope by writers that we might get that sexuality in the future, but as people start clinging to these hints and publicly asking for clarification, tensions rise and it’s become clear that we’ve been getting baited. The most notable examples as of late have occurred in the Teen Wolf and Supernatural fandoms (see Baiting the Fandoms That Feed You).
Constantine is different. He’s already bisexual. We aren’t picking up on clues, intentional or not, or reading between the lines. We aren’t asking for our slash ships to be made canon or asking the writers to change an ‘already established’ (an argument I will save ranting about for another day) sexuality. We simply want a character who is canonically bisexual to remain so. And we don’t want to wait for it, get strung along, and then possibly watch the show get cancelled before his sexuality is ever addressed. I don’t have patience anymore.
That’s correct! The comic and the show are not about his sexuality. I don’t think anyone is asking for this to be turned into the “Constantine Sexuality Extravaganza.” If a character’s sexuality is revealed to be not heteronormative, it doesn’t have to change the course of the story. My entire life doesn’t revolve around my sexuality, so there is no reason to assume that a story has to revolve around that character’s bisexuality either. I’m bisexual. I’m also a writer and a photographer. I’m a geek, a traveler, and a blogger. My sexuality is a part of who I am and shouldn’t be ignored, but there is a lot more to me than my sexual preferences. Having a character’s sexuality just be a part of who he is would be realistic. And more importantly, this portrayal is desperately needed on TV. Which brings me to the next argument…
Why do you have to make everything gay/bi/queer?
Typically when people ask this, they are coming from a privileged group who already see themselves represented in the media on a massive scale. Sure, there are some LGBT community members who don’t see representation as important, but by and large this argument comes from heterosexuals who simply don’t get how disheartening it is to mostly see only heterosexual people represented in media. When we do get queer characters they are often part of a larger ensemble cast or secondary characters who only pop up once in a while (I love you, Charlie Bradbury, but popping up once or twice a season isn’t enough). The few rare exceptions to this tend to be on cable networks or produced outside of the united states (thank you Jack Harkness and Bo). American Network TV is alarmingly heterosexual.
I think Whoopi Goldberg said it best when she was talking about representation for WOC, so I’ll just let you read her quote to understand where we are coming from.
Well, when I was nine years old, Star Trek came on, I looked at it and I went screaming through the house, ‘Come here, mum, everybody, come quick, come quick, there’s a black lady on television and she ain’t no maid!’ I knew right then and there I could be anything I wanted to be. — Whoopi Goldberg
Whoopi Goldberg was inspired by Uhura and young members of the LGBT community can be inspired by a bisexual protagonist on American network TV. Willow coming out as a lesbian had a profound impact on me as a teenager even if she was a secondary character/part of an ensemble. I can only imagine if a protagonist had come out when I was young. Even us older folk who have already accepted our own sexuality can feel empowered by having positive representation. After a lifetime of lacking any sort of representation on TV, I know I’m going to have a very large positive reaction to it. I fear for any neighbors nearby who hear me scream and shout with joy. My Twitter will be filled with CAPSLOCK and I won’t be able to shut up about it for a very long time.
In short; it matters. It matters to the community young and old and even if you don’t understand why, you need to just understand and accept that it does. But hopefully this article has helped you understand the ‘why’.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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