Whenever I'm told that I seem too gay to be a bisexual man I always respond the same way: "Name me five male bisexual celebrities." It's a near impossible task, one which requires really scraping the barrel of Z-listers. In short, the majority of the British public have absolutely no idea what a stereotypical bisexual man looks like - and the media is to blame.
For generations now, television has been used to display the ways in which people outside of our comfort zone live. We've seen white and black, rich and poor, gay and straight. Yet bisexual men? Now that's really pushing the boundaries. Apparently showing the life of a bisexual man is a step too far for British television. Hollywood aside - that's its own can of worms - we have a real problem in the UK with the under-representation of bisexual men in the mainstream media. And this is most obvious in the world of reality TV.
From TOWIE to Made in Chelsea and every time Katie Price has been married inbetween, Brits have a fascination with watching the 'real lives' of celebrities. It could be argued that reality television is a little more accessible, as we can imagine our friends and ourselves in similar situations, which is why the medium has been so popular in recent years.
Lately the LGBT community has had some incredible wins when it comes to representation in the public sphere with lesbians, gays and transsexuals all offered a place in the limelight. Unfortunately as with most things LGBT, the B is silent. The sad truth is that bisexuals are treated much like Howard's mother in The Big Bang Theory - we are aware of her existence but we never really see her and we've never really explored her character in any depth whatsoever.
The problem with this is that there are so many bisexual people in the UK - to exclude them from the world of reality TV is not only inaccurate but ridiculous. A survey by YouGov at the end of last year found that 43% of Brits aged 18 to 24 didn't identify as entirely gay or straight. This makes bisexuals, or the bicurious at least, the largest subgroup in the entire LGBT as the same survey found that only 6% identified as completely homosexual. Now I'm not trying to take away from the achievements of the minority, but at what point do the 43% get to take the limelight?
For decades now the needs of bisexual men have been ignored; we don't have bisexual magazines, night clubs or even dating apps. We have a very limited forum within which discuss our issues and LGBT organisations don't seem to realise that that outside of sleeping with men, bisexuals and gays do not deal with the same issues. For example, gay men don't have the superpower of invisibility like we do. That's why a reality show would prosper, we are the uncharted territory, an under-explored demographic that is sure to get people talking.
It's time to change the tide, and I personally believe reality television could be a huge part of that. Forget the series that follow celebrities around their daily lives, look at the dating shows that the UK currently has and ask yourself, when was the last time they covered a bisexual man going on a date? As I've already discussed, reality TV can play a big part in what can be perceived as normal, so why not use the public's obsession with reality television for something positive? Surely a show exploring the dating lives of bisexuals would be far more progressive than watching Gary Beadle falling down drunk again. It would open the eyes of every Brit with a TV licence as to what being a bisexual man is about.
Not everyone has the privilege of having a bi friend but everyone has the power to watch them on TV. It's time for a national network to take a chance and put a bisexual man on the box. To follow his dating life, to follow his wins and fails and to follow him exploring all of the wonderful things being a bisexual man has to offer. Imagine a show where the protagonist chooses their lovers based on the person not the gender, where issues such as a love triangle between a bi guy, a girl and her gay best friend is a very real possibility. It's the only way the next generation of bisexual men will be able to live their lives without suspicion, criticism and that unjust 'greedy' label.
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