Today I’ll talking about bisexual representation in literature, specifically my debut novel Ace of Spades.
I’ve read a lot of amazing books with brilliant bi rep. I think there is no one way to write someone’s identity. We all live such different lives and so no experience is the same. But there has been instances in the media and in literature where the bi representation is offensive, mediocre and crude. There are tropes like promiscuity and the inability to settle down, being perceived as dirty, and ‘faking it’ for attention. While yes there are bi people that don’t want to settle down and are promiscuous, the way the media and literature has often portrayed it in the past is that all bi people are like this rather than seeing people as individuals and their actions as a part of who they are not because of their sexuality.
The Bi Representation in Ace of Spades
Ace of Spades is a very gay book. I can count the straight characters on one hand but I can’t count the queer characters on one hand. I’ve always wanted to read books about queer people - queer black people in particular - solving crimes, getting themselves into trouble and just misbehaving. I love thrillers but it’s a genre that is so white that I couldn’t find the stories I wanted in the bookshop.
Today I’ll be talking about Andre and Belle (the beautiful people in the picture above) and the importance of different kinds of bi representation.
What I noticed in a lot of books and movies is that if there is a bi character, we often never see them actually say it. It’s something that the author adds later, or just says is canon. This often feels dis-genuine and a little shitty.
When you read Ace of Spades you’ll see two very different representations of bisexuality. Belle dates more than one gender over the course of the story, she also says on the page that she is bisexual. In terms of aesthetics and the stereotypes that come with that, Belle is blonde, white and conventionally attractive. She also is quite feminine and there is a lot of stereotyping that comes with very feminine bi women, that they are too ‘pretty’ or ‘girly’ to be bisexual. I really wanted to have all my characters disrupt the dominant ideologies that exist in society.
Andre on the other hand is black, poor and in a gang. Queer people exist everywhere, despite what people think. Growing up a lot of black people would say being gay or queer is a non-black thing. It’s something only white people do. I remember an auntie of mine saying that gay people don’t exist in Nigeria. If only you knew auntie. Because of society, Andre never says he is bi on the page. He’s dating the main character, Devon who is gay, but there is a hint at the end that Andre does have relationships with other genders too. With Andre he’s very much on the surface what people expect people in gangs to look like. With that expectation also comes the assumption that these boys are all straight. Many of which aren’t but most aren’t out because of society and these toxic expectations.
Andre and Belle live very different lives, and I wanted to show how two experiences of bisexuality out of an infinite amount of experiences looks like.
Some books with amazing Bi rep that I recommend
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins-Reid
The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Radio Silence by Alice Oseman
Heartstopper by Alice Oseman
History is All You’ve Left Me by Adam Silvera
Thanks for reading!