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A Bisexual Superman

We look to the entertainment industry to set our styles and our standards of beauty, masculinity, and feminity. It can also help us evolve these standards, and the bi superman choice kicks that one out of the park.

By Chai SteevesPublished 11 months ago 3 min read
A Bisexual Superman
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

I have the honor of working with a woman who, quite literally, socialized Americans to gayness. Ok, that’s a slight exaggeration but it’s close — she worked with a fascinating non-profit whose mission was to help movie and TV producers create relatable gay characters. The goal — sensitizing average Americans to LGBT people. Their theory was that if people saw likable, relatable — gay — characters in their living room every evening, they would start to lose their animosity toward them.

She was responsible for creating the characters in the TV show Will and Grace — deliberately building out different archetypes of homosexuality in the Will and Jack characters. They were both, in their way, stereotypically gay but also immensely likable and relatable. She also worked with the creators of Modern Family — not on the Cam and Mitch characters — but on Jay, the patriarch. They wanted someone that an old white, conservative man could relate to, who was — through his own filters and struggles — coming to grips with loving a gay son. They put gay characters into our living rooms, in ways that we could all relate to.

The mantra of this organization is that we need to meet people where they are and have discussions with people on their terms. It’s a slow process, but it appears to be the most effective way of changing people's perspectives on issues they have strong feelings on. It's also a subtle process. They didn't hammer us over the head with their messages. They played on our sense of empathy and allowed us to grow into liking these characters.

So, back to superman. There are two theories floating around on this - the idea behind a bisexual Superman. I prefer to believe the latter.

But the first theory — some woke published in Manhattan came up with the idea of a bisexual superman because he’s trying to recapture the youth market for comic book sales. And, hey, he’s from Manhattan and he’s woke. Proponents of this theory are a little cynical because they feel young people don’t actually read comics, but Gen Xers do, and they won’t like a woke Manhattan publisher fucking with the Man of Steel. I suspect comic book folks know their demographic well, so I don't give much credence to this theory.

The other theory — the one I am more drawn to — is that the progressive movement — and more recently the LGBT movement — has been understanding the role that superheroes play in the cultural norm-setting for young people, and that they’ve been on a decade-long experiment to transform our notion of heroes — more women, more ethnic diversity and, now, more diversity of sexual orientation. The goal is to subtly and systematically redefine who we can see as heroic. While this may not necessarily sell more comic books, it will sell important comic books.

And one of the last stands — the bisexual male. As a society, we are increasingly comfortable with diversity in leadership positions. It’s not even by any means equal yet, but we are coming closer to people of color and most of the LGBT+ community being accepted into the ranks of respectability and leadership. In fact, it is almost no longer newsworthy that a politician is gay, and we got a black president (although some seem unhappy about that).

This has been a long battle for disadvantaged communities, but through hard work and tapping into humanity's basic decency, they have help to move us to a more just society.

But the bisexual male still freaks us out a bit. Gay men, fine. Bisexual women, fine. But bi guys — that’s still hard for many. Bi men need a champion.

Welcome, Superman.

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About the Creator

Chai Steeves

I'm an eclectic guy - I like writing about sex, relationships, parenting, politics, celebrity trivia - the works. I'm happily married and a father of 2.

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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