Science-fiction is a fantastic genre that has given audiences new societies and new species to learn about. It can be a wild ride and totally enthralling. Anything feels possible. However, diversity and representation which is seen in real life often does not get attention in scifi. It’s not that it isn’t written, but the publishing and media industries often promote very narrow ideas and so we often don’t get to see diverse characters. Publishers and producers think audiences want to see more aliens and fewer queer people. Yet, science-fiction is a vehicle for the audience to be able to zoom around the brilliant intricacies of life. Representation matters. It can help people connect with stories and themselves, and there’s just no reason not to have queer characters. In this post, we’re going to take a look at bis in scifi (not just because it sounds good). Bisexual and biromantic people rarely feature in stories, and it’s about time they were celebrated in this weird and wonderful genre. Here are some of the best bis which scifi has given us.
1/ Kelly (Black Mirror)
Kelly is one of the best scifi bis around. It’s a shame we only get her for one episode, but that is the nature of Black Mirror – but the content we do get is full of depth.
Kelly is proudly bi, and defends her past relationship with a man as completely valid to her identity and a rich part of her history. This was a moment to cheer as so often bi characters are presented in the old trope of “bi now, gay later”. Their past attractions are erased and their current partners are made the cornerstone of their identity. Kelly completely subverted this trope. Kelly was allowed to defend herself, and define herself. It was a revolutionary bi story.
2/ Clarke Griffin (The 100)
Clarke Griffin is the ultimate space bi. She’s known as ‘wanheda’ which translate to ‘the Commander of Death’ because all her enemies die, and she manages to save her friends from death time and time again. Clarke’s story was somewhat tainted when The 100 killed off her partner Lexa, in a plot with more holes than a British country lane. However, to resist the bury your gays trope, shows should have more than one or two queer characters – and so that’s what The 100 did. They have had six (confirmed) queer characters and all of them have had relationships. They have listened and have tried to do better. Lexa died, but that was not the end of Clarke’s identity. She has had a sexual relationship with a woman since, and has given a complicated exploration of what it means to be queer and grieving.
Clarke remains one of the most fearsome, complex and layered characters on TV and she’s led the show from the start. Love her or loathe her, this space bi has helped change TV for the better.
3/ Commander Shepard (Mass Effect)
Shepard is a bit of a wild card because he/she won’t be bi for everyone and that is okay – but the Commander still delivered fantastic bi, or even pan, representation. The mechanics of the game deliver that, no matter how we personally want to mould the Commander. Shepard has the potential to be attracted to people from a variety of different genders, and it’s up to the player how they interact with each character and which relationships to explore. This is what it means to be bi. In a relationship with a man? Still bi. Only ever have relationships with women? Still bi. The mechanics of the game accurately represent the potential for bi people’s experience of attraction, and no matter how people then take Shepard, it is a game that truly gets to the heart of what it means to be bi. It’s okay for players to then use that to form a personal story that suits their ideas for Shepard’s sexuality and romanticism, even if they don’t see Shepard as bi. It’s valid to each of us and that’s the beauty of role-playing games. But the mechanics themselves have captured great bi representation.
4/ Amy (Black Mirror)
This example of bi representation may have floated over everyone’s heads – but that’s why it was so important. Quiet representation matters. Treating bi identities with a shrug is great as it normalises us. At one point in Hang The DJ, while Amy is dating she appears to hook up with someone who appears to be a woman. Amy was the star of a beautiful episode, and having sexual relationships with people of different genders and then entering a long term sexual and romantic relationship with a cis man is still a valid and worthy piece of bi representation.
5/ Genly Ai (The Left Hand of Darkness)
Genly Ai doesn’t really fit the standard definition of bi as he’s living in a new world with complex gender ideas – and he also isn’t comfortable bi representation as he struggles with this new world of gender ideas. However, he is a great examination of people who initially struggle to accept their bi identities and break down narrow ideas of gender. It’s ultimately a rewarding, if fraught, story.
6/ Chiana (Farscape)
Sometimes we do need the bi representation where a character like Chiana just isn’t bothered about gender and will flirt with everyone. We don’t need serious or dour bi representation. Bis can be flirty. Bis do not ever need to worry about whether they are being stereotyped – that’s the problem with the narrow minds of bigots.
7/ Strand (Fear The Walking Dead)
Strand seems like a cool bi who everyone loves, but really he’s a mess and most people are pissed at him because he’s screwed them over. Eventually, Strand figures out what being part of a community means (to an extent) and his charm increases from there. There is a huge problem with Strand’s story however, as his partner, Thomas, is immediately introduced just to be killed off within a matter of a few episodes. FTWD can’t quite redeem itself either. Unlike The 100, which has a plethora of queer characters, Strand is the front queer man of this show so it is a particularly galling move. Strand and the show’s fans deserve better than what the writers dish out, but at least the bi gets to have such a lovable rogue.