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Julie Andrews

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June 9th, 2009

Wiscon 33 - Bisexual and Pansexual Characters in SF/F [Jun. 9th, 2009|09:22 am]

Bisexual and Pansexual Characters in SF/F

"Where the heck are they? Many bisexual fans still feel pretty invisible in the genre after decades of queer activism. With a few notable exceptions like Torchwood, Elizabeth Bear's Col. Valens in Scardown/Hammered/Worldwired, Laurell K. Hamilton's vampires and Starhawk's The Fifth Sacred Thing, positive portrayals of bi and pansexual characters in SF/F seem to be rather scarce. What is being overlooked? Bring examples of your favorite bisexual characters to discuss, and also feel free to bring up common problematic tropes about bi and pansexual characters (fickle, murderous, untrustworthy) in SF/F TV, film and books."

There was some discussion that 'pansexual' got left out of the panel title, but I think that was only in the grid version of the pocket program and on the backs of the name tents that the panelists had. That is, the 'short' version of the title said 'Bisexuals in SF/F?'

There was some discussion of pansexual, but it wasn't enough for me to understand what the difference was. I'd been used to calling Jack Harkness omnisexual, but that's a clear case of him being attracted to all sorts of intelligent beings, regardless of gender or species.

I just looked it up and wikipedia helped me out. Bisexual is more of a term for specifically being attracted to men and women. Pansexual more means being attracted to people regardless of gender. So the latter term more easily fits in transgender, intersex, etc. But it mostly means gender is irrelevant to that person's sexual orientation.

So now that I've cleared that up for myself... on with my notes.

Trope: Bisexual as homewrecker.

I may've benefited from some examples of that. I can't really think of any, as distinct from other examples of relationships broken up by having affairs with straight or gay people. Or is it bisexual married people running off and having affairs with anyone who comes along?

Willow - bi, not lesbian

By saying that Willow is lesbian, it's invalidating her relationship with Oz.

I believe I wrote this down as another trope: We all evolve to be bisexual, society leads that way. So that you get stories and novels where being bisexuaxl is the norm.

Bisexuals as unpredictable/untrustworthy -- At any minute, they can date anyone!
Leading to the plot device - the startled reveal

Decadence - Mirror Universe Kira as one example. I believe Logan's Run was also brought up here. Where being bisexual is a form of indulgence and/or degradation of society.
Also, bisexuxals as sluts

How do you show a character is bisexual if they're in a monogamous relationship?

Creating labels for other sexual preferences (I believe this refers to labels for orientation not based on gender.)

Now, the list of books! Behind a cut tag to save space.

List of books with bisexual/pansexual characters, themesCollapse )

Is bisexuality more prevalent in SF than in F? At least when it comes to created worlds?

Bisexual reveal comes with a supposed straight character has a same-sex experience. Rather than the other way around.

The main male character in the Sooki Stackhouse books (by Charlaine Harris), is a vampire. There's a brief mention of his centuries-long relationship with a guy. And that's it. The implication being.. shouldn't this be a little bigger thing in the books and as part of his character?

Can your orientation change at different points in your life?

Wanted: Books where the character doesn't have to choose between two characters.

Threesomes - Jack kissing Ianto and Gwen (on the top of their heads) in the Dr. Who finale. I believe it was someone in the audience who said if they'd seen that as a kid, it would've made a big, positive impression on them.
"Scooby-Doo" movie - apparently there's a cut scene on the DVD, though it may have been deliberate dvd extra fanservice, never meant for the movie

Gay community is invested in the idea that they didn't choose. So this is sometimes in conflict with the experiences of bi people.

Transcending gender versus being attracted to all genders. Falling in love with people, regardless of their body parts. Or liking the different body parts. (I think this is the bisexual/pansexual dichotomy, though I don't believe it came up in the context of a definition at this point in the panel.)

More bisexual women in fiction than bisexual men.

So, all in all, lots of stuff to chew on. I like knowing tropes and I like getting lists of books. And any panel where you can talk about a Captain Jack (any Captain Jack) has to be a good one.

There's a fuller list of the books/movies mentioned in this panel here.
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